Lowering my own standards to accomodate an ADD-man?

I just found this great site and it seems so helpfull that I decided to share my own experience, to vent, to get a second opinion and yes, maybe some sympathy too. 

Compromising between for example the zoo or the beach is a realistic task.  But is there any compromising between decent and disgusting table manners?

My SO is an ADD man, and I am the non-ADD woman.
In short:  We are both nearing the age of sixty, we both are not working anymore. We both have a university degree. I am European, and English is not my first language. Also he has more of a working class background, while mine is educated middle class.
We got into contact over the internet, and spent several month with an intensive and extensive e-mail and telephone contact, before we met. During this time, he seemed a dream come true, because we seemed to have so much in common, to share so many values and attitudes.
When we actually met, everything changed. 
We are together right now, but if we are not getting married, we have a lot of trouble to be able to be together all the time in one of our two countries. So he wants us to get married, but I have become such a wreck from being the target of his inacceptable behaviours, that I feel I should run. We can stay together for another 5 month, then decision time comes. 

He has no official diagnosis of ADD, he has been misdiagnosed and given anti-psychotic medication for a while, but luckily he is off that by now. One doctor told him, that he has ADD, on a computer test he also was ADD, and he has so many of the typical symptoms, that I have no doubt about it. He denies it, my mentioning ADD causes anger, and he interpretes all my reactions to his behaviours as an indication that there were something wrong with me, not with him. He demands me to change my attitude and to lighten up.

When we met personally, I started to experience on a daily basis unpleasant emotions until I was burned out. That feeling of being burned out has already been discribed in other postings much better than I can do it.
I have gone through it all, pain, frustration, repulsion, humiliation, stress, embarrassment, until by now I have lost all my calm, composure and countenance and I am loosing my temper at every unpleasant incident. 

Apparently, we have different standards of what we consider as appropriate and normal in things, that we never talked of while on the phone.

I need some feedback: Can he really demand or expect me to compromise with his behaviour, which is so far off from what I consider civilized, or do I better acknowledge, that the differences are too big, and there is no future?

In the first weeks of being together, I found out:
He did not change his underwear or T-shirt for days but slept in the same he wore during the day.
He sometimes did not take a shower for days.
He did not use sheets on the bed.
He did not lift the toilet seat while doing his business standing. The seat had gone ugly and needed to be replaced.
He wiped his nose on the sleeve of his robe.
He shoved food upon his fork with the finger on his plate and then moved the unwiped hand down upon his lap.
He used his paper napkin to wipe his placemat and afterwards used the same with his mouth.
He shoved crumbs (and other debris) from the table into his hand and then put it upon his plate, before he had finished eating from it.
He did not wash any fruit or vegetables before cooking or eating.
I use the past tense, but sometimes he still relapses into doing some of those things.

I was shocked, it had been beyond my imagination, that an educated person could have such manners. I told him bluntly, that such behaviour disturbed me. Reluctantly, he tried to improve. But I could not convince him, that he needed higher standards of manners for his own sake, and that he was responsible for this. Instead, he attempted to change his manners just to please me, or even just to avoid my reactions. Such an extrinsic motivation was of course not strong enough for any progress without collateral damage. Instead the spiral of deterioration began.
When for example he wiped his nose on his sleeve the first time, I told him calmly, that I considered this as inappropriate behaviour and I wanted to convince him of this. But on every new occasion, I got more drastic, and after a few repetitions, I was cringing with disgust, and yes, at some times, I called him a pig, because that is my true opinion of such manners. I got frustrated, that no matter, how drastic I was, it did not motivate him to stop. He got angry and aggressive, because I nagged him for what he considered trivialities.
Who has to yield, do I have to allow him the ADD's license, am I obliged to sit at the table and feel repulsed or is it his obligation to spare me the disgust of his manners, or do we better stop sitting at the same table? Personally, I think that sparing the other the feeling of disgust is part of caring.

I am fully aware that pointing out to someone his bad manners is a way of making him feel bad, and my role in a relationhip is also to spare this to him and to make him feel good. But how can someone change his manners, when he has no glimpse of how his behaviour sometimes is embarrassing and disgusting, to me and in public?

This is just the beginning, there has happened so much more, of which I would like so much to know, how much of my consternation and outrage about it is justified. But this post has already gotten very long, so I might continue later.


arwen's picture

can't teach old dog new tricks?

Crossroads, I don't know if you are familiar with the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks".   I don't know that I agree with it entirely.  My husband was middle-aged before he was diagnosed with ADD, and we've spent 15 years working on him learning "new tricks".  Most of his bad habits have significantly improved.  Some of them haven't.  Fortunately for me, my husband had few really revolting habits.  He accepts intellectually that they are not OK, but still drifts into them once in a while when he is preoccupied, and I have to "rub his nose" in it to break the drift.  But I never had to tackle his entire philosophy of manners.  And although my spouse denied he had any kind of problems before he was diagnosed, once he heard it from a doctor, he accepted it and has worked ever since to deal with it (although at some times less earnestly than at others!)

Your SO is already much older than my husband was when we began this process, and the longer bad habitis entrenched, the harder and longer it generally takes to change.  Considering that he won't accept that he has a problem, I'd have to say that effecting any changes in your SO at this late point in his life is probably a lost cause.  My "take" is that the process of trying to cope would probably last the rest of your life, and after having been through it for 15 years myself, I can assure you that it is a hard, lonely, exhausting and painful process.

Your feelings are completely justified.  In your shoes, I'd walk out the door and not look back.  Good luck!

sad reality

Arwen, thanks for your sympathetic reply.  It is hard to face reality, when ending a painful relationship means maybe spending the rest of my life alone. 

I appreciate you telling me, that my feelings are justified.  I have been punished so often with outbursts of anger for critizicing revolting behaviour in selfdefense against feeling disgust, when he considered my complaint as diddly-sh*t.  There were moments, when I started to doubt my own sense for what is appropriate.
Maybe I were the one out of touch with normalty?  Maybe it is ok not to wash the hands after the toilet for a majority of people, who are his frame of reference.  If people get told often enough, that 1+1 is 3, most of them will start to doubt sooner or later, that it is really 2. 

This forum is a great place, thanks. 



arwen's picture

don't sell yourself short

Crossroads, my husband and I were separated for almost a year, a few years back.  If he hadn't succeeded in his serious efforts to address his ADD problems and the impacts it had on me and our marriage, there is no question that I would be alone right now.  It is a hard trade-off, insane aggravation versus terrible loneliness.  But being lonely isn't always the worst fate.

One of the things I realized during the separation was that I'd been "selling myself short".  Both my parents and my husbands' parents live in adult over-55 communities, and there were plenty of women older than I am, with less to offer a spouse than I have, who were finding compatible partners and getting re-married.  So, don't be so concerned about your future if you leave this relationship.  To use a metaphor appropriate for this time of year, even the best baseball players rarely hit a home run the first time at bat!


thanks for the encouragement

I am not sure, if I am really selling myself short.  I have given him a written ultimatum, several pages of text.  If he does not acknowledge ADD, if he continues to hurt and disgust me without taking responsibility to spare me, and a lot more, then I will not marry him, period.  Residency laws of two countries will force us apart next spring without me even having to actively end the relationship.

venting and ranting - a painfull experience

I need some more feedback about a few of the most hurting incidences.

