If You Are Engaged to Someone with ADHD

There have been quite a few comments lately on this site suggesting that people should avoid marrying someone with ADD.  This advice makes me very uneasy and I would like to weigh in on it.

Statistically speaking, about 50% of ALL marriages entered into these days end in divorce.  That’s not great odds.  If a doctor said to me “If you eat these raspberries, you have a 50% chance of dying” I would give up raspberries immediately.  But satisfying relationships aren’t like a food you can give up and replace with other nutrients.  I don’t know about you, but I feel that the potential upside of having a great relationship is worth that 50% statistical risk of heartbreak (which is, after all, less final than death).

The folks who say “stay away from ADD” are suggesting that marrying a person with ADD increases your chances of heartbreak.  Certainly, research suggests that people who have ADD are more likely to be in dysfunctional relationships (the jury is out on whether or not they are more likely to divorce – one study says yes, another says no).  But there are other things that add to a person’s likelihood for divorce which these folks aren't mentioning.  When was the last time someone said to you “Don’t marry someone whose parents got divorced!  It increases your chances of heartbreak” or “Don’t marry someone with a family history of depression…”
Statistics are averages.  What is important to you is what will your specific relationship look like?  The people who are saying “stay away from ADD” know nothing about your specific relationship, only their own unsuccessful one.

I would like to give you some questions to ask yourself about your relationship to better assess whether it has a chance of being in the 50% that lasts.  These ideas take ADD into account, as that’s only smart.  But you’ll note that they are also just generally good relationship suggestions...so consider this pre-marriage counseling with an ADD twist.  For this exercise, I will assume that the non-ADD partner is female, and the ADD partner is male.

Do you love him as he is today?  If he never changed a thing, would you cherish being with him?  Or do you secretly wish you could change him?  Too many women fall for the “Beauty and the Beast” myth – that is “if I only love him enough he’ll overcome his faults and we will live happily ever after”.  Reality is quite different.  What you see today is what you will get tomorrow, with one exception, which is…

If he stopped hyperfocusing on you, would you still love him?  People with ADD find courtship so intensely stimulating that they often hyperfocus on their partner.  The recipient of this hyperfocus feels intensely loved and cared for.  But hyperfocus ends – always – and the relationship looks quite different afterwards.  In order to be able to survive that shift, you need to know that you can communicate clearly and safely with each other, and that there is a strong foundation in place – shared values and interests, similar styles in how you live in your home (messy, neat, organized or not), and desire (or lack of it) for a family.  Financial compatibility is also critical (see next question).

What does your financial situation look like?  Do you both have the potential to hold jobs and support the responsibilities of marriage and a family?  Some people with ADD have spotty work track records or are financially impulsive (gambling, lots of debt, etc).  If this is the case with your potential partner, don’t gloss over it.  Addictive behavior and risk-taking are often part of an ADD personality and can be very hard on a marriage (just ask anyone whose husband just gambled away $50,000 or took on significant dbt without her knowledge.)  If you see these characteristics, take a step back and give yourselves enough time before marrying to verify that you will make a financially responsible couple.  Ask yourself how you would feel if you were the sole bread earner for the family.

Are you flexible and ready for adventure?  The best ADD marriages I’ve seen are those in which the non-ADD spouse values flexibility and adventure over perfect organization.  You can be a good organizer (as I am) but you must have the ability to at least tolerate confusion and last minute changes if you are going to live successfully with someone with ADD.

How well do you communicate about difficult or highly emotional issues?  Have you developed healthy ways to work through your differences?  Every marriage has tough conversations and ADD can add even more of these.  If your current way of solving problems together is to put them off, walk away from them, or never resolve them, then you should work hard to develop good communication skills before you tie the knot.  If you have no method of satisfactory conflict resolution (and by that I don't mean one spouse always giving in), rethink your plans.

Does your spouse accept his ADD?  Does he take responsibility for making sure it’s not interfering in his life?  Does he understand that his ADD can affect you?  Most people who accept their ADD and take responsibility for it can manage it so that it will not interfere significantly with their lives.  But a spouse who denies his ADD is trouble.

Call me cautious, but marriage is a bigger, more varied commitment than most who are embarking upon it realize at the time.  Infatuation and our own complex dreams about “happily ever after” cloud our vision about what is arguably one of the most life changing decisions we will ever make.  For everyone, ADD or not, it makes sense to step back and ask some tough questions.  For people who have fallen in love with someone with ADD my advice would be to take your time.  Give yourselves plenty of opportunity to understand what your life will really look like once the hyperfocus has stopped, and once you’ve become familiar with each other.  To do this, you have to be together, unmarried, long enough for the hyperfocus to end.  (You’ll know when it does, for things will feel quite different.)

Once that’s happened, see whether or not your living and communication styles are compatible.  Find out whether or not you love each other for who you are today, not for who you dream you might be.  Determine whether or not you need to separate your finances (and speak with a lawyer about ways to do this, if you need to).  Learn all that you can about each other.  As a couple you have advantages over the people who are saying “don’t marry someone with ADD”, for you know what to look out for related to ADD.  Unlike them, when your husband stops coming to bed with you because he’s distracted by something else you will know enough to talk about it right away as an ADD symptom rather than to take it personally and think he doesn’t love you.

While ADD has disadvantages in a relationship, it also has many advantages that people don’t always attribute to ADD.  To give you some examples – one ADD friend of mine took his fiancé aside 20 years ago and said “I’m pretty impulsive…I can’t guarantee that I won’t have an affair while we are married.  I don’t think I will, but I can’t guarantee it.  Are you still interested in marrying me?”  Who, but an impulsive ADD person would have started that conversation?!  (They’ve been married happily, with a wildly loving family life for 20 years…and no affairs.)

In my own case, my husband’s ability to “live in the moment” and let things be is a wonderful complement to my own desire to “shape” my life around me.  I have learned a great deal from him over the years about “live and let live” and my life has been greatly improved over what I envision it would have been if I had not been under his gentle tutelage.  His compassion for others is another aspect of his ADD personality which I value tremendously.  We both have faults, but our strengths make us greater as a couple than the sum of our parts.

I know numerous other very successful couples with an ADD husband and a non-ADD wife.  In each case she organizes most things and provides the driving force and momentum to the relationship and he contributes much more subtle things – a warmth with the kids, lots of surprises which keep things varied, intensity, breadth of interests and passions.  No marriage is easy, but these marriages are, well, interesting in the most positive way.

Importantly, these marriages all share one thing.  ADD is not the defining element of the relationship.  As you think about whether to marry a person with ADD, think hard about where ADD fits in.  If your partner takes responsibility for his ADD and if you have a strong foundation together, then ADD will likely stay in the healthy position of being just one more aspect of many things that make you a successful couple.  If ADD is already at the forefront of how you interact, then be cautious.


I have been married for six

I have been married for six months and I wish to God that someone HAD warned me about marriage with an ADHD spouse, at least then I would have known what I was getting myself in to.

how long...

...did you date before you got married? Did you know your spouse's ADD characteristics without knowing it was ADD? Just curious.

I dated him for a year before

I dated him for a year before getting married.  In hindsight I see many warning flags that I didn't pick up on at the time but he was very good at hiding and explaining things away.  It wasn't until about six weeks after we got married that reality slapped me in the face.  I was married once before for many years and I fully understand how much work marriage is....however, I had not idea how much work being married to a man with ADHD was.  If I had know I would have insisted on more time to prepare or would have ended the relationship.  I know that sounds selfish, but I have three children to consider and unfortuantely the strain and drain of this relationship affects them in a negative way.

nomorebadhead's picture

hyperfocus is a powerful drug!

I often ask myself if i'd make a different decision if I could roll back time when my wife and i were dating. I Love my ADHD wife but i remember how wonderful it was to be the object of that hyperfocus! powerful stuff. I dont know if I would have the strength to walk away! 

As you rightly say, Melissa,

As you rightly say, Melissa, everything changes once the hyperfocus wears off. One thing that changed for us was that my partner stopped being able to communicate when we faced problems and challenges, so your advice about making sure you as a couple have good methods of resolving conflict in place is only relevant if coupled with your very important piece of advice to not get married until you have spent a good period of time together, unmarried, once the hyperfocus has gone. This is a very important piece of advice, because, as you say, things will look and feel totally different once it has gone, and the big decision to get married should not be contemplated until the non ADHD partner has got a good idea of how things will be without the hyperfocus, and decided they like it enough to want it for the rest of their lives.

I'll second

I'll second that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

marry after hyperfocus

Our courship was fast, whirlwind, unbelieveable. I did not know anything about adhd however my wife has it. I was swept up into her hyperfocus all about me and I was so infatuated. It was indeed a "fairytale". I did not think it would ever end, it was all so perfect. We married within 9 months and 6 months later the hyperfocus ended. I woke up one day and she was gone literally, physically, emotionally, etc. It was like aliens came in thru the night, kidnapped her and left me with an empty shell.......this shell resembled my wife, talked like my wife, moved around like my wife and even dressed like my wife.

I have only learned about adhd and hyperfocus recently on this site and thanks so much. It certainly has helped me understand that I am really ok, healthy, value system in tact, regaining  my self respect and all of it. You see, as I began to ask my wife why everything was so different.............in retrospect, that was another turning point I think. She then totally shut me out of her life and accused and blamed me for our now empty existence spiralling down hill to mediocre roomates.

Three and a half years, three counselors, a pastor and mort fertel later, we are stuck because she is focused on the next event, the next, and so on.

To summarize the hyperfocus stage...........I have to agree with several comments here....if both parties put it all on the table, accept adhd into their lives and plan and follow thru with a joint committment to deal with issues.........more importantly our main problem has been a strong foundation and value system agreed upon and a system to deal with problems effectively so they do not contaminate your marriage and vow never to have un resolved issues. These few items have literally destroyed our marriage to the point it may not be salvaged due to hurts, disappointment, anger and unresolved issues. 

Without a joint understanding and committment after the hyperfocus stage...............it is unlikely all of the great things will be enough to keep you in a marriage. You will become exhausted with chaos, empty promises, lieing, emotional emptiness...i.e., you will be all alone even when your adhd partner is in the same house and same room........our great times ended as quikly as they began.

marry after hyperfocus

We didn't even get that far... we met online and almost immediately he was professing his love to me, our courtship was a whirlwind as well.    A month later he took me to meet his parents in another state and told everyone he wanted to marry me, my parents included. (His parents were wonderful to me but told me some bizarre stories of him while he was growing up, he was diagnosed ADHD and had trouble coping with problems and anger.)  

Because he's in the military and was getting ready to leave for a seven month deployment, I thought he wanted to fix everything with me before he left... and even bought me a ring and proposed to me before he left . He remained attentive and loving through his emails but  when he came back he was a totally different person.  He was not the sweet, attentive and loving man I met before he left.  He came back aggressive, non-attentive, cold, always stuck on the computer playing games and  seemed to be annoyed by me.  That really hurt especially because he and I made arrangements to move in together as soon as he came back from his deployment.  I rented an apartment an hour away from my work right before he came back, we lasted two months and exactly 60 days later he bailed, packed his things and left before I got home from work one day.  I was lost and still distraught over this, we never had a fight while we lived together and I thought everything was okay... yes money was tight but we were still okay.  He completely shut me out of his life and the only response I got from him was an email telling me that he was prepared to take me to small claims court  if I didn't pay my half of the rent to finish off the lease and the reason he left was because he was stressed about not having money to take his kids out.  It was strange because I paid the rent and most of everything he just had to make money for his needs. (Of course his income was close to nothing since he was still giving almost all his check to his exwife and three kids.)   He never told me that money was a big problem until the night before he left, we could have worked it out but instead he just ran and didn't tell me what was wrong. It's been three weeks since he left me and I have been desperately trying to figure out what I did wrong.  Now finding this forum I realized that my only fault was not getting to know him better and reading up more on ADHD.  At least I know that it's not because he is a jerk or because he didn't love me, but when the going got tough the love of my life dropped me like a hot potato due to his disorder.  

I want to thank everyone for their contributions to this site, you have truly helped me get some closure and take one step towards healing. 

Maybe it's you--not them!

I feel so bad for those of you who regret marrying your partner because of their ADD/ADHD. I'm sorry you didn't realize till after you took your vows that you weren't compatible or willing and able to handle and appreciate the characteristics of your spouse.

But, please do not use this wonderful blog to discourage those people out there, planning to wed their partner, from marrying them simply because they have ADD/ADHD. Melissa, can you please post some of the beneficial characteristics of those with ADD/ADHD?

Additionally, I DO think it takes the right kind of person to live with someone with ADD/ADHD....but I also think it takes the right kind of person with ADD/ADHD to live with someone without the disorder. I mean, I know I drive my spouse crazy at times--probably just as often as he does me. However, we knew these things were the qualities that made us unique and have learned some tricks to make life easier and truly enjoyable for the both of us--we put the emphasis on how much I love his ADD/ADHD qualities and he puts emphasis on my non-ADD/ADHD qualities.

It can work---and for those of you who can't believe it--it sounds like you didn't understand the work that marriage takes to begin with.

There is nothing simple about

There is nothing simple about "handling" a partner with ADD/ADHD. I have been married before (widowed-not divorced) and believe me-the difference between a spouse with ADD and one without is enormous. There is no comparison. Arguments are different, issues as a couple are different. I have walked in both of those shoes so I DO IN FACT KNOW!

I resent your assumptions mechelle79

  I really resent your assumption that 1. you have ANY idea of what I, or anyone else here, has to deal with when it comes to being married to our ADD spouses as each and every case is different. 2. that based on your assumptions, implying that the non ADD spouse does not understand the work involved with marriage, or is not working hard enough is extremely judgemental and highly offensive.

fuzzylogic72's picture

thanks mechelle79

I  really appreciate you truth, insight, and equal view on this mechelle; I actually wrote a bigger response down the thread by accident (under "FINALLY! THANK YOU!!!!"). Please read that one; I express more clearly in that one how much of a comfort and encouragement your post was to me. 

Highly offensive imho, is angry cynical people who use this forum as an avenue to berate anyone who has an opinion that might differ with theirs. We don't have to all agree with everyone else, but to invalidate and scold them for expressing themselves is self-righteous and frankly, juvenile. Communication, not instigation is what leads to more positive relations.

The exception to the rule...maybe??

I'm really happy to hear that actually some couples with a partner with ADD can have some sort of functional or rewarding relationship... I don't know if that is a little more like the exception to the rule or not, but maybe as Melissa mentioned, most peaple that join the blog are suffering the really bad and nasty stuff that comes with some or most people with ADD. I don't know if lying and pretending (whith is almost the same thing) is a trade of ADD, but when you are dating and they are hyperfocusing, on top of that most of what you see is pretended and then all that attention is gone and the real person shows up is a big shock, and on top of that the unrealistic view of the world that some ADDers have and in my case, the really bad ethical life style and misunderstood selfrightchousness (sorry for the misspelling) that my husband has, and our romantic idea that love, patiance and good communication will help is the right recipy for disaster and hurt!

arwen's picture

your mileage may vary

Mechelle, I've seen marriages that broke down and no longer worked, despite all the goodwill in the world and committed efforts on the part of both partners, some that involved ADD and others that did not.  Hard work at marriage does not always guarantee its survival.  My almost 35-year marriage to add ADD spouse is working now, but there was a long period of time when it did not, and I can assure you that it was not from a lack of hard work on the marriage.

In my spouse's extended family, all the men have ADD (some are undiagnosed, but it's pretty obvious to those who of us who are familiar with the disorder's characteristics), and they all experience it in their childhood, appear to outgrow it in puberty, then "grow back in" to it around age 40.  Therefore, when I married my husband in his early 20's, he did not exhibit many ADD traits.  He was a little more disorganized than the norm, a little less money-savvy than average, but nothing egregious.  (At that time, he was not diagnosed with ADD -- no one in his extended family was -- our family was the first to identify the disorder.) When he began "growing back in" to ADD 15 years later, he began to be a very different person than the man I married.  Eventually, he became dangerous to himself, our children, and other people around him.  I tried to get him to see the problems and dangers, but he was in denial about them.  It was very much like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde kind of situation -- I'd married the really great guy, and 15-20 years later he morphed into somebody really scary.

No question that my husband and I had had to learn to adjust to each other after we first married.  Sure, we had fights early on.  But we worked things out.  We *did* the hard work that marriage takes.  We understood the need to compromise and tolerate.  We recognized that we had different strengths and weaknesses, but we also understood that these were part of the attractions we had for each other.

After he began to "grow back in" to the ADD, it was a different story.  My husband became less and less willing to see any perspective but his own.  He no longer appreciated my characteristics, and it was hard for me to see anything positive about his increasingly scary behaviors.  We kept trying, but over the next five years things just got worse and worse between us.

Then, finally, I was able to get him to see a doctor and he was diagnosed with ADD.  He got on medication.  He went to counseling.  At one point we were separated for almost a year, and I really thought our marriage might be over.  It took *10 years* of work after his diagnosis before we finally got to a point where our marriage became healthy again.  He had to learn a whole new set of behaviors, and I had to learn how to think differently about my spouse and figure out what he could and couldn't handle.  We *both* became different people than we had been when we married, or even after marriage but before he had "grown back in" to his ADD.  This isn't something I would have chosen to do, but I felt I had to for our children's sakes.  Very frankly, if it hadn't been for our kids, it would not have been worth the sheer misery of those years.

I would never discourage anyone from marrying someone with ADD/ADHD *just* because of this disorder.  I have a daughter whose significant other has ADD, and I don't tell her they shouldn't marry.  He was diagnosed as a youth and his parents seem to have done a great job addressing his ADD behaviors.  But it's disingenuous to pretend that such a marriage does not often present more challenges than the norm -- divorce statistics for families with ADD members back this up -- and it's certainly appropriate for those of us who have experienced these problems to warn others of the *possibilities* of marital problems that stem from ADD (including the potential difficulties of parenting children with the disorder).  My daughter wants to have children, and if she marries her young man, she should go into it with her eyes open, not with her head in the sand!!!  My marriage survived by a whisker, and it could have easily gone the other way.  Yes, *some* partners *can* make it work-- just like in *any* marriage --  and some can't. Not everybody is capable of dealing with the ADD behaviors that sometimes develop later in a relationship.  Not everybody with ADD is capable of dealing effectively with their disorder over time.  Not everybody with an ADD spouse can make the adjustments that may be called for.  This is not a crime, anymore than having ADD is a crime.  It just is.

