If you know you have ADHD, and could choose anyone in the world to be your partner, what characteristics might you seek out?
I got a wonderful note today from a mother interested in the issues her two sons (both with ADHD) face in the dating world. She asked the question "What personality types work best with ADHDers?" While falling in love is complex and, it seems, often inexplicable, it's still worth taking a stab at an answer.
Patience, compassion and flexibility would be my top choices, I think. Patience because a partner with ADHD often doesn't get from point A to point B in a straight line. If you area partner who is always pushing to 'go, go, go' and place a very high value on efficiency, then this characteristic might cause conflict in the relationship. Compassion because there are many struggles that a person with ADHD faces. Some are obvious - underachieving in school or in the workplace, for example. But other struggles are harder to see. Self-esteem issues that develop after years of inconsistency or having other people comment on how you could 'do better' are common. Someone who has the ability to imagine - and empathize with - the emotional toll that having ADHD can take (while still treasuring that partner) would be a big plus.
Flexibility would also be a huge benefit. In a life impacted by ADHD things come at you unexpectedly all the time. Sometimes there are warning signs that the ADHD partner doesn't see. Sometimes an ADHD partner hides or retreats from bad news that feels too overwhelming to deal with ...letting it fester until it suddenly comes into view. The person who secretly runs up credit card debt or fears losing their job but doesn't tell a partner about their concerns are examples of these. Eventually the 'surprise' shows up. I must point out here that not all of the surprises are negative - you decide spur of the moment to take a quick weekend away, for example, and have to quickly rearrange your schedule.
Finally, I think I would add that someone who has a strong sense of themselves would be useful. Marriage research done by John Gottman Ph.D. suggests that partners (particularly female partners) who are clear about their needs and don't compensate early in their relationships for another person's poor behavior end up with healthier relationships. This makes total sense to me - negotiate around your problems early, before resentment and hard feelings set in, and you will have a better relationship overall. Choosing a partner who has the strength to stand up for herself early on ends up being a long-term plus.
What characteristics would you choose as good companion characteristics for a person with ADHD?