Frustration With Hyperfocused ADHD, Medication Not an Option

I am new to this board and hoping to receive some helpful input.   My long term boyfriend has never been officially diagnosed, but he admitted he was probably ADHD not long after we began our relationship.  Shortly after this, I recognized a number of ADHD symptoms in myself which led me to get diagnosed and I am medicated.

HE cannot be diagnosed or medicated for career reasons.  I have suggested going to counseling and we went once but he said he did not want to keep going.  However, so many things are just adding up and frustrating me. 

1.  He hyperfocuses all the time.  He recently started a side business in addition to his regular job (the regular job which takes him away from home for long stretches) and he sits and home on his days off working on the website and other tasks for the new business.  To the detriment of every other aspect of his life and relationship.   It is so clearly a ADHD hyperfocus situation:  sitting in front of the computer for hours; not eating or taking breaks (he'll wait til he's starving then consume an entire bottle of peanuts); not taking care of general household tasks that we should share (asking him to grocery shop on Monday means maybe he'll finally get to it on Weds); waiting until I get home at 7 PM from work to begin cleaning up the house (we share these tasks but I am constantly feeling like I get the shaft).

For the first few months I was OK with this, as I thought it necessary to get things off the ground and I supported the business.  But it has become increasingly clear to me that the hyperfocus will continue as this side business continues.  I come home from work and he often will retreat back to his office to hyperfocus although I will invite him to find something on TV we can watch together, or to spend time together at least reading next to each other on the sofa... 

I have suggested setting an alarm for lunch time or breaks for human interaction/playing with the pets or anything.  He has read enough about ADHD that he has adopted some of these solutions but obviously not to the extent needed.  He is not using the alarm as I suggested and he doesn't check his calendar as often as he should; in fact, he almost missed an appointment last week but I remembered it for him (as if I don't have enough to remember). 


2.  He constantly forgets to do things and procrastinates creating negative impacts for me.  He'll wait till the night before he has to travel to do several loads of laundry (we've separated his and my laundry because I'd end up doing his constantly if not, as he'd let a month's worth pile up before doing any) and pack, stressing out, and forgetting important items he needs for work. 

3.  He has little patience for  the boring responsibilities of daily life/household tasks.  When I ask him to do something, he'll do it half-ass and then become extremely defensive and accuse me of "nagging".  I know I am not being overly particular, but it's reasonable to expect that when someone unloads a dishwasher, they would separate the utensils rather than just dump them into a messy pile in the drawer.  No matter how many times I ask him not to place my expensive knife set in the dishwasher because they will be damaged, he does it still, even though I assured him I will wash them by hand myself.

He hates to cook or prepare any food, hence his habit of eating whatever is handy and the unhealthy results (he's gained a good 20 or so pounds in the past few yrs).  I've come home to a meal only once or twice since we began dating, despite the fact that I have to attend night meetings for work, so I'll come home at 9 and he'll be expecting me to put something together to eat.   Which is just thoughtless of him as well. 

I'm constantly being accused of nagging or criticizing, when my requests are reasonable - all I am asking is that he share in some of the tasks that I seem to do the majority of.  We even have a house cleaner for most stuff, so it is very little that I am asking here. 

SO frustrated and hoping for advice! 

Long Road Ahead

The hyperfocus issue is the main issue in our relationship.  Prior to his diagnosis, I had concluded that my husband did not do ANYTHING unless it was EXACTLY what HE felt like doing when HE wanted to do it.  The fact that something would be helpful to me, or hurtful to me, or just the kind/normal/considerate thing to do just did not matter.  I honestly believed he might be sociopathic. 

Fortunately, he was diagnosed and then took ownership of it and started meds.  But even with my husband aware of it, willing to work on it, and able to understand the impact it has on me, the hyperfocus is still there.  Which is to say: even with treatment, it's something you'll struggle with for a while, if not forever, and without treatment, it's really impossible.

Dr. Hallowell lists a number of non-medication options for treating ADHD, including frequent exercise and fish oil.  There are some others.  But really, you are going to have to accept that you have ZERO control over this and it is entirely up to your boyfriend to 1) take responsibility for his ADD; 2) recognize the impact it has on you; and 3) do something about it. 

I just have to say, without counseling and some form of treatment, I cannot see how this would get anything but worse over the long run.  Why won't he go to counseling?  You guys could use Melissa, who is not a "therapist" in the sense that it would come up in any medical history -- she is a consultant. 

You have my empathy -- I went through what you are going through for a long time.  You're not in the Twilight Zone.

same situation

My fiance won't go in for any medical help because it would ruin his chance of ever becoming a police officer. He is what I have recently learned is hyperfocused (not OCD as I thought) on certain things. Work is one, life revolves around work he will work on his days off unpaid just cause he's bored. And recently his other hyperfocus is fishing. Which I hate to complain about to much growning up fishing but it has become to much. If he's not at work he's fishing and its all he talks about. He has even spent hundreds of dollars we don't have on the "best" fishing gear cause we can't settle for some in the middle. This has made a huge impact on me also because all household chores fall on me. I have asked him to clean up something of his it will be weeks of me hounding him before I give up and just do it myself. And the laundry thing I have just recently seperated ours myself we don't have a washer or dryer and have to go some place and do it and that responsibilty falls on me. I have asked him numerous times to go do laundry. Just yesterday I asked him to go over to his moms and do our laundry because I had to work and wasn't going to have the time. What did he do? Spent the whole day fishing. I just want to know your not alone cause trust me girl when I read your post I was like "yes I m not alone someone shares my pain". I love him and don't plan on leaving just finding a way to get through to him and listen is becoming a huge frustration. Good luck
hockeymom11's picture

think of this

do you really want this man to become a police officer?  To be hyperfocused on the wrong thing, to become bored and distracted at a stake-out, to put his, his partner or a victim's life in danger because of his ADHD???  It's one thing to forget your laundry, it's another to forget a piece of evidence in a crime.  I know that's extreme, but ADHD does NOT get better without treatment (medical or behavioral) believe me, I've lived though hell for 14 years and I'm done with it. 

TRY and convince him to get help, give him printouts from this site or Melissa's book.  Research ADHD and police officers, in most states you have protection from discrimination against disabilities.

please read the many comments on this site.  This condition can RUIN a relationship and he needs to take some ownership. Good luck.