communicating with my girlfriend

hey everyone,


i really appreciate this website a lot.


my girlfriend has adhd.  knowing that she has it helps deal with the inevitable issues surrounding it, but sometimes it is depressing and irritating to experience it, despite my knowledge that her brain has trouble allocating attention.

today, for example, we skyped for an hour (in different countries at the moment, though that ends soon).  she was really happy and excited to talk to me, it was all over her face, but still she complained of being "bored" while at the net cafe, and spent most of the time on facebook, and interrupting me when i tried to talk about something that was emotionally kind of weighty for me.  the whole hour consisted of random tangents, and her playing on facebook.   not every skype date is like this, sometimes she is more or less centered.  when we talk on the phone i have almost her full attention (and her meandering way of talking can come across as cute), but the internet provides so many distractions that she is sometimes barely present with me in the moment.  or for today at least, for the entire hour we "talked".


how do i communicate how i feel without being wrapped up in my feelings so much i act out of my hurt, anger, or irritation?

can i expect her to be able to "work on" her adhd and how it affects our communication, or do i have to just give in and learn to be accomodating entirely myself?  i'm willing to do this if her brain chemistry is unalterable and she really has no "choice" in the matter at all.

fyi she is against taking meds.

thanks everyone,



fuzzylogic72's picture

communicating with your girl


Hey man, thanks for your post. It saved me from writing the post I was about to write (first one on this site; I'm a newbie here) about how the majority of the posts I've read on this site seem to be about non-adhd people (usually women), commiserating about and/or bashing their adhd partner for their 'inability to just GET it', or a myriad of other social inadequacies/incompetencies. I came looking for a support group; some kind of hope/uplifting words of encouragement, but was about to post my dismay before leaving in a worse state than I was in before coming here. Then I came across your post, and it helped me out, and let me tell you why, because I think it may indirectly help you as well.

I just had a ripper of an argument with my g/f about social indiscretions I committed on our recent trip to Cuba with her family (my fault of course, as this site will attest is always the case with add-ers in conflict situations). I was frustrated, because although I am acutely aware of the strain my condition,  and the behaviours it causes has on my relationships (i'm a teacher, and going into psych. to specialize in adult adhd, so I'm not lacking in self awareness), but I can speak for most add-ers with some modicum of accountability, that we are used to a lifetime of blame, fault, guilt, self-judgement, mis-judgement and criticism, and it is SO, SO important and appreciated when we find a partner who seems to be as caring and empathetic as you appear to be towards your girl (proved by your doing research on your own time to find out how to relate with her). We DO however get so distracted and lose focus on the fact that it's not always just about us and whether WE are getting the attention we crave, but that we need to reciprocate it as well. You see, we live in our heads a lot, so while we are So appreciative of people like you, and feel the same in return, we don't always think to express it, b/c we are hyper-focused on the in-coming (attention/lack of attention, either positive or negative), that we neglect our responsibility to reciprocate. I can assure you that she appreciates you more than you could even fathom, and would be destroyed if you left her, but just has trouble stepping outside of herself (not b/c she is selfish, but more so due to being hyper-focused on anything but the present moment of those out-going gestures of reciprocity.)

Either that or she got bored, met someone else, and is cheating on you; because we do that a lot as well. (JUST KIDDING....)

My point is that my g/f has been calling back after the fight as I wrote this, but rather than focus on the call, and answering it to nurture /work on the relationship, I chose to hyper focus on writing this to you. We add-ers are very sincere, and always want to help, but just often can't help ourselves (or don't believe we can), so WE LATCH ONTO ANY RANDOM DISTRACTION TO SAVE US FROM THE INEVITABLE FAILURE OF TRYING TO DEAL WITH OUR PRESENT SITUATION. Sounds messed up, but that's the truth of it. She has a LOT more going on in her head (often self-berating) than you think, and she probably IS trying harder than you can imagine, but it just doesn't seem like it. That's why it's a disorder, and it sucks.

BUT....her refusal to try medication is an issue that ABSOLUTELY MUST be addressed. Without that, in MY humble opinion there is no chance. That's coming from an adult add-er that wasted 20 years of my life in the fog of ruined relationships and wasted chances because of no medical treatment.


