Alternative universe

I have been in a 2+ year long distance relationship with a man that I am convinced has ADD/ADHD.  I have finally begun to see the behaviors in a real and troubling sad way. 

His coping with disorganization, and lost items as well as time crunches that result, is so scary for me.  I feel I am watching him in an alternative universe. 

He looses his keys or cell phone once or twice a week.  This isn't a, he misplaced it thing. This is a he has no idea where it is thing.  He began turning my house upside down including stripping the cushions from the couch to find his cell phone.  He had lost track of it Saturday night but didn't realize it was missing until 11:30 PM on Sunday, the night before his flight back home.  It was frightening to watch.

I have also witnessed the "papers" and how they overwhelm him.  He had personal papers, old mail, snack bags to be recycled, old un-needed receipts from like CVS or the grocery, business papers, newspapers from my town and his - AND he had my mail that had been delivered that day mixed into this mess.  I was stunned.  At this moment I realized that when he refers to "his papers" he isn't referring just to his business invoices and mail, he is literally referring to any piece of paper that may cross his vision or be in his hands.

I can't describe how unsettling these 2 events have been for me.  I can't eat I'm so upset.  My friends have noticed my weight change and commented - and we're a fit crowd who never comments on bad weight things like you're too fat or too thin (in this case).  I feel on the verge of tears almost constantly. 

I feel so for this man and want to calm the drama of what appears could be ADD/ADHD affecting his life.  But he doesn't believe in lots of phsyo stuff, including this.  And he always believes "he did nothing wrong", for example when he does or says something hurtful to me, or when he is so hyper it sends me into a tail spin.

When I see these scary alternative universe instances I feel so so far away from where his brain is it feels like an unbridgeable chasm.  I am so sad and in so much pain. 

We seemed to reach bottom this weekend to the point that I wanted him to leave and go home early only to feel that's not what I wanted later on.  I just want him to be well and for life to calm down.  But he blames me for being angry and so serious.  Yeah, well, if I'm not serious, I can go without food, for example, or sleep, or safety, because he's wrapped up in whatever "fun" he wants to have.  I try to plan ahead for my own needs for food, water, sleep, and then I'm too serious.  I try not to be hurt by the constant negative comments and when they add up to about a half dozen in a few hours, I loose it. 

I don't know what to do to make things calm down and get on track. He won't do anything.  He says he could or he will look into ADD, but I've heard this on other things too.  He always ends up being "too busy" to do any of the stuff he "could" do or "will" do.  Is this common to say you will do something but never follow through?  He just keeps telling me to control my temper, go with the flow, take him for who he is, and that "he did nothing wrong".  Is it normal for ADD/ADHD folks to make you feel bad, say nasty or unkind things, and expect you to 'accept it' but when you lash out after being continually hurt or when you're exhausted from compensating for him,  they expect you to '"change".  In this way, the ADD/ADHD person is always right, in his mind.  Is this common?  I'm trying to decipher if this is ADD/ADHD or just narcissism and/or controlling behavior on his part.  I know he loves me but his parents are dysfunctional with anger and nastiness between them for 50+ years.  Bad model that he doesn't want to repeat but he seems to be doing so.

it is

=>Is it normal for ADD/ADHD folks to make you feel bad, say nasty or unkind things, and expect you to 'accept it' but when you lash out after being continually hurt or when you're exhausted from compensating for him,  they expect you to '"change".

YEP. That's been my experience for past 15 years with my dh. As a matter of face, I could have written your post word for word.

Oh my

I really am having a hard time.  Word for word, really?  It's not me?  What can I possibly do?  He refuses to see he has any issue or take any ownership.  Do I tell him what you said?  

I have drawn a line, finally, I think.  He is known for and loves Latin dance.  I have taken lessons, danced to get better, listened to the music on my iPod, arranged nights revolving around this, gone to his scene, his lessons....etc, etc.  He has always said "it's about the dance" but he is reluctant to dance with me, at his scene and not.  Now he insists its about dancing with others and has continually refused to do anything special with me, like practice or learn new steps, moves that require a pair to be coordinated.  The basis stuff doesn't but how great would it be to have some signature moves of our own.  He thinks, and I quote, "the way to have a strong relationship is touching other people while dancing.  It's fun and makes you feel good and then we go home together.  It's not sexual."  We'll, yes it is sexual.  Because he has time and again chosen to be out late having fun instead of taking me home for intimate time with me.  He is distracted in bed and nearly never touches me with a goal of pleasuring me.  It's always about him.  And dang it, I'm a swing from the chandelier totally hot fit lady.  I've realized he is less experienced than me, even though he is over 45, uggh.  And I have been more than patient in him coming around to the ideas of pleasuring the woman.  I'm not talking anything heroic.  I just need a little touching in the right place, you know ladies.  I can spend 20 minutes or more getting him ready and then he's just into the feeling for him, me doing 98 percent of the physical work and almost always the person in the work position.  So, now I have to go without sexual attention while he insists on touching others while dancing instead of touching me sexually?  Wtf!?  I have no patience left and I will not service him, and create verbal stories involving other women for him, while he just wants to touch and be touched by others.  I blew up via email.  He actually wants to not go to any Latin dance stuff with me now, because I don't "get it", the sensual touching stuff i guess and the swapping partners with no special attention to each other.  I know this is all ADD stuff but I can't bridge this gap.  I need to feel loved and this is so far from that.  I can't do it, I just can't.  It's too hurtful.  I brought him sexual experience he has never known was possible and this is what I get -- serve me and watch me want others and ignore you?!

