Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become a growing issue for children and adolescents in recent years, but many do not realize that ADHD can also linger into adulthood and have similarly distressing effects. Adult ADHD can have a particularly profound impact on romantic relationships, especially when the symptoms of adult ADHD get mistaken as intentional carelessness or recklessness. One partner may not realize that the other is struggling with a disorder that makes it very difficult to focus, listen, or organize their life. When partners begin to have the following troubles, it may be a sign that one of them is struggling with adult ADHD:

  • 1. Does your partner get upset because you never seem to listen? Lack of focus is a classic ADHD symptom, and this can manifest is in problems with tuning in enough to someone else when they are talking to you. As a result, your romantic partner may feel unheard, which can become a source of conflict and distress within your relationship.
  • 2. Does your partner get frustrated that you are always late? Being an adult means having a variety of responsibilities, and when you struggle with the symptoms of ADHD, you may not be able to stay on top of it all. For example, you find yourself constantly running late or missing important deadlines. When this happens, others may misconstrue your shortcomings as a sign that you do not care, which can put strain on relationships and cause you to feel badly about yourself.
  • 3. Does your partner say he/she notices that you seem to be unable to focus on the task at hand? As adults, it can be beneficial to multitask, but a symptom of ADHD is an inability to focus enough to complete a task. If your partner is growing increasingly upset at your inability to finish what you started, you should recognize it as a possible sign of ADHD.
  • 4. Does your partner worry about how you drive? Impulsivity can also be a symptom of ADHD, and in adults, this frequently translates into reckless and unsafe driving. This can become a problem not only for you and your safety, but it can spark conflict within your relationship as your partner may be worried about or upset with you when you get behind the wheel.
  • 5. Is your partner always trying to get your attention? Does he/she seem to pursue you constantly in conversation in an attempt to engage you? Hyperfocus, or only focusing on what interests you and nothing else, is another component of ADHD. When you engage in hyperfocus, this can make your partner feel ignored without you intending to make them feel that way.
  • 6. Does your partner tell you that you are angry a lot of the time? Impulsivity can also manifest itself in being unable to regulate your emotions, and with adult ADHD this can often mean that you get angrier than usual. Your partner is a good barometer for changes in your mood, and if he/she is noticing your increased anger, it might be a sign that adult ADHD is part of the problem.
  • 7. Is your partner trying to cheer you up or telling you that you seem down? Depression can often be associated with ADHD, and your partner may be one of the first people to notice this in you. If your partner gives you an indication that you seem depressed, take note and consider it a possible sign of adult ADHD.
  • 8. Does your partner tell you that you seem overly worried or anxious? Do you need a lot of reassurance from your partner? Many of the symptoms of adult ADHD can make you feel unsure about yourself and your life. When you cannot finish a task or get to work on time no matter how hard you try, anxiety can follow. Be aware of this as a potential signal that ADHD is impacting you and your partner.


Rachel Goldsmith, Therapist