How Adult ADHD Affects Sexual Intimacy

When ADHD enters the bedroom, distraction, wandering thoughts, and a lack of desire usually aren't far behind. In fact, sexual boredom is one of the biggest complaints among ADHD couples, and a major reason behind their high divorce rate. Unfortunately, even when couples are sexually active, ADHD symptoms can interfere with emotional and sexual intimacy, leaving one or both partners feeling unconnected, alone, and sexually frustrated or unsatisfied.

When ADHD and Sex Don't Mix

Hurt feelings, confusion, and resentment can build and fester when one or both partners feel emotionally and/or sexually unsatisfied. If misinformation or misunderstanding is the main culprit, a marriage counselor or sex therapist can help the non-ADHD spouse understand how the disorder affects sexual desire and performance.


Sly Stone wasn't kidding when he sang about “different strokes for different folks,” even if he wasn't talking about ADHD partners. The fact is, what may feel pleasurable to a non-ADHD spouse may be downright irritating, annoying, or even painful to an ADHD partner who is hypersensitive to the touches, tastes, smells, and sounds that come into play during sex.

For instance, many ADHD partners are too hyperactive to relax and get in the mood. Instead of shutting out the world and focusing on their partner, they're distracted by their racing thoughts. Others are distracted by loud music, even if it's romantic. Instead of focusing on their partner, they may start singing along or talking about how much they loved the last concert.

How to Improve Sexual Intimacy

Provided there aren't emotional distractions or barriers interfering with intimacy, it's possible to overcome distractions that may prevent an ADHD spouse from being able to focus on, respond to, or enjoy sexual intimacy.

The following are some strategies for turning up the heat in your ADHD marriage or relationship.

  • Talk openly about what turns your ADHD spouse on — and off. If she's super-sensitive to scented oils or lotions, finds music more distracting than romantic, or can't stand your scratchy beard, get rid of it.

  • Be open to new experiences. ADHD adults love novelty, so don't be afraid to introduce something new to ward off ADHD boredom. Make sure you're both comfortable with it before trying anything. If your ADHD spouse isn't comfortable with it, it's likely to become yet another ADHD distraction.

  • Practice being in the moment. To help your hyperactive partner stay in the now, try doing yoga, tai chi, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or massage as a couple. Then move the relaxed togetherness into the bedroom.

  • Let go of libido-killers. When ADHD symptoms make your ADHD spouse unreliable, it may force you into assuming the role of parent. Once the child/parent pattern becomes the norm in a relationship, romance and sexuality between partners usually declines. If you and your partner are trapped in this pattern, work with a therapist to rebalance your relationship so you're both equal partners.

  • Make a date. If conflicting schedules are preventing you and your partner from having fun together, playing together, or hooking up, make a date and put it on the calendar. Then commit to it.

Lasting Happiness and Love

While ADHD poses disadvantages in a relationship, it also has many advantages. Opposites often attract, so if you're the steady, reliable, and dependable type who could use a jolt of spontaneity, impulsivity, novelty, and excitement, an ADHD spouse may be just what the doctor ordered. On the other hand, if you're an ADHD adult who has trouble balancing his checkbook, matching his socks, or remembering to feed the dog, a non-ADHD spouse could be the gift from heaven you've been searching for.

While it may take some effort, it's possible for an ADHD relationship to have a happy and permanent ending. An ADHD spouse needs to take responsibility for his disorder rather than use it as an excuse for his problems.

In addition, the non-ADHD spouse needs to remember that she's married to someone who's wired a little differently than most people. While an ADHD marriage may not always run like clockwork, it could be a lot more lively and fun.

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