During the teen years, dating is a big deal. For many teens, it is an inevitable part of growing up and is the first step in learning how to maintain a romantic relationship. For parents, this is a scary time. You want to protect your child, yet you know eventually he or she will be heartbroken. You want to know the other person cares for your teen. For parents of teens with ADHD, this can be even more difficult.
Teens with ADHD are often more emotionally immature. Some experts believe there could be a difference of several years between chronological and emotional level, for example, your teen may be 15 or 16 years old, yet have the emotional maturity of a 12 year old. This disparity can cause problems when your teen wants to start dating. Chronological age would say he is ready to start exploring relationships and many of his classmates have already started dating. But your teen’s emotional maturity, if it is several years below his chronological age, can hold him back from both starting and maintaining a relationship.
Other relationship challenges often associated with ADHD:
Impulsivity – Does your teen tend to blurt out whatever comes to mind? Does he forget to think about how his words may affect the other person? This can often cause problems. Imagine your teen blurting out something hurtful, without meaning to, while out on a date. His date may break up with him right there and then.
Inability to Understand Non-Verbal Cues – In the dating world, you need to understand not just what the other person is saying, but the meaning behind the words. Flirting can be confusing to someone who doesn’t get the subtleties of non-verbal communication. On the other hand, someone may be letting your teen down gently, not wanting to hurt him, but your teen isn’t getting the message.
Poor Communication – Everyone wants to feel important and feel their ideas and thoughts are heard. Listening, therefore, is a big part of any relationship. But your teen’s mind may be going a hundred miles an hour – he may be thinking about what to say next or worrying about saying the wrong thing, unable to slow down his thoughts long enough to really listen. Or he may have a hard time focusing because of nervousness and start paying attention to everything else except what his date is talking about, leaving him clueless about how to answer or continue the conversation.
Constant Need for New Stimulation – Some people with ADHD tend to move from partner to partner, being attentive and focused on the relationship in the beginning, when it is new and exciting. But once it settles down and becomes more routine; he becomes bored and looks for something more exciting.
Forgetfulness – In a relationship you want to know you can count on the other person. But if your teen forgets to call when he says he is going to or is late or completely forgets about a date, his romantic partner will quickly run out of patience.