ADHD Breakups

Navigating Breakups with ADHD: A Guide to Coping

Breakups can be intense for anyone, but for people with ADHD, the challenges can be even more overwhelming. The emotional dysregulation and impulsivity associated with ADHD can magnify the pain of a breakup and make it challenging to navigate the healing process. In this article, we'll explore the unique experiences of individuals with ADHD during breakups and offer coping strategies. You don't have to navigate this time alone - there are ways to heal and grow, even when things are tough.

Published on
21/1/2023
Updated on
10/11/2023
estimated reading time
minutes

Written by

Lisa Batten

PhD in Psychology

Reviewed by

In this Article

Reviewed by

A word form our expert

The Pain Of ADHD Breakups

ADHD Breakups

Recently, my best friend went through a break up. She had been with her partner for a long time, and I had seen them go through tough times together. But sometimes, we must accept that not every relationship is meant to be 💔. I tried to be there for her, offering kind words and assuring her that everything would be alright - that time would heal her heartbreak, and she could move on.

However, doing this stirred up intense emotions around my own experience of ending a long-term relationship before my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. I now realize how hard it was to cope due to my untreated ADHD symptoms. Those months of despair felt like an endless freefall with no end. 😢

But what makes ADHD breakups so intense?

ADHD Breakups

Emotional Dysregulation In Adult ADHD

When my last partner ended our relationship, it unleashed a whirlwind of overwhelming emotions I struggled to control. 🌪️ My ADHD tendencies intensified the turmoil as I found myself engulfed in confusion, frustration, and an inability to rein in my thoughts and feelings. The breakup exacerbated my inclination to fixate on every detail, leading to unfounded self-blame. I watched their Instagram stories, flicked through old photos, and agonized over whether or not they missed me. It was torture of my own making. 😧

Looking back, I now see how my impulsive nature caused me to utter hurtful words in the heat of the moment, only to regret them later. ADHD traits such as inattentiveness and distractibility strained our connection, making my partner feel neglected and invisible. As the relationship ended, my ADHD symptoms magnified the pain even further. I couldn't focus, sleep, or eat, which exacerbated my ADHD symptoms further. It was a vicious cycle. 🤦

Studies suggest that people with ADHD often face challenges with emotional regulation. For me, this resulted in waves of anger, sadness, and rejection

Even months later, unexpected tears would well up within me, triggered by occasions such as weddings, parties, or family gatherings. Intrusive thoughts would invade my consciousness, wondering what might have been if we were still together. 😭

ADHD Breakups

Is There Something Wrong with Me?

After a few months, I decided to venture into the dating world again. 💃 However, it didn't take long for me to realize that dating with ADHD comes with its own unique set of challenges. This realization made me question if something was inherently wrong with me. As I struggled to find the right person, I couldn't help but connect these difficulties to my ADHD symptoms. 🤔

When adults are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, it often comes with struggles in impulse control, a hyperactive mind, and difficulty maintaining focus. These aspects can wreak havoc on a relationship if not properly managed. 

It wasn’t long before I found myself entangled in issues surrounding patience, time management, and the constant battle of paying attention. Of course, in the dating world, many of these ADHD symptoms are socially unacceptable. As a result, these symptoms would sometimes leave me feeling unlovable and burdensome to those around me. 😐

ADHD Breakups

The thing is, as our brain works differently, having ADHD adds layers of complexity to relationships. Nurturing a healthy connection between a non ADHD and ADHD partner can be challenging but worth it. ADHD brings unique characteristics that can make us great partners - it's just about finding someone who celebrates and appreciates them. 👩‍❤️‍👨

Navigating Self-Esteem and Self-Doubt

The challenges we face when navigating ADHD often leave us questioning our own self-worth. Every mistake reinforces the belief that we are somehow not good enough. We worry that we are unlovable and that others won't fully understand or accept us because of our ADHD quirks.

But here's what I've realized as someone navigating these feelings: ADHD doesn't define us. We're still the same amazing people with qualities beyond our neurodiversity. And you know what? I truly believe that many people can embrace us for who we are, ADHD and all. 🤗

ADHD Breakups

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Break Ups and Mental Health

ADHD breakups become even more complex when coexisting mental health conditions are present. Research from ADHD experts reveals that approximately 80% of individuals with ADHD also experience at least one additional mental health diagnosis such as depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, or bipolar disorder. 

