dating and ADHD

Just a view month ago I started dating again after finally recovering from a failed marriage ending in divorce about 2 years ago. I met my date back in July and we were attracted to each other immediately both physically as well as spiritually. After a few dates, he mentioned he has to disclose something/tell me a secret as he put it. He said he was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago after his son was diagnosed (if I recall correctly). I had no idea what that meant for adults ( I have heard of it in kids and what some of the effects are...). He also mentioned he is on medication (stimulating) and sees regularly a counselor since about 5 years. He is separated and divorced for about the same time after 20 years of marriage. I felt empathy and compassion when he told me about the shock he experienced when his wife walked out on him from one day to the other, possibly influenced by her family. The hardest part for him seems to be that his daughter (20) and son (21) left as well, most of their belongings are still in their room in the house. Lot's of memories for him, most of them good. He has a very good relationship with his son who is in college in Colorado. His daughter seems to be more distant and relates more to her mother (this interpretation is based on his stories and interactions with his daughter - I never met them). He is very creative and finally is able to combine his passion and work, he currently starts an interior design company. He is super focused on his business and his kids wellbeing, which gives us not very much time to meet and get to know each other. Many times when we meet he is very tired, so I try not to overwhelm him wit my energy and enthusiasm. I traveled the world and lived in many different places and continents and cultures. I worked with many charismatic leaders and pride myself to be tolerant to many different viewpoints, opinions, lifestyles and can deal with conflict. However, I have a significant problem with is his communication style or the lack thereof. At times I don't hear anything from him (neither text nor phone call) for 10 days including week ends! I felt very frustrated at times, but gave him time and didn't say anything (just left short voice mails and text messages or e-mails). When I observed strange behavior in social settings (he joint me at an event  - I am coaching 3 young underprivileged girls - he stayed distant and did not communicate or connect with other participants until the very end). After that incident and other observations about constant tardiness - which I have no problem to manage and cope with - I started reading more about ADHD especially with regard to medication and ADHD and the effect on relationships. The lack of attention started to hurt significantly, our dates seemed to be third or fourth priority for him and at times were forgotten....(that just happened this week end). I started reading more about ADHD and made a very surprising discovery. Based on all the information I found and after reading just a few free pages out of Melissa's book, I recognized many familiar patterns from my relationship and marriage with my ex-husband and came to the conclusion that not the alcoholism might have been our problem, but he might have ADHD (also based on some incidents he mentioned about his childhood)! I acknowledge I do not have the experience and background to diagnose ADHD, but this revelation helped to explain many events and actions and also my reaction based on frustration and anger (which I am not proud of, but I did not know what else to do or how to react....). I ordered Melissa's book today and hope to get more answers or be able to understand better.... One thing is for sure I will do everything I can to avoid to make the same mistakes twice, that might even mean not to enter into a relationship with a partner diagnosed with ADHD. I will also seek advice how to better communicate my needs with the man I date without upsetting him (setting boundaries). One result of my research is that I will try to schedule with him exercise dates. He also might not be efficiently medicated, but that is beyond my influence ( I would be interested learning about new research with regard to medications). For my own health and wellbeing I might have to stop dating him, if I do not see change in his behavior soon (which will be very hard as I fell in love with him). Financially and professionally, I am in a somewhat difficult situation myself right now after my divorce, trying to build a new life for myself in a country/continent I moved to 9 years ago to follow my ex-husband. Hence, I need a partner I can rely on (who does what he says he will do), who is attentive, responsible and available as well as capable to represent with me at social events. My conclusion is, I might not have what it takes to enter into a relationship with him, if he at all would be willing....

Red flags

If I had it to do over again, I would always find a way to talk to the ex-wives. Sounds like she may have stayed for the children's sake. Find out why she left, from her, if you possibly can.

At any rate, you can pretty much depend on the fact that any problems you see now (such as forgetting about you for long periods and not being able to relate to other people) will only get worse. A person who doesn't fit in socially with others will eventually do his best to isolate you also. This can drain you to the breaking point, believe me, because they demand that you meet all of their needs and take care of them only, and they can fight dirty to get what they feel entitled to.

