Advice regarding ADHD and perception/anger

I am new to the forum. My boyfriend has ADHD. He has been diagnosed and I have known this since the beginning of our relationship. 

We moved in together shortly after having a one-year long distance relationship. I knew he had the tendency of going off in tangents when speaking, but I dealt with this easily because the majority of our initial relationship was over telephone communication.

Little did I know what other traits come along with ADHD. I have noticed that he drinks a lot, has a temper, is verbally abusive, and tends to have a skewed perception.  We have only lived together for about 2 months, but I have noticed a lot for the time we have lived together. At first I thought he was becoming an alcoholic. He showed signs of alcohol withdrawal by always being irritable, stressed out, and not being able to calm down/relax until after having a few drinks.  

We fight over stupid little things. He had me convinced that it was me causing the fights because I became a moody bi*** whenever I had my period. I accepted his observation and strived to identify and control my mood swings. I have continued to work on this and realized that he was right. So when I get irritated,  I isolate myself to the other room and watch TV to prevent arguments. 

Most fights are caused by something that triggers his anger. It can be something very simple like asking him a question. He perceives my actions and words to be "rude" and then gets defensive. Then when I take time to explain or defend myself, he sees things entirely different from reality.  One time I was cutting vegetables while cooking dinner and nicely asked him to please not talk to me when I am cutting the vegetables so I don't cut my fingers. (this is because I get easily distracted)  He instantly gave me crazy eyes and gave me attitude. We argued shortly after and he said that when I said that it was like I was saying "Fu** you" to him and that I needed to be nicer to him.

After realizing that he had a bit of a temper, I started to be extra careful around him.  It seems like anything could tick him off and once he gets mad, it takes a lot for him to calm down. I have several encounters where he twisted my actions and things I say into something completely opposite. It blows my mind on how skewed he sees and hears things that I do and say. He then gets defensive and makes a fight out of it. Every time we fight, he always tries to push me away by yelling at me, threatening to break up, and talking over me. He has become so emotionally and verbally abusive. It is hard for me to describe our situation completely in words, so bare with me. 

Just the other day he got really angry and yelled at me for accusing him of being verbally abusive. He had a troubled adolescence which causes him to not care when I cry. I always cry when we fight because that is how I naturally show how I am upset.  Every time I do cry, it doesn't phase him. He gets stone cold and will continue to attack me with accusations. The reason for this is because his mother supposedly did this to him and was very manipulative to him. So he says he doesn't care if I cry.

I would say our relationship is on the rocks right now. Last night we had a huge fight but we made up and agreed that we would seek couples therapy. But although we have agreed to this, I am not sure if it will happen anytime soon. This frightens me so much because we aren't even married!  We just began to date and we already have problems with communication. Everything else seems to go just fine. My boyfriend has been to therapy, and says that I am the person who needs to see a therapist because apparently I am the  crazy rude one and that I need to learn "how to communicate like an adult."

Everyday I think of the future of our relationship. I once thought we will get married, but now I don't feel this way. He continues to push me away and I keep finding reasons to stay. I really wish we can learn to cope with this issue, but for now we are still having trouble. After our last fight I apologized to him and wanted to make up, but that didn't resolve anything. He continued to be angry and then got even angrier when I wanted to talk about it. He gets in my face and curses at me and says that he is unhappy and that he wants to find someone else who isn't so rude to him.  It has now gotten to a point where I yell back and defend myself even more because I am tired of crying and being treated the way that I am. I know it doesn't help, but I will not put up with this. For now, I would love some feedback or comments on this. 







It is a special circumstance to start a live-in relationship after a long-distance one. The newness of living together sounds like it is offering you a glimpse of him that you may not have been able to get over the phone or during short visits. Been there, myself. I married my ex after a two year long distance relationship.  