1.  We first met in a friend's home.  She has a little guest house in some third country.  I had been staying with her several times in her private apartment, and she had been staying with me.  She seemed to be a real friend and we had exchanged a lot of personal talk.  We together came up with the idea, that if ever I would find someone, we should meet at her house. 
When we planned that meeting, I of course offered her a compensation for any loss from not having another guest, should her place be full.  But I took it for granted, that she would treat him as a friend too, and that she would not demand money but would trust me, until I by my own obligation, would offer it at the time of leaving. 
But all went differently.  When I got there first, all her decent rooms were taken, and all there was for him was a room, that she did not consider fit for normal renting.  She treated him like a client, charged him for a room, that would have been empty otherwise and on top of this, demanded the money in advance.  
I was shocked, because I felt both ashamed to have brought him there to such a welcome, and I was so disappointed, that I felt she was not a friend anymore.  But the next shock followed immediately: He handed her the money with a satisfied smile.  Consternation for being treated like a client did not even occur to him.  Lateron somewhere out in the streets I broke down.  I grieved that I had just lost a friend.  I took it for granted that he would understand, what bothered my, that he would have empathy for my pain, that he would share my values of the meaning of friendship and would agree that my outrage was justified.  I expected to be soothed and comforted. 
Instead he just told me, how much he felt pleased to have a cheap place in a holiday resort and treated me, as if something was wrong with me.  I had thought to have found someone, who seemed to share my values.  I could not bear it then.  I had lost at the same time the illusion of having a friend and the illusion of having found my soulmate or mindmate.  I was in tears and lost countenance, it was the first time, that I lost my temper and yelled at him.  I felt so horribly alone at that moment.  To this very day, he holds it against me, that I was the first one to yell.  Even after several discussions of this topic, he does not get it, that it is not justified to compare and excuse his frequent outburst of anger and aggression over everyday events with my severe disappointment at that moment.
Lateron I found out, that he has no concept of the difference between friends, acquaintances, business contacts and other social roles. 


We just had a long discussion, sadly as usual with no progress.  

I have experienced several severe emotional blows during our relationship. 
I have told two in other postings: 
And in the comment above this one.

But there were worse incidents and there were several more.  This is just another example: 
When he was staying with me and in this country for the first time, planning to stay for quite a while, we had our usual disagreements over his behaviours.  There were also other problems adapting to a country, where he depended upon me for lack of speaking the language, and he was a bit sick. 
After not even 4 weeks together, one day, when I had been absent all day long for a job, he slyly booked a flight back to his home.   Three days later he admitted it, after me insisting that he should tell me, what was the matter with him. 
For me, this came out of the blue, and I considered it as a big betrayal.  Due to commitment, he owed it to me to discuss such a decision, before acting. 
He explained his reason to leave by the need to find out, if he could still have a life there alone. 
When we met again, it was not so much the longing to be with me, it was his admission, that he felt unable to face a life over there alone.   I felt so humiliated and hurt. 

After every blow, I became more burned-out, devastated and a wreck.  In the beginning, at any of the behaviours as described in the first posting, I calmly gave him feedback, how the behaviour disturbed and disgusted me.   When after the incidents I had lost calm and composure, my reactions to his behaviours got bad.   When he wiped his nose the tenth time on his sleeve or repeated similar behaviours too often, I showed my disgust, used drastic words, yelled at him, when he got angry.   Those scenes were unpleasant for him too. 

To heal and to recover from such a blow, and then to forgive him, I needed two things from him after every incident.
1.  That he comprehended the significance of the event for me, for example, why buying a flight ticket in my absence behind my back is betrayel, and a deep discussion, what values and attitudes considering a relationship have been violated.   He needed the insight, why his behaviour was so hurtfull to me.  
2.  That he took full responsability not only for my pain, but also for all the consequences upon both of us.  

I never got any of this from him.  Therefore I never could forgive him anything.  So the effect of the incidents added up, until I cannot take much more.

Now, at the verge of breaking up, I still cannot get my subjective interpretations of all this events into his mind.  His maintains his excuses and forgives himself, my side is just no valid for him.  
He verbally takes responsability for my pain, but it is not enough.  It means nothing, it is merely words.  He claims, that my outburst of dispair, my loosing my temper, my nagging is as bad as his behaviour, and that it is my job to stop.  
He refuses to achnowledge, that my bad state is a consequence of the blows suffered from him, and that he is responsable himself for it and has therefore no right to blame it on me.   He refuses the insight, that I do not deserve blame for loosing my temper, when he has caused me loosing it, directly or indirectly.  Would he blame himself for every time, that he drives me into outbursts of pain and dispair, I could forgive him the past.  

What amends, what reaction, what kind of responsability do you expect and get from your ADD-partner for past emotional blows?   Am I justified in my expectations, am I expecting too much?

I just thought that maybe liability is a better word.  I consider him morally liable for the emotional damage done to me, and as amends he owes me to blame only and entirely himself for any of my behaviour caused by that damage.   Does that make sense?


Liability and Forgiving

It starts to sink in with him, that I seriously rather break up than marry him, if there is no radical change towards him stopping to cause me suffering.  He now claims his big empathy with my pain.  He claims, that he has suffered a lot himself in all these incidents, therefore from knowing his own pain, he claims to understand mine. He even admits to have been weak and a coward. 
He acknowledges the reality of my pain, but as an isolated event, he does not accept the causes.  In his opinion, I have suffered so much, because something is wrong with me, that I am not balanced, and that it is my job to heal myself, he claims me to over-react to a triviality.  Thus he depreciates and invalidates my pain as if it were my defect.  This is humiliating and disrespectful.
I need more, and I do not get it.  I need some agreement on some basic values, I need him to evaluate his own behaviour as betrayel, a serious violation of trust and commitment, not just as cowardice.   I need his insight, that no betrayel is acceptable in a committed relationship.  Buying a flight ticket behind my back, without consent, is certainly less grave than cheating, and I am very pleased, that at least he is not that kind, but it is still not acceptable.  
He has forgiven himself his cowardice, but he has to earn my forgiving him the betrayel, he cannot demand that from me.   I need him to change his attitude and agree, that a betrayel of any kind is so serious, that any pain is an adequate reaction to it, that feeling pain and outrage at a betrayel is healthy.   Forgiving him in spite of his willfull ignorance about the real issue would not be healthy.  I deserve respect for my feeling being in sync with the experience, and I do not get that respect.


This is my third posting in a row in this thread, with no comments, so I start to wonder, if my complaints here are my personal issues only.  I am fully aware, that some of you are in a much more dire situation than I am.   We are not married, no children, so at least I am not trapped but free to do, whatever will turn out the best thing to do. Also I know that most of you have a stressfull life and not much time. 
Still, these things are going on in my mind, and maybe someone has time for a little comment at some time in the future.  

You Deserve Better!

