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.

Closing Emotional Distance

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Closing Emotional Distance

Emotional distance occurs when couples fail to communicate how they feel, what they’re thinking, their values, and what their needs are and how they should be met. Often they then substitute anger for their fear of intimacy or vulnerability. When their partner wishes to probe further they act passive-aggressively, change the subject or even shut down completely. Those who are emotionally distant are afraid that if they do open up and reveal their innermost thoughts, desires and needs, they will be misunderstood or judged harshly by their partner. Another problem may be that their partner isn’t responding to their needs in the right way. The partner for instance may offer advice for a problem instead of listening carefully and offering validation and sympathy, the things that their partner is truly looking for. Some people are scared of intimacy because of parental neglect, abuse, or loss at an early age. They may be uncomfortable with their own feelings and have difficulty communicating them. They may also have trouble dealing with the feelings of others.

In a relationship inhabited by emotional distance, the couple may start to lead their lives such like roommates, living side-by-side but failing to connect on a deeper level. They talk about the chores and routines of the household and other surface talk but fail to pierce a deeper level of intimacy. Over time sexual intimacy may recede. Loneliness, a hollowness or hurt are some emotions that one or both partners may experience. To have their needs met some people in this type of relationship jump into other activities with more gusto such as parenting or their career. They may obsess over their social status, become substance abusers or have affairs. Eventually the couple may split.

The first thing to do to heal emotional distance is to reveal your true self to yourself and your partner. Couple’s therapy could be beneficial in helping to recognize and reverse negative patterns. It could be that one or both people need individual therapy to resolve trust issues. Restoring sexual intimacy means making it a priority and focusing on getting both partner’s needs met, rather than one meeting the others needs at their own expense. Fear and neglect can make us build up walls, but love and commitment can help break them down again. For more advice read, Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship by M. Gary Neuman.

Breaking Up with your Long Term Live in Boyfriend

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Breaking Up with your Long Term Live in Boyfriend

Considering whether or not to break it off? What happened? Was it a slow growing apart? Did someone go astray? Or do you have some sort of irreconcilable differences? Whatever the reason, you are considering breaking up with your long term live in boyfriend. But how can you make a decision like that? If you move out or kick him out, whatever the case, it’s a decision that a relationship will have a pretty hard, if not impossible time bouncing back from. You have to be sure. But how can you be sure it’s the right decision?

First, consider your feelings for him. You may need to get away from him for a bit, and have some time to think. Make an excuse and stay over your friends for a couple of nights, or how about a relative for the excuse of a visit. Do it when he can’t accompany you. Or even spend a couple of nights at a motel, but tell him it’s a business trip. Give yourself a little time to relax and just forget about it. Then revisit the issue when you’re fresh. Do you still love him? Does he treat you the same as when things were fresh and new? Do you still tell him that you love him, or that you think he looks good?

Does he remember important dates in your relationship? How does he treat you now versus before? How do you treat him? Why do you think this is? Consider if there is a particular behavior that is driving a wedge between you two, or if it’s just a general malaise. If it’s just a rut there are plenty of things you can do to reignite the spark in your relationship. But if it’s a particular behavior, or a set of behaviors they have to be addressed, why not sit down and have a serious talk with him. Explain the behaviors that are driving a wedge between the two of you, and figure out a way to overcome them. Have some ideas in mind. Make sure you both have a chance to speak and be heard. Negotiate but don’t give up your core beliefs, or ask him to, or else one of you will resent the other. If one of you cheated, you have to see what the underlying factors are that caused the indiscretion. Those issues have to be addressed and the bond of trust has to be reestablished, not easy. Ask if this person is worth it? It may be easier to take the lessons you’ve learned and move on. Otherwise, work through your issues and seek couple’s therapy.

Think about what problems, issues or behaviors you bring to the relationship. It’s a two way street and most of the time one party isn’t completely innocent. Keep talking to each other and it will soon become abundantly clear whether to get out the suitcases and call the moving van, or decide to give it another go. Consider any financial and legal issues if it’s not going to work, do some research and have plans in place to circumvent anything that might arise. For more breakup advice read, The Single Woman’s Sassy Survival Guide: Letting Go and Moving On by Mandy Hale.

