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6 Dating Mistakes ADHD Adults Make

February 12, 2014

ADHD Dating MistakesHaving ADHD is hard but I know something harder.  Growing up, dating/living with/marrying/divorcing every wrong person possible, and not finding out that the reason your love life is such a train wreck is because you have ADHD.

For me, this became almost an integral part of my personality and how people saw me.  Great gal, horrible taste in men.  I used to joke that if there was one unemployed, drug-addicted, criminally inclined asshat in a crowded room of wonderful, caring, loving men….he is the only one that would interest me at all.  There were several times in my 20’s and early 30’s that I just gave up for a few years, frustrated at my inability to see past the shiny exterior at the junker underneath.  I read every self-help book there was about women who pick the wrong men.  I asked the advice of everyone I knew.  If there was a tactic, I tried it, a set of rules, I followed them, but the end result, with limited exceptions, was almost always the same.  I would spend a year or two supporting an emotionally unavailable jackass who did nothing but make me feel bad about myself.

And then came ADHD

One of the most transformative things about my diagnosis was getting to re-write this part of my story.  Rather than being “a broken man magnet” or “so desperate she’ll date anything”, I began to see how my ADHD impacted everything about my romantic relationships.  It dictated who I picked.  It gave me a blindside a million miles wide.  It was the reason I was willing to rationalize away almost every kind of bad behavior….after all, I was no picnic myself.  There are many things about having ADHD that make my life amazing and better than it would be without it, but when it came to relationships, it is my Achilles heel.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, here are the 6 dating mistakes adults with ADHD are apt to make.

Mistake #1 – We Don’t Date

I am old enough to have a college age child and I don’t think I have ever been on a “date” at least not like the ones in the movies.  I meet people and then I am in a relationship with them.  There are only those two steps.  This is a common problem amongst us ADHDers and the next 5 mistakes will help explain why.

Mistake #2- Light Speed “I Love Yous”

If there is one thing that characterized every relationship I have ever been it, it is this.   ADHDers fall fast and they fall hard which unfortunately means they don’t often fall for the actual person they are dating.  This doesn’t always mean jumping in the sack too soon, but often times that is part of  these kinds of light speed relationships.

If you think about the dynamics of a new relationship, it’s easy to see why this happens.  New love is incredibly interesting and produces a ton of dopamine and oxytocin.  Unfortunately, this often means we go so fast that we end up making Mistake #2.

Mistake #3 – Settling for Someone Who Doesn’t Deserve You

When we are newly in love, us ADHDers can be amazing at looking past someone’s flaws, well, that isn’t exactly true, it’s more like we don’t notice them at all.   I used to think I was just color-blind when it came to red-flags because I never saw them until it was too late for them to be useful.  

I blame all that dopamine and oxytocin racing around in our brains and making us feel so good that anything bad just doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, this makes it almost impossible to do that thing “daters” are supposed to do – learn enough about the other person to decide whether or not we actually like them.  This is a step we often miss and when we do, we may find ourselves laying on the ground, with a banged up heart, wondering what the hell just happened. 

Mistake #4 – Hyperfocus, Hyperfocus, Hyperfocus, ….Squirrel!

One of the hallmarks of my past relationships was that I never noticed all those red flags on the road to rock bottom… but once I got there, they were all I could see.

This is an example of what can happen when we hyperfocus on the relationship in the early stages and put all our efforts towards making it work.  Eventually, our attention shifts to other things which causes very real changes in the relationship.  This kind of hyperfocusing  is also why so many ADHD relationships are great, until right after the wedding.   If are hyperfocusing on our relationship, our partner, and our partner’s needs during the early stages, the other person comes to expect that as the norm.  But when our attention shifts, and it will, they can be left feeling alone, like we don’t love them anymore, or worse, like we sold them some kind of lie.

Mistake #5 – Acting Like Siamese Twins

So, having a brain full of dopamine is pretty great and being in a new relationship is also pretty great and when you combine them it is very easy to want to make those great things happen ALL THE TIME!

I don’t even need to explain why this is so unhealthy or how it contributes to/exacerbates the other mistakes above.   Unfortunately, the rest of your life like,  your job, your friends, your family, your pets, and your plants might not be willing to sit back and wait for you to remember they exist and devote some time to them.  You may not realize until the moment you need them the most that you lost them along the way

Mistake #6 – Living in Magic Land

In my life, magic land is the place where all magical thinking, like that I am someday going to win the lottery, happens.   We ADHDers are really great at creating this kinds of places and we really like to spend a lot of time there.  But when your head is in the clouds, it is difficult to stay grounded.  But the very last thing you need when you have a brain bursting with dopamine and overrun with oxytocin is your feet leave the ground.

When we spend our time in magic land, we create the version of the person we are dating that we like best, which is easier when we aren’t seeing all those pesky red flags.  We create this perfect version of who we are with this person.  We create this perfect version of who the two of us are together.  We get so wrapped up in imagining our happily even after that we don’t realize none of it is real and being pulled back to reality can be incredibly painful.   Magic land lays the foundation for the worst of these mistakes to have the harshest and most long-lasting repercussions.

If any of these sound like you, take heart.  Making these common mistakes will only keep you from finding true love if you don’t do anything different.  But the first step is always being able to see where you are going wrong….so you can stop taking that path.

Rori Boyce is Living an ADD Life and helping others like her along the way.  Learn more about Rori and what she does here

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2014 5:43 am

    Nice info.. 🙂 thanks

  2. February 13, 2014 4:05 pm

    Fantastic article! I facilitate an ADHD Support Group in Halifax, Nova Scotia and we are talking about relationships at our next meeting. I would love to share your article & Website with the group ? What do you think?

  3. OldADDer permalink
    February 13, 2014 8:47 pm

    Your list of six certainly hits the Nail on the Head. Nice post!

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