Dear Crossroads . . . your complaints are valid and were I in your situation, the decision would be clear.  I wouldn't even wait the five months - I'd tell him to find another plane ticket and depart as soon as feasible.  This man seems to have no clue what it means to contribute positively to a relationship and is using you.  Were he making *any* effort to make you happy, then perhaps some serious work and counseling in the next few months would be warranted.  But it seems you have clearly stated your needs and he has ignored you.  Repeatedly.  And he probably would not agree to counseling because he doesn't think there's a problem.

The sooner you separate him from your life, the sooner you can begin to heal.  Godspeed to you.

Sorry for your pain

To me, either your value system needs to change, or you need to leave.  As much as you may not wish to be alone in life, I believe it will be easier and healthier for you to leave than to change.

You have an understandable expectation that your rational explanation of why he needs to change will convince him of the necessity to do so. But you have seen that isn't the case. The thing is, your rational explanation is not the way he works. You may as well be speaking a foreign language and expect him to understand. He just isn't wired that way. And to me his willingness to blame you shows he isn't able to examine his own wiring, at least at this point. And maybe he never will. Why would he? He has lived life well enough so far - and as much as he may love you he is much too far away from taking responsibility.

When I say your value system must change, I mean that you would need to find a way to be at peace with who he is, that all those things that disturb you get thought of differently. Lots of people live with poor table manners, different attitudes to friends, and it is acceptable in their circles. You would need to find a way to be completely at peace with it - where it just doesn't matter anymore. If you simply tolerate it, that won't work. And I can't see how you could do that and stay healthy in your own mind.

To me the gap here is too great. He doesn't see your suffering the same way you do and has shown no indication of understanding your need for him to take responsibility for it. At some point, you need to take responsibility for putting yourself in the position of your continued suffering.

I don't see the point of waiting five months - move away and start healing now.

I agree


I agree with the above posters. It doesn't seem like what you are getting is worth giving up so much of yourself.

I posted a comment about "hygiene issues" which resulted in several comments about my inability to get my ADD husband to brush his teeth. You might want to see if you can find that thread. The consensus was that he wasn't going to change much. I have found this to be true.

The things he's asking you to tolerate are very unpleasant. When I read your first post I thought, "What does she need this for?" Reading your posts about how he doesn't understand "normal" emotions reaffirms that impression even more. Get out and find someone who appreciates the fine, lovable, giving woman you are.

You can definitely do better.

At reading your first post, I felt your pain. My fiance's behaviors used to be much the same. Happily they changed, though for unrelated reasons. At your other posts, though, I found mysellf asking why you would feel the need to stay with someone who is making you so miserable. It is hard enough living with someone with this problem, even when that person is kind, loving, and trying their best to make your relationship last. When that person is, as your so sounds, a typical man (I am sorry if I sound judgemental, but that is the oppinion I get from reading your posts), living with them and expecting to stay together and not be miserable escalates to the status of nearly impossible.

You can do better, and you should not feel badly for ridding yourself of him. It does not sound like add is the only problem here. I would run. Hope this helps.

Thank You All So Much for the Feedback

If I would have been reading my own postings as an outsider, I would probably have given myself the same advice to get away as soon as possible.  This is the reason, while some months ago, I started to tell him, that marriage is out of the question, as long as he makes me suffer, by now, this has become a kind of an ultimatum.  
For me, commitment is binding, and I feel obliged to stick to my word, and I feel obliged to give him a fair chance.  Therefore, he can stay, as long as he is legally in this country.    

I once have been reading the book 'too good to leave - too bad to stay', and this is pretty much what I am torn between right now.   He causes me a big amount of emotional damage, more than I can take, but very little real life damage.   

I am very gratefull for all the validation for my feelings that I got in this forum.  I was in dire need of that.  I am exasperated and hurt to have my complaints called 'ape sh*t' and my outbursts of dispair 'sh*t fits'.  His complete lack of any validation of my feelings has aggravated my pain considerably.  

I am certainly above average in my own innate motivation to scrutinize, probe, analyze every interaction, especially every conflict logically and rationally.  It does not stop me from feeling pain, but it helps, when I comprehend the reasons.
This only works well with two persons participating.  He freely offered his reasons, mainly excuses, but I had no chance to explain my own side.  If he would have listened with interest for 5 or 10 minutes, I could have made my point.   Instead he was defensive, defiant, resistant, and after attempting in vain, after one or even several hours of talking, what I meant to say was still not inside his brain.   
He dominated the communication, the pattern was similar every time.  When I had told a fragment of my thoughts, he interrupted me, convinced that he had got is all, finished my sentence with something off my real thought, then jumped to another subject and I was left with the discontent feeling of an unresolved and unfinished issue in the back of my head.   
When I was giving him feedback about how his behaviour effected me, his most typical route to a new subject was countering with his own reproaches, grudges and blames.  Many of them were exactly those unresolved issues, that I had tried in vain to explain to him already several times.
With time, the pile of such issues grew, and my urge to solve them grew along with it.  With time, my reaction changed too.  
At first, I told him calmly, that it disliked to be interrupted, but that did not change anything.  
Next, I started to get angry, and countered his interruption with my sharp voiced: 'Don't interrupt me!!', maybe several times, until he did stop.  Then I restarted my thought, only to be interrupted again at about the same point.  I restarted several times at the beginning, but never got to the end, and after a while, he was too tired, hungry or found another excuse for postponing further discussion.   
Then I started to loose countenance, and I yelled at him, sometimes under tears, to shut up.  The pattern stayed the same.   Only now I had in his opinion 'sh*t fits'.

Thus I was getting near my breaking point and I needed to do something radical to calm down and regain some of my composure.  
The ultimatum was the starting point, it relieved me from the prospect of endless suffering.  He ends it, or he goes.  
Along with the ultimatum I also declared, that I am not willing to hear or consider any of his complaints, until he is motivated to stop hurting me and interested to find out, how to do so.  
I told him that I am still interested in resolving issues.  But I changed my strategy:  I made it clear, that when he interrupts and changes the subject, I just stop listening, and will stick to initial issue.  
And I am refusing to talk, while he does anything else, only with his full attention.  
Also I have started to avoid getting hurt by avoiding being with him, while he is not in the right mood to discuss issues, and that is most of the day.  I am not going with him anywhere, and I have withdrawn to the computer, reading and other distractions.  
Joining this forum and getting validation for my feelings has helped also a lot.

So I have a bit regained my calm and composure, when interacting with him.

Unfortunately, this has a pardoxical effect.  The main reasons, why I wanted him for a relationship before we met, are still valid, just the hurtfull behaviour makes me want to run away from him, whenever he hurts me.  The less turmoil I feel, the more I wish back the good times we had.   But my pride and dignity cannot accept the injustice of his treatment in the past, and the expectations of the same in the future, if he has no insight and change of attitude make me recoil from the wishes of my heart.

Forgiving, Justice, Liability

I got several replies to the above posts, all with the advice to run from him.   It might be unavoidable, and being told that I deserve better is soothing.
But I wished to compare notes on the topic of liability and justice and what is the minimum requirement to forgive someone without loosing one's own dignity.   
I personally have a huge need for justice.  I cannot forgive any breach of correct behaviour, if he does not acknowledge his liabiltiy.  Only by accepting liability and making amends accordingly, he would give me the justice that I need.   
I am wondering, how easy and under what conditions do you forgive incidents like the one of the slyly bought flight ticket?

