ADHD Partner's obsession with sex and certain body types -- will I EVER be enough for him?

I'm new here, but I'm very glad I found this site.  My partner of 6 years has been diagnosed with ADHD and OCD.  This was long before we met, and he's under a doctor's care and taking medication.  

We have a HUGE issue like a wall between us since we met -- he is only sexually attracted to women who look a certain way.  To get his "fix", he looks at porn pretty much every day, one woman after another after another, often for an hour or more.  It doesn't matter if I'm home in the next room or I'm out of the house.  He says it makes him "happy."

The problem is that he will not be intimate with me.  In fact, he outright refuses.  We have never had sex once.  I've never seen him naked and he's never seen me.  He's made it abundantly clear that he is NOT interested in looking at me or even trying anything at all and he blames it on my weight.

Now, when we got together, I'd just lost 40 pounds.  I still had 30 or 40 pounds more to get back to my pre-baby weight, but I looked really good.  I worked out, had lots of energy, and turned heads when I walked down the street.  But it was never enough for him.  What he'd say is that I was "close" to what he can "work" with.  And, when I finally left him in 2011 (I lived separately from him for over a year and just came back last September) he made sure to tell me that he was almost ready to 'get together' with me, I was really close...

I see it as excuses.  And now (and I take responsibility for the fact that I could have handled it differently), I've gained 20 pounds back, so I now have 50 or 60 pounds to lose!  

He used to bring up my weight and how frustrated he was (sexually) pretty much like clockwork -- every couple of months.  Now, I think he's at least gotten it through his head that it gets him nowhere and that I have one foot out the door already.  I've gotten a lot stronger over the past year or so.  He doesn't instigate the conversation but, if it comes up for one reason or another, he'll start in with the "you're not going to do it (lose the weight)".  "You can't.  You're not capable.  We're not compatible."  He claims he "knows" I just don't want to do it and I WILL FAIL because I've failed all along.  He tells me the balls in my court and it's all up to me.  If I lose weight and work out and get "fit", he'll try and see if he can work with me.  He claims he doesn't want a fitness model (like the porn he loves to look at), but I know different.  His therapist even told me that only about 25% of the women in the world would fit my b/f's criteria for attractiveness.

I know the porn he looks at because I've become so distraught I've been looking at his computer history.  I know he has a profile on one of the adult hook-up sites, too although he doesn't seem to be too active on it.  And the women he looks at aren't perfect!  They're chubby, some of them.  Some look sort of like me.  But I also know he's really into body symmetry -- the length of the leg in relation to the torso, the size and shape of the buttocks in relation to... whatever.  I don't even understand it.  It's like he's engineering what he likes -- like he's trying to improve upon and engineer ME.  It just seems so impersonal and objectifying.

He told me once that he had to look at porn so he'd be interested in sex at all.  He used to tell me he was doing it for "us".  

So, I guess I actually have two questions:

1) Is his obsession with certain body types -- and his complete rejection of me because I don't fit in with his idea of attractive -- a symptom of his ADHD?  

2) Is his rejection of me sexually because he's impotent (he is, from his medications), because he really can't "work" with someone who doesn't look a very certain way, or because he does not like to be touched????  Is his ADHD making him grossed out by real, physical sexuality so that he'll only get his sex from porn/masturbation?

Sorry for all the questions and the long post.  I've been trying to determine if there's any hope in this relationship at all.  Should I leave? or should I stay? are the biggest questions on my mind.

carathrace's picture

What's in it for you?

Hi Dawn, I guess I'm wondering what you are getting from this relationship?  What's in it for you?

I don't know if Melissa or someone else might have insight into your 2 questions, but it seems like a therapist who's met with him would be the best authority to answer them.

Do you have any hope that you can become the ideal woman in his mind?  Would you want to if you could?  What do you think would happen if you could look like the women in the porn?  Do you think he wants a real woman, or an imaginary one?

Hi carathrace,Sorry it took

Hi carathrace,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you.  Thanks for your response.

To answer your questions:  

1.  I have absolutely NO hope that I can become the ideal woman for him.  In fact, I'm pretty convinced that no matter what I do, he'll never be satisfied because he really doesn't want a real live woman at all.

2. I used to want to be that woman.  Now, I see how crazy it sounds to say that I'm trying to change for someone else.  I just had a great coaching session today and the first thing the woman said to me was "I couldn't believe I heard you say you were DIETING because he doesn't like your body!"  I can't believe it either.  And all it's gotten me is a pile of resentful feelings.

3. If I could look like the women in the porn, MAYBE he'd be interested for a very short time but the novelty would wear off and he'd be out of infatuation with me all over again.  It would probably be something new he'd want me to be.  Anyways, I asked him once if I got to be his "body type" would he stop looking at porn and he got an almost evil look on his face, really angry, and said "Hell no!"  That was 4 years ago.  What have I been thinking?????

4. I think he wants an imaginary woman.  The women he's looking at are NOT perfect.  He's not looking at airbrushed beauties.  He's looking at webcam girls who have all sorts of imperfections -- including (some of them) being a little overweight.  Personally, I think real women (including me) scare the hell out of him and he wouldn't know what to do if he could have me.

Oh!  and I'm not getting much of anything from this relationship at all.  

Oh dear

Hello Dawn. I am so sorry for your situation. I don't think those issues are ADHD. ADHDers can have porn addictions related to searching for stimulation but they generally haven't always rejected their spouses. They usually were quite stimulated early in relationships and branch out to porn after the newness wears off.

i suppose it could be OCD related although that's an anxiety disorder and that would be an unusual manifestation of it. 

It seems to me that he is being manipulative and suppressing your self esteem so that you will not have the confidence to stand on your own. Perhaps subconsciously. I see no reason for any woman to stay with a man who tells her he doesn't find her attractive. There are certainly men who would. Being with a man who puts you down is not healthy. It is emotional abuse in my view. I wish you the very best.

Thanks for your post,

Thanks for your post, Shelley.

I agree that he's being manipulative and suppressing my self esteem.  

For a long time, being the hopeful type I usually am, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  After all, he's belligerent and mean to me, but he usually apologizes and is sweet for a while before it happens again.  I'm learning that that is classic emotional abuse.  And the fact that he doesn't find me attractive has crushed my self-esteem so bad!  It's horrible thinking that the one man you love more than any other in the world doesn't even want to touch you!  I've lived with self-hatred and have abused myself for almost six years with this man, but I'm now giving myself permission to take care of myself.  I've tried to understand him but, since I can't, I'm going to understand and take care of ME.  

It makes me sad, but I think that that's going to include leaving him as soon as I can find a way to support myself.

You can do better

Dawn, your post struck a chord with me. I echo the question, what are you getting out of this? You deserve so much better than a man who tells you you will fail, criticizes you, tells you that he will only work with you if you lose weight or conform to his ideal, and can't or won't be intimate with you because you aren't good enough for him. This is definitely emotionally abusive and unhealthy for you! (Try looking up emotional abuse if you can and you'll see what I mean). And you are right, it is  impersonal and objectifying you to see you that way. I may be out of line here, but what are you thinking and what are you waiting for? I know that being alone can be really scary and lonely. I had relationships with men who did not treat me well when I was young because I was afraid of being alone and didn't have great self esteem. 

Your guy's issues are more or different than ADHD. I have nothing against porn but his sounds like a pretty unhealthy fixation and I feel sorry for him that he would miss out on a connection with a real live woman. You should be with someone who is kind and loves you for who you are. That is normal! Sorry, but I needed a kick in the pants when I was younger--think of the relationship you are modeling for your child. And kick this guy to the curb. You are strong enough!  You sound like a bright, good person who has her stuff together. You could try seeing a therapist-- it is worth finding out why you would let him treat you this way. My very best to you.


Good questions, lynninny!

Good questions, lynninny!  What AM I thinking and what am I waiting for?

I have been thinking that love conquers all, I guess.  I bought into that fairy tale.  I kept hoping that his love for me would make him "see the light" or something like that.  It hasn't and, personally, I don't think it ever will because I don't believe he really, truly loves me.  I think he's just as addicted to me as I am to him and that, as he told me not long ago, I'm the only person in the world that gives a s*%t about him.  That's NOT a good reason to be together.

Thanks for the nice things you said about me.  I know I used to be strong enough to accomplish about anything I put my mind to but having this man reject me has ripped my heart apart.  

I have a coach I just started working with today.  Her first words to me were "what are you thinking?" :)  (She also said I'm trying to "make Lassie out of a mangy old dog" lol.  She certainly has a way with words!) 

i hear you

Dawn, I hear you. I spent a lot of time loving and being loyal and thinking that if I worked hard enough, and loved enough, my boyfriend or spouse would come to appreciate me, see me, love me, be happy with me, or treat me well. "See the light" is a great term. It is an amazing fairy tale. But, I finally learned (in my forties) that it doesn't work that way. I think that there are those who have issues or are damaged or just so different than us that they are not capable of loving us in the way that we deserve or need, period. And it can absolutely crush your soul to keep running into that brick wall hoping for his love to make him behave differently. He very well is probably not capable of it, and if he is not at least making an effort, then the bottom line is, you deserve much, much better. 

So happy you are seeing a coach. I love the "Lassie" observation. Keep your head up. Listen to her! Do whatever you have to--make it like a job. Seriously, I do know that contemplating being alone is pretty tough, but I am right now (except that I am with my children) and it beats the heck out of having my partner treat me badly. Best to you! 


A lack of sex to the nth degree was Hallmark in my marriage, to the point of being neglect. Though, supposedly, it wasn't personal, it quite feels that way. Definitely get help for you. Unfortunately, as with my husband, there is no normal give n take in the relationship. Learning how to meet your own needs is crucial. Only you can decide when to stay or leave. From my own experience, I can only tell you that the sex issue only got worse, never better. Sounds weird for a woman to say this, but I had no idea whatsoever that this could destroy a woman's self esteem, but it happened to me...

I'm so sorry you had to go

I'm so sorry you had to go through that, bilf.  It's wrong, it's not fair, and we shouldn't have to feel so miserable.

Is it really so hard for our men to understand how this destroys a woman's self esteem????  I'm 61 years old and he's looking at 20-year-old girls -- how is that supposed to make me feel?  Like he's not comparing me?  Come on!

I do think that no sex in a marriage or a committed relationship like ours = neglect.  And I'm not the one withholding it, HE is.  

This is a first for me.  I knew porn existed of course, but I never knew people could get addicted to it.  And I've never experienced a sexless relationship in my life.  I guess I've been pretty naive...

my husband is still looking

my husband is still looking for the ideal woman with small breasts and blonde hair he tells friends as you can guess I have dark hair and big breasts (rolls eyes), he always makes comments as if he is jack the lad when the truth is he hasn`t had sex for ten years with me or anyone but he just knows the right woman would fix this.  My Doctor actually suggested I had an affair rather than live like this because I could not contemplate divorce with a baby to look after.

Not Worth it

Thanks for all of your posts.

    I agree with those who say that this is not an issue specific to ADHD although it certainly is a pertinent subject.  I was in the same boat.  No matter what size I was, I was never good enough.  When I was at a point most people would consider attractive, my ex liked to take me out with him to events.  But he neglected my personal needs more than ever.  I finally confronted him with the observation than no matter what I looked like, he would always say I was too fat (or my teeth were too yellow, or my chin was too big, or I didn't smell right....or....or...or) because, ultimately, he knew that he had no interest in satisfying me and couldn't admit it.  Instead of being honest about this he preferred to chip away at my self-esteem by constant criticism and brow beating.  When I told him to his face that this was the real issue, he screamed "LIAR", like a child would.  I knew it and he knew it. 

  I will never again tolerate a "partner" who plays this game to cover up his own inadequacy.  I feel for you when you admit that you are getting nothing out of the relationship.  The damage to one's self esteem, in my opinion, is not worth it.  For me, it was much lonelier to have a "partner" who constantly rejected me and compared me to an endless stream of (often, grossly inappropriate) people of my gender whom he claimed he would love to get close to than to be celibate (which I was for eight years after I left him). When I learned the full extent of his problem I was finally forced to leave and to make other painful choices because of the implications of what I believed would happen if he acted on his latest fantasy.  He just happened to have ADHD, that's all.

               Ah, well, life is full of learning opportunities.   Best of luck to you and I admire your ability to be so clear-headed in what is a very painful situation.  I wish I could look back and say I had had the same ability to reach out honestly to others and really examine my relationship.  I would have saved myself some pain, that's for certain.


Dawn This guy is a loser! You


This guy is a loser! You need to get as far away from him as possible. Anyone who treats you this way doesn't deserve you! A partner/spouse should build you up not tear you down. They should love you for who you are on the inside not for what you look like on the outside! Dump him now! Don't waste another minute of your life on him! And don't ever take him back!



the emotions


   I agree with Liz.

   Leaving a relationship that has lasted for years can take a huge emotional toll, even when it is obvious that it is unhealthy.  If you are ready to leave this "partner", prepare yourself in every way you can.  Leave strong and leave clean.  You have a lifetime of experience behind you.  There are many people who will appreciate you on that level and who will also be eager to build a physical relationship. 

It is hard if you stay.  Leaving might be harder.  Up to you to decide.

He deserves no consideration in the decision.  He conceded that long ago.



Indicates a Problem



  Did I fail to mention that this man's lack of interest in sexual relations with the adult nearest and dearest to him indicates a problem with his sexuality?  I know that ALL couples have sexual problems in their relationships. but the extent and nature of this point to the possibility that this person is just not capable of a mature sexual relationship, although he may be capable of sexual activity.

 I feel sorry for him.  But you have a choice.  Take your chance while there is still time.



I really can't imagine the

I really can't imagine the mindset of some of these guys. Being the one holding out on sex? I know it isn't just ADHD going on here in most cases, but there are those situations mentioned where someone is too distractible to really commit to lovemaking. Aren't we broken men supposed to cling to stimulus for dear life? What is more stimulating? If you can't hyperfocus on this then what the hell can you hyperfocus on? This is just an area that boggles my mind.

Resigned2B's picture


Hi Bilf,

Can you please update your story? What has happened to you now? Are you still with your husband? You can write me through direct e-mail if you don't want to post it.