Relationship Boredom and ADHD: Why You Keep Chasing That Spark

Sam Dylan Finch | August 20, 2021

That new relationship energy can be thrilling. But what happens when your need for stimulation sabotages your social life?

New relationships — be it romantic or platonic — can be exhilarating. And this is by design, of course: positive social interactions can be a potent source of neurochemicals like oxytocin and dopamine, associated with the pleasure and reward centers of the brain.

This is especially true for people with ADHD, whose dopamine-deprived brains are in need of stimulation. The beginning stages of a relationship can feel euphoric, and for some, meet a crucial need for novelty and excitement.

But on the other hand, ADHD brains are also bored quite easily. This can show up in our relationships, in which the initial spark that drew us to someone can quickly wane as we grow accustomed to our relationships.

Put another way? When things become predictable, we get bored. Quickly.

Maybe this isn’t news to you, though. Are you someone that jumps in and out of relationships more quickly than others? Do you enjoy the rush of a new friendship, making plans that excite you in the moment, only to watch the relationship fizzle out after a short while?

Do you find it hard to stay connected to other people in your life, maybe even forgetting that they exist for a while, until a text message pops up out of the blue?

Welcome to the club. If this sounds familiar, your ADHD might be sneaking its way into your social life.

So how do we cope with relationship boredom? Here are some of our best tips for keeping things fresh.

1. Embrace the ebbs and flows together.

No relationship is going to dazzle you 100% of the time (wouldn’t that be nice!). Remember that it’s okay if a relationship has started to feel predictable, and that doesn’t mean there’s actually something wrong with it.

The temptation to bury yourself in another hobby, relationship, or app on your phone can be strong. But if you’re stuck in a rut with a partner or friend, openly communicating is your best shot at keeping a good thing going.

You might try some of these conversation starters:

  • “I’ve noticed lately that when we spend time together, we do a lot of the same things. Would you be open to shaking up our routine?”

  • “I’ve been feeling kind of lukewarm towards [activity], can we try something different?”

  • “I’ve been feeling a need for more excitement in my life lately. Would you want to explore some new hobbies with me?”

2. Put in the effort to keep things fresh.

Whether it’s a change of scenery with a friends-only roadtrip, or introducing some new moves in the bedroom with your partner, making an effort to keep things exciting is important.

Too often, we withdraw from our relationships and blame the other person for how we’re feeling. But relationships are a two-way street! And we get out of them what we’re willing to invest into them.

Try asking yourself:

  • Is there something new or exciting I’ve wanted to try that I’d be open to sharing with my loved one?

  • When I’ve needed a change of pace in the past, what places or activities helped me feel like myself again? Can I share that with my loved one?

3. Share your hobbies and special interests.

What makes you excited? What are your hobbies or special interests, and have you considered sharing them with someone?

A lot of people might cringe at the idea of inviting someone into their inner world in such a vulnerable way. But no matter how weird or quirky you fear you might be, opening up about your special interests and hobbies can actually be a great way to increase intimacy and deepen your connection.

Whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, competitive cat shows, playing banjo, or synchronized swimming, you might be pleasantly surprised by how others respond to your interests. Even better, it opens up a space where your loved one can share what’s exciting for them, too.

You might start the conversation with one of these:

  • “I have a hobby that really excites me that I’d love to share with you. Would you be open to that?”

  • “I’ve been really into [topic] lately. I’d love to tell you more about it if you’re down to listen.”

Relationships require effort — and even a little effort goes a long way.

The best way to sustain a relationship is to keep at it, even and especially when you’re stuck in a rut.

Of course, boredom can also signal to us that a relationship has run its course. But before throwing in the towel, it’s worthwhile to examine how you feel when you’re spending time together. Ask yourself: Am I understimulated and seeking excitement in my life, or am I drained by this specific person?

Relationship boredom doesn’t have to be a relationship-ender. Keep an open mind and keep showing up!

Sam Dylan Finch is the Content & Community Lead at Inflow. You can find him on social media @SamDylanFinch.

Looking for support? Inflow, an ADHD management app, is here to help. Learn more about how Inflow can help you thrive with ADHD by downloading our app on the App Store or on Google Play!