He ruined my birthday.

We had been planning to take a vacation together in the summer, but he said he wanted to wait until November so he could have more time off. November was my thirtieth birthday, so I thought that would be perfect to celebrate. In October, I told him to give me his share of the money for the vacation and after much prodding, he did. I told him if he didn’t want to go, he didn’t have to. He told me he’d give me the money after he asked for the time off.

I went ahead and booked the vacation and made the plans. The day we were supposed to leave, after he had brought over a suitcase (which I think in retrospect was empty) and his passport the night before, as I was getting ready for the flight, he told me he had to tell me something.

He told me he had forgotten to ask for the time off and could not risk getting fired by not going to work for a week. I was devastated and had a complete meltdown, crying, shaking, and in shock. I spent the next five days crying off and on. I stayed with my father (my mother was out of town) and slept next to him every day because I was so badly shaken. My friends took me out to dinner on my birthday, which was Friday. My parents have said that it is obvious we need to break up.

He says he doesn’t know why he did it. He says he knows his ADHD caused it. He apologized profusely. He said he would get treatment.

After all of this, and after having seen progress in his life, I have no idea what to do. Throughout all of this, he has told me his ADHD has caused all of his problems, but he only would take medication and go to occasional CBT. It’s obvious that this is not going to be sufficient in the long run. I just have no idea what to do because I am afraid now that I will not have a husband and a family if I stay with him, as he feels he is not ready to get married right now and I guess I can see that he’s not. But we love each other and have stuck it out through everything that has happened. I don’t know if I’m ready to give up, but I am damn close.

Does anyone have any possible insight into this situation?

It sounds to me like your

It sounds to me like your ultimatum may have pushed him over the edge.  From your description, he has made great strides in the time you have spent living apart.  I'm sure he realizes this too.  When an ADHDer feels successful in their current routine, it can be rattling to consider changing.  While procrastinating is a huge part of ADHD, I've found that there is usually another reason that is keeping me from doing something.  Often, it is anxiety about said task that keeps me from starting it.  This situation is very familiar to me.  He needs to talk to someone.  If he can't open up to you, or refuses to keep up with therapy, suggest that he take some time with a trusted friend.  While it can be scary for the ADHD brain to examine its own behavior and feelings, it is absolutely necessary to examine the underlying causes of what you are feeling.

I hope things work out for you two.  It sounds like he must care, if he's stuck with it for so long.

Thank you

I think he does care. I know he loves me. But ADHD is like a monster that yanks him by the arm and pulls him in the wrong directions, and he hasn't been able to control it. It is horrible to watch but I can't do anything about it. Thank you for your words. I regret being strict with the timeline but we have been in limbo for two years. How does one get the point across?

See the red flags

You are not married to this loser yet.  If you stay in this relationship, you have already set the M.O. for him messing up, you forgiving him and you feeling depressed.  Grown ups do those things that are not fun but are necessary for trust and partnership. If the honest communication is not there now, this is how it will be for the rest of your life if you marry him.  You aren't doing him any favors by forgiving his irresponsibility so often.  He learns that he can do that with you. He is willing to see your disappointment and sadness and now expects you to "get over it" without him having to do anything. This is not love. Trust me, he is a little proud of himself for being able to get things to go as he wants using his persuave "charm".  He very likely didn't want to go on those trips...too much expectations and work.  That is why people "forget" big things like that.  He did not put much importance on them, didn't want to put himself out for something that was your idea, and he was afraid.  It is too late to change the dynamics between you. You are not able to change another person. Get yourself free.  Find someone who can care for you as much as you care for them. Trust that a bright future is out there for you.  Do not let yourself get pregnant with this man. You are a good catch. He is not.

You are dealing with more than just ADHD/ADD. It is easy for some people to SAY they care and love.  It is just words to them to get through the present moment. Some people, including your bf, have found that their looks or personality permit them to manipulate and have entitlements without too much work.  They make good salesmen because they like the game of overselling and persuasion.  If you can, stop buying in.

