Sex is a hot topic in romantic relationships. Pleasurable sex, satisfying sex, adventurous sex, too much sex, not enough sex, not the right kind of sex. Sex affects ADHD relationships in all of these ways and many more. One could be hypersexual, hyposexual, hypersensitive, impulsive, distracted, sad or simply stressing about what to cook for dinner. With so many factors to contend with, let us break it down and understand the most common sexual challenges for individuals and couples dealing with ADHD.
A hyper sex drive affects some people with ADHD. This stems from certain impulsive behaviors linked to ADHD. Impulsivity sees some people with ADHD frequently seeking stimulation and novelty and this can lead to unfaithfulness in a relationship. Boredom is avoided at all costs and sexual risk-taking can go hand-in-hand. Rates of porn viewing can be higher and porn addiction can be a factor in some cases link article about substance abuse and addiction “coming soon”. Hypersexuality is not well understood but it is widely agreed within the ADHD community that it is a struggle for many people, with different effects on different people across different relationships.
Tip: Open and non-judgemental communication is key. This is a universal key across any relationship in our lives. Staying open to discussing and trying something new with your partner. A free flow of the expression of wants, needs and ideas can help. Engaging with a sex therapist who understands ADHD is also an excellent pursuit.
Hyposexuality sees a decreased or absence of sexual desire. As opposed to Asexuality, which is defined as something rarely changing over the lifespan, Hyposexuality can be temporary.
With ADHD, this can be a result of a sensitivity to sensory stimulation, making a partner’s touch annoying or unbearable depending on the severity. Hormonal changes for women, such as menopause, can affect sexual desire. Low libido can be the result of ADHD medications or more so with antidepressant medication. The good news is that most medications do not have an effect on libido or sexual performance. If you have Hyposexuality as a side effect of medication, please get in contact with your doctor, dosages and medication can be altered and changed. It is nothing to be ashamed of and not something you should accept as part of your ADHD treatment. Not having sex may also be the right choice for you. However, if not having sex is leading to feelings of hopelessness, and depression, it is important to seek expert medical advice.
Tip: Again, open communication about what does and does not feel good can have a huge impact on a relationship. Set the scene. Make your environment comfortable and enticing for both of you and explore what that feels like. Set boundaries. Laying out what is comfortable and what is not in that moment can take some of the pressure away. If you (not your partner) are unhappy with your low libido, especially when hormones or medication are a likely factor, please chat with your doctor.
I forgot to go to the post office! What should I cook for dinner tonight? Getting distracted during intercourse can be difficult for both sides. Trouble staying focused is a really common shared problem for people with ADHD. Trouble focusing on sex is not an exception. If your partner has ADHD, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have lost sexual interest in you or they find you boring, although sometimes it is really difficult to not take it personally.
Tip: Remove as many distractions from your space as possible. If a busy brain is the culprit, consider a quick journalling session beforehand. A quick mind dump might help to get into the mood and stay there. For the neurotypical partner, knowledge is your friend. Understanding why your partner gets distracted will help you to understand that it’s not about you.
If a relationship slips into a child/parent dynamic, you have found the ultimate libido killer. Codependency limits the relationship and no one wants to be nagged all the time. Frustration and resentment build up in an unbalanced relationship. Often the neurotypical partner feels resentment, that they bear more of the brunt of responsibility in the relationship. Nagging, reminding, taking over control. This leaves the ADHD partner often feeling ashamed, embarrassed and hopeless. It is difficult to create intimacy under these circumstances.
Tip: Did you forget to take out the trash again? In a survey performed by Dr Ari Tuckman of around 3000 couples, where one partner had ADHD, his results indicated that if the neurotypical partner felt their ADHD partner was making a genuine effort to hold up their end of the bargain, these couples were having sex 60% more than the other couples.
Importantly, if you have ADHD and you forgot to take out the trash again, it does not mean that you don’t deserve to have your needs met. Speak your truth. Keep communicating and don’t allow a codependent dynamic to develop. Call it out if it does. ADHD is not the whole story and both partners have a role to play.