When ADHD and other mental health conditions intersect during a breakup, the challenges can feel even more overwhelming. 🤯 Many mental health conditions can bring its own set of difficulties in navigating breakups. When you add an ADHD diagnosis into the mix, it adds another layer of complexity to the already challenging situation.

It's essential to understand and acknowledge the unique challenges that arise when ADHD and other mental health conditions coexist. During this difficult period, providing support and understanding can make a significant difference in helping individuals with ADHD navigate their path to healing and reaffirm their self-worth. Pay extra attention to your specific mental health needs and considerations, ensuring your safety and wellbeing as you move forward. 💛

ADHD Breakups

Ways to Cope with ADHD Breakups

Breakups are undeniably challenging for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have ADHD. The experience of loving and losing someone is universal, and not everyone's journey to finding lasting love is a smooth one. It's essential to recognize that going through a breakup can be tough, especially if you're not accustomed to being alone. Feelings of loss and confusion may overwhelm you, and the adjustments you have to make, coupled with the complexities of ADHD symptoms, can make life feel more complicated. 😕

Accepting the truth that relationships can fail and letting go of the past is integral to moving forward with our lives. Regardless of ADHD or other aspects of your identity, you deserve happiness and love. 🤗

Here are a few tips that I've found helpful when dealing with a breakup and ADHD. 👇

Consult An ADHD Expert or Therapist

Breakups can exacerbate ADHD symptoms, making it beneficial to seek treatment such as through talking therapy. By being able to process your emotions and hear your thoughts out loud, you can regain a sense of calm and regulation.

Allow Yourself Time To Feel Hurt

It's important to remember that healing is not linear and has no deadline or end point. Sometimes, you might feel a lot worse before you feel better. Grant yourself permission to process your emotions at your own pace, understanding that your healing timeline is unique.

Talk To Your Friends

Opening up to friends you trust about your challenges and emotions can provide a supportive outlet for releasing tension and navigating the complexities of the breakup. Someone who understands and supports you during this difficult time can make a huge difference.

Inject Some Fun Into Your Life

Find comfort in activities that uplift your spirits, reduce stress and give you fulfillment. Reach out to old friends you may have unintentionally neglected during the relationship and cherish the rekindled connections. Explore new hobbies that align with your interests and passions, allowing yourself to rediscover your identity. These experiences can play a significant role in your healing journey and help you find joy and fulfillment in life again.

Don’t Be Afraid To Feel

It's crucial to acknowledge that it's normal to feel a wide range of emotions when dealing with loss and breakups. Remember that it's okay to not be okay. Focus on coping with the situation and prioritizing your healing, one day at a time. 💘

By implementing these strategies, you can find the ability to heal through a breakup while you navigate ADHD symptoms. In doing this, you will eventually feel stronger and more resilient than ever. 💪

ADHD Breakups

Conclusion

Breakups are difficult for everyone, but those with ADHD often face additional hurdles due to emotional dysregulation, rejection sensitivity, and mental health comorbidities. If you're struggling through a breakup with ADHD, please know you are not alone. There is light on the other side, even if it may not feel that way now. ❤️‍

Healing takes time, so be gentle and patient as you navigate the emotional turbulence. Seek support from loved ones who build you up and professionals who understand ADHD. Engage in meaningful activities that spark joy and remind you of your worth. You deserve to be loved fully for who you are. Though it might not feel like it now, brighter days are ahead, 🌞and each small step forward is progress. As time passes, I promise you will look back on this period of your life and feel proud of how far you have come. 💃

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ADHD and Breakups: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do people with adult ADHD struggle to maintain healthy, long-term relationships?

While ADHD can present challenges, most people with ADHD can have stable, fulfilling, long-term relationships. With self-awareness, communication skills, and support, ADHD adults can be great partners.

Can ADHD symptoms cause a breakup?

ADHD itself does not explicitly cause breakups. However, untreated symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation can strain connections. These issues can often be addressed with effort, empathy, and understanding from both partners.

How can people with ADHD cope with a break up?

Break ups are challenging for everyone, and individuals with ADHD may find additional support helpful. Consider seeking counseling to process your emotions and engage in self-care activities that bring you comfort. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you heal. With time, you can come out stronger on the other side.

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