Do ADHD'ers forget their own needs just like they lose sight of other things important in life?

Melissa's email post about the lack of intimate relationships got me wondering a bit.   (something like half of us lack even a single friendship that we can count on).

I know my untreated ADHD wife is human.  I've seen her breathe, and bleed....  But If I am an evolved, introspective man with feelings and needs for intimacy (not just sex.  Hey how 'bout sliding over on the couch or in bed once in awhile?  Y'know, a touch, a whisper, an embrace?  Maybe to show that you too need your man) then isn't an ADHD spouse seemingly susceptible to the same human needs?

But with constant rejection of my similar gestures, and none, absolutely none, of her own.   Isn't she also lacking that (theoretically) needed contact and intimacy?  Doesn't she, at least at some point in life, need intimate (or any) contact?

Let's assume, although she DOES fall into every one of the discussed and known alienating relationship tendencies, that she is NOT having an affair (she apparently has "character" as she likes to say).  So without getting needs for touch, contact, intimate moments with ME her husband, can one make the assumption that like so many other important issues for non-ADHD'ers that the ADHD'er just "forget" their own needs for intimate contact, along with forgetting the oven, or forgetting the mortgage, etc?

It seems like such a basic human need, that even one with a disorder couldn't consistently lack desire for it.  to me it's like breathing, or eating.  I cannot live forever holding my wife up high as the person to whom, I come to, for all of my intimacy needs, yet get none. But she seems to have no trouble going on...    Worse still.  The less contact I get, the more I seem to crave.  I almost feel that I could deal with her ADHD behaviors on all other topics, if only I had a confidante, a person to rub my shoulders, to recharge my batteries after a week of tough travel for work.  A person that WANTS to slide over and be in my arms, or have me in theirs.  I guess I'm saying an affair....  But I don't want an affair.  I don't want another.  I love her, and need her.  How can she not also have this need.  If only on even a minimal level?

Do ADHD'ers really forget their own basic needs, and therefore appear to not have those needs?

It's father's day, and I am the proud dad of the best 11 year old daughter...  But my wife told me yesterday that there's no real reason for her (my wife) to celebrate with me, because I am not her (my wife's) father....  WHAM right in the face and all....   My mouth dropped open.  Was this another thing blurted out without thought?  (the ADHD rears again).  Or does she really believe that only kids celebrate their own father's?  How cold.  How callous.

 Why I am I even here?  Sometimes when I schedule my trips for work, I fantasize about not booking the return trip home.  Like the Bruce Springsteen song "Hungry Heart", I wonder what might happen If while out for a gallon of milk one day, I "take a wrong turn, and just keep goin'"



Thats A Good Question

The lack of intimacy issue is huge to me, too, probably the worst of it all. My general feeling is that my marriage is either on hyperfocus or ignore from my spouses interactions. Hyperfocus only occurring when he sees the marriage in jeopardy and the majority of time spent on ignore. I have made endless efforts to improve the frequency of sex to no avail. By not making it an issue I've found he's totally unaware when we go weeks without it. I also believe there are some tactile sensitivities that go with this. It took two or three years of marriage before I could put my foot next to his in the bed without him having an overly animated reaction. I think many of us have had similar mothers/ fathers day experiences. The year before last was so painful I still can't talk about it. It was just that hurtful. You are not alone.

I agree - very good question

Why wouldn't that be a possibility?  As quickly as thoughts are going around and around in their brains, as my husband explains, their own basic needs never get the proper attention just like everything else in their lives.

Regarding Father's Day, Happy Father's Day by the way.  My ADHD husband is the one that ruined this holiday for himself.  Many years back someone asked him what he was getting me for Mother's Day.  Without much hesitation he told that person (mind you I was standing right next to him) that he was not getting me anything, as I was not his mother.  So, I know exactly how you feel!  During the time that our daughter remained a member of this household I did take the necessary steps to make sure she always had something for him to celebrate his day.  Now, it is just another day.  I used to get him a card and perhaps a gift but not anymore.  If he is around I'll wish him a Happy Father's Day. 

