14 Tips for When Both Partners Have ADHD (2023)

Submitted by MelissaOrlov on 07/29/2019.

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What’s different when you both have ADHD? Do the same patterns apply? If so, who is in the role of the non-ADHD partner?

And I also get this question – can dual ADHD couples make it?

The answer to the last question is YES! Absolutely! It isn’t the ADHD that dooms you so much as how you handle it, so assuming that you are willing to acknowledge and manage the ADHD, dual ADHD couples can be happy and thrive just as any other couple can do.

When thinking about living together successfully, there are two areas that all couples impacted by ADHD, and dual-ADHD couples in particular, need to be thinking about: 1.) how to get enough stuff done without rancor and 2.) how to stay connected when distraction (and often emotional lability)is a big part of your relationship.

(Video) ADHD Couples Stories

With that in mind, here are my tips:

Both partners need to manage their ADHD. But they may not end up managing it the same way and should not assume what works for them will work for their partner. ADHD manifests in different ways in different people, meaning that the primary symptoms of the several that define ADHD can vary widely by person. So one partner’s primary target symptom may be impulsivity, while the other’s might be hyperactivity or planning. The treatments for these varied symptoms are quite different.

Two distracted partners may mean you need more outside help. People with ADHD often (not always) are pretty messy and disorganized. In ‘mixed’ relationships, the more organized non-ADHD partner picks up the slack, albeit often at a physical and/or mental cost. It’s in the non-ADHD partner’s wheelhouse to do this organizing, but the sheer volume needed can create extreme stress. This physical/mental cost escalates when the more organized partner also has ADHD. I’ve had more organized ADHD partners tell me repeatedly how hard it is for them to take on the organizational role in the household, and how incompetent it generally makes them feel because even though they are more organized than their partner, they still have ADHD! So doing staying organized is particularly taxing. To get around this, I recommend hiring outside help with organizing. That might mean: a housecleaner who is willing to also pick up; a personal assistant for bills; a handy-person to do small repairs a few times a year; yard assistance; tutoring assistance for children, etc. Yes, these all cost money, but overwhelmed adults with ADHD don’t function well, so stretching to pay for this help can be worth it.

Use as much automation as possible. Put as many bills as you can on autopay; set up your home’s thermostats onto Nest or similar that can be managed away from home (in case you forget to turn down the heat when you leave for vacation); use MINT to keep you on budget; share your calendars electronically and more. The more that happens automatically, the better you will be. (Try to set these things up before you have kids if you can because after that you are even busier...)

(Video) How ADHD can affect your relationships

Don’t try to be like your neighbors. It’s okay if your house isn’t picked up and your lawn needed mowing last week. What matters most is the love in your home, not your organizational skills…assuming your electricity doesn’t get turned off and your home repossessed because you forgot to pay the bills.

Live well under your means. Adult ADHD brings with it a chance that one or both of you will have employment issues at some point. All families (ADHD or not) should save in order to set aside at least 6-12 months of living expenses in case of an emergency. If you both have ADHD, I recommend at least a 12 moth reserve and making sure you always live below your means so that a sudden shift in employment status doesn’t put your life together at risk.

Make your conversation about ADHD open, but don’t make it the star attraction. You both have ADHD and will both need to learn how to manage it so you can contribute your best self to your relationship. But that doesn’t mean your lives should be all ADHD all the time! Focus on love, connection, and enjoying each other, too. You are not your ADHD.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your partner should manage ADHD as well as you do. I talk with a fair number of couples in which one partner has known about ADHD since childhood and the other is only recently diagnosed. The person who grew up with ADHD has a better management plan in place and is frustrated by the slow progress of the other partner. That’s not fair! It takes time to learn how to manage your own variety of ADHD. Be patient and supportive and you will see better results for all than if you are critical and impatient.

(Video) How To Have Better Relationships With ADHD

If possible, try to get ADHD fairly well managed before you have your first child. Having kids puts a ton of stress on your relationship, and when one or both partners have ADHD, the lack of sleep and new responsibilities can be a particular burden, in part because sleep deprivation makes ADHD symptoms worse. The better the two of you have figured out your respective ADHD, the more resilience you will have when faced with these stressors.