You sound like a helper -- a person concerned with others who will go beyond themselves to help others. It sounds like you are already trying to "cope" with his strangeness and you are already extending yourself beyond the normal, RECIPROCAL give and take that should be part of any relationship. You are not likely to find any appreciation or acknowledgement of your help in a person like the one you are dating. Believe what you already see and run.

Your comments are helpful

Thank you both for your comments. They are very helpful and will support my decision making process in a big way. I felt like I am abandoning somebody who was honest enough to tell me the truth and now I am bailing out. In fact, I did not mention all the actions or behavior I experienced so far in our short time of dating (about 3 months), like at my birthday party just recently, he was sitting next to me, but turned his back on me for half of the evening and was talking to my friend Pam. I am not jealous, but rather happy for PAM, she needs the attention from a good looking man and he loves attention from other women. I am not worried about it as long as I know I am number one and I can trust him. The part I felt a bid uncomfortable with was Janet, one of my best friends, who looked at me that evening in a way wanting to say "really" "what is he doing?" We never addressed it or talked about it.... One other challenge I encountered is sex and passion. I am 51 and very passionate and he is 53 and seems to have a hard time to climax, we talked about it and he explains it with alcohol, being tired and/or distraction (when I am passionate he cannot focus on himself anymore...). All that is just confirming the decision I already made in my head, now my heart has to follow and let go....

CYA, not honesty

"I felt like I am abandoning somebody who was honest enough to tell me the truth and now I am bailing out."

Uhm, his behavior is not BECAUSE he is ADHD. It is because he is inconsiderate. Telling you he was ADHD is his excuse for treating you badly, and in his mind, if you knew he was ADHD when you married him, everything from that point forward is going to be YOUR fault. This confession was not because he was being "honest" enough to tell you -- it is a prime example of CYA.

I challenge you to go through these posts and count how many ADDers lost interest in sex on the wedding night or shortly thereafter, and nothing has helped. And he is already disinterested? Because of alcohol, tired, distraction?   NOT!!!

I am putting myself in your

I am putting myself in your shoes of my life 35 years ago and wondering why I continued the relationship with my DH husband after so many instances of his "disrespecting" me.  It IS disrespect to show up late, not communicate,  make you feel like a fourth priority, lack of communication, flirting with others in front of me (maybe that hasn't happened yet but for me it was part of his inappropriate behavior).  I would always break up with him before we were married when he did inappropriate things with other women.  Why did I keep going back?  It seemed to me that the universe was putting us together even tho I kept running away from him.  He was so persistent I admired his tenacity at the time.  I was running a way again when I got pregnant.  After we got married, the dynamic got worse.  I am more responsible than him.  Marriage vows meant more to me than to him.  A relationship meant more to me than to him.  I tried more.  He was off in his own world more and viewed "family" as all my responsibility and seemed to fight against his part in it.  But when I would talk about splitting, he would say "no way".  It didn't make sense. He acted toward me like he had no use for me, yet he would not agree to a divorce.  Why did I stay?  Why do I?  Why did I believe him so many times when he proved again and again that he would not/could not partner the way I wanted/needed to partner?  We have to ask ourselves, "What is it inside of me that I am willing to put up with this?" Don't give your SELF away for someone who does not show you respect or care about your feelings or well being. Don't let your financial situation take away your dignity.  You can have pride and self confidence even though you are going through challenges.

Too Many Red Flags

My first reaction after I read this post is that I am never dating again (slightly joking, of course).  I, too, have been by myself for 2+ years after being in a totally dysfunctional marriage for almost 27yrs.  Been there, done that as the saying goes!  I would run as fast as I could from this man.  The post also gives me reassurance, and should to many other spouses in pain who gave their all only to have their spouse leave to find "happiness", that these ADD issues will not end when they leave you.  They will continue to be a challenge to every relationship they are in.          

