Perfectionism and ADHD

ADHD & Marriage News - January 14, 2021

Quote of the Week

“(In our work,) …perfectionism emerged as the #1 distortion in the thinking of adults with ADHD.  It can play a role in the ADHD person’s sense of shame.  “Everything has to be right to get started” (front end perfectionism) or else “I have to do better than others to ensure that it’s acceptable” (back end perfectionism).”

- J. Russell Ramsey, Ph.D.

Perfectionism and ADHD

It’s easy to guess where perfectionism comes for those with ADHD.  If you have trouble staying organized or sorting through information, it would only be logical to want to get everything right to get started.  This would seem to lessen your chances for failure.

If details often escape your attention, or you’re conscious that others do work more easily than you, it would be logical to want to make sure everything is ‘just right’ before you turn it in.  This would seem to lessen the chances you’ll be criticized.

The problem with this logic is that the outcome that this effort is aimed for – making sure you or your work is acceptable – becomes harder to attain because perfectionism takes so much time and effort.   It’s exhausting – not leaving brain space for other important work or family activities.  And missing a deadline in seeking perfection is still missing the deadline.

Further, perfect is almost impossible to attain – for ANYONE.  If you feel it’s your job to be perfect in order to pass muster, you are constantly going to be frustrated and feel ashamed that you can’t be.  Wouldn’t it be far better to strive for ‘good enough’ and then move on?

Okay, I know perfectionism is insidious and not easy to deal with.  But I put this out as food for thought.  If you have a perfectionist in your family, consider having some overt conversations about your joint priorities – ‘perfect’ might not be as important as ‘together time.’  And seek to reinforce those instances of ‘good enough’ as being wonderful (dare I say ‘perfect’???!)

In our household, the definition of ‘perfect’ is, actually, ‘good enough.’  The balance this creates in our lives because we don’t waste time getting everything ‘just right’  is what we seek.  For both of us.  Could you have that, too?


THERE IS TIME. YOU CAN STILL REGISTER FOR MY COUPLES SEMINAR. My live seminar started yesterday, January 13th. Yet should you chose to listen together to yesterday's recording and jump in on the second live session January 20th - you will have ample opportunity to improve your lives together. 

For those in marriages impacted by ADHD

Adult ADHD can have a huge impact on your relationship. can literally change your life! Find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD including free: Online treatment overview; Downloadable chapters of my books; A community forum with other couples facing similar issues; A large number of blog posts on various topics; Referrals.


Is your relationship in trouble? Consider my highly acclaimed couples' course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - This 8-session phone seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships. My live session started, yet still accepting registrations.

Support Tele-groups - Be part of a community exploring similar issues, successes and struggles and find new, effective ways to be your best self in your relationship: Non ADHD Partner Support Tele-group and ADHD New Habit Coaching Group.

How to Optimize Treatment for Adult ADHD - go to the home page for a free download about the best ways to manage ADHD.

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