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5 Ways ADHD Impacts Relationships

"ADHD" spelled out in wooden blocks. Children running in the background on the beach.
While many people associate ADHD and its symptoms with children, there are thousands of adults dealing with ADHD across the country. The effects of ADHD and how they manifest may shift slightly as you get older. But, the condition can cause a lot of problems for adults – especially those who haven’t received a proper diagnosis or those who don’t use management techniques.

Relationships can be difficult for adults with ADHD. That includes romantic relationships as well as friendships and familial connections. The common symptoms of the disorder are distractibility, impulsivity, and emotional outbursts, as well as poor organizational skills. Hearing these symptoms, you can probably make a few assumptions as to why those with ADHD might struggle in relationships. But, let’s take things a step further by covering five ways the disorder impacts relationships, as well as what you can do about it.

1. Others Can Feel Ignored

As stated above, distraction can be a big problem for those with ADHD. That can leave your loved ones feeling left out and ignored, even if it isn’t your intention. Distraction can cause you to miss important details, or make plans and then forget about them later on. That can lead to hurt feelings, or cause your partner to feel as though you don’t truly care about them.

2. Saying Things You’ll Regret

The impulsivity aspect of ADHD can cause you to say or do things in the moment that you probably wouldn’t do if you thought it through. It’s not uncommon for people in relationships to say things they don’t mean when arguing. But, ADHD can cause you to spew out those statements more frequently. Even if your partner understands it’s a symptom of your condition, words are difficult to take back, and they can cut to the core.

3. Struggling With Emotional Outbursts

In addition to saying things you might later regret, you might also get frustrated and let your emotions get the best of you more often than not. These outbursts can lead to heated arguments. They can also turn smaller issues into larger ones, simply through your actions. No one wants to feel “attacked,” but that’s exactly what an emotional outburst does to the people in your life.

4. Your Relationship Might Not Seem Like a Priority

It’s difficult for many people with ADHD to stay organized. One of the things you can do to help yourself is to create lists or have a planner with you that prioritizes everything in your life.

But, you might not always remember to “pencil in” your relationship. A lack of organization can also mean a lack of date nights or get-togethers. It could also mean you forget about special dates and holidays, causing tension within your relationships, as well as hurt feelings.

5. Hyper-focusing

It’s not uncommon for someone with ADHD to hyperfocus on one specific thing, or have difficulty multitasking. You might throw yourself into work or a hobby, but if you’re hyper-focused on that, it can leave your partner or other loved ones feeling left out.

Focus time is important for those with ADHD, but it can also help to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to focusing on one thing and sharing your time with your partner. If you specifically dedicate time to someone you love, your goal should be to stay hyper-focused on them!

The effects of ADHD on relationships aren’t all bad. People with the disorder are often more empathetic, positive, and open. Those are all characteristics that can help to strengthen a relationship. The more you know about how ADHD can impact the relationships in your life, the more you can do to manage it. If you’re interested in learning more, or you’re dealing with ADHD as an adult and have never learned how to manage it properly, feel free to contact me. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.

To learn more about how counseling can help you better manage your symptoms of ADHD and improve your closest relationships, please click here.


Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.


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