BEFORE I become emotionally invested...what are the 'unchangeables'?

I am dating someone with ADHD, and we are at a transition point in our relationship.  He is wanting us to become more serious, and I am very fond of him, but we have already had quite a few problems in the 3 months we have been dating.  To be fair, I have my own special set of issues and problems that he has been very respectful of.  Also, I have been in therapy for years to work on my problems, and I feel like I'm a pretty healthy, well-rounded individual at this point.  I am trying to learn more about what I can realistically expect out of him, what he is capable of working on, and what is going to be expected of me if I decide to commit to loving this man. 

I've looked through quite a few books, and alot of the research seems to be older; many of the books on the subject are from the 90s.  I have also heard alot of differing opinions about which behaviors are caused by valid differences in brain function, and which are caused by poorly-learned habits because they were a 'child with adhd'.  I grew up with an adhd brother who did not learn many things he could have if he had been taught differently.  Later in life, he has discovered that he is capable of many things he was told he couldn't do because he was adhd.  He is remarkably bright.

My boyfriend is similar; very bright, and very attentive, but only to a few select things that he is either passionate about, or receiving instant gratification from.  He was diagnosed young, and medicated as a child, but chooses not to take medication as an adult (a decision which I fully support).  I told him I wanted to talk about his adhd, and he agreed, but the problem is, I think he is in the hyperfocused part of our courtship; I am afraid he is only agreeing to work on it because he wants me to love him, and once he knows he's 'got me', our relationship will deteriorate into the other ones I've read about on this website.  I am trying to figure out how to explain to him my fear about this, and whether it is fair to expect him to work on these things if I'm not willing to reciprocate his love yet.  I'm wondering if anyone has any positive experiences with their adhd SO actually being able to change? Or, areas where most people can unanimously agree, he will likely never be able to learn that skill.  Here are my primary areas of interest:

-Inability to put himself into another person's shoes (the self-centeredness. He doesn't understand that my needs may not match his wants, or that the world doesn't run on his clock, or that I need quiet time).  Has anyone had luck explaining the skill of putting oneself into another person's shoes to someone with adhd in a manner that has successfully resulted in behavior changes? 

-Basic social skills (cutting people off, thinking before speaking, interacting appropriately with my family, having realistic expectations about my interactions with his family)  Has anyone seen these things change?

-Taking the responsible path versus the easy path (he lets his mom do alot of things a grown man really should be doing for himself).   Is there any way for someone with adhd to learn how to get fulfillment out of doing something just because they should, or do they always have to have an instant-gratification reward? 

-Sensitivity (he does things, unintentionally, that are extremely insensitive--as a result, I cannot be around him too much if I am dealing with anything heavily emotional.  I have a friend that is dying and he said something hurtful when I started crying. I was so shocked he said it, and I knew he didn't mean it, and he later corrected himself, but I'm scared to talk to him about things when I am hurting)  Can someone with adhd learn to pick up on the feelings of other people and be sensitive to them?

-THE HYPERFOCUS!!  This is my biggest concern.  Is this true with all adhd lovers?  Is he really going to lose interest as soon as I fall in love with him?  I am needing to take things slow with him because of these issues, and he wants instant gratification.  He wants me to love him and want to see him everyday, but he more obsesses than romances.  I tried explaining to him the concept of romancing a woman, and I think it was completely news to him.  And from what I have read about the hyperfocus stage of adhd courtship, he will lose interest in trying to do anything to make me feel good once he has me.  I am deathly afraid I'm going to have my heart broken.  I do not want to end up in a relationship with an adult child I have to care for who doesn't even find me interesting anymore. 

He's going to expect some emotional reciprocation soon, and I don't know what to tell him.  He is very impatient, and also may be hurt if I tell him I'm not there yet.  But if these things are never going to change, I need to know.  I am not the most responsible or organized person myself; I am still trying to get my own life together, I don't know if I am strong enough to put his together for him too.  Someone help!!!!  Ahhhhhh!!! 

Just be careful

I think it's too hard to generalize too much, or to predict the future.  For all we know, your boyfriend could be the once ADD diamond in the rough who is able to manage a lot of the symptoms.  But I'll give you my experience, as a non-ADD wife, married 6 years, two kids (note my husband was not diagnosed with ADD until 10 months ago, so you are off to a head start if your boyfriend knows and accepts he has it!):

1.  Lack of empathy: this was a BIG one early in our relationship.  We had a lot of disagreements that escalated into major fights simply because he really couldn't handle the fact that I might see things differently than him.  This was really new and unsettling for me.  I am a lawyer, and for all the bad things people say about lawyers, at least I'll say that you develop a skill where you expect that there are different arguments to be made on any given point.  I. Could. Not. Understand how he would get so upset or be so unable to appreciate my perspective -- even if he disagreed with it.  He did, when he was afraid of losing me, really try to "fix" this, but once we got married it fell by the wayside.  Now, six years later, I have so much anger and resentment built up because I feel like there are so many times I've been hurt, and he is unable to acknowledge it -- we just end up in an argument over which "version" is right, and it makes me feel very sad and misunderstood, distant, and unable to really connect with him on an intimate level.  Sometimes he will acknowledge it, but it seems so flat and hollow, that I am just wondering if he can even hear the pain in my voice.  And I'm not talking about little things.  I'm talking about things like completely abandoning me emotionally (and sort of physically -- he got an apartment in the city to live in during the week, to avoid his commute) when I was pregnant.  I am still struggling with accepting that this is a part of him that I will just have to accept if I want to stay married.

2.  My needs/his wants:  He's working on this one, but it is REALLY hard for him.  I've decided that the problem is that we have no WE in our relationship.  I did a marriage program (alone, he couldn't be bothered) that talked about moving from ME to WE.  The idea is that in a relationship, you start to see yourself as a unit, rather than as an individual.  In the process, the other person's needs are as important as your needs, and when this is mutually reinforcing, you are able to come to compromises, fulfill your partner's needs while not feeling like you are giving up your own, etc.  My husband DOES NOT understand this concept.  After years of struggling with this, I've fallen into the pattern many others on this site have -- becoming ME-centered myself.  Since I feel like my entire sense of self will be swallowed whole by his wants and needs unless I assert myself, I've found myself becoming more demanding of MY wants and needs, and we just get in a power struggle.  In reality, a lot of MY needs are WE needs -- e.g., spending time together, going on dates, etc., but he always feels like he is "giving up" something by giving in to these needs, even though they benefit him, too (he doesn't get that).

3.  Quiet time:  I'm sorry, but this made me laugh out loud.  Not at you -- I just remember the feeling of being "smothered" when we were dating and telling him I needed some space to myself, suggesting we take a weekend off from seeing each other or a night of no phone calls, etc.  Fast forward six years -- we got in an argument last week because I wanted to implement Melissa's strategy of "scheduling" time together, combined with Dr. Hallowell's 30-day program of talking each night -- he fought me tooth and nail and argued that "if you average it out, I talk to you about 30 minutes a day."  Yes, I am basically in a position where I have to beg and plead for my own husband to take 30 minutes off from teaching himself C++ on the computer to TALK TO HIS OWN WIFE.  So much for being worried that I would be smothered in this relationship!

4.  Social skills:  My husband is not so bad in this area, though he has really low self-esteem so after a dinner party or social interaction we have to spend an hour dissecting everything he said so I can assure him that he didn't sound dumb, or stupid, or whatever.  I do it, but it is hard to be with someone who lacks that much self-confidence, I do feel often like I am boosting the ego of a teenage child.

5.  Responsibility:  Speaking of feeling like you are taking care of a child, this was a BIG problem.  I didn't notice it as much at first, because in the newlywed stage I was very into being a great wife and "taking care of my man," etc.  But once we had kids, I REALLY needed for him to step up to the plate, and he failed.  As I mentioned above, it got to a point where he literally moved out for most of the time, leaving me to work full-time, take care of a child, pay bills, clean the house, etc. ALL BY MYSELF -- when I was also pregnant with our second.  To be fair, this was before the ADD diagnosis and since then he has made a lot of changes in this area -- he got on meds, moved back, began engaging with the kids more, picking up some slack around the house (a week ago he came home earlier than me and had started cooking dinner by the time I got home -- I almost dropped dead from shock).  HOWEVER, I wonder if it's a new hyperfocus phase, because now he's started turning around on ME and telling me I am not doing enough, taking care of the kids, etc. (back to the no WE, only ME).  The whole thing is so laughable, given our history, but I get VERY indignant at the suggestion that I'm not carrying my weight, which has created its own set of issues.

6.  Insensitivity: Another big one.  Sometimes I cannot believe the things that fly out of his mouth, they are so hurtful and cruel.  Over the years, the only way I've been able to manage with this is to say some really hurtful and cruel things back.  I've tried to stop it, but there are times when I feel like the emotional avalanche I feel by being a verbal punching bag for me is too great and I might drown in an abyss of depression if I don't set up some walls -- which are of course destructive also.  Basically, though there have been *moments* where I have have felt truly loved and cherished, they become completely obliterated by his insensitivity, because I just don't understand how a person who loves someone else can say, think, or feel the things he does.  And then really feel no remorse.  Oh, and forget comforting me when I am crying -- there are times when I've been lying in a heap bawling on the floor and he's just walked away, or even sometimes continued to yell at me over whatever stupid "point" he's making.  That's gotten less -- only because I've learned to "fight back" as destructively as he does so I don't get as hurt, but it's a vicious cycle and I don't know if we'll ever get out of it...because I don't think he is capable of listening to what I am saying and not taking it as criticism.

7.  Hyperfocus:  I think it' safe to say that this won't last whether you are in a relationship with an ADD-er or not -- all relationships lost this initial passion after a few years.  But I think you are right to pick up on the difference between obsession and romance.  When I look back at our "courtship," I realize that my husband didn't really court me at all.  He wanted to be around and with me ALL THE TIME, but he really didn't do things like plan dates, or buy me nice thoughtful gifts, or really put me first -- it was a lot about him, actually.  Honestly, I feel in love with all the attention (a.k.a. obsessiveness), and the fact that I was the center of it -- this is something I'm exploring with my therapist because I think it's led me to make some poor choices.  

I hope this helps.  I think your boyfriend's feelings for you are real -- unless he's a sociopath he's not manipulating you -- and even if the hyperfocus wears off, it doesn't mean he doesn't love you.  So you shouldn't worry about having your heart broken -- he's not going to lose interest in you in the sense that he'll fall in love with someone else, it's just that other things are going to occupy his attention, which can be just as crushing.  I think if you move forward you should move forward really seeing him FOR WHO HE IS, as a person, and ask yourself whether you can accept that.  I feel like I'm the one to blame in my marriage because all of the problems we have are things that were there before we got married, I was just too enthralled by his attention that I didn't see it.  And now the attention is gone, I'm left with just him, and I don't know if I accept him the way he is.  In a lot of ways, it's not his fault, he's been the same person all along.

ADD Me...

I have read your husband's posts. I think I can relate to the phase he is in right now.

I am just under two years post diagnosis, and have had counseling, marital counseling, and have been a regular on this site since I found it. The meds have helped a great deal to slow my brain down and feel better. My first couple of months after diagnosis were Roller Coaster Extreme. I cannot speak for your husband, of course, but taking the meds awoke my brain. I was oblivious to everything other than the Most Immediate Issue that demanded action. After the meds you begin to see all the other things you just never saw before. I am not just talking about chores, and projects that need attention and most of all your time (A huge change is Time Perception), but noticing emotions, hearing more than the words being spoken, realizing all that your ADD has affected to those around you, and now probably realizing you are about to lose everything you really care about. The anxiety is overwhelming...

I suspect the ADD was diagnosed when things got really bad, as I was having the most stressful year in my life for a bunch of different reasons, and began having anxiety attacks that I had never had before. I had always been able to juggle the number of oranges I had in my life fairly well until that year, then I was thrown a bunch of extra things and it pushed me to the edge. I was 43 years old at the time of my diagnosis. I began the long road of repairing my marriage, which I believe is going to work.

I know things may be too late for you and you have to take care of yourself, because nobody else can. Most ADDer's did not know why they were behaving the way they did, but I assure you some of us can improve ourselves a great deal. It takes a while to relearn 40+ years of coping skills and use the mental tools that were not available to us before.

I wish you the best.






confused60's picture

Time Perception

Dear yyz,

Can you say some more about "Time Perception" that you mentioned in this post?  It actually shocked me.   I think I'm ADHD but have not had a professional assessment.  I never knew about ADHD and only discovered it by accident just before Christmas when I listened to a news report about adult ADHD.  I immediately knew they were talking about me.  I've done some research and am 99% confident I have suffered from this condition all of my life.

For as long as I can remember I have had no perception of time passing.  If I see a friend today, a year from now I will feel like I just spoke with them yesterday.  People think I don't like them because I do not stay in touch as much as they do with me.  I've been with my wife for 25 years and it feels like 10 (and I cannot remember much of the past anyway).  I'm 60 and I think of myself as 30.  I don't mean how I physically feel or look, I mean how I think of my age.

Is this time perception the same thing you were referring to and is this a symptom of ADHD?

Thanks a lot,

Time Perception (Not enough Time)

Time has always been a major misjudgment in my life. Before I was diagnosed with ADD I would go through each day thinking I could still get to whatever the day's primary task/chore/event and do the things that I want to do as the pop-up. So I inevitably would end up rushing around trying to get to the task/chore/event because the had "Gotten Away" from me, yet again. If I would have noticed how much this was affecting the people involved I would have known what an issue this was to me.

After Adderall quite the opposite is true... Now I wake up and have at least an idea of the things that need to be done. I am thinking what are the "Top 3" things of an impossible list that never stops growing. What helps me is I ask my wife on Saturday morning "What are the top 2 or 3 things you would like to see me work on?". I have found this to be helpful because:

1: She thinks I care about what is important to her 

2:When other things don't get done, I am working on something we deemed important 

3:I tend to pick projects I like to do first, not that the project is just for me, but I could spent the day doing work on a project and not get any credit because it was not as high of a priority to her. (I'm not good at mind reading)

After my Time Plan has been laid out, I am immediately concerned about not finishing, because I have Not Finished so many projects in the past. So my, Post Adderall, Time Perception is hyper-aware that the day is running out of minutes. I can get a little irritable when people, on the fly, try to add things or interupt, the day as I have planned it. Now I believe I have better time skills than my NonADDer wife. There are days when she will say "Let's do this or that, before we go X" and I will look at her and say "How are we going to fit X into A, B and be at C by 6pm?!?"

Honestly, I'm not sure if my new High Anxiety Time Perception is better that the old oblivious kind. I definitely get way more done than I ever did before at home or on the job. This is good, but I'm still learingn how to deal the fact that the list will never be completed. I try to prioritize, and be efficient and know that this is the best I can do.

I will add that my self esteem has improved now that I am not perceived as that guy who is always 10 minutes late.

If you think you have ADD, go see someone who knows, don't waste any time because there is help for those of us with previously undiagnosed ADD.


I hope this helps a little. 



confused60's picture

Actually it helps a lot.    

Actually it helps a lot.     I see you are speaking about a different kind of time perception than I was imagining. 

Your comment makes me think how one-sided I am on picking home improvement projects.  I tend to focus on infrastructure stuff (retaining walls, well and plumbing, HVAC) but my wife is only interested in cosmetic stuff.  I like your approach of asking and then prioritizing based on your spouse's input.  Your reasons #1 and #2 are right on target and so unarguably true, as is (sigh) #3.  We wouldn't be able to use the kitchen sink, dishwasher, or washing machine if I didn't take the weekend to roto-root the graywater line, a #3 project.  This was not important to her, even though she recognizes the need for drains to work.  She would rather have new countertops #2 earning tons of points #1.

And (Sherri this is for you) I estimated a 4-hour job.  Reality: 1 hour to buy an electric auger (more than cost-justified), 4 hours to get the frozen clean-out plug out (find wrenches, WD40 the thing to death over 1 hr, research how to remove a stuck steel plug on the internet, go buy a new torch propane tank the next day, heat, beat and chisel the sucker out of it's 25 year position).  Not done: now 2 hrs to root a 50 ft line, 1 hr to clean the machine and put the plug back in for a total time investment of ~2 days.  Still not done: two months later put the machine away and put everything back where it belongs.

I too get huffy over mods to the game plan and what really annoys me is to have to fix something I fixed a little while back (measured in years to non-ADHD). 

I am having some difficulty finding someone local who specializes in adult ADHD.  There are several in my area but they are not close and if I have to drive for an hour I probably won't do it.  Not sure what to do at this point.  Likely will just self-diagnose with all the material available and consult my primary care physician.  I did see a counselor (PHD) for 3 sessions but let them go when it was apparent they were only focusing on my self-medication problem instead of helping me get to the root of my problems (which is why I self-medicate).  To me it is clearly the result of ADHD, I have little doubt about this.


I cannot speak for him, but I

I cannot speak for him, but I know for my husband he has major time perception issues. One thing recently was a project we were doing in our den. The plan is to take everything out (which isn't as easy as it might be for ADHDer creates clutter and messes wherever he goes), rip up the carpet, and paint the entire floor with a tinted garage/concrete paint..then put everything back in. He was somehow convinced this was a one day project. I knew it would take at least 3-4 days, and with his lack of ability to keep on task for more than an hour or two, possibly 3-4 WEEKS. When he realized it wasn't going to be a 1 day job, he seemed defeated and depressed. I didn't mention to him that I was certain it wasn't going to be a 1 day job, as it would have probably taken that as me somehow trying to 'burst his bubble' so to speak.

He will tell me he has to go do something and it will only take an hour...and three hours later...

He will tell me he is finishing up at work, will be leaving in 5 minutes, and an hour later...

I have also read that ADHDers have difficulty following a time line in life.

confused60's picture

Sounds a lot like me.  I've

Sounds a lot like me.  I've learned over the years the value of chipping away at tasks to accomplish the end result eventually.  Unfortunately, I tend to lose interest before dotting the i's and crossing the t's.  Deck is built and stained 22 years ago but not the handrails on the steps; soffit lighting installed and working 3 yrs ago but never patched the holes in the drywall; sewer line rooted out last Sept but did not put the machine away or put the books back on the shelf that was removed to access the line.  (After my ah ha moment on ADHD over Christmas I went downstairs and put the books back on the shelf.)

I wonder if your hubby's disappointment is due to ADHD or rather a learning that is needed on how to hang in there in small increments to accomplish a major task.  Not everyone has this skill, ADHD or not.  I must confess that in my professional life I am a project manager and am responsible for managing, scheduling, and completing large multi-year software projects involving personnel around the world.  I am able to do this, I think, because of the tools I use.  It never occurred to me until now that I need to use those same tools to manage my personal life.

I'm going to start making list of tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete a home project and estimate the time required for each, and make a schedule of when each can be performed.  You don't need a software program to do this, just a pencil and paper.  Maybe you can get your husband to do this with your input.  If he's going to get defensive about his timelines and you burst his bubble, then that's probably a major turn off and he won't start it.  On the other hand, he just might agree that all those tasks need to be done and, yep, it will take 3-4 days to do all that work.

ebb and flow's picture

YYZ and confused60

How is it that you have so much insight on this?!?!?!?

My partner has admitted to me, quite easily that:

1) There are never enough hours in a day-- time just whips by!

2) That when he thinks he did something yesterday, it was probably 2 weeks ago, 2 months ago, or 2 years ago!!!

3) He miscalculates how much time something will take to be completed-- pretty much most of the time.

He too gets frustrated if I ask him to do ANYTHING because he feels I'm adding to his already "crazy in his mind" load! But because of this I can't ask him for anything at all. He really gets very irritated with me over it-- to the point he's just plain unapproachable. 

