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  • Writer's pictureThe Team at Be Your Best Self and Thrive

Have A Partner With ADHD Symptoms?: Best Strategies To Support Your Partner

Updated: Apr 9

Love is described as a profound emotion that binds individuals together in a deep and meaningful connection. It is characterized by affection, understanding, and acceptance, fostering intimacy and mutual support. Ultimately, love is a complex and deeply enriching experience that shapes and enriches the lives of those who embrace it.

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ADHD adds an extra layer of complexity to the already intricate dance of love. It influences how individuals communicate, prioritize, and regulate emotions, introducing unique challenges that require patience, empathy, and understanding from both partners. While love can be a source of strength and support, it can also magnify the difficulties associated with ADHD, testing the resilience and commitment of those involved.

Despite the hurdles posed by ADHD, love has the power to transcend limitations and forge bonds that are resilient and enduring. It teaches us patience, empathy, and resilience, as we navigate the ebb and flow of emotions and experiences together. With dedication, understanding, and a willingness to learn and grow, partners can find harmony amidst the chaos, creating a love that is as beautiful as it is uniquely theirs.

What is ADHD? 

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It typically begins in childhood and can persist into adulthood, affecting various aspects of life including work, school, and relationships.

The Symptoms of ADHD can consist of…

  • Difficulty paying attention to details and making careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities

  • Trouble staying focused

  • Frequently losing items necessary for tasks or activities, such as keys, wallets, or phones

  • Easily distracted by unrelated stimuli or thoughts

  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as studying or paperwork

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

  • Often leaves seat in situations where remaining seated is expected, such as in a classroom or during meetings

  • Runs or climbs in inappropriate situations (in adolescents and adults, this may be experienced as a subjective feeling of restlessness)

  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly

  • Talks excessively

  • Often “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”

  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed

  • Difficulty waiting for one’s turn, frequently interrupting of intruding others’ conversations or games

  • Often acts impulsively without considering consequences, leading to accidents or socially inappropriate behavior

  • Interrupts or intrudes on others, such as taking over what others are doing without permission

  • Difficulty in delaying gratification or waiting for rewards, often preferring immediate rewards or outcomes

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It's essential to remember that not everyone with ADHD will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Additionally, symptoms may present differently depending on factors such as age, gender, and individual differences. A qualified healthcare professional should evaluate symptoms for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of ADHD.

How Can ADHD Look in a Relationship When Only One Partner Has Received a Diagnosis?

When one partner in a relationship is diagnosed with ADHD and the other is not, it can introduce a unique dynamic that requires understanding, patience, and effective communication from both individuals. Here's how ADHD may manifest in such a relationship:

  • Communication Challenges: The partner with ADHD may struggle with maintaining attention during conversations, leading to misunderstandings or feelings of being ignored by the non-ADHD partner. Conversely, the non-ADHD partner may find it difficult to comprehend the thought processes or behaviors of their ADHD partner, leading to frustration or misinterpretation of intentions.

  • Differences in Organization and Planning: The partner with ADHD may struggle with organization and time management, leading to missed appointments or forgetfulness of important events. This can create tension if the non-ADHD partner feels burdened with managing responsibilities or maintaining structure within the relationship.

  • Emotional Regulation: ADHD can affect emotional regulation, causing mood swings or impulsivity in the partner with ADHD. This may be challenging for the non-ADHD partner to navigate, especially if they feel unsure how to support their partner during emotional fluctuations or impulsive decisions.

  • Division of Responsibilities: There may be an imbalance in the division of responsibilities within the relationship, with the non-ADHD partner taking on more tasks to compensate for their partner's challenges with organization or follow-through. This can lead to resentment or feelings of unfairness if not addressed openly and collaboratively.

  • Support and Understanding: The non-ADHD partner may need to provide additional support and understanding to their partner with ADHD, recognizing that certain behaviors or challenges are a result of the condition rather than intentional actions. Conversely, the partner with ADHD may need to communicate their needs effectively and be receptive to feedback and suggestions from their partner.

