ADHD & Relationships

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

We hear a lot about ADHD in children but what challenges do adults with ADHD face, particularly in maintaining relationships?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can present as bursts of hyperactivity, loss of concentration or disorganisation. The person with ADHD may have lots of ideas and plans but unable to follow them through. They may be late for arrangements or forget them altogether.  They may find it difficult to concentrate and focus on long conversations.

Friends or intimate partners may read these behaviours in other ways. For example, they may feel the person is disinterested or does not value them and fear that means a lack of love.

A key element of relationship counselling is examining the communication process and understanding at each stage what is going on for each person. Is what a partner hears communicated actually what the person was saying? Here a couple may discover, for example,  that what seemed like showing disregard is actually a response to feeling overloaded and distressed.

It is important to look also at the needs of both people in the relationship and encourage them to work together. Learning more about the condition can help both partners understand what might be motivating certain responses. Learning how to best support and respond to your partner can build trust in each other and in being able to resolve issues.

During counselling we may also discuss how criticism now triggers feelings from past experiences or interactions. A person with ADHD may have heard similar negative comments from parents or teachers throughout their life. Counselling creates a safe space to explore difficult feelings such as anger, frustration or shame or to challenge negative self-image freeing the person to be able to feel loved and wanted.