After Hyper-Focus… New and seeking advice.

I have read through these posts looking for insight and hope. Perhaps some of the articulate and compassionate people here might be able to help me.

How to distill this into something less than a novel? I am a non-ADD man in love with an ADD woman in her early 20’s. She was diagnosed some time ago and has had treatment, though currently is taking no medication.

The relationship is a long-distance one. We met in her country and immediately fell in love. I mean at first sight. The period of ‘hyper focus’ lasted 8 months and was classic. We were inseparable, though separated, and the few weeks we spent in each others’ company were idyllic. She is extraordinarily bright, talented, principled, loving and sensual. She is the love of my life and I hers. We share so many things. She wanted only for us to be together at last and her dearest wish was to ‘come home’ to me.

Until the actual day came: she changed her mind. She realized she was making a mistake and couldn’t face leaving her home, friends and family. And furthermore she wants and needs to go back to school (she has twice in the past started courses at university but lost interest…) We talked at length, and over several conversations agreed that a long-distance relationship while she studies is the best thing not only for her but for us – for our relationship – because for her to come ‘home’ before finishing her degree would lead to her being dissatisfied. OK – I can handle that…

I think however that all these sensible plans for the future are masking the real problem: the end of hyper focus. Now she is focusing on other things – moving out of her (very difficult) parents’ house and setting up a flat at university and working to earn money for school. It’s a lot to deal with, both physically and emotionally. I understand that.

But in the four weeks since that moment we have hardly spoken. I have several times offered to make a graceful exit but she has chastised me; she is in love with me and she still wants me in her life. I support her in everything she is doing and am happy to make sacrifices but in the meantime she has withdrawn from me almost completely – frozen me out of her life. She knows very well what she is doing and that she is hurting me dreadfully and has said so. She is sorry – but it is what it is…

I text her now and then but she ignores me. Every few days she will send a message, usually unrelated to any of mine, in which she betrays no warmth of any kind. It’s like hearing from a facebook friend or as others have described it – the ‘ghost’ of the girl I love. It’s very hard. I naturally have all the usual fears but no grounds for any of them.

So – question, I suppose mainly for any kind ADD women who might read this: how to handle her? How not to say the wrong thing and upset her? To send her a letter in her new home, flowers – is this ‘pressure’ which will be unkindly received? I am so scared of losing her – of losing this wonderful, clever, magical girl who is my everything. I would so much appreciate any response.

so many factors...

Hi Fuzzy too...

I am an ADHD woman and I have been in your girlfriend's shoes.  I think the ADHD was the worst for me in my early 20s because I was so scattered, and yet had autonomy for the first time in my life and therefore could make any choice I wanted to (and it was usually a poor one). Moving, (especially if it's leaving family) can be traumatic, a new job, and going to University are major, major changes on their own, let alone being unable to find your keys while all of it is happening.  I don't know how old you are, but being 41 myself now and looking back.... In my early 20s, I was very irresponsible and very, very young.

I can remember feeling smothered by a boyfriend while I was 20...  I took him for granted, pushed him away, told him to stop smothering me, but then expected him (get this!) to be there when I wanted him to be there for me...  Finally he wouldn't put up with it anymore and started seeing someone else.  I mourned for years after getting a clue....  But still didn't know what was wrong with me.  Didn't get diagnosed until I was 40.

I can't tell you what to do.  All I know is if she's not answering your texts/email etc. that she may also feel 'smothered'.... or, the hyperfocus has indeed worn off and she may have the panicky feeling I used to get after hyperfocus wore off.  It is a terrible feeling that the person you are with is suddenly a stranger and you have no idea why.  IN my case i was always convinced that it was because I should be with whomever the PREVIOUS boyfriend was.  I was a mess.

If she decides to go back on meds, it will probably help dramatically.

Hang in there!

ellamenno's factors...

Thank you for your cogent response. I am considerably older than she and the relationship was unlikely from the start but she is unusually mature and responsible (except when it comes to losing keys!) and I have never felt so perfectly complete with anyone. She felt the same.

You say you mourned after your boyfriend gave up on you; was it a mistake to push him away and were you still in love with him (however badly you treated him)? What if he had 'hung in there' and stood by you? To be less personal – what I’m asking is whether after hyperfocus ends, can true love survive? Indeed – is there ever light at the end of this particular tunnel? Many of the posts here lead me to believe not.

I am tempted to ask also, if it is not intrusive, how things are for you now. Have you found a way to deal with the terrible (and wonderful) trait that is ADHD in your relationships?

Thanks again for your trouble.

Things now

are much better:  As I've grown older a lot of the 'H' part of ADHD has gone by the wayside, but the distractability part stayed on and caused a lot of problems.  The last 7 months have been better since getting a diagnosis and going on Adderall.  I have not been feeling much benefits of the "wonderful" part of ADHD, since I am now an adult and need to care for 2 small children and earn as much money as I can.  Somehow being creative/spontaneous is of no use to me at the moment.  Although, I just applied for a teaching position at a music school, so if by some reason I am chosen over the other 1,000-2,000 applicants it will once again be useful!

