Honest & Positive Feedback/Advice Needed--Dating man with ADD

I met an amazing man in January!  I was separated from my husband & he was in the midst of a divorce.  He owned his own business and seemed to be doing well.   He told me he had ADD, but I didn't see any signs of it other than excitement when telling me about a wonderful vacation trip he took last year.  Hey, I would be rambling and spilling over with excitement too--he went to Hawaii!   For 3 months, he showed all the signs of man head-over-heels in love... and I fell for him harder than I ever had for anyone in my life.  He was super attentive, focused, and romantic.  He lavished attention on me and I, so starved for that attention, lapped it up like a kitten.  Our days were filled with winks, smiles, hugs, lots of conversation, and kisses blowing back and forth.   He sang to me, sent text messages with song lyrics, & wanted to spend every waking minute with me.  He seemed to understand me like no one else ever had.  He read my changing emotions with lightning speed.  He helped me sort through a lot of the emotional baggage I had from my marriage--calmly, quietly, and methodically.  He cooked for me and surprised me with weekend trips.  When he had the weekends with his children, he sent me text messages throughout the day telling me he was thinking of me & missed me.  He woke me every morning with "good morning, sweetheart".  Sometimes I would wake up to find him just looking at me or stroking my face.  I was in HEAVEN!  During this time, I was staying at his place about 2/3 of the time. 

 He spoke of "our" future so easily and things were "clicking" like a fairytale, that when he suggested we get a place of our own together, I agreed, even though in the back of my mind I knew things were moving pretty quickly.  But this was LOVE--Love like I had NEVER felt before!

I know memories can be tricky, but it seemed that within the first 2 days together in a place of our own, things changed.  Actually, things changed as we were LOOKING for a place of our own.... he had so many ideas of where to live, good prices, reviews, and so on... the sheer quantity of information he was texting me or calling me about was overwhelming.  But, I chalked it up to excitement over our first place.  When we went to pick up my furniture, I noticed that he was fast-moving physically, but I was IMPRESSED---he managed to move ALL my furniture in a matter of 4 hours!  When we actually began staying in the apartment, he seemed agitated... he began flip-flopping in bed at night, he was restless, and our smooth morning "routine" (example:  him kissing my shoulder and smiling in the mirror while I was getting my makeup on) was non-existent.  He was rushed for work, always seemed preoccupied, and started "scarffing" down his meals.  He wanted to watch a lot of TV at night when he had rarely even turned it on before, except to listen to a music station.  His eyes seemed different--like he was looking everywhere at once.  When we talked, it was rushed and loud and many times he talked right "over" me or disregarded something I said completely.   He didn't seem to have any time for me anymore. 

Now that you have the background.... 8 months later he's in his own place & I'm in mine and we're trying to work through each of our divorces.  He had a meltdown about his business, which I think we resolved together.  He is HYPER. Everything is FAST, to the point where I get jittery just being around him.  He seems agitated, even when he says he isn't.  He has 1,000 ideas to my 1.  I used to think of myself as quick-witted, but I suddenly feel I'm sadly lacking in that dept.  He's on his phone constantly, either texting or playing games, or checking his email.  Conversations in the car are almost nonexistent... he says he gets into a "zone" when he drives and can't really hold a conversation.  He still sends winks my way and smiles and kisses, but as soon as I catch them, he's on to something else.

 I sat him down and told him how I feel... and how different our current relationship is from the one we had in the beginning.  I feel duped, tricked, and taken advantage of.  He says he was NOT pretending when he met me.  He says that was a wonderful time for him, too.  He said he lost the "security" of our relationship when each of us started having doubts about our divorces (we both went back to our spouses for a short period of time--mine lasted 1 day, his 5 weeks).  He says his current behavior is how he "really is".  He has encouraged me to read ADD/ADHD websites.  He says he has tried every known mixture of medications--stimulants, antidepressants, etc. until finally his doctor said his liver enzymes were so bad he would have to discontinue them.  He loves me.  He says in his mind and heart the love he has for me has only grown, not lessened.  He still talks of our future together as a "given".  But, the WAY in which he SHOWS he loves me has changed so DRAMATICALLY,  I don't know what to do.  It seems all the outstanding qualities I feel in love with are gone.  I WANT THE MAN I FELL IN LOVE WITH!  He says that is a part of him, but like multiple personalities, he cannot "WILL" it into existence.  He says once his divorce is over and things smooth out a little, he will probably get back to being more like that.  He's upset that he can't give me what I need to be happy and I'm upset that I'm making him upset!  But, I'm also totally perplexed regarding how someone can change like he has.  I love him and actually love some of the new personality that has come out of this... he's "zippier" and lots more adventurous, he has great ideas and plans for his business, and is very supportive of my ideas, too. 

