Facial expressions/social situations

Hi everyone, I'm new here...    hi!!   So I have been in a relationship with my first live-in ADHD boyfriend.   It's been interesting.   Like everyone - first contact was very electric.  Then, it kind of went crazy and I think we had sex for the first 6 months (on and off) and then decided to move in together.    We have officially not had sex for about a year now.   So you're probably wondering why I'm with him?  Well, other than the ADHD moments, he's wonderful.   He's a musician, we have a lot of interests in common, and he's a caring person.   He also is also slightly bipolar and 3/4 sicilian, and he loves to fight.

It's really validating to read these posts and see I'm not alone on this merry-go-round of fighting.   We didn't know he was ADHD at first.  He mentioned that he had been diagnosed when we first started dating, and I had no experience with that so I didn't know what it meant.  Ha!  Eventually I pieced together the s-storm of craziness and read this ADHD and Marriage book (still reading it).   He's reading with me and agrees with it, and is following some stuff but he is not on medication and he is going to therapy, but not with an ADHD specialist.   

Anyway, we have good days and bad ones, as I'm sure you can all relate.   The two things that keep happening that is drive me crazy relate to facial expressions and social situations.

So regarding facial expressions - my bf constantly gets upset because he says my facial expression/tone is angry or something.   He reacts to what he is interpreting and then I quickly find myself in a fight for just existing.   How common is this?  I'm trying to figure out if he is A) a jerk, B) someone who could benefit from ADHD therapy in this area, or C) I need plastic surgery to correct my bitchy resting face.   :o/

Then regarding social situations... We are having problems in the focus area.   I find it is really challenging to be in public with him because he seems to hyperfocus on people at my expense a lot of times.   He feels anxious, too - I think he wants for it to go well, but its a lot of pressure.   The thing is, he feels so COMFORTABLE with us living together now that he sometimes disses me or ignores me during conversations - and absolutely takes them over.  I feel he disagrees with my way of "being" and this makes him angry, and he can sometimes be disrespectful in public to me.   When I say something to explain how I'd like things to be different in the future, he takes it personally and accuses me of attacking me and says hurtful things.   Does anyone have advice for me about this?   

I'm really depressed because we were planning take a trip together in a couple of weeks and I am honestly considering not going at this point.  Seems like whenever we go away for vacation, things get worse bc of the variables involved.   If anyone has tips for going on vk with ADHD, those would be appreciated as well. 

Thanks for listening and for all of your great posts.  I don't feel so alone.   


Accused of having BRF

" he says my facial expression/tone is angry or something.   He reacts to what he is interpreting and then I quickly find myself in a fight for just existing.   How common is this? "

It seems to be fairly common around this site. It happened to me. What is really weird is that a week or so after we got together we went on a (spontaneous) road trip and, after an hour or so of silence, he suddenly said "Oh I've just GOT something"!. "What what?" I ask.  "Well, I keep thinking your tone means you're ANGRY but you're not, it just how you sound" (I thought it was down to us being from different countries and he was getting used to my accent).  Now having figured that out pretty early on (ie that I wasn't angry or 'accusing' (a favorite word)), he promptly forgot it and after about a year kept telling me what my expression meant and that I was accusing him of something.  This was one of the weird squirrelly things that brought me around to considering ADHD.  So, yes, certainly sounds plausible that it is related to the ADHD.

" hyperfocus on people at my expense "

Yes, puzzling at first but put it in the ADHD context, add the anxiety and voila.

"feels so COMFORTABLE with us living together now that he sometimes disses me or ignores me during conversations - and absolutely takes them over.  ..   When I say something to explain how I'd like things to be different in the future, he takes it personally and accuses me of attacking me and says hurtful things."

Yes, this is about personal boundaries. The time to talk to him about it is NEVER during an incident.  But you do have to make clear to him (as calmly and clearly as possible) that he must not do these things (take things out of your hands, take over conversations) and that continually over-riding you is telling you that he does not respect you.  It may be that he does not understand this. It may be that you will tell him a hundred times and he will still do it, but you have to get it through to him that a) you will not allow it b) this is a reason why has has had difficulty in social situations in the past.  If he persists then calmly, during an incident, put up a hand and extricate yourself from the conversation. You might feel like you're walking through fire but it gets easier the more you assert your boundaries. Either he will pay attention and eventually get the message or if he never does then you know what to do.

For the vacation, does he expect everything to be spontaneous or does he obsessively plan things that will be fun for him and not think about you?  Having time to be spontaneous and blow off steam is probably good for taking the pressure off, so I would try to plan for a mix of scheduled activities that you will both enjoy with free spontaneous unplanned time afterwards.

