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If You Love Someone Who Has ADHD, Don’t Do These 20 Things

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If You Love Someone Who Has ADHD, Don’t Do These 20 Things

You wonder if everybody’s life is as chaotic as yours. Something’s not right.

Your child doesn’t act like the other children in the class. Homework assignments guarantee a night of fights, slammed doors, and tears shed. The teachers call you in for conferences weekly. Your husband gets fired again claiming all his bosses are jerks. You work overtime so your car isn’t repossessed. Your sister cancels every time you plan to meet for dinner. Your teenager is hanging out in the local piercing parlor. And your daughter can’t find her car keys whenever she’s walking out the door. Your relationships are constant conflicts.

You’ve considered splitting up, but you can’t afford to live on your own. You’ve thought of quitting your job, packing your bags, and running away. You’re tired all the time. You’re trapped, choking, and you cannot breathe.

Loving someone who has ADHD can make your life crazy if you don’t get a grip on it. The doctors prescribe medication. The therapists tell you what to do, but your home is as wild as a college frat house.

A person with ADHD can be hard to live with. The thought patterns and behaviors of a person with ADHD never go away. They are manageable, but that too, is a full-time challenge.

Without proper care, ADHD can lead to substance abuse, overeating, unemployment, toxic relationships, divorce, constant conflict, academic failure, insomnia, stress, anxiety and panic attacks. A person with ADHD has an active thought process of options, possibilities, and scenarios the average person cannot even imagine.

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Eventually, reality bites. The rent is due, the electric bill is unpaid, and your checking account is overdrawn again. You’re exhausted from staying awake worrying all night. You want to run away, but your problems are like misspelled tattoos that stay with you wherever you go. There is hope. It doesn’t have to be that way. As a person with ADHD has to work through his challenges, you as his lover, parent, sibling or friend also have to learn coping skills to improve the situation. Don’t do these 20 things if you want to have a happier life together.

1. Don’t live in denial – Admit the truth.

Call the problem by its name: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder. Your life will become easier when you identify it, own it, talk about it, and stop running from it. Admitting that it exists is the first step to freedom. There is no reason to feel ashamed. Many of history’s greatest contributions have come from people with ADHD. Scientists, authors, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs have become successful because they have a creative vision that average people do not possess.

2. Don’t criticize – Judge favorably.

Realize that your loved one with ADHD is trying his hardest, even though it’s not good enough for your standards. Lighten up, go easy, and give them time. They will accomplish what they have to do, but not on the schedule you have in mind. Allow them time and space to accomplish their tasks. Influence them with love, not with criticism.

3. Don’t accept excuses – Encourage and inspire them to achieve their goals.

ADHD isn’t an excuse for an irresponsible lifestyle. It just means that what comes easy to you, may be difficult for them. It doesn’t mean that they can’t do something, it means that it’s harder for them. Simple tasks that you take for granted; such as opening mail, trashing junk mail, and placing your bills in a “to be paid” folder, feel like a climb up Mt. Everest to a person with ADHD. It doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t have it. Try to be encouraging, in spite of your doubts and disappointments. Point out the times when they suceeded.

4. Don’t be a coach – Be a cheerleader.

Stand on the sidelines; grab your pom-poms and start cheering. Words of encouragement have more power than insults and put-downs. Coaches are in-your-face critics. Their job is to point out the negative. Cheerleaders stand on the side, rooting for success, believing in their teams ability to achieve. Let your loved one with ADHD know that you are on the same team.

5. Don’t make unrealistic demands – Stay with the possible.

When a person with ADHD gets stressed out, an obsessive thought pattern of “what-ifs” begins. Screaming and shouting, “Just do it already. Stop making such a fuss,” will not break through compulsive thinking. Accept the fact that they may not be able to do what you want, when you want it, or how you want them to do it. If it’s something important, be specific.

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6. Don’t give instructional lectures – Be respectful.

Lectures are not helpful if a person feels like they are being spoken to like a child whose baseball broke the neighbor’s window. If you have something to say, be sure to choose the right words at the right time. The timing of your conversations determines if you will be heard or ignored. Schedule a time to talk. Rehearse your speech so that it comes out as love, not control.

7. Don’t be impulsive – Practice patience.

Someone with ADHD is impulsive. If you are the rational thinker in the relationship, your ADHD loved one is depending on you  to be wise and patient. Two impulsive people reacting emotionally and regurgitating information at each other, does not make for a happy ending.

