As the neurotypical partner…
I have done my fair share of internet scowering in search of the best techniques and first hand advice to help keep my ADHD partner feeling appreciated while also finding best practices for our relationship to maintain it’s “New baby smell”, if you will.
The internet is a scary place, and you don’t have to look to far to find the type of information that would deter a neurotypical person from believing they could have a problemless relatioinship with an ADHD partner. It’s similar to googling your sickness symptoms. The top four links make you also google the nearest hospital location.
Luckily, my ADHD partner is extremely open to having conversations about how to best manage his ADHD traits while keeping our relationship thriving. That includes specific and dedicated work on both our ends.
Below are some of the ways we smooth out the bumps in our path!
1.Patience During Times of “Lag”
Admittedly, I wrote an entire blog piece on the importance of patience from both partners in a recent post on this website, check it out! What do I mean by lag? Often my ADHD partner and I joke that he seems to “Lag” (Video game reference, or VHS tape skip reference for you non-millenials) when his thinking is on overdrive and I try to start a conversation with him or ask him a question.
I always get a response, but oftentimes, it comes after an up to 30 second pause while he sorts out what is already going on inside of his head. Patience is a trait I had to learn fast, otherwise I would end up feeling unheard, ignored, or extremely annoyed.
Both the ADHD having partner, as well as the neurotypical partner, need to simply be aware that this happens. And WHY it happens. My partner and I have come to an understanding, that he will answer me as soon as he feels he can pull himself away from the stream of thoughts he is already engaged in. I will wait patiently, starting my next task. It’s the awareness that is important. As long as you are aware of what is happening, you can easily remind yourself why getting upset or feeling rejected in the situation is absolutley, the wrong way to go.
2. Deep Acceptance of the Mood Swings
I wish I could say I have this one down, but I am still learning how to combat the “Lows” that my ADHD partner finds himself in without being completely sure why, or how, to pull himself out of it. My natural instinct is to not give up on him, to keep trying, keep asking questions, keep keep keep. Believing I could do something to pull him out of his moodiness, and help him feel better, no matter how much he told me to stop, was something I struggled to let go of.
My ADHD partner lives on the Emotional Roller Coaster Express, experiencing the ride intensely, both at the top during his all time best moods, and the lows, when he can’t seem to pick himself back up.
After having many deep, honest, and respectful conversations about what this must be like for both him and I, we’ve come to an understanding of how to handle it. I just need to accept it. Once I just say “Oh well, too bad that he is in a terrible mood, and I just need to focus on how I can make myself happy right now” and then start doing just that, making myself happy without him, he gradually comes back from the pits of… well… his brain.
So my tip #2 for you is, just accept that if you are with an ADHD having partner, you can either buy a ticket for the Emotional Roller Coaster Express yourself, and join them on their lows… or you can focus on yourself and keep shining that bright light, that your ADHD partner will eventually gravitate to like a moth at a campfire.
3. Over Communication is KEY
Over communication doesn’t mean expressing every thought that fleets through your head like what flavor breakfast cereal you want to have tomorrow morning, or if you are going to clip your toenails this afternoon. It is in refrence to those real, genuine feelings and emotions that we are so used to brushing off, ignoring, or feeling embarassed by. Let’s face it, we have a million thoughts a day, most of them being entirely pointless, but several key thoughts that matter to who we are as people.
With the practice of over communication, you are never hiding what you really feel, negetively or positively, about a situation that will keep your partner guessing, or more often, ignorant about you. Both you and your partner need to stress the importance of understanding and being accepting of this kind of communication. It develops a sense of trust, that your partner isn’t hiding anything from you emotionally, because you’ve agreed on this bond of communication in any situation, good or bad.
For obvious reasons, expressing your unhappy feelings is an important part of this process. But expressing the positive, opitimistic, and happy emotions are also great ways to feel more connected and trusting. Try to have an open conversation with your partner, whether you are the neurotypical partner or the ADHD one, and see what your collective thoughts are about over communication.
If both of you are onboard, give it a go!
Maintaining a stable relationship when ADHD traits are involved is not always the easiest task on the “to do list”. It is however essential for both daily and longterm happiness.
These 3 tips are just a fraction of the puzzle, but they are the most significant beginning actions one can take.
May you continue to share happiness with the one you love.
Written by Kayla