There are various ways to support a partner with ADHD. Discover how to navigate ADHD and relationships by exploring the disorder and learn five useful tips.
Living with someone with ADHD can be challenging, whether they’re a family member or romantic partner. ADHD produces numerous symptoms that can cause miscommunication and frustration within any relationship, especially if you don’t understand the disorder. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to form close, healthy connections with a person who has it. Learning how to navigate ADHD and relationships can reduce the potential damage these symptoms can cause, allowing you and your loved one to live in harmony.
Understanding ADHD Symptoms
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is marked by impulsive behavior and difficulty paying attention. Adults with ADHD may experience unstable relationships, low self-esteem and poor work or school performance. Research published by the National Library of Medicine reports nearly 2.5% of adults have persistent ADHD.
ADHD symptoms typically begin in early childhood and carry into adulthood. Some people display fewer symptoms as they age, but others continue to experience major symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. These can include:
- Poor time management skills
- Difficulty focusing on tasks or multitasking
- Disorganization and trouble prioritizing
- Hyperactivity or restlessness
- Low frustration tolerance
- Frequent mood swings
- Trouble coping with stress
- Poor planning
- Hot temper
Diagnosing ADHD can be difficult because many of these symptoms overlap with other conditions, such as anxiety and mood disorders.
Tips for Dealing With ADHD and Relationships
If you’re living with an adult with ADHD, you may feel lonely, frustrated or stressed when they exhibit certain behaviors. It can be hard to improve your relationship if you aren’t sure what to do or it feels like your efforts are only making things worse. Here are five tips to help you navigate ADHD and relationships to build a healthier connection with your loved one.
1. Establish Structure and Routine
Since people with ADHD experience difficulty completing tasks, establishing and maintaining a routine can help your loved one stay on track. If they’re in a structured environment with a consistent schedule, they’ll know exactly what’s expected of them, which can eliminate surprises or distractions from disrupting their concentration.
This can be particularly useful if you feel like you’re always the person to complete household chores or run errands. If certain tasks are consistently assigned to each person, your loved one is less likely to forget their responsibilities. However, if you’re dating someone with ADHD, remember this person is your partner, not your child. Offer reminders or encouragement if they haven’t completed their tasks, but don’t lecture or criticize them. If your partner feels like they’re being parented, they may become distant or resentful.
2. Communicate Clearly
Communicate clearly and concisely with your loved one to avoid confusion and prevent unnecessary tension. Misunderstandings can create issues in any relationship, but they commonly show up in relationships when someone has ADHD. A lack of communication can make it more difficult to understand each other’s perspective, which can create an interminable cycle of conflict.
If your loved one does something that bothers you, it’s important to tell them how you feel without being accusatory. They likely don’t know a certain behavior is affecting you and will be receptive to your feelings. It’s also crucial to listen to and understand their perspective to develop solutions that satisfy both of you.
3. Practice Patience and Understanding
There may be times when your loved one’s behavior annoys or frustrates you. This can happen in any relationship. However, ADHD is a mental health condition, meaning your loved one’s behavior is reflective of their symptoms. They aren’t intentionally trying to annoy or upset you. While your feelings are valid, being patient with them and remembering they didn’t choose to feel this way can help you form a closer bond.
ADHD symptoms often make it difficult for an individual to stay focused and organized. It can also cause impulsivity that may lead to reckless behavior, such as overspending. Rather than criticizing your loved one, talk to them about the situation and see if you can help them manage these symptoms.
4. Support Organizational Strategies
Organization and routine can improve time management skills, but your loved one may need help developing organizational strategies to help them stay focused. If they’re prone to forgetting important events or appointments, setting up a calendar with reminders can fix the problem. Checklists can be beneficial if they have multiple tasks to complete in a day. They may feel more productive and less overwhelmed if they have a clear visual of what they’ve already accomplished and what still needs to be done.
Another time management strategy is breaking up bigger projects into smaller tasks. Having several small, specific tasks may feel less daunting and more attainable than one large, vague project. Being able to check off each task and visualize their progress may motivate them to keep going until the entire project is finished.
5. Encourage Self-Care
If your loved one becomes overwhelmed or frustrated over a task, encourage them to take a break rather than power through. Working while stressed or frustrated will likely lead to less productivity overall or more mistakes, which will only heighten their negative emotions. Instead, recommend a self-care activity your loved one enjoys to help them clear their mind and regain their focus. Self-care activities can include:
- Taking a walk
- Eating a snack
- Reading or journaling
- Listening to music
- Practicing meditation, mindfulness or yoga
That said, your loved one isn’t the only one who can benefit from self-care. If you become stressed or overwhelmed at any point in the relationship, take a step back to focus on yourself. You don’t need to be with your loved one every minute of the day, and setting boundaries can make the relationship healthier for both of you.
Seek Professional Help for ADHD
Navigating ADHD and relationships is challenging but not impossible. Although ADHD isn’t curable, the right treatment can help people form healthy relationships and find fulfillment. At FHE, we offer high-quality ADHD treatment focused on helping individuals better manage their symptoms to establish and maintain functional, productive lives. Contact us today to speak with a trained representative and see how our services align with your needs.