Good luck Josh, and write me any time.




I knew when I started reading your posts that you'd have a lot to offer if you could just be patient with the people who seem to really bother you with their current 'place' in life's journey with ADD. I hope you learn to weed through what you feel is helpful to you, offer advice when you feel you have something useful, and overlook the things that lead you to feel the need to leave....I say all of this because...

..of the following comment...

"We DO however get so distracted and lose focus on the fact that it's not always just about us and whether WE are getting the attention we crave, but that we need to reciprocate it as well. You see, we live in our heads a lot, so while we are So appreciative of people like you, and feel the same in return, we don't always think to express it, b/c we are hyper-focused on the in-coming (attention/lack of attention, either positive or negative), that we neglect our responsibility to reciprocate."

I hope I have made it clear that I am learning everyday and accepting more and more about my husband and his ADD everyday. I have forgiven a lot (yes, he cheated...because, according to him, he needed attention that he didn't get from me). I am struggling with this issue lately because I feel he is becoming more self-serving lately and I honestly cannot put my finger on why. I will try and explain. Life has gotten busy. He is in a band that will be performing live in they have started practicing twice a week instead of just once. I started a 6 week (Wednesday evening) Bible study 3 weeks ago. Between him working, me going to school and needing to study, and all of the rest of life's 'stuff' our time together has been decreased lately. I somehow get the feeling he is blaming me for this...because I took the Bible study? Because I don't study efficiently enough to get it all done before he gets home from work? (I do best when I study ALL day before the day of a test). I have asked him about it, told him I feel he blames me, he even accused me of "losing focus" on the marriage because I had to study one Tues night and then the next night was Bible study. I mean I think it boils down to him wanting me..physically..beside of him, in bed, watching TV...and if I am not then I think his mind starts going off on these tangents and he starts taking jabs at me (saying things like he did about me losing focus on the marriage) KNOWING that it is a sensitive subject for me (because we are recovering from his affair...which he claims was DUE TO ME NOT GIVING HIM ENOUGH ATTENTION In all fairness, it was true THEN..but not now!) How can I keep up? How can I win? I don't have enough trust in him to say "oh, he'll work it out on his his own mind..." and just not let it bother me. Maybe I should. Our counselor says I need to just let him work these things out, but yet she stresses how important it is that we work on his insecurities...but that has yet to be the focus of even one session. They are turning into him 'reliving' his past and all of these missed ADD things...and we're not getting much accomplished (at least not the most recent session). Don't get me wrong, we're doing fighting, still lots of quality time together, but I just get a feeling that he's really hyperfocusing on every.second.we.can' and somehow I'm getting the brunt of the blame. (I feel this because of his 'jabs') Yesterday I was trying to point out to him who all is in my Bible study while we were waiting for church to start..and he said "I don't care" but denied it later when I told him how hurtful that was...and even when he said it he immediately changed it to "I can't hear is too loud". I really am getting the feeling that he REALLY does not care (or has recently lost his ability to pretend he gives a shit) about anything I have to say anymore. He went on and on about himself and his childhood yesterday...yet anytime I brought up ANY subject, he would interupt, make some off topic comment, apologize for interupting, and then just keep on talking. He has never been this way and I'm worried that it is somehow medication related. Is it making him MORE focused on 'me me me'???

Anyway..thanks for the insight...he has always been good with reciprocation...he does not fit that 'ADD mold'..or at least hasn't in the past. I will give it a little more time. I brought it to his we'll see how it goes.




it was my fault


Sometimes when I read about how your husband had an affair because he wasn't getting attention from you I cringe.  You have zero responsibiity for his affair. He had choices and he chose to be immature and have an affair.  He is blameshifting because he doesn't want to take total responsibility. This reminds me of Adam in the garden when he was confronted by God about the first sin.  It's your fault God, you gave that woman to me.  How ridiculous is that? 

You have zero responsibility for the choice he made, just like he has zero responsibility for the outbursts you made.  You have made major effort here to explain to nonadders how we need to take responsibility for our own actions/words and I soooo agree with you.  This also applies to your husband's affair.  He needs to take all the responsibility for the affair--you did nothing to cause him to make that choice. 

