Relationships And ADHD

For some people with ADHD, a relationship can be a challenge. This can be especially true if a person has difficulty controlling their impulses. The relationship struggles are minimized if both parties understand and accept ADHD and its effects on their relationships.

How ADHD Affects Relationships

Relationships can be challenging for anyone, and that’s even more true if you have ADHD. It can be hard to understand why your partner acts the way they do, or you might feel like they’re not listening to you when you speak with them. However, understanding that these behaviors are caused by ADHD helps to reduce the pressure. It can also make your relationship more empathetic and open.

A partner with ADHD might not always be able to give as much support as they want or need, so it’s important to offer extra help and encouragement when you can. It’s also important to appreciate your partner’s efforts in understanding your ADHD traits and addressing your needs. It’s not always easy to do, but it can make a big difference in your relationship. Be sure to tell them how grateful you are for their extra efforts.


One of the biggest relationship struggles/challenges is communication issues. Those with ADHD often have a hard time communicating openly and clearly with their partner, which can lead to arguments. The solution is to communicate effectively and be clear about what you need from your partner in a relationship. Then, work on solutions to these challenges together, explains Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, Ed.S., LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Another major challenge people with ADHD face in relationships is feeling overwhelmed by daily life. This can cause them to feel a lot of stress and frustration. Then, they can become subordinate to their partners, who spend a lot of time correcting them and trying to run the show. This can feel emasculating and lead to a parent-child dynamic, says O’Neill.

Developing Trust

Relationships are about trust, and people with ADHD can struggle to develop that trust. The non-ADHD partner may feel like they’re being criticized or blamed, and the ADHD partner might feel misunderstood. Ultimately, this cycle can be destructive to the relationship. It causes the non-ADHD partner to nag and become increasingly resentful, and the ADHD partner to get defensive and withdraw. To prevent this, make sure you’re communicating well. Be clear about your expectations, ask questions, and listen actively. You can also avoid arguing by staying objective, and try to keep emotions in check. It’s not always easy, but it can help to stay focused on what matters most in the moment.

Relationships Are A Two-Way Street

Relationships with someone that doesn’t have ADHD can be challenging and frustrating for both partners. While it’s important for the ADHD partner to address his/her main points of struggle, it is equally crucial that the non-ADHD partner understands and supports the person with the disorder during tough times. For example, if the ADHD partner does not take on household chores as they should, the non-ADHD partner can feel unappreciated and neglected. This behavior is not unavoidable, and it’s important to try and work out the problem.