Of course these guys are

Of course these guys are right,  you should run a mile. Relationships with ADHD involved are invariably destined to  be hell on earth, there can simply  be no other outcome.   *Any* symptom that manifests ought  be seen for what it is;  a clear sign that the person is not trying hard enough, operates in a moral vacuum or is just manipulating you for their own personal gain, and most importantly,  one must of course, never, ever  view any disclosure as honesty when it can be perfectly well  explained as having a sinister intent.    Sigh,  if only I had known having ADHD was a  certain relationship death sentence I would have got a lobotomy,  become a eunuch  and joined a monastery,  it would have saved much suffering to those poor souls with which I have been romantically involved, alas  you live and learn ;)

Sarcasm unwarranted

Jon, the sarcasm is unwarranted. She is asking women with experience what life with this man might be like, and it is pretty obvious to most. Should we lie to her to make you feel better? Your last sentence is overly dramatic, whiny, and full of "poor me" and helps no one. And if you'll notice, my advice was that ADHD was NOT to blame -- that the guy is inconsiderate.

I am getting it, Jon, that

I am getting it, Jon, that you like the sparring.  Very much like DH.  With DH, he knew I cared,  He didn't/doesn't. and because I cared and wanted to try, he saw his "bully victim" in me.  What an easy mark I have been for him.  He could say anything and I wanted so badly to believe him and trust him that I did to my own detriment, consistently giving him yet another chance.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?   "Feel sorry for me, the poor imperfect person who has again not met with the impossible demands of this shrew! I only wanted to touch the nice lady's breasts, what is so wrong with that, Can't a guy have a hug in this mean, cold world? Must you ALWAYS see the negatives and never see ALL the good things I do?  Remember last week when I took out the garbage that one time?  Did you say thank you? Can't you EVER talk about anything other than money? I am doing the best I can but that is never good enough. I never hit you like some guys. You should be glad you are not married to one of THEM!  I can't tell you the truth because you don't believe me when I tell you the truth, you are so untrusting and don't give me a chance. What about ME? Don't I get some happiness? A man has needs!"


Oh jenn -- I can so relate to your post. Yes, it is SO familiar. You have hit the nail squarely on the head -- they justify themselves at all costs. The problem is irrelevant and merely presents a new game format. And the more you buy into actually trying to solve the problem, the further out they go with the craziness. Until you go stark raving mad.


Fair call, sorry for the drama.  Actually I am not being whiny or poor me, merely being facetious.
Really I am in a  good place at the moment,   Job is good, family is good and relationship is going the best is has in many years.  Good things can happen and I guess that is my primary point.       

There is a couple of realisations that have contributed to this and this forum has been enormously informative in this regard,   particularly I have found that the burn them at the stake worldview has given me a real window into where things can end up, and it’s seems a scary, and cynical place, unless you like boiling in your own oil, I really don’t get why you keep doing it, maybe it is cathartic.     

It would seem to me that those of us with ADHD cannot change for you guys, it is not for your happiness or mental health that we must dig deep and work.  It is for our own.  It sucks to be all the things that you guys take issue with, and to be constantly told, but at the end of the day you are not the ones with the condition and I don’t think you will ever be as savage on our failings as we can be.  The onus is on us to look inside ourselves and search out our own pathways to address the things with which we struggle.   

The idea that we get any kind of contentment from you guys being our “parent” figure is a myth, a condescending and self-comforting one that carries with it no useful way out of the trap many ADHD relationships have fallen into. In the end turning up the heat just cooks the relationship, it’s a stalemate where both sides get locked into perfectly synchronised misery.

 There are some very pertinent lessons in Mellissa’s book, I can say to NoN ADHD people that *these really work*   the key one being the need for *both* parties to be willing to focus on change. In the absence of one or the other failing to do so, it is a hopeless spiral into certain failure, that much seems clear.  There seems little point wishing for a partner that doesn’t have ADHD and ceaselessly criticising them for exhibiting the characteristics that define the condition. The reality is you do, so set your boundaries, both accept that there is a need to approach things differently or don’t and move on, find somebody without ADHD and live happily ever after.  Is it not that simple???