ADHD Couples

Noise and Intimacy for ADHD Couples 201 Nov

Robert Wilford, Ph.D. and Sarah Ferman, Psy.D., L.M.F.T.

First of all, what time of day are you trying to be intimate? It’s entirely possible to find times of the day that are less noisy than others. Many people are at work during business hours, so maybe you can find some time then. If you have children, maybe you can wait until late evening when they’re sure to be asleep and not making any noise. If it’s a sound that’s outside of your home, can you figure out a way to stop it? Or, if you can’t eliminate the offending sound, can you work around it?

The point is, unless you’re in an isolated place, there’s going to be noise. You shouldn’t expect to have no noise. Instead, you should figure out which noises are most distracting and determine what to do about them. When it comes to sensitivities like this, it’s not possible to set everything up perfectly. You just have to make the best of a difficult situation.

In terms of non-ADHD partners in a couple, it’s up to them to understand their partner’s needs. Perhaps the sound of the fan, the air conditioner, the alarm clock, or the shower is a problem for their ADHD partner. If so, they should take the time to learn what affects the mood and do what they can to prevent the noise in the first place. It has to be planned out. Spontaneity is nice, but it’s not always realistic.

Now, even with your best efforts, plans will go awry. If you’ve got the kids in bed, the TV off, and you know the neighbors always go out on Saturday evening, then you might expect to have the perfect setting for intimacy—but then the phone rings in the middle of lovemaking. This abrupt noise can jar the ADHD partner and make it difficult to revive the mood. The ADHD partner might need to shift gears again in order for intimacy to work.

Of course, all of this starts with a conversation. It can jeopardize a relationship to have one member frequently distracted and distant during sex, so rather than let the non-ADHD partner feel inadequate and confused, it’s important to have that discussion about sensitivity to noise. That way, both members can work toward the same goal, which is to have a good sex life and a close relationship. Sounds good, right?


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