Getting along when only ONE of you has ADD/EFD


When you love someone who seems to respond in non-loving ways
Adjusting expectations of HOW to get to WHAT

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

She is so selfish;
He never listens;
It’s like s/he disobeys deliberately!
At this point s/he’s just making excuses.

The blind leading the blind?

Whether you are a parent, a partner or a teacher of someone with Executive Functioning challenges, unless you truly understand the parameters of the problem you are, essentially, “blind” about how to interact with them to get what you want from the relationship.

And they are, essentially, “blind” to your expectations and why you are so frustrated when they don’t measure up to your standards.

Related Post: Executive Functioning Disorders – NOT just kid stuff

The hallmark symptoms of Executive Functioning Disorders (of which ADD/HD is only one) negatively impact what I refer to as attentional mechanisms. That can show up a number of ways in day-to-day behavior, but the symptoms that seem to be the most frustrating — the ones I hear about most often — include inattentiveness or forgetfulness, difficulty completing tasks, and impulsivity.

Related Posts: Symptoms of Attentional Struggles
Types of Attentional Deficits

How ADD/EFD Affects Relationships

Alone or in combination, each of the hallmark symptoms can have a devastating impact on relationships. When responsibility for children are part of the puzzle, these issues become all the more complex.

Without the appropriate diagnosis and treatment, ANY of the implications of Executive Functioning struggles can destroy marriages and other relationships — needlessly.

Below are only some of the problems that have been reported to me most often when partners, children or students have Executive Functioning issues, interfering with their ability to direct attention at will.

  • Seeming inability to handle responsibilities
    Forgetting to turn in completed assignments, pay bills or put a toxic substance away from the reach of children, neglecting to clear debris or mend a hole in the fence that keeps the family dog from running into the street are only a few of the many complaints I have heard over the years.
  • Difficulty listening and paying attention
    Many tend to “zone out,” interrupt and talk out of turn, making communication a struggle for both of you. It can also cause the “vanilla” partner to feel as though what s/he has to say isn’t valued or important to the “EFD flavored” partner.
  • Trouble remembering promises & completing tasks
    Thanks to glitches in the short-term to long-term memory circuit, problems with Executive Functioning regulation frequently lead to forgetfulness, which usually shows up as poor organizational skills like: missing important events like birthdays and anniversaries, or repeatedly forgetting to stop at the store on the way home to purchase the ingredients for that very night’s dinner. What may look like a lack of willingness to do what they say they would do (or to finish what they start) may translate into an apparent lack of commitment when it comes to jobs as well as relationships.
  • Impulsive behavior
    Attempts to wake up a sluggish brain often leads to a craving for stimulation. With little attention to thinking through the consequences of their actions, this can result in irresponsible, even reckless behaviors (from experimenting with drugs to speeding and jumping from lane to lane despite the fact that there are children in the car).
  • Emotional volatility
    They may seem to simmer with chronic low-grade irritability, or temper tantrums may flair over things that seem inconsequential to you, leading to harsh words and major misunderstandings. Arguments can quickly spiral out of control because the person with “the problem” seems unable to talk through issues calmly.  The truth is that conversational hot buttons are being pushed on both sides, inadvertently instigated by a frustrated “vanilla” partner.

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