“Is it better if people with ADHD have a partner who has ADHD as well? Does dating people without ADHD makes us harder to communicate or relate to? Thanks in advance! 😉”
This is a great question! And the quick answer is… it depends. Dating and having a long–term relationship is complex, and there isn’t a simple answer.
There are pros and cons to dating people with and without ADHD. Here is a snapshot of some of them.
When One Person Has ADHD:
You could ‘balance’ each other out. For example, the non–ADHD person might offer structure and regular routines. This framework is helpful for a person with ADHD to function at their best.
The ADHD half of the couple can bring elements of spontaneity and surprises which help to keep the relationship new and exciting.
Non–ADHD partners can feel they shoulder all the responsibility. This can lead to resentment and people feeling as though they have an extra child.
The person with ADHD can feel they are being controlled or nagged. They might also feel that they are constantly disappointing their partner.
When You Both Have ADHD:
You have a deep understanding of each other without even needing to talk about it. You just ‘get’ each other. This can helps you feel connected. Communication might be easier because your brains work in similar ways.
Practical details of life (for example: laundry, food, bills being paid on time) might be a problem.
Even though you both have ADHD, you might be very different in other ways. For example, your energy levels or how you like to spend your time.
Of course, there are pros and cons to every type of person you could date. You might ask, “is it better to date someone older or younger or with or without children, the same or different culture, a friend or a stranger?”
Wait Till You Meet
It doesn’t matter how much you mull these questions over in your head; you can never predict who you will connect and fall in love with!
Ultimately, we all want to feel loved, supported, encouraged and be with someone who is kind. That can come from a relationship with someone with ADHD or without it. If you are wondering how to recognize that, asks these questions about your date.
The More YES Answers The Better.
- Does the person you are dating love you just the way you are now?
- Are they flexible?
- Do you feel happy and grounded when you are with them and when you are apart?
- Do they offer their support and encouragement, or do they try to limit your personal growth?
- Can you be yourself and let your guard down when you are with them?
- If you share a problem, do you feel supported even if there isn’t a solution right away?
- Do your family and friends notice that you seem much happier since this person has been in your life?
The More No Answers The Better
- Does it seem like your ADHD symptoms get worse when you are with them?
- Is your date very rigid in what they want a relationship to look like?
- Do they put you down? If they say it as a joke, that still counts.
- Do you feel hurt, undervalued, or less than appreciated after spending time with them?
- Do you feel if they knew the ‘real’ you, they won’t love you?
- If you share a problem with them, do they turn it around and make it your fault?
- Do you feel they will stop loving you if you don’t please them?
- Are they always trying to get you to do things you don’t want to and disregard you when say you don’t want to do it?
- Do you spend a lot of time talking to your friends and family about the problems in your relationship?
Take Your Time
When you meet a new person that you really like, it’s very tempting to rush through all the relationship milestones. And before you know it, you are living together. However, take your time!
Watch how your partner acts in different situations and how they deal with stressful experiences. Everyone is on their best behavior for the first few months of dating, yet when the dreamy ‘getting to know each other’ stage has worn off, you will get to know who they really are.
The best way to do this is to observe them in action. No one is perfect of course; you just want to make sure you can live with their less glossy side.
Does Your Partner Have ADHD? Leave a note in the comments section below.
I was diagnosed with ADD at age 50 and it has changed my life. The problem is the dissonance I caused with family (spouse, children) in the past. It seems that they are not willing to forgive. This includes my family of origin.
If I had been diagnosed early when I was dating it would have changed a lot of things. Whether to date someone with ADD should be based on their willingness to manage their condition. Once I was diagnosed I did everything I could to learn and change. Was very fortunate to have access to the Hallowell center (US experts on ADD) and found an excellent ADD coach.
The bottom line is the person you date should be someone who demonstrates the qualities you need whether they have ADD or not. Being able to communicate without judgement and learn how to support and care about each other are some of the keys to success.
One last point I would like to make is that being able to manage our executive functioning is important. What also needs to be addressed is our emotional health as someone who has faced difficulty.
For those who have trouble getting things done – whether you’re single, or you both have ADHD, consider getting help. In the book The 4-Hour Work Week, the author Timothy Ferris talks about “offshoring” your life. (You needn’t use a foreigner though if you don’t want to.) There are companies you can hire for a reasonable fee to manage your bills for you, or remember birthdays and so on. Rather than paying bills late all the time, this could be a solution.
