ADHD Relationship Struggle

ADHD Relationships: 5 Struggles You Might Experience

Relationships where one or both of the partners have ADHD may experience some challenges due to the symptoms of the neurodivergent condition. How can you overcome these challenges to have a healthy, happy relationship? Find out here. 

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Lisa Batten

PhD in Psychology
In this Article
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ADHD Relationships: 5 Struggles You Might Experience

Having adult ADHD - or an undiagnosed ADHD - can make things complicated. There may be  moments when we don't understand our mood swings, inattentive behavior, and impulsivity brought on by our neurodevelopmental disorder. 😭 Living alone can create challenges, especially when it comes to home organization and clutter management. These tasks often test our patience, and sometimes, we might not perform well.

Now, being in a relationship when you have ADHD can be even more challenging. 🥺 Mental health professionals, like the experts from the American Psychiatric Association, often say that some people with Attention Deficit Disorder might need a bit of help to maintain successful relationships. We may need to seek help and find a support system that can be there for us when we need assistance, especially when it comes to our symptoms and the way we handle relationship problems.

Whether we have an ADHD partner or a non-adhd partner, it is essential to have someone who understands us completely and accepts whatever ADHD behavior we may exhibit. With acceptance, we may be better able to maintain a healthy relationship and avoid a parent-child dynamic, where one acts as a parent while the other takes the role of a child.

The assurance that someone will accept us regardless of the symptoms we may exhibit can somehow be reassuring: if a person really has acceptance and affection for us, then they may try harder to support us, even through difficult times.

ADHD Symptoms: How They Can Impact Our Relationships

We have to admit that there can be adult ADHD symptoms that may not be received well by our partner.  🥺

After all, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for ADHD, there are plenty of symptoms that can be experienced by different people. Hence, there’s no way to tell what traits our partner can put up with and those they might react negatively to. 

That’s why it’s crucial to understand the ADHD traits that commonly affect an ADHD relationship. Many people with ADHD tend to be affected by these symptoms, causing them to struggle both individually and as a person in a romantic relationship. 

The Mini ADHD Coach Medical Advisor says: “There are many qualities of ADHD that can create a great deal of strain in relationships. For instance, symptoms like chronic distraction often make partners feel neglected and create distance between couples. It is vital for couples to build open communication that includes educating their significant other on the lived experience of ADHD and finding ways to lean into each other's strengths. Relationships do take work, but when you work on them together you both get to appreciate the rewards.”

Here are a few of the examples of how symptoms of ADHD can be crucial in balancing a healthy connection between a non-ADHD partner and a person with ADHD.

Getting Annoyed When Being Interrupted 

An adult ADHD brain typically processes numerous thoughts in their minds.  And while that can be an amazing trait,  please remember that we can be prone to distractions. When interrupted, we can easily forget an idea or lose our momentum to continue what we’re doing. 

You see, a person with ADHD can sometimes have challenges maintaining their focus, so when they get the momentum, they try to do as much as they can. The problem is, when something interrupts that momentum, it might be extra challenging to focus again

The bottom line is, some people with ADHD can easily get annoyed when something “breaks” their focus. So, when our partner approaches us about something while we’re in the middle of a task, we might become annoyed or ignore them to sustain our focus. This might make them feel neglected. 😭

Right timing on when to discuss things can greatly avoid having challenges with this ADHD symptom.

ADHD Relationship Struggles: Getting Annoyed when Interrupted

Struggling to Pay Attention in a Relationship

Our inattentive traits may somehow hamper a great communication flow with our loved one. We may zone out or get lost in our little world during an important conversation or struggle in paying attention to our partner's nonverbal cues. These difficulties with social skills may cause misunderstandings and leave the other person feeling ignored.

A non-ADHD partner may appreciate it when we notice little details about them. It makes them feel more valued because their partner is interested in every bit of their traits. However, paying attention can be one of the challenges of having ADHD. We might sometimes be perceived to be uninterested, but in reality, we are distracted by our own thoughts. Or we might have already noticed these tiny details, but have forgotten them as well.

