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Sex with Dr. Jess


October 25, 2019

How Does ADHD Affect Sex & Relationships?

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How does ADHD affect sex, communication and intimate relationships? How do you break break the “parent-child” dynamic in relationships so you can focus on being partners and lovers? Psychologist and sex therapist, Dr. Ari Tuckman joins us to share insights from his research and latest book, ADHD After Dark: Better Sex Life, Better Relationship. His practical advice applies to all relationships, regardless of whether or not you have ADHD, so be sure to tune in!

To find out more information about Dr. Tuckman’s books, podcast, past presentations (and more), check out Dr. Tuckman also recommends checking out CHADD. For Canadian listeners, check out The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada and The Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance.

This podcast is brought to you by Desire Resorts.

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Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

How Does ADHD Affect Sex & Relationships?

00:00:10 – 00:32:46

Relationship Advice you can use tonight you’re listening to the sacs with Dr Jasser podcast sacks and of course I’m always curious and if something makes me curious I’ve kind of made a commitment to myself that I’ll ask you about it or if something makes me chips today should be very interesting yes now before we get to that I wanNA talk about a topic we were talking about this morning on global. TV’s the mornings Thomas to everybody and while I’m using your laptop all of your messages are popping up all of your calendar invites are popping up I think even your email was popping up partners probably going to be more focused on the anger they’re feeling over them having checked their phone so much so that they might be unwilling to even listen at all because uncomfortable I’d rather come and tell you hey I’m feeling motivated to snoop and I don’t want to do that so let me address what I’m feeling or what’s concerning me so show so for folks who are not Canadian that’s one of our national morning shows and of you wrote in with a query it says I checked my girlfriend’s DM’s how would you feel about snooping behind my back and reading my messages on the flip side I think there is some privacy I probably am going back on what I’ve said in the to address their own behavior so I guess we should start with we know it’s not a good idea to check our partners DM’s agree you know I was working on your computer yesterday and that’s the way I’ve gone about things like if you want a you can use my computer you have access to my e mail you have access to all my messages because I don’t us but I also think that there is a degree of privacy that I should be afforded where you don’t need to look my messages but the truth is I don’t really care when she left her phone unlocked and I can see she’s chatting with her ex in a flirty way should I bring it up that’s a that’s a as they might feel their trust and their privacy has been violated they get so caught up in the other person’s misstep that I think they might refuse to even begin yes because my laptop as we know I really need a new laptop I’ve needed a new laptop for a very long time it’s been at least a year I think it’s been close to two to three years and I refused interesting question do you check my dams I don’t check your DM’s I don’t really feel like I need to you you tell me all about anyway what are you hoping I guess the question is what are you hoping to achieve or accomplish by looking at my DM’s is it. I would I would imagine you WanNa feel better because you didn’t find anything but then the picture I’m like no I don’t check most of my dm so there you go well it’s interesting because this person is in this position where if they bring it up a really great mood you’re GonNa get win yeah good mood why do you sound surprised I don’t know we’re GONNA be talking about Adhd and its effects on sex and religion Oh get a new one because I’m not happy with the new Max and their lack of ports it’s hasn’t been a year or two your computers like six years old uh-huh uh-huh in the last have no no no D. Anyhow I was using Brandon’s computer because I had a huge document that wouldn’t load on mine and yes I will go get a new laptop in the next month make ear to you’ve wanted to change it out does not look healthy like it looks upset I don’t need to see the letters on my keyboard in order to type they’re all worn out got privacy because people absolutely have a right to privacy and this morning we were talking about the line or the distinction between privacy and secrecy so privacy being this is my space my personal message box please respect it and secrecy being I’m going to do things in here that if you found out about avenue thing to hide and if you did need to ask me something I’d be happy to have discussion about it well I guess that transparency is also why I would never read your messages and so I love that that Y’all should know that there is no one right way I don’t claim to have all the answers and we’re talking about not going into one another’s dams but this person has already done it that’s fine it’s done done and so now you have to decide you know do you want to come clean and let them know that in a moment of insecurity or in a moment of key would affect our relationship or you know am I doing something in my Dm’s that violates the terms of our relationship and you know I always want to remind people and I say this acidy or in a moment of poor judgment and intrigue you check their phone and now you’re feeling even worse because you feel guilty but also oh you feel uncomfortable with what you saw and really be vulnerable and honest honest and be prepared to acknowledge your own wrongdoing because I think this might be disarming to your partner with you can say listen I screwed up I shouldn’t have done this I apologize let’s address this first and then I also WanNa talk about what I saw because hi I’m uncomfortable with this I’m not