Resist acting like a non-ADHD partner. In dual ADHD couples the more organized partner often takes on the role traditionally played by non-ADHD partners – that of acting like a ‘strict and demanding parent’ to the other ADHD partner, who takes on the role of ‘irresponsible child.’ This parent/child dynamic destroys relationships. If you find yourself in the role of organizer, reminder, leader, punisher and educator then you are the parent figure. Read my books and heed the advice I provide non-ADHD partners. You MUST get out of this dynamic if you are to thrive. (A note here – ADHD partners must actively move away from the child-like role, as well. This isn’t all about the more organized partner!)

Know your strengths. The nature of ADHD is that you may be ‘lopsided’ in your strengths and weaknesses. This is not a negative thing. You’ll do some things brilliantly, and others not at all well. As an example, a successful entrepreneur with ADHD might be great at thinking up new business ideas but horrible at organizing and doing the paperwork to keep them going. Chances are the two of you are both lopsided in your talents and so between you there may be some significant gaps if your skills aren’t complementary. Take an open-eyed view of your actual strengths and weaknesses and figure out if you need some outside help to bridge the gaps. If both of you are great idea people and horrible at paperwork, for example, you may wish to hire an organizer to keep your household accounts and paperwork organized in a way that allows you to do your taxes or complete the billing for your small business on time.

Schedule time to keep the communication open. You will both live in the ‘now and not now’ time zones of ADHD. That means that you will be often engaged with the thing that is right in front of you, and that may not be your partner. In order to keep your connection with each other strong, you should consider scheduling regular ‘emotional conversation’ time, as well as task coordination time (not the same time!)

(Video) How ADHD Affects Relationships

Schedule time for romance. The same idea holds true for romance. You must both create time for romance – actively setting time aside to focus just on each other – if you are going to thrive. Otherwise you’ll be too distracted from each other and, over time, your connection will fray.

Learn mindfulness. Mindfulness is a skill set that can really help ADHD partners – since you both have it, your relationship will doubly benefit from learning these skills. I've seen greater mindfulness, including learning how to 'pause before doing' be very useful in both managing emotional responses and in learning to do things more efficiently. Take a mindfulness class together, even!

Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff. There will be lots of surprises in your lives. Try not to be hard on yourselves when they arise.

(Video) Self-Care Tips When Both You and Your Child have ADHD

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FAQs

Can 2 ADHD people be in a relationship? ›

When both partners have ADHD, the game changes—with mixed results. Personally understanding the condition may make one partner less likely to express frustration, "but you also see more disorganization, and all the symptoms times two," Matlen says. "It can make for a lot of craziness at home."

Can an ADHD marriage survive? ›

If you are married to someone with ADHD, your relationship may have a lot of challenges. In fact, research has found that relationships are twice as likely to fail when one of the partners has ADHD than those in which the partners don't have it.

What is it like to be married to someone with ADHD? ›

Partners diagnosed with ADHD share many of the same frustrations as their non-ADHD counterparts. They feel misunderstood and unloved. They get angry when their partners criticize them a lot. They worry when their relationship breaks down because of their disorganization and distractibility.

Are ADHD partners loyal? ›

Falling in Love with ADHD

It's true: Attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) has strained more than a few romantic relationships. Equally true (though less recognized) is the fact that partners with ADHD are among the most loyal, generous, engaged, and genuinely fun people you could meet.

What is the divorce rate for ADHD? ›

More revealing is the fact that 38 percent of respondents with ADHD said their marriage had teetered close to divorce in the past. An additional 22 percent said divorce had “crossed my mind;” just 31 percent of respondents with ADHD said they had never given a thought to divorce.

What men with ADHD need from a partner? ›

Advice for Partners of Men with ADHD

Use soft starts in conversations, request rather than demand, and accept that ADHD partners have a right to their opinions, whether or not you like them. Don't set up a dynamic in which your partner feels he can never do well enough for you.

Can people with ADHD have happy relationships? ›

Having a partner with ADHD can make them an exciting and exuberant person to be with, however their ADHD might also cause some problems in a long term relationship and/or marriage. We hope that this page will serve as a resource to help gain awareness of some of the issues adult ADHD can entail.

