How can ADHD affect romantic relationships?

adhd and romantic relationships

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects people’s behaviour. In the UK, around 1.8 million adults have been diagnosed as having ADHD, but these numbers could be much higher as ADHD often goes undiagnosed.

There are three subtypes of ADHD: the first is characterised by hyperactivity and impulsivity, the second inattentiveness, and the third combined. It can affect a person’s ability to concentrate, sustain attention and control impulsive behaviour.

One of the most common complaints reported by adults when they seek an ADHD diagnosis is relationship problems. Here we’ll look at why that is, and explain how you can get help if you feel that ADHD is affecting your romantic relationships.

ADHD and relationships

Relationships can be tricky whether you have ADHD or not. But when one or both partners have ADHD, relationships can bring up a whole new set of challenges and complications.

Some of the key traits of ADHD are often identified as being at the heart of relationship issues. These traits include:

  • Disorganisation
  • Listening skills
  • Poor decision making
  • Impulse spending
  • Low intimacy
  • Inability to finish tasks 
  • Mood issues 

In relationships where there is one non-ADHD partner, a common complaint from the non-ADHD partner is that they feel ignored or unimportant.

Physical Intimacy and ADHD

Intimacy issues can be common in ADHD relationships. Because intimacy is usually at the heart of a healthy romantic relationship, a lack of intimacy can pose a real challenge.

Intimacy issues can be linked with common ADHD-related behaviours such as disorganisation and memory problems. People with ADHD also frequently become bored during routine tasks such as cleaning the house or preparing meals, and as a result may be seen to be “not pulling their weight”. This can lead to resentment, and may subsequently damage levels of intimacy in a relationship.

People with ADHD often also cite a fear of intimacy as a trait that creates problems for them in romantic relationships.

How can an ADHD clinic help with romantic relationships?

A specialist ADHD clinic can help people with ADHD improve their romantic relationships and intimacy. Approaches such as education, communication training and couples coaching can all play a part in improving relationships.

Sanctum is a specialist ADHD clinic offering a comprehensive, multi-professional assessment for adults and children who may have ADHD. Sanctum’s diagnostic team all have specialist experience of assessing and supporting individuals with ADHD.

Private ADHD clinics such as Sanctum understand that individuals can struggle to live full and happy lives as a result of undiagnosed ADHD, and for that reason long NHS waiting lists are just not an option. This is why private ADHD clinics aim to provide rapid access to assessment.

If you would like to speak to Sanctum’s friendly team about obtaining an ADHD assessment, you can get in touch here. 

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