Telling My Partner I Have ADHD


How -- and when -- should I tell my significant other that I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? The last boyfriend I told acted as if I had bubonic plague and ended the relationship.

Melissa Orlov, a frequent ADDitude contributor with Dr. Ned Hallowell, writes about ADHD and marriage and offers relationship advice to adults with ADD.

Tell a person about your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) after you feel close enough to think he or she should know. As you explain the condition to your partner, give them a copy of Delivered from Distraction or another book that will tell them everything they need to know about the condition -- in a positive way.

Make sure your partner understands that you are more than your ADD symptoms, that there is a person underneath the inattention and impulsivity. Explain that you are doing your best to manage those symptoms through medication and/or alternative treatments.

ADD is an integral part of who you are, and it is important for any potential long-term partner to know about it. If a person ends a relationship after you tell them, they're probably not a good choice for you. You want to be with someone who understands the challenges you’re facing, not someone who runs away from them.

Melissa Orlov is a marriage consultant, specializing in helping ADHD-affected couples rebalance their relationships. She is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College and the author of the award-winning books: The ADHD Effect on Marriage and The Couple's Guide to Thriving with ADHD. She blogs for and Psychology Today and has been interviewed by The New York Times, CNN, Today, US News and World Report, and CBS, among many others.

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