how our polyamorous clients build thriving relationships

ADHD and Polyamory

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Do you have ADHD, or does someone you love? Are you non-monogamous (or thinking about it)? If so, keep reading.

Still here? If so, it’s likely you’re wondering: “How DOES ADHD impact non-monogamy?” It’s an important question. Folks who have ADHD are likely to find non-monogamy very satisfying. 

But ADHD brings a predictable set of challenges to any relationship. And if you’re not careful, non-monogamy can drastically magnify those challenges.

And to top it all off, the biggest challenge isn’t what 99% of people think.

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Cassie 0:20
Here at Touch of Flavor. We teach non monogamous folks how to overcome their obstacles and build thriving relationships.

Josh 0:26
This podcast is about answering one question, how do you create loving, passionate, secure relationships outside the box? Even if nothing has ever worked before. If you want to know the answer, you're in the right place.

Cassie 0:38
All of this information is 100% free. So please subscribe to and review our podcasts.

Josh 0:48
So what are we talking about today? Well, what we're going to talk about is what if you have ADHD or your partner has ADHD? And you're either non monogamous or interested non monogamy right? So ADHD, non monogamy, those two things together, right? Like, what is it that you need to know you need to be aware of what are the pitfalls? What are the challenges? Like what are the benefits, all of that? Right? And so this came from a question that we saw on our Facebook group the other day, and I actually thought it was a really, really good question, which is what kind of sparked this right? So somebody in our Facebook group had posted, and this isn't word for word, but it's close. Right? basically asking, you know, how many non monogamous people have ADHD? Like, how many of you non monogamous folks have ADHD? And how does focusing on or having multiple relationships make any or all of that better? Like, how does that make your ADHD better? Right? And so I thought this was a really interesting topic. And the reason is that the truth is a lot of people, a lot of humans, who are non monogamous, do have ADHD, right. And modern ADHD people are interested in non monogamy. And I wanted to touch on this. So I'm going to kind of jump into this. And so a couple just to kind of housekeeping things as we go into this. The first thing is, you may be wondering why I'm saying like ADHD, I'm not saying like, ADD all that. So ADD hasn't been a diagnosis for a long time, right? It's been, everything's kind of consolidated under like ADHD, ADHD inattentive, so on so forth, right? So I'm just gonna say ADHD, because that's what is the correct terminology now. And it's easier than saying ADD or ADHD every time. Okay. The second piece is just that, you know, understand, I am not an expert on ADHD. Right. But I have ADHD have ADHD my whole life and I am an expert on monogamy, right? And a lot of our clients, people we deal with, you know, there's a decent number of those people who have ADHD as well. So this is an area that I'm really experienced in dealing with. And here's the reason I think this is important. You know, that person had asked question, like, how many of you have ADHD? And, you know, I don't know, how many people with non monogamy ADHD. Right, I have no idea. I will say this, though, I kind of suspect that the percentage of people who have ADHD and non monogamy might be a little higher than the general population. And this is why right, you know, one of the big when you have ADHD, one of the big drives is any for variety that need for stimulation, right? And obviously, non monogamy is a great place to get stimulation and variety in your life. And I mean, in a lot of ways, because of that it can be a really good fit folks have ADHD. So I suspect that the percentage of people with ADHD who are interested non monogamy may be higher than than like the percentage of people in the normal population with ADHD. Right? Slightly, but that's just my gut feeling. And I think that everybody who gets into non monogamy has at least some desire for variety in their life. Right. So people with ADHD are likely to be particularly drawn to non monogamy or to find it particularly satisfying, right? Because there is that stimulation angle, but here's the challenge, right? ADHD carries with it you know, its own benefits its own challenges. It also carries with it its own relationship problems. Right. And those relationship problems are magnified. The relationship problems, the challenges that ADHD brings, they are magnified when you throw non monogamy into the mix.

