Busting The Myths About Dating Someone With ADHD

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Dating someone with ADHD might be difficult. But dating anyone can be hard, whether or not they struggle with ADHD. 

But there are things unique to a person with ADHD that are important to understand. If your partner has ADHD and you want your relationship to flourish, you need to be aware of these facts and myths.

RELATED: How Adult ADD & ADHD Can Impact Healthy Relationships

If you're dating someone with ADHD, you need to be aware of some facts and myths.

Let’s start with the facts.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain-based condition that impacts executive function.

Executive function is what people use to navigate every aspect of daily life including activation, planning, organizing, time management, and being able to stay focused after losing interest.

People with ADHD get significantly less or an imbalanced amount of the neurotransmitters that make their executive functioning flow consistently. If you're dating someone with ADHD, this is something you're going to notice.

Some terms to understand brain function differences are: 

Neurotypicals are those without ADHD or not on the autism spectrum.

Neurodiverse are those with ADHD or on the autism spectrum.

Now, let’s talk about myths and misunderstandings, which add to the stigma and prejudice about how ADHD can affect relationships.

Can someone with ADHD fall in love?

Yes! One of the many strengths of those with ADHD is that they can feel deeply and love deeply.

Is it hard for people with ADHD to date?

Yes, for multiple reasons.

Many people with ADHD may also live with social anxiety, OCD, generalized anxiety, and/or depression.

Some symptoms of ADHD that can make it hard to date are hyper-focus, time blindness, struggles with small talk, getting bored easily, difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, a tendency to interrupt, and forgetfulness.

But, there are coping strategies for managing ADHD symptoms.

Some examples are focusing on executive functioning strengths, awareness that the ADHD brain needs stimulation, especially when doing things that require no thought or that are boring.

Breaking big tasks down into very small tasks can also help.

RELATED: 10 Things You Need To Know If You Love Someone With ADHD

How can ADHD ruin a relationship?

Through denial and a lack of awareness.

Relationships are dependent on personal accountability and self-awareness, as well as compassion for one another and setting boundaries.

Each person in the relationship is responsible for deciding what's OK and what's not OK regarding how they want to be treated.

Denial and lack of awareness from either party can ruin a relationship.

Can ADHD make you abusive?

No. Abuse in a relationship is typically due to a personal history of abuse.

Emotion dysregulation or emotional flooding is a component of ADHD, but this doesn’t mean ADHD equals abuse.  

Those with ADHD can learn to regulate and respond to their emotional experience using mindfulness and self-compassion.

Neurotypicals can also get emotionally dysregulated. They can learn to respond compassionately to their emotional experience, too.

When it comes to ADHD and relationships, one dynamic that couples run into is the parent/child dynamic.

The non-ADHD partner takes on the parent role where they feel they are constantly reminding the ADHD partner of what they said they would do, feeling frustrated by slow or no change. They start to over-function in the relationship while the ADHD partner is under-functioning.

This doesn’t mean it feels good for the ADHD partner to under-function. The ADHD partner usually feels like they are being controlled by the non-ADHD partner in this dynamic.

Communication breaks down and boundaries are blurred in this parent/child scenario.

To shift this power dynamic, each person needs to set their own boundaries and be honest about what they are willing to do for the relationship.

If ending the relationship is what one or both choose, then it should end with honesty and compassion.

If the couple chooses to remain together, then they'll need to support each other and learn how to have a flourishing relationship.

Dating someone with ADHD is challenging, but dating is challenging whether or not you or your partner is neurodiverse or neurotypical.

Be clear about your boundaries and the ways that you aim to show up and behave in the relationship. Then, you can focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t.

RELATED: The 5 Best Tips For A Happy Relationship With Someone Who Has ADHD

Jacqueline V. Cohen is a Licensed Professional Counselor, an ADHD Certified Clinical Specialist Provider, and a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in Adult ADHD.