So, he realizes this is the case but doesn't really do anything about. It's like the definition of crazy... someone repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result next time! Why? Why can't he admit it to himself that its an issue AND THEN do something about it!?!?!? It's like he thinks he's got a handle on it but doesn't AT ALL.

He honestly feels that it's all his 'current project's' fault (he's been "working on it" for 3 years-- the last year 'for real'...) and, once THIS project is over he will have more time to do other things in life. (ie- spend time with me, do fun stuff, read, hobbies, work out, household tasks, etc). 

But, I know otherwise because it's not just the project that is affected by his time management issues. It's everything! I feel if its not the project eating his time it'll be something else because he doesn't have a very good perception of time and when he does have loads of it he can't get started anyhow! (procrastination)

Help me out here! What is blocking him from getting the help he needs to balance his time better?

confused60's picture

What's that saying about the

What's that saying about the blind leading the blind? If I can't help myself I sure can't help others. Well, perhaps not completely true. In the course of my years dealing with my ADHD (that I never knew I had) I have been forced to find coping behaviors to survive at work. Unfortunately I have not applied these tools to my personal life, something to keep in mind.  Maybe some of my coping behaviors can be adopted by your DH.

Your post caused me to reflect on my own behavior.  I think your items 1-3 are all interrelated. I've not been successful in dealing with this lack of time management skill.  I've been waiting to "get to point A" to start spending quality time with my partner and when I get to point A (if I ever do) there's always a point B. First of all, spending quality time should be blended in with the priorities and not held waiting for a future time (guilty as charged). I am thinking my other problem is I focus on too many non-value added tasks, delaying me to reach point A, and when I finally get there it seems like only yesterday when I started it.  I'm not sure I'm making myself clear here: if there are 10 things to do to get to point A within one day and I end up doing 1000 things over a few months finally reaching point A, then my mind discounts the time back down to a day.

You then go on to mention what I think is the root cause of this time management problem: there are so many tasks bouncing around in my mind and they are both unorganized and overwhelming.  So overwhelming that I often freak and then freeze up, unable to accomplish what is important.  So, I turn to something I want to do, that is easy to do, to get my sense of accomplishment.  However, once I realize I didn't do the important tasks, I'm back to the freak and freeze.  After a few years this really takes its toll on your sense of pride and self-worth, esteem, and performance at home and at work.

What helps me to accomplish things is other people. I seek out the counsel and input of others and make sure they know I am grateful for their input, whether or not I use it. For example, when managing a project I break it down into categories of tasks and then break those categories into detailed tasks which I then group into subcategories. I involve other people and get their input on what tasks should be done when, and by whom, and how long they should take.  This gives me a plan to follow.  Without the plan, I am doomed. Next and most importantly, I ask my boss to review what I think my priorities should be, and correct any discrepancies with the boss' own thinking.  For me, everything must be written down for my reference or else I go astray.

To bring this down to earth, you and your DH's friends can help to bring sanity to home projects.  You in particular can help prioritize.  However, DH will mostly need to help himself on this one.   My two cents on your question:  Help me out here! What is blocking him from getting the help he needs to balance his time better?  Possibly like me, he has not come to grips with the potential ramifications of his behavior.  He has to embrace and truly appreciate the potential negative impact on you and your relationship together.  Then perhaps, like me, he'll have the incentive to do something positive to manage his time in this regard.

In my own situation, it has taken a major marriage disaster to wake me up (but in my "defense" I never knew I had any serious ADHD issues, real or imagined, until a couple months ago).  Now, there is a one-year clock ticking for me to 1) discover my ADHD, 2) fix it, 3) organize my home projects and complete them.  There's too many for me to do all by myself, so I'll need to enlist others and contractors to help shape up the house.  As my DW said during an argument a few weeks ago, this is the most embarrassing home I've ever lived in.  Ouch! But sadly true for her.  She is referring to all the cosmetic stuff I have never concentrated on, instead I focused on infrastructure stuff, as mentioned earlier in this chain (1950's ranch with 1950 style baths and a 1970 kitchen).  I have invested more than 200k$ making improvements to grounds and roofs, plumbing, electric, etc but she doesn't care about those things.

A point of comparison for your DH?  Something to think about?  I hope my example is helpful.


I think it really helps to

I think it really helps to have some 'support' when it comes to finishing projects. I know that my husband works twice as much when he has a friend come over and help him do something. I'm not sure why having the extra person there to help matters so much, but I do think that it is a very good idea for him to enlist the support of friends (or even outside contractors, if you must) to help get things done. The 'things' being left undone are a constant 'reminder' and I am sure it just adds to the 'beating up' of one's self.

sullygrl's picture

Home projects - not necessarily ADD

I think there is also a gender difference there - men want to fix the structure, the way things run, women want things to "look nice" . And I'm sure your wife would care if the fusebox blew every time she blow dried her hair, or if the stove stopped working, etc. 

But where ADD/ADHD shows its colors is in the carry out of the projects. My DH typically underestimates the TIME it will take to do projects. And so something will be ripped open, in pieces, that I need, that was supposed to be done in an hour, and it's now the next weekend, and, well, you get the idea. And maybe it would have been done in an hour, but he made the mistake of turning the TV on. Or he needed a part and went to get it and decided to run the car through the car wash while he was out and that reminded him he needs an oil change and he hasn't checked on his mom's car in a while either so he should go over there and of course she is going to feed him and then it will be dark when he gets back and he can't see in the basement where he was working so there goes another day.

I feel for him, I am glad to have found this board and hear from others with ADD/ADHD, it helps me understand more. And I know that it causes enough problems to take it's toll on self esteem and pride and self worth, as you say. And I don't want to add to that. BUT, it also takes a toll on my self esteem and my self worth when I am never prioritized to the top of a list. That coping mechanisms have been found to function at work, I'm sure he can't tell his boss "I forgot" and so why is that ok to tell his WIFE?

I applaud you for finding this out, a lot of adults were not diagnosed as children (especially if you are 40+ years old) and so finding out as adults doesn't always happen, or by the time it does, you feel "stuck" the way you are. I think it's great that you didn't let that be a cop-out, thinking it was too late to change. It's never too late.

you have my sympathy

I 'reminded' my husband that today was trash day...

Me: today is trash day

Him: So I have to freeze and take the trash around (not really ASKING..just snowed a little last night)

Me: It wouldn't be any warmer if I took it around.

Him: I always take it around.

Me: No, you don't.

Him: Yes, I do ..or it doesn't get taken around.

Me: Honey, it is the only thing I ask you to do (trying to say "please don't fuss about it")

He has taken it around for 3 weeks consistently now...because I reminded him each time. In his mind this means he "always" does it. Of the times the garbage can has been taken around in ..oh say the past year...Honest to God, he MAY have taken it 40% of the time...and I am being generous. Granted, it doesn't get taken around AT ALL sometimes when he doesn't take it, but the majority of the time I take it around because I either forget to remind him it is trash day. Even with reminders, that doens't guaruntee it will get done.

I typically let things like this go...don't pay any attention to his griping..because I know it is just his mouth moving before his brain does..but this morning it just really made me feel unappreciated and sad.


Sherri, this made me laugh. Sample conversation with my husband:

Me (Saturday): Did you bring the trash cans back up?

Him: Yes

Me (Sunday): You need to bring the trash cans back up.

Him: I did

Me: (Monday) You need to bring the trash cans back up.

Him: I'll do it in the morning.

Me (Tuesday before he leaves for work): You need to bring the trash cans back up.

Him: I did. They aren't out there.

Me: Yes they are. They are in front of my car.

Only then does he bring them up. The trash was picked up Friday. Before some of you ADHDers who think we should do everything chime in, I just had surgery and am not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds. These are 4-feet tall rolling cans. How could he not see them? How could he not have known he hadn't done it?

ok ladies....

I really think the trash thing has nothing to do with ADD... It is a classic marital conflict.

Another classic example, lawn care:  Last year I begged my husband to mow our lawn.  I was at home with an infant and a toddler, and could not leave them alone in the house to do it myself while he was at work, and if I asked him to watch the kids while I did it when he got home, or on the weekend, he'd get defensive and say, "I'll do it tomorrow."

After 8 months, one week when my husband was out of town for a conference, I hired someone to come mow, edge and trim everything in the yard so we wouldn't lose our security deposit.

He was furious, of course, because I spent money we couldn't afford.  but the neighbors were glad.  the yard had become a serious eye-sore.


I am a Adult male in the age

I am a Adult male in the age range of 20-30 more towards 30, with Adult ADHD. I have had ADHD my entire life and only realized it was a problem recently. When I say problem I mean only recently have I realized the affects on my life. My whole life I have been very good at many things I have tried. I was a honor student thru out high school and college (3.5 +), I participated in sports and was always on an all star team or made it to state finals in the sports I performed in. I graduated college and post college. I have had a very good job in the same industry for the past 6 years and previous had my first Career job which I worked at for a few years until I found something better which is not uncommon for anyone starting off in a new career. I am good at managing my finances and can admit I can be cheap or frugal when it comes to spending money. I come  from a family which was always very conservative and having relatives big into saving and being careful with money. I have always had a girlfriend and been able to keep my girlfriends (usually). This is just an overall picture of the type of person I am and have always been so we can get this together that I am not just some person who has no clue about life etc. ( I have social skills and am good at talking to people (random or known)

I have to agree with your post on many of the issues that you addressed.  I have learned to try to put myself in other peoples shoes, I can be selfish although I have to say I do not mind helping people or doing the right thing, The insensitive part applies as well but I believe it is more the ability to not control what I am thinking and what comes out of my mouth. I do restrain and hold back many things and try my hardest not to be rude to people yet I still come off rude which I feel is a communication problem and choice of word issue. I also agree with your comments regarding the still caring issue. I still care for people although it may not sound like it from what I say I say it because I care. Example " when some one does something I think is silly or do not agree with  I will just say stuff like your no good at anything or you will never learn which I know can be cruel but inside all I am trying to do is motivate people to actually be better and the message is not portrayed as I intend it. I should say things like, Nice try maybe you could try this and it would help you more, or maybe you should try a different approach." Unfortunately this is not the first thing which comes to mind which is why we(ADHDERs) have to think before we speak but when your brain is going 10000 miles per hour its not so easy to put on the brakes. 

I have to tell you when you said this "I think if you move forward you should move forward really seeing him FOR WHO HE IS, as a person, and ask yourself whether you can accept that. I feel like I'm the one to blame in my marriage because all of the problems we have are things that were there before we got married, I was just too enthralled by his attention that I didn't see it. And now the attention is gone, I'm left with just him, and I don't know if I accept him the way he is. In a lot of ways, it's not his fault, he's been the same person all along."

I like the fact that you say you should see him for who he is a good start.

I guess my question to you is that what would make him normal, what would make him how you want him? and how do you want him to be ? what is this normal you are searching for? Normal people have relationship problems as well. ( only so many people have ADHD YET 50% of people who get married are divorced so its not all to blame on ADHD) What have you tried to do with him to make him participate and help out.

In my relationship experiences I have always felt my partner was selfish for not wanted to do some of the things I have wanted to do. Like for instance your situation with the computer. my question to you is why do you not try to sit and understand the computer situation? and tell him you like that he has a hobby which interests him. Maybe you could be interested in the hobby not because you like C++ or anything but because you like him. ?  I think if you could use some of these "Issues you have" and make them work to your advantage. He obviously likes computers and C++ and teaching. Why dont you try to have him teach you some C++ so you can learn something and learn a little more about him then you could get your Time with him and talk . It does not have to be about computers but you could  relate it to your relationship. Example " why not learn about C++ and when there is something in the C++ learning. For computer programming  you have to be very responsible ( structured)  and detail oriented. if you let him know that being more structured in daily life ( cleaning up after himself etc) and having a set order of doing things like structuring a C++ program everything will run smoother like a good computer program.  ( i hope u get the gist)  Plus you will build confidence in him giving him the teacher role and he will feel more confident in his ability to communicate if he gets some practice teaching.

If you can take the  things you do not like about his ADHD and apply them to work in your favor it could make everything smoother. my whole philosophy is things work better when you put good into them. for example Cars. If you put bad gas or bad oil or mistreat your car it will not run right and it will die and yelling at  cars does not work. Well same goes with humans and people with Adhd and everyone, They are like machines If you do not put good time in and good thoughts and good efforts and are not creative then humans can get bored and not interested and will just start to go bad like an un cared for car. ( you also have to be strong and patients as love is strong and patient)

HYPERFOCUS  I think sometimes people tend to do this and I feel that if you can make something interesting enough all the time they people will always be focused. lets say relationships, like you said all relationships start off awesome and go into a regular routine and with ADHD people we can seem to get bored easily. I think when a person with ADHD is boring and likes to sit and watch tv you should let them watch tv once in a while. this can be used to your advantage. If you give a little time in the front end you may get what you want in the back end. For example. I go over gfs house and want to watch tv, well TV is not fun for me there because we NEVER watch what I would like to watch. if maybe one time We either had a show we both liked or maybe watched what I wanted to for an hour , I would be less likely to complain when she wants to watch some chick flick or realty tv show for 3 hours. 

Basically what I am saying is that you can fix the WE problem, the social confidence problem,responsibility problem, quiet time problem and all the other problems by being proactive in your attempt. I think that instead of looking at everything as a problem you can look as it as an in to get to be with your husband or get the desired result. ( example allergists use the very thing we are allergic to in the allergy shots to give our body a controlled reaction and build up tolerance to something we are allergic to.)   if you did more things which you both liked and made an attempt to make it fun and do it together you may be better off with him. You have to do it slowly and be patient and build up his tolerance to the activities. you can not just jump in and say we are going to do this, this and this. That can be very overwhelming to anyone and is not a good way to control your desired results. Remember every step forward is progress even if its a baby step.  Everyone needs space and I think that if you give him some space and get involved from time to time with his activities and seem interested along with teach along the way it might improve your situation.  Like I was taught by a very good friend sometimes you have to put a lot into the friendship upfront to get what you want in the back end. Example. I Have a friend who trusts no one enough to spot them. (example say I went to the movie and forgot my wallet. he would not borrower me the 20 bucks to see the movie")  so What i do is I will just pay for the movie for both of us. and eventually we got to the point where he would automatically spot me money if i needed it or even just pay for me to go ( kind of like paying back but not using the word pay back and I never looked for him to pay me back for the first time I was just being genuine and investing in our friendship. You can not let it get to the point of someone taking advantage of you. ( know your limit)  Friendships like Relationships take work and sometimes you have to put more in upfront to get what you want in the back end of things with out making people feel guilty or bad because no one likes to feel guilty.

That was a long post and I hope it makes sense as I am a male looking into your situation and speaking my mind of how I feel from my ADHD point of view.

Sorry I never saw this

@ Trying:  Thank you so much for your post and for responding to me with your thoughts.  I didn't see this until today (I turned off the notifications setting) so I hope you're still out there.

You asked what would make him "normal."  Actually, in the three months since I wrote my post, I have come to the conclusion that the problems I am dealing with mostly are something OTHER than ADD.  I think the ADD symptoms are there, as I listed, but I think the true issue is that my husband is unwilling to accept the impact of his ADD on me.  He is not willing to forgive me for things that happened when we didn't know about the diagnosis (he keeps bringing up things I said when I was angry seven years ago, even though I have apologized many times and asked to just move on, and he has not shown any remorse or apologized for any of his responsibility from the past that has caused me pain).  So really, to be "normal" in this case -- I think he would need to just "get real" with me, open up, be honest about what I've done o hurt him and let me tell him how he hurt me, we both apologize, and MOVE ON.  OR we agree to leave the past in  the past and start building a better future starting today.  Unfortunately he wants to do neither -- I am supposed to be beat up for what I've done wrong and he holds back and withdraws until he feels like it is "safe" to come out.

I hear what you are saying about trying to take an interest in his hobbies.  I have SO tried to do this.  He likes to paint, and I collect tarot cards, so early on we had this idea that he would paint me a deck of tarot cards, we would think of ideas for each card based on the meaning and then he would paint it.  Except that once he got started he didn't want my input, he felt that he wanted to use his own creativity and so he spent 6-8 hours a day painting and it was not a together activity.  I got resentful over time of both the time he spent on his own and the fact that I was excluded.  He likes to play the guitar.  I asked him to give me guitar lessons, but he has put it off and comes up with reasons why it's not a good idea...though he gave his guy friend guitar lessons for a while.  He was trying to write a novel once so I bought him a writing course and suggested that I could read his stuff, and again, he did it for like one day and once I asked a question about a character and said that something didn't make sense and then he wouldn't let me see anything he was writing -- though he continued to go to the class and spend hours a day writing on his own.  With TV, I have offered to sit down and watch NOVA, which we DVR, but there is always a reason he isn't in the mood when I ask but then sometimes I come down and he is watching it on his own.

I have planned vacations to places he wants to go to and he takes no interest in the planning -- I save money, buy the tickets, arrange childcare (have my mom come up, etc.), get the hotel and he is completely nonchalant...UNTIL we are on the plane and then suddenly he is into the guidebook and practically planning his own vacation.  For ex we went to Mexico last June, and on the plane he mentioned seeing some ruin, and I said, "That's kind of far away, it would take two days and it might not be worth it on this trip."  He got furious, looked at me and said, "You can do whatever you want -- I am going to see this whether you like it or not."  honestly I had no idea it was that important to him or I would have made it a part of our trip, I just didn't understand why he was so mean about it when I had no idea and will get so aggressive and bully-like.  It made me cry, and then he told me I was hysterical and HE DID NOT UNDERSTAND that it wasn't because he wanted to see the ruins, I was happy to go see them, but that he is unable to just sit down and NEGOTIATE our different interest and stuff.  (We ended up seeing ruins for the WHOLE vacation, by the way, even though I really wanted just one day on the beach --but that is boring for him.)

Over the past few months I have really gotten a hold on my anger -- realizing that it was up to me because he was probably going to behave the way he is and I can't live miserable forever -- I practically changed overnight.  My husband noticed, and frankly, he is furious about that too (even though he has complained for YEARS that I am too angry).  He is meaner than ever, telling me to "quit my act" and dumping more blame on me for things that happened a zillion years ago.  What is giving me peace is that I was able to let go of my anger by detaching, realizing that I cannot give him the power to affect the way I feel about myself, and I am starting to feel great.  I do nice things for him, do not react to his meanness, let him know as calmly as I can the things I would like from him (to spend time, be included in his life, etc.).  It is great to have this emotional distance because I can see that although he is a nice person on the inside (he is actually very giving and compassionate with his friends), he treats me very poorly.  And at some point (not too far away), I will have to walk away from him with love and peace in my heart, and leave him to struggle on his own. 

I have rambled on long enough but I just want to say that I don't blame him for all of our problems -- I have made mistakes and been angry and said and one mean things, but I do believe that I am being honest with myself and him and TRYING to connect with him, as I have done for years.  As I told our counselor, he is like Teflon, and it's impossible to connect.  He even told me once "I am like a loan that never gets repaid." 

Sounds tough. I agree with

Sounds tough. I agree with what you said. I think the biggest issue with people with add is they need to know more about the ADHD or ADD.  I have come a long way with self education and speaking to people regarding this. I have to commend you for changing and being strong and being able to walk away. I have a partner and when I get like this she will walk away from me and hang up and not put up with it when I am mean, I think she is a little over sensitive but when she does this it helps me to know that I could be wrong and it makes me become nice. I would write more but I am about to go into a meeting and not sure when I will be back just letting you know I am out here if you have any questions shoot me a message or whatever. Have a great day, weekend, month and year. stay strong and do whatever you have to do. life is to short.