A Very Good Article

I just found a very good article, that says it so much better than I could, when I tried: 

Cheap forgiveness is not enough, forgiveness needs to be earned:


A person with ADD might have more difficulties to stick to what is needed to make amends because of distraction.   But to acknowledge the need to earn forgiveness instead of demanding it for free is nothing that is beyond the ability of someone with ADD.


Time to think of yourself


I read all of your posts. The one thing that I think you haven't addressed clearly is if you are focusing on what you need from a partner. Even if he decides to address his possible ADHD it is likely that he might just be insensitive, irresponsible etc. Not a great thing to admit but I just recently broke up with my boyfriend whom I've known for over 20 years. We began living together 2 years ago and things went from bad to worse. It got to the point where he was using acohol and drugs to self medicate and I gave him 6 months to figure out what was really wrong with him. He blamed me increasing for his problems, depended on me fiancially, emotionally, day-to-day. One evening before a huge event that I had to do for work (he offered to help me with the event which was on the following day) he started drinking. We've been down this road before and I decided that I just needed to get some rest and not worry about whether or not he would be able to help the next day. At 3am in the morning he kicked in a door, which he has never done. This was the last straw. I called the police and had him removed. Even after that he thought that he could come back home, that we could work things out. That we just had a disagreement.

This was an eye-opening experience. It was violent. perhaps not aimed at me but nevertheless in my presence. While I was sleeping no less! It made me realize that he might need to deal with his problems on his own that I couldn't help him. I had always said that it wasn't necessary to worry about financials at this point but to figure out what to do to get down to the bottom of his problems. He never did.

I guess my point is that sometimes you can't predict what your partner is going to do and it sounds to me like you are miserable. I was like that for almost 2 years and things got worse not better. It's only now that we are living apart and separate that he is even tackling his problems. He still loves me, he says. But the point being he hasn't shown me that. He would talk alot about how he wanted us to be married but he never showed me how he would make that happen. I see that you are concerned about your word and keeping it. That isn't going to make you happier or emotionally health. He sounds like he is manipulating you and playing on your emotions. Not a healthy way to start a marriage. Also he doesn't sound like he would even go for couples counseling and we did. We couldn't figure it out even there!

It is your decision to make but you need to realize that things might not change very much. Can you accept this life of misery? I would go talk to someone before making your decision but I think that the writing is on the wall. You know in yourself what the answer is. It was extremely hard to let my boyfriend go. He was the love of my life. We grew up together but he was making me ill. Depressed, anxious and frustrated. I let him go because I loved him and I knew this was the only way that he would realize the consequences for his actions and for me to move on to a healthier view of myself.

I know it's a scary thought but I think you know you should leave him. Make a pact with yourself to be happy. At the end of the day it's more about what you need in a partner and if he isn't giving you the basics to be happy do you think he would offer more? I would guess not.

It's hard to admit a relationship isn't working out that way you thought it would but it's better to be happy and single than in a relationship and miserable.

My heart goes out to you as I was in the exact same position a few months ago. He just started the Assessement for ADD and it will be years before he gets things sorted out. I'm not hopeful that we'll ever be together again and I'm mourning my loss right now but I know I did the right thing for ME.

I think you'll make the right decision for yourself and remember you come first.

licking wounds hurts

Tweetiebird:  I feel with you, I know how horrible it is to lick the wounds, when it is over.   I hoped that I would not have to go through it again.  

"The one thing that I think you haven't addressed clearly is if you are focusing on what you need from a partner."
I wanted a mindmate.   I wanted someone as similar to me as possible.   I wanted to end my mental loneliness, that I felt even when being with very nice and friendly people, where there was just tolerance for thinking fundamentally different in some aspects of life.   I wanted someone, with whom there was spontaneous agreement on as many matters of values, attitude, opinion, as possible.  I wanted someone, with whom quite often a look at each other would be enough to ascertain, that we would think the same.   
Before we met, we spent several months corresponding in long emails and talking on the internet telephone for hours every day, some days up to 8 hours.   He seemed to be such a mindmate, it seemed a dream had come true.   We agreed much in areas like politics, religion, interests, hobbies.
In some aspects, I am far from being average, one is that I just loathe men, who practice or wish for uncommitted sex.  A man should either get committed or stay away from women's bodies.   Men with that attitude, men who are not even interested in pornography are as rare as a needle in a haystack.  Also after some bad experience, I wanted someone, who has no children, just as myself.
He was such a rare find, someone of my age, no children, no life history of one-night-stands, I have little hope to find someone so compatible again for a long time.  
In appreciation of all this, I would be willing to do anything to support him to improve his ADD-behaviour, if only he would acknowledge, that he needs to stop hurting me, and that he would cooperate and accept my support and guidance.  His resistence, obstinacy and defiance make it impossible.

He has deep grudges against his parents, whom he blames for a lot of problems during his life, which I would rather attribute to his undiagnosed ADD.  
He has university degree, but he has mixed during all his life mainly with people, who were intellectually inferior to him and/or had some psycho-social dysfunction or disturbance.  This is also the case with the two women, with whom he had lived before me. I am the first woman, who is intellectually his equal and decent  This has obviously made him adapt his frame of reference downward in what are normal, healthy, functional behaviours and manners, so that my frame of referenc is distinct from his.

Also he was active in several 12-step groups.  I do not mean to devalue them or the participants.   But to him they served to raise his ego, his self-esteem.  He went to them like climbing down in a pit, where he then climbed on a pedestal, from where he could be the superior, the guru, the moderator.  With selective perception, after sometimes being appreciated for valuable contributations, he takes it for granted, that nobody disputes him this role and even worse, he obviously feels in the same role with me too.  When he interrupts me, finishes my sentences with wrong assumptions, monologues, then he behaves as if I were also standing underneath his pedestal.
In my view, his pedastal is below the firm ground, where I am standing, and I want him to make the effort to step up to the firm ground, and stand on the same heigth with me on the basis of equality.  He needs to take my hand and let me help him to step up.   
He talks to me downwards from the pedestal, as if I were there, and I call to him from the ground to the pedestal, and we cannot hear each other.  The tragedy is, that my place just is not underneath his pedestal and can never be.

I understand

It's me again.

I know this is difficult for you and only you will know what you need to do. I've know my ex-boyfriend since he was 18. We met young. We were soulmates in more ways than one. We waited to start our romance. The death of friends, several serious relationships along the way only to find our way back to each other. But the one thing I have realised that because of his possible ADD he can't commit to being a real partner to me. He is still 23 when we really fell in love. It took him 10 years to find me again. He proposed marriage the first time I talked with him in 10 years. It was probably how he really felt. I believe him. He told me that I was the love of his life. That he probably won't find another woman like me, who loves him as deeply but I need things in my life. Things he can't give me right now. I can't wait around for him. I love him deeply but I know in a year I'll probably find another person who loves me, who can show me that he loves me and I can love him back without worry that he has an issue.