8. Don’t be a martyr – Call for backup.

Have a support team to help you through the struggles. You don’t have to manage everything alone. Call a friend, a therapist, or a loving relative. Find someone who just listens. If you don’t want advice or suggestions, a comforting shoulder to cry on can strengthen you and change your outlook

9. Don’t forget your goal – Prepare for a positive outcome.

Sometimes words come out that you later regret saying. They can’t be taken back. Hurtful words leave deep wounds. Keep your goals in mind. What would you like to accomplish? Ask yourself, if I say this will it lead to a negative or a positive outcome? It’s up to you. You determine the outcome. Go slow. Think before you speak.

10. Don’t feel guilty – Know that you are doing your best.

Feeling that your loved one is hard to love, or that you don’t like their behavior is a sad feeling to experience. If you’re a parent and are upset about your child’s behavior, guilt runs through your veins. It’s not your fault. You’re doing the best you can. You’re in a tough situation and you aren’t always sure which is the best way to handle it. Be gentle with yourself.

11. Don’t try to control them – Control yourself.

Intimidating or threatening does not inspire change. Trying to control people is never effective. When you don’t know how to motivate your loved one, think about how you can change your approach. You can’t control other people; you can only control your words, thoughts, and reactions towards them.

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12. Don’t lean in – Step back.

Intense emotions are negative emotions. Leaning in and pushing a person to perform isn’t the most effective way to reach the result you desire. When stress is high and you feel like screaming, back off. Stepping back gives you time to breathe, relax, and readjust your thoughts.

13. Don’t label them – Be compassionate.

Judgment is easy; compassion is hard work. Don’t box them in as a “forgetful, lazy, disorganized mess,” or “someone who will never succeed.” Labels create pre-determined expectations that last for years. People become what you see them as.

14. Don’t say “never” – Nothing stays the same.

When times are tough, it’s hard to remember that tough times don’t last forever. Things will get better. Believe it. “Never” is a word of hopelessness. Start saying, “not yet.” The only thing constant is change.

15. Don’t say “Just do it” – Understand that they can’t.

An ordinary thinker cannot understand how a person with ADD/ADHD can’t accomplish the simplest tasks such as paying bills, organizing papers, and putting their clothes away. These tasks may be easy for you, but remember, the person with ADHD also has a hard time understanding why they can’t pay a bill or manage their mail.

16. Don’t be afraid to help out – Offer a helping hand.

It’s important to teach your loved ones how to be responsibly and independently. But also remember, that there are times when it’s okay to offer assistance. Even Einstein had a helper. His wife cooked for him, cleaned up after him and did his laundry because his high-powered mind was too busy discovering the quantum workings of the universe to take time to put his dirty socks in the laundry bin.

17. Don’t have unrealistic expectations – List what you love about them.

Accept your loved ones as they are. Just like with any other relationship, you have to look for the good, and stay focused on it. Never lose sight of the awesome qualities of your ADD/ADHD loved one. If it’s your partner, remember that their fun-loving, impulsive personality is probably why you fell in love with them. Go back to the beginning. Love them again, as if you first met them. If it’s your child, remember the feeling of holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time.

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18. Don’t neglect other family members – Spend time alone with them.

ADD/ADHD can take over your home environment, subliminally controlling everything and everyone in it. Spend time with other family members. They need you, too. Go to the movies or go get some ice cream with them. Remind them that they still exist for you. Hug them and hold onto them.

19. Don’t get mad – Pause for peace

Make peace in your home and your life your priority. The other lessons will soon fall into place if your home is a loving environment. Anger is easy. Staying quiet takes strength. Put your relationships before your feelings. You don’t have to veerbalize every comment that comes to mind. Place your ego on the side until your anger subsides.

Don’t ever accept abusive behavior of any type. There are certain relationships that are unhealthy, toxic, and need to end. Seek professional help.

20. Don’t forget to love yourself – Do something that makes you happy

ADHD relationships can suck the joy out of life. You realize that you haven’t laughed in a month. You forgot how to smile, and you can’t remember the last time you had fun. Make time for yourself. Do something that makes you happy. Have fun again, and do it often.

Let this little story inspire you:

After she received an ADHD diagnosis for her 7-year old son, a woman went to to the psychiatrist. Frustrated and distraught that she couldn’t handle her own child, she cried, “What more can I do? I’m doing everything I can. I don’t know how to handle my own child.” He looked at her and quietly answered, “Love him more.”

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That wasn’t the answer she had hoped for. Through her tears, she pleaded for answers, “Love him more? I’m giving this child everything I can. I’m empty inside. I’ve got nothing left. How can I love him more?” “Try harder. Dig deeper. You can do it,” he answered.

When you love someone who has ADHD, they are a part of you. They live in your head and in your heart. You were chosen for this task. Love them more.

More by this author

June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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