I'm glad you've got a working relationship, but your experience is just one instance (just as my experience is just one instance, so I don't make any claims that I have the answers to anybody else's problem).  It seems to me that those here who are offering insights and experience, or the people earnestly seeking help (and who in many cases are struggling with behaviors that the ADD partner didn't show before the marriage or that they had no occasion to see) don't need to be patronized.  In my experience, practical encouragement, practical suggestions, are usually of greater benefit than censure or put-downs or preaching.  You obviously have a positive experience with ADD -- you've figured out what works for you and your spouse -- good for you!!  I hope you will share what you have learned -- but perhaps you could extend your tolerance for your spouse to this community at large by suspending judgment on people you hardly know.

fuzzylogic72's picture


In response to mechelle79

Thanks you SOOOO much for saying that! It is clear that you two have been successful because you meet in the middle, and spend your energies looking for workable solutions rather than placing blame and devaluing each other, and focusing on the things you love and appreciate about each other rather than the things that annoy and irritate you and things you want to change about them. Many of the posts on here illustrate that it's not always, and not only the adhd that is responsible for the dissolution of relationships, but it seems to be a very convenient excuse to justify blaming the non adhd person for all the problems in the relationship. I wish there were more people like you in the world; it would give adhders like me more hope that there can be a true and lasting happiness in relationships, rather than just feeling wrong and inadequate, and responsible for every one of our partners unhappy/dissatisfied sentiments all the time.

Sorry for that; I actually just planned on saying "well-said, and thank you"!

6 months in...

I have been dating someone with ADD ADHD now for about 6 months. It's a long distance relationship which adds yet another twist. Relationships are challenging as it is, add long distance and ADD/ADHD to it and ...my, oh my! At the beginning everything was magical, and for the most part it still is, I love this man in a way that I never thought I'd love someone but I am discovering that he borders a bit on the nacissistic side and his ideas of the perfect relationship often involve me making gigantic adjustments and life changes while keeping an EXTREMELY low risk factor on his end. I wonder if this is typical ADD/ADHD behaviour or if its personality specific. I'm entering the end of the "hyperfocus" stage and I'm very happy to have found this post because having very little knowledge of ADD, I aoutomatically started to assume he was slowly "checking out" emotionally and i was starting to put a very high wall to protect myself. Today I considered checking out of the relationship myself. While we are not engaged, he has mentioned that he sees the potential for us to walk down that path, he also wants a family etc... He is very aware of his condition and takes responsibility for it. He's educated on the topic and recognizes some of his behaviours after the fact and is very good at apologizing etc. He was very up-front with me from day one about the over excited stage and how he slowly can lose interest. This very thing has me worried, I see so much of what is posted in this blog in him, the piles of clothes, the lack of organization (I'm a bit of a clean freak, so it works, but I don't want to resent him), the gambling, the sudden change of plans or the sudden, "let's go out" when I've already in my pj's... LOL But overall I worry about their intense need for mental stimulation and impulsive behaviour. How does that reflect on their level of commitment? (by that I mean loyalty) I worry that the sense that he "already has me" because he knows how much I love him, might decrease his interest and make him wonder in search of that stimuly he needs. I have read that ADD/ADHD man, either commit impulsively or have a very difficult time committing at all. My boyfriend is in his late 30's and no real, significant relationship where he actually co-existed with a woman in the same space on the daily basis exists in his past. He has never had someone around every day for what you will consider a healthy period of time. This is terrifying to me!!!! I wonder if he can ever do it at all. I asked him this very question once and he responded: "I don't know" which broke my heart in two and made me want to run and hide. The truth is I love this man with every once of me and I pray every night for patience and understanding. He has swept me of my feet with his "hyperfocus" and he is by far the most geniune, giving, loving and magical person I've ever known. His ADD gives him amazing charateristics that I find absolutely fascinating, he is incredibly smart, driven, spontaneous, vibrant and fun loving. He truly loves life and makes a huge effort every day to become an even better man. I love him, I want to keep loving him because he is worth it. All I need to know is, how do you continue on this journey when you are not getting the re-assurance you need from him? How do you know if he is distracted or simply no longer interested...? I see myself with him, but his "hyperfocus" has worn off and he says sometimes (when I tell him how I feel), he doesn't feel it "YET" or "Right now"... on the same token a day or two later, he comes out the blue with words that would make you think he's crazy in love. Ugh!!! So confusing!!! Did any of you experience this? Or should I accept this and believe we may have come to the end of the roller coaster ride (hyperfocus) and he may have already checked out.. Is this normall behaviour for ADD man or should I go with my instincts and check out before it's even more painful? Any comments will help tremendously.

to anon dating ADD man

First let me say that is a very positive thing that your boyfriend seems so self aware!  That is more than half the battle.  I understand the very serious concerns you have expressed and all I can say is WAIT.  Wait as long as possible before making that final committment.  I believe you should see how the "hyperfocus wear off" impacts your relationship and make your decision from there.  Every relationship is different.  Only you can decide what you will accept.  Keep reading all you can in books about relationships and ADD.  Read the posts on here from those of us who walk in those shoes every single day.   I wish, I wish so much that I knew ahead of time what I was getting into.  My husband wasn't formally diagnosed until 2 years into our marriage.  I knew way before that.  What I didn't know about ADD was how it effects adults and their ability to interact in relationships.  The hyperfocus ended after we were married for half a year and WOW is there a difference in our relationship !   All I am going to say is something that someone already wrote on here and it is so true....Make an INFORMED decision!  Wait before making a legal and spiritual committment. 

All my best.  Keep us updated..

Thank you!

Thank you both Steph and the poster immediately below. I can't tell you girls happy I am to have found this site. I actually slept a full night last night after unloading all my concerns here. God presents us all with challenges that we can handle, we either do or we "choose" not to handle them... I guess at the end of the day, love makes it worth at least trying and giving it your best. (or at least the best you have to give that day.) I agree with you Steph, the fact that he is so aware and pays so much attention to his action is a blessing. The man is a rare find, an outstanding person with a high level of integrity. I love him and with God's blessing and this website, I hope in my heart that I can hang on and we can make it trough the long distance, the ADD, the recession, the missed calls because we are both busy and the blah tasting TV dinners at the end of the day, wishing we were in each other's company instead. So waiting it is I gues... I have to see what it's like to date him without the intense courtship and make sure I can stay interested too without the big production he put up at the beggining. LOL It's easy to get spoiled and assume he no longer loves you when that stops, but I'm learning via this advice and books and research and I guess, I need to make a lot of adjsutments myself. I shouldn't expect the beggining stage to last forever, ADD or not, it never does in any type of relationship right? So evolve and grow we must... HERE WE GO. :) Again, thanks for the amazing and comforting advice. Blessings to everyone.

Ther is no rush!!!

You reminde me so much of me when I was dating, with the difference that nobady new or suspected ADD, his parents kept on asking me if I had seen him mad... but he was the swetest, most marvellous man I had ever met, so, commited to his faith, thanks to him I embraced my faith so much more, and as you say, God won't give you a challenge you can't handel... but is it really God's will... is really that his plan for you??? that question torments my head and my soul from time to time, what I'm certaint is that God won't leave you alone once YOU take the challenge. Keep a very close eye on the gambling or any addiction since they tend to obsses about thing or get addicted to substances. I knew there was some gambling issues a few months before our wedding, and I prayed a lot to be able to make the right decision...so far I'm almost certain I made the wrong one. He promised never to gamble again and seek treatment, just last year, out of the blue, with mor than 6 years without gambling and 4 young children gamble our lives away getting a debt of 100's of thousands, ADD is not joke, there are too many surprises thant are completly out of your hands!, the only thing is in your hands is what you do with this info and the rest of your life... so far for me it's been my worst nightmare for the las 3 years... but the problems started within weeks of being married, I dated for almost 2 years including engagement and part of that was long distance with 5 or 6 months twice living in the same city and spending lots, lots, lots of time together.... We were soooo in love, he was sooo wondelfull, not any more.... but we didn't know!

The hyperfocus ended rather

The hyperfocus ended rather quickly after we got married, also now that this issue has been brought up.  In my case, it was 27 years ago, ADHD was unheard of and I just thought I had hooked up with the biggest jerk on the face of this earth.  It has been a very different relationship to say the least!!  We have for the most part, lead seperate lives for most of our marriage.  Me in the real world, him in the fantasy world.  It wasn't until he was diagnosed approx. 2 years ago and our reading and research began, that we discovered why our relationship was different.  It has caused a great deal of pain for both of us.  Real World vs Fantasy World but we are trying.  It's tough to change after so many years.  Hopefully we will have the patience to endure.  I cannot lie, I wish "I" would have known ahead of time what I was getting into, also.  I can only assume GOD has me here for a reason and I remind myself of that every day!!! 

6 months in #2

It sounds as if there are many wonderful things that your man offers - how many people say things like "he is by far the most genuine, giving, loving and magical person I have ever known" and the rest?!  Fabulous!

It also sounds as if he's honest.  When you ask the question about whether or not he knows he can live with someone (you) his response was an honest one - he genuinely doesn't know, and doesn't sound like he has any experience with it, either.  Though it is heartbreaking to hear those words, I personally would prefer them to having him bow to the pressure of the situation to say the "right" thing, rather than the honest thing.

I would suggest you consider living together for a long period of time before actually getting married.  One reader at this site suggested 5 years...I would suggest a minimum of two.  You'll find out whether or not his going back and forth is an issue, and whether or not you are ultimately compatible.  From your post it's unclear whether or not your fears are actually adding to the instability of your situation, or whether it is truly unstable.  After all, you've only been dating for 6 months - lots of folks take a lot longer than that to commit.  (My father told my mother he loved her, then changed his mind the following week, then again...back and forth and back and forth even after they were engaged until she finally threw the ring at him...but they ended up happily married until her death just shortly before their 50th wedding anniversary).

