Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can affect women differently than men. And symptoms can sometimes cause friction in a romantic relationship.
When you think of someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may picture a child with seemingly endless energy who acts on impulse and has trouble focusing. Many therapists and psychologists look for the classic signs of ADHD or hyperactive-impulsive presentation.
Medical professionals sometimes overlook or misdiagnose girls with ADHD because they tend to have different symptoms.
A woman may not find out she has ADHD until she develops symptoms of another mental health condition, like depression, and seeks treatment.
Like any other mental health condition, ADHD does not define a person. You may fall in love with a woman who has ADHD and never realize it.
But knowing what your significant other is dealing with may help you develop a deeper understanding of them and allow you to grow as a couple.
ADHD symptoms in women often don’t involve the same hyperactivity-impulsivity seen in young boys. Instead, symptoms often include:
- issues with distraction
- subtle signs of impulsivity and hyperactivity
- feelings of being overwhelmed
- poor motivation
- issues with organization
You may notice these symptoms worsen or intensify during heightened emotion or stress. Moving, difficulty at work and other stressful life events can potentially trigger symptoms.
ADHD may affect relationships because people with the mental health condition are more likely to:
- misplace items regularly
- become bored during date night outings
- have trouble focusing during a fight or when discussing your day
- experience fatigue that can cut into quality time
- have issues with time management
- have difficulty keeping your personal space clean
- experience disorganized thoughts
- have problems with long-term planning or completing projects
- have trouble regulating emotions like anger
- experience difficulty with remembering important dates and anniversaries
1. Learn about ADHD
Understanding where your partner is coming from may help your relationship.
If you know she is living with ADHD, consider taking the time to learn about the symptoms and how you might be able to support her.
2. Learn about your own needs
Your needs are important, too. Some of the things you notice your partner does may not be one-offs and could keep occurring if you remain in a long-term relationship.
For example, this could mean that if your partner has trouble keeping a neat house, being punctual, and being organized, and this bothers you, you may want to consider this before jumping into a long-term relationship with them.
While it’s important to accept that no one is perfect, only you know what your deal-breakers are. You’re in control of deciding whether to move forward with a committed relationship.
3. Enjoy your partner
ADHD doesn’t define your partner. In some cases, you may not even realize your partner has ADHD. The signs may be subtle, or she may have developed coping skills long before meeting you.
Like any other mental health condition, ADHD is just a small part of who your partner is.
While some people may dwell on the negative aspects of ADHD, it can also give a person more energy and make them more creative.
4. Understand her sexual responses may be different
According to a 2020 literature review, ADHD can affect a person’s sexual health. For some people, ADHD can lead to an increased sex drive. For others, it could lead to sexual dissatisfaction or dysfunction.
Talking with your partner about her sexual needs and desires and being open and honest and your desires may help ensure you enjoy a satisfying sex life.
5. Take steps to build a strong relationship
A healthy, strong relationship doesn’t always come naturally. But you can take steps to build a solid foundation from the start. The University of Illinois’s Family Resilience Center offers some strategies you may want to try:
- Identify conflicts and work on constructively communicating them.
- Thank your partner for mundane things you notice they do for you or your relationship.
- Connect with your community by doing activities as a couple, such as volunteering.
- Adopt a team-oriented mentality, thinking “us” instead of “me” and “you.”
- Try not to lose sight of the positive attributes of your relationship.
Your partner’s ADHD doesn’t need to dominate your life. It’s possible to take steps to strengthen your relationship without focusing solely on your partner’s diagnosis.
Still, understanding ADHD may help you build a stronger bond and lasting relationship with your partner.
Women with ADHD often present differently than men. They tend to show more signs of inattention instead of hyperactivity or impulsivity.
When you’re in a relationship with a woman living with ADHD, you may find it helpful to learn more about ADHD.
You may find that many of the tips for loving a woman with ADHD could apply to any relationship. That’s because ADHD does not define who your partner is.
If you take the time to work on your relationship, ADHD likely won’t factor in much. And when it does, you’ll likely have the skills to effectively work through any issues with your partner.
If you’re interested in learning more about ADHD or providing support resources to your partner, consider checking out the following resources:
- Kaleidoscope Society, a community for women with ADHD
- The Queens of Distraction, an online group coaching platform for people with ADHD
- ADHD in Marriage: Women with ADHD
- Why ADHD Symptoms Are Often Overlooked in Women and Girls
- Treating ADHD: What Are My Options?