About 5.4% of adult males, or 1 in 20 men, are diagnosed with ADHD.
Compared to women, men with ADHD are more likely to be diagnosed and treated. However, many men with this disorder still face career and relationship challenges.
But many people with ADHD have successful lives in which they thrive – and many of them will tell you that learning about their diagnosis (and finding the right support strategies) was the moment their lives changed for the better.
The truth is that ADHD does not define a person’s strength, intelligence, or capabilities.
Treatment and therapy for ADHD are just as crucial for men. These management approaches help men with ADHD control their symptoms, build healthy relationships, and achieve their career goals.
Identifying ADHD Symptoms in Adult Men
ADHD in men can look different from ADHD in women and children. If someone was diagnosed as a child, symptoms will affect their life differently as an adult – in ways they may not even be aware of.
Symptoms can differ from one individual to another depending on their severity and ADHD subtype.
In general, adult male ADHD symptoms fall into two main groups, which are symptoms of inattention and symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity.
Inattention in adult men with ADHD can include the following:
- Getting distracted during conversations, even when directly spoken to
- Misplacing or losing important items, such as their keys and wallet
- Being easily sidetracked and leaving projects or tasks incomplete
- Forgetting daily activities, such as appointments or bill payments
- Making careless mistakes and overlooking essential details
- Lacking time management and failing to meet deadlines
- Having difficulty organizing their tasks or belongings
- Struggling to follow sequential tasks or instructions
- Avoiding work that requires sustained focus
- Having difficulty remaining focused
Hyperactivity and impulsivity in adult men typically manifest as follows:
- Leaving their seat often when expected to stay seated, such as during meetings or lectures
- Intruding, interrupting, or taking over other people’s activities and conversations
- Having trouble waiting their turn (e.g., waiting in line or for their turn to speak)
- Fidgeting, tapping their hands and feet, and moving about in their seat
- Blurting out answers and interrupting other people in conversations
- Being unable to stay still for long periods
- Having feelings of restlessness
- Being on the move all the time
- Talking excessively
Men with ADHD can experience certain symptoms more significantly than others, depending on their ADHD subtype.
There are three main subtypes of ADHD. Those with predominantly inattentive ADHD experience symptoms of inattention to a greater degree. Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD causes more symptoms of hyperactivity and/or impulsivity.
Meanwhile, combined-type ADHD leads to noticeable symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.
ADHD in men can also be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how significantly their symptoms affect their daily lives.
While many adult men with ADHD experience symptoms, it’s important to note that ADHD does not only appear in adulthood. Since it’s a childhood-onset disorder, men with it would have had symptoms when they were younger.
How Is ADHD Different in Men vs. Women?
Men are more often diagnosed with ADHD than their female counterparts, as they’re likelier to display noticeable external symptoms.
Research has shown that male ADHDers commonly present with symptoms of predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD or combined-type ADHD. In contrast, female ADHDers tend to experience more symptoms of inattention.
This means that ADHD symptoms in men often involve behaviors like blurting out answers and being unable to wait their turn. They’re also more likely to display aggression, experience fluctuating emotions, and take part in impulsive or high-risk behaviors.
Because these symptoms tend to be evident and disruptive to themselves and those around them, men with ADHD are more likely to receive a diagnosis than women.
Some research also suggests that ADHD is less likely to persist into adulthood for men than women. This may happen because symptoms of hyperactivity tend to dwindle as a person gets older, while inattention in ADHD is more likely to persist.
Both men and women are at a higher risk of certain conditions due to their ADHD. Men with ADHD more often experience “externalized” conditions like substance or alcohol misuse. On the other hand, women with ADHD are at a higher risk of developing “internalized” conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
While both genders experience ADHD in a unique way, there are common challenges that affect both. Researchers found that both men and women with ADHD have significantly lower self-esteem and a stronger sense of hopelessness than non-ADHDers.
Talking to others who’ve been where you are, such as virtual support groups for men, is a great way to get help and guidance to ensure you succeed in what you do.
