Attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) among children and teens, and the conflicts with parents that often result, are focused on often. When children and teens with ADHD grow up, though, many of these individuals experience issues in romantic relationships because of how their symptoms impact them and their interactions with significant others.
Common issues that adults with ADHD experience in romantic relationships include difficulty being on time; trouble following through on tasks (paying bills, taking out the trash, etc.); struggling to keep the living space neat (leaving dishes around the house, piles of papers on the desk, etc.); difficulty disconnecting from technology (cell phone, computer, television, etc.); failure to take initiative to plan date nights and activities; and inconsistent follow-through in enforcing consequences for children, among other difficulties related to parenting.
If you struggle with these or other relationship issues because of ADHD symptoms, here are some strategies for making changes to improve your relationship with your significant other:
- Identify what specific issues you have (difficulty getting places on time, following through on completing tasks, etc.). Make a list.
- Set aside time to talk with your significant other about the issues you are having and let him or her express any concerns/frustrations about how these issues are affecting your relationship.
- Determine if there are things you can do to address things, as well as ways your significant other can assist you in a manner that is comfortable for both of you. Examples may include having your significant other take care of paying bills (and you doing different household tasks that are easier for you to remember); putting a whiteboard in the kitchen with tasks that each person needs to complete; or setting reminders in a calendar or task list on a smartphone.
- For issues related to consistent parenting, make sure methods for handling issues are decided upon ahead of time when possible (for example: if your child hits a younger sibling, a specific consequence is enforced). Make a list of the issues and consequences and keep it handy, perhaps in a notes app on your phone. In addition, make sure you keep enforcement of consequences as simple as possible, with as few steps as possible. This will help make it easier to follow through with consistency while parenting.
Mental health professionals can assist you in addressing the above-mentioned issues. An ADHD coach/therapist can work you, and possibly include your partner as appropriate, to address ADHD-related concerns in your relationship. Couples therapy, specifically, can address issues in the relationship in general, with a strong focus on the role of ADHD symptoms.
Alternatively, perhaps as a supplement to therapy, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication to help address symptoms related to focusing and restlessness. However, if the executive functioning skills needed to get to places on time, plan ahead, complete tasks, etc., are not already developed, medication will not fully address these issues. It may help improve them, but learning behavioral techniques to better develop these skills is essential.
ADHD in adulthood, if the symptoms are not effectively treated, can have a significant impact on occupational functioning, social functioning, and the quality of romantic and interpersonal relationships. Seek help if you need it. If you are struggling with ADHD symptoms, it is important to take action to make the necessary changes in your life so that you can enjoy life to the fullest and thrive.
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