Betrayal from fiance who has ADHD

I'm engaged to be married next year.  This past Sunday I discovered that my fiance responded to two personal ads on Craigslist a week ago today. One was for a woman and the other was for a man who was looking to experiment for the first time. In looking over his email, neither of the people responded to him so he didn't get the chance to act on it.  He has said that he didn't plan to act on it.  He just got a thrill from sending the emails. 

He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was younger and now, at age 24, he's not taking medication (no insurance) so I wonder if that plays a role. It's bad enough that my research of ADHD revealed that sexual addiction is a common behavior in people with untreated ADHD. I've tried my hardest to be patient with his condition, but today's finding makes me not care about his condition, for the first time in my relationship and that concerns me. 

When confronted, my fiance said it was all just a "fantasy" and that he got a rush from it but never intended to act on it. I told him the minute he hit the send button, he "acted" on it. I don't believe it. He has always had an eye for online pornography, which honestly didn't bother me. But I felt he crossed the line when he went from looking at photos/videos of porn stars (that the whole world has the chance to ogle), to contacting complete strangers in our area for random sex hook-ups.

Since this occurred, he has had 3 counseling sessions with a member/therapist of his Mom's church.  This is a man who doesn't beat around the bush and is very direct and doesn't accept excuses.  My fiance grew up with parents who never held him accountable for his actions and I am the first person in his life who has.

Initially, he struggled to see how his behavior constitutes cheating. He said he has never physically or emotionally cheated while we've been together.  I believe that he hasn't in the past, but I am having such a hard time believing it for our future.  I guess, in my mind, it would hurt to not have him in my life, but over time, I would rather be alone, than invest my time in someone who can't be faithful to me.

I think (ah, the Gemini motto), that what hurts is that he knows that my last serious relationship ended (by me) when I discovered my boyfriend was having sex with his coworkers and lying to me about it. He knew how I felt about cheating and that it's the one area I won't waffle on.

I believe that he hasn't had sex with someone else, but what he did is still cheating in my eyes and my pride (and rational side?) makes me want to show him that I am serious. I'm not married yet (this would have been my 2nd), but we do have an infant together.

I apologize for rambling. I guess I just wanted to get my thoughts out there. We're scheduled to move into a new townhouse together on Thanksgiving Day. I told him today that it would be best for him to look for other places to live. We'll share custody of our daughter, but I wouldn't be comfortable living in the same house with him while I dealt with this.

The expected signs of remorse have been present since Sunday. He's cried, begged, pleaded, made dinner, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but I feel like my heart has already hardened. I didn't even allow myself to cry until late yesterday and I couldn't stop for over an hour.  I guess I'm still in shock. In the past when we had a disagreement, despite the disagreement, I still felt love when I looked at him. Suday was the first time I didn't have that feeling.

I've browsed other chat forums and posted something similar and I immediately got negative responses that chatised me for even thinking that ADHD could have been part of the problem.  ADHD doesn't excuse his behavior but I guess what I need is feedback from people who have TRUE experience with ADHD, rather than just jumping to the conclusion that it's effects are a myth.  I don't know enough about ADHD to know what he goes through on a daily basis emotionally and physically.  He has trouble explaining it to me.  If I were to stay with him, I feel I have no choice, but to find out more in an effort to survive this.

Cheating fiance

Consider yourself lucky you found out BEFORE you got married. People with ADHD have poor impulse control. This e-mail on Craig's list was a starting point. Don't be around for the ending....the porn addiction is bad enough. His thrill seeking will only escalate.

Cheating Fiance

Cheating is not all that uncommon, unfortunately, even within the first years of a relationship.  (See this article from a very recent edition of the Wall Street Journal for some specific numbers.)

Your problem here may be related to the ADHD, but clearly not everyone who is cheating has ADHD, and your fiance's thought that he can use his ADHD as an excuse doesn't bode well since it suggests that he isn't taking full responsibility for his ADD.  (And speaking of that, is there NO ONE in his family who can pay for his ADD meds while he doesn't have any insurance????  If he had cancer, would they not help????  Having untreated ADD is a serious condition that puts him at increased physical and mental risk - more likely to be in a car accident, more likely to lose his job, more likely to lose his there no one who might be concerned about this and want to invest in some preventative medicine/treatment?)

People with ADD do have trouble with impulse control, and they also have real trouble choosing wise actions today so that they might pick a better future (this is a form of inhibition control also - they can't stop doing what feels interesting today in order to ensure something excellent in the future).  So, could ADD be an issue here?  Absolutely.  Does it mean that it should be an excuse?  No.  He needs to take responsibility...take his ADD seriously enough to figure out how to treat it and get some of these issues off the table for the two of you.