I'm afraid I needed a slap in the face (my boyfriend giving up on me) to realize what I had taken for granted.  He was seeing someone else, then moved out of state - so that was the end of it.  I looked him up a few years later, and he had married the woman he was seeing.  Recently we reconnected on Facebook (he contacted me - I don't contact old boyfriends anymore) and he told me that it didn't work out with her:  She stole his car and disappeared!  We are both married to other people and have kids.  I wouldn't want to see him now, just because well, i'm old now and it doesn't matter... and also because what's in the past has to stay there.  Seeing him would be disloyal to my husband, i believe, even if I were just having lunch or a drink, and I don't want to jeopardize my marriage.

gotta run!


I didn't mean to pry into your feelings about him now... I was asking whether AT THE TIME you would have wanted him to stand by you. I guess it depends on the person. Surely sometimes things must work out and develop after hyperfocus ends or else no one with ADD would ever have a relationship at all. It's appalling to think that ALL people with ADD simply 'fall out of love' when hyperfocus ends.

As you say it is a terrible thing to be treated as a stranger after being so intimate - literally overnight. I guess I can only hang in there and hope that the girl I love is still there somewhere and will turn towards me again in time. Am I kidding myself?

Thank you - and good luck with the teaching post. Only 1200 other applicants? Ought to be a breeze.

at the time

No.  I didn't want him to stick by me... but I did... but I didn't.... It was off and on, I'm afraid.  I got used to being able to push him away when I wanted to be independent and then when I needed him I expected him to be there.  I had no idea how selfish I was being until I got slapped in the face by his finally telling me to f*ck off.  Then, of course, it was too late.

Honestly, I don't know if the problem is ADD or if she's just got too much to juggle right now or if she's just really young or if the long distance thing is too hard or, perhaps she's met someone else....  But if she's not answering your messages, you just need to give her space.  Flooding her with messages and gifts will make her overwhelmed if she's already under a lot of stress.

Be strong.  Let go a little.  You love her, yes... but... you are a great guy in your own right, or she wouldn't have fallen for you in the first place right? 

Sound advice...

... thank you. And it is of course possible that things have degenerated into the rather shabby cliché you suggest. Love can be ephemeral and sometimes one needs to accept it and have the courage to let it go. The reason I have been agonizing about the ADD is the complete change in personality, as though an angel had suddenly developed a fascination for pulling the wings off flies. It’s so disorientating - so incredibly hurtful.

I know that some people with ADD actively seek the adrenaline rush of new affairs. And they lie. But none of this seems to match with her past at all. And I guess I have faith in her, believe what she has told me and have a natural inclination to stand by her - in sickness and in health... I guess that makes me a fool but I want to be there for her - not to let her down.

Aw, fuzzy.... sorry...

This really sucks for you, I know.  My twenties seem like centuries ago...  But I do remember that the more I was flooded with attention, calls, flowers etc.  the more freaked out I got and convinced that I needed out of the relationship.  It makes no sense.  If it is the ADD doing this, there's really nothing you can do.  If it ISN'T the ADD, there's really nothing you can do either :-(

Are there any plans for you to meet up at some point or is she overseas indefinitely?

I resist flooding...

... but after a couple of days of silence I emailed her last night, suggesting that might be a gentler forum for us as texts and calls must seem very ‘in your face’ to her the way she is feeling right now. She can read, and answer if she chooses, in her own time.

She isn't very far away. In our last phone conversation a couple of weeks ago, we agreed we will meet in early September and spend some time together before she starts school at the end of the month. She is working the whole of August. She said she loves me, and wanted only to be moved in to her new place and start work, and be independent and able to talk to me online in the evenings in peace. More silence…

If she were having an affair – why not say so? Knowing her as I do I think she would have the courtesy to tell me if she ‘needs out’ of the relationship. Didn’t you? She is well aware how much she is hurting me. If she is in love with me – why would she choose to do that? She said (in the same conversation) “I will kick and bite you when I am strong and come to you for love and support when I am weak…” ??

Email is good...

Email has worked really well when my DW and I have a big argument, well she would argue and I would go into Shut-Down mode making it 10X worse. We have found that emails allow us both to Think about our responses and communicate better our feelings in the matter. When the anger is high, email helps reduce the angry face to face and allow for more understanding before we work it out in person. We can get control of our emotions and be more productive.



How do you know she is aware...?

That she is hurting you? ADDers are notoriously poor at reading other people's emotions, and at listening.

My ADD husband did some things which endangered my life. He tells me now he did not know, although I must have told him at least once a week "I can not afford my hypertension meds, and am not buying them, because you are not working" and "If you loved me you would make sure I don't have another stroke" and he swears up, down and sideways that  I never told him that.

In the end, I had to "let it go" although thinking I was going to die, every day for 3 years, probably left me with PTSD. He will never, never, understand that his actions created dire potential consequences for me. If I want to be with him, I need to accept that his worldview is valid for him.

