10 Ways to Ruin a Good "ADD" Relationship

by Antony Amen, Sharon Johnson

If you are like many ADD adults, relationships don't always come easy. You have to work on communication, organization, and anger management on a daily basis. Below, find 10 ways to ruin a good ADD relationship and expert tips to safe and strenghten your relationships...

Disrespect the Other Person

  1. Violate trust. So many relationships – between partners with and without ADHD – fall apart after a major violation in trust like an affair. Hurts in the present, even minor ones, can be blown out of proportion just because they remind us of major traumas in the past. Work with your partner on forgiveness and set out a plan to prevent future problems.
  2. Discount the other person. A sure-fire way to doom a relationship is to belittle or degrade the other person, especially if he or she is working hard to manage symptoms of attention deficit disorder. Unfortunately, many people use these forms of negative control to wield power in a relationship and don't understand how it can erode the foundation. Adults with ADHD and their spouses should both protect the relationship by building up the other person's self-esteem.
  3. Blame the other person. Many people fail to take responsibility and spend lots of time blaming the other person for a relationship's shortcomings. Be proactive and work with your partner so he can see things from your point of view. Look for the things you can do to build a better relationship. rather than waiting for your partner to step up.

Look on the Negative Side

  1. Get stuck in a rut. When relationships become stale or boring, they become vulnerable. Because adults with ADHD can become bored easily, stay away from "the same old thing" and look for new and different ways to bring life to your relationships.
  2. Fail to notice the good. Spouses of ADD adults will tell you it's very easy to notice what you don’t like about a relationship, but it takes real effort to notice what you do. When you spend more time focusing on the positive parts of your relationship, you’re more likely to see an increase in positive behaviors.

Communicate Poorly

  1. Miscommunicate. Not clearly understanding another person, jumping to conclusions or mind reading can all hurt a good relationship. ADD adults should take time to really listen and clarify the things other people say. Don't react to what you think someone means, ask him what he means and then formulate a response.
  2. Show a lack of empathy. Many people—with ADHD and without—lack the knowledge or desire to understand things from another person's point of view. This self-centeredness destroys the critical balance that's needed for closeness and an intimate bond to develop. Talk with your partner and acknowledge that the ADHD brain works differently. Strategize how you can work together to understand the other person’s point of view.
  3. Avoid conflict. Whenever you give in to another person to avoid a fight, you give away a little of your shared power. If you do this repeatedly, you'll start to resent the relationship. Attention deficit adults need to stick up for what they know is right-- it will be better for the relationship.

Don’t Invest in the Relationship

  1. Don’t make time. Sadly, time spent on important relationships is often the first thing that goes away in our busy lives. Especially with focus-challenged ADD adults, daily distractions often get in the way of quality time with loved ones. Make your special relationships a time investment and it will pay dividends for years to come.
  2. Take the relationship for granted. Relationships need constant nurturing and suffer when you don't make them a priority. Focus on what you both want in a relationship and then figure out a plan to make it happen. From time to time adults with ADHD may need to be reminded of this plan and their spouses may need to be willing to revise it as needed.