Josh 5:02
So you end up in the situation where people would not with ADHD or you know, maybe more likely to like non monogamy or at least likely to find it really satisfying and be attracted to it. But then on the other hand, they have a unique set of challenges when they're dealing with it. And here's the thing, I don't want to say that I don't want say that people with ADHD are like, any less suited for non monogamy than anybody else. Because the truth of the matter is, everybody has challenges when it comes to non monogamy. Everybody has their own set of challenges, right. But people with ADHD have a very predictable set of challenges that show up in specific ways. Right? So let's kind of jump in to what these things are and what I'm talking about relationship problems that come from ADHD. And let's just start there. Let's start with just problems that you have in any relationship, monogamous, non monogamous, right when you have ADHD. And if you're the person with ADHD, right, probably some of the first things that come to mind is time management, scheduling, right. You know, having trouble keeping to like time commitments, for getting things, maybe having a partner think you're irresponsible, because you forget things or because you have trouble sticking to your time commitments, and you lose track of time and run stuff over. Right? Or maybe for you, it is the impulsivity and being a little too quick to respond to things, right, which can really have problems with communication. Right? Or, like I said, a new scheduling and having problems scheduling. There's all these different things, right. And you know, we're going to talk about these a little more. But the truth is, you can look at those things and go ooh, scheduling, balancing time balancing responsibilities, all that stuff, moving into non monogamy. Definitely some problems there. Right, like, we can see where that would be challenging. Here's the thing, though, a lot of times, there's a huge factor here, maybe, I think you could argue in some ways. One of the biggest relationship challenges that comes from ADHD, and certainly becomes the biggest relationship challenge when you throw non monogamy into the mix is something that most people and especially most of you with ADHD, don't think about. But if you're a partner of somebody with ADHD, this is going to ring a bell for you. Right. And one of the biggest challenges that ADHD brings to a relationship is actually not the scheduling or the responsibility or the communication or any of that. It is the hyper focus. And most of us, when we're thinking about hyper focus, we think about getting super involved in tasks, right, or, you know, a book that we find really interesting or show or, you know, like we've now we're involved in work that caught our attention. And, you know, now like, we've missed our next appointment by an hour, and we didn't even realize it. But hyperfocus also happens in our relationships. So most people, probably anybody who has dated Nate, each person has experienced this phenomenon, how focus, even if you didn't realize what was going on. And this is how that typically looks and presents, it looks like I start dating this person. And I am just the most important thing in the world to them. You know, maybe this this person, this might seem like the most romantic person I've ever dated, like they're so attentive, they want to spend all their time with me, they want to do all these activities. You know, they they like, come up with amazing gifts. And there's just this feeling of kind of being at the center of this other of your partner's world. Feels awesome. Right? And like I said, for a lot of people, it feels like the most romantic relationship maybe that they've ever had. But then at some point, because this is what happens, right? That newness is gone. Right? Because that hook hyperfocus that really comes from something being stimulating. And so at some point, this relationship, it's no longer new. It's no longer shiny, it's no longer as stimulating, right. And that person with ADHD falls back to whatever their baseline is. And it isn't that that's necessarily particularly inattentive.

Josh 9:48
But there's often a huge gap between how that feels when they're hyper focused, and how that feels when things go to the norm. Right. And for a lot of people is just like a switch flips, and they're just completely stumped as to what happened to this amazing connected, you know, like super focused on them wanting to do everything together all of that, right? And it's just this this really awful feeling for people to feel like, you know, you're the center of somebody's world. And then now you're not and not only are you not, but also they're like, pretty easily distracted on to other things and the next thing that they hyper focus on, right, and it's not necessarily a person if you're monogamous, but maybe it's a job, maybe it's a kid, maybe it's a, you know, a hobby, or an activity or whatever the flavor of the week is. Right, and it's that fall from grace. And this isn't something I've experienced personally, but it's something I've had to give a lot of thought to, for myself with other people and hearing from them, you know, that's a huge, difficult feeling. Right? And so that hyper focus is actually I would argue, a really, really underrated problem that ADHD brings to relationships, right, because even in a monogamous relationship, that means that people with ADHD can have a particularly difficult time, keeping that romance and connection, right. And that feeling of the relationship being awesome and passionate and loving, when that hyper focus has now gone, right, and this isn't a normal relationship. So let's move over. And let's talk about non monogamy because as I said, these problems, the real challenges is that they get magnified in a lot of ways when you move into talking now about non monogamy. So what does it look like? Well, let's actually start here, with the hyper focus, because that's the most specific thing. So this problem of hyperfocus, it becomes a particularly large problem. In new relationships, I mean, in non monogamous relationships, right. And that's because it really kind of manifests as this hyper, and ari is enormously magnified and ari. And that's challenging on two ends. First off, of course, that's challenging on your existing partners. Because they're in a place where not only are they usually already having trouble getting that need for connection and focus on them and undistracted time and all of this met, but now, all of a sudden, you're hyper focused on this person over here. And now they're getting less time they're getting less focused, you know, they can feel like like they're being completely left behind. And on top of it, they have to see you now have that focus and attention that they miss, with this other partner. And this is all your existing partners, right? 1, 2, 3, doesn't matter. So it's really kind of like the supercharged NRE. Alright, the other side of this, though, that also needs to be mentioned and discussed, is actually from the perspective of your new partner. Because now they're going to be the one who is coming and isn't attaching and is investing and getting involved in this relationship based on you, them being the center of your world. But that isn't gonna last. And now they're going to be hurt the same way that your existing partners have probably been hurt through this already. Right. And this is a realization that I've had to come through for myself as somebody with ADHD because it's something that your partners notice, but it's something you don't really see from the inside. You can kind of see it once it's brought to you, but it's not something that you think about. So that's obviously really problematic. You know, NRE is always difficult to manage. And again, when you're talking now, this kind of super hyper NRE, it becomes even more difficult.

