ADHD and Relationships

couple at therapy

ADHD and Relationships

When one person has ADHD in a relationship, and the other person doesn’t, unique problems can occur. The power dynamic can become that of a parent to child, which isn’t healthy. The non-ADHD person becomes the one with the power, guiding, reminding and helping their partner. When the ADHD partner has a chore to be done, their counterpart may remind them, indeed several times, until the ADHD partner does it. Or the non-ADHD partner may give up and do it themselves rather than keep reminding their other half. Eventually, too many chores or responsibilities are allocated to the non-ADHD partner.

The symptoms of ADHD unmanaged are permanent. Distraction, memory problems and other symptoms start to weigh on the relationship. The non-ADHD partner becomes the parent, the ADHD partner the child. The power dynamic in this relationship becomes off kilter, leaning only to one side. This leads to a lack of respect on the part of the non-ADHD partner as they begin to view their partner like a child, and a condescending attitude can ensue. The ADHD partner begins to resent their significant other.

Adaptation is generally considered a good thing. One partner sees an issue arising and both partners change to meet and overcome it. Some research has shown however that stronger couples see problems coming down the pike and counteract them before they become an issue in the relationship. For ADHD, this power dynamic increases over time. As more and more control is lent to the non-ADHD partner and the more they become the parent, the other the child, the more resentment builds. Both people in this relationship have their problems with the other. One doesn’t want to do all of the work of the other. The ADHD partner doesn’t want to be treated like a child. They get tired of constant reminders, general bossiness and nagging. And the non-ADHD partner gets tired of doing so. And this dynamic puts a strain on the relationship. The couple feels less inclined toward positive feelings of love, affection, physical intimacy and romance.

Child/parent dynamics will almost inevitably lead to relationship or marital dysfunction. ADHD should be treated with the help of a mental health professional. Both partners should be involved. But if you are married or seriously involved with someone who has ADHD or if you have ADHD make sure to talk about it in depth with your partner. Treatment should also be sought. For more advice read, The ADHD Effect On Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov.

How does Someone Become Needy?

needy

How does Someone Become Needy?

Neediness isn’t good for a relationship. It lowers the person’s self-esteem and self-worth. It puts pressure on the relationship and ultimately pushes their lover away. The anxiety, constant worrying, the accusations or the constant need for reassurance become overbearing, robbing the other of psychic energy. A little self-doubt of course can be seen as modest and endearing. But it can become really draining to have to reassure someone time and again. Sooner or later the needy partner is seen as a liability and is cut loose. So how does someone become needy and how can they avoid it?

There are many reasons why people become needy, and a combination of reasons could be the case too. Here are some speculations. Unavailable parents, trauma, or abandonment causes neediness. There are unseen wounds that spring open when the person starts to enter into a new romantic relationship. Some people are never satisfied. The problem could be a traumatic event in their past. Or the problem could be temperament. Some things are never good enough for certain people. They have a hard time being satisfied. Development could play a role. Some people get stuck in the idealizing phase of their development, when they entered into their first romance. But they idealize love too much and fail in their adult life to be able to do the nuts and bolts of what it takes to make it work long term.

If the person acts immaturely, the problem is development. It could also be what Freud called the Unresolved Oedipus Complex. This is desiring what you can’t have. It’s like loving your parent and desiring them but knowing you can’t have them, this wanting what you can’t have and a constant inner tug-of-war destroys their relationships. These people tend to make the same mistakes in their love life over and over. Attraction to someone who is unavailable makes them more alluring to many. But it always ends in heartache. If you find yourself with this problem seek the help of a mental health professional. Work on building your self-esteem. Volunteer, do things that matter to you, count your blessings and make plans for the future. Plan goals and reach those goals. When you have a series of accomplishments you’ll feel better about yourself and feel less needy. When you feel needy, double think calling or texting that person. Put little systems in place for yourself to control your neediness. Have a good friend be your mentor and call them if you feel needy. It will improve your relationships if you practice a little bit of patience and some good judgment. For more advice read, Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment by Susan Anderson.

Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

couple-living-together

Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

Positive relationships are good for our health. That’s no surprise. We’ve been hearing that for a long time. Happily married people live longer, are healthier and wealthier. In fact, a person’s relationship is the single most important factor in determining mortality. Two researchers, Brooke C. Feeney of Carnegie Mellon University and Nancy L. Collins of the University of California, have discovered some ways that good relationships can also lead to personal growth. The two most important factors are helping use to cope with adversity and helping us to pursue our goals, and other opportunities that cause growth. Good, healthy, strong relationships help those that inhabit them reach their objectives and pursue their dreams. The first person we usually turn to for comfort, and perhaps seek advice from would be our spouse, or significant other. Feeney and Collins liken this process to a home knocked over by a violent storm. The next house erected in its place should be far sturdier. If one person is having a problem establishing themselves for instance their partner may help them to feel more confident. This confidence will help them interact with others, their social networks will become more vibrant and more opportunities will arrive.

Our partner can help us to see what our strengths are. They can help us relieve stress and put things in perspective. Our partner can also help us learn new skills that can help you survive and even thrive at work, school or one’s life passion. Those who are supportive can become a “launching function.” They help their partner pursue their goals. They show them the positive aspects, help them to see opportunities, prepare them to face new challenges, and help them to celebrate victory or to cope with defeat. Feeney and Collins found eight specific ways in which a supportive relationship helps.  Our emotional state improves. Acceptance of one’s self increases and resilience expands. We are better able to perceive and interpret events. Our supportive partners help motivate us toward goals, help us to cope, adapt to new situations and improve our psychological and immune functioning. Positive relationships steer us away from unhealthy lifestyles that may sap our strength, hurt our bodies or minds, not to mention our reputation and mood. Lastly, supportive relationships help people to learn how to trust, feel close to someone and feel loved, positive vibes that carry over in other types of relationships.

So how can you make your relationship more supportive? The best way to do that is to become more supportive yourself. Learn how to listen carefully, be able to accept and understand your partner’s perspective, control your emotions and provide the type of support that will help your partner, and make them feel good. Use your resources. These can be tangible resources like money to say buy your lover a new outfit for an interview. Or they can be intangible ones like compassion, patience and understanding, providing emotional support. Being able to understand your lover’s needs and meet them will motivate them to do the same for you. At the same time, you will want to make sure that you will be able to make your own needs known. Clear communication is pivotal. Reciprocate to show you support them and appreciate the support they give. Then a virtuous cycle can commence, where you both constantly initiate and receive support. Don’t overtax your lover however. If they have many demands at this time, you could be a catalyst in them spreading themselves too thin. You need someone you can rely on. But a strong social network to draw from is important too. To build a supportive relationship, you must first know how to effectively communicate. This is in many cases the hardest skill for couples to develop. If you and your partner need to work on this, pick up a copy of the book, Communication in a Relationship: Top tips on how to improve your communication skills to build a long lasting, loving relationship by Lyn Hunt.

ADHD Can Harm a Marriage

Young couple not communicating after an argument

ADHD Can Harm a Marriage

If your spouse is frightfully disorganized and extremely forgetful, they may have adult ADHD. About 4% of the U.S. population has this condition. Constantly being distracted, forgetfulness, seemingly ignoring one’s spouse, having an inability to carry through on promises are some of the more serious symptoms. ADHD can harm a marriage if left unmitigated. Before approaching your spouse with the prospect of seeing a mental health professional, and risking a fight, it may be wise to evaluate their behavior and see whether or not they exhibit the most common signs. First, there is chronic distraction. Marriage consultant Melissa Orlov, an expert on how ADHD affects couples, told the L.A. Times, “If you are trying to get your partner’s attention and they seem unable to give it to you, that’s a big indicator.” Does your spouse lack a certain self-regulation when it comes to their emotions? Gina Pera, author of, Is It You, Me, Or Adult A.D.D.? said, “They might get really excited about something and their partner will say, ‘Wait, let’s look into the details. Is this really a good idea?’”

Household and other tasks can end in broken promises and hurt feelings. Orlov said, “You’ll say, ‘Honey, will you do X?’ and he’ll say, ‘Sure, no problem,’ and then X does not get done.” People with adult ADHD are a whirlwind. Nothing seems organized. Sufferers get easily overwhelmed, have trouble prioritizing tasks and often miss deadlines. This happens in the work sphere and throughout home life as well. It becomes an entirely different relationship than you first imagined. Pera explains, “The partner says, ‘You are lazy and selfish.’ The adult with ADHD says, ‘You’re controlling.’ Both become resentful.” Luckily, there are moves you can make to help preserve the relationship and mitigate the effects of ADHD. Realize that it is a condition, no one’s fault. Pera says you should, “Acknowledge both of you were working in the dark and both of you were being undermined by this force.” The next step is to look for resources and support in your area. A therapist who specifically understands and has experience with adult ADHD is critical in managing the disorder’s influence on your marriage. There are medications available that work wonders for some. Many become far less forgetful, can arrive places on time, keep promises and more.