So much of what you wrote reminds me of my own (failed) marriage to a spouse with untreated ADHD. This is my two cents. Your boyfriend has some serious anger management and mood issues. It may be related to ADHD, but not everyone with ADHD gets angry or is quick to react like this. Having a long distance relationship or the hyperfocus of a new relationship may have hidden this in the beginning. My own perception is that ADHD and the altered neurochemistry that comes with it, along with coping skills like defensiveness, can cause: 

a) hyper-sensitivity to any perceived moodiness, anxiety, worry, or criticism. Note that I said "perceived" criticism. Mine would frequently accuse me of rolling my eyes at him when in fact I was grimacing that we were starting another fight. I would insist, "No, no, no, I am so sorry, I was not rolling my eyes at you, I was just sad," and he would not listen. "You are TOO rolling your eyes at me!" I worked hard on keeping my face neutral at all times--ugh. Also maybe a strange reaction to you being upset or crying--you might expect someone who loves you to realize that you are upset and feel empathy for you, when in fact it makes him worse, and he would do anything to make it go away, including yell or talk over you or insist that you stop. 

b) a tendency to blame everything on you---you are moody, you have PMS and are crazy, you criticized him and are rude and can leave you feeling incredulous that he believes himself to be the victim, each and every time. My ex would be horribly unkind and angry with me and then remain mad at me the next day because I was "so mean to him." I was honestly willing to accept my part and work on it. His denial was incredible. I often wished I could videotape what had happened or have a witness or something. Except sometimes, when a witness was actually there and would say something, he would find a reason that they were crazy and wrong, too, lol. 

c) an inability to let go (remaining angry) and an inability to apologize or ever discuss what happened afterward. I can't tell you how many times I heard "I don't want to have to go OVER it!" 

I am sorry you are in this situation. It is a terrible thing to try to walk on eggshells all the time so that you don't set him off, or feel like you have to defend yourself by getting angry right back, or to put up with verbal abuse. I wish someone had said this to me earlier on and I had listened. You should not be in a relationship with someone who is abusive to you! You deserve a partner who is not abusive and angry all of the time, who can talk over problems and can show empathy, who does not cause you stress and anxiety most of the time. He does not sound healthy and maybe he is just not the right guy for you? I am sorry about his childhood but in the end who cares why he is so abusive toward you! I don't think you should have to work so hard to make his behavior make sense. It doesn't. 

I was so stunned for so long that my ex, who started off so loving and wonderful could turn into such an abusive, angry person after we got married. I kept thinking that this was not really him, and that if I tried hard enough he would eventually "see" what was going on. Frankly, if I were you, I would take a break and get out of there. It will keep you safe and away from this stress, and possibly allow him to understand how serious this is. I have no idea if therapy or medical intervention could help him. But I would not live with him if this behavior continues. Living with someone like this can cause huge levels of stress. I found it helpful to remain calm at all times (I know you want to fight back--but it just escalates everything and it feels great to remain calm and say, "I am going to talk to you later when we are both calm again," and walk out of the room). 

If I am off here, please forgive me. And sorry for the long post. He just sounds pretty similar to my ex and I lived with this for years before leaving. My best to you, dear.

Thank you Lynninny

I want to thank you for taking the time to write this comment. I also want to know if it was common for your ex to have forgotten what he had said to you the night before? Today he woke up not realizing what he had done. He doesn't know why I am upset today after him telling me that we wants to break up and find someone else who is younger and prettier. 


Stuff like this was common, unfortunately. Mine would say awful things in anger, and the next day he would act as if nothing had happened, which made it worse for me. There were maybe a few explanations.

One was the whole "now and not now" aspect of ADHD. Time and memory are different for people with ADHD, that's true. Your boyfriend very well may not remember specifically what he said, just that he was mad. I finally realized that it wasn't ok with me that my ex was capable of saying such things and didn't stop himself. 

I think my ex also just had some serious anger issues, and would lash out when upset. After he got over being upset, he would say that he "meant them at the moment, when he was mad". It was hard for him to grasp that I would still be hurt or traumatized the next day. He would never "unsay" it or apologize or tell me he didn't mean it. He just wanted to move on like it didn't happen, every single time.