This ADD thing has made me look at myself and how much I can handle. I thought I could sarcifice me life for love. I was wrong and as much as I feel terrible right now I know it was the right decision for me and for him. That is not to say that we can't find each other again but it would be an uphill battle.

We are our intellectual equals, we are passionate about the same things, we love art, we both are creative but he lacks the ability to see how things are effecting me. How much it hurts that he isn't addressing his problems. I can't change him. He is the only one that can do that and I realized this very late in the game. I am telling you this so that you don't have to spend years going through what I did. His parents are alcoholics and they weren't very supportive at all. I was all alone with the exception of my parents and they acceptance of him but they realized that he was hurting me more than helping me. I realized that I was being abusive to myself. That I couldn't handle his denial and this was the only way that me might even have a chance of a real future. sometimes you have to let go of the ones you love for a better future later. with or without them.

He won't change unless he wants to. Don't kid yourself that he's change because he loves you. I'm sure he does. I know my ex does. I'm probably the love of his life. But he has to prove it.

Sorry if I sound harsh but I wanted to tell you that you deserve better and so do I.

it is good to be understood

thanks for sharing your experience.  You have taken the decision, that you needed.   Painfull as it is, you are moving forward.

Luckily enough, I do not need to actively end the relationship, as the need to avoid illegality does it for me.

"He won't change unless he wants to."  You are absolutely right, and that is the core of the problem.  To want to change, he needs full knowledge and awareness of my side, my point of view.  To acquire that, he would need to listen to me without defense and resistance, which seems beyond the limits of his communication skills.

It is hopeless to continue to exhaust and exert myself in vain against being interrupted and the subject diverted and never getting anything over.   I have to accomodate his ADD-limitations and find a work-around this problem.  
He considers himself an auditory learner, and he has the habit to listen to language mp3s and such before falling asleep.  Therefore I have decided to write down all my thoughts, all that has been on my mind but I never really had a chance to explain, and then record it for him on mp3.   If this does not help, then I guess I have used up my store of ideas.

Also, I made another puzzling observation.   Nearly always, when he interrupts me and finishes my sentence, he is very far off from what I was going to say.   But there are a few exceptions. 
Further up, I told the sad incidence of being disappointed by an acquaintance, whom I mistook for a real friend.  In his mind, he has a grudge, that this was my first sh*it fit.  With a lot of effort, I explained to him, that obviously he and she both had a different definition of true friendship, very different from mine, that this might be a cultural difference, but that in my subjective experience, it was extremely painful but justified. 
At that moment, he appeared to have comprehended my explanations.   In spite of this, at a later time, he reproached me again for my 'sh*t fit', just as if I had not explained anything about it.  But when I started another attempt to repeat my explanations, to my big surprise, he recited my explanations quite correctly.  Only they obviously were meaningless to him, just as if he recited some mathematical formula learned by root. 
There were a few more instances, where he also could cite my explanations and reasons, but it had not the least effect upon his grudge or attack, on which I had rationally commented.

I am puzzled.  Somehow it seems as if his grudges and subjective interpretations of incidents are stored in one part of his brain, and are resistant against any modification, while my explanations are stored in a different part, and are not getting connected or associated at all.
When I have a complaint, and someone supplies information, that convinces me to change my mind about the complaint, then I store the modified result, and I am not repeating the complaint, as it is not valid anymore.  

How about you, have you ever come across similar experiences in dealing with your ADD-partners?   Have you ever heard of something like this?
Is fragmented storing a part of ADD?  Is it maybe a slight indication, that he has also a bit of Asperger's?


Hi again,

Yes, my decision was based on many of the things you are talking about. A few of the things I noticed about him is that not only is ADD symptoms overwhelming to him (and me), it has also lead to his problems with anxiety, depression, auditory sensitivity and ability to process information.

Because there are so many things going on at one time, he finds himself continually frustrated and angry. The everyday things became increasingly difficult to manage, going to work was a problem, planning dinner, trying to figure out our day etc. Everything became a problem because of me or because of my family or my friends. He tended to wash his hands of any responsibility because he couldn't seem to manage anything. I found that my conversations because less and less between the two of us but rather just about the problems he couldn't tackle. Paranoia about what everyone thought of him etc.

This wasn't as prevelant in the beginning but he became more and more agitated, becoming verbally abusive and to be honest, he still is. I get calls from him now where he yells at me blaming me for his problems. We aren't together anymore and he still can't seem to see how he has contributed to his problems.

I have considered Asperger's due to the lack of empathy and emotion in certain situations however, I think there is an underlying problem of depression and anxiety which is confusing the real problem. He is now going to see a neurologist so I'm hoping he may find some relief over the next few months. We went to the neurologist together and he mentioned that his problem could be a combination of ADD, depression, anxiety and some other disorder or it could just be depression and anxiety that mimics ADD. As you can see it's very complex and unless you actually get diagnoised properly you could keep guessing until the cows come home.

At this point, I've realized that rather than me concentrating on him and his possible ADD, depression and anxiety, I need to focus on myself and why I feel I need to help someone who clearly didn't want to help themselves. This is the main thing that I am struggling with right now. I question my ability to see things clearly and the fact that I put up blinders even though all the evidence was there. Why I waited as long as I did for him to step up to be a real partner to me. Don't get me wrong I think there are people out there with ADD that have the ability to see how their behaviour is effecting their loved ones and they work hard to figure out how to overcome their challenges because of ADD. But at the end of the day I have to remember that my ex is and Adult. He is free to make choices and he may not make the choices that will be good for me. There are consequences for the choices you make whether you have ADD or not. That's life.

I could wonder if he has ADD and everything else but I've realized that this focus has prevented me from allowing him to make choices for himself. That I tried to shelter him, because I loved him. Because I wanted him to get better. I can't do that, only he can. At some point I had to let go and let him figure it out for himself. I guess at the end of the day you could question everything about him, why he reacts the why he does, why he does the things he does, how his brain works etc. More than likely, he can't explain these things himself but to say, that is the way he is, who he is, how he does things and that you (or actually me) wants to change him. Doesn't love him for who he is. It's a losing battle that no one will win as I have found.

Is there a chance that we will be together again? possible but very unlikely.

I would encourage to focus on your well being, your mental health as I think you are feeling obsessed by his behaviour. I know how you feel and I know if you are like me will turn to yourself at some point to figure out what you need to do. This is difficult for people like you and me. We want to care for our lovers. We want to know that they are happy. But we think of ourselves last. This in itself is not healthy and won't help the ones we love. In fact, it can do the opposite. Focus on your feelings. I wrote a 3 month online journal that I read everyday to remind me how awful I've allowed him to make me feel. It reminds me everyday why I need to change myself and that I made the right decision.

I'm hoping you'll find some peace within yourself because for me I wasn't happy there either. At least now I can focus on myself and not on someone else who needs me and abuses me at the same time.