As you assess your partner's comments, remember that the lives more in the present than you do.  So he might feel great one day and not so great another...but overall might feel great.  If this is his "pattern", could you deal with it over the long term as the issues change? (i.e. "I'm ready to buy a house, I'm not ready to buy a house..." and "I want to have kids, I don't want to have kids"...)

Is there anything you can do to relieve your anxiety a bit so that you can start enjoying yourself again? 

6 months in #2 .. response

Melissa, the story about your parents is just incredible. It really warmed up my heart.

I want to thank you for this space, you have no idea how much this helps people. I have no one else to talk to about this, no one I know understands it.

As for your questions, yes, I am absolutely certain that my fears are affecting us, as you can see I'm a wreck, I make my fears known, I've told him these things worry me. He noticed before we broke up that my "walls" were up and that I was being guarded.

I posted more below on the other responses too.. I'd love your feedback.

Is this inconsistancy typical with ADD?? to this level???

Thanks Melissa, God bless you for your work on this site!

I've been dating this guy ( 2

I've been dating this guy ( 2 mths) with ADHD, which he admitted , and saw a doctor for. It's now that I know you call it hyperfocus. I just thought he was crazy about me. But the more that I read about ADHD , I can see that the stuff he was doing , was just part of it. We have a long-distance relationship, atleast that was what he said we were having before he left. Now we communicate with e-mails, but not very often. I'm not sure if this is a personality thing or the ADHD. I mean, he's been married and divorced thrice, and has 2 teenagers. He's about a decade older. He's also abused drugs and alcohol. But he's  been holding a well-paid stable job, for almost 11 years. When he was posted here for 2 weeks, he used to come up to my table and bang on it. I thought it was his way of filrting. Now, it could have been the ADHD, cos my collegues weren't too fond of it. Before he left about 2 weeks ago, he wanted to meet up with my family, and get married and move to my home country. He was asking me to check on the visas and all. Even schools for his son.  Now in our e-mails, there's no mention of that. I'm not sure if he still loves me , or I was just a passing cloud for him. I am starting to fall in love with him, cos he's got some good factors. He's sweet and compassioante to his fellow workers.Of course, this is what I've seen. Should I hold on, and keep sending him e-mails on a weekly basis or , just forget him completely. My friends don't understand ,and keep saying he's not worth it. I don't want to get married tomorrow, but I would like the oppurtunity to get to know him better .We could still be friends. It doesn't help that he's of a different nationality . He works offshore, so Internet and phone services may be on and off.I could really use some practical advice.

I need some advice

I'm confused as to hold on, if he's not responding to my e-mails. If nothing , we can be friends. Though I like him. Will he think I'm being clingy, but with the ADHD, I don't want him to forget, or lose interest .It's hard tht he's offshore, and will go back to his home country after his shift. Any advice, Melissa ?


As a married person with

As a married person with ADHD, I would encourage couples that are mixed (one non/one ADHD) to cohabitate for a lengthy period before marriage. My recently wed husband and I lived together for 5 years, and I think if we hadn't we would have quickly gotten divorced. I would have warned him, but it was my first serious relationship, and although I knew that I did have ADHD, I had no idea how it would impact that arena of my life. Though trial and error, he has learned what it is like living with an ADHD person, and I strive to be thoughtful and considerate of him. (Though he's not above poking me with a pencil in mid conversation to make sure that I know the computer will be there when he's done talking to me. ;) Talking about it, and describing it is helpful, but I really don't think anybody can understand the strange dynamics that appear until they live through them.

Living with someone with ADD

I have been cohabitating with my fiance for 6 years. He has ADD and has trouble with his temper and compulsive behavior. He also suffers from a macular (eye) defect that renders him legaly blind which also adds to his frustration. I had often thought that the things he does on impulse were done to hurt me, or someother reason that i couldn't think of. After researching ADD in adults i am starting to understand that it is due to his ADD and not him as a person. He is so difficult to live with, but I couldn't live without him.

Would I have made a different

Would I have made a different choice ? 
We've been married for 33  years and my husband's ADHD was only diagnosed 6 years ago.   I saw things in my husband's behavior and just had  no CLUE  how they would impact us .

I love my husband and I don't think I would  have made a different choice so long ago.  I believe in change and growth... silly me!
We talked long and hard about what we wanted for ourselves as a couple and what we envisioned for our future. 
I believe I made the best choice at the time. 

I don't believe that ADHD  should be the driving force in our marriage but at the moment,  it is. 

I feel lost and hopeless in dealing with the challenges that face me.

I do hope to find some help here!

Different choice

I also believed I made the best choice at the time 11 years ago...I have been regretting my decision to marry my husband for the past 5-6 years.  I did not go into the marriage knowing he had ADD.  He was diagnosed 4 years ago when our oldest son was.  When he was diagnosed, I felt relieved and thought we could finally get somewhere as a couple-if we had a name for the problem, maybe we could find a solution.  I have paid dearly for my naivity.  My marriage is profoundly unhappy and my husband is currently unwilling to seek help.   I often wonder how different my life would be if I would have said "no."  If I had to do it over again, I would not have married him.  Harsh as that may seem, I feel so deflated and empty after putting so much into our marriage and receiving so little in return.  I'm not sure if we actually have a marriage-it seems more like I'm a parent than a spouse.  Our life together is not healthy and I worry greatly about the impact our deficiencies will and are having on our 2 children.

I understand

at a loss,


I understand completely!!!!!! I was sure that I was informed and not going to make the mistakes that my birth family had when I married. But I had no idea that the ADHD man that swept me off my feet would turn my life back into a nightmare much too similar to one I had grown up with in an emotionally and physically abusive home with an alcoholic step father. While I was an honor student and considered attractive, I was a pretty insecure 27 year old when I married. I realized many years later, as I was making the decision to leave the marriage, that it started out as a co-dependent relationship - he was the taker and I was the caretaker. As I gained maturity and self-awareness, I continued to attempt to understand why our relationship had no depth and was very stressful and unfulfilling. Once my son, our 2nd child, was struggling in second grade I  was shown the pattern of his academics and behavior and it was suggested that he be evaluated for ADHD. I was very protective and confused. But I continued to seek help, evaluations and to learn about what was going on with my son.

Of course, like you, I had no idea about ADHD 26 years ago. I had no idea of the insecurity and anger that existed in the person I married due to his growing up feeling stupid, lazy, and out of control and labeled a poor student. I knew that he had struggled in school, but on his second attempt at college got a tutor and conquered the math. I thought that was an amazing accomplishment. I had no idea how deep seated the problems were. Not something under his control or even in his conscious understanding. It is something that is deeply seated in his psyche as well as his frontal lobe.

I had not been married long before I knew that we were not forming a strong emotional connection. He would wake up at night and run yelling from the house at the neighbors dog that was barking and frequently shoot BB's at the noise maker. I could not understand how he got so worked up over something I had not even heard. He was pretty demanding about physical intimacy in a manner that he liked with no consideration for my feelings. I, of course, began to with draw and he began to get angry.

He quit his first job within months of our marriage because he was bored. He was pressured into quitting his second job within a few years due to conflicts with people within the organization. The owner brought in a psychologist and the only thing I heard was that my former spouse was "impulsive". I  chalked it up to finding the right place of employment for him. He angrily fumed about having a house and how it tied him down. We had been married a little over two years and had an infant daughter. I was shocked that having a home and maintaining it was not a source of pride and security for our family. I also remember feeling surprised and hurt when our daughter was born, he took time off to be home. Yet, he was never in the house talking or bonding with us. He always had to be working on something. He would come in, eat, and fall asleep - never really connecting with me or our new baby. (HYPERACTIVITY)

Amazingly, his mother was giving me an inadventent warning when she came to visit at the birth of my daughter. I remember her telling me how difficult my spouse had been to raise. I will see through the years that this was a very high conflict relationship. Even into adulthood, there was constant conflict between spouse and his family. It was extremely uncomfortable when we visited there. At first I thought his mother was just awful. But as I learned the family history and my spouse's history from friends and other family members, I began to understand what the family had to deal with for years with no knowledge or skills to guide them. My spouse was an angry defensive child having to deal with the inability to control his hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentive behaviors that embarrassed his traditional family and put him frequent trouble with teachers and peers.

After the second job loss, he took a job half way across the country because he felt that he could not get another one in the same state. While he was gone, I remember feeling more relief than anything else. I considered at that point leaving with my infant daughter. I should have trusted my instincts. But it would be years,yet, of trying to figure out why I felt like I was in a relationship alone.(INATTENTION AND LACK OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS )

After the move cross county, he would eventually be fired from his job. He would take another job for less than a year. He quit that one. The third job in that area he was eventually forced out before he was fired. All this time I was trying to keep some stability in the home for my children. I had always wanted a stable, loving home more than anything. To give my children what I had never had. I was using my small inheritance to keep the bills paid, my children in parocial school, and my spouse in those impulsive vacations that "he deserved because he made so much money". Of course, it seemed kind of fun at first until the children began to miss activites they loved because their dad needed to "get away" frequently to cope and the unplanned trips created a huge stress on our budget. (IMPULSIVITY AND LACK OF ATTENTION TO DETAILS)

I began trying to involve him in the budgeting. He never had the interest or patience to work with me. His excuse was that he made so much money that he should be able to do whatever he wanted. It was extremely frustrating with him only acknowledging the income and refusing to be aware of the expenses - except to occasionally make some grand gesture to refinance the house or take a huge sum out of retirement for a temporary fix.