trying to control your behavior I’m just telling you how I feel and so I I would love to have the openness or the questions about this relationship with their aks you know are you in touch with them what’s going on and I think this can still be an important conversation about your feelings but it’s going to be limited since you won’t actually being acknowledging your own missteps I don’t know what the best case scenario is is that you snooping somebody’s inbox and you don’t find anything so yeah base in relationship to come clean and say this is what happened but I also know that doesn’t exist for everyone so the the other alternative is that you don’t come clean but you still ask I feel good but then you’ve violated somebody else’s privacy so now you’re actually holding a secret in on the alternative is you do find something and you have that you ask that question I’m feeling uncomfortable or how do you feel how would you feel if I looked in your inbox how about starting there yeah to address it with your partner how do you then bring that up in a conversation so going back to your point I think it all starts a conversation right think I really think that the moment you admit you’ve done something wrong the moment you kind of utter those may culpa words however you decide to articulate being honest with me also the power of vulnerability when somebody comes to you and says I’m uncomfortable this is how I feel for me if you were to come and approach me tell me that terms of it’s not that you’re dirty or anything like that but to be honest to be up front and say Okay I did this I regret doing this also we need to talk about something because maybe you haven’t been WanNa get a different response moving on to the heart of today’s topic Adhd and its effects on your sex life ate them I think it changes the relationship in a positive way even if you’re talking about something negative so I hope you feel like you have the space to I mean it may become clean isn’t a great word in ah I would immediately want to assure you that everything’s okay so whereas if you came at me and said why are you still in touch with your ex you said you weren’t and you come at me accusatory and your relationship today we are joined by psychologist and sex therapist Dr Ari Tuchman who has written several books and the leader now what led you into Adhd resurgents specifically research around how it affects intimate relationships so I’ve been list is adhd after dark better sex life better relationship thanks for being here with US I’m super psyched to be here working with clients with ADHD and writing books and speaking all over the place pretty much anyone who would listen for like twenty years now but really the last five or six years I’ve gotten more and more interested in the relationship impacts of ADHD in specifically the sexual impacts and how that all fits together you’re diagnosed it was really true twenty years ago when I first started it’s gotten better but we’re not great yet but this part of sexuality has been like really service in the field of ignoring this kind of powerful point of intervention to help couples with one eighty partner just like be happier and more satis- There’s also folks who don’t have that hyperactive part often girls or less hyperactive but also adults are always going to be less hyperactive than kids her in that you know adults with Adhd you’re still at this time of twenty nineteen something of an underrepresented you know under-treated population on ignored and it’s such an important part of relationships and relationships is such an important part of our overall life satisfaction that I kind of felt like we’re doing this you know when most people think about age they think of like stereotypically hyperactive boy and that is some people with Adhd but fight in their relationship in life overall and what is adhd what does it look like in adults yeah it’s a good question so folks who struggle with things like time management getting things done and they’re disorganized they tend to run late they lose but we’ll have more of this sort of inattentive symptoms which is sometimes called add attention deficit disorder technically it’s eight she inattentive type but you know these are I have to do it like why do I always have to be the one to do it and then that kind of chase dynamic ensues which is pretty much a bad time for Dr Tuchman you mentioned all of those symptoms like being disorganized time management but I mean we all go through those at some point so is it something that’s prolonged over the one and all like nobody is enjoying that sort of dynamic so understanding ADHD understanding that’s what it is getting some you’re just normal you know imperfections of all of us but more so so you know like we all have trouble getting somewhere on time things they misplaced stuff they forget things big procrastinators so like they know what to do but they don’t consistently do what they know which so your latest book you talk about Adhd adults and intimate relationships and I’m thinking about all of these symptoms and applying them to an intimate setting for folks at ADHD it’s the same old stuff is anyone but just much more so across the life span and across multiple settings so and you know to a point where I don’t know like they’re getting written up at work for it you know that’s a whole `nother level you know it’s one thing to be a little bit in that becomes a problem in your life that that’ll affect potentially your promotions at work in your lifetime earnings and things like that so at this job that also at that job at school but also with friends you know at home etcetera so it really kind of like it’s always there with them being mindful right yeah it’s a good question so to some extent they do in a bit more so for women than for men and women can you know effective treatment couples working you know the partners working together on it things got a whole lot better and they get themselves out of that really unhappy chased by Amex wing to your friends but if you’re getting written up at work or at least you’re getting the evil eye from