You love your partner and have so much fun together. You enjoy that she can focus so much attention on you and you feel like the center of her world.
But, sometimes, you have fights because she forgot where she put her keys for the 10th time, is running late all the time, and can’t remember that you asked her to pick up something for you.
What is it like being in a relationship with a woman with ADHD?
At the beginning of your relationship, your partner was probably able to focus on you because when something is new and exciting, then they can hyper-focus.
You may have felt special, loved, and important. But, since women with ADHD struggle with inattentiveness, procrastination, time management, and organization, your relationship may have changed over time.
Knowing these ten features of ADHD in women may help you understand your partner.
After all, ADHD in women often looks different from how it presents in men or boys.
1. ADHD in women can look different for each woman and each woman may have some or all of the symptoms and signs.
Women who are called spacey, forgetful, and living in a dream world may actually be suffering from ADHD. These symptoms may be confusing to you in a relationship and may feel personal when it is not, necessarily.
The common symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactive and aggressive are not the typical signs of ADHD in women.
2. A sign of ADHD in women is mood swings, which are frequently misdiagnosed as anxiety or depression.
Women with ADHD have been found to blame themselves for their challenges and shortcomings, instead of understanding how ADHD impacts their lives.
3. Women are traditionally the “family manager”, but she may struggle with this job if she has ADHD.
Women tend to be the ones who organize the birthday parties and events, remembers to send the birthday cards, and drives the carpools.
But since she struggles with organizing, remembering important details, and planning, these tasks could be misinterpreted as she doesn’t care or you’re not important.
4. Women with ADHD may have big stacks of papers and bills lying around the house, or on a desk or counter.
If you look in her purse, you will find a messy, overflowing purse, stuffed with papers, make-up, receipts, and old gum and tissues.
Her clutter and disorganization may make her feel embarrassed to have friends or family over.
5. Making decisions in a loud setting or big store can be overwhelming to her.
It’s easy for a person with ADHD to become frustrated or even immobilized when there’s a lot of stimulation around her. This may affect where she wants to go and how she reacts when you’re in a busy place together.
6. If something is interesting to her, she will be able to focus on it (maybe even hyper-focus).
She likes novelty and excitement, so the daily tasks, such as laundry and cleaning, may be challenging to complete.
7. She may not get up on time for work, arrive late on dates, or miss appointments because she over-scheduled herself or forgot.
This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care, that she’s lazy or that there’s something wrong. It may simply be a symptom of her ADHD.
8. Your partner may try to hide how she is feeling because she wants to be seen as capable and competent as other women.
She may feel embarrassed that she is always trying to catch up and stay ahead of the mess everywhere.
It takes a lot of energy to focus and organize, so she might find herself tired and exhausted by the middle of the day.
9. A sign of ADHD in women is they are impulsive with spending money or having sex.
Many women with ADHD do not realize this and may feel shame around the decision they make that may seem problematic to others — or even themselves.
10. Women with ADHD have difficulty transitioning from one task to another.
For example, if she’s working from home, she may need time to transition from work to spending time with you. If the kids interrupt her doing something, she may have difficulty refocusing on that task.
When she says she’s going to play a video game or look at Instagram for 30 minutes and now it’s two hours later, you might feel ignored and uncared-for.
As life gets busier and more complicated with kids, work and responsibilities, she may feel more and more overwhelmed and sometimes feel stuck and not sure where to start a project or task.
When she needs to follow many steps and directions, such as filling out an application or making a recipe, she may need help to complete it or she may miss an important step.
You may have to be the responsible one in the relationship, such as paying bills, going grocery shopping, and doing chores.
Since ADHD in women causes distraction, talking to her may make you feel like she’s not focusing or paying attention to the conversation.
You might talk with your partner and then she might forget about the conversation altogether or forget the agreement you made.
Over time, the unfairness and imbalance in the relationship around completing chores and tasks and planning and organizing events can become frustrating and create resentment.
What Are The Benefits Of ADHD in Women?
Sometimes the negative impact of ADHD in women seems to take center stage in relationships. However, women with ADHD possess many positives and strengths, such as courage, resilience, spontaneity, and humor.
Whether it’s being labeled with ADHD or feeling different from others, women with ADHD will display a lot of courage and resilience.
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Being vulnerable about their challenges is not easy for anyone, but when women are supposed to be the ones making appointments, sending out birthday cards, or keeping the house clean and organized, they could feel self-conscious and uncomfortable about it.
Usually, partners at the beginning of the relationship enjoy the spontaneity and adventurousness of their partner. You can look for ways to continue to use these strengths to foster closeness and positivity in your relationship.
A sign of ADHD in women is impulsivity, but another way to see this trait is to notice her creative abilities at work, home, or in your relationship.
Dr. Edward Hallowell says, “You can not be creative unless you’re impulsive.”
Many women with ADHD use humor as a coping mechanism and to deal with missed appointments and messy desks.
As a couples therapist who specializes in couples with ADHD in women, I try to encourage couples to look for the positives that ADHD brings to the table and learn better ways to manage the challenges.
ADHD in women will impact the relationship, but with understanding and compassion, you can learn how to cope and work together to address the issues.
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC, is a licensed counselor in the states of Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Vermont, and Virginia. She is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist and PACT Level 3 who does private consultations.