“We Each Trust That the Other Is Doing Their Best”

How to make a relationship work with ADHD? By practicing patience, forgiveness, understanding, and communication — and by knowing when to step in or step back. Here, learn about the secrets to a strong ADHD relationship, straight from our readers.

Portrait of couple kissing while hidden behind bouquet of flowers

What’s the secret to making a relationship work with ADHD? Many of our readers know far too well that things can get complicated when one or both partners in a relationship have ADHD. But happily ever after is hardly out of the question.

According to ADDitude readers, some in decades-long relationships, the key to a strong and healthy partnership is in communication, self-awareness, acceptance, and handling all things with grace. Read on for more relationship tips and advice, and tell us how you make your own ADHD relationship work in the comments below.

How to Make a Relationship Work, According to ADHD Couples

“My husband and I have been married for 26 years and dated for four years before that. It has been important for me to realize how I could have handled things differently in the past, whether for my own recognition or the relationship’s. Being willing to accept ownership of our mistakes doesn’t mean that we are less important in a relationship.” – Anonymous

“My partner and I have ADHD, but our executive dysfunction issues are slightly different. I can’t tackle large projects, but I’m efficient at getting smaller tasks done. My partner, on the other hand, has no problem with big tasks, but gets stuck on execution. We try to meet in the middle, and get to feel accomplished for tackling our challenges together.” – Anonymous

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“We look forward to snuggling up at the end of the day and sharing through ‘story time.’ Touch is our main ‘love language,’ so snuggles and handholding are automatic connection points for us. If one of us pulls away because of worry or anger, we’ve found that a back rub can help the other relax and calm down. Even when we’re annoyed with each other, touch is a powerful, healing force for us.” – Anonymous

“My partner and I were together for over seven years before we realized that we both have ADHD. Things make so much more sense now. ADHD explains our intense chemistry and 100mph lifestyle. Unfortunately it also helps to explain some of the most challenging parts of our relationship — the intense up and down cycles, the constant chaos and overwhelm. Thankfully, now we have an explanation, so we approach everything with tons of grace and humor. We trust that each other is doing their best.” – K

“More than 40 years in, we realize that the key is in accepting the other person, even if you don’t understand them. It’s in recognizing and appreciating each other’s strengths, and being ready to step up when there’s a weakness to face. It’s also in knowing that you can’t change one another — and that trying to will only frustrate and alienate you both. Remember too, it’s our differences that make us interesting and keep us growing. How boring life would be if we all saw the world in just one way! – Beth

“My wife and I both have ADHD, and we’ve been married for more than 17 years. We treat each other as equals. We talk about everything, we have each other’s backs, and we make sure to make intimacy a priority. Our traits also seem to complement each other. My wife is extremely empathetic, and I am a little more selfish. She helps me have a little more empathy toward others, and I help her pull away when she starts giving too much to others. We have a great dynamic, but that doesn’t mean we are trouble free. (We argue as passionately as we love each other.)” – Dave

[Read: Does Your Lover Have ADHD? Read This.]

“I was diagnosed with ADHD at 45 years old. Though I was well aware of my challenges (and struggled with a lot of shame), I began to learn more about how ADHD impacts me and those around me after the diagnosis. I am fortunate that my partner, who does not have ADHD, is patient and supportive. We share openly and regularly about what’s working well, what’s not, and how we can improve. It is much easier to be supportive in a relationship when your partner is doing their own work. I let him know often how grateful I am for him and for his efforts to make my life easier.” – Alyce

Communication is a huge part of any successful relationship, and even more so when ADHD is involved. My brain doesn’t work the same way as my partner’s, so I’m bad at guessing, and need things to be verbalized. I find some ‘simple’ tasks hard to do, so I need to speak up if I need different accommodations to do things. Understand yourself and your ‘quirks’ as much as you can, communicate openly and honestly, and apologize when you are in the wrong — even if it’s because of your ADHD. Working on this together has given us a strong and lasting relationship in which our different strengths benefit both of us. It’s a win-win!” – Anonymous

“My husband and I have been together for 13 years, and we both have ADHD. We took our relationship low and slow when we first started dating, even though we were infatuated with each other. When we finally got married (five years after we started dating), we really knew each other well and were very sure of ourselves and of our relationship. We do a lot of our hobbies together, and we share a number of special interests, which allows us to constantly share what we are most passionate about.– E. Prybylski

How To Make a Relationship Work with ADHD: Next Steps

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