ADHD Partners and Time - Being Late Isn't Just About Time Management

“What time is it?”
“What time did I say I would be here?”
Big cheesy grin…“That’s right.”

This simple conversation occurred after years of perpetual ‘lateness’ became a source of contention and misperception in my relationship with my ADHD Partner. I often felt put on the back burner and couldn’t reconcile his feeling for me with his seeming thoughtlessness in honoring our plans. For years, not much explanation was given other than something along the lines of “It’s not about you.”

A few weeks after these short exchanges started he added, “You know this has to do with my ADHD”……..

Ahhh……. what? The subject of ADHD had come up before in passing and the only thing I understood was that school had been more challenging for him than I had known. This was the first time the impact of living with ADHD, as it affects other areas of life, had even passed through my mind. After spending hours with my friend, Google, I was on the floor- stunned by story after story of other’s experiences that mirrored my own.

As I began to understand ADHD, I also started to truly appreciate the effort being made to be on time.

My perception of his tardiness had always been more than simple time management - it was a statement of what those actions said about how he valued me.

We were taught that actions speak louder than words, right?

My intuition told me that his intentions where in earnest but when the actions often did not match I was confused and frustrated. The more I learned about ADHD, the more my perceptions shifted and communication about issues became easier for both of us. There was much truth in his saying “It was not about me”, the Non-ADHD Partner. IT was that confusing undefined factor. IT was ADHD.

Here are a few strategies to combat the impact of poor time sense in your relationship:

  • Detailed color-coded calendars (bonus points if you sync your calendars)
  • Consider and include travel time when scheduling
  • Alarm reminders
  • Touching base with your partner when you are scheduled to leave. This helps corral those “just one more thing” ideas and adds motivation to just get out the door. This one was a key strategy for us.

ABOUT KIMBER NELSON: Kimber Nelson is the founder of ADHD Partners and a student coach trainer on the faculty of JST Coaching & Training. Kimber specializes in working with frustrated Non-ADHD Partners who are ready to take back control of their lives.