I'm so sorry this is such a lengthy post and I feel somewhat guilty putting all this personal information out on the web for wolves to tear into, but I need some advice from those of you WITH ADD/ADHD.  Have you experienced a "honeymoon" phase like I described? Did you feel a huge difference when it ended, like you had been dropped off a cliff or was it subtle?  How did each of you come to terms with the changes? 

I appreciate everyone's input and, yes, we are both open to seeing a counselor/therapist in the future. 


It was him in the

It was him in the beginning...and the person you're with now is him too. What you experienced is called "hyperfocus" as he was falling in love and had all of the 'happy chemicals' in his brain he was on cloud nine. When reality sets in the brain chemicals change and you get a clearer picture of what you're dealing with. Hyperfocus doesn't last any specific time period...it can be 2 months or a year..or more...but it typically does end. I am not sure there is anyone here who didn't experience it and doesn't wish for it back. It simply does not happen.

He is correct that he cannot "will" it and make it happen again. He is probably just saying things will be more like that after the divorce is final to appease you. It really isn't something he did intentionally...nor can he bring it back. It is the stuff fairytales are made of, but you have to accept that who you are with now is more realistic and that is who you should base your relationship on. I know you don't mean to, but pointing it out IS probably making him feel bad because it isn't something he can control. It doesn't sound like he's treating you horribly, just not the 'fairy tale' level you miss so much.

You'll have a much better chance if you let the past be the past and move forward from here..with the guy you have before you today. Educate yourself and if the time comes, get professional help to help sort out the issues ADHD can bring to a marriage. Do not become angry and bitter and resentful because of his ADHD behaviors. Learn about them now and head off the problems they can cause. So many of us had no idea we were dealing with a real disorder for many years. You've got an advantage over many of us by just having that knowledge.

They have a hard time moving forward..so I would also advise you to keep things as cool as possible until he is divorced. If he went back for 5 weeks, it is obvious he isn't done with her...nor she him. Good Luck!

Thank you for your advice. 

Thank you for your advice.  My biggest hurdle is not taking things at face value.  What I see from him (body language, tone of voice, even his vocabulary) isn't always what he intends.  For people who do NOT have ADD/ADHD, it's almost like living in Wonderland where things are not as they seem and motions are backwards through the looking glass.  I react very quickly to changes in moods or behaviors in others and try to adapt myself (I tend to be a chameleon/people pleaser), but I find him VERY, VERY difficult to read.  For example, we went to a mall to walk around the other day (his idea).  While we are walking, his body language is telling me he is NOT into this, is either tired, thirsty, mad, or just put out for some reason.  So, I ask my first question..."Are you thirsty?"  His reply is "No".  Next, I ask "Would you like to sit down for a bit?"  Again, "No".  Next, "Am I irritating you by bouncing in and out of the stores?"  "NO".  By this time, he is getting pretty irritated and I can sense that.  After one more question, I fly off the handle and ask him "WHAT IS WRONG??  You are acting like you don't want to be here with me, you are not paying any attention to me, you are not smiling, and people passing by are giving me looks because this man is dragging behind me looking miserable!!!"  Ok, THAT question he understood and could answer!  He had eaten too much at lunch and his stomach was upset, but he thought walking would help.  So, he was distracted while we walked because his mind was on his stomach.  He NEVER associated any of my questions with the way he was acting at all, he just thought they were coming out of left field somewhere.    It is a real plus to realize he has ADD/ADHD NOW and not later on, but I am also at somewhat of a loss. 

I'm reading so much information and helpful hints about nutritional supplements, new medications, exercise, healthy diets, organizational tips, time management, reminder services, etc., but he doesn't seem to want to pick up the ball when I mention any of these.  I think he should be up early, exercising, and eating a protein-filled breakfast and then off to work where things are color-coded and organized and where he has a notebook for jotting notes and ideas.  I don't want to mother him, but I think if he would just try some of these things, it would really help him in the long run.  He has tried spiral notebooks in the past, but says within a week it is full with jotted notes, nothing organized or making much sense, and then when he needs to find something in the notebook, it's impossible.  He said the last time he tried, he filled up 5 huge spirals in 1 month!  How do I help him with that? 