There is also a trust issue here, as you well know.  You are experiencing what losing trust in someone does to a relationship - in this case your immediate hardening of your heart is probably fall out from your first marriage.  You just don't want to go through the pain again, and so you have put up a big wall.  I don't blame you.  Affairs su.....!  Don't assume, though, that he's paying attention to how you ended your last relationship.  It's likely that only you are doing so.  Which doesn't make it any easier...just remember that folks with ADD think in two time zones - now and not now.  For him, your last relationship is most definitely in the "not now".

Relationships can handle affairs, particularly affairs that haven't been consumated, if both parties are open and resolve the issues these things bring up.  Your fiance certainly used poor judgment here, and he is seeing the consequences of his decisions (and not liking how they feel).  He is doing something about it - counselling (which he should keep up even after this particular issue has died down because other impulse control issues will certainly come up) and talking with you about it.  Will this help in the future?  Hard to tell.

Just because he is doing something doesn't mean you need to respond positively, but at least it is an indication that he is willing to work on the issues.  If he wasn't giving you that indication then I would certainly advise you to dump him.  But since he is, the answer to that question is less obvious.  Which is not to say "stay", only to say "you need to follow your heart while protecting your best interests".

Because that may sound like odd advice, I'll give you an example - mine.  My husband and I both had affairs well into our marriage (during the 15-20 year period) and so have both been on the "giving" and "receiving" end of this experience.  Our motives were a bit different (we were both so incredibly miserable we looked elsewhere for comfort) which, while it is different from thrill seeking, doesn't change the outcome.  It stinks to have your spouse cheat (I'm being polite here).  For me, getting over the experience and moving on came down to "trust but verify", as well as some contractual agreements that would protect me financially in the event that we ended up getting divorced (post nup).  I did still love him, and was able to understand why he had done what he had done - even empathize with it - but just didn't want to be stupid about my future.  I tried to find a balance that gave him the benefit of the doubt and responded to our continued desire to be together, while not punishing myself for staying with him.  Part of this was telling him that I would contact his girlfriend sometime in the 12 months following the last time they were supposed to be seing each other, to see if he had contacted her (I knew her well enough by then to know she would gleefully tell me yes if they had had contact).  Even though things did get patched up fine, I did still contact her simply because I had made myself a promise that I would do so.  She confirmed they had not had contact and that she now hated his guts for dumping her and had moved on - fine by me.  I also insisted that he be completely open with me, honestly answer any questions I asked (his girlfriend had shared much info with me in an attempt to make me kick him out, so I would have known he was lying), be willing to share cell phone records, etc if I asked, without complaint.  I did this not to punish him, but because it was what I needed to get rid of the deamon that you are now dealing with - how do I know if he is still lying to me?  We had talked about it enough that he knew that this was why I was requesting this stuff, and he respected my need enough to agree to it.  The net result is that we are now not only fine, but the way we were able to work through this incredible crisis (on both sides, for he had to deal with my affair, too) has made us closer.  In spite of that, he knows that if he cheats again I wouldn't ask questions, just leave (and vice versa).  No questions, no excuses.  This policy actually helps reinforce our feelings of ease about our relationship (at least for me - I guess I shouldn't speak for him) because I know that he understands fully what is at stake if he decides to wander off.

Having told you this story, I will also say that my husband is generally a loyal guy (his cheating had to do with how miserable our marriage was, not a roving eye) and he really, really likes to be married.  He tells me and shows me every day, now that things are great, that he loves me and is thinking about me.  My knowledge of his personality, then, affected how I thought about my range of options when deciding what to do.  Your situation may be quite different.  I only encourage you to think carefully and creatively, to make sure come out with the outcome that is the best for you.

I know another couple in which the man has ADD.  Before they decided to marry he talked with his now wife about his ADD like this "I love you more than anything.  You know what ADD is all about.  I will try my hardest to be a loyal partner, but also want you to know that I don't have full confidence that I can always control my impulses.  I don't think I will cheat on you, but I can't guarantee it, so I just want you to know this going in."  An interesting conversation that might have scared many!  This couple has had a happy and caring marriage for many years, with no affairs of any sort.  But I thought the conversation an interesting one.  Not sure what I would have done if I had been on the receiving end!

So, I would give you one more piece of advice - don't feel you have to take anyone's advice on this, including mine!  This is your life.  Life it in a way that makes you happy and comfortable.


