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How Does ADHD Impact Romantic Relationships?

ADHD can play a significant role in the health of romantic relationships and their eventual success. How can partners help one another? Dr. Ari Tuckman offers tips to improve relationships.

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ADHD Awareness Month 2022
Understanding a Shared Experience


The way that ADHD impacts a romantic relationship – well, it’s in a lot of ways. You know, we ask a lot of our partners and to some degree we ask often kind of contradictory or competing things. We want partners who are reliable, especially when you get to the serious – not just like the super fun dating – but things like, you know, mortgages and kids who have to go to dentists and things like that. We look for a partner who we can count on. They say what they do and they do what they say. And ADHD makes it harder to be that kind of consistent, reliable partner who shows that they care.

But the thing of it is – anything that happens in a relationship doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The one partner forgets to do something, let’s say, the other partner probably reacts to it. And if this is not the first, but the thousand and first, time that this has happened, they probably react to it in a way that has more edge, more tone. More like, “Here we go again. Why do I always have to be the one to remember?” which is very understandable. And yet, it doesn’t work, right? It doesn’t solve the behavior. So I think it’s important then not just for the partner who has ADHD to be the one to sort of understand their ADHD, maybe take some medication, maybe see a therapist or a coach or an organizer, kind of get on top of their ADHD so it has less of an effect on their individual performance in life.

But also maybe for the other partner to try to understand, “Oh, this is a brain wiring thing. It’s not that they don’t love me. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s not that they’re just interested in what they’re interested in. It’s that there is this brain thing that makes it harder for them to do the things that they know that they should do, or the things that they say that they would do. So the non-ADHD partner takes it less personally, because taking it personally often doesn’t make things easier or better. But also they can then respond in some better, more effective ways so the two of them can work together as a couple to create a relationship that works really better for both of them.

Text cards are included at the end of the presentation

Card 1

ADHD symptoms can create conflict in relationships, marriages, and partnerships.

Card 2

ADHD can cause a partner to be forgetful, disorganized, distracted, communicate poorly, and overreact emotionally.

Card 3

It is important for both members of the relationship to learn how ADHD affects them, their communication styles, and their expectations.

Card 4

Some couples choose to work with a counselor or therapist to improve their communication skills.

About the speaker

Ari Tuckman

Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST is a psychologist, author, and international speaker specializing in ADHD, particularly how it impacts relationships.