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How does being neurodivergent impact your relationships?

Jul 18, 2022


How does being neurodivergent impact your relationships?

So anyone who doesn’t already know, I have ADHD.

ADHD looks a little bit different in everybody.

For me, the way that ADHD tends to show up in my relationships is that I get very into new shiny.

So I have tons of new relationship energy because it is novel, that means I get a lots of dopamine from it and my brain needs that.

I also tend to be bad about remembering to reach out to people and better about responding to them.

And I do much better with like very clear direct requests and questions rather than like higher contacts, vague, beating around the bush kind of stuff.

I think for me, as is the case for many neurodiverse people, we tend to be attracted to our own.

A lot of the folks I dated have also been ADHDers or on the autism spectrum because when your brain is different, you tend to get along better with people whose brains are also different rather than people whose brains are more like normative or within like the center of the bell curve.

Part of ADHD for me is that I am very, very good at like seeing big picture patterns.

I am very good at figuring out where things are going.

I’m very good at creativity and problem-solving.

I am very bad at routine.

I’m very bad at doing the same thing the same way all the time.

I am very bad at like remembering things once they are out of my sight.

So part of what I have done is I have an ongoing relationship manual that I add to and edit ever so often that is basically a guide of like what dating me is like, what I like, who I am, how I work, so that people who date me can understand that from the start and it gives everybody a much clearer picture of like what they are signing on for.

When we date somebody especially at the start, a lot of folks tend to put on a very particular face and pretend to be like the best version of themselves and I think to a certain extent, that’s normal and regular and like even healthy to some extent because trauma dumping on your first date probably not the best idea.

But I also think that there are ways in which those of us who have been shunned for who we are and how we are often try to like pretend that that doesn’t exist when we start dating somebody, and we can end up setting ourselves and our partners up with expectations that we then cannot follow through on.

And this happens in all kinds of relationships, not just like dating and sex.

I had a roommate relationship with someone where before we moved in together, I had a lot of very particular conversations with that person about like how I live together, what I want, how I want to deal with conflict, how to have discussions, things that are important to me in co-living situations.

And I thought we were on the same page but after I was living there for a little while, we absolutely were not.

The agreements that I thought we had made were not something that that person was actually there for so it ended up a situation where I thought I had signed on for one thing but I got another.

And I don’t want to give people that experience of me in dating so I try to be very clear in my relationship manual about who I am so that people can make a choice to either stay with it or leave based on who they are, how are they, or whether that’s going to be a good fit for them.

Does it mean that some people are going to read my relationship manual and be like, “Uh, yup, not a good fit.”


And like I would so much rather they do that early in the relationship than like when we’ve been together a super long time and things aren’t working.

So in general, my opinion is if somebody finds out who and how I am and that for them is a reason for us to not date, that is a great call because that would happen eventually probably anyway and I would rather it happen early rather than when we were both invested.

I think part of being neurodiverse also is that like I am very straightforward and I’m totally – like I would just much rather we like talk about like, “Hey, this isn’t working. Is this something we can change or should we just let this go?”


I would just much rather we have that open, upfront conversation than like dance around it forever because that’s just – that’s not great for me.

So for me, I would much rather we have these conversations.

We are upfront.

We are honest.

We say what we need to say rather than trying to like dance around and figure things out.

So yeah, relationship manual is a big thing.

I think also for me, it means that like letting people know – like for instance, I need us to have like an actual scheduled date because if you say to me like, “Hey, we should do this thing,” and then you never follow through on scheduling it with me, for me, I am now parked in a holding pattern until it’s scheduled.

Like until we have it on the calendar, it’s just like circling my brain about like when is it going to happen?

Am I supposed to save time?

What time am I supposed to save?

Did we talk about dates?

Well, these are the dates we talked about but they are coming up and we haven’t solidified anything.

It creates like a whole lot of extra load for me.

So if that is something that starts to happen with somebody, I will just move it into a like, “Until they schedule it, it’s not happening.”

It’s just check it out.

And that means that I’m not going to poke and prod you about scheduling it because I have it in a ‘not going to happen’ column so that I’m not stuck in it.

And look, to be super honest, as someone who is assigned female at birth and is often read as a woman and who even with people who see me as non-binary is still expected to meet like fem standards in relationships, I’m not going to take that mental load.

I’m just not.

It’s not my job to make sure that we get dates scheduled.

It’s both of our job to get dates scheduled.

And if our last interaction was us saying like, “We should do this thing,” and I said, “Great! When are you going to be available?” and then you never replied to that, that’s on you.

This is not my responsibility anymore.

I might poke you once about it, maybe twice.

But after that point, you’ll either get back to me about it or you would not but I’m not going to keep waiting for it.

I’m going to schedule other things.

I’m going to move on with my life.

I’m not going to hold space open for it because you haven’t committed to scheduling.

In these times where like I’m not doing much because of COVID, that’s not a huge, huge deal.

But in the before times, that would mean that there are people who wouldn’t get to see me for like months at a time because they just couldn’t commit to scheduling a date.

And like that’s tough tits.

We are not a good fit.

I think too that there might be ways in which being an ADHD or being neurodiverse makes it easier for me to say like, “OK. Maybe this isn’t a good fit.”

And like just move forward because I don’t – I am not coming from a stance of I need to make sure that every relationship lasts as long as possible.

I’m coming from a stance of, what we are both doing is figuring out what kind of a connection works here if any at all, and if the answer is it doesn’t work, great.

We found our answer.

We can move forward. Right?

It’s not – I am not going to be like Pokemon collect them all kind of mindset.

I am much more like Broadway show audition.


I’m looking for the right performers for the roles that are available and if you are not – like if you don’t have the things that I need for a role that’s available, that’s great.

You’re probably still a great performer but you’re not for this show.


And like that’s not – and I assume that you are doing the same to me.

We should both be checking each other out, figuring out if it’s going to work.

I would much rather somebody let me know, “Hey, this isn’t going to work for me,” than like we try to drag it out and figure things out when it’s not working.

So also, ADHDer means I talk around with lots of little like tangents.

It’s in my relationship manual.

So like there are lots of ways that being neurodiverse impacts my relationships.

I think again in general, like having a relationship manual, knowing how it is that you are and communicating that clearly with people so that people can opt in and opt out is a really great idea.

And just like remembering that just because we are different, just because our brains work differently doesn’t mean that we are bad or wrong.

It doesn’t mean that those folks are right and we should try to be more like them.

It means that like we all have different brains and the way that your brain works is great for you.

So like work with your brain rather against it.

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