Always the victim?

My husband displays sort of a strange dichotomy in his interpersonal relationships. He can get along with anyone when he wants to, can turn on the charm and (for lack of a better term) bullsh*t his way through any social interaction by appearing very friendly and agreeable. People who don't know him well think he is the nicest guy in the world. At the same time, he has a troubling history of conflict with friends and colleagues; more so than anyone else I've ever known. It seems like people just turn against him or reject him for no apparent reason, and he always comes out feeling victimized and wondering why he was treated so disrespectfully. While it often seems from the outside like he's done little to create the problem, it's happened enough times now that I'm pretty convinced he is contributing to it in some way. I just don't think it's normal to have this amount of conflict with others, no matter how much it seems like it's always their fault. He has a fairly aggressive personality once you get to know him, and a tendency to dominate conversations, and I'm starting to suspect that he just turns some people off after a while because he comes on too strong or seems argumentative/overbearing. Either that, or there is a tendency for major misunderstandings/miscommunications to happen in his relationships that lead to these conflicts. His reaction when these things happen is, predictably, to get very offended and lash out at the person in anger, which invariably makes the situation worse. The end result is that he has a chip on his shoulder from years of feeling unfairly wronged by other people, including family members. It also seems to have a negative effect on his ability to get ahead in life -- for example, he gave up on an academic program and subsequent career path because his professors seemed to dislike him/not want him to succeed. While I have sympathy for him, I also get very tired of being exposed to these interpersonal conflicts and their aftermath and can't help thinking that they're somehow avoidable.

Do others with ADHD partners see this type of pattern? My husband has not been diagnosed and refuses to get assessed. I wonder if this type of constant, perceived "victimization" is something that is typical with ADHD.


What you're describing is

What you're describing is fairly common among people with untreated ADHD.  Interpersonal relationships can be incredibly challenging for them.  Unless the people they are interacting with understand the ADHD, the behaviors seem rude, aggressive, or distracted.  If lying is part of their coping profile, they lose friends quickly who figure out they are being lied to all the time.  There are lots of great books on ADHD that might help you.  I don't have my kindle in front of me to get you titles, but Melissa's book is great.

Thanks. I have been reading

Thanks. I have been reading some books ("Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD?", "Driven to Distraction") and plan to check out Melissa's too. I don't think lying is a factor, but probably a tendency to come off as aggressive or rude is. I've also realized that this kind of conflict seems to happen more with women, who might more easily take offense, whereas male friends/colleagues are more likely to take it in stride or see it as typical "male" behavior on his part. I know it's hard for me not to take his behaviors personally, and I find myself becoming more aggressive when dealing with him in order to feel like I'm making myself heard (which is totally unlike me; I'm normally not an aggressive person at all). 

Yes, we have the t-shirt

As OMT2013 says this is pretty common with ADHD (I'm the non-ADHD female).

In my husband's case meds make a night-and-day difference, on meds 90% of it is gone and the remaining 10% tends to happen before meds have kicked in (and he's not a morning person, whereas I am - so we do have to tippy-toe around each other a little anyway early in the day) or in the evening when they're wearing off.  But now he is so aware of this behavior that he knows when it's happening and consciously works at avoiding it.  Relationships at work improved? Yes. With family? Yes. Usual daily interactions? Yes.  He is also now quite able to see and analyze this type of  behavior in others as it occurs - he caught me being defensive yesterday over something I forgot that he told me he'd handled instead and we laughed about it. (Yes, we actually laughed because he's so pleased to be able to say something like "You know when you told me I would act like X, well now you're doing it too - you see I can see it now!" ).  In his case it is 100% the meds that have made the difference, there is no doubt about it, and he would agree.

I think if my husband could speak to yours he would urge him to get assessed and try the meds if diagnosed. He was reluctant to do it but now wishes he had done it decades ago, and regrets that his parents swept it under the rug (as they did with another sibling).  He didn't want to try the meds because he thought he would not "be him" any more.  Now he wants to take them for ever, the diagnosis has made that much of a difference in his life.  But it did take some time to overcome his reluctance.  I suppose the main arguments I made could be summarised as:

(1) "you know, you really know, that something is the cause of the difficulties you have had. You can't change the past but if tomorrow could be better wouldn't you try?"

(2) "the primary ADHD meds (not long-lasting formulations) have effects lasting for 4 hours. If you don't like the effect, don't take another one, I won't make you and it's your body". (Of course, this was a gamble for me, but I was pretty sure we'd find a med that worked even if we didn't get lucky right away - which we didn't, but the 2nd med was much better and we took it from there).

I'm really glad to hear your

I'm really glad to hear your husband has had so much success with medication. How long did it take you to convince him to get assessed? I've resigned myself to the idea that the only way I'll get mine to go is to "force" him. He implied this during an argument, saying that it didn't matter whether he wanted to do it because I would just end up making him -- which is essentially what I have to do to get him to see a doctor or dentist anyway (tell him he needs to get a check-up, find him a doctor, make an appointment for him, make sure he goes to the appointment, etc.). I'd much rather have him go of his own accord, although I think it's going to take a while to get to that point.

About 14 months of nudging

It was about 14 months from when I began encouraging him get assessed to his making the first appointment. I had spent at least a couple of months prior to that reading about and researching ADHD, so I could respond to his questions and anticipate his arguments and also to to convince myself it was ADHD (or otherwise). He had to wait about 6-8 weeks for the appointment. So in all about 18 months since my lightbulb moment. In the end he found the psychiatrist, he made the call, and he went off to the appt on his own (no big drama!).

"it didn't matter whether he wanted to do it because I would just end up making him"

I probably heard that at least a couple of times, I thought it was a chink in the armor :)  When I heard it I tried to back off (not easy for me, I like to win).  My thoughts were 'well, he's not stupid and he heard me' so I let the the idea dance around in his brain for a while before I raised it again.  I did give him Driven to Distraction, he didn't like it at all, and he didn't read any other books before the appointment. I did ask him to do a couple of questionnaires and I think that's when he began to convince himself.  After the appt he then spent quite a while reading books on ADHD and brain function (amazing, reading was always a struggle for him even though he has 2 degrees).  Secretly I think he was thrilled that someone was taking an interest in his difficulties in ways that hadn't happened earlier in his life and he responded by learning more about ADHD by himself.

It did take some time to get the dosage right - 'normal'/'typical' stimulant doses do almost nothing for him so it took some time to go through that, but we seem to have reached the point where higher doses bring no additional benefit.

It's reassuring to hear that

It's reassuring to hear that your husband was willing to seek help despite his initial refusal, even though it did take a while to get there. I have decided to back off for now and allow some time for the idea to percolate in his head before bringing it up again. I had also gotten the feeling that he might be somehow grateful that I had taken an interest in this; he had tears in his eyes during one discussion and had indicated that he felt his parents never took seriously the idea that he might have a learning disability growing up. I thought that was a good sign, but since then he's put the defensive walls back up. Maybe in 14 months I'll finally have him in a psychiatrist's office. :)   

Just as an aside, he was supposed to go to the doctor yesterday for a check-up. Well, he missed the appointment (laid down for a nap but overslept; didn't have an alarm to wake himself because he'd left his cell phone in my car). He said he'd call them to reschedule this morning, but as of getting up today he'd already forgotten about it. I'm resisting the urge to pick up the slack for him, because I want to see what happens when I stop making an effort to keep him on top of things. I guess it's sort of an experiment to see if the ADHD-like behaviors will really come to the fore when I stop playing the "nagging mom" role.