I really appreciate your bluntness

This is why I decided to write. Thank you for your honesty. This morning he has told me he is going to a local specialist for an evaluation. Something that should have happened seven years ago or longer. I have been considering a breakup for me to see other people, and that it might be the only thing that would light a fire under his ass. But because I am a lot better, but still struggling with my codependency, I am really afraid of what might happen. I have been trying to sort through my feelings but I feel one way one moment, another the next.


Just guessing

Just guessing that he has been self-medicating for years with the drinking and the pot.  Is ADHD known to be in his family?  

I have no idea if it applies in his case but many people with ADHD want to please others (quite pathetically so, sometimes) because they've always felt that they've let people down, been failures, been neglected by family, can only keep friends by 'buying' them with favors etc.  The story of turning up with an empty suitcase although he'd given you the cash to pay for the trip has me wondering if he was hoping that somehow, magically, he could make it work for you and his job and he just ran out of room and flamed out.  He is definitely not mature enough for marriage, but you say he is aware of that.  He's been trying to please you for quite a long time (agreeing to the engagement even though he seemed reluctant), it could be that he's been hoping that he really can get his act together but hope doesn't translate into actions. Going to a specialist is probably a big step for him, but the rubber will meet the road if he does get diagnosed with ADHD. Will he take it seriously?  Will that last?  Only time is going to tell.  Certainly if you stay with him and start to contemplate marriage in the future then I think you definitely need to live together first so that you can get past the (not unusual) ADHDer reaction of being overwhelmed when dealing with an up-close relationship with someone who is always there (and if the ADHD is not under control he might feel there is no-where to turn to escape being judged when living together). Much better to give him the chance to adjust before marrying than afterwards.  Right now time and space might be best for both of you. If he is diagnosed then he will probably have to work through a lot of feelings, if you want to stay with him then it's probably a time for you to be supportive rather than try to nudge him forwards faster than he feels able to go.  In the meantime the mental fresh air might give you the opportunity to learn more about ADHD (if you want to) or give you time to explore your options. Maybe?

Not just ADD

Sunlight must be married to an ADHDer who does not lie and is worth trying and waiting and changing and stuffing and hoping and praying for change and taking it on the chin and trying to trust and helping and letting your expectations go and giving a big part of your sanity and self to. There are ADD/ADHDers who ARE worth that. They are the deserving sweeties who try and are honest and forthcoming with their thoughts and feelings and really WANT a relationship - not just in words but in actions.   Your guy is not that guy.  Your guy will take and take.   You will give and give and end up depressed and wonder in your confusion of his manipulations what is wrong with you.   Remember you were feeling better until he came back into your life.  I am so adamant on this for you because 40 years ago I WAS you. I had lots of ambition, talent, great outlook and faith.  I want you to learn from me.  Every now and then I can identify what is happening to someone on this board and I am saying things I wish a computer forum could have said to me at that time.  Don't give him more credit than he deserves.  Don't let his temporary hyperfocus win your heart.  It will not last and soon you will be second guessing yourself again and become suspicious and nervous.  He will not change his lying ways even if his ADD is taken care of .  He is not an honest upfront kind of guy.  Some people, ADD or not, have bad habits and were not taught how to be honest, responsible people.  Read my responses to you to a parent and ask for their opinion.  They will not stand up for him with vigor, I will bet. Hopefull they will stand up for you.  They will probably say, "What do you think?"  There is your answer.  "What do you think?"

I don't think you are co-dependent.  There must be a scoundral in the mix for the a loving, supportive person to be handed the phrase "co-dependent" and insinuating that you are doing something wrong to make this person treat you this way.  If two people are co-dependent in an intimate relationship, that is love.  They depend on EACH OTHER.  They trust EACH OTHER.  They love EACH OTHER.  You may be someone who needs to work on self esteem and how to see clearly and be able to stand firm in your beliefs....but I don't believe in Melonie Beatties co-dependent book.  I read and re-read that book trying to figure out what was wrong with ME.  What was wrong with me was HIM.  Someone else's deviousness/carelessness CAN make a person who believes in love and commitment into a crazy person.

thanks sunlight for your thoughts

He definitely self-medicates. He's been fine not drinking for months and months, but the second things get really stressful he goes right for a stiff vodka drink.

