Navigating dating and relationships can sometimes be challenging. When you add ADHD into the mix the challenges can intensify. Many people who suffer from ADHD report they have difficulty managing relationships and some researchers say that the divorce rate is nearly twice as high for those with ADHD.
Issues with organization, time-management, paying attention and figuring out where and how to meet new people can all present difficulties to people who have ADHD. It can often be difficult to know where to start.
However, with the right mindset and coping tools, many people find they can navigate dating sites, first dates and building strong relationships which take into account their issues and challenges.
Much of this depends on taking the time to build on the positive aspects of having ADHD, as well as managing the difficult parts.
Why people with ADHD make great dating partners
People who have ADHD often tend to be full of energy, enthusiasm and impulsivity. This can make for an exciting experience where the condition helps to bring in a sense of freshness and ability to think outside the box.
Hyper focus on a new partner can make for a beguiling experience, especially if it is combined with an awareness of the downsides to the condition. Intensity, being romantic and having the ability to think creatively are all sides to ADHD which can positively add to mutual dating experiences. With time and patience, other areas which might cause challenges – such as inconsistency or distractibility can be managed, too.
One main piece of advice is to understand that all relationships have their issues and many people find it difficult to find the right people to date. Keeping in mind the positives of having ADHD can significantly help to keep challenges from becoming too overwhelming when exploring the dating world.
ADHD Dating Challenges
Issues with inattention, forgetting things, inability to focus or becoming easily distracted can cause issues both short term and long term within relationships. Even with the person who doesn’t have ADHD knowing about the condition, there can still be times when ADHD challenges lead to them feeling unloved or not cared for.
As time goes on ADHD can seriously impact marriages if coping strategies aren’t accessed. So, it’s important that new relationships are given time to grow in terms of building romance and friendship, but also in both partner’s willingness to face the realities of ADHD.
When it comes to getting to know a new person, it can be daunting to discuss ADHD and how it manifests. However, avoiding the issue or trying to cover it over will only lead to difficulties and disappointment down the line.
Many people report that they feel shy or overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of searching for someone to date. Challenges with meeting new people when there are difficulties in focusing or in reading body language or knowing how to introduce yourself can often be mitigated by getting to know people via dating websites.
ADHD and Dating Sites
Online dating sites can be a great way to meet new people for someone who has ADHD. This is because, in addition to their usefulness in addressing common modern problems like time issues and knowing where to meet single people, they offer a chance to communicate in a way which can be helpful.
Being able to take time to go through dating profiles, and to fill out your own profile can help with organization and being more comfortable to mention ADHD. For those who are socially anxious, online dating platforms offer a less frightening way of introducing themselves to new people.
There can be some potential negative factors to consider though. Making sure that you don’t get overwhelmed by interacting with too many people at once can be important. Dating sites can also be distracting, especially when there are lots of profiles to sift through. Setting time limits for use can help with this.
Some online dating sites cater to people with ADHD or offer the opportunity to mention that ADHD is part of your life. This can take away the stress of bringing it up when out on an initial date.
Talking about ADHD
Talking about ADHD can largely depend on how well a person knows their condition and how its symptoms manifest. Because ADHD can present very differently with three main types (Primarily Inattentive, Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive and Combined Type) one person might vary markedly from the next in what sort of challenges they face.
In addition, there are still many myths and misconceptions which surround ADHD, including that it is only a condition which affects children, and mainly boys. Many adults with ADHD were never diagnosed in childhood, so have developed a lot of maladaptive coping mechanisms such as self-medicating.
It’s important therefore to be aware of the condition, individual coping strategies and how to talk about myths and misunderstandings so that any potential partner can learn more about what challenges might arise. It can be helpful to link to factsheets such as the CHADD ‘Myths and misconceptions,’ as well as to be honest and open about areas of difficulty.
Dealing with ADHD related Dating Problems
For many people problems really start to show themselves after the initial ‘rush’ of the first few dates have worn off. This can be the time when issues such as impulsivity or inattention really begin to be felt by both parties.
In the case of long-term relationships or marriage, researchers suggest that ADHD becomes more problematic for couples who have overlooked the condition during the earlier stages of dating. This isn’t surprising since we all tend to overlook challenges in the early stages of dating, when we are in the ‘honeymoon’ phase. So, it’s important that challenges or issues are addressed early on, to avoid conflict as the relationship progresses.
One of the main ways to tackle problems is for both parties to develop more empathy for one another. This can mean making sure you take time to keep educating each other on ADHD and learn coping strategies together.
Empathy also means being able to put yourself into the other person’s shoes. The person with ADHD may feel anxious and worried the condition will mean that all their romantic relationships will be negatively affected.
For the partner who is struggling with ADHD-related issues such as important occasions being forgotten or chronic lateness, it can lead to feeling unappreciated or like their partner is losing interest in them.
By discussing these issues openly, and working on constructive communication, as well as a willingness to have greater empathy, many of these issues can be overcome.
It’s important for the person who has ADHD to recognize when aspects of their condition or coping mechanisms could be harmful, and to take as much responsibility as possible for them.
For example, emotional impulsivity that is displayed in temper loss or any kind of physical / emotional violence must be addressed with coping techniques such as CBT.
Sometimes a parent-child dynamic can develop in longer-term relationships, with the non-ADHD partner feeling they are nagging, organizing and generally ‘looking after’ the practical aspects of the relationship.
It’s important for both parties to be aware of this potential dynamic developing as with combined efforts with coping mechanisms and mutual understandings, issues can be dealt with more easily.
ADHD can be a challenge; however it’s important for both parties to accept that it exists, without either using it as an excuse for damaging behavior or unfairly blaming problems on ADHD alone –
“While the ADHD partner’s symptoms may trigger an issue, the symptoms alone aren’t to blame for the relationship problem”(Helpguide.org)
Dating other people with ADHD
One problem which faces many people who have ADHD is feeling that there’s a lack of understanding from those around them at how frustrating and sometimes limiting the condition can be.
Dating someone else who also has ADHD can seem like a fantastic solution to this issue. Being around someone who has also been in the same position and knows firsthand the challenges that ADHD can bring can be a relief.
However, two people with ADHD aren’t always a match made in heaven. There can be major incompatibilities if different people suffer from different types. There can also be extra stress if both parties are prone to issues such as impulsivity or a lack of organization.
As with many other areas of dating, much of the success of the relationship will come down to general compatibility and the willingness to listen and take mutual responsibility for the relationship and any negative behaviors associated with the condition.
For some people, dating another person with ADHD can be an incredible learning experience. For others, it can magnify existing issues as both parties struggle with their individual symptoms.
ADHD and Dating Positivity
While many websites and books offer sound and solid advice about ADHD and relationships, many of them are dedicated to fixing problems or to discussing if people with ADHD can have healthy relationships.
It’s true that many people with ADHD do suffer from intense challenges and can feel isolated and anxious when it comes to relationships.
However, it’s important to recognize that having ADHD doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to have a great dating experience and for that to move into a satisfying relationship.
Keeping a positive mindset with focus on the benefits as well as the challenges can be really useful. This means taking responsibility for the condition, being willing to be open about challenges, and working on issues of self-esteem.