Skip to Content

Can two ADHD people be in a relationship?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, and impulsivity. It affects around 5% of adults worldwide. With ADHD being so prevalent, it’s not uncommon for two people with ADHD to enter into a romantic relationship. However, some may wonder if the challenges of ADHD make it unrealistic for two people who have it to have a successful long-term relationship. Here we’ll explore whether two people with ADHD can make a relationship work.

The Challenges of ADHD in Relationships

There are certainly some unique challenges that can arise when two partners have ADHD. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Forgetfulness – Both partners may frequently forget important events, obligations, conversations etc. This can lead to frustration and misunderstandings.
  • Impulsivity – Impulsive behaviors like overspending, substance abuse, inappropriate comments etc. can strain the relationship.
  • Poor planning and time management – Partners may be perpetually late, miss appointments, and procrastinate on chores/tasks. This can create chaos and tension in the relationship.
  • Lack of focus during conversations – Both partners may struggle to sustain focus during conversations leading to feelings of not being heard or understood.
  • Hyperfocus on hobbies – When hyperfocusing, partners may neglect their relationship and household responsibilities.
  • Emotional dysregulation – ADHD emotional volatility can lead to outbursts of anger, irritation, or mood swings between partners.

Additionally, the impulsive, stimulating, and chaotic tendencies of ADHD can exacerbate each other between two partners. This may increase the likelihood of fights, rash decisions, and instability in the relationship. Basically, all of the ADHD-related struggles each partner faces individually can impact the relationship when combined.

Tips for Making an ADHD Relationship Work

While the challenges are real, there are absolutely ways for an ADHD-ADHD partnership to thrive:

Seek treatment

One of the most important steps is for each partner to seek appropriate treatment for ADHD. This may include:

  • Medication – Stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse etc. can help manage core ADHD symptoms.
  • Counseling – Working with a therapist specializing in ADHD can help develop coping strategies.
  • Education – Learning as much as possible about ADHD helps partners understand each other’s struggles.
  • Lifestyle changes – For example, adopting better sleep and exercise habits can improve ADHD symptoms.

When each individual gets ADHD symptoms under better control, relationship functioning can improve dramatically.

Establish relationship routines

Because of poor planning and time blindness, establishing set relationship routines is key. This could include:

  • Set date nights – For example, Friday nights are always date nights.
  • Recurring check-ins – Set 15 minute relationship check-ins every evening.
  • Daily planning sessions – Each morning, sit down together to plan and assign tasks for the day.
  • Relationship meetings – Have weekly “State of the Union” meetings to address relationship issues and appreciate each other.

Routines like these provide consistency and dedicated relationship time despite the challenges of ADHD.

Improve communication skills

Good communication doesn’t come easy for most ADHD relationships. Certain tips can help:

  • Minimize distractions during conversations – Turn off devices, go for a walk together, maintain eye contact.
  • Designate talking time – Set 10-15 minute windows to talk about important topics without distractions.
  • Repeat key points – Ask for points to be repeated or summarized to ensure understanding.
  • Write things down – Note key conversation points, agreements, and tasks in a shared journal.
  • Avoid criticism – Frame feedback in positive terms focused on working together.

Improving communication helps both partners feel truly heard and connected.

Practice radical acceptance

The impulsivity, disorganization, and unreliability associated with ADHD can be extraordinarily frustrating. However, it’s important to practice radical acceptance of your partner’s neurology. This means:

  • Letting go of trying to change or fix your partner.
  • Refraining from hurtful criticism.
  • Viewing ADHD symptoms as something to work with, not against.
  • Assuming positive intent despite forgetfulness and errors.
  • Being willing to offer gentle reminders and feedback without judgment.

Radical acceptance allows an ADHD/ADHD relationship to flourish out of teamwork, not control.

Externalize the problems

Rather than blaming each other, externalize the ADHD-related problems. View them not as relationship issues, but as outside challenges impacting the relationship. Some examples include:

  • “The distractibility monster is making it hard for us to communicate right now.”
  • “The disorganization goblin struck again and made us late for dinner.”
  • “The ADHD time warp caused us to lose track of the evening.”

Externalization helps prevent conflict and builds solidarity against outside ADHD forces.

Play to strengths

While ADHD poses challenges, it can also confer strengths like creativity, intuition, and passion. Identify each partner’s strengths and abilities and leverage them, for example:

  • The partner who’s better at planning handles schedules and logistics.
  • The partner who’s better at details handles paperwork.
  • The partner who’s more creative plans date activities.

Emphasizing strengths makes each partner’s abilities feel like an asset, not a weakness.

Practice relentless patience

Patience, tolerance, and persistence are key. It’s crucial to:

  • Let the small stuff go
  • Pick battles carefully
  • Give the benefit of the doubt
  • Allow do-overs when needed
  • Radiate calm and understanding

Constant impatience will only breed resentment, while abiding patience allows love to flourish.

