ADHD & Couples

ADHD & Its Role in Relationships

One of the most common reasons people with ADHD turn to specialists or mental healthcare professionals is for relationship issues. Adults with ADHD have a higher rate of separation and divorce than couples where neither partner has ADHD.

There are many factors that affect personal relationships, but ADHD has been noted as a factor due to some of the symptoms that come along with it.

Both teens and adults with ADHD often have a deficit in managing social skills and a lower level of communication skills. They tend to be difficult to understand, and their significant other cannot easily read their body language or facial expressions, which is crucial in a healthy relationship.

In childhood, distractibility, impulsiveness, sensitivity, overreaction, individualism, and a lack of self-control may interfere with learning those social skills. Children with ADHD may miss some of the details of social interactions that help them acquire those skills. In addition, it is common for adults with this condition to have experienced some form of social isolation or rejection, such as selfishness, carelessness, indifference, or laziness, because of their symptoms. The problem typically stems from ADHD not being diagnosed early enough.

Low self-esteem (a common result of ADHD) can also contribute to relationship issues. Many people with ADHD have suffered breakdowns and have complex social relationships with parents, teachers, and peers. 

Factors that Lead to Problems in Relationships

Lack of Communication

A lack of communication skills can interfere with establishing healthy communication with a partner. Often without knowing it, an adult with ADHD may be missing some of these skills because they weren’t developed fully as a child.

Emotional Sensitivity and Overreaction

People with ADHD can get easily hurt and angry, and they may respond instinctively, both emotionally and physically, at the slightest change in their environments. People with ADHD feel things differently from the way other people feel them. This can be challenging for their partners to manage and understand.


Failing to consider the consequences before acting on the urge to do something can also have a strong effect on relationships.

Following Through

Organisational and memory problems can create conflict and adversely affect relationships. Forgetfulness and a lack of organisation may lead to losing keys, forgetting events, failing to pay bills, and neglecting housework, among other things.

These behaviours can eventually create a lack of trust or a sense of disappointment between partners or an eventual split if the problem is not worked out within the relationship or with a professional.

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