ADHD Relationship Struggles: Paying Attention to Details

Forgetfulness Is Hard On Relationships

Being forgetful of small details and important dates can also affect our relationship and lead to hurt feelings. This may send our partners wrong signals of insignificance, when, as a matter of fact, it is our ADHD brain's misgiving all along.

A person's executive function can be affected by ADHD. This part of the brain is responsible for maintaining details, such as important dates and facts, thus, giving us the biggest challenge to remember every detail while in a relationship.

The Impact of Impulsivity

Impulsivity is another example of an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptom that may significantly affect our relationships. We may suddenly say something that would hurt our partner's feelings without even knowing it or engage in reckless behavior without considering them. Decisions, especially when you are in a relationship, should be made jointly as much as possible to avoid misunderstandings and instill mutual trust and respect.

Anger issues can also be one of the symptoms of ADHD that can manifest in an individual. A person who struggles with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can sometimes have difficulties in handling their emotions, especially if these feelings are too overwhelming for them. Sometimes, out of frustrations, a person can blurt out hurtful things to the other partner, complicating the problems even more.

ADHD Relationship Struggles: Managing Emotions

Tanking Criticism and Avoiding Conflicts

Adults with ADHD often have difficulty with managing confronations and conflicts because of their emotional regulation struggle. If a non-ADHD partner has brought some issues regarding their relationship, instead of defending themselves and giving possible remedies or solution to the problems, an ADHD partner will most likely accept the other person is saying just to avoid having a hard time with conflicts. However, this ADHD trait can sometimes be harmful for someone's mental health and relationship, as we can hold only so much for a certain time, and outbursts can follow when we cannot hold to everything on ourselves.

ADHD Relationship Struggles: Avoiding Negative Feedbacks
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Relationships with an ADHD Partner: A Two-Way Street

We often hear people in a relationship say, "Communication is the Key" or something like, "Love is a give and take commitment." Now, these passages are especially true for someone who's romantically involved with a person with ADHD. 

Being in love with an ADHD individual can mean that you need to be more understanding and accommodating. On the other hand, if you have ADHD, you must try your best to know more about yourself. 💪 This is so you can better explain to your partner how he or she can effectively deal with your symptoms.

Communication and understanding are two of the most important factors for a relationship to thrive. Relationship struggles are minimized when these two are present. It is important to have someone who is aware of your ADHD condition and will stay with you regardless of what others say about them. After all, ADHD and relationships may be hard, but together, you can make great things happen.

ADHD Relationship Struggles: Ashamed to Share Struggles

Establishing a Harmonious Relationship With ADHD in the Picture

Yes, some struggles and difficulties may be experienced, but there are ways to overcome them and make the relationship work. 💏 It is important to discuss matters with your significant other: what do you truly feel, and what do you expect them to do? Here are some tips for an ADHD relationship to thrive:

Maintain Honesty and Communication

As much as possible, be honest and maintain an open communication with your partner. ❤️ Being truthful can help resolve issues that may arise along the way. Maintaining focus and eye contact during important conversations can also make them feel valued. For a couple, building strong communication is still a key.

Another thing to be mindful of is your sincerity towards your partner. Though sometimes, things can get hard and there are plenty of challenges, it is important to show your partner that you are doing your best to avoid doing things that can potentially hurt him or her. 

For example, if you struggle with chronic lateness because you find it difficult to perceive time correctly, and planning ahead isn't your thing, try to acknowledge the problem and apologize to your partner. Afterward, think of ways for you to solve this issue.

Work as a Team

Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, including Positive ADHD traits, then complement each other. Remember that you are a team.💏 Learn more about each other's assets and shortcomings, whether it's about household responsibilities or important decisions in your daily life.

There are things that a person with ADHD can struggle with, such as maintaining focus or planning ahead. But equivalently, there are activities that you might find relaxing, soothing, and enjoyable. It is important to have both negative and positive aspects noted, so that you can fill each other's gaps.