your boss when yet again you’re showing up ten minutes or twenty minutes late that’s bills into your sex life if you know by the time you finally get around to getting into bed together zooming you’re mostly having sex at night or sex life which ones of these are the biggest for you and you know the biggest barriers had to do with either not enough time or energy I sex or too many bad feelings and you know if you think about people who get distracted they get off task they’ve trouble getting things done they procrastinate with Adhd in addition to not getting to the sex does it affect the physical act of sex for example they have more difficulty staying in the moment attention if you’re looking to your partner for some sense of consistency that you know you’re GonNa Kinda do what you said you were going to do and if you’re not doing it God damnit Joel Stimuli or thoughts so that can be a good thing in a relationship you know long term relationships it’s hard to keep that spark alive somebody you can certainly see how that would impact a student at school you can see how that would impact and adults in the workplace but you very much also see how that would impact a relation so so what do you disorganized or they’re showing up late for sex but what does it look like in the in the realm of sex and relationships and that’s the thing is that you know when I looked at a basis on some survey research I did I asked respondents you’re twenty five potential barriers about so sex becomes like that ultimate place where all spills out you know all that sort of inefficiency negative feelings that come from it and then the couples did but it totally makes sense after the fact when you know it is when I looked at the survey questions that I asked I asked you know seventy five questions by the time you add not getting together in that way which means that they’re robbed of the benefits of that good sexual connection and so when I think about mm-hmm you know sometimes once in a while you might be late two things but by contrast someone with Adhd has always struggled with being laid first of you no longer than three six twelve months right and that’s an excellent question because you know you’re absolutely right in some ways the symptoms of Adhd uh so that’s some obvious things like what is your desired sexual frequency how often you’ll look at porn how do you feel about your porn use your partners porn us how the folks that ADHD keeping gender you know taking gender into account rating themselves higher on ten out of twelve of those and they you know one of the partners already asleep and or there’s this kind of imbalance workload particularly if it’s the guy with Adhd and the women’s taking up the slack diagnosis like Adhd so I hope that I hope you keep doing that research I hope it gets more widely circulated and published in and that folks are delving a little bit deeper now back she’s too angry at him to have sex it’s like the clean up all the kitchen and add to get the kids into bed and now you want me to have sex with you you know so in in general more so than men in general but but you know what was really interesting to me is and this was not a thing I could predict I don the other two so man with ADHD compared to men without women with age compared to women without so folks with Adhd she get more pulled by other distractions in the world around him other distractions from within their own head they’re also more pulled by section mm-hmm you’re real positive in the relationship if those are good experiences together on the other hand if their partners fed up or frustrated or not interest those behavioral elements have to really po specific challenges to the relationship so what do you find in the relationship dynamic besides would you say you are how interested would you being consensual non monogamy history of of infidelity etcetera etcetera so when they took all those twelve questions asides from a lack of consistency or being laid or not following through what else do you see a rise in relationships when one partner has adhd it sounds as though you’re talking about sex being one thing and perhaps there’s this positive element of higher being higher on a sexual eagerness scale but the relational welcome to the sex with Dr Podcast. I’m your co host Brandon wear here with my lovely partner Dr Jess Hey hey how’s it going end because we aren’t always in touch with why we’re behaving the way we are maybe we don’t understand why our partner is inconsistent or doesn’t follow through that’s a really interesting finding around sexual eagerness and when we look at sexual behavior profiles I don’t think we tend to look at it along the lines of he’s gotta be the one to do it at least one person has to be and you know if that person with ADHD brings more bring sexuality a bit more to the forefront interesting although there are just as many women with Adhd but like the stereotypical dynamic is the guy tends to drop the ball he doesn’t follow through as much as he would like to unlike the twenty-five potential barriers all the sub questions I pulled out twelve questions pretty much spoke to what I call sexual eager more in touch with their sex drive basically is one of the ways of sort of thinking about it or another wave everything about is that they get just as folks that aid the you know for talking about straight couples and the girlfriend or the wife picks up more of the slack she tends to be more organized more on top of things more anxious about Ed then that desire discrepancy can then really be a struggle and a challenge for them to navigate ’cause becomes yet another discontent between them Karen filling out all the kids you know school forums and homework okay I guess I’ll be the one to run to the supermarket because we don’t have any eggs in the fridge for tomorrow and then she has it but it’s how does it how does that behavior impact their partner and then how does our partners response circle back around impact the partner with Adhd and around things getting done so in an effort to quell her anxiety she kinda jumped to says like okay I guess I’ll take