A specialist in Adult ADHD would really help him more, if you can find one. That's just my view.

thank you

Hi there - thank you for your reply it has been a tough few days.     The trip planning has caused so many fights that we are on the verge of breaking up at this point.    I have been "flexible" for many weeks now - every week we are supposed to plan the trip and now it is two weeks away and nothing is booked.    Yesterday I explained to him that I am going to go ahead and start booking things because it's getting more and more expensive every day we wait.   Also - I have a corporate job so I already scheduled the 2 weeks off - I can't really move it.   This is a new job for me and I've been working really hard to make this happen - and I really need  the R&R.   Plus, I'm considering moving west so it was an important trip.

Sunlight - so part of this trip was also to visit his friends.   When I asked about their schedules, he took offense to the way that I asked that question.  Whatever I'm talking about - he gets defensive, doesn't really listen to what I am saying - picks words out of the conversation that he objects to and then picks fights with me.   Last night I just broke down in tears and told him I couldn't take it anymore.   I have compasson and empathy for his condition but the persistent attacks/bullying on his "bad" days are tearing me down.

I don't know what to do.  We have a lovely home and I love the good in him. He has made a lot of positive changes (he finally got his room under control).  He's working - he's getting organized.  But the constant badgering is not getting better so I don't know what to do.   I'm feeling heartbroken - this might really be it.  

I don't think my bf can afford an adult ADHD specialist unless I were to find one through my insurance.   But everything I've read says the ADHD person needs to get their own therapy. If I do it that is "parenting" behavior.  Sigh...    I don't know what to do.



Hi there. I am sorry for your situation. Please take this for what it is worth, from someone who left her spouse with ADHD months ago..(whom I also suspect has a touch of bipolar disorder or something else going on as well)...

I also experienced the reactions to my "tone" or "facial" expressions for years. I think he was incredibly sensitive and there was something with his condition that could not tolerate the least bit of anxiety, stress, exasperation, or worry on my part. I would think that I was making a bummed out face because we were fighting (again) and he would tell me that I had rolled my eyes at him and was being contemptuous or b*tchy. When I really, I swear, wasn't--I was just sad or exasperated. It made him nuts and he would become very angry. I started practicing keeping my face completely neutral and it was like walking on eggshells 24/7. 

He can't take a conversation intended to address problems or improve your relationship without getting mad or defensive? He's disrespectful and makes you uncomfortable socially? You feel like you are in a fight for "just existing" and "your way of being?" It sounds like you are working very hard to make all of this ok because of his issues. Which is admirable, and loyal. 

I hope this does not sound harsh, but I don't think he is the one for you and I think your gut is telling you this. I hear so much that sounds like you are trying to be ok with things that your heart is telling you aren't ok. I know you care about him. I know you have invested time into this. I know you feel sympathy and love for him. But---fast forward a few years. Imagine how depleted and depressed you may feel if this is your relationship. Take it from someone who didn't listen to her gut and then lived with the consequences. Even if it is his ADHD or bipolar disorder that is making him be disrespectful or angry toward you--do you really want to live with this? I don't think it is supposed to be this hard. And you deserve to be with the right person. 

Cherish yourself. You have your whole life ahead of you. My best to you. 


thank you

Thank you lynninny for sharing truth and your experience...  My SO is ADHD and bipolar, too.   I don't think your advice is harsh, it's fair, I think.  I have nothing against ADHD or bipolar people - I think they can be very creative and amazing.  But I agree - I don't think it's for everyone.   Personally, I have an autoimmune thyroid condition that reacts badly to stress.    Stress and fighting has really damaged my health over the past year and a half since I've known him.   Almost every argument turns out to be a misunderstanding - but it takes its toll on me nonetheless and I feel like I have aged 5 years in this 1.5 year period.   I can't imagine how I would feel after another year of this.  I keep hoping that it will change with therapy but I don't know that.  I don't want to live this way - I tell him this all the time.   He apologizes and says he will try harder, etc. but maybe he can't and I don't know if it is fair to either of us.  He can't take the stress of upsetting me and me getting sick as a result - I am just trying to survive.    :o/   Thanks for your words, it helps to get feedback from someone who has been through something similar.   I already bought tickets for the trip so I guess we are going on that.   As I mentioned, I am considering moving - perhaps this is a move that I will make on my own.   

ADHD boyfriend

This is an old post but I just found it. Your description of what your boyfriend does matches my life to a "t". I thought it was just me! I feel so much better knowing there are others out there. I've been having a hard time lately because my bf works out of town now during the week (and we're dealing with me having caught him texting and sexting another girl). So when he comes home, I just want us to enjoy each other's company and try to work everything out. Instead we end up snapping at each other constantly because of my tone or facial expressions. I've been really down on myself because I don't know what he's talking about and felt like it was my fault because I can't control my face! 

He also does the same things about disregarding what I say and focusing on others when we're in social situations. Everything you described is what Ive been going through. We're even supposed to take a trip next week and I'm so worried. I don't have any advice but I was so happy to find someone in the same boat that would understand.