I dont know if YOU can help

I dont know if YOU can help him. The one thing that is a CONSTANT on this site is THEY have to figure themselves out and they need to do the work. There is nothing you can do but take care of you in this lonely process and then see if this is how you want to live the next few years. He IS showing you how he is. There is nothing he is hiding anymore. If this is enough for you then your going to be ok, but, if you see the writing on the wall now, it may only continue...or get better, or more than likely, get worse. My advice is to keep it light, just have fun, and live in the now. Don't expect anything more than he can give, be responsible for you and enjoy the little things. You will save yourself a lot of hurt if you SEE and ACCEPT what he is showing you. Wishing or hoping for things to change is really allowing yourself to live in denial. Expect nothing so you wont be disappointed, and if there is extra, you will be delighted. It is really up to him, no amount of work can help unless he is "working with you" on this. I learned this the hard way, trust me, after 15 years, NOW he gets it.


Since the comments have been so insightful, can those of you non-ADD/ADHDers tell me how you deal with the lack of attention?

  I'm having trouble convincing my heart & mind that when he looks everywhere except at me when we eat at a restaurant, it's NOT because I'm unattractive or intellectually dull or he wishes he were somewhere else.  I'm so used to men being at their "best" and trying to capture MY attention and KEEP it -- I am at a complete loss sometimes as to how to capture HIS.  Most of the time, I get more smiles and attention from strangers around me than I do from him.   About 1/3 way into our meal, I've just about given up on trying to keep up a sparkling conversation.  I realize I get downcast, he finally sees it (usually around the time of the check), and then we go around with "what's wrong".  I've tried both ways... explaining how I feel (ignored) versus saying "it's nothing" and making some excuse... stomachache, tired, etc.  

He tells me to remind him, but how self-esteem zapping is THAT???? "Honey, please pay attention to me this evening because we're going out and I spent all this time getting ready and I look really nice & there's so much to catch up on..."??? 

Good question JJM

I posted a query similar to this awhile back...but I asked ADHDers what might motivate them to want to be with their spouse.   I just deleted a whole bunch of stuff that wouldn't be helpful to you and wasn't really making me feel any better anyway.  Your successful marriage probably won't include typical dating activities such as dinners, long conversations by the fireplace, or leisurely walks on the beach.  Find any sport, game, home improvement, or other activity that the two of you both enjoy.  Don't wait for him to schedule it or invite you to do it.  You will almost always have to.  Sometimes he'll invite you to do stuff that doesn't seem like you can "participate" i.e., it will look more like "watching" him do something rather than actually doing something together.  My ADHD guy thinks if we are in the same room, we are "together".  He loves it when I watch him play video games, design web sites on his computer, PhotoShop pictures on his computer. 


Oh My! Sounds so familiar!

Gardener, You don't know HOW much that opened my eyes!  YES!  We do GREAT while riding bikes, doing projects, cooking, and ESPECIALLY when he's showing me his website work or other things on the computer.  I guess once he has to sit still, he gets distracted and antsy and doesn't know quite what to do.  And the BEACH!  That made me laugh!  Yes, on our first trip to the beach I was almost in tears on the way home.  He pounced out of the truck like a jumping bean, grabbed a bucket, and was 1/8 mile down the beach looking for shells before I knew it!  You are absolutely right--no holding hands or cuddling while talking about our future together or watching the sunset. 

I'm just going through a difficult time... he was in that "honeymoon" phase for 3 months and I thought that was HIM---super focused on me and attentive.   So attentive and that I felt... well, to be honest, on top of the world.  It's been a hard crash to reality to find that he's almost just the OPPOSITE--not very attentive at all.  And, there are times when the "hyperfocused/ head-over-heels-in-love" him returns, but now I KNOW it's transient.  I've tried to remember it's just a phase and I've tried not to fall too hard and stay distant, which hurts, and then I've let go and dived right it, which hurts even worse when he snaps out of it and I'm still goo-goo eyed.  He says he's like the Texas weather... just wait a few minutes and his mood will change.  He laughs, but I'm having a hard time keeping up. 


Very true Gardener!  My ADHD guy thinks if we are in the same room, we are "together" ....makes me giggle, because my DH thinks if we are both home at the same time we are spending time together.  It doesn't matter if hes down the street at the neighbors or out in the yard, with me in the house, if the car is in the driveway and we both got out of it, we are together.  It used to totally make me mad because I wanted him to pay attention to me and do things with me and he would tell me he was "we were both home weren't we?".  Thankfully I get it now.....and its made life wayyyyy easier. 

My DH always wants me to come with him when he is working on the neighbors house (shes elderly and he is redoing her bathroom for her), but in reality its me sitting there watching him (he doesn't want to talk or me to help, he just wants me there).  But he loves teaching me to play disc golf, I'm getting better at it, he will spend all day showing me how to throw the disc and he managed to teach me to swim when no one else has EVER been able to. 

