ADHD Couples

Smell and Intimacy in ADHD Relationships 218 Oct

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

Disconnecting in a sexual relationship is a bad idea. Hiding your feelings, or pretending to enjoy yourself when you’re actually distracted and struggling to block out the smell, won’t fix the problem. If you insist on ignoring the problem, you’ll eventually wear yourself out and come to resent your partner. Instead, treat it as a chance to communicate with your partner about your needs. ADHD patients can be reluctant to do this, often because they feel shame or guilt, but it’s important to see that the problem can’t get better unless it’s out in the open.

There’s a caveat, though. While it’s very important to talk to your partner about sensitivity to smells, it can be catastrophic to bring up something so personal during sex or intimacy. If your partner is trying to be loving, and you come out with, “I can’t stand the way your dirty socks smell,” the mood is ruined and the relationship could be damaged. And of course, sometimes you don’t know what the problem is, and if that’s the case, in the moment is a bad time to try to diagnose the problem.

But, suppose your partner is the problem? What then? Maybe there’s something about the way he or she smells that’s off-putting to you. While this is a difficult thing to bring up, there’s also a silver lining: partners can change the way they smell! It’s a matter of their hygiene pattern, what kind of deodorant they wear, their use of perfume or cologne, and where they work, among other things. If you love your partner, but their smell is distracting or unpleasant, then see if changing something about their routine will solve the problem. In the past, you might have had to just give up on the person if the smell didn’t work for you, but now, you can work with these variables and come upon a good solution.

These are just a few points about sensitivity to smell that you should consider. The important thing to remember is openness in communication and the willingness to explore various solutions. Once you know which smells are distracting, you can go about enjoying a more vibrant and spontaneous life with your partner.


One Response to “Smell and Intimacy in ADHD Relationships 2”

  1. Eleanor

    Thank you for this which is a step toward the courage and honesty a relationship needs.

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Most medical doctors who treat ADD/ADHD do so as part of a larger practice. ADHD Specialists focuses primarily on only treating ADD and related conditions. This intense focus allows us to continually sharpen our clinical skills, attend specialized training, utilize the latest therapies, and build our process to meet the specific needs of our clients.

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