Falling in love is easy. Staying in love isn’t. The struggles are real. Even if you love someone deeply and unconditionally, there are times when you’ve probably thought- this is too hard, I’m out of here. Because often you have to give up what you want to please someone else. You have to express your emotions calmly. You have to do things you don’t want to do. You have to forgive, let go and move on. You have to listen and pay attention to what other people say. And when times are tough, you have to dig in deeper, stay stronger, and not bolt. All these behaviors can be a major challenge for a person with ADHD.
So how can you be in a healthy, happy relationship if you have ADHD?
Here are some things to think about and put into action:
1. Two people need to commit to working on themselves and the relationship.
People get stuck in fantasy “happily ever-after” thinking. That’s not reality. Life is hard. That doesn’t mean you run when things aren’t perfect. You both have to be in it for the easy times and the hard times. Nobody’s perfect- even the “normal” person without ADHD has imperfections. If you expect perfection, you’ll be disappointed. Everybody has flaws. But if you’re in a strong relationship, your partner’s strengths outweigh his weaknesses.
REALITY CHECK: Talk to your partner. Make sure you’re both in it all the way and are willing to work hard to make your relationship strong and healthy.
2. Two people have to communicate what they feel- in a calm, respectful way. Yes, it is possible.
This is a tough one for an ADHDer. Either we say everything we think (and regret it later),
or we don’t talk at all. We have a hard time expressing our overwhelming emotions. We’re in, or we’re out. Expecting your partner to read your mind doesn’t work either. And then, we’re so passionate that our voices and enthusiasm sound like we’re screaming, humiliating, or criticizing our partner. (Yes, we can be drama queens.) Make it a rule to take a Pause when you’re overly emotional, and when you calm down, re-visit the situation. Have conversations often so you get used to talking honestly, openly, directly, and respectfully.
REALITY CHECK: Abuse of any kind (physical or verbal) is never acceptable! If you have
ADHD and are being abusive, get help ASAP! If you love someone with ADHD who is being abusive, get help ASAP!
3. Two need to give and take every day.
People get caught up in keeping score in a relationship. I went to your family’s house three
times, you’ve only been to mine twice. Give it up! It’s a harmful thought process.
The old saying is true, “The more you give, the more you receive.” First, try throwing out
your relationship scorecard. Then try giving more. I’m not saying you should give up
everything you want, but just try opening your heart a little more to try to please your
partner. Start with little things. Let him/her pick the restaurant or movie. Make him
his favorite meal. (Food makes people happy and feel loved). Just try to be nicer whenever you can.
REALITY CHECK: If you keep giving and your partner doesn’t appreciate or reciprocate, then
it might be time to re-evaluate your relationship. Remember, a relationship requires two people to participate, care, and share.
4. Two people need to think of how the other person feels.
Compassion is the most important part of a stable relationship. Instead of being angry
when your partner comes home (or wakes up) in a bad mood, try a little compassion. Ask
him/her if everything is ok. Do something to make him/her feel better. It’s not about you. Be kind and practice being a more gentle person (we’re not mean people, we get overwhelmed easily).
REALITY CHECK: Do not confuse kindness and compassion for co-dependency. Kindness and
compassion have healthy boundaries (another major challenge for an ADHDer), co-dependency
has no boundaries. It’s unhealthy and not a sign of a good relationship.
5. Two people must be aware of how ADHD is affecting your relationship.
ADHD is invisible. Not really, because people blame lots of things on ADHD. But it’s
invisible because you don’t really know when your behavior is ADHD or just the results of a bad day (like everybody has), People with ADHD have a lot of shame and guilt. They feel like everything is their
fault (even though they won’t admit it). Get to know the ADHD traits that are showing up. Listening, distracted, forgetfulness, and having trouble expressing the intense emotions we ADHDers feel, are traits that could ruin a relationship (if they’re not dealt with).
REALITY CHECK: Don’t ignore ADHD. Don’t make it invisible. And don’t pretend that it
doesn’t exist. ADHD is real, and it doesn’t go away. Accept that it is a constant presence
in your lives. Become educated. Get help (go to my Coaching page and set up a free consultation).
6. Two people need to laugh.
ADHD can be funny, if you lighten up a little. Last week I sent my husband an email that said, “Hi honey, remind me to tell you three things when you get home: what the plumber said, what happened to me at the store, and hmmm, I can’t remember what I wanted you to remind me.
“C’mon, you’ve got to laugh about that. It was ADHD, and it was funny. For a few days after, we laughed about it. As ADHDers, we tend to get our feelings hurt easily. You don’t have to take everything personally, it’s ok to laugh at ADHD.
REALITY CHECK: Don’t be afraid to laugh about ADHD.
Try these tips in your love life and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you. Email me… firstname.lastname@example.org or let’s talk. Fill this out, and I’ll contact you to set up an appointment to chat about ADHD.
Work hard, stay happy, keep smiling.