Your guys sounds very emotionally and verbally abusive and I'm concerned for you. Take care of yourself and really think about going to see a personal therapist. It think they'll give you some perspective on your situation as well as feeling heard. I'm off to see mine now. :)

Questioning yourself

Reading these comments have so helped me come to grips with my struggle to understand what went wrong with my marriage.  Reading your post, Tweetie, I see the same thoughts I have had and am struggling with.  How could I not see what was wrong with him?  How could I have let it go on for so long (over 25 years)?  We are both very well-educated people who were pillars of our community...until his ADHD took over him completely.  Is he really that ill?  Could I have done anything else?  The signs were there, and still are, yet I still deny them in my mind and remember the sweet, loving, caring man, not that awful, heartless, evil man I knew towards the end.  If I were a third person looking at my marriage, the answers are easy.  He is a bad person.  He is bad for me.  He didn't want to get help.  I can't fix him.  Yet....I remember that sweet person and wish he were here.

I kept a diary of my last year with him.  If I read it now, I see a frightened, scared woman literally screaming for help.  I see a man who had no concern for his wife or her well-being.  In fact, I believe at one time he was planning on poisoning me with a poison that could not be detected.  I found solid evidence this was so and turned it in to the police, yet my mind can still not come to grips with the thought that my loving, up-standing husband would do this.  This is extremely scary to me and I still have trouble with this.  I believe the only thing that saved me was he started focusing on hating another family member instead of me.  He then pulled me in his confidence as he talked about how much he hated her.   His thoughts and logic were irrational and extremely scary.  I could not carry on an intelligent conversation with him...only listen to him rant.

I remember how he was deceiving me to thinking he was being a loving husband while trying to hook up with other women and asking them how he can get rid of me.  Was he really Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde?  How long had he felt this way?  Throughout our rough marriage, I always thought he would get better and that he loved me and I could trust him.  Therefore, I put up with his absences and lack of involvement in our marriage. As many have posted, he got worse the older he got.  I am sure some of it was a midlife crisis on top of his ADHD problems...just everything was more severe because of his extreme ADHD, addiction to porn, compulsive spending, etc.  Now I doubt my ability to judge a person.  This is the hardest.

Thank you all for sharing your innermost thoughts on this forum.  It helps me greatly to understand I am not the only one who has these feelings in trying to understand my former ADHD spouse.  I know time will heal, but it is rough right now.  He still seems part of the family....just missing....

My marriage is past now as well

Hi there!

Mine was never so bad, but the lack of interest and towards the end other woman etc. was very hurtful. It is terrible to finally understand that there is nothing to do, only to let go and try to let go of your anger. Just for your own sake. They will never admitt or understand what they did to you. Other people will always look at them as the nice guys and us as crazy and difficult women, so nothing to do than just to accept it and move on. That is what I am trying to do now. I feel sorry for all these nice women, who desperately try to understand and help their husbands as in my opinion very few of them will ever be successful. Sooner or later they will have to save themselves even if it means breaking up the realtionship and create their own life. I am happy that it happened now after 15 years, even if it was his choise. I would have probably waited 10 years more and been unhappy and bitter, like I was the last 7 years. I had no clue why our marriage was so difficult until reacently, but he never admited that his undiagnosed (well almost) ADHD had anything to do with it, so... no use. Now that he lives alone, he has no problems, does not need any medication nor any other help, so it is not him, it is me who has the problem. Terribly to realise that the man you thought was the love of your life, is not the person you thought he was. I think ADHD men become more difficult when they age and midlife crises is not making it any easier. Hope you will get over it and realise that your life is so much better without him. You can finally live your life like you want to live it without waiting and hoping he will join you. Be strong!


Jeannie and tarjavj, Yes it's

Jeannie and tarjavj,

Yes it's been tough the last little while. Trying to deal with the break up with some conviction and purpose. My therapist is wonderful. He's basically told me that I deserve better than someone who can't help themselves. He compares the idea of self preservation to putting on an oxygen mask on yourself first and then the person next to you. The idea that you need to be taking care of yourself, be selfish in a sense before taking on the problems of others. This is a really big problem for me as I have it in my head thus far that I wasn't as important as anyone else. This didn't help my partner whom I dearly loved. I think in fact it made it worse. The worse he got the more I'd try to help.

Everyday is a battle to try to keep a positive outlook. To not look back. To put up health boundries with him and me. He will never really understand the pain he has caused and so I need to just let it all go.

Letting go is the most difficult thing I've had to do so far but knowing that I might be able to be happy with someone normal with average problems we all face is something I look forward to.

It's comforting to know there are others out there that understand my situation, even though it makes me sad that we would have to go through this kind of emotional, mental and possible physical pain. It's not right but only we can make it right again for us. I'm happy that even though I may have gone through this troubling time, I have the ability, hindsight and intelligence to move on from this. I'm not sure that I can say that for our ex partners. I don't believe that they have the ability to see this as a positive learning experience. With ADDers like ours, they tend to be negative and angry at everyone else and not take the responsibility for their actions. I'm not sure if this is because their brains won't allow them or if it is because of years of negatively programming themselves to believe that they can't take responsibility. I wonder if somehow their brains are naive as I've noticed they can act as though they are still in their teens, they react to things as though they were children trapped in an adult body.

oh and Tarjavj! About him living alone and everything seems to be back to normal! I trust my ex will say the exact same. Painful but perhaps, they know they should not be in a relationship. That is what my ex continually talked about when things were difficult between us. Even our couples counsellor mentioned that at one point. That really hurt. My ex even told me that he knew that if things couldn't work out with us it was unlikely that it would work with anyone else. Alas, I think he is right. For the most part, I think the majority of women on this forum are flexible, willing and strong enough to adapt and help their partner. It is a shame to think that all these wonderful thoughtful and loving women are with the most difficult, unsympathetic and unresponsive men. I hope we all can move on to a life filled with less stress, less fear, less anxiety than we have lived so far.

This forum has been a life saver to me in the past and I know I will continue to come here as I heal and start a new life without my partner. I know I deserve better and I can't solve his ADD but at least I feel I am heard here.

Thanks for all of your wisdom and know that there are too many of us out there suffering with partners who won't take responsibility for their disorders. I'm very proud of you both for taking the steps to get out of an impossible situation and that you are making your happiness the priority.


Take responsibility: Can't (given up) or won't (for some reason)

"With ADDers like ours, they tend to be negative and angry at everyone else and not take the responsibility for their actions. I'm not sure if this is because their brains won't allow them or if it is because of years of negatively programming themselves to believe that they can't take responsibility. I wonder if somehow their brains are naive as I've noticed they can act as though they are still in their teens, they react to things as though they were children trapped in an adult body."

I've thought hard about my spouse if he has simply given up, due to a combination of constant failures - negative programming - anxiety - depression, and therefore "can't" do almost anything or if he simply "won't" do almost anything, because his brain - the way he is wired - won't let him. My spouse says that he has given up.  Is it simply possible to stay in a relationship with a person that has given up?

Given up?

