Marriage

“How Well Do You Know Me?” What We Wish Our Partners Understood About ADHD

Trying to explain rejection sensitive dysphoria, executive dysfunction, or working memory problems to a non-ADHD partner can feel pointless at times. No matter how clearly you think you’re communicating, your partner still asks why you can’t finish what you start, toughen up, or just get organized. Here’s what our ADHD readers wish their partners really understood.

ADDitude recently asked our readers: What do you want your non-ADHD partner or spouse to know about you? No matter how well-meaning, our partners sometimes struggle to understand something they have never personally lived. But surely they can see the sincerity and true need in the quotes below.


1. “No one notices my pain, my shame, how hard I try, or that I walk on eggshells every day trying to please others. But everyone notices my mistakes. I need you to be an encourager, not a critic.” — Annie B., Wisconsin

2. “Whatever I do that annoys you, know that I’m not doing it on purpose. Try to help me in a non-condescending, patient way — and let me sleep, when I need to!”— An ADDitude Reader

3. “I do have feelings. I do appreciate things. I just process things differently and at different times.” — Tiffany B., Alaska

4. “I might be impulsive or moody at times, but my desire is to be loving and forgiving all the time. You are the most important person in my life and always will be.”— An ADDitude Reader

[9 Ways ADHD Ruins Relationships]

5. “I always do my best, I try to make the right decisions, and I want to finish what I start. But sometimes I fail because of my attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). What I have accomplished in life has been accomplished with much effort.” — Randy Davenport, Utah

6. “I wish he knew how ‘loud’ it is in my head most of the time. I’m generally thinking about three different things at one time, so I don’t mean to forget things – it’s just really hard to remember when my mind is so busy.” — Amelia, Florida

7. “Be patient with me. I’m doing the very best that I can. As frustrated as you are with me, I am more frustrated with myself.” — An ADDitude Reader

[Click to Read: The Key to Strong Relationships Between ADHD and Neurotypical Partners]

8. “Getting out the door, on time, is my biggest struggle. I procrastinate by doing ‘just one more thing.’ Then the anxiety kicks in as I’m rushing to make sure I have everything. You are the biggest help, though, when you load up the car, fill our water bottles, and help with the little details that I get anxious about.” — Liz, Michigan

9. “It’s difficult for me to change tracks all of a sudden. I know spontaneously going out to lunch, or going out for a drive or a walk, can be really fun. But I usually have my day planned out in my head and on paper. So when he wants to go out spontaneously, it’s hard for me.” — Carol Geibe, Pennsylvania

10. “How hard it is to be me! I’d like him to know how difficult it is for me to be around big groups of people.” — Christine, Idaho

11. “All those annoying things I do that drive you crazy? They drive me even more crazy. I wish with all my heart that I could make them stop.” — Anita

12. “It’s not as easy as saying, ‘I am going to do this every day.’ I need patient, loving reminders. Don’t put me down.” — Mary, Michigan

13. “I don’t deliberately forget to do things or act the way I do because I don’t care. I thought everyone was like me. Meds help, but they don’t solve my problems.” — an ADDitude Reader

14. “I suffer from guilt and self-loathing all the time. I need my partner to be patient with me, and take my goofy moments with humor. I need to be regularly reminded that I am accepted, no matter how scatterbrained I am. — Zsofia, Hungary

15. “I want him to know that what goes on in my head and what I do on the outside can be completely different. Also, I have worked years to build coping skills that he can destroy with a single word sometimes. Finally, I don’t always mean to pick fights about petty things; it’s just that I need things to be a certain way for me to function.” — Sara, Texas

16. “I deeply appreciate all that you do to support me and mitigate the impact that ADHD has on my life. I don’t know how you find the patience to put up with me when I frequently drive myself nuts. But I’m thankful that you do.” — Sally Aleck, Washington

How Well Do You Know Me? Next Steps


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Updated on December 15, 2020

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