I have to admit that I find that last statement troubling. Is it possible that, while she is hyperfocusing on school, moving and her job that she isn't thinking about you much at all, and she doesn't know how much that hurts you? ADDers are great at "out of sight, out of mind." She might know it intellectually but not in her heart.

Oh - she knows...

She has told me she knows how selfish she is being and how hurtful, but just can't handle my pain as well as her own. I am sure she is focusing on other things day to day and indeed doesn't think about me. But I was thinking specifically of her not bothering to answer a call or a text. That is not ADD - that is a choice. She can hear the phone. She can read.

Anger is not an issue. We are only a few weeks beyond the hyperfocus stage, when none of these things were relevant or evident. I was dating a perfectly wonderful woman with the rather endearing habit of very occasionally forgetting her keys...

kicking and biting....

hm... well, if she were cheating and hiding it from you that would come under the 'kicking and biting' category.  I cheated on my boyfriend at that age and did not tell him.  I didn't think it was necessary or relevant.  I felt the other relationship was isolated in a parallel universe.  I didn't tell my boyfriend I 'wanted out' because frankly I wanted my cake and I wanted to eat it too.  Selfish?  Sure....  Gross?  Definitely...  I don't know how I justified it to myself other than I wasn't perfectly happy and figured 'I'm 20 - this is what other 20 year olds do."  Did I love my boyfriend?  Yes, definitely.  Did I love the other boy?  Yes, definitely.  Did I enjoy being involved with 2 people at the same time?  No.  I was miserable.  I didn't have a puffed up self image.  I was not proud of myself.... I was miserable.  But, I couldn't figure out what to do, and it all blew up in my face.

After that relationship ended and he moved on I realized what a $#!t I had been.  Had I reconnected with him 5 or 10 years later would it have worked out?  Maybe.  Maybe not...

I didn't have a relationship with anyone who was more than a year or two older than me (or younger) when I was in my early 20s, so I can't speak to the age difference element of your situation, but that might be a factor as well....

email correspondence may be the best way to communicate with her at this point.

Sorry I can't be more helpful!

PS- Sueann - how are you? did you move?

Hanging on by my fingernails

Thanks for asking. We managed to pay the rent yesterday. $18 left for the week. Still don't know what is going to happen long-term. Still don't know what I want to happen long-term. I'd prefer for him to get a job, of course, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that that isn't going to happen. So I'm just as frustrated as I was before. Now I've got another layer of frustration from all the crap we've brought into our already-overstuffed house from his mother's house and he won't do anything about. MIL will probably be done moving this week. Then maybe I can get him to pay some attention to OUR house! (Then again, maybe pigs will fly!)

Last night he spent an hour and a half playing computer solitaire. How can that be interesting?! He doesn't have a job and hasn't checked the listings a week, but that was how he chose to spend his time instead of looking for work. I don't want to abandon him and move in with my daughter but he has such an expectation that everything will be all right, and everyone will take care of him. Is there any way to break that or should I just let him experience homelessness for himself? He is holding out for a job in the field he got fired from, instead of taking any job that might pay the rent. He may never get a job doing what he got fired from. Would you hire someone to do the exact same thing they got fired from?

I am so furious. I had a screaming fit this morning. It is supposed to be bad that I get angry, but if I greet him with a big smile after he spends a couple of hours playing solitaire, how does that make him think "playing solitaire for hours is a bad thing"?

Very helpful...

We'll see if she answers. Meanwhile it's just helpful knowing I'm not alone. Thank you.


That last sentence would be the end for my honest opinion, she is trying to tell you exactly what your life is going to be like with her. She will say "I told you so" when she hurts you. She will hit rock bottom and come back to you and you'll think "she's finally come back to me" and as soon as she's strong again...

She may not be fully aware of her behaviors...and maybe like ellamenno, eventually she'll get it...but for now she needs to stay single...and you need to let her go. Sad.

My husband dropped little 'grenades' like this when we first met...and I cannot tell you how true each of them has ended up being...especially the "I am not a strong person, you will always have to be the strong one in the relationship" line. I didn't think that would be an issue at all...I was a very strong person. Little did I know he would eventually (and consistently) hurt me in ways that almost destroyed me more than once. I've always been strong...but I am human too...and I've struggled horribly. I had no idea how that statement would come to haunt me.

You are right, not

You are right, not necessarily ADD when a person does not answer phone or text. It could be an offshoot of it as a poor coping mechanism, or... There could be a comorbidity running alongside it (oppositional defiant disorder or ODD is common comorbidity in kids that can have persisting traits into adulthood.) Its never seemingly black and white, I have given up completely assuming what drives the actions of my spouse. Instead it is much easier to focus on myself: my mistakes, my needs, my wants... And to work on my personal development because I can not be responsible for his (the beginning of losing the codependence). Be supportive but dont give yourself up in the name of any relationship- it will be a healthier outcome in the end.

Good advice, but...

I am so missing that codependence of the hyperfocus stage... It was like a drug. I guess I'll never see that girl again. And for her I weep.