Josh 14:33
And, along with that, there is again, this new person who's going to wind up going through this same process, where they feel like the center of the world they come in, they invest they build and then all of a sudden, you know they get in and now they don't not only again do they not have that, but they probably are having trouble getting their needs for connection met at all. Because now you're on to the next thing And then on top of this, you have these other problems that we talked about scheduling huge, huge challenge for a lot of people with ADHD. Well, guess what? Now you're balancing more schedules across multiple people forgetting things, often a big challenge for people with ADHD. Well, now you're trying to navigate that across multiple relationships, and forgetting things right, you already have one partner who doesn't feel like you're responsible. Now you're asking to go spend time and energy with somebody else, right, which makes your partner feel insecure. And now eventually this person is probably gonna feel like you're irresponsible. Right? That connection a huge piece like I said, you have trouble connecting, right, and being focused and present and getting needs for quality time and and stuff like that met in the current relationship, you know, probably a lot of times you kind of run your time over and miss manage your time. And now you're talking about having to manage more time and you're gonna have somebody else who now later you're having trouble connecting with. And the communication challenges that come from ADHD as well. Like I said, that impulsivity, that some people have a bit of a, an emotional, like a little bit of a difficult connecting emotionally or, you know, maybe you're more like, prone to frustration because you feel like everybody's moving slow, bleeds over to other relationships, and it comes in and affects all your conversations around non monogamy, I mean, all this stuff. So the problems that you have when you have ADHD in a monogamous relationship, they get magnified when you're talking about non monogamy. So what do you do? You know, I'm saying this is just like, Oh God, you shouldn't do non monogamy because, you know, what I'm saying is that at the end of the day, you know, a lot of these challenges are going to wind up in places where there's jealousy, where people are feeling disconnected, they're feeling lonely, they're feeling alone, you know, they're not getting through conversations or not communicating well, and just really having a negative impact on the current relationships on other things, you know, turning into arguments turning into feeling lonely, disconnected, you know, people not feeling loved-- all the things. But this isn't this isn't to say that, you know, if you have non monogamy sorry, you have non monogamy-- if you have ADHD, you shouldn't do non monogamy. Right? I'm gonna tell you the secret of this in a second. Really what it comes down to. And this is where a lot of people get really confused, right? They want to focus on the ADHD, like, they start running into problems in the relationship, and they want to focus on the ADHD. And, you know, solving the ADHD, and you know, like, they're feeling alone now, right, like a partner is feeling lonely, or they're arguing, or there's now jealous feelings, because they're having trouble managing the NRE. Or their partner is feeling like they're responsible, because they're not coming to their agreements, all these things. It's really easy to look at that. And go, it's because the ADHD, we just need to just need to solve that. Right. And don't get me wrong here. If you have ADHD, you need to be taking steps to manage it, just for your life, for your relationships in your life. Right, there's things that you need to learn to do and harness, there's advantages, there's disadvantages. That's something that you want to pay attention to. And you want to be making sure that you are gaining some skills to manage. But here's the thing to understand: gaining the skills to manage first off with getting the skills to manage these, these challenges are never going to completely go away. Right. But the other piece, and this is what I was saying is the real secret is to understand, these are all problems that people run into, in their relationships in their non monogamy all the time. It can be aggravated, some of these things can be aggravated by ADHD, just like some of these things can be aggravated by a lot of other things. Right? Whether it's trauma or depression, or let's take it out of the realm of mental health, or having kids in the house or having a job where there's there's not much time or somebody having health problems. Financial stress, whatever.

