ADHD is not just a childhood health condition. In many instances, it can go undiagnosed and childhood, yet become more apparent in adulthood. About half of those who had ADHD in childhood – nearly 5% of Americans – continue to have it into adulthood.
The inattentiveness and difficulty finishing tasks that made it tough for children to sit still in school can evolve into self-esteem issues, trouble holding down a job, and substance abuse problems. These symptoms of adult ADHD can also put a real strain on relationships.
Many adults with ADHD also have never been diagnosed. Until you know you have ADHD, you can’t get the right treatment for it and your relationships will continue to suffer.
How Does ADHD Affect Relationships?
The hallmark symptoms of ADHD – forgetfulness, inattentiveness, difficulty completing tasks, and impulsivity – can all wreak havoc on relationships. All of these issues can be complicated even more if children are involved.
Here are some of the problems you might face if you or your partner has ADHD:
• Difficulty listening and paying attention. An individual with ADHD may “zone out” or talk out of turn, making it difficult to communicate. It can also cause the partner to feel as though what he or she has to say doesn’t matter.
• Trouble completing tasks. ADHD can lead to poor organizational skills and forgetfulness. A man with ADHD may miss his wife’s birthday or their wedding anniversary, or may forget to stop at the store on the way home from work as his wife had asked. This forgetfulness may make his wife feel hurt and think that her husband doesn’t care, when he’s actually forgotten because he has trouble staying on top of things. That same inability to finish tasks may translate into a lack of commitment when it comes to marriage or other relationships.
• Inability to handle responsibilities. Someone with ADHD might forget to pay the bills, neglect to clear a dangerous pile of branches from the backyard, or leave a toxic cleaner on the sink while the children are playing nearby.
• Impulsive behavior. People with ADHD constantly need stimulation, and may fail to think through the consequences of their actions. This can lead to reckless, irresponsible behaviors (like driving too fast with the kids in the car).