Navigating ADHD Relationships with Confidence

To successfully handle relationships with ADHD, it's crucial to communicate openly and establish structured routines that create understanding and support between partners, colleagues, or friends.

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Written by

Tayler Hackett

Mental Health Writer and ADHD Expert
In this Article
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How Does ADHD Affect Our Relationships?

Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can create challenges for ourselves, affecting almost all aspects of our lives. For those who have ADHD, regardless of whether you are officially diagnosed, just had your ADHD diagnosis, or do not plan to get diagnosed, we try our best to manage ADHD symptoms that manifest in various ways 👌. These ADHD traits, whether hyperactive, impulsive, or inattentive, can affect how we connect with people around us. We often struggle to feel understood by our environment, causing a rift or gap and preventing us from having healthy relationships with others 🙁.

As someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, we often find ourselves in situations where our ADHD symptoms are misunderstood and misinterpreted by others 😢. Sometimes, other people think that we have created coping strategies of defense in our favor, such as not listening or not responding to conversations. These behaviors could be due to an inability to focus on the task 💫. This lack of focus can also cause some people with ADHD to become easily frustrated and overwhelmed, leaving us isolated from our peers.

This is just one of the many reasons why ADHD affects someone's relationship with others, especially when the other person is not fully aware of the struggles that we often experience. Adult relationships are already complicated independently; what more if someone has more pressing mental health concerns like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 🤔?

Why Is It Important To Build A Lasting Relationship for Adult ADHD?

Just like what the old saying goes, "No man is an island."  We need each other. People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can benefit from strong relationships in the workplace or with family and friends. Good relationships are essential to thrive and succeed, just like everyone else 🤗.

Apart from this, having someone to spend time or tackle a deeper issue with can help people with ADHD learn to manage their symptoms and understand themselves better. Plus, when facing the biggest challenge or feeling overwhelmed, a good friend or relative is the best person to offer comfort and genuine support when we find ourselves in such times 🧑‍🤝‍🧑.

When people become more aware and understand ADHD more, having a long-lasting ADHD relationship can progress. When our families, friends, or colleagues mutually accept and learn more about our positive aspects, we can have the best support to manage our adult ADHD behaviors 💗.

Friendship Struggles that May Arise with ADHD

How does ADHD affect friendship? Some of those diagnosed with ADHD can have impaired social skills due to several reasons. First, our communication skills can be challenged, especially when we want to tell everything that’s inside our heads 💭. It's not that we cannot have plenty of good ideas, but some adults with ADHD tend to forget them quickly. Also, an adult with ADHD can have difficulties controlling their impulses,  we tend to make inappropriate comments or interrupt conversations that can affect our non-ADHD friends, and they may feel like we are too disruptive or straightforward 😭. But in reality, it is our ADHD brain that makes it hard for us to contain our ideas and emotions.

I think there's one reason why we struggle to maintain long-lasting friendships. Some people with ADHD tend to hurt feelings of others through their inattentiveness or missing out on important details 📅. A person with ADHD might most likely forget some essential information not because we don't care about them but because we fail at paying attention or are easily distracted by everything going around us.

Before diagnosis, I always found it hard to remember important dates. My friend invited me to come over but didn't tell me why. I made an excuse not to come, thinking it was an ordinary day,  just like the others. As I declined her invitation 💌, I felt her mood change but still missed her nonverbal cues. She accepted my reason, and I thought that was the end of it. While browsing my social media, I saw a tagged picture of her with her friends, celebrating her birthday 🎂. The emotional outbursts that I felt during that time were overwhelming. I had never felt so guilty, thinking I was a "bad friend" because of what I did.

ADHD and Relationships with Our Family

People often say that your family will be the first to offer you help when needed. Our bond with our family members is stronger most of the time in comparison with other's company. In an ideal world, the parent-child dynamic gives us a sense of security, love, and understanding. Aside from that, they will guide us on certain subjects or activities, be on our side when there are too many difficulties, or just be present in our daily life. Just having them around provides us with a sense of belonging and purpose 🤗.

However, sometimes our first heartbreak may come from our family ❤️‍🩹. When it comes to having ADHD symptoms, there are times when we have to ask for help and understanding, but what we get in return is downplaying our experiences. These instances can make us question our own thoughts and mask our behaviors instead of having someone to support us to address issues of our ADHD.

When we spend time at home with our family, we might often get remarks about staying organized or lacking the motivation to do household responsibilities. Lucky for those who have families aware of the ADHD symptoms that we tend to experience, but for those who have undiagnosed ADHD or are still clueless about their condition, they may hear remarks that may make them feel like they are not doing enough 🙁.

