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Reflections on ADHD, understanding your sexuality and couple’s dynamics


I'm on my way to becoming a sex therapist with my mission and passion for helping individuals as well as all kinds of couples, opening their mental locks and becoming more aware for their own capabilities to impact on their own sexuality and wellbeing in relationships. As a therapist, I'm focusing on human sexuality from a few specific perspectives, one of which is the specific characteristics of neuro-atypical persons sexuality. In particular, I am interested in the sexuality of people with ADHD and their couple's dynamics and capability to establish long lasting and satisfying relationships with their partners.

I have embarked on this path for many reasons, one of which is definitely that, I have a long-term experience of living with a person with ADHD in my life. Thus, I have also understood through my own experiences as a sex therapist, how important it is to share existing facts about the special characteristics of ADHD, which have to do with the person's own well-being, as well as the wellbeing and success of their relationship. So much can be done by sharing the experiences and learning the basics of ADHD neuroatypicalities.

It all starts with self-image and self-confidence - How can anyone love me?

When I went through recent studies related to the sexuality of people with ADHD and relationships, I quickly noticed that research data is rare - not only here in Finland but also internationally very little can be found on ADHD's relation to sexuality. This, if anything, motivates me to continue my path and to deepen my knowledge and strengthen capability to spar and help people in need of support in their challenges brought by neuroatypicalities.

Having a long tern working experience from science, I do understand that, if there isn't research data, there is also a lack of validated psychophysiological and therapeutic methods to support people and couples in the field of ADHD's sexuality and relationships. Luckily, at least something can be found from recent studies, and I will try to crystallize them along with my own work experience as a sex therapist in the future in blogs, articles, lectures and online courses. The more I learn - the more I promise to share with you.

On the effects of ADHD on life in general

The special characteristics of ADHD accompany a person's whole life and appear in ordinary daily routines-where ever you go and whatever you plan to do. When it comes to sexual interaction and relationships, the same applies - there are as many different ways to experience and see the special characteristics of ADHD as there are individuals and couples having at least one partner with ADHD.

ADHD can bring you thoughts and questions like: Can I be loved by any other person when I am so impulsive, quick-witted, quick in my movements, easily irritable and impatient? Or who can cope with me when I only do the things that I consider useful and important to me? Moreover, how could anyone understand that I need my own time and peace because my brain is screaming for it after a busy day? Sound familiar in your own life?

One key issue that arises in people with ADHD is their self-image and self-confidence; Am I the kind of person who will find a partner who loves me for who I am? What do I really think of myself as a partner, spouse, lover, and what kind of person suits me and my life best?

Understanding the importance of solid self-confidence is highly important-and there might be special needs to support the individual growth on the area.

ADHD characteristics come also often with a sense of difference in behavior and thoughts. Perspectives how you see the surrounding environment and people's behavior are different, as well. Attitudes towards life and sexuality are person specific and ADHD can bring a special twist on those as well. Questions like: Why do I see things so differently from my friends, or why does my partner don't understand my needs - are typical and can be devastating without proper coping mechanism.

I think it's only healthy for each of us to think about these things from our own point of view over the course of our lives - after all, people grow and their values, needs and desires change - so does develop and change sexuality, the need for sex and desires. These questions will be brought into daylight, when challenges arise in couple's relationship, where understanding between partners is put to the test, or when one of the partners is unable to understand the behavior of the other. Or establishing or maintaining an emotional connection is being put to the test. So, for example, those situations when the impulses and brain chemistry of ADHD cause behaviors that disturb the person himself, annoy the partner, cause pain in the relationship or have an impact on couple's sexuality. These are the normal warning signs and it is worth stopping by then, raising the pain points of the relationship to the discussion and learning how to analyze what is caused by the usual relationship dynamics and where ADHD makes its own special addition to the relationship.

It is often a good idea to open up the complex situation with a professional, if it's difficult to put things into words or the situation is stressful. In many cases, the load can only fall on the shoulders of one of the partners, i.e. notice that even on your own, you can seek help for your relationship. A professional can bring valuable insights, reflect the facts about the possible effects of ADHD, as well as can help you to build tools and enhance coping mechanism to secure your wellbeing but also to support you and your partner to grow the relationship into the healthy direction.

Sexuality, needs and desires also change along the way

If your own life or your relationship is like being on a rollercoaster ride, or speeding as a rally car driver - it's worth recognizing and accepting the fact that ADHD brings peculiarities to relationship, intimacy, sexuality, as well building and maintaining emotional connection with your partner. It will be useful to stop for a while and try to identify in your own behavior those traits and thoughts about yourself that guide your behavior in your relationship and sexuality. Has your relationship gotten boring full or routines, have you given up supporting the mutual sexual wellbeing and satisfaction, or do you need extra stimulation to get sexual satisfaction or are you able to live in a close relationship at all?

It always pays to be gentle and understanding to yourself - there simply isn't ready-made recipes and guides on, how to keep the balance and satisfaction well in place in a longterm ADHD-relationship. However, it is reinforcing to note that tools do exist and that you can get professional help to strengthen your self-image and your competency to continue in a relationship as a loving partner. Moreover, what is really important to remember - there is also so many positives living with ADHD specific characteristics - for example spontaneus approach for life, creativity make your colorful and ability to live in the moment, capability to constantly rethink and question things from different perspectives. To my experience, many good features of ADHD do attract partners and work as a glue in a relationship.

Some takeaways from my experiences, so far: I encourage each couple to a) Analyze your relationship's challenges reflecting them against your own personal needs and desires - what is needed that you can enjoy your relationship and life together? b) Boldly open up discussion through your strengths as a partner or couple and focus on the empowering sides of your relationship, and c) Seek information and professional help and learn to identify the special characteristics that ADHD brings to your relationship. Start bravely strengthening the existing good and by doing so, you soon notice that this will help neutralizing the challenges that ADHD brings with it in your relationship.

Note! If ADHD and sexuality-topics are topical for you, or you need support - feel free to connect with me. You can contact me or give feedback on my blog via my e-mail: juttakauppi@gmail.com