Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental illness marked by difficulties with attention, organization, hyperactivity, focus, and impulsivity. ADHD is a widely misunderstood diagnosis because many of ADHD’s symptoms can be inconvenient for others and come across as careless behavior. For those with ADHD, feeling misunderstood is usually part of the package.
People with ADHD who are also in romantic relationships often experience problems in those relationships, even more so than their peers. Maintaining a partnership when you have ADHD is often challenging. In fact, studies have even shown that ADHD symptoms were linked to increased relationship difficulties.
That said, people with ADHD can still have healthy, happy relationships, so long as they work hard to manage their symptoms and keep showing up for their significant other. If you have ADHD, helping your partner understand your mental health condition can help make your relationship healthier and stronger.
As such, here are eight things your partner may not realize is part of your ADHD. Send them this so they can understand and support you better.
1. Forgetting important dates.
You often forget appointments, deadlines, and even dates with your S.O. This makes sense because forgetfulness is a trademark symptom of ADHD. You often find yourself apologizing for mixing up plans because they slipped your mind. It’s not because you don’t care, you do, but you deeply struggle with keeping everything going on in your life straight.
While your forgetfulness can be frustrating for everyone involved, there are strategies you can implement to help keep your schedule in order including using a planner, setting multiple reminders on your phone, and writing everything down. It’s about working with yourself, not against yourself.
2. Zoning out during conversations.
Because you struggle with focus as a result of your ADHD, easily get lost in thought, even during deep conversations with your partner. You may find yourself having a tough time paying attention to what your significant other is saying, even when you’re interested in the discussion at hand.
You want to be attentive and a good listener but sometimes it feels as though your mind has a million tabs open and you struggle to stay on the right one.
3. Experiencing depression.
If you have ADHD, you may also have problems with depression. Your partner may not realize that the days you feel low energy, are sad, and act generally uninterested in the things that usually make you happy are the result of depression and not just you being in a “bad mood” or “tired.”
Many studies have shown the co-occurrence of ADHD and depression. This means that there is a strong link between ADHD and depression since these mental health conditions often present together. That said, there is much to be discovered as to why this link exists.
4. Having zero concept of time.
For you, time is not only a social construct, it is an illusion. Studies have shown that people with ADHD struggle with the perception of time, time sequencing, and time reproduction. In other words, you never seem to get places on time, you always underestimate how long a task will take, and can’t properly recall the order of events that have previously occurred. It’s not that you’re being inconsiderate and thoughtless; it’s the way your brain is wired.
5. Acting in impulsive ways.
ADHD often presents with lots of impulsive behavior. This may include spending money too quickly, saying things out of anger, substance use, interrupting others, etc. You’re not trying to be rude or reckless or irresponsible; you just have trouble slowing down to think things through before you do them.
6. Being extremely emotional about seemingly insignificant things.
You tend to be pretty emotional, even when the situation doesn’t seem to call for such a reaction. This makes sense because around 70% of adults with ADHD report emotional dysregulation symptoms.
As a result of your emotional reactivity, you may even get more frustrated and upset when your partner doesn’t understand why you feel the way that you do. Trying to explain what’s going on inside your mind is so difficult when you don’t even fully understand it yourself.
7. Struggling with low self-esteem.
You often feel bad about yourself. You don’t always have the strongest sense of self-esteem and are quick to engage in negative self-talk. Your partner may see you as one of the best people in the world but it’s difficult for you to extend that same love to yourself.
Studies have shown that ADHD, particularly untreated ADHD, is often associated with higher levels of long-term low self-esteem.
8. Getting frustrated easily.
Patience is a virtue, but that doesn’t seem to resonate with you. People of all ages with ADHD often struggle with low frustration tolerance. This means that if something isn’t going the way you thought it would, requires extra effort you don’t feel like putting forth, or is generally just hard, you want to give up pretty much immediately.
It’s not because you’re lazy. You just genuinely cannot deal with feeling frustrated.
ADHD is not your fault but it is your responsibility to manage your symptoms. Educating yourself and the people in your life about ADHD can help improve their understanding and your quality of life. Don’t be afraid to be open about what’s going on with loved ones because you deserve love, care, and support. Never forget that.
Talk to your healthcare provider about ADHD treatment options such as therapy and medication. Help is out there. Don’t be ashamed to ask for it.