I had a similar problem with

I had a similar problem with my boyfriend.  A couple months into the relationship I had an oppurtunity to look into his phone while he was asleep.   I did this, because it was during a time when his behavior was making me increasingly paranoid.  In his phone I found multiple text messages to a girl some of which became incredibly sexual as the messages proceeded into the night.  The messages to her during the day were asking if she was coming out and her suggesting to pick him up.  I was supposed to be out with him that day, but he told me I would be bored if I went, so he sort of uninvited me.  When I confronted him about the situation the first words out of his mouth were that he has ADHD!  He claims he wasn't going to see her and that he was just messing around in order to occupy himself.  He gave the same justification that your fiance did in that he doesn't consider it cheating, because he didn't physically or emotionally do anything.

I found the whole situation hard to take and I felt the way you did.  I still have a hard time trusting him.  If it's really his ADHD I would assume he does this sort of thing whenever I'm not around or when he's bored.  In fact, this is what I assume.  It wreaks a lot of havoc in my head.  During that period of time we were seriously considering moving in together and it made me question how serious he could be with me if without a second thought he could disrespect our relationship considering the direction things were going.

I think both situations are grey areas.  Yes, they say they didn't literally act on their behavior, but it's still a violation of their commitment to us.   Do you think your fiance would be ok with it if he found out you were doing the same thing?  I know my boyfriend would flip, but somehow he justifies it to himself.  ADHD or not I don't know many people who do things like that and not take it to the next level. 

I'm sorry that I don't have any advice for you!  Sometimes what makes me put things into perspective is that regardless if your fiance is just acting out a fantasy and has no intention of acting on it do you want to marry someone who exhibits behaviors that make you question his faithfulness?

Craig's List cheating

Yes, be very grateful you caught him red handed when you did. I recently went through an almost identical situation except that my "man" was (is) bi-polar. I was using Craig's List to look for a new place to live so that I could move to a new town and take a new job the following week. Suddenly, for no apparent reason I was drawn to click on "men for men." In in two clicks I read a post I knew beyond all shadow of a doubt was from my then boyfriend looking for oral sex. He even posted a picture of himself standing next to his own son at his daughter's wedding. So I made up a new g-mail account and responded as if I were an interested man. The next day, with the two of us on separate computers about 15 feet apart in my apartment, he responded with his cell number and an invitation to meet up with "me" IN MY APARTMENT the next week, when I was three hours away starting my new job. Within seconds I confronted him, he confessed to having a sexual addiction and said (like your finace) that he never acted on it and it was just the thrill of the chase, etc. BS. Long story short, after much ado, we ended our relationship and I can tell you for a fact that anytime I want to I can find a post from him on CL looking for the exact same thing. I also know for a fact that he has indeed acted on it and continues to. He is bi-polar and knows it but won't take meds because they "dampen" his sexual appetite and ability to, ya know. Whatever. I am not interested in STDs, sharing, communal sex, swinging, or bi sex. Hang tough sister. DO NOT believe for a second that this is just fantasy. It is not. It can only hurt you and your child, short and long term. You can do better. Take care. M

Well..... I feel as though I

Well..... I feel as though I should try and comment and give perspective on my own situation...... As a child (Im 25) ADHD wasn't really something that was as 'popular' of a condition as it is today.. And since it is more common in male children, no one ever considered ADHD as reasoning for my childhood behavior. I made a lot of bad impulsive choices as a teenager/young adult - even though I know right from wrong, and usually only reconsidered my actions after I had done them. With that noted - I made a bad impulsive decision a few months back - I am engaged to a wonderful guy. He is actually the first guy I have actually cared for and we've been together for 5years (by far my longest relationship). While I've been 'bored' in the relationship before - I've never acted out other than a few friendly emails/texts to old flings - just to say hello. To make the story short, I randomly cheated on him one night while out... Like previous bad decisions, it wasn't until days later, that I actually thought about what I had done. Curious, I had begun to search for links between ADHD and cheating (most topics relayed to males cheating on females) - and while there were some - most were quick to point blame solely on the person - and not ADHD..... I am still convinced that it played a role in my decision that night - but by no means - made that the sole reason for my actions (meaning I surely didn't make it the 'excuse' for my behavior when I told him - I doubted he would agree anyways....) I currently do not take any medication - but am looking into an all natural product called Attend... I am fearful that something like this might happen again - plus I am having work related issues (with concentration and completing tasks) - and hope that it will help. I can't condone his behavior - but understand that the impulse (and sex addiction) is an issue that can lead to worse if not looked into..... I wish you the best - and with your support, it will make him more accepting of what he's done in the past - and hopefully drive him to take care of it in the future.....

addicted to porn?