After the third job loss in our second location, he had to move across the country once again to feel that he could be employed. I was now homeschooling my two older children (because my spouse was unwilling to accept that my middle child had ADHD difficulties - he told my son's second grade teacher "I was just like that when I was a kid". So I guess, if he had to accept and understand his son then he would have to accept that about himself as well since "he was just like that". So I undertook, homeschooling my children and caring for a new infant son. Their dad moved across country to take another job while I schooled the children, kept up with the busy activity schedule, got the house ready for sale and marketed it myself in a depressed market to attempt to get out of the house without paying to do it. A second mortagage and a depressed real estate market made selling a losing propisition.(AVOIDANCE AND INABILITY TO SEE REPETITIVE PATTERN DETAILS)

We eventually sell the house, barely getting out without a loss and move across the country yet again. We are living in a neighborhood of fairly high crime, very different from the cosy family neighborhood that we came from. My children & I were homeschooling and felt like prisoners in our own rental. I have found a doctor that specializes in children's learning challenges through our pediatrician. My older son is confirmed with ADHD which I have fully realized as I tried to keep him focused on school work at home! His dad is still in denial about my son and himself. He takes a second job in an ice hockey ring supply store. His way of avoiding the family difficulties.

Six months after we have sold our home and moved across country yet again he has lost his job. I have now begun to seek counseling for us. As I have learned about my son's challenges, I also have begun to learn more about adult ADHD. My inheritance is almost gone and my spouse is unemployed. I find a community couseling service, supported by the local churches, that will take us on a sliding scale according to income. I see the counselor, my spouse goes with me once and once by himself. He then informs that he will not continue. It is my problem, not his, and if I want to continue that is fine but he will not.

He eventually gets another job and we buy a house. One month after we buy the house the office he works for is closed. He tries but feels like he cannot get another job in this area. Some employers now have preemployment testing. He is told that "the company does not hire people like him" when he calls to follow up after testing. Eventually, he is taken on at a different office in another state by his last employer.

Once he moves away, the relationship grows increasingly distant as I try to support my daughter in high school and begin the college search and preparation process. My older son is struggling in middle school as I have finally realized that I cannot no longer be an at home mom and depend on my spouse. I have him enrolled in an excellent but expensive tutoring program specifically focused on children with learning challenges. (This center has been recommended to me by my son's doctor that treats only children with learning challenges - the director had previously worked in his clinic.) My youngest son is now going through evaluations at school. He has struggled in kindergarten and first grade. After two years of evaluations, it is confirmed that he has processing delays. I have him working with a reading specialist, that is also his Title I teacher at his school. Also rather expensive, but it seems like a good fit and my son likes her.

During this time, when X returns home to visit, he is surley, difficult, and has begun to scream at me in public. I continue to leave books and literature around the house, hoping that he will read about ADHD. I hope that if he is willing to understand and support our son that maybe he will begin to see some similarities. He completely shuts me out when I attempt to talk to him about the boys academic struggles and what is going on. He believes that if he shouts, threatens, and manipulates them with material things they will apply themselves and be fine. Ironically, just the way he was treated by his school teacher mother when he complained that being chased around the house with a belt did not teach him a thing or help him!?

I do not understand his refusal to support his sons in their struggles, learn what is going on with them, and do whatever we can to help them be successful. I have continued to seek ways to get help for our family. I have found a marital workshop through the church. It is a weekend with 7 followup weeknight workshops. I continue to attempt to express my exhaustion with our lack of ability to communicate effectively and resolve conflict in a positive manner. He continues to fly off the handle when I express any opinion that is not in complete agreement with his. He decides that he is going to punish me and files for divorce.

Though I am deeply hurt, I keep trying to talk to him about counseling for the family. He finally agrees to go to the church workshop. We go to the weekend session. I am very touched by the couples from years before that have returned to tell their stories of healing to those currently struggling. It is an exhausting weekend where he tries to be on his best behavior and shows up at meetings. We complete exercises, but still there is no real connection being made. It seems that he is going through the motions to appease me, but sees no real value in it.

He is working out of town so I go to all the follow-up meetings by myself. I complete the workbooks, but he refuses discuss the follow-up meeting or complete the exercises together. He keeps himself busy around the house. He has decided that he is taking a job, once again back across the country where we lived when the boys were born. We are to sell the house and move yet once again.

I am completely exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually now. I try talking to the church pastor. He agrees to have a counselign meeting with us. My X returns to the house only to start an argument about how he loves the military and I just don't understand how important that is to him (he was in USMC for 6 years long before I met him). He storms out of the house yelling to the children very derogatory remarks about me and throws his suit case in his car and screeches out. Thus effectively, avoiding the meeting with the church pastor. He moves across country to another job.

I know at this point that I have reached the end of my rope. I cannot hold a family together by myself. I sign up for a class at the community college, Women in Transition, to help women through major life changes with classes, group and individual support. I have to finally accept that this is an unhealthy relationship for me and that my spouse is not able to get the help we need to survive as a family. I file for divorce.

My counselor asks me what I want to do now.  I am looking forward to some serenity in my life, raising my children in a peaceful environment, and pursuing some of my personal goals. I want to do what I have been waiting 20 years to do - return to school. I am interested in advanced studies in a number of fields and have narrowed my interests to communications, several fields of psychology and the enough legal knowledge to fight for changes to help families.

I have no idea that the emotional abuse from my spouse's anger has only just begun.........

Unfortuantely this has become more a cathartic retelling than a comment.  I apologize if you have actually read this far for going into such detail. But if it helps you understand that you are not alone and completely understood, the time was not wasted.

I offer you my prayers and hopes to find some peace and connection in a healthy relationship. I too worry about the impact that it has on my children. I can only hope that it will be a springboard for discussion and understanding for future generations.




Unfortunately, this understanding was not clear until  after years of dealing with the defensive, irritable, inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, and eventually angry agressive  behaviors that destroys or prevents healthy mutually supportive relationships.

6 Months in... continued

Ok, so you know that little voice inside that people always say you should listen to???

Well, we ended up breaking up after all. I really was in this for the long run and it is just debastating.

I did some research and found him to match a good number of the "trigger" signs of infidelity.  The sudden lack of interest, deffesiveness, the "I have to work on myself" talk..
I asked him if he was seeing anyone (remember we are in long distance situation) and of course he said he is not interested in any other woman, he doesn't want to date anyone else... and he doesn't want to lose me. I believed it for about 30 minutes, but the more I go through the conversation in my head, the more I realize it's all there in front of me. I honestly don't know what to do. I know that this is a difficult condition, that this is a difficult situation but I also know how much I'm worth and I just can't bare the thought of being with someone that could've potentially done this to me.

I feel stupid for staying this long, I should've known when the "hyperfocus" wore off.. I worried that he would find someone else to "hyperfocus" on and now, I am almost certain he did. It's heart breaking.

This disorder is literally destroying me inside and my life. Even as we were breaking up he was still talking about "our future" and how he wanted a life together. Yet when I was literally breaking down he was so cold.

For all the newbies out there, let me put it to you this way: He went from Full blown move in w/me right away, to move here (not w/me), to move, don't move, we'll figure it out, to move and I will "date" you...not as boyfriend girlfriend... (see you from time to time he said)...

HONESTLY who do you think you are you narcissistic, self centered jerk!!!!!!!!
(Sorry.. I had to vent for a sec..)
What makes anyone think (ADD or not) that you can come in to someone else's life and make this kind of mess??? to play with people's feelings this way????? I absolutely detest myself for ever believing him! I'm so dissapointed!

Ugh!!!!!!  See what I mean now when I said he wanted me to do all of the work so it would involve NO RISK for him?

Help please. I feel like chaning my # and moving even further away. Part of me never wants to hear his voice again and a little side of me feels it's unfair because I don't really know for sure that he did such a thing.
I mean at what point do you count your losses??? Is there any hope here????
I am literally struggling to figure out if this is just him or if any of this has to do with the ADD?

If there is anyone here that knows how to cope with this I'd love to hear your thoughs.  What should I expect as far as behaviours from him now that we are broken up? Should I be scared?


6 months in

You haven't confirmed an affair, but it strikes me that your issue is really that he seems to have lost interest, and how that makes you feel.  Once you get to "see you from time to time" then it's time to move on.  If he's interested enough to return, then he will.  Doesn't sound as if you need to change your phone number, though, unless he starts to harass you.

Don't detest yourself over this.  Many, many relationships don't work out after the initial thrill is gone.  Consider yourself lucky that you have been able to learn that perhaps it wasn't such a great "fit" after all.

6 months in...

Melissa, I appreciate your words and your advice. The thing is, sometimes the fact that someone is "into" someone else is obvious...   I don't know any other reason for a man to go from "move in with me now" to if you move across the world so that we can be together finally, and "I will like to see you from time to time".  

Yes, move on is right. I can't and refuse to sit around for anyone who treats me that way. I don't know any girls as good and as incredibly loyals as I am and I honestly don't deserve this.

I'm firm on my idea of walking, I asked him not to contact me at all because it was just too painful, he did ok for a few days. This hurts too much, I am not a selfish person AT ALL, but I really am having a hard time understanding at what point do you cross the line between the ADD and simply a very selfish and self-centered man????

How can you ask someone to move and leave their whole life behind for you just so you have convenience to see me when you feel like it????


The more I read about this, the more painful it gets. I think that at the end of the day, they are all man and unfortunately some thake advantage of the ADD and use it as an easy excuse and a way out for cheating and irresponsibility and taking back what you said to get what you wanted. How can you not realize you are causing such great pain to someone that loves you???

