Adult ADHD and Relationships
How Does ADHD Affect Your Relationships?
Some people say: “ADHD is actually a gift and you just have to find the right person to appreciate it.” Well, it’s not quite that simple. ADHD affects your life, work and relationships. It could be a partner who gets easily annoyed, a sibling who lacks impulse control, or a co-worker with little patience. Often the person with ADHD is not willful or even aware that their behaviors are causing some of the problems. Other times, they are aware of the relationship issues, but find it very difficult to manage their behaviors and may be very sincere when they say things like “I’ll try harder” or “I’ll try not to interrupt or to say hurtful things” or “I don’t know how to explain things as eloquently”.
The Elephant In The Room
The most impairing deficit for social skills is the inability to regulate emotions. It seems easier to forgive the person for their ADHD problems with distractibility, forgetfulness, or quick decision making, than to forgive or forget their mood, irritability, or anger issues. Relationship issues often show up with friendship and family problems, marital difficulties, dating problems, or customer complaints. The person with ADHD is perceived as showing a lack of interest, being absent- minded, talking too much or too loudly, being too sensitive or emotional, or not listening to the other person’s side.
“Maybe, she’s working too hard” or “He didn’t learn how to do all these things in childhood” or “She wants to please everyone else”. Regardless of the type of relationship, the non-ADHD person often ends up feeling unappreciated and not valued.
ADHD is a disorder of self-regulation and self-control. The person with ADHD may try to control the overwhelming feelings of being promoted, of marriage or parenting by having a strict routine or schedule. Problems occur when things go wrong due to their inability to adapt or be flexible.
• Manage Symptoms – become aware of ADHD behavior signs and symptoms that affect relationships, educate yourself, seek a diagnosis and treatment options. Knowing what you are dealing with provides hope.
• Don’t worry about who is right – the goal is to move forward. Not to stay stuck in an argument. The relationship may be more important than it is to be right all of the time.
• Take a break – it may be time to give up on a relationship that is not working, especially if it’s been a really hard process where you have tried everything you can think of. You do have a life of your own and a right to be happy.
• Seek professional help – don’t wait too long to get help for your own mental health and well-being.
Myth Vs. Fact
Myth: ADHD is not a real disorder.
Fact: Leading researchers, psychiatrists and physicians have confirmed that ADHD is a real disorder that causes difficulties that interfere with normal functioning and can lead to lifelong problems with school, relationships, self-esteem and personal safety.
The Myths and Facts, Janssen-Ortho Inc. Brochure, 2015. Toronto: Janssen-Ortho
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