Hi Lost,

I'm not sure if your spouse has been assessed professionally for ADD or another disorder. Although we had orginially thought that my bf had ADD, he has just found out that he is bipolar. It isn't quite the same as ADD but it can mimic ADD symptoms from what the neurologist says. Have you ruled that out? Bipolar and ADD have different treatments and they can coexist with each other from what I've been reading. It sounds very complicated and long recovery but if your spouse has "given up" then I'm not sure that the relationship will be benefical for you or him. It may make things more difficult and you may become very unhappy. Even though I miss my ex dearly and I still love him, it's not possible for me to go back to living the way we were. There is little hope that we'll even remain friends but things are early on so I guess time will tell.

But I think you need to evalute if you really want to be in this relationship, if there are definite things he does for the relationship and if you are ok with just that. Everyone has their own set of needs and as long as they are met for the most part, I think we can usually endure a fair amount, even over look some of the things we need. But you can't over look ALL of your needs.


rapidly aging's picture

just wondering

Sorry I am new here, and haven't read all of your posts, but I am wondering if you've ever read the book, "The Sociopath Next Door"

It might offer some insight into your situation.  Sociopathic people are often great citzens, nice guys and rarely serial killers.

Still one step behind and moving slowly

Tweetiebird, Tarjavj, Jeannie, you are one big step ahead of me.   
You have reached the conclusion, that your pain could only be ended by ending the relationship.  
I am still struggling to fully comprehend the connection between my pain, and his behaviour.  
It was: endure, fight or flight.  Endure is behind me, so I have nothing left to loose by fighting with harder weapons.   In a previous post, I described that I had changed my reaction to his interrupting me.  I made it clear, that when he interrupts and changes the subject, I just stop listening, and will stick to initial issue.   That was still not drastic enough.  
Now at any interruption, I visibly stick my fingers into my ears.  Then I let him talk to himself, until he notices, and when he stops, I just continue, where he has interrupted me.  I do not know, if he learns anything from this, but it works for me.  This way I can stay calm and focussed on my point and it is less painfull.   

This morning, I got a sudden insight about one aspect of our distorted communication.  When I say something like 'this needs to be based on agreement', I state my personal opinion, shared with others or not.  When I disagree, I would say 'he considers it his right to decide alone'.  
He does not make that distinction.   He knows the technic of active listening.  Only he omits, that active listening implies, that both know exactly, when one repeats the statements of the other.   
We developped a disruptive pattern.  He mentions a grudge or controversial issue.  As a reaction, I struggle against his resistance to make him know my side of it, until I have finally explained my point of view so logically, that I think he could not otherwise but get convinced.
In spite of this, at another moment of anger, he confronts me again with the same grudge, unaltered by my previous attempt.  So I restart, thinking that he has forgotten or was distracted the first time.   After some more struggling to be heard, he at some point interrupts me, and to proof that he already knows, he recites my entire reasoning, with words as my own perspective.   Unfortunately, this lures me to completely misunderstand.   When he states my opinion as a fact, I perceive and interpret it as his opinion, as if I had convinced him, as if we had finally reached a consensus, while he just practises active listening with internal disagreement.   
Then the trouble starts, because his behaviour in this issue has become inconsistent and incompatible with the apparent, but not real consensus, and this leads unavoidably to more unpleasant incidents.   
I found this out, when he earnestly and in his normal voice talked about my 'sound judgement', and I knew, he did not mean it.  I resented to be mocked, but he did not attempt mockery at all.  He just was talking about, what he assumed to be my opinion about myself, in the same matter of fact way as if he talked about his own opinion.   This is very confusing, because it is very difficult to know, what he really means, and what not.  At least, I have got enough awareness to ask in the future, before getting mislead again.

I am gratefull for all the encouragement to move on, but I am still needing to gain better insight into his behaviours.  So please, has anybody ever experienced a similar pattern?

Circle talk is common


I'm sorry you have to feeling so frustrated and confused by ADD behaviours. I'm not sure if every person with ADD or ADHD has the same symptoms however it was very difficult for everyone in my ex's life. Friends, family, relatives. They all saw his inability to "understand" them. See their side. I was exactly like you. I thought if I could talk the right talk, "explain" logically the things I wanted him to empathize with etc that I would feel better and that he would do better. ADD doesn't work that way unfortunately. And I would recommend "loving detachment". The idea is if he is not listening or he is being abusive (which to me sounds like he has been) you say something like, "it sounds like you're very upset with something right now and you need some time to figure it out." then WALK AWAY. Leave him alone. Don't try to explain your side. He'll never listen. This way you don't need to go through the abusive talk, the frustration etc. I think you need to remember you can't convince anyone, ADD or not, to see your point of view if it doesn't make sense to them. ADD makes it harder to do that. Reasoning with someone who thinks differently from you is a losing battle. Just don't partake and you won't be as frustrated. Let him go on. Let go. You are trying to control things. I know how that feels but the more you physically walk away, the better you will feel. I've been through almost the same exact feelings, experiences. It makes me sad to read your post as I can see how other people must have been worrying about for me then. But we all know when that time will be.

And you know I think you should write down the things he has done for you, does for you that actually make you happy. How often are you happy by his actions, behaviours. I did this and the list of things was short, the list of not happy stuff was much longer.

It sounds like you need to figure it out a bit longer but just remember you can walk away from his bad behaviour if you don't like it. Just don't expect him to change. He has a disability that he is not ready to tackle. Think of you first! Don't forget YOU need to take care of yourself first! You deserve to be treated with respect. If he is abusive, walk away as much as you can. You might see things differently as you hear him ranting on about things to himself.

One of the things that clinched my decision to leave was the thought of going through life at my most miserable time with him. Where I wasn't sleeping, I was angry all the time, I isolated myself from all my friends and family because I was so miserable. If things weren't to change even after a diagnoise would I stay? I had to be realistic and I didn't think that I deserved a life sentence. I thought that my ex would love me enough to change, that he was intelligent enough. He should have been, we used to talk for hours and hours about everything. In the end, he did all the talking, I did all the walking away.

Remember he is not the last man on earth! there are others out there. You may love this guy but it is possible to find someone you love who is actually healthy! You deserve better treatment and a partner who isn't going to be so abusive. I hope you find peace within yourself to do the right thing for you. Rather than focusing on him, try your best to do something positive for yourself everyday until your heart can make the find decision. You sound like a very logical person, with sound reasoning abilities. Don't let this person manipulate you into believeing that you aren't sound. But also try to let go of controling him. It isn't helping you. Thinking of your difficult time.


Right or wrong, I learned to

Right or wrong, I learned to deal with my ex pretty much the same way as Tweetiebird.  Early in our marriage, I would go head to head with him.  It didn't work.  Eventually, I learned to talk with him so long as he was reasonable and talked in an intelligent, kind fashion.  When he strayed away from that pattern, which was often, I just got up and left the room.  It didn't solve anything, but I couldn't solve it.  He just didn't think like I thought.  It wouldn't matter how many times I pounded my head against the wall trying to get him to think the way I did.  He just simply couldn't.  At least with this, I was in a calm room (usually with my computer) doing things I enjoyed doing rather than getting stressed out with him and accomplishing nothing.  After I left the room, he would usually just fall asleep in front of the television.