@ Trying:  Thanks for responding so quickly.  I just want to add that the very good points you made in your earlier post are that it takes patience.  I am a VERY impatient person.  It is one of my strengths as well as my weakness.  I am extremely goal oriented and disciplined and when I decide to do something, I can focus and do it -- my parents and friends and even my husband are amazed by it -- working out, going after a job, sleep training my kids, learning a new skill, etc.  However, the flip side is that I have a hard time waiting for others to make changes.  So with my husband, even though I hear him saying that he wants to save the marriage, etc., as I change and put in effort, it is extremely hard for me to watch him continue the same destructive behaviors -- sleeping on the couch, checking out, yelling and being mean, etc. 

When I tried to change before, I used the fact that my husband did not change fast enough to go back to some of my own behaviors.  The truth is, I had not fully accepted my responsibility for myself -- I was still attached to HIS reactions.  That is, I was changing to achieve a certain result.  Now I am making these changes for me -- because I have to live with myself for the rest of my life whether my husband is with me or not, and I don't want to carry my own bad habits and immature behavior with me into another relationship, if it comes to that.  But I still have a lot of fear that my husband is not going to "come along for the ride," and stay stuck in his unhappy place, and I really don't know how much time I should give.  I want to have more joy and fun and stop wallowing in pain and sadness...and I'm afraid that that is where my husband feels safest, even though it is miserable.

The other side is that I am afraid that my husband does not have a lot of forgiveness.  Even though I am changing, I am also human.  Of course it will not be possible for me to NEVER react or get angry.  I am Ren, not Mother Theresa.  My husband's reaction when this happens -- even if I recover much quicker than I used to and offer a sincere apology for my responsibility in the fight or whatever -- is to say, "Well, that just set me back to square one -- you just hit the 'reset' button so I will need more time to get over this."  I find this incredibly immature, and I do not like the idea that I am somehow under a test to show that I have permanently changed while he gets to sit back and watch and decide when I am worth of being treated with respect, shown love, etc.

Again, that's his choice, and I feel bad for him that he processes things that way, but back to answering what I want to be "normal" -- I want a person who is able to accept my own flaws, love me regardless, and learn to console and forgive when I make mistakes, as I am willing to do with him.   

I think a very important

I think a very important thing to point out is that everyone needs to have their own 'things' to do and just because Ren doesn't take an interest in C++ (do you have any idea how BORING computer programming is!?? I do, I majored in it years ago!) does not mean that she is doing something 'wrong' in the marriage. We should not have to absorb all of the interests of our spouses in order to connect with them. There has to be 'mutual' activities that both partners enjoy and not one partner "learning to love", essentially, stuff they don't really want to in order for connections to be made.

I don't completely disagree that there are ways that we as non-ADHDers can learn to take advantage of some parts of ADHD, but in the same sense the ADHDer HAS to be able to identify the parts that need to be done differently in order for both people in the relationship to be happy. It sounds Heavenly, to just "take the things you do not like about his ADHD and apply them to work in your favor" but it isn't even close to being that easy...and there are many aspects of ADHD that cannot be used in anyone's favor. They are hurtful, destructive, unhealthy, and flat out selfish-or so it feels to the non-ADHDer. You paint a pretty picture of what we all wish it were like...and wish it were that easy.

I don't like snowboarding...he doesn't like going to the movies. I don't like watching Fuel channel, he doesn't like going shopping. We do these things separately, but we also have things that we both enjoy doing that we do together. Many of the ADHDers here don't offer much of themselves to their spouses in this aspect. They don't want to find mutual things to do, they are happiest being left do 100% of what they want...without distraction. THAT is a problem.

Letting them 'watch TV for a little bit' typically ends up with them watching TV every waking minute...or playing video games..or on the computer. My ADHDer does nothing "for a few minutes" His few minutes turn into HOURS. I do let him have his time...but I also have to remind him sometimes that I am here and need him too.

Many of us can't 'put more in up front' because we are years into the marriages before we realize what we're dealing with...and we're just left feeling confused and hurt when things spiral out of control and we don't understand how it happened. Again, I think both people need to work really hard at any relationship, but I would like to see what you think the ADHDers role is and I am also wondering if you realize the 'stuff' that ADHD (untreated) does bring to the table in these relationships.

I love my husband dearly...and together we have made a lot of progress in the last 18 months...but he does not have the attitude that all of the work is up to me. Forgive me if I'm reading your post wrong...and please feel free to correct me if I am...but if his happiness depended on me wanting to have him teach me C++ or playing the guitar (both of which he does very well!) we'd be screwed!

OMG!  Ren!  I just came

OMG!  Ren!  I just came across this and it was as if I had written word for word?

the same person all along....

Hi nervous Dater and Ren!

Y'know, I asked my husband why he married me after 7 years of living with my ADD behavior (I was just diagnosed in December after years and years of his being frustrated and angry with me).  His response was, "Well,  I just thought you were young and you'd grow out of it someday."  *sigh*  well... i didn't.  But now that I know what's going on, i'm medicated and doing better.  Although there are setbacks sometimes.

And Ren, I'm not sure the insensitivity to your crying is necessarily an ADD thing.  My husband is not ADD in the slightest, and doesn't know what to do with me when I'm crying.  A couple years ago when I was miscarrying twins in our bathroom he poked his head in for a second, said, "Uh... lemme know if you need anything." and went back to watching TV.  Granted, that was messy and scary - but... if I can't count on comfort from my husband when things are messy and scary, who can I go to?? 

Nervousdater, you're at least going into it knowing what's going on, and if he's willing to work on it that's a huge bonus!!!

Should I cut my losses and leave?

I'm new to this site, and I'm finally sitting down to truly think over my past 3 year relationship with an ADHD man. Until recently, I really believed I would marry him, that I could handle what he could give me, and that I loved his ADHD and how it made him who he is. After reading your posts, I really feel like you might have some wise advice to give.

Briefly, we meet in law school- i was fascinated by his ENERGY! He could carry on three conversations at the same time, he was completely brilliant but could never sit down and read a textbook - but he didn't have to. He succeeded in law school without even taking notes. I loved that everything with him was fun, carefree, almost childlike.

But as I fell inlove I noticed some problems- he couldn't have a serious intimate conversation with me - but I found a way around that by occupying him while having those conversations, which seemed to really help, such as walking or driving. I also didn't feel like he really got to know me... I never had those deep conversations I had with other partners.

But what hurt is the lack of empathy- is this an ADHD thing? He really has no concept of my feelings or how his actions hurt me. He doesn't understand when I say "I'm unhappy"- his response is "But I love you! I'm happy!"... There is no "me" and how I feel in the equation.

And I'm constantly battling for his attention and his time- I have to beg my boyfriend to hang out with me, come visit me (I go to school in another city), call me, text me- just basic things a boyfriend usually WANTS to do- with him, I'm constantly asking. And then when he forgets to call me or msg me all day long and I get hurt, he feels bad but it doesn't stop him from doing it again. If I cry, if I beg, he hardly pays attention. He'll get dismissive with me, or tell me I'm overreacting, or hang up the phone even! It shocking that someone can't understand when the person they love is in real pain.

Anyway, the final straw was this summer. I'd been unhappy for a while and had been pretty vocal about it, and he'd keep promising to "be better", which breaks my heart because i know he wants to be better, but I'm not sure how much he CAN change. Anyway, I had seen him on and off all year while I was in school, and usually our summers together is "our time" together. But this summer, he had a break from work, and decided without asking me (after 3 years together) to leave with a group of single guy friends to Asia for the entire summer (I couldn't go because I had a job all summer). With not even a week where he "scheduled" me in. And of course, I freaked out and was crushed horribly. I didn't understand why someone who claims to LOVE me would then not see me all summer, when he hardly ever sees me as it is? And when I brought the issue up with him, he said he felt really guilty and he had "forgotten" about me! Had forgotten to plan me into his summer. But then insisted this trip was HIS right, and that HE HAD to do it. I just don't understand that "me only" mentality because if you love someone, you have to sacrifice some of the things you technically had the RIGHT to do.

So, he planned this trip, and our relationship started to really fall apart because I felt abandoned, and I think he felt confused and guilty for doing it. Then, the night before he leaves for the summer, we are together having a good time, drinking, and he LOSES it. He has a total anger meltdown, to the level of complete insanity I've never seen before. A complete anger outburst, over me just acting sad that he was leaving me. I didn't even engage in the fight, because I honestly didn't want to fight the night before. But he kept screaming and screaming, saying that he hated me, that he hates how I make him feel like the Worst person in the world, like the Worst boyfriend, that he never wants to see me again etc etc and he leaves, and I don't see him again before he leaves for Asia. It was truly a horrific night.

Now, the end of the summer is approaching and he is coming home soon. Since he's been gone, he ofcourse has forgotten to txt or email hardly anything, but he's very apologetic, and wants me to forgive him. But after a summer spent crying and trying to understand what I did wrong, I'm re-evaluating our relationship.

Does he really hate me, in a way, because i DO make him feel like a terrible person, because he simply cannot give me what I need? It's like, he knows he's hurting me, that he's letting me down, and he loves me and so he feels so guilty for it- to the point that now he hates me for making him feel guilty for not being an attentive loving boyfriend to me.

He's promised to seek out therapy, which he's never had, to learn how to communicate with me and how to prevent the anger outbursts again. But is this relationship just too much for him?

The Ultimate Choice Is Obviously Up To You

I can only give advice from my frame of reference.

If I had it to do over again, there's no way I woulda married him.

The lack of a back n forth conversation, which for whatever reason we excuse during the courting period, becomes a super problematic issue. It is a complete intimacy killer n I don't mean the sexual kind. I mean it's completely prohibitive to closeness. That's incredibly crucial to marriage to have that. There are times it's not plausible to walk, jog, run while having a conversation.

Though my husband would claim to know me better, the reality is I married a stranger. Yes we dated for two plus years before marriage, but I got a complete 180 from him the second we were married.

The empathy thing in my experience is twofold. Though not diagnosed with ODD, my husband obviously has this too. It's more common with men and don't freak, if you take a look at this because usually what you see on the internet is the extreme form n usually people don't actually have that.

Yes, with my husband it's generally outta sight outta mind if he's not near me.

The vacation thing definitely gets ridiculous in our case. I once was even such a last thought that he neglected even mentioning that he'd planned a camping trip with a friend without telling me.

It was supposed to be a family vacation n the kids had not been allowed to invite anyone. Imagine explaining that one to kids as his friend showed up in our driveway.

Best part being, he didn't have a clue why I was pissed.

Frequently when he's away from me he forgets to text or call.

I went through the wondering if he hated me or if I suddenly wasn't a good partner. I'd definitely never experienced this degree of neglect and irrational excuses in another relationship I've had.

I'd tread with caution on any promises to seek adequate treatment. I'd need to see the proof.

Just sayin'.

Being careful at 47 and you've shed some light.

I know this was from 2010 but thank you for the thoughtful response to her questions. I've been dating a sweet and loving man for almost 3 years but I'm at my wits end as nothing has changed with the major issues that I keep hoping will. He doesn't take responsibility to find ways to better his life. Guess they aren't "exciting" enough to keep his attention. The point everyone is making about how adoring and hyper focused on them in the dating phase struck me. This has been three years and as far as intimacy and affection he is the most focused and loving person I've ever known. But knowing that that WILL fade (he swears it won't) I would be left with all the rest and can I handle it? It really is shedding additional light. I do not want to enter into a marriage where I think he will change. I want to be fully accepting of how he is NOW. Such hard choices in later life (I'm 47 and 3 years divorced from my high school sweetheart whom I loved but had a major mid life crisis and left). It is possible to love someone deeply but know you could not be happy in a marriage with them. Not a good day here if you can tell. I wish you all well.

Everything is unchangeable if

Everything is unchangeable if he isn't willing to acknowledge it as a problem and change it. On the flip side, there is nothing that cannot be addressed and 'different' ways of coping can be learned if one wants to. It all depends on how willing he is to admit his ADHD is negatively impacting your relationship, how willing you are to set boundaries for yourself (what can you accept and what do you refuse to accept?), and the willingness of you both to get treatment to help with these issues.

-It took the near destruction of a 13 year marriage and a lot of devastation, heartache, and emotional scarring for my husband to have the ability to put himself in my shoes...or for me to put myself in his. This does not come easy. The general idea is that their way of doing things is right...period. If you criticize their way as "hurtful to you" , "destructive to the relationship" then you're just trying to 'control' them...calling them stupid, etc.

-His mom will either stop doing things for him and force him to do them..and he'll sink or swim...or he'll always let her do them. Period. Depending on what the 'things' are as to how negatively this could impact your life with him, as his wife. He may very well fully expect you to take over where mom leaves off.

-I don't think anyone is ever 'unintentionally' insensitive. If his nature is to be insensitive to the point that you cannot even physically be around him when dealing with something really emotional for you...this one speaks for itself. Can he learn to think before he speaks? Can he be made aware of what is considered 'insensitive' to you and avoid making these mistakes in the future...yes, if he is willing.

-No one can tell you whether he is hyperfocusing or not. Statistically speaking, most likely he is. Even those of us who have come out of the other side of ADHD with healthier, happier marriages can attest that hyperfocusing during dating is very real and does happen...and when it ends, it feels like an atomic bomb has been dropped.

You have an know what you're dealing with. He is willing to get help...and you both need to be more open to the possibility that medication might help him in some ways as well. I was against it initially too...and I'm not a huge fan of it now that my husband is on it...but I do think in the end it'll be very helpful to calm the chaos in his mind and to help him be happier as a whole with himself. Get into counseling now, if you feel it is worth it. Get resolution that you can be happy with for the issues you've listed above. Left untreated, ADHD does tend to get a lot worse and can take over your entire life and marriage. Take advantage of the hyperfocus (if that is what it is) and get in with someone who specializes in ADHD. I know it is a lot to expect 3 months into a relationship, but sitting from where I'm sitting, I'd have LOVED to have known about ADHD 3 months into my might have saved us both a lot of heartache and pain.



It seems in general - not

It seems in general - not specific to ADHD - that relationships based on the expectation that one is going to change are destined for difficulty. My husband of 32 years has never been diagnosed with ADD but has many behaviors that would suggest it. He's pretty much the way he was when I met him sans the hyperfocus of course. Maybe with a lot of professional help he could be made to change. Fortunately for us I love and accept him as he is and we are quite happy. I went through a period of time wishing he would change and trying to get him to change - to no avail. I came to realize the things I like far outweigh the things that annoy me and I no longer dwell on the negative. We have gotten along even better since I began learning about ADD. I feel better knowing there may be a logical explanation for his behavior and I think he does too.

Ambrosia, I tend to agree

Ambrosia, I tend to agree with the "you can't change someone else to be what you want" with any success. But what I have found is that ADD has changed my DH from a laid back, loving, kind and fun husband/father to a very yo-yo personality that can go from zero (nice/happy/fun) to 60 (angry/hyperfocused/isolated,ect) in a blink of an eye. Not at anytime during our courtship (4 years) did he exhibit that type of behavior. Not even in the 15 years of marriage did he exhibit that behavior. Its been the last 4 years that things have started to decline - the last 2+ years have been the worst. He has always been a procrastinator and a bit disorganized, but he also was loving, fun, kind, thoughtful and would make good choices/logical choices.  I guess what Im saying is that I want to have my husband back to the man he used to be. So much of his behavior is unacceptable (as of recent he has become phyiscal (pushing). My bottom line is that I would be ELATED if my husband would return to who he was! I could then accept those few quirks (that I accepted before and we were happy) and we could move forward in our life together. My feeling is that both the Non ADD spouse and ADD spouse need to make changes to curb the negative behaviors that are brought out by the ADD in order to have a happy life together. I think someone else said ADD is like having diabetes. You can't change diabetes, but you can treat/manage diabetes and not let it control your life.


I don't know the timeline,

I don't know the timeline, just a shot in the dark, but you say for the past 2 years it has been horrible...when did he start meds and did this coincide with when things started to feel worse.

My husband was misdiagnosed a few times with depression and tried several different anti-depressants. Within just a few weeks they all, each and every one of them, made him MISERABLE. He was not himself. He was extremely aggrivated and easily aggitated. Why did he start meds if he was (seemingly) functioning fairly well before the diagnosis? I really think there could be a connection here...just something to think about.

ebb and flow's picture


"Everything is unchangeable if he isn't willing to acknowledge it as a problem and change it."

I agree with what Sherri said here 100%!!!

Every ADD situation is different. You may or may not encounter the same problems as some of us here. And the issues that you do encounter can change from year to year, moment to moment throughout your lives together.

I've been with my ADDer for over 3 years now. He was diagnosed about a year and a half ago and started meds at that time as well. We've just started counseling and after reading, reading and therapy and reading I'm finally kinda starting to get it! (maybe)


"The self-centeredess"- I find when I see my ADD partner this way that it is a HUGE misinterpretation. He says this to me himself. My partner is far from self-centered... he just, at times, comes across that way. It's important to look for your partners empathetic qualities and then remember them when it seems he's being self-centered. It could just be absent-mindedness or distraction or overwhelm in that particular moment. It helps to be sensitive to the overwhelming crap constantly floating around in their heads... A lot of ADDers have become pros in covering up just how overwhelming their busy minds really are.

"Basic social skills"- With my partner his hyper-talking changes significantly with meds. Communication is still something we work on and will continue to work on because, seeing as we have different brains, we speak different "languages" and a lot of times talk past one another. Its a work in progress. He's still a little awkward in social situations... but come on, who isn't. ;)

"Taking the responsible path vs the easy path"- Uhm... I'm gonna say my partner will take the easy path when ever and where ever he can and that's because living his life is plain out exhausting! He's drained of energy all the time because his busy brain eats it all. I'm trying to learn how to be patient when it comes to stuff like this because it can sometimes make more work for me... But when it gets to be much, I let him know.

"Sensitivity"- I think you mean impulsive behaviour here. Your partner seems to have trouble restraining himself from saying the first thing that pops into his head and that's more 'lack of impulse control' rather than being insensitive. It sounds like 'lack of impulse control' because you said, "later he corrected himself" after he said something to make you cry and probably kicked himself HARD for it! This is tricky for someone to control... Your reaction to it is the big thing here! If this is present in your relationship I would say you definitely are going to have to learn to not take things too personally. Think of it as a person with Tourettes blurting out curse words due to their neurological "ticks". Same idea, kinda... You really can't take it personally. Sad but true. :/

"Is he really going to lose interest as soon as I fall in love with him?"- This is not ADD. Hyperfocus, OTOH, allows the ADD person to really focus single pointedly on something that has captured their interest. Once the strong chemicals of the infatuation period wear off (as they do for everyone) the ADD brain goes back to "normal ADD mode". It doesn't mean your partner stops loving you... it could just mean they wont have the chemicals to give them the energy to show it in the same way. Distraction could set in and maybe even inattention... These are symptoms ADDers can become aware of and control if they have external help. (So I've learned)

Really, I find therapy and/or coaching helps the ADDer (and non) cope with problematic symptoms. It helps the ADDer come up with strategies to keep up with regular household tasks, meet their partners emotional needs, and create some balance in their life.

BUT... It's all very tricky because if your ADDer does not see any of his symptoms as problematic then he really will be making these changes and sacrifices for you and for the relationship! Otherwise he would just continue living the way he's been until it causes trouble that he himself can recognize and then develop the the desire to change.

If your partner is struggling with problematic symptoms try to deal with *your own* reactions (through counseling or whatever method) so that he can take full responsibility for the symptoms and how they affect the relationship. I found in my own relationship that it all gets very messy when a symptom comes up, I react like a crazy, and then my partner is left focusing on my crazy reaction instead of the symptom that arose. I guess what I'm trying to say is the only thing you can control and manage is your reactions to the symptoms. (very hard but very important!)

