ADHD and Monogamy: How Many Relationships Do ADD Adults and Teens Need?


"Can an adult with ADHD be satisfied with only one relationship, or does she require more than what just one person can possibly give?"


ADDitude Answers

Yes, adults and teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can remain in one monogamous relationship while dating or married. While ADHD brings an additional set of challenges into a relationship, the challenges do not need to be considered overwhelming.

All long-term relationships -- with friends or lovers -- take time, energy, understanding, and effort to grow and maintain. ADHD medication management, counseling, skill training, and education are often the pieces used to help support ADHD relationships.

Posted by Michele Novotni, Ph.D.
Author of What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don't?

ADDitude Answers

I think some couples counseling might help you both understand the unique needs of the other. Having this conversation with your significant other would likely help your relationship as well.

Here’s some advice on ADHD and relationships you might find useful:

> My Husband Has ADHD—And It's Hurting Our Marriage

> Clear Up Confusion: Communication Secrets for Spouses with ADHD

> Loving Someone with ADHD Is Easy...

Posted by Penny Williams
ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

A Reader Answers

I wanted to offer another option you could try. I’m not sure how you feel about an open relationship, but I have a friend who is in one. This can help when one significant other doesn't feel he or she can provide the amount of attention the other person needs.

You can continue spending the time you normally spend with your partner but be open to adding someone additional to meet the rest of your needs as a couple. I personally deal better with monogamy but I just thought I’d put that out there as a potential unconventional solution.

Posted by adhdborg

A Reader Answers

I think that, just perhaps, some of us (myself included) may classify many annoying, but unrelated things under an ADHD label. For example, I was attributing my partner’s anger management issues to ADHD, because I know that angry outbursts can be a symptom. However, his anger is only weakly attached to his ADHD.

I suggest that you, just for a moment, remove the ADHD label from the person you're dating. Consider her as you would any other person. Do you want to be with her? Does she behave inappropriately towards you? ADHD or not, she doesn’t have the right to disrespect you or your wishes for the relationship.

I know people with ADHD who are respectful, kind, and considerate. Sometimes they have a hard time listening or they feel restless, but they are GOOD people. I also know people who are cruel, abusive, and exhausting. Some of them have ADHD and some of them don’t.

Posted by Sandstone

A Reader Answers

When ADHD is involved in a relationship, both partners need to become as knowledgeable as they can about the condition — what it means, what it does, the impact it has on your perception of reality and on your daily interactions and relationships. Learn about how it affects intimate relationships and the impact it could have on family life.

When there is a lack of knowledge assumptions are made, misconceptions happen and there usually will be a lot of anger and frustration…a lot of erosion can occur in the relationship.

I recommend Meslissa Orlov's books and seminars. She is one of the foremost experts in ADHD and its effect on relationships and marriages. There are a lot of resources on this site that you should should explore.

The thing that is most important to remember you cannot change somebody’s mind, you cannot force somebody to look at things a certain way, you can only do what is within your power to do — try to understand.

Posted by PaulN

A Reader Answers

ADHD is not an excuse for someone making a choice to be unfaithful. Forget the ADHD part completely — this is a character issue. Don’t use the condition to justify hurtful actions.

I am a husband who has had life long ADHD. We are prone to certain behaviors- that is true. We do however have absolutely full control over our final choices. Don’t remove disregard that responsibility because of ADHD.

Posted by MarshallM

A Reader Answers

I am a woman and I have Bipolar and ADHD. When I am manic, I get really strong urges to “explore” or strike up old relationships. But I know that it is my brain acting up. What I choose to do with these urges is a choice, my responsibility. When I was younger, I had affairs and cheated. Then I realized I was mostly cheating myself and mucking up my own life, and in the process dragging others into my horrible pit.

When I met my husband, over 11 years ago, I decided to change. I knew that I had to be the sort of person I could be proud of, and that required some iota of self control.

The urges can be really powerful, but instead I try to focus them on my partner, and it really works. My faith helps me keep on the straight and narrow too.

Take care of yourself, respect, and love yourself first!

Posted by Wuftytufty

This question was asked on the ADDConnect forums. Read the original discussion here.


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Dr. Michele Novotni is an internationally recognized expert in the field of ADHD. She is the former president and CEO of the national Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), an inspiring speaker, best selling author, psychologist, coach and parent of a young adult with AD/HD. She is the author of Adult AD/HD and What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don't?.

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