Celebrate Efforts and Good Intentions

Appreciate extra efforts and acknowledge good intentions. When your partner makes a genuine effort to understand your ADHD traits and cater to your needs, be sure to appreciate it. 🥰 It can mean a lot to them.

Entering a relationship with a partner with ADHD doesn’t always involve struggles and hardships. Hence, be sure to express your appreciation for their efforts. Keeping a good relationship means that both parties need to be empathetic and understanding towards each other, no matter what the situation is. In this way, you can overcome ADHD relationship struggles together. 💏

Don't Forget To Have Fun

Find ways to have fun with your ADHD or non-ADHD partner. Spend time together and find activities that can help you bond and maintain a healthy relationship. This way, it can become easier for you to know each other more personally.

Did you know that sometimes, an ADHD person's impulsivity can attract new hobbies? Being impulsive can also make us explore new and exciting activities! If you chance upon such hobbies or activities, try to encourage your partner to do them with you.

Be Mindful Of Small Things

Take note of small details and important events. I know that having ADHD can make us get easily distracted and forgetful, but still try to make a conscious effort to remember important days. Set reminders on your smartphone and write down notes if this is difficult. This will show your ADHD or non-ADHD partner that you care for them and want to make the relationship work.

Consequently, try to be careful with your words. Sometimes, even if we don't intend to hurt our partner's feelings, we can utter little things that may mean a lot to them. Remember that ADHD symptoms don't define a person.

ADHD Partner: It's Okay To Ask For Help

Romantic relationships can go through difficult moments. But when we live with a partner with ADHD, it can be especially important to address issues before they can impact your romantic relationship. 🙌

If you struggle to understand your partner's actions, want to improve communication with them, and create mutual acceptance, seeking professional help is always a good idea. Aside from talking to your mental health professional and asking them to provide medical advice for you, a therapist specializing in romantic relationships can help manage emotional outbursts, solve a deeper issue, create coping strategies to maintain honest communication, improve your intimate relationships, and better understand ADHD's effect on your dynamics.

It is important to remember that for a relationship to work, it requires both parties' patience, effort, and understanding. Having ADHD doesn't mean that the relationship won't work out well. It just means that both parties need to make a conscious effort to understand ADHD and make the relationship last. With a positive attitude and approach, you can make it happen!


Even relationships where both partners have no ADHD go through problems and issues, especially when they are still testing the waters. Difficulties and struggles arise for both partners if they don't keep open communication and compromise with each other. The same goes for relationships where one or both partners have ADHD

Just like neurotypical couples out there, you can be happy and enjoy each other's company if you can manage your symptoms well and explain to your partner the importance of them understanding you during rough times.

Relationships, where one or both partners have ADHD, are not set up for failure. However, it’s essential that your partner can address your main points of struggle and help you go through every hardship that you experience. Partners who conquer everything together and stay together in times of difficulties can have a happy, healthy, and long-lasting relationship. So don't give up, and keep going! Who knows? You might just find someone who is willing to go the extra mile for you.

5 ADHD Relationship Struggles

5 ADHD Relationship Struggles: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Will the symptoms of ADHD prevent you from having a healthy romantic relationship?

The symptoms of ADHD can sometimes be complex and may present themselves differently to other people with ADHD. It can make romantic relationships more challenging, but with teamwork and communication, you can have a healthy and happy relationship.

Are there any secrets to a long-lasting relationship with your ADHD partner?

The truth is, there is none. Some say that there are secrets or formulas for having a long-term relationship, but actually, it differs for every relationship. How you handle all your struggles and good times together also count. For me, some of the important things to really look after is your communication and understanding with your partner, and from that, everything else can follow.

One partner often chooses to stay at home and avoid social gatherings, while the other one loves going outside and enjoying social settings. How do you solve things like that?

Some people with ADHD may not be comfortable with social gatherings, especially big ones. If your partner loves going out and you’re not comfortable with it, you can communicate your thoughts and feelings and maybe find a middle ground. 

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