This post will cover some tips and tricks for how to minimize the negative impacts of ADHD on your relationships.
It’s hard enough living with ADHD in adults, and relationships just add another layer of complication. However, much of living with ADHD is about mindset. If you know who you are and what you want, you can use that self-knowledge to make the most of your relationships.
How ADHD impacts romantic relationships
ADHD can present a real obstacle for intimacy: When you’re distracted – or hyper-focused on something else – you can’t be present for a partner. If you’re prone to procrastination, you might have trouble keeping promises or making the most of opportunities. Your partner may feel ignored or frustrated that you’re out of reach.
The only way to know how your ADHD impacts your partner is to ask: Choose a distraction-free environment, set a timer for each of you to talk for equal amounts of time – and commit to not interrupting until they’re done.
Use the talk to form a gameplan: commit to making one simple change each (for example, keep the phone off during dinner), and then to check in next week to see how it’s been going. Rinse and repeat until this kind of communication becomes routine.
While long term relationships are best suited for this kind of communication, you can talk about your ADHD with more casual partners as well. (For example, give them a head’s up if you have trouble being on time – before you keep them waiting.) Think of it as part of the get-to-know-you process so you can set the stage for a healthy relationship.
For adolescents living with ADHD, teenage relationships present challenges of their own, as hormones amp up traits like impulsivity. A therapist can help provide a steady, mature perspective to get you (or your child) through the roller coaster.
How ADHD impacts professional relationships
A common misconception is that people with ADHD struggle at work. Distraction, procrastination and challenges with organization aren’t top on the list of must-have employee qualities.
But if you can communicate your strengths and challenges to your colleagues, ADHD can work to your advantage.
Start by asking yourself foundational questions, such as: Are you a big-picture thinker? Are you a deep expert in a topic? Do you struggle with task completion or paying attention to minutiae?
These answers can help you figure out what kind of work environment you would prefer – and how to make the most of your current situation. Maybe you aren’t cut out to be a direct report and would thrive as a solopreneur (with the help of a detail-focused partner. Or maybe you need to reconsider your role in your team, to ensure that you can stay in your zone of genius and other people can stay in theirs.
How ADHD impacts families and friends
Having ADHD can impact friendships and family dynamics in so many different ways that we recommend starting with an inventory of the struggles you face.
For example, do you struggle to focus on conversations in loud party situations? If so, can you schedule one-on-one time to make sure to connect with your closest people?
This won’t be instantaneous, but if you start from self-knowledge, then communicate with others, you can develop tactics to handle (or avoid) the situation.
If someone close to you has ADHD
If your partner, colleague, family member or friend has ADHD, here are a few ways you can help.
First, remember that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, not something they can switch on and off.
Second, setting your relationship up for success does not mean doing all the work. It means respecting their needs (such as having low-distraction environments for important conversations) and communicating with them in a non-judgemental way.
Third, it takes practice (as with everything worth doing). Opening up channels of communication is an important first step, but it’s just the beginning. You’ll both need to troubleshoot the relationship and continue to offer gentle reminders. As long as both of you give it your best try – and know that each one of you is trying their best – the relationship will likely head in the right direction.
Also Read: 7 Ways Addiction Impacts Your Relationship