I think you are right on the money with your "wanting to please" analysis. He is an only child of a fairly privileged family. He was sent to expensive private schools but never lived up to his potential, as i mentioned about college. His father is an MD/PHD who is a pretty cold and tyrannical person, and its pretty obvious that my bf is a disappointment to him. His mother does whatever his father wants and says. Your explanation sounds a lot like what he said about intending to do it, but flaming out. He was diagnosed as a child, but was initially told he would grow out of it, as was thought back then, so he never learned to cope the way he should. He's had a long time to avail himself of all the ADHD help in the world, but he says he wants to really try to do it now??? He takes Adderall twice daily and sometimes low doses of klonopin to sleep. Obviously the meds alone aren't enough for an adult life. He says he will do anything but I guess that remains to be seen, whether or not we are together in the future.

Jennalemon, I totally understand what you are saying and you may well be right. I am still trying to make sense of everything. It's definitely possible that some of what you say is true, I hope that my perception for 10 years hasn't been so wrong that he is does all of it on purpose. It could be true.


If an ADDer has wealthy parents and he will inherit a substantial amount, all can be well.  Hiring out services and understanding and loving.  A rich wife doesn't need to concern herself with finances or even her work load.  Lucky for everyone the ADDer or the grampa was ambitious and planned for the future.  It really could and does work in that situation.  A wife would be wise to stay and enjoy the fun and know she is taken care of. 

BUT, if your family must work and save and plan for your living expenses, it is an entirely different story.  When one spouse is not concerning himself with money, it makes the wage earner fearful if there isn't enough.  This is what makes an ADDer a slacker - if there is need and he has chosen to deny and distract himself from his family's needs and his wife's worries, criticizing the wife for worrying while giving her reason to worry.

This is the gist of what many of us nonADDers are suffering.  There is not enough money and our ADDers are burying their heads in the sand hoping we will take care of everything for them. Some ADDers do work hard and earn a living wage.  Dh did for 15 years, then stopped and works part time at his own sort of "business".  He has no inheritance and barely any retirement money put aside and thinks he is doing great because I managed to pay the bills during our marriage. The story changes when a man does not support his family and plan financially.

in my case

He has a generous amount of money/assets that are not to be touched (parental orders) until a big purchase like a home would be made. However, this amount is not enough for him to live off of for life. If his parents left him the rest of their money, he might at some point. Regardless of any money, I would not want a husband who has no ambition or goals and would just live off money and do nothing. He at least has been pretty successful in his chosen field, which is not particularly high paying, but I'm fine with that. (but this limited success has come at the expense of me, his health, our relationship, etc). 

Getting through the moment. 

Getting through the moment.  Getting past the crisis for the moment with no real plan(or intention sometimes) for followup.  This IS ADD behavior.  "I promise I will change and see a counselor right away" while they are in the hot seat - at your insistence. It will either not happen, it will be cancelled (his doing but he may lie about who cancelled it - never blaming himself or he will tell you he decided not to go for some reason later (a reason that after you have "cooled off" you will WANT to buy to get along) or he will start but not keep the sessions going until the danger of your follow through is over.  They depend on our "cooling down" and letting it go. We have let them do that dance for years.  Don't fall for it.  HOLD YOUR GROUND.  Yes, I agree with sowondrous that your parents see the situation clearer than you can. If you ASKED for their input and gave them all the information you gave us, they may cautiously let you know how they see the situation - like we can.  They will not be blunt like we can because they may not want to be the cause of a breakdown in communications between them and you....and may want to honor your own choices.  But they do SEE what is going on.  They may not say anything because he might very well be their son in law (father of their grandchildren) someday if this goes on....they won't criticize (because their criticism might turn on them if you tell him what they said) like they might want to.  You get a more honest reply from this anonymous forum.

still haven't decided

He still says he wants to fix it, and I want to as well, but how could this work? What can be done?