Inattention and Hyperactivity-Impulsivity: Their Detrimental Effect on Romantic Relationship Maintenance

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Objective: The aim of this study is to understand how ADHD symptoms correlate with romantic relationship maintenance and test theoretical pathways by which symptoms of ADHD lead to relationship difficulties. Method: This study involved two phases of data collection, which were identical except for the population. Phase 1 (n = 172) was a nonclinical sample of romantically involved young adults. Phase 2 (n = 39) was a clinical sample of romantically involved young adults with ADHD. Participants in both phases reported on their levels of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, their relationship maintenance activities, and their relationship quality. Results: ADHD symptoms were associated with greater relationship difficulties. In both samples, inattentive symptoms were associated with greater interest in relational alternatives and less constructive responses to partner’s bad behaviors, whereas hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were associated with negative responses to bad behavior. Conclusion: The results of this study have implications for developing cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions targeting relationship difficulties in young adults with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-994
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019



  • ADHD
  • hyperactivity
  • impulsivity
  • inattention
  • relationship maintenance
  • romantic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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