How Does ADHD Affect Relationships

How Does ADHD Affect Relationships

Hyperactivity, impulsive behaviours, forgetting silly things. They are all traits we look for in a partner? Yea? 

Relationships can be hard. To keep that feeling of respect, love and togetherness, but if you put ADHD in the mix too it can be even harder!

ADHD can affect your relationships. 
This doesn’t just go for romantic relationships, but also relationships with family and friends too.

Being in a relationship with someone that has ADHD can be very challenging.

Let’s break this down into two sections.

Relationships With Someone With ADHD

In the early stages of a relationship, it is an exciting time. Your getting to know each other and work out if you both are right for each other, and see if you can build a stronger relationship together.

When you are dating someone with ADHD this excitement can be increased.

With the traits:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness

These could lead to them coming across very exciting. They want to impress you.

They could randomly surprise you with gifts, or when you are out together seem that they are really exciting and into you.

This person could be impressing you with all these exciting plans that they are telling you about.

It has happened before, you are dating someone with ADHD and you are really into them.

Then as time goes by and you are living together, have a family together, the excitement has worn off and other traits come in. And you think you are with someone completely different.

What Is Dating Like For Someone With ADHD

My Point Of View

For me, I have always struggled with the beginning stages of conversations with new people. The boring small talk “what do you do for a living” etc. It’s worse with the opposite sex. Trying so hard not to be myself. 

I have had people think I am on drugs because I’m in “hyper” or “fidgety” stage.

I’ve had people think I’m rude, as I’ve walked away from them mid-conversation to go and look out of a window at something exciting.

My attention span is very short, so the conversation has to be interesting to keep me focused.

This has affected my experience of “Dating”. Which as a result my relationships. The thought of going on a date with someone makes me very nervous.

Just me and the other person. “What if she thinks I’m rude?”. “What if I say something I shouldn’t?”.

Can Have Relationships When I Have ADHD?

Then I regret agreeing to go out and end up not going. Or the more accurate version. I completely forget and then she does think I am rude and that’s the end of that!

But when I have got into a relationship, it goes very fast. Its “all or nothing”.

Going back to the beginning stages of relationships, it can be very exciting. Also for the person with ADHD.

“There’s this person who wants to spend time with me, we go to nice places, we stay out late, they are amazing, I want to spend all my time with them…….I’ve always wanted to play golf!”

The excitement was worn off and now there is something else that gives me that excitement.

It has taken me a very long time to accept my ADHD. For many years I fought against it.

I didn’t want to be lazy, I didn’t want to be messy, I wanted to be able to put something down and remember where I put it.

Also, I didn’t want to be thrown out from my doctor’s surgery because I failed to turn up to a doctors appointment 3 times in a row!

I also wanted to have friends. (i will come on to friendships later)

Being Married To Someone With ADHD

You have moved in together, got married, maybe have started a family.

The real world has kicked in, and your ADHD partner seems a completely different person to the one you used to date.

They seem:

  • Unorganised/Messy
  • Unmotivated
  • Not Interested In You
  • Forgetful

All are very common traits in adult ADHD. And can affect your relationships.

These can make you feel unwanted and unappreciated. You seem to be always nagging and moaning at them. Doing everything while they don’t do their fair share. Which then puts a strain on the relationship.

It can be hard work to be married to someone who has ADHD. But it is possible to have a healthy marriage with someone with ADHD.

How Can You Have Relationships With Someone With ADHD?

  • Don’t Take It Personally – It can be hard to not take it personally, coming home from work and you have to do the dinner, and the cleaning and the kid’s bedtime routine, while your ADHD partner is sitting down. Replies like “I forgot” is my usual. Just try to understand that they aren’t doing it to wind you up. Procrastination can be a nightmare.