I can totally relate to you last paragraph.  There are more times than I wish to count, when I would like to have the guts to do just that.








I'm not sure how to start this, so firstly I will wish a Happy Fathers Day.  Let me just say, it does not seem to get any better.  Intimacy.......50 years and none.  Our 50th Anniversary was in December, and I was the lucky recipient of a $5.00 card!  Nothing special as I was told I am not that special.  So please pay attention to what is going on around you and find a way to try to fix or change it.  In my case, it just doesn't seem to matter how hard I have tried, blamed my self there is no improvement and I now feel I have totally wasted my life trying to please someone who one cannot seem to please.  At my age there was nowhere to go to be able to leave, I was not allowed to work outside the home, so one did the best one could with what one had.  Now, even my kids ask why did you stay so long mom. 

Good question is right!

ADHD or not, there is no excuse for bad behavior. I'm sorry that your wife was so insensitive to you about Father's Day. Happy Father's Day. Enjoy the special day with your daughter. As another Non-ADHD person in a marriage, I need to ask, do you hug and cuddle up to her and just get no response? Or are you waiting for the attention you are seeking from her? If you are waiting for her to act, you may be in for a long wait. If you are acting and she is just non- responsive then that is a whole different issue. If you haven't tried acting then act. You can only control your own actions and behavior. I wouldn't recommend the affair route, that only leads to anger and sorrow and distrust, and is a difficult bridge to rebuild. If you can't tolerate what is lacking and your efforts are too no avail, then you need to create your own life and happiness. You are not alone.

To Answer Your Question...

ADHD people can absolutely forget their needs.  When there is no schedule and nobody around to remind to do it, I forget to eat a lot.  In college my parents set a rule about how many meals a week they expected me to eat because I lost a lot of weight  (I'm 6'0" and got down to 138 lbs).   That's a pretty basic need to forget!  Obviously I eventually get hungry, but usually, I'm too hyperfocused or distracted to actually make myself food, and will eat just enough snacks so that the feeling isn't too strong to ignore.

On the other hand, me personally, I'm a very intimate person, often to a fault - I want to hug, kiss, be close even when she's mad at me.   I usually want to do a lot more than that and it can be hard to keep my desires in check.  

I fantasize about leaving and never coming back too, though.  =\.

well, that's ironic!

I often post on this site that a  non-ADHDer's complaint may not necessarily be due to ADHD... And I'm going to say it again here.

When my first daughter was born, I went through 20 hours of labor, then was told I had to have a C-section.   I panicked through the surgery, and then as they were closing me up, the anesthesia suddenly stopped working.  I started screaming, so they gave me a paralytic/hypnotic to shut me up, but I could still feel everything they were doing.

When I got home from the hospital, I was exhausted, in pain and having trouble with breastfeeding.  my husband's whole family came to visit and while everyone was socializing, playing video games, playing football out in the yard, drinking etc. I was alone in my bedroom nursing my wound and trying to figure out how to nurse my baby (there were painful issues there that i won't go into).  all I wanted was some attention/empathy from my husband, but he told me he was too busy entertaining his family and that that was very stressful for him because he had to cook elaborate meals and drive them where they needed to go.  I was furious, but too tired to do anything but hide in the bedroom and cry.  Everyone else would hold my baby while she was asleep or awake and happy.  As soon as she pooped or cried, they would hand her off to me.  Then when she was happy/sleeping again they'd take her away from me.

I was looking forward to my first mother's day, feeling that I'd earned a day to relax/be appreciated for what i'd gone through and for what I thought was a damn good job taking care of my new baby.  My friends gave me little presents and cards.  My family sent cards.  My extended family sent cards.  My husband did nothing.  It was the first time i would hear:  "you're not MY mother."  Like you, I was in total shock.  I was hurt.  I was furious.  But what could I do?  He was raised in a household where 'suck it up' was the rule.  One does not receive praise for things one is expected to do anyway.  For Father's day, i would get him little gifts, that he didn't want or like, and they would go unused, or stuffed in a closet.  This year I finally learned my lesson and gave him nothing.  I did, however spend several hours coaxing my daughter to make a card for him and write a message herself, which I think he did appreciate.

my second daughter was born almost 2 years ago.  Also a $#!tty birth experience ending in another emergency C-section, and i wound up back in the hospital a week after her arrival.  I thought maybe the birth of a second child might warrant some kind of appreciation from my husband on mother's day?  No, it did not.