Maintain a shared calendar

A shared calendar can help reduce forgetfulness and promote better planning. Features like reminders, notifications, and visibility to both partners can help enormously with issues like:

  • Remembering events and appointments
  • Tracking tasks and assignments
  • Coordinating schedules
  • Preventing double-booking errors

Digital calendars provide an essential planning aid for ADHD/ADHD couples.

Collaborate on solutions

Problems should be addressed as a team. Instead of criticism, couples should have open dialogues about challenges and jointly brainstorm potential solutions. A collaborative, non-blaming problem-solving approach elicits the creativity and teamwork required to overcome obstacles.

Get help when needed

Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. ADHD specialized couples counselling can provide tactics to enhance communication, radically accept each other, and collaborate effectively. Having the support of a trained professional can be invaluable.

Make intimacy a priority

Because of factors like poor focus, distractibility, hyperfocusing on hobbies, and impulsiveness, couples with ADHD often struggle with emotional and physical intimacy. Making intimacy a consistent priority is critical, even when it doesn’t come naturally. Set aside quality couple time, limit distractions, and engage in romantic gestures. Intimacy is the glue that holds couples together.

Embrace play and humor

Don’t forget to infuse the relationship with a sense of playfulness and lightness. Humor helps prevent resentment when challenges emerge. Shared fun activities also forge bonding and connection. All relationships need a spirit of adventure, creativity and laughter – ADHD relationships especially so.

ADHD Relationship Success Stories

While they require work, ADHD partnerships absolutely can thrive. Here are examples of real-life ADHD success stories:

Emma and Sean

Emma and Sean met in college and instantly clicked. But after several years together, Emma started to become annoyed by Sean’s constant forgetfulness and disorganization. She would nag him to clean up and remember important dates. Over time this led to major tension in the relationship. Eventually they got help from a therapist who taught them to externalize the ADHD challenges as coming from “Mr. Distractible” and “Mr. Disorganized” rather than blaming each other. She learned to offer gentle support instead of criticism, while Sean worked on medication and structure. Their relationship improved drastically once they joined forces against the ADHD challenges instead of making it a blame game.

Melissa and Brandon

As an ADHD couple, Melissa and Brandon struggled with basic responsibilities like paying bills on time. They adopted a creative solution by setting up an ADHD “command center” in their home. It consisted of a whiteboard calendar, a bill pay station, designated mail sort bins, and an in/out tray for papers. Additionally, they set alerts and reminders in their phones and shared Google calendar. Defining these systems reduced lateness, helped stay on top of bills, and cut down on lost paperwork. Their externalized structure helped minimize ADHD-related conflicts.

Harold and Sam

Harold and Sam experienced the common ADHD relationship issue of poor communication leading to misunderstandings. They each tended to have trouble staying focused during conversations and they would often later realize they hadn’t fully heard each other. They made progress by establishing a set 15-minute “talk time” each night when they would chat without any distractions about their day and feelings. Having a designated space for communicating without wandering attention greatly improved their connection.

Katie and Justin

A classic ADHD trait is hyperfocusing on hobbies for hours while neglecting other responsibilities. When Katie and Justin first moved in together, Justin would disappear into weekend-long video game binges, leaving Katie to manage the house alone. They agreed that his gaming time would be limited to 10 hours each weekend. Justin set a timer to prevent him from hyperfocusing, and they also established “household time” each Saturday morning to get chores done together. Finding this balance allowed Justin’s hyperfocus tendencies not to sabotage the relationship.

Stephanie and Mike

For the notoriously disorganized ADHD brain, clutter can build up quickly. After becoming overwhelmed by disorder in their home, Stephanie and Mike implemented a 10-minute clean up routine before bed every night. They set a timer and tackled small clutter tasks together like washing dishes, putting away shoes, and tidying up the living room. Instituting this small daily routine dramatically helped keep chaos at bay.

Courtney and Aidan

ADHD emotional volatility and impulsiveness can sometimes manifest as hurtful arguments. Courtney and Aidan learned to have a designated “cool down” space when emotions were running high. If one partner became overwhelmed, they could step away to a spare bedroom or take a walk to calm down before continuing talking. Removing themselves temporarily from heated situations prevented impulsive reactions and helped discussions resume more rationally.


There’s no doubt that ADHD presents unique obstacles in relationships. Carelessness, disorganization, poor focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness can strain the most patient person when exhibited by not just one partner but two. However, while more challenging, relationships where both individuals have ADHD aren’t doomed to fail. With structure, commitment, external support, and a spirit of teamwork, ADHD partners absolutely can maintain happy, fulfilling long-term relationships. The key is radical acceptance, focusing on strengths, and joining forces against externalized ADHD impacts. With mutual understanding and the right strategies, a relationship between two people with ADHD can thrive.