Help me!  I believe my husband is "addicted" to porn.  Is this a true addiction or hyperfocusing?  Or is he just a sicko???  I had asked him while in a therapy session over a year ago to stop.  He agreed.  I expressed how much this behavior hurts me.  I feel cheated on and disrespected.   I think he only gave it up for about a week if even that long and he is so heavily into it now I don't know what to do.  Any advice out there?  Should I confront him again ?(this would expose my snooping though)  I feel I must state that I snooped only out of mistrust and suspicion...and I was proven correct in my suspicions. 

Addicted to porn

You need to deal with this, for your own sake if not for his.  Are you still in therapy?  If so, then that's the place to deal with it.  Perhaps he needs some harder core professional help (a la David Duchovny).  If you are not in therapy, seek the advice of a marital therapist on this one.  You need someone else who can be the "bad guy" on affecting change, not you.

The larger issue, of course, is that you don't trust him.  I'm guessing this extends into other areas of your life as well.  Make sure you give it some thought as you talk with a professional about the issue.

If he won't deal with this habit, you'll have some hard choices to make about what it means for your relationship.  Think long and hard about where you need to draw the line on the topic for YOU, not for him.

To Melissa re:porn addiction

Thanks for the advice Melissa.  We are technically still in therapy although, because he has worked so much overtime in the past few months we have not gone together.  (he gets home too late)  I did go alone once or twice and have scheduled another session (probably alone) next week. 

No, I do not trust my husband in general.  The porn issue is exactly the kind of reason why.  (and there are many)  I know this lack of trust is a huge issue.  The thing is even while discussing issues in therapy,  he agrees to "work on" certain behaviors, but in the end he is never consistent about the changes.  It may stick for a very short period of time, he gets praised by me and the therapist, but it always goes back to where we were at the start.  No change has ever been sustained.  Nothing has changed in 3+ years of therapy, except he is on meds now, which he doesn't consistently take either.   I don't trust my husband when he says he "will try" anymore.  He is quite manipulative and I think he's got our therapist fooled a lot of the times too.   

Any other advice for me Melissa?  I would greatly appreciate it.

I am drawing closer to the conclusion that this marriage just will not work out.  The Great Lord God knows that I have done everything that I could possibly do to help us/me/him, but I am only one person.  It breaks my heart-realizing that we will be a sad statistic.   

re:porn addiction

My heart goes out to you and those who have such burdens in their live's. Unfortunalety porn is a addiction not only for adhd men but as well non adhd men. Generaly men have a tendency to lust, but there is a line that it crosses if it becomes an obssesion. My adhd/deppresion husband has and had a problem with it since a young man. We have had conversations about it together, which helped me to understand it. He told me most men struggle with it and that it is a battle even if someone is satisfied with their spouse. But should that excuse it?  ABSOLUTELY NOT! there are all sorts of issues we all battle with. Whatever it is we still have the FREE WILL to choose how we react to it and what we do ! I think that men or women cannot hide behind their adhd as a excuse for things that hurt and damage marriages.

One thing that helped my husband was a support group. He got together with a bunch of guys at a local church and it  was so helpful to him. He also had a accountability partner. Him and a friend would keep in touch on a weekly basis and talk about guy stuff but also about any hints of lust outside the marriage. Maybe this might be something to look into. Your hubby  may well be fooling the theraphist. My husband has with his therapist. He is extremely smart and manipulative . .  Be brave dear one, you sound like a very devoted wife. I hope things will turn around in a good direction for you...

p.s. when I was pregnant with my 4 th child for a while my husband would volunteer to take my son to his weekly youth group. After dropping my son off he would then go to the strip joint. when he came home He stunk like booze. He told me he went and played video games at the local arcade. I wasn't fooled though. I had my suspicions.  he confessed to me long past after he stopped porn. One night at the strip joint it hit him in a profound  way that those girls were someones daughters and he thought of our little girl at home that as a young woman  he would never want anyone to look at her and lust after her like that. His stomach  turned so then he stopped .

To Opt regarding porn addiction

Thank you for your supportive and compassionate response.  I will keep you informed, although I don't believe my husband is the support group kind of guy. 

YOU sound like the devoted wife.  One never knows how one will react in certain situations, but your husband should thank his lucky stars that you stayed with him after the strip club lies!  God Bless!