Last year my mommy friends and I got together after mother's day, and they told stories of the gifts they got... I just didn't say anything.  one day while at a play date, my friend's husband came home from work, kissed her on the head and said, "You're such an awesome mother, babe!"  I excused myself to the bathroom to cry.

My husband is not 'touchy feely' either.  He likes sex, but doesn't really want or need any kind of cuddling or hugs.  I've learned to live without it.  but for me it's difficult because having sex with no affection leaves me feeling sad and used.  We have gotten into a bit of a child/parent relationship due to my ADD and him having to remind me to do things and once a few days ago he actually used the phrase, "You're not allowed to do X"  He says he was joking... but I'm so tired of the ADD jokes.  they're so not funny now. Actually, they were never funny.   He will tolerate some snuggling, but always rolls his eyes and jokes about how annoying it is for him.

So, Loudsound, to answer your question: YES.  This ADDer has forgotten her needs and has lost sight of what she needs in life.  I am often overwhelmed and do not know what to do next as I cannot see the 'big picture'.  The reward centers in my brain do not get a dopamine squirt when I do housework or do any kind of small step toward future planning that lets me know, "Yes, ellamenno!  you're on the right track!"  So that is definitely an ADD thing.  The affection/Father's day thing?  I dunno.  I am ADD, my Dad is ADD (my mother is too, but not to the same extreme).  My father ALWAYS made a HUGE deal out of mothers' day, christmas, birthdays, anniversaries etc....  so much so that my mother has to tell him to LIMIT the fuss he makes over her.  I think what people expect or give for holidays has to do with their upbringing/environment and there is nothing you can do to change their minds.  You just have to lower the expectation that you have for your spouse and raise your own self confidence by telling yourself that you know you're a damn good father.  Just like every day I tell myself i'm a damn good mother, even if i'm the only one who says so!

Re: I wish I knew

  I've wondered this question as well. In the case of my diagnosed husband, he usually thinks of HIS physical needs FIRST, and for most of our marriage, my needs have been LAST on his list of priorities. The past year and a half he has made a dramatic turnaround in how he treats me overall, and it's been wonderful, but because of all the past years it's harder for me to accept it as really genuine. It makes me question if his behavior is more for his own state of mind. I just don't know, but I am responding to it kindly and lovingly. I feel bad because I DON'T FEEL as grateful and loving as I WOULD have a few years ago, because I've become somewhat jaded from being hurt so much. It has been necessary for me to keep my "real" love guarded and at a safe distance.

But, I wish I knew to what depth, he "felt" that sex was important. He knows it's important in his head, but his inability to SHOW it, has been difficult. He never asks for, and NEVER initiates it, but gets frustrated if I don't approach HIM. We haven't had sex now for almost 2 years. He mentioned this lately, and it's the FIRST time in 28 years that he has EVER suggested that we need to be having sex more. We've been married 28 years, (husband diagnosed 4 years) and for all those years, I've been the one that HAD TO initiate sex. I also had to be the more "assertive" partner during the act, with little to NO variation in the WAY we have sex. He doesn't like back rubs, or too much "touching" even. Sex seems very DISTANT and almost at "arms length". But, yet when we were dating, and shortly after we were married, it was different, because he participated much more, and seemed happier. There were so many excuses as to why he wouldn't, but no real REASONS. I used to be a VERY sexually confident woman, and loved showing my husband how much I cared for him, sexually and otherwise. I was also very "huggy-kissy", and he didn't have a problem with it while we were dating, but after we got married, he would tell me to "stop being so touchy in public because it embarrassed him".  

