Question: My daughter is dating a young guy who I suspect is also ADHD... they are both weird!!!! You know what I mean.
This is a question from the mother an ADHD client I coached years ago. She asks a good question, a question that is not asked enough, never mind answered.
Just like ADHD, the answer is complex with many ""ifs and buts."" I hope my answer makes sense to you. If not, please let me know and I will try again.
Believe it or not he is actually younger than her but they are so very similar it is actually scary. Is it okay in the long term to date and marry if you both have ADHD / ADD? I know you are going to laugh at this cause you and Pat are ADHD.
Answer: I had a good chuckle when I read this question? The as I began to think about the answer, I realised that there is no single answer. The many variables will make any answer I give, both wrong and right - you see it depends!
Lets look at some of the negative and inhibiting factors for a relationship where ADHD / ADD is present in either one partner or both:
- Low self esteem. My definition for this terrible mindset is, ""I'll do anything, just love me."" Many ADDers confuse attention with love. Low self esteem means that very often the decision to get married is based on completely the wrong criteria.
- Distraction. This is very difficult for the partner to come to terms with. When an ADDer is distracted, it usually comes across as being rude or disinterested. Remember, distraction is involuntary, it's almost impossible to control without medication.
- Poor decision making. As I said above, often decisions are made using the wrong criteria. In the low self esteem section above, the ADHD person might choose some one to marry because that person likes them, or because they are blond, and most tragically, they are only ones left who are even talking to them! Some non-ADHD women take on the challenge of marrying an ADDer reasoning that once they are married, she will change them! I don't know why, but men don't appear to do that.
- Co-dependency. This is where one partner, usually the non-ADHD woman, gets the roles confused. She becomes a mother rather than a wife. Her entire reason for living becomes wrapped up in ""looking after"" her husband, who in her eyes is not capable of doing that. The mothers of ADHD children often do the same. In the rare cases where the man is co-dependent, he assumes a father role, and becomes extremely controlling. Point is here, you can't sleep with your mother of your father!
- No Goals. Most ADDers deal with what is in front of them at that time. They may have goals, but they are soon forgotten, or get lost in the clutter of daily living. Significantly, they have no goals for the relationship, what it should look like, how they should act, etc.
- Loss of Respect. For women especially, it is difficult to respect someone who forgets important things, who doesn't seem to care about paying the rent, having enough money for school fees. Other issues are often some kind of addiction. This is a serious and significant deal breaker in a relationship.
- Poor communication. Adders are notoriously bad communicators. We may be the life and soul of the party and talk the hind leg off the proverbial donkey, but we don't talk about things that matter, the deep things. ADDers often find it extremely difficult to make themselves vulnerable and admit to making mistakes or failure.
- Volatility. ADDers have frequent mood swings, often for no reason they can identify. This is very difficult for the non-ADHD spouse.
- Sensory Issues. Many ADDers have tactile and other sensory issues that make intimate acts very difficult. Hugging your partner can sometimes be an ordeal.
Now that we have got some of the negatives out of the way, lets look at some of the positive factors for a marraige or long term relationship.
Acceptance of ADHD. This is especially true when there are two ADDers in the relationship. With Pat and I, and many of our clients we have coached, it's not important to delve into the ""whys and wherefores"" of an ADHD mood swing or outburst. As an ADDer we know that the other person doesn't know why, and that all they want to do is get out of that state.
- Non-judgementalism. This follows on closely from the point above. We have seen over and over, when a group of ADDers get together, there is a complete absence of any form of judgementalism.Â
- Creativity. Most ADDers are creative, and not just in the usual sense of the word. They are innovative and forensic in nature, we like to work out new ways to do things and to find solutions to problems.
- Boosting each other. For a variety of reasons, ADDers will often take great pride in their partner's achievements, and will work on the other person's good points, building their self esteem. Doing this for the other person gives them a sense of purpose and builds their own self esteem. This is dangerous if it's one sided, it's incredibly powerful if it is done by both partners.
- Excitement: Living with an ADDer is never boring. There's always something happening. ADDers need to learn to temper their enthusiasm and how to present changes of direction, and get the buy in.
- ADHD Coaching. When the couple, either one or two ADDers, have been coached and have gained a lot of understanding about the condition, and how they should act in the relationship, the relationship will be an extremely happy one.
- Doing To Their World. This is a module in the LADDâ„¢ coaching program. ADDers are seriously self absorbed, we experience life in terms of what is done to us, but seldom do we focus on what we do to the world. When both partners focus on what they are doing to their partner in the relationship, life becomes idylic. I am not exaggerating here, ADDers tend to go over the top in most things, and this is a good thing to do a lot of.
- Making movies. Adders are extremely visual people. It's very easy to make incredibly realistic movies in our heads. Some of the negative issues of this I have dealt with above. But I want to focus on the positive aspects of this talent. We can visualize ourselves being the perfect partner, doing loving things, and making our partners happy. This visualizing is so powerful, that it actually happens.
- Sexual intimacy. If the tactile issues are sorted out, the adventurous spirit, being able to visualize in high-definition, and usually having a heightened sex drive, means that this aspect of the relationship is a strong bonding glue. Obviously the other factors mentioned above have to be a part of the mix.
There are a few Precious Principles for any relationship.
- It must always be, US AGAINST THE PROBLEM. When it's you against me, the problem gets lost and is never dealt with.
- Have a mindset of, WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU NOW?Â
- Believe that your partner, HAS NO FAULTS. Try it and see what happens.
- Have some GOALS, and a PLAN to achieve them
- FAIL FOR SUCCESS.
And then finally, there is that ""mysterious feeling"" called love. For two people to live together for the rest of their lives, raise a family, and leave a legacy there must be love. Love has many different meanings. All the positive aspects mentioned above are different meanings of love.
You see, love is verb. Love is something you do. Love is something you do to others and to yourself.
So in summary, if two ADDers hve been coached and do most of the positive listed above, and only a few of the negatives, they marriage will probably will be wonderful. If the opposite is true, the marriage is doomed from the outset.
It takes a very special non-ADHD person to live happily and successfully with an untreated ADDer. These people are few and far between.
So you see, as in just about all aspects and affairs of the heart, it depends!
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