How to Spot ADHD in Your Male Partner or Loved One
ADHD can look very different from one person to another. The best way to spot ADHD in your male partner or loved one is to look out for signs and symptoms of ADHD.
ADHD often manifests as a “symptom iceberg.” The fidgeting, impulsiveness, and lack of focus can be easily noticeable. But the less-talked-about symptoms that represent the lower, unseen portion of the ADHD iceberg can also be important tell-tale signs that a person has the disorder.
Some examples of these lesser-known symptoms include:
- Bad quality sleep at night
- Constant procrastination
- Poor judgment of time
- Low motivation
While ADHD can lead to poor focus, the opposite is also true. Many ADHDers find they hyperfocus or hyperfixate on an activity they enjoy for hours.
If the symptoms a person displays collectively point to ADHD, seeking a diagnosis from a trained professional is a crucial step to getting better.
Of course, bringing up this topic with your male partner or loved one can be uncomfortable. But here are some ways you can approach this:
- Point out some of the challenges you’ve noticed. For instance, they might get stressed at work or school due to missed deadlines and meetings. Let them know how these traits might relate to a possible ADHD diagnosis.
- Talk about how their symptoms affect your relationship. For example, they might forget special occasions, run late for dates, or drift away during conversations. Let them know how this affects your feelings and relationship with them.
- Avoid using an accusatory tone of voice or making remarks that sound judgemental. Saying things like, “You’re so lazy,” or “You never do the chores,” might push the person into a defensive stance. Instead, you can use more “I” statements, like “I feel…” or “I’m concerned about…”
Ensure you find a good time and place to bring up this conversation. Approach them with understanding and empathy in your words, and try to talk about therapy or treatment in a non-stigmatizing way. Take the chance to encourage them to take the self-screening ADHD test and see a professional to know for sure.
Impact of ADHD on Men’s Relationships
ADHD can indeed add a unique set of challenges to a relationship. However, by understanding how ADHD symptoms affect a relationship, both parties can work out ways to overcome them.
The following symptoms of ADHD might contribute to conflicts in friendships or relationships:
- High distractibility: A man with ADHD might be easily distracted during conversations, which could cause his friends, family members, or partner to feel unheard or neglected.
- Impulsivity: A man with ADHD might interrupt the other party, blurt out hurtful things without meaning to, or constantly finish the other person’s sentences.
- Forgetfulness: Forgetting special dates like anniversaries and birthdays may cause the other party to feel unimportant. A man with ADHD might also forget to do chores or run errands they promised to.
- Emotional reactivity: People with ADHD may have anger outbursts or mood swings. As a result, the other party could feel like they’re walking on eggshells around them.
- Poor time management: Being late to appointments, dates, or gatherings could lead to conflicts.
- Disorganization: An ADHDer who is always disorganized might create messy and cluttered spaces at home. As a result, their household members or partner may feel like they’re constantly picking up after them.
Due to their symptoms, men with ADHD might experience self-esteem issues and guilt for letting their friends, family members, or partner down.
At the same time, they might feel like they’re constantly being criticized, nagged, or misunderstood.
It’s important to be understanding and supportive. Encourage the man to get support from other places, like support groups, or to get treatment if they’re not already.
Navigating Relationships With Someone Who Has ADHD
When both parties are willing to commit and communicate, a person with ADHD can still enjoy fulfilling relationships and friendships.
If your male partner or loved one has ADHD, there are various ways you can support them. Here are some examples:
- Create room for healthy communication. Find the right time and place to talk about your concerns and feelings. You can talk about how their actions affect you and discuss ways to navigate those challenges.
- Encourage them to seek professional help. Let them know that ADHD therapy and treatment are proven to be effective for many adults with ADHD. You can also offer to be present if they wish for someone to be there for them during their first few visits to the doctor or therapist.
- Work with your partner to create structures. Make it a point to discuss and divide the chores and housework. You can also allocate these tasks based on each person’s strengths and create a weekly chore chart or schedule. Additionally, you can suggest that they set phone or calendar reminders for important tasks and appointments.
- Focus on their strengths. ADHD in men is often linked to low self-esteem and confidence, so a little encouragement goes a long way. For example, you could tell them you appreciate their efforts in keeping up with the chores or compliment their creativity and artistic talent.
If you’re dating someone with ADHD, you may find that your relationship occasionally morphs into a parent-child one.
To manage this, take a step back and avoid taking over and finishing every task for your partner.
Of course, you can encourage them to seek treatment, communicate your feelings, and suggest strategies. But it’s important to give your partner the space to step up and take on their roles and responsibilities in the household.
Building Healthy Relationships: Strategies for Men With ADHD
As a man with ADHD, you might feel constantly criticized or nagged due to your ADHD symptoms.
At the same time, it’s crucial to understand that your ADHD symptoms might be causing your partner to feel neglected. They might also feel like they cannot rely on you to carry out your responsibilities.
This is a tough pill to swallow. However, acknowledging that your ADHD may be contributing to some of the challenges in the relationship is the first step toward change.
Fortunately, there are various ways to minimize its impact on your relationships, such as the following:
- Seek support and treatment. ADHD medications and therapy are proven to be effective for many adults. ADHD treatment has also been shown to improve impulsivity, social function, as well as career and academic outcomes in adults.
- Experiment with different structures. Find which systems help you organize, prioritize, and remember details best. For instance, having Post-It notes around the house or a weekly chore chart can help you keep track of your tasks and errands.
- Communicate your feelings and struggles. Find a time to talk to your partner about your ADHD challenges to help them understand your ADHD better. You can also take the initiative to discuss your strengths and split the household tasks accordingly.
- Ensure communication is a two-way street. Try to listen to your partner when they talk about their concerns. Find a quiet place with minimal distractions. To avoid drifting away, you can focus on the speaker’s mouth while repeating what they say in your mind. When your partner points out an issue, avoid getting defensive. Instead, open up the floor to discuss suggestions for managing it.
- Be aware of your emotions. Learn what the early warning signs of an emotional outburst look like. If you notice anger building up, let your partner know and take a break to cool off before you talk about the issue again.
ADHD undoubtedly makes it challenging to build and maintain relationships. However, it does not determine your worth or ability to love in a relationship.
Drop the mask, appreciate your strengths, and avoid beating yourself up over your mistakes or weaknesses. This helps build your self-confidence to step up and fulfill your roles in a relationship.
Men With ADHD Can Be Amazing Partners
Can men with ADHD fall in love? Do men with ADHD have empathy?
Receiving an ADHD diagnosis can be both comforting and unnerving.
It’s comforting because, for many, it explains a lot about past relationship failures. It’s unnerving if you assume you are stuck repeating the same patterns.
The truth is that men with ADHD are very capable of loving and caring for other people. In fact, individuals with ADHD tend to feel their emotions, both the good and the bad, more intensely.
However, their symptoms might make things appear otherwise.
An ADHDer who drifts off during conversations might leave their partner feeling like they don’t actually care. Forgetting special dates and events, interrupting their partner, or blurting out hurtful comments might also add to this.
Learning how to connect emotionally can be difficult with ADHD. But here’s what you can try:
- Avoid interrupting your partner by inserting your experiences, opinions, or solutions unless they ask for them.
- Start by opening up to your partner and explaining how ADHD shows up for you.
- Practice being a listener when your partner needs someone to talk to.
- Learn to be comfortable with sharing your thoughts and feelings.
As a man with ADHD, you can build a happy and meaningful relationship. It’ll take practice, patience, and effort, but it will be worth it.
ADHD Is Not a Character Flaw in Men
ADHD is a real disorder that affects the brain’s structure, function, and chemistry.
There’s no shame in needing support for ADHD. In fact, acknowledging your need for help shows true strength and courage.
Getting treatment is a life-changing step that can significantly improve your life.
Learn more about how ADHD affects men and discover new ways to manage it at ADDA+. This resource hub for adult ADHDers provides expert-backed resources, tools, and support groups to help you thrive with ADHD.
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