For those people who aren't getting the proper support from their household, it is entirely okay. Sometimes, we don't get the same understanding from our family members, but it doesn't mean we are not worthy of love and care 🙆. Maintaining a good relationship with our family starts with making them understand our feelings and situations. Honest communication is essential in building an excellent familial relationship, making them more aware of our neurodevelopmental disorder and its complications. This can also be a way to help them understand our needs and expectations in the family dynamic.

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ADHD in the Workplace: Dealing with Colleagues

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, adult ADHD should be experienced in two or more settings or facades of your life, which may include your workplace (along with home, school, etc). With that being said, let me ask you: How have you been when it comes to working? 🤔 Do you tend to have difficulties managing your environment in your workplace? Do you struggle to maintain a good relationship with your colleagues?

One of the things that can keep us from maintaining a positive vibe in our work is our tendency to commit mistakes. Sometimes, when we make plenty of errors because we struggle in paying attention, the people around us tend to think negatively about us. They may judge our work ethics and the effect of this on our self-esteem can sometimes be overwhelming.

Another thing that can prevent us from being our best and performing at our most efficient level is our struggles with time management. According to reports, time blindness can be an ADHD symptom that disrupts our perception of time, making us miss our scheduled appointments, find it hard to determine how much time we have to do things, or cause chronic lateness. This ADHD trait can affect our work performance, affecting our colleagues' perception of us.

Handling Romantic Relationships with ADHD

Admit it. Sometimes you feel guilty about all the hardships that you have caused to your non-ADHD partner. I do too! However, even with our relationship struggles, people with ADHD can still have successful relationships with their partners as long as both parties can make efforts to level the playing field 👌. It is crucial to keep open communication of what will work and which won't. This way, couples with a romantic relationship avoid misunderstandings and make their relationship work.

Thinking of your partner's feelings can also contribute to your relationship's success. Even though an ADHD partner tends to do reckless behavior, like not being able to pick up on their partner's cues and expectations,remember that it is essential to be mindful of your partner's feelings. This way, you can avoid hurt feelings, acknowledge your partner and show that you care for them—which can help restore the trust between you and your non-ADHD partner.

Sometimes it may seem that having a long-term relationship with a partner with ADHD is not possible. But believe me, it is. 💗 What we need to do is accept our differences, learn from the mistakes that we have made in the past, and be prepared for more challenges together. Intimate relationships with a partner with ADHD can be rewarding, stimulating, and full of life. What matters is that both of you are willing to make this relationship work.

Managing Relationships Better for Your Mental Health

Whether it's about maintaining good friendships, improving social skills with colleagues, or strengthening the bond with your family, we must note that relationships are necessary for our mental health. Keeping a harmonious connection between them can help us manage our mood, cope with stress, and reduce mental health issues. We must remember that relationships can be complicated, but understanding each other's needs in different situations can help guarantee a healthy relationship.

The most effective way to handle our interpersonal connection with others is to improve communication, mindfulness, and empathy 🙂. Communicating our thoughts and feelings can make a significant difference in any relationship, as it can help us express ourselves and have a mutual understanding. Additionally, practicing mindfulness and being mindful of what we say or do can be beneficial. Lastly, showing empathy towards your partner or friend can show them that you are willing to understand their struggles.

Having common grounds to relate with non-ADHD people can help as well. We can find relaxing activities that can be enjoyed together, whether sports, cooking, or music 🎵. Hobbies with someone can also help us get to know them better and appreciate our differences more. ADHD's effect, however, can still be an obstacle, but it doesn't mean that we can't work things out and make our relationships successful. With mindful communication, understanding, and empathy, it is possible to restore trust and open up in any relationship.

ADHD Relationships FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do people with ADHD have problems in relationships? 

Anyone, regardless of whether they have a neurodivergent condition or not, may experience problems in relationships at home, school, work - and even in romance. Hence, yes, people with ADHD have some problems, too. But, because of their symptoms and traits, they might have more challenging relationship concerns.

What areas in their relationship do people with ADHD experience problems in?

A lot of people with ADHD have problems with communication, time management, and being impulsive. Misunderstandings can arise from communication skill issues, and the non-ADHD partner may feel neglected if the partner with ADHD fails to spend time with them. Finally, being impulsive can result in mistakes that can lead to heated discussion.

How do you maintain a relationship when you have ADHD? 

Awareness is a crucial part of building and maintaining a relationship. Let your partner know about your struggles and set their expectations. Of course, don’t forget to do your part in being mindful of their feelings. Finally, try your best to manage the symptoms that cause you relationship problems. Talking to your mental health coach can help you.

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