care of sending out the bills now okay I guess I’ll tell you he’s not being passive aggressive he’s not a selfish bastard he’s just bad at remembering to do things bad at staying on task so things aren’t getting done right anything to first of all you’re asking the question in the right way right because it’s not just what does eighty eight how does adhd impact the person who round we go in any relationship so so you know this kind of stereotypical couple is it’s the guy with eighty yes done and then your jacket for the grandkids it works out so I’m totally understand and empathize with and yet then the guy feels like he can never get it right he’s always getting it from his wife She’s never happy which he gets more and more kind of burned out and resentful than she becomes more kind of controlling and more kind of micro managing a bit more critical which is the way that they do and if somebody has adhd then they probably won’t but even if they don’t like no two people are exactly the same anyway but they also eat have sex with them and if you had someone on your back all day all week you don’t WanNa have sex with that person either so as one of my survey respondents Roy not that they can’t do something for me because it’s important to me but that other over functioning or overperforming partner that list tends to be very those with ADHD because this parent child relationship is one that we hear often from from couples across the globe and I like that you’re talking about chefs from both sides so stepping up but also the other partner stepping back because oftentimes I see dissatisfaction relationships drawn from the fact that you set unilab came we both strive to make ourselves and each other happy in many ways and if you have that kind of a a mood in the relationship hooded she said that parent-child dynamic is a total sex killer and she’s absolutely right so how do you break dynamic a real standards of expectation and then you’re mad when other people don’t meet them right so I might want the fridge to sparkle but that might not be a priority to my part owner and then I expect them to meet my expectations when you know if I really want the fridge to sparkle sparkle it myself or hire someone to sparkle it very long I’ve expectations you know I think you’re absolutely right that it becomes a situation where the one partner expects the other two sometimes use I just sorta stolen this idea from Emily Nagorski but I sometimes use this this line that satisfaction is a function of expectation with you you know like that is never going to go over well you know regardless of who your partner is so you know really is a matter of kind of shifting have sex with our kids you know like biologically we’re wired to not most of us to not find children’s actually appealing so if you’ve got a parent someone you don’t want we’re really becomes a problem is when there’s this like morality that gets brought in like you should want it the way that I wanted and if you don’t that means there’s something wrong running but you know what maybe sometimes it won’t be like I just need to take a couple of deep rats and not get all worked up about it so it’s kind of finding that yeah so the way they do it I mean it’s sort of it’s a little bit of both in the sense of understanding ADHD managing it well getting it and I’m curious about conflict as well so with Adhd how does this affect the way you respond to conflict people but also when it’s not a happy moment of friends hanging out but when it’s instead you know couples recognize these things are more important those things are less so you know like I would like for the kitchen to be all cleaned up tonight before so we don’t have to deal with it in the more and working on the expense report let’s say they can also be more impulsive in terms of their emotional reaction that they kind of like where their emotions a little bit more on their sleeve sometimes uh-huh than sex becomes that much easier nights you’re late laying the groundwork in this sounds to me as though it would apply to couples even in which one person isn’t it you know equally functioning pure adults so to speak but also for the non ADHD partner to kind of step back and to pick their battles bed so folks that ADHD just as they can be more impulsive about doing kind of random things like I dunno swiping over to facebook rather than and on the one hand that can make them much more fun to hang out with like a bunch of friends with Adhd who are great fun awesome sends versus experience and you know we can strive to change the experience of how clean is the fridge going to be you know let’s make it cleaner if that’s fighting with each other they can be even more emotional which then drive more emotionality from their partner and especially if this is one of those kind of arguments that we’ve been without emotional response which you know helps both partners then be a bit more Kinda cool headed about how to respond to it they can empathize a bit more he kitchen but not necessarily GonNa pin my happiness on how clean fridges if I don’t WanNa make that a big battle maybe I do but on medication if that’s warranted getting the medication adjusted so it does the best it can do helps the part with eight she step up so they become more of a or each other a bit better and then actually follow through with what they decided on and aside from medication are there specific behavioral tools you teach to client elation and it becomes that much more kinda heated less productive so you know so again finding those ways work well together and preferably the thing that’s bothering me where we can change our expectation you know like I’m not GonNa expect you to feel the same way about the fridge might still want to ask you might feel like I could ask you that calling it is kind of a parent child namic where the ninety s you partners the parent the ADHD partners yet another child and the thing is we don’t want round and round on that you know like here we go again fighting about you know the bedroom is a mess then they both sort of jump ahead in terms of their emotional stuff in the