The 3 Stages of a Relationship when one Partner has ADHD

September 30, 2022

There are three stages a couple may grow through when partner has ADHD

Stage 1 : This stage is called the new relationship phase. Oftentimes, in this stage couples or individuals with ADHD can find themselves hyper focused on their partner or their relationship. During this period of time, your new partner can feel very special.

Stage 2: In this stage, you may find that your relationship is growing and evolving. You may also find you are in a cycle with your partner. As you both grow in your relationship, the hyperfocus stops and this can lead to feelings of confusion and hurt. These feelings ultimately end up leading to  behaviours being misinterpreted and the partner without ADHD may feel uncared for and think their partner is unreliable and not engaged in the relationship. It is common at this stage for one partner to start parenting the other. The partner with ADHD may feel confused and become defensive and angry.

Stage 3 : As time goes by and nothing changes, no one addresses the issues or takes the initiative to begin fixing things, you may find yourselves distancing from each other leading to your relationship breaking down.

In this space here are some common feeling for each partner :

Partner without ADHD : 

  • May feel ignored, lonely, unloved or unappreciated
  • May feel as if they cannot trust their partner
  • May feel as if their being invalidated, unheard
  • Feelings of unfairness and as if they are taking on the “load” in the relationship with tasks (housework, chores, parental responsibilities)
  • May feel resentment and anger
  • Increased stress response, exhaustion
  • May feel uncomfortable and as if they are “walking on eggshells”

Partner with ADHD : 

  • May feel as though their partner is trying to micromanage them or control their life
  • may lead to avoidance of their partner and relationship
  • May be hypersensitive to criticism and become resentful
  • May feel overwhelmed and ancitoc[ate failure of the relationship
  • May feel shame and inferior to their partner
  • May feel unloved, unwanted but wants to be accepted and appreciated
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