By Anne Halsall
I’m currently in a LTR with someone who has ADD. So is my partner. 😉 The fact that we are both ADD certainly helps us understand each other better, but there are definitely things about it that can be difficult for both of us to cope with.
Here are a few things that come to mind:
Periods of hyperfocusing may take your partner’s attention away from you. If they are obsessed with building model planes that week, it will cause them a great deal of frustration and angst to do anything other than building model planes. Give them space when this happens, but also set clear expectations about when you need them to put the hobby down for a while.
Flakiness can definitely be an issue. Sit them down and have a conversation about how hard it is to trust someone who doesn’t do the things they say they will. A far preferable situation is for your partner to be realistic about what they can and can’t manage given their disorder, and to be upfront about it when they probably can’t do something. The flipside of that is when they do say they will do something, they had better actually do it!
Being ADD is very frustrating and sometimes can cause bouts of depression. Recognize depression for what it is (it’s not a failing or a rejection of you) and try to be emotionally supportive. Generally what a person needs most in that situation is a hug and an “it’ll be okay.”
Your partner may have a tendency to multitask compulsively, i.e. check their phone while talking to you, always have a laptop out, etc. They may even get distracted and stop listening to you or trail off mid sentence. If this happens in a situation that is inappropriate, say something about it in a firm but not accusatory tone.
There are some good things too! It can be really fun and stimulating to be around a person who’s mind is going at a mile a minute. My partner seems to know everything that’s ever been put on Wikipedia and drops awesome random facts all the time. It’s important to embrace the good things about your partner since ADD at least plays a part in the person they are.
Addendum: After thinking about this some more, there are a couple of really important points I would add. First, your partner may or may not be taking medication for their disorder. Certain things may be easier for you if they are, but this does not mean you have the right to expect or pressure them to take medication. It is a choice every individual must make for themselves.
Second, ADD/ADHD is not and should not be an excuse to be a bad partner. Likewise, you should not blame every mistake they make in the relationship on their disorder. Try not to frame your discussions around the disorder, but instead focus on the behavior that is bothering you, which may or may not be related to the disorder.