ADHD in relationships: taking responsibility
I work with many couples where one partner (and occasionally both) have ADHD, which can cause a little to a lot of friction in relationships.
Here are some suggestions I routinely share with clients. Sorry, no quick fixes or magic words. And one size does not fit all. PLEASE DO NOT take these phrases away to regurgitate to your partner.
You’ve got to MEAN them when you say *your own version* of these questions and commitments I’m offering.
(Be prepared, I’m not going to sugarcoat the effort or ownership that will be required of you)
So, here we are. If you have ADHD, here are some tips for taking active responsibility in your relationships:
1. Routinely ask your non-ADHD partner...
“How are you *really*? I’d like to know how these [ADHD traits] of mine impact you. I’m listening.”
2. Give your non-ADHD partner permission...
“Please call me out if ever I use my ADHD as an excuse, not an explanation.”
3. Share with your non-ADHD partner...
“I’m aware that these [ADHD traits] of mine have shown up in past relationships. What I took away were these [lessons].”
4. Take ongoing accountability...
“I’m trying [these strategies], and if they don’t work, I have list of ideas I’ll try until I find something that truly helps.”
5. Make a commitment...
“I don’t know what more to do for my ADHD, so I’m seeking help. I’ve booked an appointment with a therapist (or ADHD specialist)”
6. Don’t say what you think they want to hear...
Tell them your truth.
7. Be honest with your non-ADHD partner...
“I don’t intend on taking any actions to change. I don’t mind living life this way. My ADHD expressed in [these ways] is likely what you’d forever have to live with.”
The main thing: be honest.
If you *don’t know how* to change, be honest about that.
If you *can’t be bothered* or don’t have the space in your life right now to work on it, then be honest about that.
If you *don’t want to change*, that’s precisely what you’ve got to say.
All partners need to know what they’re signing up for. If you’re self-aware and know your ADHD well, share those reflections with your partner. If you withhold them in the hope they’ll love you and stay, consider that a deception…
I'm being completely frank with you. My belief is that we get further when we're fully honest - with ourselves and others. If you're considering therapy, you're welcome to book a free introductory call with me to see if I can help.