Josh 19:24
This is where people get lost, because they go Oh god, I have ADHD that's the problem. Right and they focus on just fixing ADHD which again you want to be managing, but not realizing that at the end of the day, there's just stuff in the relationship that needs to be addressed that's aggravated by the ADHD, perhaps, but that would be there regardless and is again the ADHD is always gonna be there aggravating a little bit anyways. It's just another challenge. Just your, it's just your particular flavor of challenge in your relationship. Right. And it isn't special, I mean, it is special, and that you're special. And that, again, there's some commonalities for ADHD. But everybody has their own particular brand of challenges in their relationship. Right. All those things, we talked about life, stress, grief, loved ones dying, having small kids in the house, having trauma in your background, anything, everybody has their own particular brand of challenges. But when you don't address the actual relationship challenges that are there, you're just kind of like smoothing the top off the problem, and leaving everything underneath still there and causing problems. Because like I said, the ADHD may be aggravating these problems a little bit, just like having kids in your house, maybe aggravating the communication, or having a really busy job may be aggravating, not having enough time. But the problems are there, and the problems need to be dealt with. And until you do that, until you do that. You're going to keep running into challenges, no matter how much you address the ADHD. So the trick is that the real answer to most of these things, there's one exception I'm gonna tell you just a second here, to most of these things, is simply the answer that you would have to other challenges, other things that pose, you know, particularly brands or challenges, and now there's communication challenges, or arguing challenges or challenges around agreements, which is you need to get your skills, your relationship skills, your communication skills, your skill and ability to connect and maintain connection and love and passion. As long as relationship goes, your ability to go into a conversation and have your partner feel heard. And to actually come to productive solutions, instead of arguing. Your skill to create agreements that actually work for everybody in the relationship, that can be changed, when they need to be changed, to manage your NRE to deal with jealousy. These are all the skills that you need, no matter what your relationship is. And maybe, definitely, again, there's some places some some particular places that are gonna be highlighted, because of the ADHD in the relationship and a set of challenges discuss, but that's always the case. And if you can get your relationship skills, solid, ADHD, no ADHD, all these other aggravated things that we're talking about, you can build loving, thriving, connected relationships that are meeting your needs, and everybody else's needs and that you are happy, and your partners are happy in. Right. And I'm going to invite you in just a second to to a free training that we're about to put out here for you folks to help you build those relationship skills, that's going to be epic. So give me one second, I'll get to that. But before I do, there is one exception to this that I want to mention. Right. And that is actually in that place that I was talking about with new partners and expectations. And this is this is the one place that I think that you have a really in a lot of ways perhaps an ADHD specific challenge with an ADHD specific answer. Right or maybe that's not true, I don't know maybe if you are, like fall for NRE super, super hard, maybe this is the answer to you, right. I just don't tend to see the same level of consistent like, oh my god up here hyperfocus NRE in most people that I do with ADHD, right. But if you do, this would also be for you, I guess. And that's this, that is recognizing and we talk all the time, you know about recognize that you're an NRE, and managing that with your current partner and balancing your relationships, and this is stuff that we work with our clients on on the regular, right?

