Relationships with ADD/ADHD can be full of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Through my years of talking with adults with ADHD, the emails I have received and the stories that have been shared with me, the following list has emerged. Some partners carry this list with them, to remind them to be slow to judge actions and quick to love their partner.
- Remember always that I am a person with feelings. I have a large capacity to both give and receive love. I yearn for what all people want: compassion, understanding and love. Although my brain may work differently than yours, my style of learning may be different; my emotional needs are the same as yours.
- Remember that I am a unique person and find joy in that uniqueness.
- Remember that I may blurt something out without meaning to. Never assume that I meant to hurt you with my carelessness. Always talk with me when you feel that I have said something hurtful.
- Understand that I have ADD/ADHD. I am not ADD/ADHD. I can control some of the symptoms, however, I cannot get over it or get rid of it.
- Please take the time to learn about ADD/ADHD. Read books or articles, talk to other adults struggling with ADD/ADHD. Learning will not only help you to understand me but it will validate me as well.
- Remember and acknowledge my positive characteristics and traits. Don’t dwell on my faults and shortcomings.
- Remember that I do not use ADD/ADHD as an excuse for my behavior. Sometimes I mention it to help explain certain behaviors, but I do not view it as an excuse and do not expect you to either.
- Let me know that you see me as a loveable person. Let me know that you love me in spite of my faults.
- Remember that a major symptom of ADD/ADHD is that I can be distracted easily. If you are talking with me and I seem as if I am not listening, do not assume that it is because I do not care. Instead, please take time when I can listen undisturbed. Wait for the kids to be in bed and we can turn off the television, that way I can listen and talk with you with minimum distractions.
- Do not assume that any problems we have in our relationship are my fault because I have ADD/ADHD. Accept that you may also have some responsibility and let us work together to solve our problems in a constructive way, with both of us taking constructive action. Treat me with respect.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.