  • Seeking Professional Help: Couples therapy or counseling can be beneficial for couples where one partner has ADHD, providing a supportive environment to explore challenges, improve communication, and develop strategies for managing ADHD symptoms within the relationship.

Overall, navigating a relationship where one partner has ADHD, and the other doesn’t, requires a mix of empathy, flexibility, and a willingness to work together to address challenges and foster understanding. With mutual support and effective communication, couples can build a strong and resilient partnership that thrives despite the complexities of ADHD.

How can ADHD Look in a Relationship where Both Partners are Diagnosed?

  • Understanding and Empathy: Both partners have firsthand experience with ADHD symptoms, which can foster empathy and understanding towards each other's challenges. They may be more patient and accepting of each other's quirks and struggles.

  • Shared Strategies: With a shared understanding of ADHD, both partners can collaborate on developing and implementing strategies to manage symptoms. This may include establishing routines, using reminders and organization tools, and providing mutual support to stay on track.

  • Communication Styles: Both partners may have similar communication styles influenced by ADHD, such as impulsivity or tangential thinking. While this can lead to dynamic and engaging conversations, it may also require patience and active listening to ensure effective communication.

  • Hyperfocus: Both partners may experience episodes of hyperfocus, where they become intensely absorbed in tasks or interests. While this can be beneficial for productivity and creativity, it may also lead to neglect of other responsibilities or difficulties transitioning between activities.

  • Challenges with Executive Functioning: Both partners may struggle with executive functioning skills such as organization, time management, and prioritization. This can result in difficulties maintaining household responsibilities or fulfilling commitments requiring mutual understanding and support.

  • Emotional Intensity: ADHD can contribute to emotional intensity and impulsivity, which may lead to heightened emotions or conflicts within the relationship. Both partners may need to work on regulating their emotions and finding constructive ways to address disagreements.

  • Strengths and Weaknesses: While ADHD presents challenges, it also brings strengths such as creativity, spontaneity, and a unique perspective on the world. Both partners can learn to leverage these strengths and support each other in areas where they may struggle.

Overall, in a relationship where both partners are diagnosed with ADHD, there is a shared understanding and experience of the condition that can foster empathy, collaboration, and mutual growth. By working together to navigate the challenges and capitalize on the strengths associated with ADHD, couples can cultivate a strong and supportive relationship.

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BYBS Clinician Rochelle Young: Her Strategy for Navigating Love with ADHD

Rochelle Young, a dedicated clinician at BYBS, brings a unique perspective to her work, being diagnosed with ADHD herself. Through her personal experiences, Rochelle deeply understands the complexities of being in a relationship where one partner has ADHD while the other does not. Drawing from her professional expertise and personal insights, Rochelle approaches her own relationship with empathy, patience, and strategic planning.

One effective strategy she employs is implementing structured communication routines with her partner. Recognizing the challenges of impulsivity and forgetfulness associated with ADHD, Rochelle and her partner set aside dedicated time each week to discuss important matters, share feelings, and address any concerns. By establishing this regular communication ritual, Rochelle ensures that both partners feel heard, supported, and connected, fostering a stronger and more harmonious relationship despite the unique challenges posed by ADHD.

Additional Strategies to Help Couples Navigate Love when One Partner is Diagnosed with ADHD

Here, we have provided a list of strategies to help couples where one partner is diagnosed with ADHD. Then, we provided a realistic example to help couples be able to easily apply and actively practice strategies in their own relationship:

Education and Understanding: Educate both partners about ADHD symptoms, challenges, and coping strategies. Understanding the condition can foster empathy and reduce misconceptions. 

Example: The non-ADHD partner reads books or attends workshops about ADHD to gain insight into their partner's experiences and needs.

Effective Communication: Establish clear communication channels and set aside regular time for open and honest discussions. Use active listening techniques and avoid interrupting each other during conversations. 

