Men who struggle with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often met with distinctive challenges within their relationship that other men don’t face. Unfortunately, though there’s a lot of information for women on this issue, men’s ADHD traits are often ignored.
The real danger in this is without a critical understanding of the other half, relationship happiness remains vulnerable.
It’s important to note that much of what we discuss throughout this article doesn’t apply to every man. Rather, the following traits seem to be more concurrent among men according to mental health professionals.
We invite you to follow along as we take a deeper look into the difficulties men with ADHD face within their relationship. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
Failure to Live Up to Work Pride
It’s common for all adults with ADHD to struggle when it comes to their work. Most work environments don’t take the mental health condition into consideration and, in turn, people who struggle with it may find themselves: ¹
- Having difficulty with discipline.
- Not getting along with others at their job.
- Quitting due to hostility or boredom in the workplace.
- Subject to getting fired.
The big issue for men is they often define themselves by their work. Whether this is a conviction of past social constructs or an aspect of nature, the fact remains that men take a great deal of pride in their work – no matter how big nor small of a job it is.
With that said, when ADHD starts to inhibit their work environment, men are more likely to struggle with other negative emotions, such as shame and depression. Some mental health professionals have noted that even when men perform well in their work, they can still struggle with low self-esteem.
ADHD also can be detrimental to simply finding work. In order to land a career (especially, a higher paying position), one must go through the overwhelming task of searching, planning, and continuing their efforts all while experiencing repeated rejections. In turn, the job hunting process can take such a toll on someone with ADHD, they may try to avoid it all together.
When it comes to a relationship, it’s granted that most partners must contribute their fair share. Though this “fair share” looks different in every relationship, holding down a job is generally something most of us experience.
When a man with ADHD struggles securing or holding down his job, this can put great pressure on the relationship. The biggest difficulty here is this pressure can cause more problems within a man, such as anxiety, stubbornness, and shame.
What Can Men Do to Improve Job Performance?
As a man struggling with ADHD, there are a number of positive actions you can take in order to better your job performance and/or job search.
For one, it may be beneficial to hire an ADHD coach. These coaches can play an extremely advantageous role as they’ll look into the problems affecting you directly. From there, they can help to give you personal pointers on how to improve certain situations in your job performance.
Secondly, if you’re susceptible to anger issues (especially, in your work place), it might be in your favor to look into a treatment for this particular difficulty. The problem with anger may not necessarily be how you handle it, but rather, how it effects those around you. Most job environments are build through a team effort.
As you continue to try and improve you mental health condition, you should make small goals you can meet on a regular basis. By working towards these goals, you’ll most likely feel less overwhelmed and you’ll see progress in your work.
It’s important to remember that smaller goals often lead to bigger pictures.
What Can Partners of Men Do to Help with Job Performance?
Remember, your partner is already feeling a great deal of pressure when it comes to their job performance. If you’re critical of them, you’re most likely only worsening the situation.
Remember, if your partner loses his job, he is most likely already feeling a large amount of shame. It’s important to be empathetic to the difficulties he faces due to ADHD.
The Difficulty of Managing Emotions
People who struggle with ADHD are likely to struggle with emotional dysregulation. This is when the brain rapidly responds to a situation with an intense amount of stimulus. ²
Though the trait is found in both men and women, men tend to have a different emotional dysregulation. That is, they are more likely to struggle with anger-management issues. ³
Anger comes in many forms and the extent of this anger will differ from person to person. For some, it will be nothing more than verbal. For others, it can tread on violence.
Recognizing anger-management issues with ADHD is vital due to the fact that it puts both the person struggling with their emotions and those around him at risk.
What Can Men Do to Improve Anger Management?
If you struggle with anger management and ADHD, it’s important to first recognize your problem. Though this may appear as nothing more than a symptom of ADHD, it’s important to understand the danger you’re putting yourself and others in.
For one, people who react to situations with anger are at risk when it comes to various social situations, such as the workplace or through the legal system. Secondly, you could be putting those around you – including those you care for – at risk of psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual harm.
There are a few things you can do to avert your anger management. If you’ve identified the fact that you have a problem, then you’re just one step away from receiving the proper treatment. Mental health professionals can help you identify the psychological implications of your anger through psychotherapies and medications can help even out brain imbalance. ⁴
Finally, as you continue with treatment, you’ll find yourself identifying triggers for your anger and developing coping methods.
What Can Partners of Men Do to Help with Anger Management?
Many partners may find themselves empathizing with anger at it is merely a symptom of their man’s ADHD. However, this kind of empathy comes with its danger as his anger holds the potential to hurt you.
It’s important to communicate as much as possible. The communication tactics you decide to take will vary depending on your partner’s personality. However, it helps to set up verbal cues for whenever anger becomes apparent.
As you practice communication, continue to be a supporter of your partner’s treatment plan. Though communication is great for identifying the problem, it doesn’t solve it.