Josh 24:26
But the one extra tidbit that I'll throw in here that I think is really important for you if you have ADHD is recognizing that hyperfocus phase and not just necessarily managing that with your current partners. But managing that with a new partner and what does that look like that looks like realizing really getting an understanding, knowledge of knowing yourself. of where is it that you once that hyperfocus goes away, fall in terms of amount of time, you'll want to spend together fall in terms of what activities you want to do. Because the place that you can really hurt that new person, like I said before, is when they're all the sudden is this huge drop between this huge gap between what they're expecting based on how you've been acting and what's now here because that hyper focus has gone. Okay? So what you can be really cognizant of, is to try and narrow that gap by being really cognizant and mindful of things that you are open to doing now that you wouldn't be open to doing later. Because this is how hyper focus works. Right? When you're hyper focused on somebody, everything is fucking amazing and interesting and stimulating. An easy example for me of this whole thing, and it's easier just to explain with an example is TV. I'm not the kind of person that you're going to see who really enjoys spending a Saturday sitting down watching a movie or binge watching some TV. Right? I'm just, I'm not. And it isn't just like that, that's not something I'm like, that makes me like super happy. That's something that really 90% of time is just not my idea of a good Saturday like that, that's actually kind of dragging me down a little bit, to be honest to be like sitting on the couch watching a movie in the middle of the day, right. But when I'm hyper focused on somebody, like that is just the most interesting thing in the world. They sit there watch TV with them, if that's what they want to do, because it's stimulating, because it's new, and it's variety. And this person is new, and everything around them is new and shiny. And exciting. Right? So the way that you deal with this, is, because this is a place that I've had partners before notice one of these huge drops is you go okay, is this an activity that I'm really going to want to do? Once I'm out of being hyper focused? If the answer is no, then you can consciously make the decision to not do that with that partner, at least not do it regularly. Right? So that they don't get like a false impression of what this is going to be. So I'm not saying I'll never watch TV with a new partner on Saturday, right? But I'm also really cognizant I don't do that as a regular thing. Because I know that in three months, four months down the road, I'm not going to be willing to do that regularly. And I don't want them now to be like oh my god, what like I was really fed by that Saturday TV time and what the fuck happened? Right, so that is the place that if you have ADHD that is a place that you can... that is a ADHD is the one kind of ADHD specific problem with an ADHD specific solution. In terms of relationship in non monogamy, anything? right. But as far as the rest of it, like I said, the rest of it really is just, it's just aggravating certain things that are in a relationship just like other things aggravate, and it's about having your relationship skills rock solid. So how do you do that? This is what I want to invite you for. Right? So Cassie and I a while back put together a free training, right that we have kind of compiled after our years of working with with non monogamous clients helping hundreds of people like turn their challenges around, but amazing relationships on the five pillars that every non monogamous relationship needs to have. In order to thrive, the five pillars every non mongamous has to be built on in order to have thriving, loving, connected relationships in order to turn around arguments and disconnection and feeling alone. And jealousy and comparison and insecurity. Right. And so what I'm going to do is I'm going to make that available to people where you can go and get a free 24 hour pass to watch that. So take advantage of that and watch that training, it will be the best hour that you've ever spent on your relationships unless you talk to us on the phone, then that'll be the best hour, right?

Josh 29:11
But it will teach you those pillars those skills, that every relationship needs to thrive every non monogamous relationship, including including the ones where one or more partners has ADHD, right and giving you the skills that you need to whatever those aggravating factors are overcome your challenges and build amazing thriving relationships together. So I'll I'll drop the link in the description. But you can go watch that at atouchofflavor.com/pillars, atouchofflavor.com/pillars. Right and we'll get you a free 24 hour pass to watch that. So sit down, watch it it will be life changing, relationship changing for you. Okay. I love talking to you all. I want to thank the person who brought this question to us. Hopefully you're watching this in the group. I'll go back and tag this in the initial post once it's all up, right. But again, don't get so caught up like oh god ADHD, you know, it's impossible can't have thriving relationships. It's just another specific-- everybody's got challenges. And it's just a specific set of challenges. Right, just specifically specific set, like I said, of complications and aggravating factors. Everybody's got their own, right. But if you can get that foundation and those pillars to build a thriving, non monogamous relationship where you're thriving, non monogamous relationships, you'll be able to manage whatever aggravating factors are there, including that all right, have a fantastic night, and we'll talk to you again soon.

Josh 30:50
Thanks for tuning into today's show. We release new episodes every week. So make sure to subscribe.

Cassie 30:56
If you're ready to transform your relationship and you'd like to see if you're a fit to work with us. Here's what I want you to do next, head over to atouchofflavor.com/talk and book an appointment to speak with our team. We'll get on the phone with you for about an hour. And we'll get your crystal clear on three things. What's really not working in your relationships, what your dream relationships would look like and a step by step plan to close the gap and save your family. Even if nothing has worked before.

Josh 31:24
We talk with hundreds of non monogamous folks like you every year. And here's the truth, building loving, thriving relationships that doesn't happen on its own. You need expert guidance to make that happen. And unfortunately, when you are building relationships outside the box, that's impossible to find and we get it but that's exactly what we do. We've helped clients all over the world, save their families, get the passion back and become best friends again.

Cassie 31:48
So if you want to see if we can help you do the same head over to atouchofflavor.com/talk. I'm Cassie.

Josh 31:56
And I'm Josh. Let's talk soon.