Is hypersexuality a symptom of ADHD? ›

Two reported sexual symptoms of ADHD are hypersexuality and hyposexuality. If a person with ADHD experiences sexual symptoms, they may fall into one of these two categories.

Can two ADHD people marry? ›

In some ways, two adults with ADHD are a match made in heaven. In other ways, they need to do some hard work, different from neurotypical couples, to keep their marriage, house, and family running smoothly.

How do ADHD marriages work? ›

“ADHD couples are most successful when the husband works on himself, and the wife works on herself. It helps them work better together.”
...
Get things done, end clutter, improve relationships, fight shame & more.
  1. Agree to check in with each other periodically. ...
  2. Prioritize mid-stream. ...
  3. Don't get angry. ...
  4. Reinforce the routine.
11 Mar 2022

How can I save my ADHD marriage? ›

And being married to a person with ADHD is harder.
...
To-Do List for You
  1. Don't take your husband's behaviors personally. ...
  2. Remember that your husband is not defective or flawed. ...
  3. Learn to be patient. ...
  4. Do not enable him. ...
  5. Never tolerate abuse – verbal or physical. ...
  6. Build better communication. ...
  7. Give your husband unconditional love.
19 Nov 2019

Why is it hard to love someone with ADHD? ›

Symptoms of ADHD that can cause relationship problems

You may also miss important details or mindlessly agree to something you don't remember later, which can be frustrating to your loved one. Forgetfulness. Even when someone with ADHD is paying attention, they may later forget what was promised or discussed.

What does ADHD look like in a relationship? ›

When it does, a person with ADHD may seem to barely notice their partner at all. This may make the ignored partner wonder if they are really loved. This dynamic can strain a relationship. The partner with ADHD might constantly question their partner's love or commitment, which maybe perceived as a lack of trust.

Are ADHD people attracted to other ADHD? ›

It has been estimated that five percent of the population has diagnosable ADHD. In fact, Crenshaw added, those who lean toward the ADHD spectrum and those who lean toward the anxiety spectrum are often attracted to each other because they are complementary.

What are the positives of ADHD? ›

People living with ADHD may have a variety of skills and abilities beyond those of their neurotypical counterparts. These may include hyperfocus, resilience, creativity, conversational skills, spontaneity, and abundant energy.

Do people with ADHD get bored in relationships? ›

Some people with ADD/ADHD also have trouble maintaining everyday relationships. They often quickly become bored with their romantic partner. When the rush of new love wears off, boredom sets in, they end the relationship and seek out someone new.

How ADHD affects life expectancy? ›

ADHD can reduce life expectancy by as much as 13 years, but its risk is reversible. Learn how to mitigate the risks in this video, with Russell Barkley, Ph.

Do men with ADHD fall in love easily? ›

Can someone with ADHD fall in love? While all kinds of people can fall in love, the experience of people with ADHD falling in love can be more intense for them. This is because the person with ADHD can hyperfocus on the person they are in love with.

Do people with ADHD feel love differently? ›

Intense emotions and hyperfocus

Kids with ADHD often feel emotions more deeply than other kids do. When teens with ADHD fall in love, the feelings of joy and excitement can be even more intense for them. Teens might feel a deep sense of intimacy and acceptance, perhaps for the first time.

How do you make someone with ADHD feel loved? ›

Have a Partner with ADHD? 10 Ways to Offer Support
  1. Encourage professional help.
  2. Don't parent.
  3. Emphasize strengths.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Prioritize communication.
  6. Address specific problems.
  7. Listen to them.
  8. Let it go.
7 Apr 2021

How does a person with ADD think? ›

People in the ADHD world experience life more intensely, more passionately than neurotypicals. They have a low threshold for outside sensory experience because the day-to-day experience of their five senses and their thoughts is always on high volume.

Does ADHD make you masturbate more? ›

A review of the literature on ADHD and potential sexual problems indicated that subjects with ADHD report more sexual desire, greater masturbation frequency, less sexual satisfaction, and more sexual dysfunctions than the general population (41).

Does ADHD make you masterbate more? ›

As a result, dopamine-seeking behaviors — like masturbating or watching pornography — may be extra appealing to folks with ADHD.