I think there is a question to ask before dating at all. Do I know, love and appreciate myself? Of course, getting to know ourselves is always a work in progress, but it is helpful to be able to articulate what our strengths, struggles, and dreams are. Being able to say to another, “Hey sorry I just interrupted you, I sometimes do that because I’m afraid I will forget the thought I had”, or “I love going to concerts with you, but the stimulation drains my energy, so it’s not that I don’t want to hang out after, it’s just that I am exhausted”. It’s also helpful to be able to say to yourself, “I’m a loyal, authentic, with a great mind and this guy/gal doesn’t see or appreciate those things, so it’s just not a good fit.”
Excellant point Jess! Knowing yourself and your ADHD is really helpful.
I agree with you totally on the knowing yourself part. My last two relationships( marriage of 14 years and a dating relationship of almost 2 years ) both ended in great part to the fact I did not know myself and that I had ADHD. Would the relationships have lasted had I known? Probably not as it was not that alone that caused the downfall but I would have felt less like a failure having known that some of my issues were not ones that I could easily control. I readily took on most of the failures of the relationships because I already felt so bad about my un-diagnosed ADHD issues. I tried so hard to “fix” what could not be fixed and lost a lot of my self worth in the process.
Now that I know….I am looking forward to dating again as I know what kind of partner I need and what are my challenges and my strengths.I don’t know that I would actively seek out another person dealing with ADHD unless I knew they had their situation well in hand but I would not shy away from it. That being said, I think for me to be the most alive and satisfied in a relationship and to be my best, I would need a non ADHD who understands the condition and has the patience of a saint and values my strengths and what I can share in the relationship.
I have been diagnosed with ADD half a year ago, but I think I am not the only one here at home who has it. My wife is an extremely dreamy person, always very quiet and often ‘zoned out’. It is often difficult to have a conversation with her, because she is suddenly just ‘gone’. Also, when talking to her I have to compete with her smartphone.
Our house has always been a mess, but because of my treatment and coaching, I now know much better how to plan things and structure our household. But it is too much for me to do it for the two of us.
My wife also never finished her study because it was simply impossible for her to finish her thesis. She tried for ten (!) years and finally gave up. Now at work she has problems because of not finishing tasks in time, and not communicating about that in time.
Right now I am so angry because I am celebrating my birthday in two days, and because I was so busy and stressed the last weeks, she offered to take the organization of my party out of my hands. But now I found out she almost did not do anything yet. She totally microfocused on a few not-so-important things and did not plan the rest. I know she did not do it on purpose, and that her intentions were really good, but what makes me mad is that she does not see the problem.
The difficult thing is, that she once tried one of my ritalin pills to see how she would react on it, and she hated it. And now she is convinced that she cannot have ADD because of that – which I know is not true.
I am just so tired of it, and wish she would get tested. If it turns out she does not have ADD, she still certainly does have problems with organizing and concentrating, for whichever reason. And it would be great if she would get some help with it. It would help her ánd me. If only she would see that, too…
Marta, your story absolutely breaks my heart, but it also reminds me of the love & support I’m currently receiving from my partner of 10 years (fortunately for he has always enjoyed being fun & silly with me, but he is what is currently keeping me, and our partnership, on track in life & together). The hardestest thing we’re adjusting to is accepting certain things are harder for me to tackle & I need a couple of “tools” & also learning to put my hand up for help when i need it. So far I have coped without medication, health professionals have advised otherwise, but thought I’d at least have a crack without them first.
My advice is that she may need to hear it from some else,? Maybe a close friend or relative, surely she may listen to a third party that has also witnessed these ongoing challenges? It amazing how much clarity (and confusion) comes from realising you do function a bit differently (to what degree is up to the professionals to sort out & possibly diagnose!)
In hindsight I feel embarrassed about a lot of my clearly selfish decisions & behaviour, but my man stuck by me & I accepted some home truths…. I can only hope that your wife (whom you clearly love and have probably used that love to inspire & motivate your change & in order to help the both of you.) jumps onboard your positive journey and joins you in beginning to understand why this s*** keeps happening to us! 🙂
PS your story is very inspirational, especially given the challenges you yourself have already overcome
For me it’s a YES, I don’t see any problem with it. There may be cons, but I see many pros in dating someone with ADHD. Very interesting question, looking forward to more comments here with other points of view.
Interesting question Jacqueline. I personally believe that ADHD or any other similar condition should not be a hindrance in loving a person. Love is about understanding each other and accepting/embracing their flaws (and doing what you can to help them grow. 🙂
What you said is so true. Helping each other to grow is what relationships should be all about.