    Anyway, I won't initiate sex at this point, because I have been turned down and rejected so many times, (amongst many other things) that if he REALLY WANTS IT, HE'S going to have to be the one to START it. I've tried to get him to discuss this every way you can think of and nothing has worked. HE WILL NOT TALK ABOUT SEX. He had a three year affair with a much younger woman (it ended 4 years ago) but, he will not discuss that either, and it's left a lot of "open wounds" for me. To him, it's OVER, and I shouldn't mention it any more, and he also says, "I don't give you any reason any more to make you question my actions". He just DOESN'T GET IT, or doesn't WANT to.

   In all this, doesn't he see that THIS TOO, is forgetting his own needs, as well as mine. The give and take in a marriage relationship, as well as the building of trust and reciprocating love and sex. By not addressing these issues, he is ignoring BOTH our needs, and then STILL putting the main burden of it OFF ON ME. I can't tell whether he means what he says or not, (that he loves me) or if it's just the ADHD talking. But, I DO know that "God forbid" anything were to happen to me, my husband would have someone else by the end of a month, and get frustrated with anyone who wasn't  "happy" for him. It's a terrible thing to know, and I've had to distance myself for my own sanity. I think partly that's why he has been more "attentive" the past year and a half or so. (It still just feels like a game) "the thrill of the chase".

   I can't imagine what it would feel like to be loved, held, kissed and cared for by someone who is trying to express love to you in the same way that I want to give and express love. (including sex) (don't know what to do, but this is how things are now)



Tired old man's picture

I'm lonely as well

You know, I've been reading and rereading your words now for over a month, and they've been whispering to me in the silent and lonely moments of my day. I, too, am on the heartbroken side of the bed, waiting for my ADD spouse to remember there is someone that needs her company. How many times over the years have I asked? But I've painfully learned the lesson that she will not come. The bedroom door will not open until well after I've fallen asleep. Tonight, I will not feel her breath on the back of my neck, her hair tickling my shoulder, her arm wrapped around my chest. I, too, wonder what it would feel like to be loved, held, kissed and cared for by someone who is trying to express their love in the same way that I want to give and express myself. It seems to me I've forgotten the sweet flavor of affection. I see it all around me, but I've come to understand that the tender love I need most will not come from the one I love.
Ashedollar's picture

Is this how it is for eveyone?

I thought it was just me and my relations ship with my husband. When he was dating me it was the most wonderful time of my life. I had found someone who really loved me. We married and that love and affection was just turned off. Is it just the chase? And when your caught on to something else? I miss the affection he had for me. Now I am the one that if I want to be hugged has to grab him and hug him. When I do he just looks off into space and acts like he wants it over with so he can get on to.... what ever is in his head then. Sex is nonexistent. Cuddling? what is that. When we go to bed he is on his side and will not even touch me. It hurts me to the core. I do love him. I just don't know why any more

lonely on both ends

my husband (non adhd) has complained for years that I never want to be with him. that half the time I hyper focus on him and I cant get enough of him and half the time I ignore him....he of course did not say it like this usualy I heard something completely diffrent and we dont seem to speak the same language :) but when he said it like that (I feel bad) but I laughed. I said you do realise the hyper focus is exactly that. if my attention is on you ...that is almost litterally all I get done. which is fine....until you need a little break. I naturally find something else to focus on and go gung ho! this (after testing my idea) in our relationship is when he found I ignored him and didnt seem to need sex or anything of the sort for extended periods of time. I am to an extent unaware of my needs as anything in a hyper focus situation feels like background noise and I tune it out. my husbands complaints left me devastated and I tried to be active in our sex life on a regular basis but it's such a hard balance of every couple of days for him that most of the time I feel I dont have a choice! I cant seem to stop hyper focus on a dime so I cant wait a few days patiently for him to be in the mood and then instantly stop my quest and be in the mood.


having said that there have been many times where I tried to stop my focus and shift it thinking it was probably about time...I would get ready and mentally try to prepare myself (not a bad thing nor does it mean I dont want it :) only to have him brush me off because he just wants to sit down and watch tv or something. it can be so difficult to change gears for me that it hurts when it is seemingly easier for him to switch that gear and he doesnt...then promptly tells me the next day he's in the mood and I've got a new project going and he wants me to stop and pay attention to him.