Convincing a Relative to Leave an Abusive Spouse

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Convincing a Relative to Leave an Abusive Spouse

It’s horrible when you find out a relative of yours is in an abusive marriage or relationship. You can feel so helpless. On the one hand, you want to say something so badly. On the other, you are afraid that they will resent you for trying to break them up, or merely swear nothing is wrong and distance themselves from you. This is a delicate matter which must be approached correctly, and with finesse. One way to handle it is to get them alone. Talk to them about your own relationship. If you are single, talk about your parents, a sibling, anyone else’s relationship. Talk about positive things that their spouse or significant other did for that person, or how they handle fights by communicating so well.

Get them to open up about their relationship. With enough details they should start to compare and come to the conclusion that something isn’t right. Don’t push and don’t expect that they will come to this conclusion the first time. Instead, keep trying to drop subtle hints without coming right out and saying it. If this doesn’t work, you may have to have an intervention. The problem with this kind of relationship is that the spouse is so manipulative they make them think that the spouse needs them and eventually that they cannot live without the spouse.

Be careful as his or her behavior may not be counted on. They may lash out at you at times, get depressed, even miss the spouse who is abusing them. Be patient with your relative. Remind them why this is happening. Get them away from it all to a place where they can relax and have fun. Give them chances to show what they know and help them to build self-esteem. In many abusive relationships, one spouse beats down the other for so long, that they can feel worthless. Give them little goals and celebrate it when they reach them. Give them space if they need it. But let them know that you will be there for them, no matter what.

In terms of safety, get your relative to a safe place like a battered woman’s shelter, or to live with you or another relative without contact with the abusive spouse. If need be, have them contact the authorities. Make sure that they get the help that they need. Your relative should start therapy if and when they are ready. The town or city can direct you to free services in your area.  Take heart, your relative will get through this. They will thank you and will be so grateful that they had you and other good people to get them through this difficult time. And someday they will meet someone who treats them right. If you’re trapped in an abusive relationship read, The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing by Beverly Engel.

Divorce Support Groups

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Divorce Support Groups

A divorce can be one of the most overwhelming times emotionally in a person’s life. Grief, anger, and confusion can inhabit your mind. It can be difficult to make financial decisions and one’s concerning the children. Talking to friends and family can help. It’s good to have a strong support system to help you through this difficult time. But they may not be divorced themselves. You may feel you need advice and support from someone or even a group of people who have been through the same experiences and know firsthand how it feels. They may have more informed advice that can help you navigate all the questions and decisions that creep up. Why not consider a divorce support group? There are definitely some in or near your area. A divorce support group can help you feel not so alone. They will be going through or have gone through the same thing and can offer their experiences as a template for what you may be seeing down the road. Lots of people even make lifelong friends after attending meetings with such a group. See what kind are out there and which one is a best fit for you. You can bring up specific questions or issues you have, feel a part of a community and be confident enough to take charge of your divorce, rather than be a victim of it.

First determine which type of group is right for you. Do you want something like a 12 step program? Are you attracted to a group with a particular religious bend? Or is it more group therapy you are seeking? Is co-ed beneficial or do you feel more comfortable if the group is same-sex? Next, select your method of finding what’s out there specific to your parameters. There are many methods in which you can find out what kind of divorce support groups are in your area. A quick Google search will turn up what’s available. Ask your divorce attorney what support groups he or she is aware of. You can inquire at the community center, or call the town or county clerk’s office and find out what is available. The local YMCA may be helpful as well. There may also be a self-help clearing house in your area. Your Google search should bring this up. The phone book is a good resource. Look under therapy, divorce or mental health services. Are you a member of an organized religion? If so perhaps speak with someone at your house of worship. Towns or community groups may run a program as well. If you are seeing a therapist, bring up your desire to go to a support group and get their opinion. Third, think about how often you want to attend the group. What is your schedule like and where does it fit in? Make sure the commute isn’t overly oppressive or else you may not stick with it. Remember that divorce is just a really serious breakup. For more help on getting over it read, Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott.