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ADHD and Assumptions; Success In ADHD Relationships Need Extra Clear Communication To Thrive

26/365 ChewyI always knew I assumed things, but not until a recent relationship did I realize the full extent.

There was SO MUCH misunderstanding going on and it absolutely baffled me.  I was being told on the one hand this person really cared for me and on the other finding all the evidence in the world to challenge it.

I was banging my head against the wall day after day after day trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

See, when you have ADHD, a small comment turns into an elaborate story in about five seconds.  A simple statement like “You left wrappers on my counter and it bothers me” almost instantly means something like “you are an idiot and you are a pig and you are a pain in my arse and I don’t like having you here and you are so stupid and why can’t you do anything right?”  And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because in the next five seconds you then question the entire relationship.  Well he doesn’t like the wrapper there and I leave wrappers everywhere and it is going to be a major problem and I can’t be around someone like that ’cause I will always feel bad… and on and on and on.  Pretty soon, you have destroyed the relationship in your mind based on some wrappers.

See, once the ADHD mind grabs onto one thing, it goes on and on and on about that one thing until the brain is literally exhausted.  And in that process it inserts assumption after assumption after assumption.

I don’t do it intentionally.  It’s simply how my mind works.  And I think I may never have noticed it so profoundly because in the past the person positioned it as my deliberate lying and that just put me on the defensive.  I don’t do this deliberately and don’t try to build a case against anyone, I simply try to explain why I feel hopeless or bad about the relationship.  And the person gets so caught up in the words and so detached from the emotions, they debate the entire scenario and I feel even worse.

My tendency to do this does not disqualify my hurt feelings about getting called out for wrappers.  Because that is what I will fight you about – my feelings, not the words.  It definitely also clarifies why my stories can get bigger than what actually happened, all without me realizing it.  And it also shows how having a loving, supportive partner that can talk to you about it without judging helps resolve the misinterpreted hurt without total destruction to the relationship.

I was told once by someone very smart that if there is ANY grain of truth in something someone is saying, take responsibility for that tiny bit of truth if it will improve the situation.  And realize that it isn’t a matter of ‘fault’ in figuring out why someone is hurt.  It is a matter of figuring out where that pain comes from, holding it in your hands with love, and both moving on from it.

Creative Commons License photo credit: byJoeLodge

ADHD and Assumptions; Success In ADHD Relationships Need Extra Clear Communication To Thrive

Kathryn Goetzke

I own a company called the Mood-factory (, a company that creates products based on how sensory experiences effect moods. I also run a nonprofit for depressio, iFred (, we are working to change the brand of depression. And yes, I have ADHD, along with PTSD, major depressive disorder, and a host of other challenges, opportunities, and gifts.

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APA Reference
Goetzke, K. (2011). ADHD and Assumptions; Success In ADHD Relationships Need Extra Clear Communication To Thrive. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Feb 2011
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