I'm not saying he should do all the changing gears to make it easier on me and I realise by now that I was preparing myself mentally and physically but he wasnt. so after years of dragging out a sore subject every now and then and a few honest admissions about parts of sex that we werent enjoying which also contributed to the "I can do without it" attitude we decided together that our best results come from me preparing myself ...but trying to pick a day that is low stress and when he gets home from work I help him relax. the relaxing time with him seemed to be what he needed.   again adhd doesnt mean I'm stupid but I guarentee most of what I hear him say is like gibberish to me because it all means something else to me than it does to him.

this is only me and I do fully admit I have adhd and am doing the best I can to meet him at least halfway not everyone is the same.

Very tender...and SORE

Very tender...and SORE subject for me. Here goes my best attempt to 'nutshell' our sex life.

First few years...non-existent. I would literally parade in front of him in little to nothing and he would look straight through me to the computer. I cried. I thought maybe he was gay. I spent countless years wondering what the hell was wrong with me and feeling like the ugliest person ever. We didn't start out with 'amazing' sex either...just sex...and then nothing. He told me once, when I complained, "our marriage is about more important things than sex". We had only been married a few months. After my daughter was born, we had sex appx 4 weeks later (I had a c-section and recovered quickly), and then NOTHING for almost 2 months! EEK!

FF to about 5 years into the marriage and I said "screw it!" (pun intended) and gave UP! After about a year he noticed I had stopped chasing him...and he started chasing me. That lasted about a year. It was wonderful. We were on the same page, finally! Then we got custody of my SD, he started hanging out with his friends, and I feel this is when his ADHD kicked into high gear. Then, we started fighting and I stopped wanting sex. We all know that for a woman it is more about what happens outside of the bedroom and I felt very unloved and unimportant to him 99% of the time. A pattern developed where we would fight for a few days (usually over him going out with his friends or over SD), he would  make up, initiate sex, and then turn around that very night and go out and get drunk with his friends. Talk about feeling used and feeling like it wasn't anything more than "about him". It got to the point where I would cry after we would have was horrible. I would avoid it at all costs...and if he didn't get it, he would become furious.

This improved over time, but eventually our relationship fell apart and we separated and he had an affair. After the affair and our reconciliation, sex was amazing. It just 'felt' like it should feel (to me). There was TONS of cuddling (even without sex) and the passion was definitely there. All of the sudden, when he stopped drinking, *poof* it was gone again. He would tell me he wanted me to initiate, but when I would he would reject me. We were having sex once during this period of time, I had initiated, and he had a look on his face like he was literally about to either throw up or scream in pain. It was like a knife in the heart. I asked if he was OK and he denied that anything was wrong. After 13 years with someone, you just know.

Ever since that time period (about 18 months ago) it has been hit and miss. I do not initiate anymore because several of the most recent times I have tried, he would just flat out tell me no or he would say he was interested, but then not come to bed. I am fine with whatever. I know I won't get it until HE is ready, I am not willing to face rejection EVER again, and since he has the brain that doesn't seem to give a shit about the fact that we have sex MAYBE once a month I figure there is really nothing I can do but wait until he's ready. When we do have sex, the majority of the time it is amazing. I keep asking myself "why does he not want more of THAT?" but either it isn't as amazing to him or he is good with "amazing" only once a month. The more of an issue I make of it, the more he knows I need his affection, the worse it is. Just food for thought.

Oh, and the point I was wanting to seems like there is always one person wanting it more than the other. The only time in our entire marriage when he wanted it more than me (he would say at that time that he wanted it everyday) was when I gave up and stopped chasing him...and when he knew I did not want to have sex with him it made him want it more.