I think if you love him then you love him! Accept him for who he is and the interesting brain he's been born with. It will not be easy to understand all of the time but if you love his personality then don't let the ADD symptoms define him and just enjoy the relationship as it is! If you find you're giving too much of yourself, either adjust it or move on... The same advice I'd give anyone entering a relationship, really! A lot of us here have given WAY TOO MUCH of ourselves, hence the exhaustion and anger, and are trying to get ourselves back. Don't EVER let yourself get to that point. 

Hope that helps a little.

Good luck with your decision. :)



You clearly have been reading this website and that is good.  I promise you most men (ADD or not) never change their basic selves and that is somewhat true for women also.  We are not talking bad habits, addictions, or preferences here--this is a brain chemistry issue.  He can not change that, so the question is can you be happy with him over time.  I am not usually in favor of living together before marriage but with ADD partners please do.  Be sure to protect your finances in every way possible.  (gross generalization removed)  Do not have children during this trial period.  I f you decide to marry for God's sake get a prenup.  Every woman I know agrees that that little tiny thing that you pushed to the back of your mind during courtship was the one thing that blew up once in a committed relationship.  Pair bonding=everybody is trying hard to make it work and sex and romance is the motivator.  Pair maintenance=no motivation for the ADD brain. 

Self-centeredness:  You sound very mature about this but in this case can you handle a lifetime of this?  How will you potential kids  like this?

Basic social skills: I cant comment because my ADD husband has superior social skills with everyone except his family.  Turns off like a faucet.

Easy path etc:  You will become the easy pathway.  Don't expect anything to change except you may become tired yourself.  Imagine how an easy pathway guy would handle long term some of life's big challenges--illness, unemployment, kids with problems.

Sensitivity:  Don't worry after a few years you will not expect it nor care anymore.  But you may find yourself in tears when a relative stranger is sensitive to you.

Impulse control:  This may be corrected in specific situations but don't expect consistancy.  He will revert.  You will be expected to pik up the pieces.  Enjoy.

Hyperfocus during courtship:  He loves the feeling of new love as much as you.  Don't be too surprised if there is infidelity.  His hyperfocus is a excellent asset in covering up the infidelity.  You sound like you are sympathetic to his situation.  You are already planning a lifetime of professional help.  My ADD has had professional help for 15 years.  He doctor shopped and therapist shopped until he found ones that make it easy for him.  Yup he says that himself in so many words.  He says they mostly talk about photography and travel.  Seriously.

Please protect yourself and be careful.  I wish to GOD someone had  written this letter to me.  I am exhausted.

chemistry issues

you make the comment that things don't change because this is a chemistry issues.  However, that's incorrect.  BECAUSE it is a chemistry issue and because meds are available to change the chemistry, things can change quite dramatically (just ask any person with ADHD who has had a strong response to the meds).  What follows after that is that the behavioral changes need to happen in addition to the chemistry change - which is where is sounds as if your husband has fallen down.  But I'm sorry, while the old adage "you can't change someone else" is true because you can't change someone else, it does not follow that people can't change - they do it all the time, even when they have ADHD!

I've changed (no ADHD) and my husband has changed (ADHD) and my belief is that anyone who is internally motivated to do so can change.  The issue for this woman is whether or not her particular partner is going to find it inside himself to be a better partner...and whether she will also be a good partner.  If she is holding back on her feelings about the relationship and not communicating well, she has some ground to cover, too.

"The self-centeredess"- I

"The self-centeredess"- I find when I see my ADD partner this way that it is a HUGE misinterpretation. He says this to me himself. My partner is far from self-centered... he just, at times, comes across that way. 

It could just be absent-mindedness or distraction or overwhelm in that particular moment. It helps to be sensitive to the overwhelming crap constantly floating around in their heads... A lot of ADDers have become pros in covering up just how overwhelming their busy minds really are.

"Taking the responsible path vs the easy path"- Uhm... I'm gonna say my partner will take the easy path when ever and where ever he can and that's because living his life is plain out exhausting! He's drained of energy all the time because his busy brain eats it all. I'm trying to learn how to be patient when it comes to stuff like this because it can sometimes make more work for me... But when it gets to be much, I let him know.

Ebb and Flow,

The words you've written very closely match some of the conclusions I've had about my former ADD BF.  I never felt he was intentionally being self centered or taking the easy path just to take advantage of me.  I knew deep inside that there had to be something more.  I still really care about him and your post encouraged me.  When I kept wondering the reasons behind the behavior people told me I was just making excuses for his behavior and the best thing I could do is walk away and find someone else. But I just knew there was more and you've expressed my gut instinct. Your post was very thoughtful and wise and I just want to thank you.  Now I know that I was not making excuses I was merely seeking reasons. 


self centered

Before the diagnosis of ADD I often thought/ said spouse was self centered. I am afraid I would still have to say that now.

He moved out to make himself happy, he is not going to do treatment of any kind now because he is happy how he is because he couldn't/wouldn't make changes. The only change to date was to leave the stress of family behind and hire a lawyer.............

Maybe it is because he is 50 yrs old and  he isn't able to make changes................. but isn't life about changes with or w/o ADD

You know what? Life is all

You know what? Life is all about change. We progress and get older every day. Our children are born and they grow and they leave to begin their own lives. Maybe we have all been around crazy ADHD so much that we've come to believe in stagnancy when in reality, all that happens to us and around us is dynamic and not stagnant at all.

ebb and flow's picture


I find a lot of the symptoms of ADD are misinterpreted and when seeking advice from other non's they will tell you to run because of that misinterpretation. (sadly)

Like I said before, I'm slowly changing my thoughts about my partners actions/behaviours... or more importantly the intentions behind certain actions or inaction. There usually isn't any malevolent intention behind what he does or what he forgets to do. It just is what it is.... he forgets, or is too drained to do it, or too drained to participate. Period.

I'm trying to exercise compassion towards him and understanding that this condition is very real and OBVIOUSLY very destructive if untreated and left to take over. In acknowledging that I need to be more patient with him and his brain... and maybe even get off my high horse and just be glad that tasks and every day chores etc *are* "easy" for me! I am blessed and I'm sad he can't have that simplicity in his own world... :(

I wish I could give that to him...

So, if that means not lashing out when he forgets something, I'll try. Or being patient with him nearly everyday... well, that's what I signed up for! If I don't like it then I should leave. Loving him means loving the brain he was born with... even though, most days, I hate the untreated negative symptoms. ;) We're working on it....

fuzzylogic72's picture

Ebb and Flow

Hiya! Happy New Year! Just wanted to say that I always enjoy reading your posts; full of wisdom, compassion and optimism. I haven't been on here in a while, and after popping back in and reading ridiculous posts like, "add or not, all men are more selfish than women and always will be" (or something similarly arrogant/uneducated), reading your posts is like a soothing balm! 

ebb and flow's picture


Glad to see you're back in action! I was kinda worried after you tipped off...

Thanks for the compliments... I really am trying. 
I'm trying soo hard to understand my partner and everything he has to endure every day. I still hate ADD symptoms and wish they would eff off but I love my partner and I love his mind... AND I believe there's more to his brain than the ADD parts... His mind is filled with Compassion and Brilliance... not just ADD.

Also, I'm working on the anger... Bye-bye anger! I hate it and I hate identifying with it!

I'm a supportive person who loves everyone and is all about understanding... so, that's how I want to be towards the person I love the most. Need to keep it all in perspective...

Yay me! LOL!!! ;P

Anyway, enough boasting...

Glad to see you back!!! I need your input around here.... Stick around this time, will ya?!?!?!

Dating and ADHD

Your questions are good ones and I think there is much information that you can think about from other readers and their experiences here.  I wanted to add my two cents worth:

  • while your partner does not need to take medications, he does need to be aware of the impact that his ADHD symptoms have on you.  Doesn't matter how he responds to your needs (i.e. meds vs. excercise, vs something else) only that he responds to you - at least listens to you and validates your concerns at a minimum  The only way he can be so is if you tell him how you are feeling and your concerns.  These won't be easy conversations, but you need to have them (imagine dating someone you didn't feel you could be completely open with!!!  Not desirable, so don't start out that way).  Remember to be thoughtful and caring in all difficult conversations.
  • set boundaries early in your relationship.  One poster wrote that "you will become the easy way" and this is exactly right unless you say "no" right up front.  DO NOT take on responsibilities that should be your partner's, even if that feels inconvenient.  At the same time, be sensitive to the fact that you will likely have quite different things that you are good at, and apportion responsibilities appropriately.  Your goal - a division of labor that feels "good enough" to you both.
  • Basic social skills is something that medication can, actually, help - particularly when the issue is interruptions and "bad brakes" on what one is saying.  Verbal or visual cues can also help.  My husband and I have a little cue that I use when I observe that he's starting off on a conversational tangent that is offending someone else and he isn't seeing their response.  Works great (as long as both of you understand the benefit of wouldn't work if he felt I was correcting him or mothering him when I let him know)  Spurts of anger can also be managed with medication quite effectively.
  • Hyperfocus - is common in courtship.  Your description sounds as if it is also part of your relationship.  Enjoy it while it lasts!!  Because of hyperfocus, I often suggest to couples that they date for a while before committing to each other.  Typically, courtship hyperfocus will wear off within 24 months, often quite a bit sooner (for us it was 15 months).  The good news about hyperfocus is that it can be tons of fun - what person doesn't love to be doted upon?!  The bad news is that you don't get a complete picture of the person you are dating until it stops.  In order to commit for the long term you need to see the full picture, but in the meantime you have an opportunity to share many fun and exciting moments together.
  • Fear - You seem to be concerned about whether this is a long-term relationship or not.  Remember that ADHD is just one part of a person.  Your post is notably absent of all of the great qualities your boyfriend has, and that worries me (though I realize that it might be simply because of the forum in which you are posting).  It is the wonderful qualities that will lead you through your relationship when the going gets tough.  Make no mistake, the going gets tough in ALL marriages / committed relationships, regardless of whether or not ADHD is present.  As you think about this relationship (and any others you might have) I encourage you to look for the special qualities that make your partner unique and special to you.  Can you envision yourself celebrating them for a long time?  Do they match your core values?  Will they stand up in times of adversity?  Are they "evergreen"?
  • Communication - many communication skills can be learned over time, but they rely upon trust and openness - make sure that you start this relationship out being open and honest (not hurtful) and respecting the opinions that your partner shares with you in the same way you would have him respect your own ideas.  LISTEN carefully, since you won't see the world the same way, ask lots of questions and be open to thinking about things in a different way.  Make sure you aren't stifling yourself or him...and you have the greatest chances of success.

Your questions are good ones to ask, but don't just focus on the ADHD.  It's important to know that your partner (any partner) is committed to responding to your needs, including (but certainly not limited to) considering ways to better manage ADHD symptoms.  Your opening up and talking about your fears and needs will be an important start to understanding whether or not this particular relationship has the potential to support you emotionally in a healthy way.  Good luck with it!

A View from a Woman with ADD

Dear Nervous Dater:

I was diagnosed with ADD at 43 years old and suddenly my whole life made sense.  Up until that point I just thought I must be forgetful, thoughtless or insensitive.  I finally had an explanation for my odd behaviors, which I tried to change on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, my life partner and I separated after 18 years together.  Our relationship was always strained, but finally ended because of my inability to change many of my behaviors.  I was more than disappointed when my spouse would not pick up a book or article about ADD and help me conquer this together.  As far as she was concerned the diagnosis just gave me an "excuse" for not changing, though I never used it as an excuse.  It did help my entire family and co-workers learn to not take my behaviors personally.  My being late for a meeting was not about the person I was meeting.  It was about my inability to walk in their shoes!  My thoughts were, "I was only 10 minutes late, heck that's good for me!"  I wanted credit for not being 30 minutes late!  I know that sounds awful, but I want you to know how the ADD brain can think.  It was not until my partner and I called it quits that I realized there were real life consequences for not managing my ADD,  for continuing to be disorganized, late, impulsive, etc.  It took months for me to see that there is no credit in life for TRYING. This is a lesson I should have learned in grade school, but didn't.

I have two "Rules" for you to implement if you decide to move forward with this relationship:

First, he must agree that counseling, medication, significant exercise, special diet, rules of engagement, money rules, i.e. Whatever it takes!, are put into place before you agree to go forward.  I say this because my partner became my parent, and I let her.  However, once we separated, I became a better mother, employee, friend and person when I had to do for myself.  I accomplished more than I thought possible, because her parenting convinced me I was a failure.  Her nagging and put downs destroyed my self esteem beyond reason.  Instead of hinting to me that I was talking too much, she put me down for it right in front of my tolerant friends.

Rule Two:  DECIDE WHAT IS NON-NEGOTIABLE.  HE MUST WORK WITH WHAT SKILLS HE HAS, RATHER THAN CHANGE WHAT WON'T CHANGE!  Some bad habits took 30+ years to develop and won't go away easily.
What I mean by this is there are going to be some behaviors that he can change and some he cannot change.  If one watch can't get me to work on time, I will set two clock alarms and add structures to help me remember things.  For example, it may feel ridiculous to him and to you that there is a NO LATE rule about work.  This will mean something once there is a consequence attached.  I have to get up 10 minutes earlier every time I am late to work.  If I do well for two weeks after that I can begin to sleep that extra 10 minutes.

I am very disorganized, and I have stopped beating myself up for it.  Instead I established my own non-negotiables.  I cannot lose my keys (hung up immediately) and the mail must be dealt with the minute I walk in the door.  Exercise has to be done first thing in the morning, no excuses!  Similar to eating right and taking insulin if I had diabetes, there are good and bad habits that must be formed in order to live with my disorder or "dis-ease."

Hope some of this helps.  I am a wonderful person and if I am blessed with another relationship I will do things differently!

fuzzylogic72's picture

Great points

I enjoyed your post; very poignant and well-organized. Sounds like we have been running the same software. It can be amazing how much there is to be gained through loss can't it?

confused60's picture

Great post indeed.  Your

Great post indeed.  Your ability to organize and present your thoughts is impressive, especially since you state you suffer from ADD.  I think there should be a "lessons learned" blog category for those ADDers who have lost their partners and actually learned from it. 

Your point about being late for work really struck a chord with me.  I have always struggled with this and my partner used to get inflamed about my being late for anything, equating this behavior to being disrespectful of the organizer's time.  I'm going to take your recommendation to heart and do a better job about getting to work on time.  I've gotten really bad lately, and I justify my lateness with all the extra hours I put in (I'm a workaholic).

Thank you for articulating so well many of the same things I am experiencing.  18 years with a partner is a long time.  My DW and I have been together 25.  While we have not legally ended the marriage (and may never) we recognize it is over and have made careful plans to separate permanently.  Sometimes when I feel the time spent was a waste and the partnership a tragedy, I find comfort in the good memories which are more in quantity than the bad times.  Those bad times have a tendency to grab the front seat in my mind and try to out-weigh the good times.

confused60's picture


So I got to sleep around 4AM and overslept, getting up at 6:30.  That gave me an hour to get ready and a half-hour to commute to the office and be there on time at 8AM.  Made the mistake of reading my work email and didn't get to the office until 10AM.  I guess you could say I did start working on time but that wasn't what I wanted to accomplish.

So, I give this a effort a "D".  Will try again on Monday.

What are you talking about, I

What are you talking about, I give it a B+.

I will upgrade it to a golden A when you have dealt with the sleep (is this a one time thing or normal?). Sleep is key.
You started working on time what else did you want to accomplish? Was there some screaming woman in a burning building you were hoping to rescue?
I'm pretty sure the fire department covered that.

; )

confused60's picture

Hi Kippei, thanks for the

Hi Kippei, thanks for the passing grade.  My DW hung a little sign in the laundry room that says "Sometimes success is just getting the wash into the dryer before mildew sets in."  I'm starting to believe it.  ;-)

I don't have ADHD (I don't

I don't have ADHD (I don't think) but I have found that if I want to get ANYWHERE on time, the computer is an absolute mistake. I don't touch it in the mornings before school or I would always be late. My "10 mintues to check e-mail" turns into an hour or more. Maybe you could make a pact with yourself that you don't touch the computer before getting to the office?

I'm not sure why you have the sleep issues, but my husband used to as well..and one thing that really helped him was the Sleepytime Extra tea by Celestial Seasonings. He doesn't have this problem now, but it took months of going to bed at the same time each night (around 10 or 11) for his body clock to change and him to be able to sleep somewhat normal hours. Still not perfect, he'll lay in bed and watch TV for 2-3 hours, but it's better.

I've major sleeping problems

I've major sleeping problems and learned recently, from one of my doctors, that my kind of sleeping problem isn't related to ADD. It was a shocker. It does seem though that some sleeping difficulty is normal which makes sense. I'm glad he's doing better, he probably is "allowing" himself to stay up late by being distracted and forgetting about time in front of the TV :) (at least I hope so, it's horrible not being able to sleep!)

I think so, but it got to the

I think so, but it got to the point that he was falling asleep, leaving the TV going, and then I would wake up at 2 a.m. to find it on, have to search for the remote to turn it off, and then I couldn't fall back to sleep. Before, he would lay there for hours on end, not being able to sleep, until he'd finally turn off the TV and go to sleep. So, I somehow feel that him falling asleep while watching TV is an improvement. He has started setting the sleep timer that helped with the other issue.

I think mostly it was just that for years he worked from home and stayed up half the night, every night, and he just got his body so used to that and it literally took months for his body to adjust to normal sleeping hours.

confused60's picture

Sleep is elusive for me

Sleep is elusive for me lately.  The stress of the marriage break-up contributes to this as does my sleep apnea.  I had a sleep study performed last December and it showed that I stop breathing 40-50 times an hour on average.  This causes my brain to awaken and tell my body to start breathing again, but I am not aware of this usually.  The doctors told me I HAD to do something about it so I started using a CPAP breathing machine earlier this month but I'm not used to it yet.  It bothers the dog who likes to curl up against my tummy to sleep, so I've lost my little sleep buddy.

Actually the machine and mask freak me out a bit since it reminds me of the month I spent in surgical intensive care on life support.  Oh well, what to do...

Questions for Nervous Dater

I'm not officially diagnosed, however while learning about my son's struggles, it became pretty obvious that I'm just like him in many ADD ways.  So I'll be blunt and insensitive.  Are you ready?

You say: 'Also, I have been in therapy for years to work on my problems, and I feel like I'm a pretty healthy, well-rounded individual at this point.'

Which gets my brain thinking: Why would a person who is pretty healthy ---

a) Have trouble taking 'quite time' no matter if the other person wants to give it or not.

b) Be hanging out with a guy who 'He doesn't understand that my needs may not match his wants, or that the world doesn't run on his clock,'

c) Want to take on the parental role of 'teaching him.'

d)want to be with a guy who has trouble  interacting appropriately with your  family, and doesn't have realistic expectations about my interactions with his family (what does this mean, BTW? How far out are his expectations? How does he act when he doesn't get his way?)

e) want to be with a guy who his mom does (or has to do?) lots of stuff for him? Isn't the point of casting your lot with someone finding someone who can contribute as much, if not more than you do.  If you are planning to have children then you have to remember that in the early years there has to be a lot of 'Daddy takes care of Mommy, so that Mommy can take care of the babies.'  Of course if you have babies with this guy they will very likely also have ADHD, and be extra difficult to raise.  Before I became a mom I had n.o i.d.e.a how much investment we females make in our offspring.  I guess people don't try to tell folks who don't have children in advance because it is so hard to communicate this.  The best saying I ever heard is: "Mothers are people who choose to have a part of their heart cut out and walking around in the world."

f) want to be with a guy she is scared to talk to him about things when she is hurting?  What are the odds that you will change and get used to sharing freely with him even if he is never 100% reliable in being able to second guess what seems 'sensitive/appropriate' to you.  What are the odds that you will come to value his 'different perspective' or frankness or 'lightheartness' after you've dried off the tears.  My guess is that people with ADHD pick up other people's feeling just fine, for the most part, but ADHD is a difficulty in 'product' - as in producing the 'correct' sensitive response.  Also - consistency isn't real common among us afflicted, so if we learn and 'improve' will our irregularly-sheduled slip-ups cause you to retreat entirely?

g) want to be with a guy who wants to see his girlfriend everyday,and  more obsesses than romances.  And worse, is this his main appeal?

h) want to be with a guy who she plans to try and be strong enough to put his life together for him.  Children are for raising, that isn't what partners are for. 

