Does having ADHD affect relationships? - New Age Psychiatry

Does having ADHD affect relationships?

We’ve spoken on how to treat ADHD in adults, but let’s speak about a common problem – how ADHD affects relationships. The ADHD partner may forget important events, be overly reactive to situations, have displaced anger outbursts, appear to not listen to their partner, hide their emotions, break off and start relationships quickly, & other traits.

What causes ADHD?

Scientists are not sure what exactly causes ADHD however one theory is linked to the complex roles tied to levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. According to Dönmez et al., 2020 imaging, although still in developing stages, can determine differences in levels of receptors of dopamine and norepinephrine in people diagnosed with ADHD. This is an exciting development as previously to treat ADHD in adults, it was first diagnosed with screening tools and reports. If a loved one is unsure if medication is a right fit, a definitive scan may provide valuable (and assuring) information if treatment for ADHD is appropriate.

Tid Bits on Brain Receptors


has been known to be connected to the pleasure reward system in the brain. Interestingly enough, addiction and impulse based disordered have been tied to dopamine Cutando et al., 2020. Some common impulse-based disorders include ADHD, binge eating disorder, gambling, kleptomania and others.


Norepinephrine plays a role in not only ADHD but also depression. Symptoms decreased norepinephrine include lack of motivation, put lack of energy, lack of focus, and others. One study determined that healthy controls had an increased availability of norepinephrine transporter signals then untreated ADHD populations Dönmez et al., 2020. More research is needed Fully understand the complex processes of ADHD.

What other conditions can look like ADHD?

  • Hearing issues – perceived as unfocused or distracted
  • learning/cognitive disability
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
    • Poor concentration, when grouped with other symptoms of depression such as; fatigue, weight changes, sleep pattern changes, lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, anxiety, excessive crying, guilt, hopelessness, helplessness, mood swings, social isolation, agitation, and others.

What are the types of ADHD?

There are three main types of ADHD:

Hyperactive type

common symptoms include feeling as if they are “running on a motor”,  tend to be restless, must be walking around or moving constantly, excessive talking, may interrupt others commonly, fidget in their seat, and others.

Inattentive type:

Easily distracted at work or even an important events, forgets items frequently, forgets important dates, forgets birthdays, forget the easel disorganized, messy, poor retention ability, must be read, may hyper-focus on one or two subjects.

Combine type:

Combination of both and hyperactive and inattentive ADHD. When the decision to treat ADHD in adults is made, there is typically vast improvement in symptoms.

How does ADHD affect relationships?

It can’t be a surprise that dating a significant other with ADHD can be difficult since ADHD affects relationships. Not only are impulse-based symptoms more prone in these populations they can also suffer from emotional dysregulation as well. Norepinephrine plays a role in not only ADHD but also depression which the exact mechanism is not exactly understood. Symptoms of decreased norepinephrine include lack of motivation, lack of energy, lack of focus, and others. There have been studies indicating that they were differences in norepinephrine transport signals on imaging reports. Healthy controls had an increased availability of norepinephrine transporter signals then untreated ADHD populations. More research is needed fully understand the complex processes of ADHD.

What are some tips for dating someone with ADHD?

  1. Be Patient

Someone who has ADHD may unintentionally seem to be disregarding your needs. They may even not seem to be listening either! It’s not personal, it’s not that they do not love you. Their mind is simply easily distracted even with reminders.

  1. Prepare in Advance

People with ADHD can be very handy but when it comes to organization they may  be lacking in that department. Try evening out the responsibilities to cater to each other’s strengths.

  1. Take it in stride

Our loveable ADHD partner can have their tempers. ADHD can lead to emotional outbursts due to the dysregulation of impulsivity in the brain. So, if they get mad, it usually does not last too long. Just give each other some space and reconnect in an hour or two.

  1. Wait on the big decisions

People with ADHD are more likely to make impactful decisions on a whim which can have significant consequences and a destructive pattern of how ADHD affects relationships. When your partner starts with their new project or idea, make sure they have a full plan before changing your current plans suddenly.

  1. Prompt with a light touch

As much as they would not like to admit it, our ADHD partner needs reminding. Don’t get flustered with having to do so, and try your best to be nice, they are trying.

What are some best jobs for someone with ADHD?

Fast-paced, creative, hands-on, and thrilling are some adjectives used to describe jobs that attract someone who has ADHD. The following career paths may be used to complement their strengths:

  • Passion-fueled jobs – social worker, psychologist, healthcare industries
  • High-intensity situations – Like detective, police, critical care nurse, sports coach, firefighter
  • Ultra-structured – military, data analyst, lawyer, software tester, accountant
  • Lightning pace – ER Nurse, trauma doctor, EMT, firefighter, etc.
  • Creativity – Musician, artist, entertainer, inventor, fashion designer, etc.
  • Independent risk-taking – Stockbroker, professional athlete, entrepreneur, commercial diver, construction foreman, etc.

Can do you treat ADHD partners without medication?

Therapists who are specialty trained in ADHD can be a fantastic resource for a partner with ADHD. They can teach coping skills to help with emotional dysregulation, reactivity, and even practices to help with memory retention.

Medication and therapy combined are more effective that either treatment for ADHD tried alone. There are several ways to treat ADHD in adults without using medication. The common ones are:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Emotional therapy
  • Neurofeedback

Cutando, L., Puighermanal, E., Castell, L., Tarot, P., Bertaso, F., Bonnavion, P., de Kerchove d’Exaerde, A., Isingrini, E., Galante, M., Dallerac, G., Pascoli, V., Lüscher, C., Giros, B., & Valjent, E. (2020). Regulation of GluA1 phosphorylation by d-amphetamine and methylphenidate in the cerebellum. Addiction Biology, e12995.

Dönmez, Y. E., Özcan, Ö. Ö., Çankaya, C., Berker, M., Atas, P. B. U., Güntürkün, P. N., & Ceylan, O. M. (2020). Is contrast sensitivity a physiological marker in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder? Medical Hypotheses, 145, 110326.