The final explanation was that he just couldn't deal with difficult emotions, and once past, he never wanted to revisit them again or talk about anything. I would ask him how he could pretend nothing had happened, and he would say that he wasn't pretending, he just wanted to move on and not deal with it and try to "start over." Why would I want to keep going over it? I got that, but I always thought that if you kept repeating the same behaviors, it was important to address things and work them out. And freaking apologize:-) He acted as if I were torturing him when I would try to talk over things. And we would have another fight. 

He would often tell me to "just get over it." So, I got over it, and left. I'm over it:-)

My best to you. I really am sorry you are going through this. My perception from your posts is that he has some pretty serious stuff going on, it is making you miserable, and you deserve a healthier, kinder person. Is that what your gut is telling you? You choose whom you will be with, and love, and marry. You get to choose. 



Take a Break

I too lived with a man who had a "skewed" vision of life, and who often misinterpreted by comments or behaviour and reacted with anger, defensiveness and blame.  He was so convincing that I also felt that I must be the root of the problem. The difference is that I had already lived with this guy for over 15 years and we had a child, before our relationship really hit the rocks, when he took early retirement and lost all structure to his life. I spent a decade treading on eggshells and trying every tactic possible to keep life on a more even keel. By chance, I heard about Adult ADHD on a radio programme and it was a lightbulb moment. Having learned as much as possible about the condition, I can now anticipate the problem areas and adapt by behaviour accordingly, not by avoidance but by being direct, picking my time for discussion, etc. On the face of it, my husband refuses to accept he has any mental health issue, therefore, we simply ignore the "elephant in the room". Knowing everything I know now about ADHD, my advice to you would be to leave the relationship now and make a fresh start with your life. If this seems to harsh, then make it a temporary separation and assess the consequences.  I realise that the advice I'm offering is contrary to my own actions, but I already had 25 years of history, 2 blended families, complicated property arrangements and a child to build into my equation, which limited my options. You don't have any of those things yet.  If your guy can't even accept a share of responsibility for keeping your relationship on track, how do you think he is going to cope with the added strain of being a parent? Re-read your post and imagine it was written by someone else - what would you advise them to do?

Hi Endeavor, I share your

Hi Endeavor, I share your angst, great advise!

You wrote, "lived with," past tense, may I ask why?

Mine is going on 14 years, he's early 70's (I'm mid 50), among so much, I'm searching for advise on aging/dying.



Then and Now

I think I used the past tense because I was talking about THEN. The pre-lightbulb moment when I felt permanently bewildered by the situations I found myself in and the depths to which my marriage was plunging. However, perhaps it would have been more correct grammatically if I had used the present tense, as I am still married to this same man. However, my knowledge of ADHD means that I no longer feel like Alice in Wonderland. The aging process is rarely kind to anyone. I think ADDers fare worst than most. My husband is in his 60s and although is still extremely fit physically, he often reminds me of my grandad mentally. The slowness in responding, the procrastination, the fear of adapting or trying new things, anxiety, repeating himself etc. These seem to be common traits in many elderly people, and unfortunately, also with many ADDers. My husband has always been very quick to respond to ideas/suggestions/requests from other people. But once he retired and failed to keep in contact with many of his friends and colleagues, the external stimulation dried up and he was dependent upon self-motivation to get things done.  And as we know, self-motivation is often lacking in ADDers.  As for dying, I can't help you on that. Not been there yet!!

barneyarff's picture

Now What?

Forgive me for adding this to your post.  I don't know how to start a new topic.


So, my DH is suddenly trying to make up for all those years....

He is being nice and stepping up to the plate.  But I just don't care.   How can this happen?

Last February I realized I didn't love him anymore.  And I don't even like him.  And I don't like how he treats the kids (although he is getting better at that too).  Why oh why after years of trying to make it all work did he start seeing the light after I threw my hands up in the air and gave up.

I've all but moved out.  I'm looking for a new place right now and NOW, NOW he is trying.  And I feel nothing but sadness.  I'm sad that he's wasting CPR on a dead thing.   Has anyone else felt this way?



Can relate

Hi B,

Your comments definitely resonate w/me. Although my husband of 7 yrs. doesn't know I'm leaving yet. Can't until I find a job and then an apt. My husband likes to say "I'm sorry" and establish normalcy (in his words) asap and expects me to comply. I'm so exhausted with that it's ridiculously sad. The cycle of deflection...over and over. I look at him and realize--I don't like you. I haven't for a long time now and you're obvious because you have to be right, win, debate, and deflect. We have fights and he gets mad the next day if I don't automatically go back to "normal" because he says I'm sorry. I haven't worn my wedding rings for a year and he won't talk with me about why. At this point, I'm sorry too...but a big part says...not sorry, ready to be free and get some well needed and deserved rest, quite, and stability.

Best to and for you...


Yes. After I begged my spouse for five or six years, wrote letters, went to counseling alone, and uttered the phrase, "I am so sorry, but I think you are going to lose your family," and everything was deflected, put back on me, denied, and defended away. I gave up. 

Then a few months of separation, vicious arguments over finances where I felt bullied and let go of almost everything, including our house, to a place where I was happy, at peace, and could focus on myself and my children. 

Then, and only then, did he start to try. Try being polite to me and ask me to try to reconcile. 

It was so too late. I absolutely did not love him any more, and hadn't for a long time. How can this happen? I don't know...I think if it's bad enough for long enough, you kill the love, period. The person I loved faded away and in his place was someone pretty difficult to even like. Someone who was quite mean to me. Yes, it's sad, telling him this, but it's just the truth. The good part is that any examination and recovery is good for everyone. His efforts will benefit our children and himself. So it's not a waste. 

Give yourself some space to move out and regroup. I couldn't see clearly until I had lived on my own for a few months. Best to you. 

should i move on?

I feel Most of the posts I have Read on this site sound sadly like the story of my short & troubled marriage.I discussed the ongoing  issues more in depth in a post I titled " married for 3 months & considering divorce". I feel like I'm living in a nightmare right now that I have no control over. My husband left last night to go stay at his sister's for a while, not sure how long &  it was due to me asking him to leave because I could no longer take the anger, defensiveness & denial of the problems he was causing. In the past month( we have only been married for 3) I have found out a about numerous lies, that I found only by looking into it myself because he was not willing to tell me the truth. He had been hiding the mail, skipped court, had thousands of dollars in u paid fines & was facing losing his license for a year & his cars plates had to be surrendered all because he didn't want to deal or didn't want to ask for help, & in some cases simply forgot because he would throw the letters away. Then most recently found out he didn't actually get laid off of his last job he went home sick &  never returned claiming to me that his boss never text him back to tell him if he was supposed to return or not the next day but his boss tells me he never heard from him & wondered what happened. I have been working 70 hours a week for 2   years to help support him & am always picking up the slack. He costs us so much extra money because he ignores bills or forgets to pay &  I have had enough!!!!  I have been urging him to try & manage his adhd for over a year now &  have come to know the hurt of the compulsive lying that accompanies unmanaged adhd. I feel he does not see his adhd as a problem, he was diagnosed as a child & stopped medicating as a teenager. He had a terrible up bringing & no parental guidance to teach him life skills as a child & now at 28  is dealing with the effect of that. Communication is impossible, especially when I confront him with a lie I found truth to. I am somehow wrong & sneaky for looking around for the truth! We started couples therapy last week but I'm afraid he is too resistant to change &  more comfortable with his way of life. Dealing with his problems seems to enrage him & he would rather walk away . It's like if I condone or ignore the behavior we can be happy but if not he turns into a no later. I'm heart broken. We are supposed to be happy newlyweds & I'm wondering if I will lose my husband to adhd. I'm exhausted of fighting him &  I don't know what to do. His family is dysfunctional & when I go to them he tells them a different story then what truly happened painting me as the bad guy to disguise his impulsive behaviors. Should I walk away or continue fighting? I love him so much,but I don't know this person who has taken over my husband :(