Other questions: Does he have a job? Does he appear able to contribute to society? It's hard to be the partner of someone who doesn't get the self-esteem from a job well done. What do you like about him (beside being the center of attention?)  In what ways do you appreciate him?  What does he do for you that no one else can?

You asked:

'I am afraid he is only agreeing to work on it because he wants me to love him, and once he knows he's 'got me', our relationship will deteriorate'

I think that most people are like this.  If it wasn't for the early period of infatuation, I don't think very many of us would be on this planet right now.  Think of all of his behaviors you are willing to overlook while you are in the romantic stage!  Think of all the things you are willing to not demand (quite time, reasonable interactions with his parents, sticking up for your needs when they run counter to his wants, being upfront with your need for more time, and your feelings that he may not be 'the one.') because you want him to love you.  Which reminds me - how does he act when he doesn't get his way? How do you act? I think that's a key to any longer term relationship.  I can promise that in the fullness of time, both of your will have to deal with not getting your way, and being with a spouse who is disappointed because she or he didn't get their way either.

You asked: 'Is there any way for someone with adhd to learn how to get fulfillment out of doing something just because they should, or do they always have to have an instant-gratification reward?'

For me, personally, so far, I get very little fulfillment out of doing the 'hard, right thing' and I do it all the time because it is so important to me.  But please don't ask me to enjoy it! My DH always says: 'Aren't you proud of yourself for what you just did?' and I look at him like he's nuts.  I basically feel the way someone would after getting through a panic attack - relieved and grateful, but not proud.

I am slowly training myself to notice and appreciate the little things so that I can give myself an instant-gratification reward while slogging through the hard/right things, but I'm female, and have had years and years of trying to live up to the societal expectations that 'of course' I can do all the normal 'wife and mother' things, and that's really good training that most guys don't get.

So you see, I'm not buying that an emotionally healthy person would

a) find this guy appealing,

b) be so willing to jump in and organize his life/teach him how to be an adult, or

c) need him to be so 'sensitive and correct.' 

But then, how many emotionally healthy people are running around these days - not too many I would guess, so maybe emotionally healthy is over-rated?  Could we just settle for 'life is a journey, I'm attracted to this guy so there must be something in me that knows I have certain life-lessons to learn?'  OTOH, please think long and hard before deciding to have children - that takes it to a whole 'nother level!



Some thoughts

First let me say this:  good luck, whatever you decide to do.  I mean that genuinely.

I've been married to my husband (who has ADHD, and was diagnosed in law school) for a year and a half, and we've been together over 5 years.  I remember how strange and confusing it felt to navigate the early part of our relationship, as I did not fully understand ADHD.  But clearly I found our relationship to be rewarding enough to marry him!

First, my responses to your specific concerns.

1.  My husband still struggles with putting himself in other people's shoes.  I don't know that he ever will.  Instead, I've worked with him on setting up healthy emotional boundaries.  Just because he's not good at understanding how I'm feeling doesn't mean he can't respect that my feelings are different.  We've also worked on trying not to assume things.  Because we are different, and NOT one person, he needs me to tell him what I feel/think/need, and he needs to do the same.  He cannot assume that I feel/think/need anything without specific feedback from me.  (This doesn't apply to basic things like whether or not I might want to sleep in on a Sunday or whether I'd like some dessert.)  It's really helped our communication a lot.  I have also worked on trying to understand his perspective: how hard it must be to go through life not being able to imagine how other people feel.  And I still try to get him to understand sometimes, but I acknowledge it's hard.

2. Social skills--my husband is under treatment for his ADHD and that has helped him tremendously.  Whether or not medication is a part of that treatment should be between your boyfriend and his doctor, but he should be in treatment.  My husband is still more blunt than I'd like at times, and he is sometimes slow to pick up on cues.  But he's worked at it a lot--not just for me, but for himself and his career.  Just being aware that he has to try harder than most people in this area has helped a lot.  Denial won't get you anywhere.

3. Taking responsibility.  In your case, I'd say this has less to do with his ADHD and more to do with having an unhealthy relationship with his mother.  But not being a trained therapist, I can't know that for sure.  For my husband, when I want him to take responsibility for something, I basically have to challenge his manhood.  I hate doing it--we usually end up fighting--but late he calms down and agrees with me and does what I wanted.  It's probably the least healthy thing in our marriage, but it's the coping mechanism we have in place.  The longer we're together, and the more we develop a rhythm for how to do things (I cook, he does dishes; I took over managing our day-to-day budget; he manages our savings and investments), the less this happens.  But I honestly don't think this is an ADHD thing at all.  It might be made worse as a result, since my husband is so forgetful (and I know he's not the only one!), but I don't think that's the root cause.

4. Sensitivity.  I think this is related to #1 and #2, see above.  Once he learns that your feelings are different, and if he gets into treatment, I think he'll learn to just watch what he says a bit closer.  If he's never really learned that every thought that pops into his head doesn't need to be voiced, well, he needs to.

5.  In my case, my husband doesn't have the same hyperfocus concerns as other ADHD sufferers.  He hyperfocuses on work or projects, but it's a day-to-day thing, and lessened due to his medication.  I never felt like he hyperfocused on me, and he's still just as loving and wonderful with me today as he was when we met--moreso, perhaps.  There is no guarantee that he won't feel differently about you in 6 months, that's certain--but that's not because he has ADHD.  The same would be true of any relationship.  There are no guarantees.  All you can do is make sure that you want to be in a relationship, as long as it lasts. 

To me, it seems like you need to step back and away from the ADHD label.  Certainly your boyfriend's condition will play a role in your relationship, but in decided whether or not you want to be in a relationship, you need to weigh it as a whole.  I'm sure he has wonderful qualities that you didn't mention here, or else you wouldn't be together.  You need to decide whether or not those outweigh the struggles you're likely to have with his ADHD, because even if he improves over time, ADHD doesn't go away.  To this day, I still have to remind my husband about all kinds of things, and I hate it and feel like a nag, but it's necessary.  All I can do is try to be nice and supportive about it, and he tries not to get defensive.  But it's WORK.  But it would be WORK whether he had ADHD or depression or anxiety or asthma or hated the same TV programs I like.  Does that make sense?

What I've learned from my marriage is that people with ADHD aren't that different from the rest of us.  I mean, they ARE, but every relationship has issues.  When I hear some of the stuff my other friends deal with in their relationships, I often feel blessed not to have that stuff in MY marriage.  That's not to say I never think, "why did I married this man???" because I do.  But he is the most emotional, loving, creative, inspiring, hilarious man I've ever known--and at least some of that is probably related to his ADHD.  So I take the whole package, and it works for me.

Just my $.02.  Best of luck.

to continue dating

You are so wise to question your relationship and seek wisdom from those who are "walking the walk".  I have been married to my true love for over 24 years.  He has always been a good provider, which has allowed me to stay at home to raise our 8 children.  We agree most of the time on parenting issues, money, and many other things which are vital in a good partnership.  By all appearances our life is perfect.  Yet, I can relate to almost every comment submitted by non-adhd spouses.  My husband was diagnosed 9 years ago.  His medicines work very well for him and have made life bearable for me.  He is very willing to go to counceling, but shows little effort in applying what is learned.  Oh, did I mention that he hates to read.  So getting him to read material which would be helpful is painstaking but mostly non existant.  My reality is that I love my husband yet the litany of things that have broken my heart or devistated  me are too many to count or remember.  I, out of necessity, am a strong person, yet I am tired of having to be so indepenent and overcompensate for him.  Harmony exists when I show no dispapproval and let him do what he wants.  By nature, I like to be open and discuss topics, yet this has led to too many fights.    My gratitude is in the fact that I have a closer relationship with God than I ever knew could exist.  This has been my rock and consistancy which has been missing in my relationship with my husband.    My sincere advice to you is that if you have only been dating him for three months and all of these red flags are waving at you, pray for direction.  If you feel peace invisioning a future with this person, this may be a wonderful thing with a lot of hard work, maturity, and grace on your end.  Never stay with someone thinking that you will change them.  It will NEVER happen. 


I'm appalled to find some of these brutally insensitive comments on an ADD site, especially from those of you quite busy bemoaning the lack of sensitivity of your partners. Several of you have essentially implied that persons with ADD are incapable of having successful relationships, or that a person with ADD in a happy relationship is so rare as to be the "one diamond in the rough."  Please spare the rest of us this self-indulgent nonsense. I'm sorry that your relationship has not gone well for you, but your own single relationship failure with a person with ADD does not generalize to all or nearly all persons with ADD, many of whom are perfectly capable of loving, mature, happy relationships.  Your implication otherwise speaks to your own lack of empathy for persons with ADD and perhaps to the source of some of the problems in your relationship. Overall, I think less vilification of persons with ADD and more self-examination is in order on some of your parts.  Any of you with your own children with ADD ought to be especially ashamed at having stated or implied that happy relationships are impossible or nearly impossible for persons with ADD to achieve. Please let me know how it goes when you share this "truth" with your own son or daughter.

Best comment

"The worst part and biggest regret that will weigh heavy on your heart is the emotional & verbal abuse your children will have had to endure. "

Yes, all men with ADD are emotionally and verbally abusive.  Thanks for letting us know!  I hope your own children don't have ADD themselves.

Editor's comment:  For those of you reading this post quickly, the previous "gross generalization" is sarcasm used to make a point because the poster is ticked off, not a generalization about ADHD people being emotionally and verbally abusive.  To the poster - please consider calming down your rhetoric.  You have the ability to say things in ways that aren't offensive, and if you are asking others to be less offensive, please consider being so yourself.  If you continue to read the thread you will see that many people have offered very thoughtful suggestions to the original poster.

At least we can figure out how to post on a website

I've done double posting occasionally, but three?

Seriously, until your life has been endangered by someone who stood up in front of God and everyone and promised to love and cherish you, don't judge us either, OK?

Editors comment thanks!

I try to be as positive as possible and get my own ego out of the way in my relationship with an ADD person.  Living with him has certainly challenged me to do that(which is good for any relationship of course)  Editor is certainly right in that more positive ways to describe, suggest and post things are much more helpful to anyone coming her to get a better perspective on different problems(many of which are similar) with marriage and ADD.  

Regarding, "Yes, all men with

Regarding, "Yes, all men with ADD are emotionally and verbally abusive."  Yes 12084, the belittling and sarcastic put-downs which are nicely underscored by the tone in your posting IS at the core of emotionally and verbally abusive language. I would go even further and say that men AND women with ADHD exhibit this symptom in varying degrees of intensity.  

To the Editor: With respect, I'm not certain you grasp the definition of the word when you caution your readers to soften their response because 12084 is just using "sarcasm to make a point." Sarcasm is best understood to be "a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt intended to wound." Language spoken with intent to wound is something most of us on this blog understand all too well. It's hard to see it as "just sarcasm to make a point." Again, utmost respect to you.

I wasn't clear

I wasn't clear.  I'm not justifying the use of sarcasm, which I think is destructive.  I was trying to say that the poster disagrees with the statement he/she was making.  A fast read of the comment might lead to one thinking that the poster is making a gross generalization about people with ADHD and I wanted people to hold up and not do the superficial read.  That's all.  I don't justify sarcasm - it's hurtful and completely unnecessary.  What I'm asking for when I ask everyone on the site to soften their language isn't to cut out the content or core of their feelings, just to find productive ways to share ideas...a very important thing for everyone to practice.

People are very hurt.

I think what is important to remember is that a person turns to others, looks for help only in need. We don't call the hospital asking about the chicken pox if we don't suspect our child has it. The people that have come here that are non-ADDers are so hurt and mentally exhausted by their partner that the frustration can easily sip through while they are trying to be understanding and grown-up about it.

When I fight with my non-ADD husband because of his dirty laundry spreading like the plague all over the apartment if I don't walk after him picking it up I might tell him that "You could never live by yourself, you'd drown in dirty clothes and die naked!! GRAWR". Of course it's not true. And of course I don't think so. But I'm tired, angry and frustrated with him.

We have to have tolerance when reading posts in here. I have ADD and I am not offended by what is being said in here. Because I understand where their anger and judgment comes from. And I know they truly don't mean it. It's just in this frustration over their husband (also wife but mostly husbands in here) not even trying, of course they will say that.


ebb and flow's picture


If you know about a happy ADD relationship could you please kindly give us your story?

I'm the non in the relationship and am dying for some positive insight into my pretty broken, messed up relationship with someone with ADD whom I love deeply. I stick around because I love him....

I know it's hard to hear people generalizing, and venting quite negatively but I'd kill to hear some positive success stories when it comes to ADD.

In other words give me the opposite!!!

Rant about how wonderful a relationship with an ADDer can be and/or is in your life. 

Please, some positive input!!!


soemthing i try to do with my

soemthing i try to do with my relationship is keep anything i have to discuss to am email. i write it out, anger free, in a clear reall simple way and send it. then i try to keep the face to face time only for positive stuff. sometimes he responds. sometimes he doesnt respond. but i do think he procsses words written MORE clearly than they are when spoken. AND because he has control over when he reads them, theres a better chance it will be read when his brain isnt flying and hes more at risk for interpreting things harshly or not as they really are. adhd have a hard time with the 'emotional equasion' of you can explain it but is just can get worse and worse. try not talking abiut any issues at all and puting them one at a time in a simple email to him. even if he doesnt respond to your letter, see if you dont see a difference at home as he tries to [in his own way] incorporate what you wrote him.

Emails really can work... (Text too)

Onthefence87... You are exactly right. My ADD was not known to me until the age of 43. Even before I knew what I was dealing with, I discovered that email communications allowed me to process a situation and verbalize my thoughts in a way that I never could in a face to face. The real-time pressure, mis-reading visual cues, taking tone the wrong way and the general defensive posture I could take because I felt like I was being attacked out of nowhere, the guilt of not seeing this coming, and so on, leads to a total shut-down. The email communication allows communication to not only begin, but to actually happen. I feel sure that my marriage has survived because of this process.


My main form of communication

My main form of communication used to be e-mails...and my husband claims to literally LOATHE them. He even claims to hate texts too. I suspect he may have hated the content of my e-mails (they usually were not nice) and I also think he hates texts only when we FIGHT over text. He just claims to hate written communication...but ironically, he's not much on the face-to-face communication either. "I don't want to talk about this", "you pick the worst times to try and talk about things", "can we talk about this later" and later never comes, etc. I am beginning to think he hates it only because it 'traps' him into hearing what I have to say. (he wouldn't dare NOT read it). I don't e-mail anymore...rarely text either.


You need Some form, right?

The emails were no fun for me either, but I knew it was my best chance of communicating my point of view without getting jumped before I could finish. Some of our "Opposites Attract" components are not very good. She attacks to protect herself and I would shut-down when attacked. This is why the emails have allowed us to work through some issues. I hate conflict, so if this method can move it along, I'm all for it... You cannot ignore/wish the conflicts away, right?



No, you can't wish them

No, you can't wish them away...or ignore them...but boy my husband sure does try!! LOL

I don't guess you can technically consider it communication, he NEVER EVER replied. :-/  Occasionally, he would mention an e-mail I had sent and want to discuss something in it, but not often. I do have to admit that I could sometimes see a change in behavior..something mentioned in the e-mails..but he would never mention anything about it. To some degree I guess they were effective. I am sure, though, they were very angry and rarely constructive. They were probably long and detailed too...not good for an ADHDer.

Ugh, I was a big advocate of

Ugh, I was a big advocate of emails and texts too, but when he started saying things like "write me an email" Or "text me", I realized it was starting to take the place of real communication. At some point, making real time to hear words coming out of real mouths while in the same space is essential to having a relationship, y'know? If you start to take for granted that need and lose it, the feeling that you are in a relationship at all becomes very hazy.

that's a terrific point, lululove

"At some point, making real time to hear words coming out of real mouths while in the same space is essential to having a relationship, y'know?"  Very good.  That's a big deal that gets lost for most of us in this texting, computer age.  Well, said.

Only used to "Break the Ice"

I never ask for a text or email to discuss something. These occur after a big fight, at least for my DW as I would shut down and say nothing, before my diagnosis. I don't shut down anymore and it still catches my DW off guard when I respond with speed and decisiveness :) she was used to getting all she wanted to say without being interrupted with another point of view :) We have discussed the new dynamics and she agrees that she too has had to learn new skills in dealing with Real-Time feedback from me. I don't recommend text/email as the way to communicate, just a tool to begin constructive communications. YYZ

tired of being shut out

My husband withdraws frequently and, since he was diagnosed a couple of months ago, has spent more time withdrawn than present with me. I see all of his relationships with others (including our children - yay!) improving but ours is really struggling now more than ever. It seems that, now that his meds help him see things more clearly (I think), he suddenly wants me to insta-snap out of my own coping/reactive behaviours that I've perfected over the last 19 years of marriage and become wide open to him while he struggles through his remaining challenges. 

Yyz, would you mind sharing with me if there was anything else effective that your wife was able to do or say to kickstart communication when you used to withdraw? My husband has told me that any hint of aggression from me, even a look on my face or tone of voice, will send him running but, on the flip side, if I hold back while I calm down and then talk to him calmly he says that I'm not being authentic with him. Either response (and variations on them) are used as an excuse (in my opinion) for him to withdraw. My feeling is that he's projecting blame on me because he feels guilt and shame and just feels awful but I have no way of really knowing because I'm shut out. I just want to get past this distancing, which I fully admit I've contributed to, so we can each support the other while we deal with our many challenges. He's a wonderful man and I miss him when he's "gone." Is any of this familiar to you or do you have any suggestions? Did she use the initial ice-breaking email to share/communicate or just to ask for a time to talk? I hope you can help - I'm at my wit's end!

You really do have to have

You really do have to have sort of a "clean slate" attitude if you're really committed to being with him and seeing him through his ADHD..I agree with him on that. BUT...what he has to do at the same time is realize that you will BOTH make mistakes, you will both regress sometimes, and you will both learn as you go. You're struggling, he's struggling...but his withdrawing from you is "punishment" for something he feels you're doing wrong and he needs to learn that if you're doing something 'wrong', he needs to say "I don't like that behavior...could be talk about it?" and start working through things..and then LET IT GO. His withdrawing is a roadblock...the more he withdraws the harder it will be for you to start to move forward TOGETHER. He cannot ask from you (FULL ACCEPTANCE) what he isn't willing to give. How would he feel if YOU shut down and walked away everytime he screwed up? Walking way from a situation and coming back later to discuss it is a GREAT way to start to deal with things more effectively. He has no grounds to accuse you of being fake about your efforts because he does not have the ability to think for you. He is assuming...and he needs to stop assuming and trust what you're saying as the truth..and you him.

Shut Out...

