ADHD, Relationships, and Communication Challenges

sunset over sunflower field - text reads The Impact of ADHD on Relationships: Communication Challenges

sunset over sunflower field - text reads The Impact of ADHD on Relationships: Communication Challenges


The Impact of ADHD on Relationships

Communication Challenges



If you have ADHD, or have dated someone with ADHD – you have likely already felt the impact of ADHD on relationships, particularly around communication challenges.


If there are more than one ADHD or other neurodiverse person in the relationship, communication can get even more challenging.


But why? And what do we do about it?


Knowledge is power so let’s chat about what can make communication so challenging for us ADHD Brains.


Distractibility and Impulsiveness


This is a big one. Those of use with ADHD struggle with executive function struggles like impulsivity and focus.


This can be frustrating for their loved ones – when interruptions disrupt conversations on a regular basis.


The ADHD person is easily distracted and some times tune out which makes it tough to actively engaged. We also tend to try to hold on to the thing we want to say next, and try so hard that we become distracted.


This leads to hurt feelings and misunderstandings due to perceived disinterest in the person or the conversation.  





Time Management, Time Blindness, Working Memory


All of these are executive functions that ADHD folks may have struggles with.


One big struggle that happens between a neurotypical person and an ADHD person is that the neurotypical person does not understand why something is more difficult for the ADHD’er than it should be.


Struggling with time blindness, time management, and working memory can show up in ways that don’t make sense often to their neurotypical peers and partners.


Examples that I have done because of these struggles that could negatively impact my relationship:


  • Forgotten important dates.
  • Lose things that have sentimental value.
  • Agree to do things and then forget.
  • Saying I’ll be done in five minutes, but meaning 45. Forgetting details of conversations.
  • Forgetting important details like birthdates, favorite foods, and other details.
  • Eating one thing for months, then never again.
  • Forgetting to respond to an email or text even though I want to.


All of these things could lead my loved ones to feel neglected or unimportant.


None of those things actually mean they are unimportant to me, it’s just that I can’t remember if something was yesterday or three years ago.



Emotional Dysregulation and Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria


Folks with ADHD often struggle with emotional dysregulation, another executive function.


This can make folks with ADHD react in bigger and more intense ways than a situation calls for.


This leads to more arguing, shutting down, or being passive aggressive. It also leads to emotional outbursts, meltdown, lowered self esteem, and increased insecurity.


Which play right into another known ADHD thing – Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria. Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria is a heightened sense of pain that comes from getting actual or perceived rejection or criticism.


RSD can really do some damage to relationships all by itself – check out my recent blog about it HERE.






It can get better

The good news is that all of these things can be improved, and with an educated and understanding partner, many ADHD folks (myself included) have healthy, long term relationships that are fulfilling and happy.


If you are struggling with communication in your relationship, let’s chat about how to get from where you now, to where you want to be.


Book a discovery call with me today.


Book A Time To Talk Today


There are other reasons that communication can be challenging, I covered the big ones. What have you found to be a struggle in your relationships that is directly related to your (or their) ADHD symptoms?


Come back next month and I’ll be dropping a blog with tips about improving communication when one or more people in the relationship have ADHD. 

Kat Sweeney, MCLC


🌻Don’t Delay Joy🌻

Kat Sweeney, MCLC





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