Does ADHD affect horniness? ›

Multiple studies have demonstrated that people with ADHD report having a higher sex drive than participants in control groups. If a person's sex drive is too high, they could experience compulsive sexual thoughts or behaviors, and/or desire discrepancy with a sexual partner.

Do ADHD marriages end in divorce? ›

Studies show that marriages in which one or both partners have ADHD are more than twice as likely to divorce and had briefer marriages prior to divorce.

Is loving someone with ADHD hard? ›

Even in the best of situations, ADHD symptoms can make romance hard. When one or both partners have ADHD, the rush of emotions can seem chaotic and the hurt feels are not far away.

Is ADHD grounds for divorce? ›

In rare cases where ADHD is severe or becomes a central issue in the relationship, it could lead to divorce. For starters, if someone has impulse control issues, it could affect their spending habits, which are often a financial stressor in any marriage.

Do people with ADHD struggle with long term relationships? ›

Because adults with ADHD constantly crave new experiences, maintaining a long-term relationship can be a struggle, even without the burden of criticism. If resentment builds, an their need for stimulation is likely to create the impulse to find another partner.

Does ADHD worsen with age? ›

ADHD does not get worse with age if a person receives treatment for their symptoms after receiving a diagnosis. If a doctor diagnoses a person as an adult, their symptoms will begin to improve when they start their treatment plan, which could involve a combination of medication and therapy.

What is ADHD mask? ›

If you hide your adult ADHD symptoms from other people, that's called masking. Basically, you're trying to seem more “normal” or “regular.” ADHD causes some people to act hyperactive or impulsive. It makes other folks have trouble paying attention. And still other adults have a combination of those symptoms.

Is ADHD a mental illness or disorder? ›

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.

Is selfishness a symptom of ADHD? ›

Self-centered behavior is common with ADHD.

One sign of this is interrupting during a conversation or butting in on conversations they were not a part of. Another sign of self-centered behavior is not being able to wait for their turn.

Can two people with ADHD marry? ›

In some ways, two adults with ADHD are a match made in heaven. In other ways, they need to do some hard work, different from neurotypical couples, to keep their marriage, house, and family running smoothly. I'm grateful my husband doesn't ridicule my scatterbrain tendencies.

Are people with ADHD good in relationships? ›

Symptoms of ADHD that can cause relationship problems

If you have ADHD, you may zone out during conversations, which can make your partner feel ignored and devalued. You may also miss important details or mindlessly agree to something you don't remember later, which can be frustrating to your loved one.

Is it hard for people with ADHD to have relationships? ›

For many people affected by ADHD, key symptoms like inattention, forgetfulness, and disorganization negatively affect their relationships. The partners without ADHD can misinterpret their partners' intentions, resulting in increased frustration and resentment.

Is it worth dating someone with ADHD? ›

Adults with ADHD are good with people, creative, flexible, and calm in a crisis, all of which can be beneficial in any relationship. Adults with ADHD can be very engaged as they can hyperfocus on areas of interest, Roberts explains. “This can make the start of a relationship a whirlwind.

Do people with ADHD love differently? ›

Kids with ADHD often feel emotions more deeply than other kids do. When teens with ADHD fall in love, the feelings of joy and excitement can be even more intense for them. Teens might feel a deep sense of intimacy and acceptance, perhaps for the first time.

Do people with ADHD have trust issues? ›

When it does, a person with ADHD may seem to barely notice their partner at all. This may make the ignored partner wonder if they are really loved. This dynamic can strain a relationship. The partner with ADHD might constantly question their partner's love or commitment, which maybe perceived as a lack of trust.

Videos

1. Introduction: Adult ADHD & Relationships (Part I)
(Gina Pera ADHD Roller Coaster)
2. What to Do When Your Spouse Has A.D.H.D.
(The Dr. John Delony Show)
3. ADHD Child vs. Non-ADHD Child Interview
(My Little Villagers)
4. ADHD in Adulthood: The Signs You Need to Know
(MedCircle)
5. Adult ADHD & Relationships: (Part 5): "Communication Tips"
(Gina Pera ADHD Roller Coaster)
6. Tips for Parenting Teens with ADHD - Parenting Strategies for ADHD
(Smart Course)
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