bud before cons Kinda big heated thing but you know medication for eight see potentially also slows down a bit danced to for instance slow that impulsivity do so you know there’s the tools and strategies that work best you know keeping in terms of getting things done it has to do with you know setting reminders using a schedule really making an effort to put everything into the schedule and to check balance and it becomes a thing of going from being this chase dynamic where one is chasing the other two being more of let’s work on this together we’re back on the same team start so you know if you know you tend to get stuck on a certain website for too long don’t go there in the first place and don’t lie to yourself that like think about this situations that they put themselves into before they get their you know because it’s sort of like I don’t know if you’re like that old AA thing our first adhd are often just good strategies for anybody it’s just some people need them more than others so you know a lot of the work I do with folks that Adhd has to do with if you don’t want to drink you shouldn’t go to the bar if you’re in the bar it’s much more likely you’re going to drink so you know resisting the poll of those places before you even all just I’m just gonNA check real quick just two minutes and then I’m Outta here if you know that like okay that that works out sometimes but too often it doesn’t the there is a bit of that in there as well and is it more difficult to develop these these coping strategies or tools when you’re diagnosed as an adult get to write notes for the things they need to write notes for it or not just wing it off the top of their head quite so much and to really sort of there’s something to that there’s also potentially more bad feeling more defensiveness kind of a longer history of failures or at least like let’s be honest don’t go there in the first place so some of it is that kind of more psychology which is not to say that it’s just about mindset when it comes to overcoming Adhd just things not working out as one would hope so it’s easier I think to get kind of I dunno triggered or reactive to certain things right does your child because you’re you have to relearn or do away with those bad habits that have pre existed for years yeah yeah I mean I think I need rather than being kind of proactive ahead of time so but you know it’s also this sort of iron ADHD is that as much as it’s kind of easy and obvious zsa uses it’s kind of like meeting your glasses to find your glasses say that it’s it’s obvious advice and they’ve gone and lots of times but if it was St do you see this adults in relationships you mentioned that as many women have adhd as man that diagnosed at the same rate or estimated at the you might good question and it is estimated at the same rate it is not diagnosed at the same rate that we’re still seeing more boys and girls simple as that would have been done with it why would you choose to make your life harder if you could make it easier now you’ve mentioned a few gender differences when it comes to eight let’s just say you should really write stuff down and set reminders especially if you tend to be forgetful they’re also forgetful about stopping actually writing stuff down which is sort of like the if you’re a woman with Adhd who shows up and therapists Kaya trysts you know family doctors office and complaining about not being able to stay on everything not getting stepped on being kind of scattered and disorganized you’re much more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression which could indeed be valid you know ’cause being the focus of treatment but they don’t look beyond it to see what wait a second you’ve always been scattered and disorganized even when your mood is great you still have trouble awesome more men than women being diagnosed but personally that’s because kind of like I’ve got this line and you can’t find what you’re not looking for and stuffed on maybe there’s something else going on here so you know it’s getting better with time but there’s still a lot of women who are being diagnosed the card or whatever is that a common dual diagnosis ADHD and anxiety about it yeah mm disorganized and scattered not getting things done a pretty good reason to feel anxious or depressed so you know they see the anxiety and depression and they stop there and maybe that in orgasm rates for folks with ADHD yeah so I don’t have specific data on that but you know more so for with other things other mostly anxiety and depression maybe bipolar disorder rather than Adhd when that’s really the sort of carpet or the I don’t know horses and then then for men and more so the women with Adhd the most that sort of trouble shifting gears to get into that sexual mood was much more impact on relationships and expectations and also on on sex and being able to even get in the mood or be in the mood or a have an orgasm I’d be very interested we base lack of awareness that you know sorta simply put they think they’re doing better than they are because they don’t remember how often they’re not doing well so like how later yeah no I’m worrying about you know getting yelled at by my boss tomorrow because I didn’t hand in that expense report but just like stuff like oh these sheets are Kinda scratchy or what’s that voice or like a wait did we buy canned peaches yesterday right distracted by color so many times you know you’re not doing the right thing why are you doing that what’s wrong with you so you understand why they’re defensive some of it is also I think is more neurological addressing ADHD equals more sex and I got the data to prove it that’s a true statement I mean I think what Tom and and for some of them just that ability to sort of focus on the pleasure of the moment to not be distracted and not I think the ability to be reflective to be introspective and have that conversation with your partner or with yourself where it’s like okay how am I feeling I would certainly have things to say about her and I’m sure it’s the same for you guys right so like our partners have some investment in it and they