We all need to be careful about blameshifting.  We need to self examine and figure out why we do some of the awful things and change them.  If anyone believes that someone else causes you to act or say certain things, then think about how you are giving them power over you.  Isn't that a scary thought to you--someone who has the power to make you do things?


Funny you should bring this

Funny you should bring this up, because the other day he and I were talking about it..which we RARELY do anymore..just trying to leave the past in the past.

When I hear (or think) that he did what he did for attention, I cringe me. I thought to myself for the longest time "is he TWELVE???!!!" and for many weeks I reminded him when he would tell me it was only about attention (not for love or sex) that I TOO was miserable, lonely, starved for attention..but I did not cheat! It took me a while to be able to stop beating him up for it...and to let it go and let it be part of the past. What I told him the other day was that I accepted full responsibility for what I did that caused us both to be in that miserable place..but that I did NOT accept ANY responsibility for his choices...and he would never EVER let me.

I may not have made that clear, and out of respect for him I would like to. He DOES accept blame. He talks often of how guilty he feels, how ashamed of himself he is, for what he did. He'll often say, out of the blue, "if I could go back and change things I would". He says over and over how sorry he is..for hurting me. Just the other day he admitted that it took him several months to stop sabotaging our marriage (after we reconciled last Dec) because he kept telling himself he did not deserve me, that I deserved better, and the guilt of what he had done was eating him alive. I can look back now and see this...and I really appreciated him being honest with me about that. I need to hear that. My father had an ATV accident and died about a month later (11/28/09) last fall..right in the middle of our separation and his affair (which I didn't know about until Dec). My father was very good to him and it was as hard for him to lose my father as it was for him to lose his mother just a month prior. That only compounded his guilt. I didn't understand why, but when he would come to the house to watch the kids when I would work he would just sit and cry..sobbing..unable to stop. I thought he was mourning his mother's death. This was going on before and after my father's death...about 6 weeks into his affair..and it was the guilt of the affair..then compounded by my father's dying. He was too ashamed to even visit with him in the hospital...because we were separated. I KNOW he had to go through some true hell on Earth during that time...and that's OK with me. He needs to never forget how it made him feel. He takes 100% responsibility for it...the 'attention' thing is only his 'reason'..not his excuse...and not his way of blaming me..AT ALL. He always makes it a point to let me know how sorry he is that he hurt me...specifically..that he HURT ME. I never have made it any secret how badly he hurt me, but I did finally reach a point where I decided to put it in the past and only look forward. I cannot change the future, I can only hope that the changes we've both made will make us both happier in the long run. I can honestly say that I believe 100% that he is extremely remorseful and very sorry for what he did...and that he has never blamed me for anything. If anything I think he has probably beat himself up about it too much...but I don't know what goes on in his head.

Our counselor, for the record, does not think the affair was ADHD (impulse control issues) related. She thinks he just gave up on the marriage after SIX LONG years of constant fighting. I can admit and accept that I treated him like less than human...I did not lift him up, I did not stand by him like God intends for a wife to do. I tore him down for every.single.mistake he made...starting from the first one and never letting go. He did a lot of things that were deserving of my anger....and he hurt me beyond words many, many times...but ultimately I am ONLY responsible for me..and I know that. I will never take blame for what he did...but that does not change the fact that I really needed to change as well..for ME. I hope this clears things up a bit.

Also...he had ended the

Also...he had ended the affair about a month before he finally gathered the courage to tell me. I would never take his word for it, the 'other woman' confirmed it...not really knowing what she was doing, because she obviously wanted me to kick him to the curb....she wanted him for herself. That was one of the KEY reasons I did let him come home...had it still been going on, I don't think I would have.

I know this is an old post

I know this is an old post but I am bumping it up because I just came across it and I thought that Charlie's comments were great insight.  It is easy to lose the perspective of the partner with ADD on these forums as there are a lot of partners of people with ADD here.  I think it is usefull to read what Charlie said and also read more if you can about the perspective of people with ADD.