ADHD Relationship Cycles

How ADHD Can Cause Problems in a Relationships

Much has been written about the potential problems that ADHD can cause in relationships.These problems can stem from:

  • Inattention – An adult with ADHD can lose focus during a conversation, which leaves the partner feeling devalued. Inattention can also lead to mindlessly agreeing to things that you later forget. Over time, this can lead to resentment.
  • Forgetfulness – Even when an adult with ADHD is paying attention, they might still soon forget what was discussed. This can cause others to see the person as unreliable or incapable.
  • Impulsivity – This can lead to frequent interruptions during conversations or blurting out thoughts without considering the feelings of others. This may result in a partner with hurt feelings.
  • Disorganization – Difficulty organizing and/or completing tasks can lead to household chaos can cause resentment and frustration for the partner, who might feel like he or she does more of the work at home.
  • Emotional dysregulation – Many adults with ADHD have difficulty regulating their emotions – resulting in angry outbursts that leave partners feeling hurt or fearful

These stem from the executive functioning problems that accompany ADHD.

But one aspect of relationships in which one or both of the partners have ADHD that gets less attention is the cycling between hyperfocus and boredom.

Cycling Between Hyperfocus and Boredom

Hyperfocus in individuals with ADHD has been most often talked about in regard to performing tasks or completing projects. The person is able to screen out al distractions and direct a laser focus on something they are highly motivated to work on for a period of time.

However, hyperfocus may also manifest in relationships in the form of an obsessive interest in or adoration of a partner. And like other types of hyperfocus, it can abruptly end and turn into boredom and inattention. This can leave a partner feeling abandoned, confused and bereft.

Hyperfocus in relationships could be driven by

  • The ADHD brain’s affinity for novelty
  • Craving for stimulation and the need to satisfy curiosity or rise to a challenge
  • Low self-esteem and approval-seeking tendencies
  • Getting someone to fall in love with them shows they are not a “failure”

Smoothing Out the Relationship Cycles

While a relationship involving someone with ADHD is never easy, it doesn’t have to be doomed to failure. When you see signs of the the relationship cycle, the key is to get help. Treatment options to help keep your relationship strong and healthy can include a mix of:

  • Medication to help modulate ADHD symptoms
  • Therapy work though behavioral issues
  • Coaching to develop strategies for improving the relationships

Another essential element is a personal commitment on the part of both partners to discover and practice ways to strengthen communication, and develop mutual consideration for each other.



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