Living with A Non-ADD Adult Partner

Life can be a challenge if you’re a non-ADD adult living with an ADD/ADHD adult. I recently coached a non-ADD adult (we’ll call her Alice) regarding some of her specific issues living with her ADD adult partner. Alice voiced a concern that is likely the most common complaint I hear from non-ADD partners. “I feel like he needs me to tell him what to do all the time. I have to guide him and direct him. I resent that I feel like I have a child. “As an ADD coach, I’ve heard the non-ADHD partner express many times, “I married my husband to have an equal partner but now I feel like I’ve got another child to take care of.”

ADD/ADHD adults tend to lack the inherent nature of structure and routine. Consequently, ADD adults often function best when there is some type of external structure in their life, i.e. work and school. Relationship partners also provide a great deal of structure & anchoring for the ADHD adult. Without this anchor, the ADD partner may have a greater tendency to meander during projects, chores, and possibly with life in general. Thus, it may appear that the ADD adult is depending on you or that he or she won’t do certain things without your comments or reminders.          

Coaching Tips for Non-ADD Partners:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Be honest, firm and gentle with your communication.
  • Clearly communicate your preferences and expectations of your ADD partner.
  • Clearly communicate your disappointment when there are breakdowns in agreements.
  • Take time to acknowledge the strengths, assets and beautiful aspects of your ADD partner. Acknowledge this to yourself and to your ADD partner.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals skilled at working with ADD / ADHD adults. 

Running Late Again . . .

Have you noticed that, like other ADD adults, you are routinely 5-10 minutes late for work, appointments, and most other scheduled events? It’s not that you intend to be late. You just simply got lost and distracted in time.

Let’s face it — ADD Adults generally have a poor concept of time. We understand time but we tend to be poor managers of it. Certainly, I’ve met some ADD adults who are compulsive about being on time, but on the average, we simply run late. Let’s take a  look at what goes wrong.

You know the drill. You have an appointment at 2pm and if you’re lucky, you just might have your appointment written in your calendar. You may actually know where your calendar is. You have an idea about what time to leave for your appointment but it’s not likely written in stone. It’s still an idea.

Meanwhile, “stimulation is my friend”) so you’re probably in the middle of something. Now maybe you just lost track of time or maybe you’re watching the clock while strategizing the best time to break away from your current focus of attention. Ok, leave now! I’ll have just enough time to arrive on time. But wait! Where are my keys, where are the papers or directions I need to take with me?” You know what it’s like, right? You’re ready to go, but you’re not prepared to leave.

Again, ‘stimulation is my friend ‘, so you probably don’t like arriving at your destinations early. “What will I do? Why arrive early and risk feeling bored with nothing to do?”Now here’s an interesting twist…Although you don’t like being late to a scheduled event, now that your are running late you may be feeling bad or guilty at the thought of not arriving on time. At the same time, your body is now filled with adrenaline as you ‘race’ to your appointment – ‘stimulation is my friend ‘ . Bottom line, you feel bad about running late, but your body is being rewarded with adrenaline for ‘running’ late. 

Tips for Managing Your Time:

  • Mindfulness Bells: Set timers or alarms to bring your awareness back to the moment. Timers also help to remind you when to “get ready to leave” so that you’re prepared to leave on time.

  • Get ready to get ready to go: I had a girlfriend who was always on time and very structured in her life. Unfortunately, when it was time to leave for destination, she was ready to walk out the door and I was “ready to go but not prepared to leave”. Before long she began to announce, “Rudy, it’s time to get ready to get ready to go”That gentle message got my attention and allowed me the appropriate time to prepare to leave on time.

  • Dual alarm kitchen timers are wonderful. Set one alarm to remind you to get prepared to go, and the second alarm five minutes before it’s time to walk out the door.

  • Planning: There is a popular saying… “People who fail to plan, plan to fail”. Set yourself up to win/succeed by using some type of planning calendar. You can use calendar books or you may use your cell phone or electronic PDA. These last two options are nice because you can set an alarm to remind you 5-10 minutes or more before your intended departure time. Of course, it’s also helpful to keep track of your calendar/planner.