One resource is Children and Adults with ADHD, or CHADD, a national advocacy group that should have a chapter in your area. Why not visit their website and see what psychiatrists they recommend in your area, what advice they have and so on? Read up on adult ADHD and get to know a lot about it. Write down specific instances where your spouse has exhibited these behaviors and cross reference them to what symptoms these sources say they are exhibiting. If you have facts on your side, and use loving kindness to break the news to them in a supportive way, they will be more open to seek treatment and the marriage will markedly improve. There are also easy things you can do that will work wonders. Simply keeping a schedule and writing things down in some sort of graphic organizer, say a calendar or on a corkboard, can work wonders. Orlov says focusing on yourself and not your partner is also important. “Contribute your own best self to your relationship,” she said. “You can start on that immediately.” Don’t dwell on the past. It will poison the marriage. Though you might have resentments, you still have to move forward. Orlov says, “It’s a lot more relevant than stomping around in the undiagnosed ADHD portion of your relationship.” But even though you want to get somewhere Orlov says, “You don’t have to meet a certain goal, but you have to try your hardest.” For more on this topic pick up a copy of, The ADHD Effect on Marriage by Melissa Orlov.

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

Sad-Woman

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

There are those relationships that you are relieved are over, even if it took a year to finally get rid of them. Then there are those that rip a hole in your chest and mash your heart into guacamole. Nothing is more painful. A recent study using brain imaging had participants who had recently broken up with someone look at a picture of their ex while hooked up to an FMRI. They found that the parts of the brain that lit up fit the pattern of enduring physical pain. So a breakup literally hurts. Trouble is, when we endure physical pain it goes away relatively quickly. Depending upon the relationship, you and the circumstances, you could endure the pain of heartbreak for weeks, even months. One reason that heartache lingers so is that people fall into certain psychological habits that inhibit healing rather than lessening the pain. Unfortunately, feelings of anger, sadness, rejection and loneliness can be compounded by impulses that feel perfectly natural to indulge. We often consider negative habits we have in our diet, when we exercise, sleep and other physical aspects. But we avoid or disregard poor mental habits that can shackle us to anguish rather than liberating our hearts from pain. Here are some bad mental habits to avoid after a breakup.

A lot of us sub-vocalize negative thoughts or feelings. Inside our head we repeat to ourselves our inadequacies, play over and over mistakes we made, hurtful names or phrases we or our former lover uttered and more. This constant rerunning of negative thoughts may be particularly poignant after feeling rejected or if the relationship ended through some fault of our own. When the ego is bruised and one’s self-esteem has taken a blow, such self-talk will make things worse. Instead, catch yourself when you get into this pattern and replace negative phrases for positive ones. Show yourself some compassion. Think of yourself as a friend trying to get someone through this. What would you do? What would you say? How can you put things in perspective? Brooding over mistakes you’ve made can lead to the same result. Contemplating them and learning from them in an emotionally unattached manner is one thing. But dwelling and obsessing over them is like tearing out your stitches after heart surgery. Isolate those instances where you blundered, learn from them and move on, or else you will be hindering instead of facilitating your own emotional recovery.

Don’t throw yourself into dating if your heart is still aching and you are pining away for your former love. But if you just feel too vulnerable or just scared, you may be missing an opportunity to move healing along, and a way to repair your ego and boost your self-esteem. A couple of months without dating is okay. Six months to a year is a little obsessive. Some people even benefit from a rebound relationship, while others don’t. Find what’s right for you but don’t be too cautious with your heart or you may lose out on a chance at finding love or rebuilding your self-image. Some people cut off everyone, stop taking part in activities they enjoy and wallow in self-pity. Instead, connect and reconnect with hobbies, friends, family members and more. Sure, the first few days you may want to sit on the couch and watch comedies, polish off a crate of sinful snacks and curse the happy couples of the world. But afterward, isolation and keeping yourself from the things you love will only make it worse. Lastly, remember the point is to get over the person and move on with your life. Don’t keep them in your newsfeed on your social media pages. Get rid of all the mementos or put them in a box in the closet or the trash. The fewer reminders you have around the quicker your recovery will be. For more on embracing positive mental habits and avoiding negative ones after heartache read, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts by Guy Winch, Ph.D.