Example: The couple schedules weekly check-ins to discuss any concerns, feelings, or issues that have arisen, ensuring both partners feel heard and supported.

Shared Responsibility: Divide household tasks and responsibilities equitably based on each partner's strengths and preferences. Use visual aids or checklists to help the partner with ADHD stay organized and on track.

 Example: The couple creates a chore chart outlining specific tasks and alternating responsibilities, with reminders set on electronic devices to ensure tasks are completed on time.

Routine and Structure: Establish daily routines and rituals to provide predictability and stability in the relationship. Stick to consistent mealtimes, bedtime routines, and designated leisure activities.

 Example: The couple creates a morning routine together, including exercise, breakfast, and planning for the day ahead, which helps the partner with ADHD stay focused and productive.

Flexibility and Adaptability: Be flexible and willing to adjust expectations and plans when necessary. Understand that ADHD symptoms may fluctuate and adapt accordingly without placing blame or judgment. 

Example: The couple agrees on a flexible approach to scheduling social activities, allowing for last-minute changes or cancellations if the partner with ADHD feels overwhelmed or fatigued.

Strategies to Help Couples Navigate Love When Both Partners Are Diagnosed with ADHD:

Joint Problem-Solving: Collaborate on identifying challenges and brainstorming solutions together. Work as a team to address shared struggles and implement effective coping strategies. 

Example: The couple attends couples therapy sessions to learn problem-solving techniques and communication skills tailored to managing ADHD-related issues in their relationship.

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Structure and Routine: Establish consistent routines and schedules to provide stability and reduce impulsivity. Use visual aids, alarms, or smartphone apps to help both partners stay organized and on track. 

Example: The couple creates a shared digital calendar where they input important dates, appointments, and deadlines, allowing them to coordinate their schedules and avoid conflicts.

Self-Care and Stress Management: Prioritize self-care activities and stress-relief techniques to mitigate the impact of ADHD symptoms on the relationship. Practice mindfulness, exercise regularly, and prioritize adequate sleep.

Example: The couple engages in mindfulness meditation together before bed to unwind and alleviate stress, promoting relaxation and emotional well-being.

Support Networks: Build a support network of friends, family members, or support groups who understand ADHD and can provide encouragement and guidance. Lean on each other for emotional support during challenging times. 

Example: The couple joins an online ADHD support group where they can connect with other couples facing similar challenges, share experiences, and exchange advice and encouragement.

Acknowledge and Celebrate Successes: Acknowledge and celebrate achievements, both big and small, in managing ADHD symptoms and strengthening the relationship. Express gratitude and appreciation for each other's efforts and progress. 

Example: The couple sets aside time each month to reflect on their accomplishments and milestones, whether it's completing tasks together or effectively communicating during difficult moments, reinforcing their bond and resilience.

Need Professional Guidance? Consider Booking a Session at BYBS with Rochelle Young

If you have ADHD and find yourself struggling to navigate the complexities of relationships, therapy can be an invaluable resource in helping you find effective strategies and support. Seeking therapy doesn't mean you're broken or incapable; rather, it's a courageous step toward understanding yourself better and learning how to thrive in your relationships. Imagine having a safe space to explore your challenges, express your concerns, and develop practical solutions tailored to your unique needs. 

That's where Rochelle Young, a compassionate clinician at BYBS, comes in. As someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD herself, Rochelle brings a genuine understanding and empathy to her work. She knows firsthand the hurdles and triumphs of living with ADHD and can offer practical insights and strategies to help you navigate your relationship with greater ease. With Rochelle's guidance, you'll discover how to harness your strengths, manage your symptoms, and cultivate deeper connections in your relationships. Take the first step toward a happier, healthier relationship by considering therapy with Rochelle at BYBS. You don't have to navigate this journey alone—let Rochelle be your partner in growth and transformation.

If you’re interested in scheduling a free 15-minute consultation with Rochelle Young, Start Here!

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