Face to face... your situation sounds all too familiar. I was oblivious to my surroundings and the only way my DW could get my attention about something was to get mad and throw it in my face. Of course I felt attacked out of the blue and was completely unprepared for a discussion, so she would get even more mad and start saying things for me. I had a thousand thoughts in my head, but could not pluck the idea out of the mess in my brain. I would get quite mad about the attack (To me) and go stone cold. So many time her email to me would be a continuation of the attack, but after a little time had passed, I had processed the situation better and was read to defend myself and on paper (Electronic) I could sort out my thoughts and begin a constructive conversation. For me it was a chance to get my say in things without the anger right in my face stalling the communication. It was a lifesaving way to deal with problems, before I even knew what the problem was... Hang in there Sirena :)



Yes, in these cases, using

Yes, in these cases, using the written word can be instrumental in forging the communication ahead. It does not take the place of all communication, of course, but could unhitch a stalemate as yyz says. My DH and I will even text briefly (even when we are in adjacent rooms) when a verbal irritation that has the potential of creating more bad feelings and blossoming into a bigger fight if things were left unsaid.

Texting is use to 'break the

Texting is use to 'break the ice' is sometimes easier to say "I'm sorry" that way...after a fight. He doesn't seem to mind that. I do think that, for me, writing things down can help in many ways...but since he says he hates it I just don't do it anymore. It was always one sided anyway...he never would engage in a 'conversation' with me in that format. He wasn't, however, as prone to avoiding face-to-face conversations then as he is now so I guess I just overlooked it. He worked at home during this we were both 'in house' and communicating this way. We have fought over IM and text (I acutally prefer this to face-to-face since it can be done privately and the kids don't have to know)...and I admit I'm to the point that I hate text-fighting.

It is just sad that communication is so hard... :-(

Dating an ADD/ADHD patient

I married one but had no real idea of what ADD/ADHD would mean to us.  A Teleclass with Melissa Orlov and Dr. Hallowell helped immensely because I had people who could shed light on what I noticed..lived with from both ADD person and Non ADD person perspectives.  We can certainly help each other! If I had the dating phase to do over I would find a counselor familiar with ADD and us both go and become more informed/realistic about it all.  A lot of things my husband didnt admit to and really didnt understand himself and was not open about have caused a ton of problems.  It is difficult enough to live with what you can with an ADD person without having to live with what they avoid/hide/are not honest about.  If your date is willing to be totally honest/open about his challenges with you then you have a chance.  DO NOT EXPECT THEM TO CHANGE a thing!

just my thoughts


I'm a woman diagnosed with

I'm a woman diagnosed with ADD (without the H).

Inability to put himself into another person's shoes

I am perfectly capable of this. I don't think this is an ADHD thing, a lot of non-ADHD people have this problem. I think in order to be able to put yourself into another person's shoe requires a certain kind of life experience and maturity. Those who I have met that are also capable of this have all been in therapy a long time just like me.

- Basic social skills.
Yes and no. I have good social skills so I think this with your boyfriend could be a mix. It could be a little ADHD, a little who he is. I have been able to change the social parts with my self that first of all I have been aware of but that have had a negative impact on my life. I don't want to cut people of while they are talking (even though they talk forever and I already know what they are trying to say = ADD opinion) so I have really been working hard on it. But it takes a lot of energy and work so if your boyfriend doesn't experience too much trouble because of his social skills then it's going to be hard for him to motivate the change. 


- Taking the responsible path versus the easy path

Yes and no again. I am able to do things by myself but will always need my spouse to be my right hand. I think especially boymoms are good at reaching out a little too much. If your child needs help you'll help. Sometimes it might be difficult to see when it's time to pull back and let him stumble and fall to learn from it. I think it's important for us to stumble, at least it is for me. I learn faster and quicker from failing than if someone always rescues me and just tell me. No matter how open I am to the information. We do however prefer the easy path, this because it's safe. Not for any other reason than that it's safe. Instant reward is also very affective and something we seek, this is actually very sad. Reason that we do is because of a signal error in the brain, the brain rewards us in different ways as we accomplish something, this is the key also to motivation something that also is controlled by the brain. Can you imagine your own brain neglecting you, never praising you, never motivating you? It's awful :(

- Sensitivity

I am a very sensitive and supportive person. Not being able to read emotions etc is not in the ADHD/ADD diagnosis criteria. That is AS, autism or just insensitive jerk. It could be that he expressed himself in a way he didn't mean to. I don't know what he said. I have said a few dumb things in my life cause of my ADD, not many but enough. And I could tell that I really didn't mean it that way but it just came out the wrong way. Could you give more information? If you already have I apologize, it's a little too heavy for me to read through the whole thread but I still want to help if I can.


Here it seems like you are anticipating a problem, am I right? This hasn't really happened yet? I think it's an iddy biddy bit offensive to say that we lose interest in our loved ones. I'd more want to put it as due to our problem we are likely to show a behavior that resembles "taking someone for granted". It's not that much fun but just like taking out the garbage this can be fixed by making your boyfriend aware of it and remind him. You say he is willing to work on this, you're not sure why but he is willing. Then I think you guys have a good head start. If you start to activate a certain relationship pattern now then it will stick and always work. If you are scared that he will stop showing and expressing his love for you, let him know now and you can both work out a way to avoid that. It kind of ruins it all having to remind your lover to.. love you.. but if you both come up with a certain technique maybe you can remind him a certain way without having to have "the talk" and then feel like the next 10 flower deliveries, dates etc are forced just because you told him to shape up or you'll leave?

gigs26's picture

Another ADHD perspective

Like kippei, I’m a woman with ADHD (and unlike the original poster's boyfriend, I was diagnosed as an adult, not a child). I found kippei’s post very interesting; here’s another perspective from an ADHD brain:

Putting yourself in another’s shoes.

I think there are two components to this – not only the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, but also the ability to express or communicate that you’re thinking about someone else’s needs…in other words, execution – which so many of us with ADHD struggle with. It’s not that we don’t understand the concept, or the importance, of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes; in fact most people I know with ADHD are very empathetic, forgiving, and quick to give another credit for their effort, even if there is no reward. (Go to a support group for adults with ADHD: compassion central!) But I can spend hours feeling empathy for a heartbroken friend, etc., and then when we’re getting coffee to chat, I’ll blurt out something that sounds – that is – completely insensitive. Not because I don’t care, or don’t understand what the friend is going through, but because I spoke without thinking.

I’m not saying failing to show compassion is something you, or he, should accept. But learning to show compassion is different from learning to feel compassion for someone else.

As for your needing quiet time, is it that he doesn’t understand and respect your need for it when you ask for it? Or that he doesn’t intuit when you need quiet time without your having to ask?

Basic social skills.

All the examples you (the original poster) give sound like he talks/acts before he thinks. I don’t think you say whether he’s taking medication for his ADHD? I’ve found getting the right medication has helped me immensely in those specific areas (to the point that the clearest indication that my medication is wearing off is that I start interrupting people).

Responsible vs. easy.

The reasons for each choice matter. You say his mom does a lot for him, but maybe that’s OK, for some things (obviously it has to be OK not only for him, but also for his mom). Something I’ve struggled to accept is that I need more help with some things than most people – so the responsible thing is to make sure I get effective help. For example, my partner and I finally decided to pay for a monthly housecleaning service; we budgeted for it and have found it’s worth every penny to take that source of stress away, even though at first we felt that as two adults “should” be able to keep the house clean without much problem. It might seem like an “easy” choice, but it’s actually a responsible one – the house is clean, the emotional issues are resolved, we can afford the outside support, and we’re both happy with the arrangement.

On the other hand, I also find grocery shopping very stressful and difficult. Obviously we need food in the house, so the choices are: (1) Pay someone else to do it; (2) Have my partner do it; (3) Learn how to make it less stressful for me. We decided (3) was best; I know I need to go grocery shopping in the morning, when I am getting the most benefit from my medication, and not at the end of the day when it’s wearing off; and we work up a grocery list together. Ensuring I have this structure in place makes it easier for me to handle the chore, and I don’t have to dump it on my partner (who handles plenty of other chores I struggle with) or pay money I’d rather use for something else.

I guess what I’m trying to say is it is OK – necessary, really – to take steps to make things easier. It takes a lot of thought to understand why a particular task, or time of day, or what have you, is easy or difficult. With that figured out, there’s no reason to keep doing things the hard way (whatever is the hard way). But we ADHD folks have to take responsibility for making things easier (i.e., we can’t just let partner/parent/etc. to take care of it without another thought).


I think this is related to putting oneself in another’s shoes – being able to versus showing you are doing it. At the same time, though, I have always felt that I don’t read others as well as most people seem to do. I know it is common for those of us with ADHD to miss social cues (with or without Asperger’s). I think medication makes it less obvious to others that I have missed a cue, however, because it gives me time to stop and think before, say, leaping into a conversation I shouldn’t.

Whatever the reason, though, it sounds like your boyfriend realized he said something hurtful, he apologized, and you both knew he didn’t mean it the way he said. If you believe him, maybe you can forgive that.


Time will tell, right? But I agree with kippei that it’s not so much that someone with ADHD stops loving or caring. I think hyperfocus helps to mask other ADHD symptoms because our brains are so stimulated. That doesn’t mean once hyperfocus ends that someone with ADHD will stop caring for you, or will go search for someone new. (I realize many people on this site have/had ADHD partners who have cheated on them; but not all people with ADHD cheat on their partners.) But it does probably mean that ADHD symptoms will become more apparent – leaving the question, how will you and your partner react?

I find it interesting what

I find it interesting what you say about missing the cue in social events. I have been frustrated with myself about not being able to laugh at what other people tell me. It's divided into two parts:

1) We are a group of people hanging out, something funny happens or is being said and then internal jokes are created and the whole thing continues over night.
This I have no problem with as I am in the middle of the joke happening. I laugh and contribute.

2) Someone is telling me a story, a joke, something funny etc
Here I always fail and I am right now working so hard on this. I feel so weird and boring when I don't laugh. Though I don't find what the person say funny. On the other hand I have a wonderful mother who has always been able to relive someone's story and laugh a sincere laugh at the punch line. As she is my mom I of course think this is how I should be too. But I just can't. And I thought it was my personality up until I read your post and realized, maybe it's me being distracted. Listening to a funny story is just like following a conversation. On top of it all I also really need to imagine it in order to laugh at it, find it funny.

No wonder I struggle and end up laughing a few seconds too late and my fake laugh is just awful.

Wow, that's interesting to

Wow, that's interesting to read.  I know what you're saying about the fake laugh - my boyfriend seems now to know that he's supposed to laugh but kind of does a quick fake laugh a few seconds too late.  I try to remember not to take things too personally but it's hard when you're trying to connect with someone you love!

I almost feel like ADHD can take issues that are already present in relationships and simply exacerbate them to the point where both people become angry and resentful.  "not being listened to" or "men and women have different senses of humor" are common complaints but somehow they take on a whole different level with the ADHD, at least in my situation.

The first 'fight' we ever had began when I told him he never laughed at my jokes and he told me I never made any.  I guess I really meant that he didn't understand when I was trying to be humorous but he never really got that either.  I accept the fact that a lot of this is my fault and that it doesn't help that I can be so analytical and critical.  It's also important to note that I've chosen to live with these behaviors which were evident somewhat early in the relationship and I probably should have addressed them earlier.  I really didn't understand what I was dealing with and spent a lot of time just feeling confused.

Thanks for the insightful comments, I look forward to reading more!

If you experiment a bit you

If you experiment a bit you might be able to find a way to get ultimate conversation flow with him. Women tend to talk too much, I for example am the master of unnecessary details, I think half of that is my ADD but the other half my personality. A longer story that might not be the ADD listeners favorite topic (for example my husband doesn't have ADD and he loves to hear about my day but getting to hear in detail about my friends' days he doesn't really find that interesting). Speaking in shorter sentences, small pauses between parts (like a verbal paragraph) and a lot of questions (not the type that he would have to answers, yes or no tops) could perhaps work kind of well. Reading tips about holding a presentation might be useful too, they usually have tips about keeping the attention of a whole group of people for a longer time  (40 mins - 1 hour). 

My mom told me that she learned quickly when I was very young that nothing had to be complicated with me, short, clear instructions were very effective instead of slightly longer but to many people more soft and gentle instructions.


Hi, I've been reading this site for the past few months.  I have been dating an ADHD man for almost 3 years and just recently discovered all of these great online resources dealing with this.  My issues have been with hyperactivity and communication problems.  I don't want him to feel ashamed or badly because of his ADHD but I feel that when he gets in a social setting he has to overpower everyone else.  He doesn't 'get' that it is not conducive to intimacy to talk someone's ear off about work but then not respond with more than "Okay, that's nice" when they tell him about their day.

I've also found it difficult to enjoy conversation because of his distracted nature or inability to read social cues.  It seems that communication stays on a very 'surface' level.  He can talk endlessly about certain topics that interest him but when it comes to just a lighthearted discussion of the day, I think it's just not stimulating enough for him to really get into the give and take flow of a conversation.  This could just be a male-female thing, though, as well.

My question is: how effective is medication at helping with communication?  Did anyone find their conversation skills improve after using it?  He has not been on medication during the time we've dated nor is he being treated for ADHD.   I'd like to see some change but I don't know what I can really expect or hope for.  I just wish he could slow down his mind a little bit and relax in the moment.  The weird part is, we seem to have the same sense of humor by our choices in entertainment, yet I find it very difficult to really relax and laugh with him during conversation.  Am I just being neurotic?  He is a sweet, fun guy and I love him very much but I'm scared to really commit to a marriage until he seeks treatment.

I would love to hear some stories on positive results of treatment. Thanks!

With medication I think that

With medication I think that you will both see an improvement in his social skills that are affected by his ADHD. As you say it's hard to know what parts are what. His personality, him being a guy and then ADHD, which is what where. That he is having trouble replying to someone telling him about his day could just be because he can't focus through what they are saying. That is an ADHD thing and I struggle from that. If I am too tired or the person is talking for too long it will be impossible for me to even recall if the person works or not. I realize that it's needed for him to be able to take care of himself during a social gathering, not that you run around with him baby sitting but sometimes it might be good if you could assist him when you are around. With tiny tricks giving him a summary of what the person was saying.

One thing I find really helpful is to lead the conversation myself, I however am a very social person all people might not be comfortable doing that. By leading it I don't mean talking about me, what I mean is that I am the designer of the conversation. I ask the questions. Where do you work? I work there and there. Oh how interesting, is that *** etc.. Then I can chop it up in smaller pieces where I get to say small questions. It helps me stay focused as it works like a multitask.

In what way do you feel it's hard to relax with him during a conversation?

Medication has helped me a bunch. It is a huge support. It has helped me with eye contact (which I have worked SO hard on) and the best thing, the key, helps me remember what people say to me. Without my meds I can't focus and with that rarely remember what the person says as I'm not listening. If I'm not careful I can end up asking a person 3 times where they work. The medication helps me a lot with that. It definitely makes a difference.

I don't think you should commit before he seeks treatment. And I don't think you should go separate ways because he doesn't. He deserves treatment. I think so much of us, so much of our personality goes to waste because of the ADD layer. Have it removed. You know your boyfriend the best, his mood, which way is more effective on him. Make him get treatment. If it hasn't worked so far, then you are doing it wrong, think about how and when you're saying it and try to change that. It's hard to accept that, even though we don't limp and we don't lose all our hair, we aren't 100% like everyone around us that look just the same as us. If I was in a wheelchair I think I could have accepted it a lot faster and easier. Just get through that barrier and you will get the support you need from professionals!


Yes conversation skills do

Yes conversation skills do improve after medication - this I have seen. However, the art of medication is like being oar-less in a canoe way out on the water and then suddenly finding them at your feet. If you don't employ the oars - if you're not interested in learning how to steer with them, you will still be forever lost on the water.

Know what I mean?

fuzzylogic72's picture


Great analogy. Finding the right med is hard enough (i've tried ritalin, dexedrine, wellbutrin, adderall, concerta, and am now on vyvanse); THEN finding the ideal dosing/timing, which can be just as hard. Trying a drug, esp. for the first time can be such an exciting, but also nerve-wracking time; everyone getting their hopes up that they are finally going to have the answer, just to find the drug is not effective, and sometimes even detrimental, depending on the presence of comorbid conditions. That's when it's most important to not give up, and to google blogs about people's reactions to these drugs (its very ressuring when a drug makes you worse to read that others have experienced the same, and often they give great advice, such as giving it another week or two before switching). THEN when you finally get a good med or med combination, that's when you look down and notice the oars. At that point it's up to the patient to be proactive and start rowing; at least TRYING to row. That being said, when in a relationship with an adhder, you are both in the same boat (relationship impacted by adhd, and god knows what else either person brings to the relationship), and it's a hell of a lot easier, and more enjoyable with two people rowing, than just one. You get further, faster, and have more energy when you get to your campsite. Rowing together, to the same destination; that's the key.

I have to say that I have really, really enjoyed reading this thread; the two posters above (kippei, gigs26) have really put their experience and insight into words effectively.

Are there any forums on feedback about the efficacy of different drugs from the patients perspective and/or their partner? I'm too scattered to find it at the moment (sinus and lung infections are killing me), but if someone started one that would be sooooper handy!

Strength and love to you all!

Dating someone with ADD

We've been cautioned not to say "run." Obviously that's what many do.

I was in a relationship for seven years with someone just diagnosed -- and very excited that he wasn't crazy, that he just had ADD.

I'm now divorced, after feeling like my entire person was being assaulted daily. I would say the relationship was perfect for me -- it was so awful that the ending of it (which I did) sent me to a wonderful therapist and I've been seeing her weekly for the last six months. It's something I've desperately needed to do -- nobody should think so little of herself that a relationship with an ADDer is the answer. Except that, and this is the tricky part: the first blushes of Hyperfocus naturally make you want more of that good feeling and I don't know many who can believe it won't last. We usually have no guidance, have never heard of this. You are so wise to be careful and to seek information.

Trust yourself and what you hear. Not only will the things that bother you now continue; they will get worse.

I read a chilling item in another ADD forum: Someone said to remember that when you do walk away, know that it won't matter in the least to him. He will be distracted by another woman, another computer hobby, another glittering, sparkling thing. He will move on quickly, if he hasn't already. That made me so sad. You'd like to feel like your love, all your efforts, all your caring and planning, are for nought. But they are.

I'm too old to have children. But from this distance, I can't imagine taking a chance that I would pass on what I consider a horrible gene. Why deliberately choose it? 

When I first met my husband, I remember thinking we'd never run out of things to talk about. After a time, I realized we really didn't talk, not about important things. Fidelity was a problem (let's see: he put his profile up on two months after he moved in with me). The last thing he said: Him: I am an honest man. Me: but you lied to me from our first date. Him: But that was just sex and women and everyone does that. It doesn't count.

The problem is that to me it counts more than anything. We talked about fidelity and I said how important that was after a month. I really tried to be sure he understood. But what he did at one month was not what he felt or did 6 months later. 

I've gotten close to his ex-wife. I made a list of things I hated about him and showed it to her. She read it sadly, agreeing with each one. "He's getting worse," she commented. 

He has two boys in their 20s. One definitely has it and feels trapped. He so doesn't want to be like his father. He has no career, couldn't stay in college, no car, no money -- and more important no self esteem. He can't ask a woman out, he's afraid of everything, he stays depressed. The truth is he's a wonderful person but  I don't know if he'll eve realize that.

It would be very hard to walk away from someone so obviously loving as the person you're seeing right now. But I'm afraid I'd be in the camp of "Run." Run like hell and don't look back. And then go work on yourself to see why you'd put up with the qualities you're seeing in him right now.

gigs26's picture

Everyone is different


I am sorry you suffered such pain, and I know you are not alone in your experience.