  • Set Tasks – Just a rough list of certain tasks that you would like them to do. This will probably make you feel like your parenting them, and trust me if you keep nagging them they will probably feel like they are being treated like a child. But just a note or list of a few things that need to be done. And put somewhere it can be seen. When we know that we have to do a load of tasks it can be really scary. Not knowing where to begin, and which jobs to do. For example, If I know I have to do the washing up and put it away, I would do the washing up, move on to something else and forget the putting away.


  • Talk – I find it helpful and nice when I’m asked if I am ok, or if I’m getting myself into a bit of a mess. And after a little chat with Clair, all the things I’m worried about and not sure how to solve, become smaller and we have worked out a plan of action.


ADHD And Friendships

Everyone makes friends, at school, where you live, growing up, at work. Some you stay really close to, and some not as much.

Building these type of relationships can be a lot harder if you suffer from ADHD.

Imagine you had a friend you have known for a long time. But they never call or text you. You have to always make the first contact. You arrange to do something and they always cancel or just don’t turn up. 

It can be frustrating and you probably think they don’t care you about.

This is how it could feel like to have a friend with ADHD. Or so I am told.

With ADHD brains, everything running through it all of the time. It can be tricky to remember to text your friend happy birthday or ask how their first day of their new job went.

It doesn’t mean we don’t care and that we don’t value your friendship. It’s just how we process things.

I know I keep on going on about ADHD brains and memory, but it is true. We do struggle to remember all of the small details and sometimes we focus on what other people would think are the unimportant things first.

My Experience 

I’ve struggled with friendships all of my life. At school, I had a small group of friends. I used to “chop and change” a lot. And I used to find other people more exciting, or things they were doing interested me.

And I would just forget the other friends.

Growing up into my late twenties, I was involved in different circles (sports, work etc) and made friends in them.

But as time went on they would slowly fade away. This could be due to me being too much for them, me not making too much of an effort. Or just letting them down.

But now in my 30s, I do have a nice group of friends.

They understand what I am like.

These friends know if they don’t receive a birthday text from me doesn’t mean I don’t care. They know I just forgot.

Why don’t you read How I do the weekly shop while having ADHD.

But I do have a friend who texts me when it is our other friends birthdays, so I don’t get upset when I realise I had forgotten. Dates are my real weakness, I have to put them all in the calendar. My own children’s birthdays! I even got our first wedding anniversary date wrong! (It was only 3 days out)

They don’t get upset if I don’t check in with them all of the time but know if they have a party or a special occasion I will be there. Sometimes the first one!

What Can You Do If You Have An ADHD Friend?

Theses are a couple of tips that people I know and my son’s friends do:

  • Be Understanding  – If your friend doesn’t answer the phone straight away, they probably into something that needs to be done and really need to focus. Sometimes when we are in the middle of something we know we will be distracted, so carry on for a few minutes and will call back in a bit. Or if like my son, they have missed placed their phone and haven’t realised or can’t find it!

But away from phone calls. There could be other things like timekeeping. So you are expecting them to arrive at a certain time and they are always late. You going mental at them is just going to create issues if they don’t realise they have done anything wrong.

  • Reminders – Not going down the nagging road again. But if you have arranged to go out on a Saturday. A little text on the Thursday or Friday saying you are looking forward to seeing them will remind them if they did forget. Because we don’t want to let people down, I personally hate it and it really upsets me if I have let someone down unintentionally.
  • Listen – I ramble on a lot, I might start a story, then that story breaks off to another story then into another and I would go back to the original story. Many times when I am talking to someone I can see that they have lost interest. But I have had people say to me, that I am going off-topic and they can’t keep. And it didn’t hurt my feelings as I know that I do go on. It isn’t just that, sometimes they need to vent. Knowing that a person is going to listen if you have to let off your steam about work makes me feel so happy.


These are what we have found how ADHD affects relationships. Everybody is different. 

Do you have children with ADHD? This is how we get our ADHD son to school on time.


Do you want to know the 7 truths that mums with an ADHD child know? Read our post here.


Are you in a relationship with someone with ADHD? Have you had relationships with someone has suffers from ADHD? 

We would love to hear your stories.

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