I know this probably isn't real helpful, but I wanted you to know your not the only one.  ~~HUGS!~~

It is helpful

It is helpful to hear others have similar experiences... and it might motivate someone else to try these ideas for "being together" to see if they work. 

Lack or fear of intimacy?

Whenever I hear or read about spending time together, or not, it makes me think that maybe it is also that whole "I'm a guy and guys don't get close or feel feelings". The adhd thing, from my understanding, can be explained as not being "here" and losing track or focus on time, or losing focus on people. However, some of the stuff I have read sounds like some of the actions could be perceived as conscious decisions to avoid (their problem- not because of spouse) - not necessarily adhd? So, this could be two reasons to not to take it personal? I have an uncle who never hugs or never told his kids he loved them... Macho, macho, man -NOT! I'm not excusing lack of attention, I think about this a lot. I hear friends complain about this very thing with their NON add/adhd spouses too. I don't know, i'm just thinking...


Just speaking from my own personal experiences so far, the man I am dating seems to be extremely comfortable with intimacy.  In fact, that is one of the characteristics that drew me to him initially.  When he is focused on "us", he is able to express himself and is really tuned into the needs of our relationship, more so than any man I've known.  If only he could remember and apply the things we sort out in those discussions, life would be grand!  He's really into making changes in the moment, but once something else enters his "line of vision", he's off and running. 

It is complicated for me to

It is complicated for me to ponder this idea because inattention has not always been a part of our marriage. For years, he really seemed to bend over backwards to make me feel respected and loved, even though his ADHD was untreated and undiagnosed. Best I can remember, the first few months were exactly as everyone here...heavenly. Honeymoon. Sweep me off of my feet. Don't know that I have ever admitted this, but we got married 2 1/2 months after we met. The first 5 years seem to be when he was least attentive...then he came around, started spending time with us all, and loved he and I going out together..alone. Even during the worst years of our marriage, after we got custody of SD, we still did things together and never ran out of things to talk about and always enjoyed spending time together. It has just been recently, with things becoming overwhelming for him at work, that he spends 95% of his spare time working. Our last few attempts to go out together, alone, haven't gone well...and our long talks, riding in the car or over a nice meal with the family, are pretty much non-existent. I'm not giving up on them/him yet though. He has a lot to deal with. I will be patient.

This is something I can relate to, but I can't. It is confusing. I don't know how much of it could be ADHD when I think my DH has a pretty severe case of it, but has always been my best friend and someone who I can talk to about anything. He loves to watch TV/movies. He loves (loved?) to go riding in the car and talk for hours. I think right now he is hyperfocused on keeping his job and the network issues he is having...so, again, I will be patient.

  Dear Friend, My soul is


Dear Friend,

My soul is screaming for you to end this relationship now before you invest too much time and frustration. I relate to every post, but they are married and did not have all of the information about ADD. I, too, have been married for 16+ yrs and have been to a zillion therapists, read every book on the shelf, and today, after another major disappointment, oversight, let down and no sex, I am more angry at myself for staying. My husband is on Adderall XR, and believes that his problems are over. He uses his computer at work to schedule appointments and his cell phone to remind him of appointments. And, that's all he needs!

As you have read many times, the early relationship or courtship was 'heaven'! There is nothing like being hyperfocused upon! I couldn't agree more! And then it was if a light switch went off on our relationship. There was no gradual decline in attention, it seemed sudden, and my place was taken by a new job, a new house, a new dog, a new hobby, and then another new hobby. As you will continue to read the literature on ADD and relationships, you will read the same thing over and over. INATTENTION to mate! Then come the frustrations and the sadness of wondering what's wrong with you. Where did our sex life go - and, may I say, the absolute best sex ever!!!!! Dr. Hallowell addresses the lack of sex in his books! My husband gives lip service to wanting a sex life, and is going to make a plan, but the plan never comes off the ground. I was the initiator for 5 yrs and eventually said, I will wait for you to initiate sex. He said, 'great idea'. Never happened. So, every now and then I will initiate again. It's not a medical problem. It seems to be classic to ADD folk. Besides the lack of sexual intimacy, there is the day to day lip service to fulfilling obligations. I don't even listen anymore.

I have learned to accept not trusting, the little white lies to save his own ass, when telling the truth would have been just as easy. I don't ask him to come to bed anymore, because that became just another argument. My husband has created so many scenarios that have forced me into a mother role, which he later berates me for. He rarely sees his part, and never remembers the heartfelt emotion I may have shared the night before. He is affectionate, tells me loves me, and then is off to wander outside, while I'm pausing a show on TV that he said he wanted to watch. He is great at his job, but has a staff to back him up. I could go on and on about the frustration and ensuing loneliness you will feel, if YOU do not make some changes.