And for the first post (up top) yes, he is an incredible person, if he didn't have these issues he really truly would be perfect. I can't even listen to his voice on the phone because I completely break down and start crying. He says he loves me, but I really just can't believe him. He's too inconsistant.

I don't know what to do other than run from this.

I'm so sad and so lost because of all this. I honestly don't know what to do.

to ADDlove

We sometimes imagine that someone is perfect for us...when they really aren't.  You can wish that "he didn't have these issues" but the fact of the matter is that he does - whatever "these issues" are.  When you marry someone you get the whole package...and at this point the whole package is just way too painful for you to manage.  It's fine to date someone about whom you have doubts...but you should never marry someone about whom you have doubts.  (Which isn't to say you should be starry eyed - rather, understand and love someone warts and all...)

You are doing great - even though it doesn't feel that way.  Keep reaching out for support from friends, those here at the blog, whomever.  We've all been in these positions at one point or another.  Maybe he'll see what you need and finally figure out how to give it to you.  Maybe not. Be as strong as you can in this, and maybe pamper yourself a bit if you can.  Then, as Ned Hallowell likes to say, ask yourself "what do I want this pain to turn into?"

RE: 6 Months in... continued

I'm an ADDer who has behaved like your boyfriend in the past. Of course I agree that its best for you to leave a relationship where you feel neglected and not respected. I just wanted to say that perhaps the way he let you down wasn't all dishonesty and lack of real feelings. I know in past relationships, I gave the woman the idea that we were totally on the same wavelength - after all, a good committed relationship was something I'd long dreamed of myself. But as things progressed, and it was time to make dreams into reality, I drew back and avoided. Building a life together would mean that she would have to be able to depend on me, and I'd never even been able to depend on myself. I felt overwhelmed by pressure -a sort of "performance anxiety". I could talk the talk, but could I walk the walk? In short I was scared, and felt guilty for letting her down - especially after maybe leading her on to begin with. But I never intentionally misled her. The feelings were entirely real, but from my own life I was not used to expecting "follow through", and when it came to that point I felt totally unprepared and just bewildered. Come to think of it, a number of my relationships have been long-distance. I never thought about it, but I guess that it is a natural trap to fall into, good at first, but where the ADDer feels expectations are lower, and for the other they get higher as implicit promises are made.

That was then...

As an aside, I've now been living with my girlfriend for two years, and we are engaged to be married. Before that we had a long-distance relationship! She finally gave up (as I'd been expecting all along, due to past experience, which probably explains why I'd often go into relationships with such low expectations). But this time, for the first time, I fought for her and for the chance at the future we could have. I am sure this is only because I was finally diagnosed with ADD a few years ago, and started treatment, and I began to realize that maybe there was hope for me to change, and that it was worth trying. Before I felt hopeless. I was not happy with the state of my life and my relationships, but I couldn't seem to affect the outcome no matter how hard I tried. It just seemed inevitable that they would end in failure, and guilt, and disappointment. Today I still wake up some nights in a cold sweat wondering if I can really do it and be as responsible as I need to, and want to be. But as I understand better the problems that are in my way, and learn to counteract them, and take note of my small successes, I'm optimistic. I'm still scared to death, but I'm not giving up - and I'm not going back . I'm no longer resigned to failure and unfullfilled dreams, but finally ready to sieze the future - one day at a time. (Does that sound overdramatic? I guess this fear is something we try to deny exists through fatalism, and lowered expectations, and it really is powerful when you acknowledge and accept it, and then decide that it won't stand in your way.) Good luck to all, and even when you are not feeling too optimistic about the outcome, please keep it in mind to keep trying, because the status quo isn't working anyway, and more importantly- even if its an uphill battle, your life is worth the effort.

I have just recently gone

I have just recently gone through a situation exactly the same as what you have been describing here. We dated for almost a year and talked about our future together at the beginning of the relationship but as time went on he started pulling away. I know my insecurities and fears did not help the situation and maybe we never were meant to be together. He started seeing someone else right away and I really believe it was just looking for that excitement with a person who doesn't expect anything from him yet. My question is how did you come to recognize the way you had been behaving and begin to change? I think all of this information fits him to a tee and I really would like to share it because I don't think he recognizes it. He is a wonderful, strong Christian man and it hurts me to see him so frustrated with himself and acting this way...but I still don't know that it's a good idea to try to share this with him..????

Well as you can see from my

Well as you can see from my post below, I'm still only just beginning to change, more than I've realised. Although I'm more aware of my own issues, I still have a long way to go in changing the patterns of how I relate and show myself to others. I guess that is the main starting point in changing to realise that it is patterns and behavior that can be changed. It's hard to see that if your ADD is undiagnosed. I struggled for so many years and felt hopeless and a failure. I thought that my problem was me, and that only if I was a completely different person could I be successful. I entered therapy and was treated for depression, but to no real effect as in hindsight that was only a symptom. Eventually my (really good and caring) therapist began to study ADD in relation to other patients and then discovered how it could apply to me. Funny, but I was resistant at first because it seemed such a minor thing compared to the innate defect of character I was sure was ruining my life. Then I must say I went through a phase of being even more depressed and angry that I had been beating my head against the wall to no effect for so long. But in the end I was so lucky to learn that the problem wasn't "me." The challenge was ADD and there were concrete ways to attack the mental stumbling blocks, and medication to help allow me to focus on following through with changes. I guess when I could start to see more the cause, I was ready to acknowledge the effects of my counter-productive behavior patterns. Not sure if its clear, but only when I didn't blame myself as the problem, could I see myself as the one that could effect a solution. Yeah, me; it was hard to get myself to believe it. So, I think it mgiht be powerful to discover the possibilty of an ADD connection, but it can be hard to accept at first, especially where you might beat yourself up for falling victim to the stumbling blocks that everyone else seems to hurdle over so easily. But you have to look at it like my therapist suggested to me - adjusting to your ADD with behavioral, and organisation help, and maybe medication, is like treating your vision with eyeglasses. Some might have 20/20, but to need to use that extra help and support is no failure, and only smart in removing the barriers in your way, and proves you can take control of your life. Concretely, I don't know the best way if you'd like to share your insight with him. Maybe you could somehow get him to read a book like Dr. Hallowell's on adult ADD. I know it struck a chord with me, and was powerful when I could identify with the cases of others and recognize so much of my own experience. Made me hopeful to see how people were able to make the changes they wanted so much after they had insight and tools to work with. I suppose the main thing is that it has to come across not as "you have a problem", but rather that "you have real concrete tools available." And that in these stories of talented, capable people who made great changes in their lives, you were reminded of him, but what does he think? But I think it would be great if he could somehow be helped to come to that "aha! moment" himself, rather than feel defensive or resentful if he feels someone is offering an unsolicited diagnosis. Well, i'm sure others here will come up with better and clearer ideas, because I think that your theme of how to reach out to someone who has these struggles is a very important topic. You show great compassion. Good luck.

That was then.... response.

This literally made me cry. How I wish I knew if this what's happening in his head!

I appreciate you sharing this with everyone. It takes a lot to do that.

I think what hurts me the most is that I want to be there for him, I want to hang on, but it's so incredibly difficult without feeling like i'm giving up part of my dignity because I'd be settling for a treatment that I find unfair.

If we are going to be this honest, I'll say it: I feel like if I go back, I'd be hanging around like a puppy when I know that person doesn't really want me there. I don't know that there is anything more hurtful. I'm an attractive girl (people say, personally I don't see what the big deal is but anyway)  and I get approached by man everywhere I go. It's heart breaking when anyone out there would love to have a chance to be with you but the one person you love doesn't feel you are worth the effort and try just a bit harder. It's very very hurtful.


Maybe the best way is to just walk away after all, I can't figure this out, I have no desire to sit at home and cry anymore. I wish I knew what helped your girlfriend deal with all this, how does she cope?

Thank you so much for your words!





6 months in.. continued- Response to response :)

Your post makes so much sense to me. His longest relationship prior to me was in fact a long distance one. That one being the most lengthy/significant one in his life so far but then again.. he never saw her!

Is there hope here???

How do I know that the reason he's pulling away is because of the things you are saying or simply because he's being a typical selfish man and he's out there fooling around with other girls and his interest and focus is elsewhere..?

How do i do this? I really need help here. I have no idea how to navigate this whole thing, I'm in so much pain.



pulling away

does it matter whether or not he's pulling away because he's afraid to commit to you because he is afraid he'll fail, or if he's fooling around with other women?  Either he's committed to you, and willing to show you, or he's not.  Don't make excuses for him - if he's not there for you now while you are dating, he probably won't be there later, either.

Pulling away... To Melissa

Thank you!

This site has been a huge huge help for me for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes, things need to be said without the sugar coating and you did that for me. You are right, I need to not make excuses for him, he is not there for me and the reason is irrelevant. I'm in this relationship too and it's not fair to me.

I guess this is what i needed to hear. Thank you again.

Life will tell in the end, but for now, the best thing for me is to get out of this. This is simply to painful to take and function normally and productively on the daily basis at the same time.

God bless all you girls on this site, that have been able to live with this for so many years. I will walk away from this knowing that i gave it my all and my intentions were pure and honest.

Love is not supposed to hurt like this, it's supposed to make you happy.

That was then...?!

