Reply To: I need help supporting a partner with ADHD!!

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ADHD Pun Here

I’ve actually taken to calling this whole phenomenon “Parenting” because, as others have stated, it makes me feel like I’m a child, that the person I’m with is acting like a parent, not a friend or SO or what have you. One major thing that has helped me is that I’ve taken time to figure out what kinds of phrases do and don’t make me feel parented.

Example: “Hey, you didn’t tell me you took your meds today. Did you take your meds today?” VS “Hey, I’m noticing some more symptoms than usual, is it okay for me to ask if you remembered to take your meds?” The first makes me feel like a child because the demanding tone sounds like the person talking down to me. The second gives me autonomy, both to say whether or not I’m okay being asked that, as well as to explain why I might be showing those symptoms. The first takes a tone that already assumes I’ve done the wrong thing, while the second acknowledges that I’m generally doing my best and that the other person wants me to be as healthy as I can.

Sometimes I ask my fiance to remind me to take my meds because I know I’ll forget. But if I asked her to remind me one day and she did it the following day as well, I would hear it as her telling me I’m irresponsible. Instead, if I’ve asked her recently to remind me about my meds, she’ll ask if I’d like more reminders when it’s time to take them.

As it relates to your partner and chores, have an open dialogue about what he would find most helpful. Talking about ADHD with an SO can sometimes be stressful, so it might be helpful to clearly state that you’re looking to help him as he needs it, rather than as you think he needs it. It can also be helpful to simply ask if you’re coming across as nagging or parenting if you’re unsure. It sends the message that you’re on the same side and that you’re willing to listen and learn.

And don’t be surprised if he doesn’t have immediate answers for you. Let him know that he has all the time he needs to think, and/or that you two can revisit the discussion if something changes.