Running Away from Problems
Science has found that men don’t overcome conflict as easily as women. Part of the reason has to do with their body’s signals. For example, after a conflict, a man’s blood pressure tends to remain elevated. In turn, their brain’s have more difficult calming down and leave the body in an uncomfortable state. ⁵
As we’ve discussed, people who struggle with ADHD tend to feel like their in constant conflict. Whether it be the critiques of others or their poor job performance, conflict seems to find its way into the mind of someone with ADHD.
Due to these struggles, many men have taken it upon themselves to simply avoid conflict altogether. This appears differently in different cases, but one fact remains. The brain is telling these men to flee from a situation and, potentially, even cover-up any poor conduct through behaviors such as lying.
In some cases, this retreat will appear ridiculous and can be difficult for a partner to understand.
What Can Men Do to Address Conflict?
Retreating from conflict may seem safer than handling it with anger, but there are a number of consequences that must be considered. For one, through retreat you are closing the doors to communication. Over time, you will naturally distance yourself emotionally from those around you. Especially, if you try to cover-up your wrong doings with lies.
In turn, this can cause a lot of pain in relationships. More so, it can lead people to loneliness and isolation which have devastating consequences on men’s mental health.
It’s important to communicate with your partner as much as possible – maybe even get a counselor involved. There are a number of ways you can learn to come face-to-face with conflict without losing your head.
Psychotherapies are a great way to learn this knowledge. Through psychotherapy, you will be able to identify thought patterns that appear when conflict arises. By identifying these thought patterns, you can work towards reversing them towards a positive outcome.
What Can Partners of Men Do to Identify Conflict?
It can be difficult for partners to approach conflict as, in many regards, they have taken up the role of a critic. We don’t suggest you drop this role as constructive criticism is a great way to improve ADHD along with your relationship.
Rather, if you find your partner retreating from your critiques, we suggest taking a lighter role. It helps to not demand what you’re looking for, but simply ask politely.
Men with ADHD have just as much a right to their opinions as anyone else in this world. Sometimes, you may even find their opinions are more valid than yours.
When you’re dating an adult with ADHD, it’s important to keep an open mind. Remember, it’s all about working together to improve your relationship.
Acceptance of ADHD
The fact is, men are more likely to have a more difficult time accepting their ADHD diagnosis than woman.
Any form of mental illness is an attack on pride. It evokes self-reflection, self-criticism, and the necessity to change. It places a label of someone’s head that read “ADHD” and leaves them the target for blame, especially in a relationship.
Whether you are the man struggling with ADHD or the partner trying to help, there’s usually problems on each side of the coin. Both parties may find themselves blaming each other for various behaviors and situations – only worsening ADHD symptoms and their relationship as a whole.
What Can Men Do to Accept ADHD?
The first step is to drop the label. We understand this is difficult, especially after a diagnosis, but it’s extremely important you don’t look at yourself as another figure of ADHD. Not only does the mental health condition affect everyone in a unique manner, but it also can’t define who you are.
Once you’ve dropped the label, understand that you are affected by symptoms of this disorder. Through this understanding, you’ll understand why it’s so important to receive treatment and identify the symptoms that are affecting you personally.
From there, it’s important to have a conversation with your partner about your mental health. More so, to discuss how your condition may be affecting your relationship. Keep an open dialogue and discuss what you both can do to improve your relationship.
What Can Partners Do to Help Their Man Accept ADHD?
Acceptance has always been considered the first step towards treatment. If someone can identify they have a problem, they’re much more willing to undergo treatment. Of course, this also makes acceptance on of the most difficult aspects of mental illness.
If you’re partner is struggling with ADHD and won’t accept their problem, consider what you can do in order to improve his situation.
For one, it’s beneficial not to blame your partner for any personal problems you may have. Such blame will only lead to further and quite unnecessary conflict.
Secondly, once the ADHD symptoms have been identified, it’s highly beneficial for you to do your part in helping ease these symptoms. Again, since ADHD affects everyone differently, your role in diminishing symptoms is going to look different from another partner’s role.
The bottom line is, you both have to work hard at overcoming these issues. Communication will prove key during these struggles.
We understand holding a relationship while one person is struggling with ADHD can be difficult. For men, it takes a toll on their overall wellness and leaves them feeling resentful and shame. For their partners, it can become so difficult to manage, many will consider simply leaving.
The truth is, your relationship is in your hands. If you care about one another and truly want to see one another’s lives improve, you will each take the steps you need to in order to overcome ADHD.
Still have questions concerning men with ADHD and relationships?
We invite you to ask them in the comments below. If you have any further advice to offer – whether personal or professional – we’d love to hear from you.
¹ BMC Psychiatry: Occupational issues of adults with ADHD
² Journal of child neurology: Noninvasive Brain Stimulation in Pediatric ADHD: A Review
³ Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment: Treatment of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
⁴ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Treatment
⁵ offical journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association: Negative Social Interactions and Incident Hypertension Among Older Adults