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Couples With One ADHD Partner

How To Deal with Embarrassment of Social Behavior

I recently started dating someone that has adult ADHD. We get along, share many of the same values, want the same things, but I’m having a difficult time getting over certain aspects of his ADHD, mainly how he acts in social situations. He is very loud, sometimes inappropriate, and seemingly feels the need to talk to anyone and everyone when we’re out in public. For me, where I don’t like to be the center of attention, it can get to be pretty embarrassing and uncomfortable. I struggle with this because I also realize it’s my own issues of caring too much what others think. But it’s also causing me to be nervous about introducing him to my co-workers, friends and family and I realize that’s not good. Does anyone have any experience or advice for this type of an issue?


Hi Rach 1102,
Your own issues are valuable and you cannot help how you feel. You can tell your self that you are not supposed to care what others think but you do.

You are courageous in facing this. And you know what it means. You cannot spend a whole life, or even a really long time, being embarrassed and ashamed.

I don’t think there’s any choice but to have a really clear and thorough conversation with him. If he says take me as I am, and you agree to that, then you will have this dilemma for the duration. Maybe he is willing to try some ways to moderate. It is not necessarily easy since ADHD has it’s own demands but his attitude and willingness to work with you on this is everything.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Jul 26, 2014 at 2:06pm

Hi!  I completely understand how you feel - however my husband is the polar opposite of your boyfriend.  My hubby completely shuts down in social settings.  They are way too overwhelming for his brain.  Anyone we are around who hasn’t known him for years assumes he’s a jerk.  He’ll also slouch a lot, constantly play on his phone, and never look someone in the eye if they try to talk to him.  These are all his ADHD behaviors and I’ve been desperately trying to change it for over 3 years.  They are still just as annoying to me today as they were when we met.  It doesn’t get any better.  If this is not something you think you’ll be able to cope with then you may want to re-evaluate your commitment to him. 

One thing we’ve been experimenting with is a ‘safe word’ of sorts.  If he’s being a jerk or acting like a 6 year old when we’re in public I’ll say “Watermelon” and that’s his cue that he needs to pay attention to his behavior.  So far, this has been a TOTAL hit and miss experiment.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  The biggest problem is that when it doesn’t work, he thinks I’m being too judgmental and gets upset which only makes things worse. 

There have been times where he’s been so bad that I’ve had to leave an event early (actually just a few months ago we had to leave my cousins wedding early because he was so irritable) and there’s been times I’ve sent him home and finished an event stag.

I’m always nervous about introducing him to people.  I still never know how he’s going to react or if he’s even going to simply say hello.  Social settings are one of the big negatives I’ve experienced in being with an ADHDer.  They only thing i’ve found that makes it better is his comfort level.  If we’re with people he knows really well then he’s pretty good.  If it’s new people, I can expect a challenge. 

You just have to ask yourself how much you’re willing to deal with, and if you’re willing to deal with it forever.

Posted by HuskerGal on Aug 01, 2014 at 4:09pm

My husband also has ADHD and he talks to strangers, but in a pretty normal way, so I do not feel uncomfortable about that. For me, the embarrassment comes from him being getting upset in public and not caring about who knows. When a regular person gets upset in public they don’t yell and stomp around back and forth like he does. People are looking at us like they are 2 steps away from calling the cops. So embarrassing!!!

Posted by strawberries404 on Aug 08, 2014 at 11:17am

Like one of the other commentators I also have had to leave events early because while he does not mind smaller gatherings/parties, he feels very irritable and out of control at larger events. He stormed out of the bridal shower once right after it started and I had to sheepishly walk out behind him with all of our friends looking, but I feel weird about going to events without him because everyone asks about his absence and I still don’t know what to say except that he couldn’t make it. Not only that, but I usually end up being sat at the couples table so without him I am the odd person out. We are also newlyweds and I’m sure people are already looking at me wondering what I have gotten myself into. I wonder myself sometimes, but I digress. Simply put, I have just resolved not to go to large gatherings, concerts, or any crowded social events. I’d rather miss something than go and worry about or endure being embarrassed.

Posted by strawberries404 on Aug 08, 2014 at 11:17am

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