Adult ADHD and relationships

For many people, the relationships formed with family, partners, children, friends and colleagues are important and rewarding. They are the primary things that provide support, wellbeing, a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Many people with ADHD have these positive relationships but have to work hard at maintaining them because of their ADHD symptoms.

Patients with ADHD are twice as likely to be divorced.

Attention Deficit

Attention deficit symptoms

In relationships, the attention deficit symptoms of ADHD can have a profound and negative effect, causing frustration and boredom. These symptoms can be amplified when a relationship becomes life sharing and centred in a single home.

People with ADHD may have difficulty maintaining positive relationships with family and friends. They may have more relationship problems with their partner or spouse and are more likely to be divorced than someone without ADHD.

Being an equal partner can be a challenge as people with ADHD often rely on others to do things for them. Disorganisation and forgetfulness can mean that they are unreliable and have a history of turning up late to events or not responding to messages and invites.

Attention deficit can make it difficult for people with ADHD to stay focused on domestic tasks that they find boring like financial management and budgeting, sharing household chores or looking after children.

Sometimes, a lack of attention in relationships can cause frustration and resentment from partners, adding strain to already difficult situations. Sometimes a person with ADHD becomes bored in a relationship.

Research has shown that criminal convictions in patients with ADHD reduce by 30 to 40% during periods of treatment.

Poor concentration can make it hard to appear interested, as people with ADHD can drift off in conversations or when discussing family matters and plans.

The difficulties caused by attention deficit in ADHD can lead to a lack of confidence, which can affect a persons ability to form and maintain relationships. Some people feel bad about themselves, often frustrated with themselves and they get discouraged.


Hyperactivity symptoms

In relationships, the hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD can be disruptive and difficult to live with. They can lead to unresolved important family conversations and can prevent partners and family members from feeling truly relaxed and secure in their relationship.

Hyperactivity in ADHD can make it hard to focus on family conversations as a restless mind may rapidly and impulsively flit off in different directions.

Impatience can make it hard to allow other people time to say what they want. It is a frequently heard comment from people with ADHD that they just wish their partner would hurry up and say what they have to say more quickly.

People with ADHD can appear rude and disinterested or more fully interested in something else. This can be frustrating for partners or family members, particularly if they are trying to talk about something that is important to them.

Impulsivity (poor self-control) and inattention (poor planning) in ADHD can lead to poor eating patterns and weight gain.

Hyperactivity can make it hard for a person with ADHD to remember what they were going to say as it can be difficult to stay focused to keep a thought in your mind while others are talking.

Partly due to self medicating to reduce restlessness and partly due to excitement seeking, impulsive behaviour up to 30% of women and 39% of men with ADHD may misuse substances. This can cause problems in a relationship.

Some people with hyperactivity are consistently the first to get up from the table after a meal or the person who gets up repeatedly during a film or TV programme, as they feel restless and it is too difficult to remain seated.

Impulsive behaviour, not thinking before you say or do something, can lead to saying inappropriate or unkind things or to make unwise decisions that you may regret afterwards and this can aversely affect relationships. It can make it difficult to stay close to partners and family.

Some people with ADHD are poor sleepers and very restless, struggling to switch off and relax, and this can cause problems for their partner.

Mood instability

Mood instability symptoms

In relationships, the mood instability symptoms of ADHD can cause serious problems for partners and family members; if a person is consistently unpredictable in their mood and the way they might react to events, news or situations.

Anger and irritability can mean that getting into arguments, or being verbally or physically aggressive, with partners or family members, can be common in ADHD.

Studies show that around 52% of women with ADHD also suffer from an anxiety disorder.

People with ADHD can find it hard to co-operate with others and this can lead to difficulty getting along with people, enjoying time with others or take part in hobbies and activities.

It can be harder to stay close to family, to make and keep friends and it can make it harder to get along with neighbours.

How to book an assessment or appointment

If you find the information in our site useful and feel that you would benefit from a full ADHD assessment, we would be delighted to consider booking an appointment for you at one of our clinics. Please click here for more information.

ADHD at home

ADHD at work

ADHD in social situations


The Impact of ADHD

ADHD can severely affect an individual’s education, working life, home life, relationships and social life.

Who can be affected by ADHD?

ADHD occurs in both males and females and across all ages and all levels of social status, intelligence and capability.

Take a simple ADHD questionnaire

Real stories - adult ADHD and relationships

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Feeling rejected

Suzie told me that she was walking down the corridor at work and saw a colleague looking at some papers whilst he was walking...
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Married with children

Philip was a married man with two children. His marriage was under a lot of stress, as his wife complained that with him, she had three kids to look after not two.
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If only I could remember

Kali had always been labelled as unreliable. At school, she could never remember to take notes home to her parents. If she answered the home phone...
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Even if I don’t go down the medication route, simply understanding that my brain works differently from some and that there are neurobiological reasons for this is very helpful. Ultimately I want to play to my strengths, slow or stop the motor whirring-away in my brain when I need to rest, and catch-up with exploring who I am and how I fit into the world.

Extract from recommendation.


Adult ADHD Clinic is dedicated to providing the highest quality of information, clinical assessments and treatments for ADHD in adults.

Correspondence address:

Adult ADHD Clinic
The Manor Hospital
Beech Road

Tel: 07887 640 102
and 0845 5280 898

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