God bless you in your quest to find the right path for yourself.  Sometimes, no matter how much you love a person, you simply can't live with them.

detachment can be a boomerang

I started with detachment and walking away some weeks ago, just to have a short respite from being hurt.  When we were at his home, a few times I took off by myself and spent a day at some museum without him.  Until then, we used to do such things always together.  When I did this, I felt lonely and I missed sharing the experience.   I needed the respite from being hurt, not from him.
But it got worse.  Now we are back here, and he has the thrill of exploring a to him foreign country.  So now he takes off by himself quite often, enjoying himself instead of working on improving the relationship.  What was an attempt to make a point by drastic measures, that he can be so unbearable, that I have not choice except to withdraw from him for a while, has turned into another step of further estrangement.  He just countered with doing the same to me, unfortunately he is obviously less affected than I am.
I know, this sounds very doomed, but I am in the slow process of coping.

rapidly aging's picture

at the crossroads

I read your story and feel compelled to tell you, if you have not yet married him and have no children, pls don't.  Run, you can do better.  Maybe I am off base, but I feel as though I was in your shoes 10 years ago and failed to listen to myself.  Just want to make a couple quick points.  My background is this my husband is from an non-Occidental and non-English speaking country.  He lived in the States for 5 years before I met him.  We met in his country.  I married and had children there.  I speak his language and even lived with his family.  

Personally, I was an overachiever, with a very low self-esteem, a very bad listener and compulsive talker.  I had a time line for my life and that included getting married before age X.  He was quick to propose and I was quick to accept.  I wasn't thinking about what kind of father he would be , I didn't think I wanted children.  We were madly in love, or so I thought.  Soulmates..

What I chose to ignore was that in his culture, keeping the peace was above all the most important thing and silence really is a virtue.  So naturally, he agreed with everything I said which I mistook as him feeling the same way I did.  I was a control freak, and he was a nice guy.  People thought we were passionately in love and made for each other.  One friend even got drunk and cried "all I want is what you two have."

Flash fwd 10 years, I have dragged two kids into the mess.  In reality, he was just pretending to be what I wanted.  My view was clouded by my desire to get married.  Now, I feel completely alone in this marriage.  Our relationship is similar to Kate & Jon Gosselin.  

His foreignness only means that he relies on me to do even MORE for him here than I did in X country.  I feel stuck, he says if I divorce him he will take children to X country, and they will believe me protect him.  He of course is not capable of taking care of them for a weekend, but I am sure his family in X country would make him get the kids.

Anyway, if you already have all these issues with your boyfriend, believe me they will not get better and you can find someone else.

different cultures

rapidly, you seem to have got the worst of it, and I feel with you, even though my own trouble with unresolved conflicts from cultural differences are on a less drastic level than yours.  

It is important to be able to understand the subtle clues to the unspoken rules in one's own society.   It is more important to be aware of differences and communicate about such rules, when two people from different cultures meet, and of course, the more different, the more difficult.

But when one person does not have enough perception for such clues and hints, and does not know but deny it, this leads to serious difficulties.   I am wondering, if ADD causes people to be mindblind to subtle clues and hints, or if this is more a trait of Asperger's.  I suspect that he has some of Asperger's too.  

When I was staying with him, and he greeted the cashier in a supermarket for the first time with a 'Hi, Mary, how are you', and started several minutes of small talk, I asked him, how long he had known her.  I was very surprised, that he had never spoken to her before and got her first name from her name tag.  But I got used to understand the normality of people talking to any stranger anywhere, as if here they would be running into a neighbour or acquaintance.  

Maybe it is even pleasant to make small-talk to everybody without being misinterpreted as being plebeian.  But if the unspoken rules in a country perscribes reticence, than it is sometimes better to accept the rules, especially when disregarding unspoken rules embarrasses the SO. 

Here, people do not initiate contact with strangers in public places without a reason or at least a trigger, neither verbally nor nonverbally by smiling or eye-contact.   Such reticence is an unspoken social rule for educated and cultivated people.  People, who do not keep such distance are considered as immature or plebeian.  
When we walked to the supermarket, he greeted all strangers, who were puzzled, probably trying to figure out, where they had met him before and forgotten about it.   I tried to explain to him, that this is not the way to behave in this country, but he just took it as another instance of me being hypercritical with him.  
Whenever he went downtown by himself, he came back with stories about contact with all kinds of weird people, beggars, bums, nutcases, all those people, who failed to have been socialized into reticence.  Not only by talking to them, but also by being contacted by these people.  Also he told me of experiences of having been the target of rejection as a foreigner.  I know, that he provokes all this himself by initializing non-verbal contact with everybody, whom he meets, even when he does not speak first.  He makes eye-contact, looks at people with curiosity, smiles sometimes.  
The educated and decent people, with whom I would want to mix, shun people as impertinent, who behave like him.  
He does not acknowledge this, he refuses to accept my feedback about it.  I feel embarrassed and I start to worry, that soon all bums and nutcases of this town will look at him as someone of the same social level.   The few jobs that I still do are in the realm of educated people, and I have a reputation to loose.   He does not respect this at all.

My husband does the exact same thing

My husband is exactly the same way. We live in the American south. I am a "Yankee" transplant. I was amazed that he does this, but pretty much accepted it as normal "southern" behavior.

He did it with a hijab-wearing woman and I had to remind him that women in Muslim cultures do not talk to men they are not related to, so that contact was probably unpleasant to her.

It is mostly a lack of empathy, I think. My husband is kind and generous, and certainly doesn't mean to give offense. Your SO should follow your lead while living in your country. My husband tends to just say "Well, that's the way I am" like everything else I call him on with his ADD.

Attention Addiction?

The longer I think about it, the more it gets obvious to me, that even in his own culture, he talks longer and more often with strangers than is average behaviour there.  His loquacious hyperverbality would qualify to be called talking addiction.  
Listeners in constructive communication signal with little utterings like 'hm', 'well', 'sure' and such, that they are listening with interest.  The speakers notice, when people indicate their lack of interest by keeping silence, and they stop talking, because they do not want to bore and annoy people.   

My SO (he is gone since yesterday, but I need a while, until I am capable to call him an Ex.) never gave signals of listening, except interrupting me, and of course he did not even notice, if I signalled interest or not.   
He monologues anyhow, as long as there are target ears near enough to hear him.   
Somehow his behaviour reminded me very much of children, who prefer attracting attention by being unpleasant and naughty, when they do not manage to get praised and rewarded for being good.   They even prefer the attention of being punished, all is better than indifference and oblivion.  

He talks, whenever there are ears available, and if he does not get admiration for being interesting, when he has no success with bragging and lecturing, then then at least he can annoy, provoke, disturb people to react in any way.  Even when making himself a pain in the neck, he obviously feels better than when he has no reaction. 

He woke me up sometimes in the middle of the night ranting about things, that were on his mind, until I yelled at him to shut up.   He could not make me listen with interest, at least he got a strong reaction of annoyance from me.   

It seems as if he is addicted to the power of having an impact upon as many people as possible.  Attention addiction disorder as a diagnosis does not exist, but that seems to describe him, while histronic personality disorder does not really fit.  

Maybe the power to have an impact upon people and to elicit reactions boosts his self-esteem?   Has anybody made similare observations?