Help! I think my partner has ADHD
It’s a common misapprehension that only children can struggle with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), but the truth is that it is a prevalent issue among adults as well. Undiagnosed ADHD is one of the most common developmental disorders, affecting millions of adults each year, along with their relationships.
3 signs your partner has ADHD:
How do you know if your partner has undiagnosed ADHD? This disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsivity and/or inattention that interferes with a person’s ability to function in nearly all spheres of life including education, money management, interpersonal relationships, work, and parenting.
Here are 3 common symptoms that may indicate that your partner is struggling with ADHD:
Impulsivity – Decisions are made quickly, spuriously, with little forethought. Your partner prioritizes instant gratification over long-term rewards. Impulsivity might also manifest as social intrusiveness or abruptness.
Inattention - Your partner loses focus easily, has difficulty getting started on tasks, lacks persistence for activities that require sustained mental effort, has variable attention to details, or has difficulty with organization. These problems are not rooted in defiance or confusion.
Hyperactivity – In adults, hyperactivity is less often manifested as excessive fidgeting and moving about inappropriately as it is in children with ADHD and, more often, as extreme restlessness, talking, or wearing others out with constant activity.
Still not sure?
Studies have shown that adults with ADHD statistically have more marriages, and their spouses report lower levels of satisfaction with the marriage than do people who don’t have spouses with ADHD. How you feel in the relationship might be the strongest indicator!
I’ve been feeling…
Like my partner never follows through on promises
Like the only adult in the relationship
These are red flags that you should pay attention to. If your partner has ADHD, you may feel like your partner never follows through on promises, putting you in a position of nagging or reminding, or forcing you to do everything yourself. They might come across as indifferent or uncaring.
It’s common for the spouses of adults with ADHD to feel like the only adult in the relationship or like they cannot rely on their partners. Many describe an unhealthy parent-child dynamic developing due to the non-ADHD partner feeling responsible for everything and the ADHD partner feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and defensive and eventually pulling away. It’s easy to see how this disorder, left undiagnosed, can lead to destructive cycles in the relationship and layers of built up resentment.
How counseling can help you, your partner, and your relationship
The good news is that adult ADHD is highly treatable. The first step in tackling the problem is getting the proper diagnosis. Therapy can help individuals to overcome the embarrassment and insecurities that have accumulated as a result of their undiagnosed symptoms and allow them to better recognize their own strengths. In addition to treating ADHD, therapy addresses some likely overlapping issues such as depression, anxiety, and strategies to improve interactions between partners.
The partners of those with ADHD also benefit from therapy and education. Both parties need to understand that ADHD is not a moral diagnosis, but a medical one. Only then can they begin the work of peeling back the layers of misunderstanding and resentment to relearn compassion and empathy for each other.
To learn more about treatment for ADHD click here.
To schedule your FREE consultation for couples therapy or individual therapy click here.