As it was told to us by our last therapist, 'HE needs to be reading the books, not you'... 'HE needs to follow a plan of his own choosing, but he has to be consistent, not you'. 'HE needs to go to bed at a regular time every night'.  Each week, the therapist would ask my husband if he followed through on what he said he would do, and the answer was 'no': "it was crazy at work", "we had a fight", "I forgot".

Unless, your boyfriend is REALLY doing some serious therapeutic coaching, and following a structured plan for improvement, get out now! You are capable of loving again. Sorry to sound so harsh, but all of us on this blog work much harder than we should just to save a relationship that does not seem to have the same intensity or interest level to our mates. I admire all those with ADD who are working a plan and including their spouses in that plan. 




Pward, it sounds like you

Pward, it sounds like you have had quite a struggle.  I DO believe you are 100% correct in saying the mate with ADD/ADHD needs to take responsibility for his/her structured plans and then stick with those plans.

Is this normal behavior for ADD/ADHD?....  During the "hyperfocus" phase, he seemed SO VERY ORGANIZED!  He was far neater than I was.  He had immaculate personal grooming habits.  His vehicle was spotless.  He made the bed every morning.  He seemed to remember little details of the day I forgot.  He seemed to manage money well and have long-term financial goals in place.  In fact, I was so excited and was thinking I finally met a man who could take care of ME a little.  That has changed.

I've read so very many sites that seem to imply the person with ADD/ADHD is childish/impulsive and the other spouse ends up "mothering".  I have "issues" myself, as I'm sure we ALL have.  I am a "Pollyanna" type personality... rose-colored glasses and all.  I always look on the bright side of things, rarely get depressed, and always look for a solution. I don't give up easily.  Yet, I don't want to be an ostrich and stick my head in the sand.  I realize love cannot overcome ALL, yet I do wish it would. 

So, what personality traits/mannerisms attract you to your ADD/ADHD partner?  Which ones repel you?




I used to be "pollyanna" but

I used to be "pollyanna" but now i don't even recognize myself.... After 15 years, it wears on you. The childish, imature, impulsive, defensive, belittling, blaming, condescending attitude has just about killed any resemblance of what I used to be.... I'm not perfect either, but, I can say i am a rational, calm, realistic person that is just in a really bad place. Had I known then what I know now... It's hard to say that because I absolutely love my children. THEY are why I get up everyday.

Personality type... hmmm.

I'll say first that whatever point of view you pick up from my posts is probably due in large part to my age (50s).  I'm still here after living through lots of things I would have said "I couldn't survive that"  in my 20s or 30s.  I guess I'm an introvert, was always the caretaker in my birth family (youngest child, though), and life has always tended to exceed my expectations.  Funny.... my ADD guy thinks he has the corner on being the optimist in our relationship... and he truly is one, but partly that is due to his poor short term memory of how badly some things turned out! :)   I guess you could say I try to keep a positive outlook because the alternative feels really crappy.  The "high points" that keep me going are he has been my best friend since we were teenagers, he's amazingly talented and creative, and he seems to really want me in his life, when he's paying attention.  He is forgiving, loyal, and fun.   Knowing every person comes with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, it's hard to imagine which strengths of his I'd give up if I went looking for a man without his weaknesses.  You got some advice to "run for it".  I guess I'd advise you to look at strengths and weaknesses, without naming them as caused by some disorder, to see if they are the ones you can live with, respect, enjoy, and overlook.  EVERYBODY who chooses to get married or be a monogamous partner has to do this.  Learn to love or overlook their "quirks" 80% of the time, and learn to appreciate and respect their "talents" 80% of the time, and you will have a relationship that has people asking how do you do it?   Attributing my particular guy's most hurtful behaviors to ADD gave me just one thing, the knowledge that I wasn't crazy and could trust my own perceptions.  I doubted those two things for years.  Moving on from that is a slow process, but hey---where else would I go?   I also need to add the caveat, in respect to those whose situations are very different from mine, my guy has always worked, always been faithful, never yelled at me or called me names, never abused substances.  Because my set of difficulties (spending, ignoring, incredible thoughtless comments, ignoring, no help at home, did I mention ignoring) seem to be ones I could live with.  I'll never know, I hope, whether I could tolerate worse behavior.  I sure hope I wouldn't. 

And one more thing

You want to believe love can conquer all.... Maybe it can't, but I believe love can conquer more things than anger can, than bitterness can, than fear can, than apathy can.  I think I'll stay until I stop believing that.