I’m compelled to respond, though, to stand up for my parents – my father, who has ADHD, and my mother, who does not. Married 35 years and still going strong, they were and are wonderful parents, grandparents, and partners, through illness, grief, financial problems – all the challenges of living and loving and raising a family. They aren’t perfect, and their life isn’t easy, but they meet its challenges with integrity, loyalty, compassion, persistence, humor, and grace, and they have earned the love and respect of their children, their friends, and each other.

And yes, my dad passed on this “horrible gene” to me. Do I wish I did not have to face the challenges of living with ADHD? Yes. But my dad also passed on his musical gifts, his courage, his adventurous spirit, and his unflaggingly cheerful nature. I would not trade him for anything, and neither would my siblings who don’t have ADHD.

As for my mom, she is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, and confident woman, who shows and commands respect. Many things went into her decision to marry, and stay married to, my dad; but lack of self-esteem or therapy are not on the list. I would not trade her for anything, either, and I know no one who thinks less of her for her choice of my father as a partner.

Again, I am sorry your experience was so painful, Leahnora. And I do not think that because my parents’ relationship works, yours “would” or “could” or “should” have, too, if only…. No. Everyone is different. By the same token, though, not everyone will suffer the same pain that you did. Everyone is different. A person with ADHD can be a good parent and a good partner; choosing to be with someone who has ADHD can be a good decision. It may not be easy, but it is possible.

ebb and flow's picture


I wish your parents were offering classes on how to be happily married with ADHD in the picture... :)

I'm the non and my partner has ADD and it's not so great. :/

I wish it was all the things you were describing about your parents, though.

Do you have any insight? I know it's very forward of me to ask but how was your mom with your dad?

How did he and her work together as a couple? Did she just do all the cooking and the cleaning, etc?

What was their secret? Is your dad on meds? You said they didn't even need therapy!?!?!?


I do not agree with this

Although you have been though alot,  You are putting all the blame on ADHD which in this case it is not, I have ADHD and have never even thought of cheating on my wife, I have caused her hurt because of the symptoms of ADHD.  There might be something else wrong with your husband ADHD is not causing him to lie or cheat have no job.  Everyone has a choice and ADHD is nothing more than a way you process information.  It cannot make you do anything so telling people to run away from there partner who has ADHD is wrong.  Thanks to Melissa Orlov and her book my wife is learning about ADHD and I am also, we are working together to have a better life, There are alot of positive things about ADHD.  Maybe I read your post wrong and got the wrong Idea?


It is very sad  to hear anyone, even if they have been hurt, lump so many people into one basket. Its not unlike saying that all people with x hair color are dumb as a sack of hammers, or that Americans are all rich. When I stared in disbelief at the doctor who said my said my son had Tourette's (along with ADHD) he explained that every case of Tourette's was like a snowflake;  each one individual. That's why I never caught on to his ticks, I thought they were just little boy stuff or ADHD. I imagine that each person with ADHD is impacted by his or her context, time of diagnoses, the stuff you did before being diagnosed, the severity, type of ADHD and the various co-morbidities, not to mention type and efficacy of meds and or cog behavior therapy. Not all ADHD personalities are like your partner. It is very possible that in the future someone with more patience will be able to make him understand that some of his beliefs are grossly flawed. it is possible too, that this won't happen.

Its hard to accept that you see me as a monster, not to mention my husband and children, because of a neurological difference. It is understandable though, because it is human nature to fear those who are not like us. You see, I would never venture to judge you for not wanting to get to know other people with ADHD because of a bad experience. You are different than me in that regard but I respect your need to categorize and understand the origin of your pain.

To my mind, the lack of executive function allows me a type of creativity that transcends limitations. It allows me to create artwork that even people without ADHD can enjoy. I am not alone, there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of ADHD people in the creative industries, driving people crazy with our eccentricities, hyper focus, forgetfulness etc. I wonder who wrote that rule book that said we must all be "normal"

You may not be able to live with us, but the world would be boring without us.

I'm not creative but....

It seems to me that ADDers' wanting to be "creative" all the time means it's harder for those who live with them. You seem to want us to create an environment for your creativity by working a "real job" to support you, cooking your meals, doing all the non-interesting housework (who really enjoys scrubbing floors and doing laundry?), finding your keys and cell phone and generally making your life comfortable. Who does these things for us? Who greases the skids for our lives?

Sorry, I know I'm generalizing. I am physically handicapped and can't do all those things, and my ADDer won't because he's too wrapped up in a creative and interesting job, so our life together is a constant struggle.

Wait just a darned minute!

I am physically disabled. I have arthritis, immune dysfunction, joint hyper mobility, asthma, repetitive chronic strain injuries and my SI joints are 3/4 inch different in height. I have a 10 year old boy with Tourette's, ADHD and OCD. My 14 yr old daughter has ADHD, ODD and just returned home from a residential mental health facility because she hates herself. Why? Because people keep on telling her to snap out of the ADHD and stop lying/stealing/doing impulsive things that she knows is wrong but hasn't got the "willpower" to stop. I have severe ADHD as does my spouse, who has a real job, thank you, works his but off and pays more in taxes than I would ever make in salary. I volunteer for art education for kids and adults, make work for silent auctions and photograph new family albums for people who have lost their homes due to fire. We have had the foresight to insure that my husband has the type of job that is physically demanding and changes frequently. Because of this, I raise my kids alone in the Canadian west while he is traveling to Thailand or California, all the while I struggle in minus 40 degrees. Have you ever tried to get ADHD children to do chores? I have no family, no maid, no outside help. I shovel snow, lots of it.

My family knows that we have a monumental struggle but lady, I am sorry, bitching about it wouldn't help. It is destructive and hurtful and every bit as self absorbed as what all you NON ADHD perfect people without faults accuse your ADHD partners of being. I am glad I have a ADHD spouse, even if he has intermittent explosive disorder and yells at me for nothing at the strangest times. At least we can see past each others faults and love one another.

I guess the world is lucky that somebody as bitter as yourself didn't tell Leonardo Da Vinci, who is likely to have had ADHD, to get off his high horse and get a "real job" digging ditches or the like.

You'll excuse me for not feeling sorry for you.

I don't usually get so disturbed by people like you but it seems like this is supposed to be a place to support relationships and find ways to make difficult situations into more manageable ones. Resentment like yours is not likely to do anything but make people defensive. There is just too much judgment going down here on the part of the "normals" (not every one of course, there are some very supportive posts out there). Can you possibly imagine, for a moment, what it feels like to be aberrant and unable to control it to not fit in and to feel profound guilt or to feel like you are the biggest looser on earth because you can't conform to "normal" expectations?

Walk a mile in my shoes. I bet you wouldn't even get that far.

Of course I can understand

My physical dysfunctions, among others, involve feet that do not do my bidding. When I was 4, I wore casts on my feet for a whole year. I wore braces on my shoes at night, orthopedic shoes, etc. (nothing of that helped). I was mocked by classmates and physically assaulted.

I'm not going to go into who is more badly damaged, really. My point is that I disclosed all this to my husband before marriage, showed him the scars and where the screws are that hold my knee together. He's a perfect physical specimen, co-workers threw themselves at him. And I did not know I was marrying a man who expected me to support him while he stayed home and played solitaire, and also expected me to totally maintain our house, our clothes, our dishes and our lawn (between 10:30 when I got home from work and 8:30 the next morning when I left). It sounds like you at least knew what you were getting into.

And yes, I know you can't get an ADHD child to do chores (I have one-not this husband's daughter) or even go to school. But it's no excuse for being a thief and I'm surprised to hear anyone say it is.

I'm sorry you have such a difficult life. But my husband chooses to work at a job that doesn't even feed us and in the US (unlike Canada) your healthcare comes from your job and I don't have any, and I'm really struggling with that. I hope you understand.

Yes, lying is, not being a thief

A lot of ADDers lie, apparently. There has been a lot of chatter about it on this board. Sometimes deliberate and sometimes just making up things when they can't remember the truth. But I don't think theft is a symptom of ADD.

The problem is my husband does not see how badly he's hurt me. I lost much when I married him that I can't get back, and that's why I stay, because without my house, my job or my alimony I can't live without what little support I get from him.

I dont understand

How is stating that lying (and stealing) while referring to my daughter's behavior, can be part of the ADHD spectrum of behaviors, a personal attack? I think that the fact that she was judged as a deviant who did these things because of hate or spite, or because maybe her ADHD behaviors were due to abuse by her parents was much more of what I would consider a personal attack.

Is it an attack to say I am walking away from this conversation because as an ADHDer I still hear people say that this condition is fake and just an excuse to be lazy and unproductive and  claiming creativity is another excuse for a person with ADHD to be shiftless? How many more of my posts will be edited out because I take offense to being categorized and labeled as inferior and I encourage people to try to see past generalizations and preconceptions?

Is it ok here for people to label and complain about ADHD spouses but not ok for people to call them on that?

For Sueann

Hi - I have to object to your characterization of creative people aligning with someone being hard to live with.  Creativity has nothing to do with not wanting to participate, feeling entitled to have your wife take care of you, or being too disorganized to get your life together - any of which might describe your husband as you've discussed him here and in other places.  If your husband is unable to help out, then look to improve his ADHD treatment or his job skills.  If he is unwilling to help out, perhaps a good tack to take would be to go to a marriage counselor and work to help him see why it's important to do so.  But don't blame his creativity.

BTW - finding his keys and cell phone for him isn't actually helpful - he needs to do this on his own - and IS perfectly capable of doing so with the right systems in place.  The first step to getting those systems in place might be letting him "discover" he needs them.

Thanks for replying

We are seeing a marriage counselor and she says, as I do, that if the job he loves does not pay enough for us to live on, he needs to either get a different job or supplement this job with another part-time job. His position is that he doesn't have to do that because I'm not working. (I am starting back with a seasonal employer in 2 weeks and I'm having surgery again on Friday, so I am not sure what he expects at this point.) He does not consider the fact that I worked 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to support him when he refused to work for 3 years and it's only been 3 months since I graduated. He is so devoted to his job and his "down time" on weekends that he would rather the dog, the cats and I starve. The downtime involves either sleeping or playing solitaire on the computer.  I do not blame this on ADD, really, just male stubbornness.

As to the phone and keys, what am I supposed to do? He called me from work Friday asking if his phone was home somewhere because he'd left without it. Should I have told him I wasn't going to check for it? He can be fired for not having it. He shows no interest in trying to improve his handling of such daily responsibilities. Apparently, since he takes meds (and they help him with work) he thinks that's all he has to do. And he won't read your book either.

It isn't really creativity I resent, it's the fact that his job and his "downtime" seem so much important to him than the animals and me. At this point, I'd leave if I could. But I don't have a job and he does not feel responsible for me in any way.


Regardless of whether he feels responsible for you or not, you do have some legal rights, at least in most states.

I often suggest to couples that when handing responsibility back to the ADHD partner (for example, being responsible for keeping the phone with him) that it is a "handoff" rather than an "abandonment."  I agree that it is not in your best interests to simply refuse to look for the phone.  It IS in your best interests to tell him that he WILL start being responsible for those things that help him keep his job, including the phone...Post a big note on the door "Do you have your phone?" or have him put a note in his car to the same effect.  Store the phone right by the door.  Or get a holster that he keeps with his wallet.  There is some system, somewhere, that will enable this man to keep track of his keys and his phone.  And at that point you no longer have to be responsible for it.  Other things in your life should be the same way.  If it's his, it's his.

Solving the logistics, though, doesn't do anything for the connection and your feeling unloved and unattended to.  Has your therapist been able to help him understand that you feel lonely and unloved and that he may be making the choice between his computer games and your marriage?  Does she understand ADHD and its treatment?  As a point of reference (and I have no information about your husband's specific situation here, so this might not apply) it is sometimes "safer" to keep a person in a job that he/she loves and is well suited to than to require that they try to move into something less suitable (which presumably a new job would be, for if it were equally suitable and paid more he might already have jumped to it).  So a second job, if it earns enough to make sense, may be a better option than changing jobs all together.

No, I don't want him to leave his job

I think the fact that he loves it so much helps him to actually get up and go to work in the morning. And what he does is so important; he's really on the side of the angels. I'd never ask and never have asked for him to leave this job.

But he has tons of retail experience and I think he could easily pick up a weekend retail job and make enough to feed us. If gas keeps going up, he's going to have to or he's going to be paying for the privilege of working.

LilacRed's picture

To Sueann

I find you to be an exceptional human being for seeing past the barrage of negative attitude and behaviors that seem to come from your ADHDer, and still feel empathetic and compassionate enough to to be sensitive to his needs and happiness in his current job.  However, if a human being refuses to do something, they cannot be convinced to do it.  Period.  It seems you've tried to motivate him in many ways, as well as to try to appeal his possible sense of valor.....A lady with physical impairments should not have to work 2 and 3 jobs while her spouse works none or only one.  And you're in school, too??  Seriously?  I realise that a lot of  ADHDers have trouble with empathy, but perhaps if you removed ADHD from the room, does he simply just not care?  I hope you make it through school, then get a job or 2 that pays for a single apartment and a practical car for you and get out.  Best of luck....

To LilacRed

You are giving me credit for much more saintliness than I actually have. If you've been reading a lot of my posts, the timeline is probably a bit confusing. I really don't deserve a halo.

My husband and I are middle aged. We've known each other casually for years, and began dating when we worked at the same job. I have never felt so loved in my life. (I know now it wasn't love but hyperfocus.) We wanted to get married but I set a condition that one of us (preferably him) would have a job offering benefits. He got such a job, we got married, and he promptly started messing up at work in a very ADD way. (We didn't know about ADD at that point. He has a psychology degree from the 80s, when they thought ADHD was just for hyperactive little boys, and they grew out of it.) He got fired, went back to our previous part-time job (where I still was) and I had to stop taking my hypertension medicine because I could not afford it without insurance. He basically declined to work any more than part-time. I was working a full-time seasonal job and when the season ended, I started working double shifts at what had previously been a part-time job for me. So I was scheduled to work 9am-10pm. He would bring me dinner in between shifts and everyone thought he was wonderful. But he did no housework, dishes or laundry. The mistake I made was complaining when he did them wrong. When he washed my dry-clean only silk pants I complained, so he stopped doing laundry. When he washed dishes without rinsing them and the food tasted of soap, I wouldn't eat it and he stopped washing dishes, etc. He eventually got fired from 4 more jobs for reasons we now realize were to do with his ADHD. My main problem with the marriage is that when I married him, I gave up alimony and a rental house that I could afford. When he decided not to work any more, it forced me to pay the rent because I had signed the lease. I had to give up my meds, heating the house we lived in, my car, etc. Everything was stripped away from me. It was a scary time and it went on for 2 1/2 years, with me as almost the sole support of our family.

Eventually, I went back to school, as much to get student loans to live on as to go start a new career. I figured if I had to support him the rest of our lives, I better make more money. I cut down to just one job at a time, taking a leave of absence from the one job to go back to the seasonal one when appropriate. I have problems with my knees that make it difficult to walk, so part-time jobs like retail are out although I did work for the Census and cried a lot. I got fired from my main job in November 2009 and have only worked at the seasonal job since.  This gave me the chance to go to school full-time and finish in December, although I have not yet found a job in my field. Before I started school, he'd gotten on an effective ADHD medication although he still declined to work or even look for a job. The first semester I was in school, he started working at Wal-Mart and then got the job he has now. At that point, I was able to get back on my meds and get a C-PAP machine, which I had known I needed but could not afford without insurance.

My husband absolutely feels no responsibility to me. He says I am a college graduate adult and I can take care of myself. He totally pays no attention to me and never seems to show any emotion. Our first marriage counselor thought he might have mild Aspbergers syndrome, but, without insurance, we couldn't pay for an evaluation for that. He simply seems to care about nothing. It does not bother him that we don't have food and could not heat our house all this past winter or if it bothers him, he doesn't show it or do anything about it. Right now the hyperfocus is on his clients at the mental-health agency where he works. He pours so much of himself into that job that there is nothing left when he gets home. Of course, that problem is compounded by the fact that his meds are wearing off at the same time. He does nothing in the house, even those things I can not do. He doesn't talk to me. We either watch tv or he retreats to the computer room to play Freecell. It's like being married to a ghost.

So I'm no saint. The fact that he loves his job is what makes him get up and do it. He told me once "I never do anything I don't want to do," which, apparently, includes housework or working at a job he does not like. He also does a lot of good for people who really need it. He has declined to get a second job or look for another primary job even though we can't live on what he gets paid, which has been reduced by 9% since he was hired. He is required to drive several hundred miles a week without mileage reimbursement. I wish he saw that more needs to happen to treat his ADHD (and whatever else he has) but he does not. He's pretty much "take me or leave me" even though I have no permanent income and gave up so much to marry him. So I really feel stuck.

So that's me. I am going back to work April 4 although it will only be a couple of months so I can't make any real changes based on that. I am no saint, just a person who'd like to have a better balance in my life and my marriage. I'd cut off my right arm if he'd be the person he was when I married him but I know that once the hyperfocus ends, it ends, and you can't get it back.

Life falling apart because of ADHD

In the last week, my stove has stopped working, my computer crashed and my husband blew the engine in his car. The car died because we couldn't afford to get the timing belt changed, and since he drives all day in the car every work day, he can't get any car maintenance done. He's commandeered my car and that means I can't go do the things I need to do to run the house. We still owe $6500 on the car because we bought it at one of those last-chance dealers because he had a previous car repossessed after he didn't work for 3 years. We can't afford to fix the stove or the computer. The old computer I am using will not allow me to use eBay, which is my main way of earning money.

My mother-in-law is going to have her house demolished because she and my late father-in-law did no maintenance on it and it is now unsafe to live in. She lived over 30 years without an oven. How can a person just accept that? I think MIL is ADD and we are pretty sure FIL was too.

My husband just sits there like a bump expecting these problems to be solved by someone else. He's rejected the idea of looking for a second job or another full-time job that might pay a living wage. He's ignoring the recommendation of our therapist that he do these things. He says since I don't have a regular job (working full time now, but it's a seasonal job) he shouldn't have to do any more and he can spend all his off hours playing Freecell. How can I work if he has to have the only car we own (that I paid for)? How can I work if he does nothing to maintain our household? We had no heat all winter and we really don't have enough food to last until we get paid next. Why in the world doesn't he feel he should fix some of this?

So I see people whose lives have been destroyed in a very real way by ADD and/or a kind of pathological passivity. Does anyone see any way out except for me to leave him? The therapy is not helping.

I really have to take issue

I really have to take issue with this post - while it represents your specific experience, you should not be generalizing it to all people with ADHD.  An example - you say that "he won't care in the least if you walk away."  My husband's experience when his first wife walked away was total devastation.  You say you wouldn't consider passing along an ADHD gene to a child...yet there are so many wonderfully happy families out there who happen to have ADHD as part of them.  They may not be represented well in this forum (or any other forum) but that's not because they don't exist, it's because forums like these self-select for people who are having trouble.

Fidelity was a problem for you...but if it was a problem before you got married...shouldn't you have seen that coming???! Are you blaming him for the fact that you chose to gloss over what would have been a deal breaker for a lot of other people?

The point of knowing about ADHD in advance isn't so that you can "run" - it's so that you can go into a relationship with your eyes open.  I always recommend that ALL couples (not just those with ADHD impacts) wait to marry until after they get through the dopamine-drenched infatuation stage so that they know that they can work through problems that come up and still love each other.  It remains good advice - better, I think, than "run."

fuzzylogic72's picture


Thanks for helping to maintain the balance Melissa; it's my first day back in a while and it was encouraging to see your words. 