Sorry, just returning to this thread. Previous were my first posts ever on any blog, and it left me somehow exhausted. I did eventually attempt to confirm my site registration and tried for days to sign in. Embarassing that I focused on this rather than posting "not verified", but I guess that shows how I can get wrapped up in extraneous non-productive details, my way of "not seeing the forest for the trees". I have to agree with Melissa, and commend your decision, although begrudgingly as I feel a bit insecure and defensive about my position in my own relationship. From my own recent experience, I imagine that the way for him to show commitment would would have been to be open and honest and share his true feelings, and let you know the full picture of what's going on with him. Alas, I've not been so good with that myself, even now, but all of the comments here have really brought home to me how devasating it is to feel in the dark and unsure about having a true partner commited to a shared future. I have to admit I'm returning here now as I've put my relationship into a crisis. I've been on a ten-day trip to visit family and to tie up some affairs related to my move overseas. Well, it was ten days, until I extended it by a week the night before I was to return home. Of course this was a total shock and more than upsetting to my fiancee. She let me know that this called into question her ability to rely on me, and that shes been wondering for a while if she's wasting her life waiting for things to go on with some sense of security. She admitted that she hasn't broached the subject for a while for fear of making me defensive, and that it's hard do discuss things when I'm very closed up about divulging my issues. This has been a (hopefully) wakeup-call for me, and the comments here reinforce that. I guess I've thought that to make her feel secure I should never appear less than strong and competent, and not admit that sometimes I get tripped up and have trouble meeting my deadlines, and don't let her know about problems until its far too late and she's totally taken unaware and has crushed expectations. I guess the point is that I'm learning that what would make her feel secure would be to admit my struggles so that she could see how I'm working to overcome them for us, and let her into the process as a real partner, rather than pretending to be "perfect" - (and inevitably disappointing her). Well, that's my goal when I return and I know I really have to make a real change there. To clarify, I'm not making any excuses for anyone, especially myself, just because I've been so clueless. (Sorry about this meandering repetitive missive, but I know if I start to edit it, I'll never finish.) Lastly, ADDlove, I'm really impressed with the way you've made a tough decision to be proactive about pursuing your own happiness. All the best in building on this path going forward.

Response to that was then

"I guess the point is that I'm learning that what would make her feel secure would be to admit my struggles so that she could see how I'm working to overcome them for us, and let her into the process as a real partner, rather than pretending to be "perfect" - (and inevitably disappointing her)."


I think it's great that you see that point!  I wish, I wish, I wish I could get my husband to see it too and open up to me.  I think you are on the right track.  Best wishes and good luck!




If you are engaged to someone with ADHD

ARE YOU FLEXIBLE AND READY FOR ADVENTURE? In order to "tolerate confusion and last minute changes" one would have had to actually make some type of plans in the first place. Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changes in plans. If there are no plans, you have no idea of what is going on. How can you just go with the flow if there is no flow? If by being "ready for adventure" you mean the ADD spouse spending every evening watching TV then there's lots of adventure at my house. HOW WELL DO YOU COMMUNICATE ABOUT DIFFICULT OR HIGHLY EMOTIONAL ISSUES? I would say first of all: How well do you communicate - period! Example: I say something to my husband and he responds. He then denies having that conversation. Or better yet he says he really didn't mean what he said. Another Example: My husband thinks he has told me something and becomes upset that I am not able to recall what he hasn't told me. My Favorite Example: My husband says something and I really have no clue what he is talking about because he's either left out essential details or what he says is totally unrelated to the present conversation. I question him for clarity for me and he becomes upset. These are not emotional issues, just everyday conversations that are nearly impossible to carry on. So I've just quit initiating conversation. It's easier. And I know he doesn't care if we talk or not because he's said so. He says he likes things how they are. He's not willing to work on improving our communication. And why would he? He has an organizer, laundress, personal shopper, cook, cleaning person, outside worker, bill payer, chauffeur, etc. Why would he want anything to change? That would require some effort on his part.

Adventures in Babysitting

JAM, You must be my counterpart in another dimension, otherwise, I simply can't explain what my husband is doing on your couch! Absolutely, this article is so sugar-coated, you could pour milk on it and eat if for breakfast! If the idea of being "Pepper Potts with Benefits" is your dream, than this kind of marriage is for you. Except you aren't dealing with the heir of a conglomerate who has infinite funds for hobbies and with a small army to put away his toys and his own skyscraper to put them in. You will be the financier, the maid and the bottle washer, and everything else for this person. Simply put, being married to someone like this is more like "Adventures in Babysitting". It's like "Cougar-town" but instead of a gorgeous Adonis with an XBox in your living-room, it's really a broke old man. This person will "grow-old with you" but not "grow-up with you".  Accept the fact that they won't be helping you plan your vacation, or your finances, or your 401k, or your retirement. They will not pull the extra weight necessary when you go back to school to further your career so hire a maid, etc. They will, in fact, be your children's best friend and equals,  down on the floor playing video games with them all day long while you tell them all to pick up their expletive. How will you feel while he's rolling his eyes at you and telling the kids what a ___ you are? Try telling your children why it's OK for daddy to act a certain way but that they must act their age and show some maturity. Let me just say that when I get mad at my husband, I envision slapping his mother!!! Yes, this marriage may work for some people with infinite patience. Consider this, could you be involved with someone who has Asperger's? Or Down Syndrome? The people I have known with Down Syndrome are very sweet and loving but they live in another world from me, seeing things from a different perspective. Someone needs to be more like a loving caregiver. Is that you? Can you accept that? Is it enough? Or, are you looking for an equal partnership? These are the questions you need to answer beforehand. Be honest.

Thank you Melissa for this

Thank you Melissa for this article.  Many times I've read posts here and wanted to run the other way, but then I look at this man I love and can't imagine allowing this one difference to end the relationship. After only 2 months of dating, I suddenly wondered if he was ADD.  I virtually knew nothing about ADD and for the next 8 months I read at least 20 books and did a ton of research online.  I am completely convinced that this 56 year old man has been crippled relationally and financially because of his undiagnosed ADD.  If I ignore the ADD symptoms, I would have to say that I have found a best friend.  We have so many things in common and have a similar life purpose. 


His hyperfocus has been over for 5 months and I am still in love with him.  To be with my best friend I realize that I must change some of my knee jerk expectations.   The problems that surface are partly because I have not developed the skills I need to interact positively when we have conflict.  One of the areas I need to work on is my tendency to overreact to unrealized expectations.  For instance, a few weeks ago he promised to loan me his car and then broke his promise the very hour I was supposed to use it.  I felt so betrayed and unloved, but I realize now that it was just an ADD impulse to change his plans.   More importantly I learned that I tend to overreact, make some wrong assumptions, and attack verbally rather than have a backup plan and discuss the problem later when I calm down. 


But not all of my expectations should change.  For instance, my biggest concern is financial.  I am divorced, live frugally and can support myself.  I realize that it is very important that I have strong boundaries for my assets and that I cannot enter into any joint accounts, property, or debts with him.  This is just a reality and an area that I do not have to be vulnerable.


So I guess my main point is that there are some areas of my life that will have strong non-negotiable boundaries, but I will also strive to be more flexible and grow in my own self-control.  He has taught me many valuable lessons and if we never marry I will always be grateful to have known such a kind, tenderhearted man.  I know that he has had so much pain because he is unaware of how undiagnosed ADD affects every aspect of his life. 


When I divorced from a nonADD spouse, I learned that I had no boundaries which literally made me feel impotent to do anything about my life.  I had a chronic low grade depression for many years.  I was still able to function but had no deep joy or contentment.  Since then I have realized that I can set any boundary I want as long as I maintain it.  I do not have to live at the whim of someone else's poor decisions. 


I would really hope that the nonADD people reading this blog will take the time to figure out how to strengthen their own boundaries because that is all you really have power to do.  Figure out what kind of life you want and list specific steps how you can get there.   You may very well stay with an ADD spouse but protect and take care of yourself.  My healing came when I took my eyes off my ex and looked inward at the kind of peace and contentment I wanted for myself.  Then I set out to get it.  Now I have joy and contentment that made all the effort worth it. 

If you do it, don't say you weren't warned.

I'm sorry. I'm not going to sugar coat this. I'd say run for the hills. But if you want to marry the add person know that it is a nightmare. It is all fun at first, when your young and carefree. But once you start having to do "adult" things and bring children into the mix it is an absolute nightmare. I'm totally exhausted, I have no joy in my life except for my 2 year old. I want my husband out my face and out of my life. He has caused nothing but complete chaos and aggrivation to me, his parents, my parents and anyone close to him. I have the weight of the world on my shoulders in addition to essentially raising another person. Just having a simple conversation about something as harmless as the weather  is totally exhausted and aggrivating. I hate talking to him, I hate relying on him. I can't believe a word he says. Normal people, you ask them, what color is grass. They say green. My husbands answer, " That grass is really orange, it just looks green because of the red spectrum from the sun hitting it at a 2 degree angle"  Completely made up. His brain just took 5 different things (A commercial he heard on the radio about landscaping a month before, something he flipped through on the Discovery channel that dealt with the Sun that morning, I was wearing an orange shirt at the time, and the fact he saw an red ladybug on the grass at the time the question was asked) and made up a fairy tale.

He can't keep a job. 16 jobs in 7 years. Went to college twice and failed out. Went to trade school and just stopped showing up, got kicked out of the airforce, and has spent his entire life treading water just above drowning. Now he has dragged me into the pond with him and he is standing on my head to keep his above water.

He thinks about nothing before he does it and it always comes back and bits us all in the butt and causes drama! He has gotten us into so many retarded situations because he just goes for 0 - 100 without thinking about it. Of cousre I have to clean up the messes because they screw up my life too.

Unfortunately he is probably the most loving and sincere person I've ever met. And would make a WONDERFUL husband and father if he didn't have this problem.


