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. 

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