Malignant narcissism vs. ADHD

Sounds to me like your soon-to-be exhusband may be a narcissist, either with a co-diagnosis of ADHD or perhaps just narcissism by itself. You have endured a lot. 

girl who is invested in relationship with person with adhd

I can completely related to what you are saying about lack of empathy, and being very self centered, one thing that really helped me, was you kind of have to look at them, and ask them in such a way that the role is reversed, you need to then, after reversing the role, then ask them how that would make them feel, how does ( the action) make him feel? i found that this was a way to get my boyfriend, now husband, at the time understand what i was trying to say, only when he knew how it would affect his feelings if it was done to him, did he finally understand what i was saying, you can;t say things like YOU , THIS, YOU THAT, it needs to be, well, if it were this way, and it was you in this position, HOW WOULD THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? 90 percent of the time, they will then , and only then understand how you felt when they did what they did, i have been with my husband for 26 yrs, this method really helped me get him to understand how i felt alot of the time, only when they have it  put to them, as if it WAS THEM, do they seem to understand,

i hope this helps a bit, RELATIONSHIPS NEED WORK, LOTS OF WORK, a successful relationship is one that the people are communicating, and not placing blame, EVER, another thing i think we need to learn, is to give them time, say what you say, and then give them time to process it, sometimes it takes a little longer, they need time to think, remember they have trouble controlling their impulses, and they learn, just as you will have to, to let him cool down, and have that time if he needs it, time to think things over, that was a hard one for me to learn, to say what needs to be saying, and then to let him process it in his way, because it;s not like my way of doing it,  I really found the older that he got, the better he got at dealing with things, not that , that;s an excuse if things are bad to hold out that;s for sure, but i truly feel, that once you start using the reverse tool, IT;S A BIGGIE, it really really works,

LilacRed's picture

What our deal is:

I have been visiting this site for several weeks, now.  An avid reader, I have read just about every blog and comment on every topic on here.  Without the discovery of this site, I would have continued cutting myself (I am bi-polar, and when my husband felt it was unnecessary to get angry or vent my feelings, I would do this for the endorphin release) or would have left my husband.  Let me tell you why simply:

1.  I felt I was not worthy to be in any relationship because my standards were too high.

2.  I couldn't do anything right.

3.  Most of the thinks I said were wrong (my husband always checks first to make sure before believing me or telling me my source was wrong)

4.  I felt disrespected.(An area in the house trashed not 5 minutes after I had cleaned it)

5.  I felt my own physical well being was not important (driving with ADHDer)

6.  No sex.(felt undesired)

7.  Lonely.

Most of you with ADHD spouses know the feeling.........

But I need to point out two things:

There is a difference between ADHD and core personality.  Sometimes they mix well and sometimes they don't.

That is why not all ADHDers are the same.  Let's make it simple:  An an angry jerk is an angry jerk.  An angry jerk with ADHD is a different animal....The ADHD may exaserbate the angry jerk trait.  How about a person who would already be inconsiderate and self centered without ADHD?  Let's add ADHD.....and insecurity....etc.  These traits may make some ADHDers refuse treatment, refuse to see their problem, refuse to see how their behaviors affect others.  Some grew up in abusive homes  and would grow up to abuse even without ADHD.  But some, like my husband, can have empathy if it's shown to him properly.  Some people are sweet and generous.......and have ADHD.  But these folks, unlike some of the others, may be more likely to be more successful in treatment, and want to improve and actually are aware of their behaviors and feel bad about it.  I am extremely lucky.  Because of this site, I was able to realise that I was not an unreasonable bitch and that my standards were reasonable, just hard to maintain for an ADHDer.  I was able to stop reacting the wrong way and taking it all personally.  Now, I am able to divide my husband in half:  Mr. ADHD and my husband.  I figured out what things he does well and is motivated to do, and I do the other things.  It feels fair again.  My husband hyperfocused while we were dating and then dropped off literally on the first day of our honeymoon.  But I know he still loves me.  My heart goes out to all of those who are not so lucky.  Enabling was the first thing I stopped doing, and , of course, you have to figure out which consequences motivate your ADHDer to make adjustments.  I am sorry some ADHDers think this is a site for bashers....but sometimes noone really understands, or wants to hear about it, so we come here.  And, I can assure you, the anger and the pain seen here is real.  We don't always focus on our spouses, sometimes we don't like who WE are as a result of ADHD.  We feel guilty about our own behavior in dealing with it.  I can identify with my husband and his constantly racing mind.  Bi Polar disorder is much like that in our heads, too.  But I realize that doesn't give me an excuse to be negative to anyone, nor does any other disorder.  Not all ADHDers are creative, either.  My husband is an electricity/computer techie am the creative one in the family.  Anyhoo, I am sorry that some seem to generalize on this site, but no human being is the same.  We may share some consistent behaviors, but are by no means identical.  But we do have a right to our thoughts and feelings, even if someone else dosen't like what we have to say.  I do appreciate my husband's free spirit and open mind and generosity to others, as well as his talents.  I don't always appreciate ADHD, but I am getting there.  Thank you for listening.  Thank you for helping me....

Married to a similar partner for about 25 years

Having lived with a person who once bore marked similarity to the man you've described here, I will advise that you use extreme caution. There is probably more to him than you can see now. I'm sure the other posters have agreed that he will turn cartwheels to win you. Once having won, he is likely to quickly get caught up in his own world and pursuits where you become one of many satellite to his life. You may (for years or for the rest of your life) discuss this, get counseling for this, read books about it, and even become involved in organizations that help "other" couples. But, if he is like the man I married, he cannot change. I continue to work hard to have a semblance of a relationship and to personally survive all the self-centeredness and excessive energy.

In midlife one becomes weary of assuming responsibility for "relating": having to pick the right words, the right time, and the right place (which are rarely "right", regardless). In midlife we want a friend and someone to talk to. Yet, if he is this similar to my husband, his attention span for anything of interest to you may be shockingly brief compared to that for things of interest to him. You cannot change someone like this. You can only change yourself and, I would say, be prepared to change yourself a lot.

these are amazing,

these are amazing, articulate posts...

im in a 6 month relationship with an adhd man and wish i would have had the insight at the 3 month mark to ask the same questions with such clarity. but these extra three months have 'locked' in the real, underlying person who he is. and, because i am an articulate, emotionally intelligent being, i have been left to compare and contrast the elements of our realtionship by myself to understand more fully what is really going on. it has taxed me emotionally, exhausted me w confusion and made me chase after resolution when a conflict is created by his intense reactionary mode of operation. I've internalized many of the traits that belong to him as traits i have somehow caused because he is 180 degree different than the beautiful, attentive man he was when he entered my life and was trying to win me. he suddenly, with almost impecable sleuthlike senses, slipped into the real he and his behavior altered the dynamics of our whole union in a way that left me reeling: we went from a very rich sexually fullfilling relationship to one where he would not want to have sex for a week and sometimes two. he went from walking thru the door excited and with enthusium to connect to me to walking thru the door and occupying another part of the house until early morning hours--with no emotional ability or interest to connect with me for days at a time. i began to feel like wall paper and noticed i would 'wait', making myself available for connection at any given moment because of course connection is the backbone of a relationship. he offered no acknowledgement of these frequency changes and gentle, loving attempts to discuss them resulted in arm crossing, face screwing up, emotional explosions that led him storming out the door, having interpreted the most benign of comments as a full-alarm threat. because i could not decipher things from a standpoint of these being adhd traits, i fell into a pattern of reevaluating my feelings/what I'd done 'wrong' to 'set him off' and then found myself offering olive branches as salve to his hurt and nurturing an uncanny pattern of his anger in the face of my tears, feelings, hurt or lonliness.


my 2 cents on if a adhd man can--lets say evolve, not change, his adhd traits that cause upset in an intimate relationship: i believe they love you, exactly as they say they do. however, i believe they are with severe conceptual ability to grasp the cornerstone of what love, in action--not just words or their urgency to be secure with you--or their feeling of fear were they not to be with you--are really about. Love IS action. think of an absent father who never sees their child and says 'i love you' to them as an adult. this isnt really love, the parent is doign no actions of love that are relaity base, it is just a surface attempt to create a feeling /beleif they need to attach to. there are seven skills people must possess to be in co-creating relationships to which sustainability without undue suffering can occur. What are the cornerstones of love: compassion for one's partner, emotional intelligence, being able to internalize a reality based image of your partner and retain this--even when in disagreement, or at times of stress during discussion. 'holding space' for the other, allowing the person to communicate their feelings, needs, desires without clobbering them immediately with a intense reaction of anger, rejection or burden--which shifts the feeling from you to you now needing to tend to and respond to Their needs/reactions. 

without base, i mean extremely base elements of emotional intelligence, ability to sustain emotional intimacy and build on baseline connections that keep people together: making plans, spending time often, engaging one another, having a framework for communication [ie if its not talking, then it needs to be writing or something else that allows issues to be resolved], offering and responding to ones partner with compassion/empathy/care... if these elements or the CONTINUITY [ie, i can do these for a really short amount of time..its like holding my breath..then im going to snap into my real way of being] are marred, not present, broken in one of the people, then there is no real abilty to have that foundation between two people that make a relationship sustainable. so yes, they love you, but only to the limited scope of what they experience or feel love to be, only to the scope of what they can understand love to be within their gimpy internal processing.

and, as ive discovered in my own relationship, my adhd partner uses his adhd anger and reactions as a way of NOT DEALING with real problems of his own adhd limitations. in other words, when something comes up in a relationship that he does not have the emotional maturity or skills to deal with, he erupts in anger, his anger pushes the problem away. if he stays angry louder or longer than you, you soften and resolve the problem yourself and he is spared ever developing his sub par skills. i see my partners adhd actions almost along the lines of an addicts..he has learned so well over so many years to compensate for the 'short changes' of his adhd that its almost pathological in a sense. i do not belive he is intentionally trying to harm me. i simply believe the wiring of his adhd mind is such that he does not process verbally what is actually being said, his reactions are so immediate that he allows no time to check in with his partner to make sure what he heard is actually what is said, he is threatned by my abilty to feel emotion; to cry, to process feelings--because he doenst have ready access to that--and the threat of me feeling--of me being healthy--causes him to say very mean, cruel things. so he further hurts me because his mental wiring is so faulty. he does not understand what he does and these developingments are crude crutches he's built to try to limp through a relationship on. if he could do better, he would. HOWEVER, although i can understand logically now the limits of his abilty in a relaitonship, it does not mean i should shock absorb all the short comings he has. i have to fully acknoweldge the short ness ill be accepting by staying in a relationship with him. if your guy has the awareness to take your concerns and check in with you openly and honestly to see if progress if being made, then stay because that level of awareness is mint. any adhd person withou that level of awareness or willingnss, allowed to let adha behavior be unbridled in their intimate relationships is not going to be a good person to attach to. they will find any logical rationale reasoning to explain their behavior. suffering will continue and no amount of anyhing you can do will eleviate the stress. they are missing emotional intelligence, and EI  IS what allows partners to grow, heal hurts togehter, be strong and enjoy the relationship. WITHOUT EI, it is like being with someone who is blind, expecting them to see.

these are amazing,

Dear onthefence87,

You said lot of insightful things. You are a smart woman and a quick learner. Your first paragraph alarmed me because of the extremes of behavior you've described in this man. It is also frightening that he is exhibiting these extremes so early in your relationship. Yes, it's ADHD. But wow.....what is he doing in those hours of extreme isolation? This is VERY like the attitudes exhibited by my ADHD partner whenever there was gross marital misbehavior going on. I write this to caution you. The awful times in such a relational dynamic are likely to push your buttons, no matter how much you "know" about ADHD, so that you will (yes, you will) respond to him imperfectly and therefore become blamable for "the bad relationship"..... at least in his mind.  This is tricky stuff. Your heart may be ravaged beyond belief. When a man like this snaps out of a naughty phase you become convinced to give him another try, another chance, because the blessed sun finally comes out again and, oh, the sweet and fun and attentive behaviors will be back! You will want desperately to put it all behind you, patch yourself together and pretend it never happened. This is the attractive, seductive feature of many people afflicted with ADHD. But, left untreated, the propensity for dysfunction and, "it's your fault I was bad", will not go away and it WILL be back. This kind of relationship jerks your stomach into knots and makes you question your own sanity and self-respect, if you have any. You might take on psychological baggage yourself as you try to cope. These are very co-dependent relationships. We cannot tell you to run away on this site. But you are not married, from what you have said. Realize that, without a lot of help and maybe even with it, you could be looking at decades of having to bend your life, forgo needs, and change yourself to suit every wild whim of your partner. You will work hard to learn how to be sometimes successful in communicating with the ADHD-affected brain. It is not easy!! If your partner isn't willing to be diagnosed and to, himself, settle in for years, probably a lifetime, of medical and psychological interventions (with you making a time and emotional commitment to couple therapy and, possibly, personal therapy to keep your own equilibrium), I would urge you to make a firm decision for self-preservation. Now you know how to detect ADHD in a person before becoming serious. I feel for you that you could not see it during your first 3 months; I've been there. We are wiser now.

Sadly yours,

tryingto survive

thank you very much for your

thank you very much for your response from the heart.

my guy told me early on he was adhd and took medication for it. he also was up front about how it has affected his relationships in the past and how he tried to not do the things that were annoying [like misplacing keys] to be considerate to his partner. mispalce as many keys as you want but dont f with my heart. i was so warm to his sharing of his adhd insights because any issue can be handled with grace if both parties are respectful and aware of the issue at hand. i belive his words of warning at the start were simply combined with an on-best-behavior approach to secure our bond. and that, once secured, there was no need to continue to offer the same abundant love, expression or intentional connection as was offered initially. i have sorted, cried, done my math and come up with the plan to cateurize the wound; this man is not capable of sustaining the seductive love he awakened in me. he knows not what he does and he is on a circle 8 track in which he more than likely will not make the connections to cause and effect--nor will he allow or believe those connections when someone who loves him gently shows/tells him. adhd also impairs emotional maturity to crippling effect and some of these issues are directly to do with emotional maturity. i think i have seen what i need to see, i have understood how to see his behavior as just who he is and not take it personally, and i have also evaluated in myself that as the passionate sensual girl i am, that i deserve a consistant level of the love he once gave freely, and that to recognize how adhd prevents him from giving that to me and even from grasping that concept, that there is no way to connect these dots for him, that it may be best to untangle from the relationship to keep myself intact. when adhd keeps a partner from responding with heart to the needs of a partner or to the needs of the couple make him unable to sustain a relationship that will nurture our love or one that i will thrive in. love is an orchid that needs certain conditions to bloom. remove those conditions and the love--and other person--shrivels. i like blooming, i like loving, i like pouring sensuality into a loving partner but too many conditions that prevent that are bad for me..and im not good for anyone if i enable those conditions to the point where i have normalized them. this time you give, does not seem healthy as it only prolonges one being steeped in rare and highly frustrating conditions that rob them of the abilty to see the source of the issue.

thanks again for the support. this is a fantastic board with many high minded people. i feel among friends. weren't kidding weren't kidding when you said you were articulate. Amazing how well you put into words so much of what I've felt over the years, but was unable to say so well as you. Although my husband's responses and behaviors resemble a lot of what you said, I am not certain I am willing to say he is void of EI. He is different in that he seems to have selective EI. Plain and simple...sometimes he sees his faults and admits them openly, other times he refuses to even discuss it. For the most part, he has quit blaming me for everything..because I have stopped letting him.

We do spend time together, he does engage with his family, and we do enjoy time together...but he just came out of a major depressive episode where he did NONE of these things and blamed everything on me. It lasted for over 2 months...and was triggered when he stopped taking ADHD meds cold turkey - not sure whether it was psychological or physical (cestation of dopamine producing drugs). His ADHD has also been worse since he was diagnosed (June 2010) and I'm hoping this is just the 'grieving process' and eventually he'll accept it and move forward. He is supposed to be going to see a psychiatrist soon.

Great post!

Thanks again yyz, for

Thanks again yyz, for pointing out how all of these dynamics are integral to an adhd marriage: shutting down in response to comments that seem on the offensive, the big TONE issues, the misreading of verbal cues... If I could say how much that has played a role in my marriage and musunderstandings (at least on my side) and to hear from my husband how adhd has NOTHING to do with our marriage issues.. It confirms Im not crazy at the very least. my question is this: has th Adderall helped you on those issues (distraction, irritibily..)? I have not seen much improvement in my dh..and sometimes mORE irritibility

The Adderall has certainly helped...

Lululove... I'm glad some of my ramblings help in some way. Thanks for the nice words of encouragement. Adderall has definitely helped me be less distracted and less irritable. I used to display most of my grumpiness late in the day from feeling so tired. The ADD is still there, but more in the background. I seem to notice when I start exhibiting the symptoms and can pull out of it. I used to be really laid back, now being less oblivious to my surroundings I'm more reactive and this is a new skill which is a work in progress. I'll get irritable when I have a plan in motion and people or things get in the way, because I know how many plans never got completed. All in all, I feel like I'm really starting to figure this out. I hope you see improvement in your situation too :) YYZ
Constance's picture

Same boat - different paddle

I am new to this site after realizing that my boyfriend of 2.5 years had some key behavioural elements that matched the ADHD diagnosis. After reading your post i felt deeply connected to your concerns.. I myself suffer from severe depressive disorder that i inherited from family and have been successfully treating it with both therapy and medication for all my adult life. However since my boyfriend has left his hyper love phase i am suffering at an all time low to maintain my own illness as well as cope with his ADHD. He exhibits all of things you have mentioned, as many have in these blogs, however he also has the quick snap anger that is directed at me. It is a regular occurrence for me to be on the recieving end of a very fiery and uncontrolled attack of yelling and abuse which leaves me in fits of tears, and more often than not feeling suicidal with questions of ''if he loves me so much why does he disrespect me so harshly''. I am very fortunate to have an amazing team of doctors to help me, however it is a hard road to travel. He is a good man in his heart, i know that all the things listed by nervousdater are most definately what my partner does and most likely suffers in himself with aswell. At the same time my partner wishes to get married to me. This is where i am feeling very nervous.. Naturally i have enough love in my heart for the man that i know still exists despite all the obvious ADHD ailments that effect him and in turn me. And thankfully we have had the wisdom to live seperately until both of us feels on top of our own illnesses....He has only just visited a doctor to discuss medication options and i believe this to be a great step forward. However i also am a single mother and feel highly stressed by the extra weight on my shoulders of being inlove with someone who is suffering from ADHD. I have realized that my own illness has taken a great downward turn since being in this relationship, that my ability to self soothe is negatively effected by his regular angry attacks and inability to take accountability for them and to genuinely apologise for the mental battle wounds i am accumulating daily. After reading many of Melissa's blogs on these issues i can see i have been patient and supportive to him along our journey and am now at a point of staying to see if the doctors can help us or going and retaining my own mental health. I am struggling on a very thin line trying to balance my own illness, caring for my daughter and caring for my boyfriend, who often feels like a harder child to deal with than my own daughter. There is no question to how much i love him and would put all my efforts into helping him find a happy and healthy balance of living with ADHD, but i do need to remember myself in this equation. How long does it take for the medication to take effect?? Will he need to have therapy aswell for any medication to truly work?? Am i being overly hopeful in thinking that i will be able to maintain myself, my daughter and him in a healthy marriage in the future? I really am desperate to know these answers as i can feel im weak within myself - its so hard to juggle such things alone. I cannot express enough how difficult it is to manage with my own illness, let alone being a single parent and having the love of your life suffer with ADHD. Often he will tell me of beautiful tales of our future together as husband and wife but i am so drained that i am not sure if i even have hope for this at this time...i just wonder how long should i wait for any effects to be shown in our daily lives together?