So what’s your cycle?

IMPORTANT: This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidenced-based education for the purposes of self-help, or to compliment the therapeutic process. ​ ​This blog is non-monetized.

This just might be a better question to ask when starting a new relationship.  Because it’s the very thing that can get in the way of our relationships when things start to go sideways.  And isn’t it inevitable that things do go sideways?
After the honeymoon phase wears off, there’s a pattern that starts to emerge within the couple.  At the first sign of conflict, things start to feel different.  We don’t see our partner with the same rose-coloured glasses anymore. We start to see their behaviour differently and, most importantly, we start to feel differently about that behaviour.  When we feel differently, we then respond to it differently.

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Consider that it’s the cycle that is now becoming the ‘couple’ in the relationship.  Simply put, when I do what I do, I make you feel a certain way. When you feel a certain way, it makes you do what you do.  When you do what you do, it makes me feel a certain way. When I feel a certain way, it makes me do more of what I do.  In psychological jargon, one person typically pursues their partner, and the other person typically withdraws from their partner.  And on and on it goes…

This is what is often called ‘the dance’, the pattern, or the negative cycle.

This is when the relationship starts being messy and confusing. 

What’s happening here?

​You may have thought your picture-perfect relationship was going to last forever.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the onset of this cycle is inevitable.  With our ingrained attachment histories and patterns, and our daily stressors (especially any unforeseen relationship challenges), how could we not have a cycle?  To make things more complicated, then add to the pile the possibility that one or both partners has ADHD.  Look out!!

Why does this matter?

Because when all these factors are woven into the relationship, including ADHD, the cycle can be more powerful, tricky, and volatile.  Often, when I work with couples, they are vaguely aware of the pattern but are not aware of how ADHD can really change the dynamic.  It can be the invisible factor that has gone unnoticed that makes us think that our partner doesn’t care, or that they are a narcissist.  Often, it is neither!

In ADHD couples work, we get to be interested in discovering and de-escalating this cycle and learning how ADHD has been a thorny factor all along.  Once the cycle slows down, it can be gradually turned in the opposite direction.  You’ll use better communication to work through issues and to better connect with each other.  This is the positive cycle!

If you are in or think you’re in an ADHD couple dynamic, reach out to book a consultation with John and to learn more about how ADHD Couples Therapy can help you and your partner.

More resources for romantic relationships

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John Foulkes

John is a Psychotherapist & Coach at Dig A Little Deeper, Psychotherapy & Counselling in Caledon, ON.

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