Information about Dating with ADD

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When you have attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dating can be a difficult and awkward process. You might chronically forget plans you've made, arrive late, or get distracted during conversations. However, there are ways to work around problems that arise when dating with ADD.

Hone Your Social Skills

People receiving treatment for ADD may be better equipped at handling dating situations. The right medication may boost the self-control and concentration you need to interact effectively. You might also consider therapy sessions with a mental health professional. The therapist can help you work through issues that normally trip you up. You receive objective feedback on how you respond and interact in conversations that you probably wouldn't get from a date. You also may learn new coping techniques. All these capacities help you date successfully.

Helping Your Date Understand ADD

Dating can add a new depth to your life, but it can also add stress and upset if not handled correctly. It is important to tell your date that you have ADD or ADHD before symptoms, such as chronic lateness, land you in hot water; or before your date misinterprets inattentive behavior.

Mention that you have difficulties in some areas or activities due to ADD or ADHD. If your date shows interest, give him or her some more details on the condition, such as whether the particular symptom is classified as inattention, impulsivity or hyperactivity.

After you have been dating for a few months, it may be helpful to discuss ADHD more fully. Describe the areas in which you struggle most, and talk about problems such as

  • trouble concentrating
  • restlessness
  • impulsiveness
  • disorganization
  • mood swings
  • temper outbursts
  • inability to handle stress

When a date understands that there is a reason for your behavior, he or she is less likely to take offense or to think that you just don’t care.

As situations unfold, be open about what you are feeling and experiencing and apologize when you lose focus or do something to upset your date. A person who has genuine interest in you will try to understand.

That said, don’t expect a date to act like a parent and remind you where you need to be and what you need to do. Work on taking responsibility for these aspects of your life or they can ruin a dating relationship.

Choosing Dating Activities when You Have ADD

It is pointless to endure evenings that are frustrating for you—such as sitting and listening to a long, poetry reading—when they only highlight your ADHD symptoms. Communicate with your date ahead of time about activities that do and don’t work for you.

Outdoor activities help release energy and improve focus. You might try spending a day at an adventure obstacle course or playing a sport together. Choose something like tennis where there’s plenty of action and you don’t have to stand around waiting for your turn. Dancing is another good activity for dates and can be enjoyed by both of you. Try barn dancing or country dancing for something a little different. When dining out, consider a buffet restaurant so you have the chance to move around while selecting your food.

On the flip side, you want to avoid dates that involve a lot of idle chatting or sitting around with little to do. Slow movies and theater productions are also bad ideas. Choose shows that are interactive or full of action.

There are ways to make attention deficit disorder dating work. It will take focus, effort and communication on your part and understanding on the part of your date, but the reward is that both of you will have a good time.

Written by: Debbie Roome

Sources: ADHD and Marriage. If You are Engaged to Someone with ADHD. Accessed June 24, 2011. Help Guide. Adult ADD. Accessed June 24, 2011.

Sources: ADHD and Marriage. If You are Engaged to Someone with ADHD. Accessed June 24, 2011.

Help Guide. Adult ADD. Accessed June 24, 2011.

Mayo Clinic. Adult ADHD. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2011.

National Resource Center on AD/HD. Social Skills in Adults with ADHD. Accessed June 24, 2011.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 24 Jul 2011

Last Modified: 27 Aug 2015