All that stuff you wrote

All that stuff you wrote about him being distracted in bed and it not being about you......ditto to that too. It's what has led me to breaking point. One day I realized this is all my love life will ever be even when I'm an old woman if I keep putting up with it. But in our case he's "interest" has waned to only  3-4 times a year. He says he's "too lazy to initiate" but I'm welcome to come visit him in front of the TV and "engage" him.  [And dang it, I'm a swing from the chandelier totally hot fit lady.] Yep, me too.

The stuff about him not wanting to touch you but touch other ladies and hear you talk about other ladies though? -- that doesn't sound like the ADHD I've read about on this board. I love to dance and I definitely agree about Latin dancing being the most sensual (& fun).

I'm definitely in the "if I had known it would be like this at the altar, i wouldn't have done it" category. What I wish I could have told myself then: "EVERYTHING that you 'put up' with now for the sake of peace or the relationship, that stuff will continue forever. So if you really can't deal it, don't play tricks on your brain convincing yourself it'll pass. It won't."

ADHD doesn't break up relationships, denial does

Grab a copy of my book and start reading it.  Deinial is the biggest issue here.  ADHD in and of itself isn't an issue.  But UNMANAGED ADHD can be a terrific burden on a relationship.  He may not have ADHD, by the way, in which case my advice below still holds....

I give this advice to ALL couples contemplating getting married.  DON'T get married until you are completely positive you know you can negotiate with each other in a constructive way.  That means discussing the problem fully, making a plan to deal with the issue that meets the needs of each of you, and executing that plan.

I don't save this advice just for people with ADHD (or looking to marry someone with ADHD) but give it to EVERYONE.  If you don't know if you can negotiate your differences, you have no business getting married.

You are in control of what happens here.  You've got a fear/problem you are trying to come to terms with.  Explain it constructively to your partner and have a good discussion that includes your point of view and his point of view.  Make a plan that addresses your issues and his issues.  Execute the plan.  If both of you can't get through this process...then you have a much bigger problem to deal with.

And another things - long distance relationships are VERY hard to pull off.  It's not so much the distance as it is the fact tha when we aren't with our partner all the time we tend to apply our own fantasies to that person.  It's not until we are together all the time tha we are faced with who the person REALLY is, versus who we WANT them to be.  So you'll want to have some time in the same town before tying the knot, too.

I have your book

And I've read a lot.  I don't have the courage to continue while he continues to be in denial.  And I'm simply trying to decide whether to stay in this.  I'm certain, at my stage and age of life, there'll be no knot tying. Thanks though.  I'm working with a therapist and he agrees that regardless of the label we put on the behavior I am experiencing, my focus should be on me being healthy and setting the appropriate boundaries.  

setting boundaries

You and your therapist are definitely doing the right work.  Figure out what you want...who you are at your best...and be that person.  Set your own boundaries and stick to them.  It's not about setting rules for him...but for you.  If that makes sense.


Thanks for stating denial not ADHD breaks up relationship, Ms Orlov. That helped me. And thanks for your book and for starting this forum!

My DH takes denial to a whole new stratosphere! For the first 10 years of our relationship (5 married) I didn't notice any of these problems. There was the forgetfulness of the wallet and not buying me a drink if he got himself one, but that's it. Once the kids came is when issues began. And we had had several sit down, set the plan, and agree to the plan sessions. I think I was so busy executing the plan that I never noticed I was the only one doing it. My own denial was in play for a while. I didn't realize our problems were adult ADHD until daughter was diagnosed with it six years ago. I was excited because it seemed to give a name to all the craziness and the issues. I was miserable by then and questioning if this was what I wanted for my future. But he vehemently resisted any idea that he had anything, and in fact just as aggressively claimed we had NO problems except those invented in MY head. So if there ARE no problems, why would we or he need to make any changes to solve them? If anything, I needed to pursue personal counseling to figure out why I was so unhappy! [i did go see a therapist, who told me I sounded like a very low maintenance type person & perhaps my spouse had ADHD?]

It was in response to the second (third?) time that I reached a breaking point and declared that I was DONE with our relationship that he even elected to get tested for ADHD. This was 15 years into the marriage. We had read your book together by then and even though he agreed it sounded JUST like our marriage, he still couldn't have ADHD - dyslexia maybe, but nothing more than that.  My daughter was successfully treated for 5 years by this point. The test came back 96% certain he had ADHD. He accepts and starts meds, but refuses to undergo counseling or even read the second half of your book (the solutions).

I took no joy in his diagnosis or his acceptance. By this time, I had suffered through ten years of untreated ADHD marriage chaos. I'm beyond rock bottom and after the 4th time I decide we're DONE, I kick him out and we are now separated for 2 months. His parents STILL refuse to believe he has the condition, that "I'm a liar who tells stories in a way that makes myself look good", and think I'm a home-wrecker. He is still VERY much in denial over the quality of our relationship & feels I'm over-reacting over a "spat." Despite hundreds of attempts at communicating my needs and issues with this marriage, he feels I am half reconsidering letting him back in & picking up where we left off - with the expectation that I will work hard to regain HIS trust! An expectation his parents share as well.