This woman is trying to sugar coat it with things like, "In each case she organizes most things and provides the driving force and momentum to the relationship and he contributes much more subtle things – a warmth with the kids, lots of surprises which keep things varied, intensity, breadth of interests and passions. "

Which translates into the non-ADD person will have ALL the responsibilities, clean up the mess and chaos that come with all those "surprises" and have to make all the decisions and do all the work  and the ADD person gets to dilly dally around and play.

I walked into this with red flags that in hindsight I should have heeded. And because I believe in marriage as being unbreakable and don't want to create a broken home for my child I'm trying to suffer through this (Yes, its suffering).

IF you getting ready to marry an ADD person just read through this site and try to make your decisions. This is what your life is going to look like.




I'm not sorry, and I'm not

I'm not sorry, and I'm not going to sugar coat this either. You are extrapolating way over the line. I have been a single mother, ADHDer, with all the responsibility. You're also using every possible means to avoid looking at the fact that YOU FAILED too. Your anger, blame and irrationality evidenced by suggesting that ALL people with ADHD are exactly like your husband is coming from a vindictive place. You don't care, you just want to punish everyone with adhd, because "POUT" you failed!. Yes, when a marraige fails it does take two. You could not keep your eye on the ball either. You failed to adjust, you failed to take responsibility for your life and your own happiness. Don't assume everyone will.


My ex doesn't have adhd and when he was irresponsible, when he was self involved I didn't have the luxury of hanging it all on a diagnosis. What I did have was the gruelling pace of working multiple jobs and full responsibility for my children's welfare. I not only survived but so did my children and they are doing very well, as upstanding citizens.

How dare you imply that people with ADHD are all nightmares, who should be lonely and left without relationship. You conveniently ignore that there are many people with ADHD in happy and fulfilling relationships. The blaming it all on ADHD is a red flag too. It means you're in some vortex of pain where you're lashing out and you're lashing out at a lot of people you don't know squat about. I can understand that you refuse to let go of your fantasy marraige and how things "SHOULD" be but that really is your problem and no one elses.

StopInterrupting's picture

Or maybe she's just had

Or maybe she's just had enough.  She was talking about her own personal experiences; she wasn't talking about you and it was you who took it personally.  That's a trait I've come to know well, having lived with an ADD wife for close to 5 years now.  I call it "defensive listening," taking things personally or taking insult when others (i.e., those without ADD) would not.

As for your husband's "irresponsible" behavior, hey, we are all human and we all make mistakes.  However, pointing your finger at the rest of us and saying we make mistakes too is intellectually dishonest.  The issue is not simple human mistakes, the issue is the pervasive chaos created by ADD in others' lives.

I HATE ADD.  I really do. It's a burden, it's an imposition on the rest of us who don't have it who have to pick up the "mess" left by those in their life who do.  It's certainly not something to be "celebrated" and anyone who tells you it is is possibly a masochist.  On the other hand, I love my wife and that's why I stay with her even though I easily hate her at times (e.g., when she's on one of her rages).  But it's a LOT of work and anybody here reading all these posts who is thinking about marrying someone with ADD should think long and hard before plunging into the CHAOS, because that's what it is.  Pure chaos.

Reckless ranting

StopInterrupting, you are misreading the original comment.

She isn't just describing her personal experience. She says "If you want to marry the add person know that it is a nightmare. ... IF you getting ready to marry an ADD person just read through this site and try to make your decisions. This is what your life is going to look like." It is in second person. It is general. It is absolute and unqualified. It is advice that applies to any and all people who might want to marry me. ME. This isn't selectively-defensive listening (which you say is an ADD trait that I must have, too). I'm looking at words on a page. She is using her personal experience to justify warning all potential partners against all people with ADD. End of story. That might not have been her intention, but those are her words.

You had better know every ADD'er in the world before you report all of us to be unmarryable. I have ADD and am horrified by lots of the stories here. Most of these ADD'ers obviously have bigger problems than just ADD anyway. You commenters have written many defenses about how "this is a place to vent to a sympathetic audience." But you're still talking about me when you make it sweeping.

I came here to learn tips and strategies for the day to day in my relationship. That is the professed mission of the site and the focus of the articles. If you are so far beyond hope that the tips don't apply to you, then end the relationship. Don't ruin the conversation for those of us who are still trying. You may need the validation that your rants fish for, but leave me out of it. You don't know me, and you don't know my commitment to managing ADD.

Generalizations are personal to the victim. Don't ask black people to have patience with white supremacists, don't ask gays to have patience with homophobes, and don't ask me to have patience with people who declare ADD'ers to be universally unsuitable partners.

The bitterness some of you commenters have against all ADD'ers is ruining a wonderful resource. I've found so many helpful tips in just two days. Please mind your wording -- and separate the objective and subjective before you project your spouses' bad behavior onto me.


Ginniebean and Ailin both bring good points to this discussion. Throughout these blogs, I read a lot of prejudice, and almost as much blame, directed at the ADDers the authors ‘love’ so much! It is easy for a non-ADDer to pin all their life’s disappointments on the ADDer. Yet, there are countless examples of highly successful ADDers. It is easier for the non-ADDer to characterize ADDers as being defensive listeners rather than take responsibility for their own communication. Examples of scapegoat ADDers go on and on.

These blogs are a great resource for people who are looking for help with ADD – whether they have ADD or care about someone with ADD. As a man with ADD, separated from my wife of nine years, it is discouraging enough to read the well intentioned articles about the impacts ADD has on relationships. No matter how you slice it, both people are in for a lot of hurt, a lot of work and potentially a lot of reward.

However, the vindictive extrapolations and reckless ranting are evidence of the authors’ hate – not advice or assistance. Kudos to Ginniebean and Ailin for providing the counterpoint, and calling out the prejudice. Kudos to the countless non-ADDers who continue to use this resource to help the ADDers they love – and to those who are just plain trying to figure things out.

fuzzylogic72's picture

Ginniebean, Ailin, Jmack

I am so glad you two are here. With a majority of brow-beating non adhd partners who clearly have lost all respect/understanding for their adhd partners (if they had any to begin with) sitting around leaving berating generalizations about those of us with this 'wiring issue', it is important that there are at least a few of us who are genuinely looking for strategies/support and have had enough of the one-sided condemnation to speak up and validate each other, as it seems few people without it seem willing or able to do so. 

With support and understanding,


I agree

I come here to look for ideas in making life with my ADD partner easier, not to bash him or others.  I understand the frustration people feel, I sometimes feel very frustrated and impatient too.  But what I come here for is the voice of the people with ADD and the partners of ADDers who have tips and helpful advice on how to deal with these frustrations, how to communicate better and basically how to make the relationship better.

So please keep writing on this site, it's helpful to many of us.

First two points...I hate

First two points...I hate generalizations and I love my ADHD spouse tremendously! We are working TOGETHER to make our marriage work...both having made much needed changes to get to where we are.

It really irks me to have people who make broad generalizations like "people with ADD are self-centered and incapable of feeing empathy" but at the same time when people come here who are dealing with uncooperative spouses and need to 'vent' a little it really irks me to see people criticize them too...having lived that 'angry, constant need for venting' life for so long...because at the time I couldn't see the writing on the wall. It is SOO easy to see now how I contributed to the unhappiness in the marriage, but when you're smack dab in the middle of it, you just can't. My heart aches for those who are stuck there....I could not imagine being critical of them.

I really do feel compelled to comment on the 'wiring issue' comment. I loved my husband from the minute he asked me to dance, put his arms around me, the first night we met. We just clicked. I had been in a horrible marriage...alcoholic, no sense of responsibility for his family (me and our son)..and this was the first time I'd ever been with anyone who made me feel loved..truly loved. Fast forward 13 years later and I feel that exact same way about him...love and respect him more and more each day. It is the 'in between' part that makes me a little 'bothered' by your seemingly 'simplified' explaination of ADD as a 'wiring issue'. The list of things he has done to hurt me is a long one. Cruising along at 6 months into the marriage, me 3 months pregnant with our daughter, he decided he didn't want the marriage, the baby, etc. Luckily I told him to F-off and never contact me again...he changed his mind eventually and got it together. That was the end of our 'innocent' love and the beginning of my anger, wall building, and not trusting him. Justified? I certainly think so. Drinking, staying out all night long, driving while drunk and hitting mailboxes if he did manage to come home, lying, living beyond  his means even when it meant that it caused me extreme stress and anxiety (how will I pay the bills?), expecting me to get along with his daughter and never being able to see that she didn't WANT to get along with me, humiliating me in front of her by agreeing with her when they both knew she was lying/wrong, making me feel like a monster when I felt I was giving them both all I had left to give, treating our daughter we have together poorly to compensate for the way he felt I treated 'his' daughter poorly...the list goes on and on. I supported him through job changes, always bettering himself each time. I supported him spending time with his friends when none of his friends' wives supported them. Communication was non-exsistant. After several years of this we were both miserable. I decided to try and reach out to him...one last time. He decided he hated me and had an affair. (for the record, years 2-7 of the marriage were fairly uneventful..after we recovered from his one night stand) Personal tragedy struck..his lost his mom, I lost my Daddy..all in the midst of our first separation last fall. I finally started to see what I needed/wanted to change about my life..myself..and I started doing everything I knew how to make those changes. I saw how I took on the mother role, I saw how I tried to control him for fear that if I didn't he would destroy himself and consequently me, our marriage, and our family. I finally saw the role my anger played in things. For six LONG years I didn't...or maybe for six long years I just didn't trust him enough to put myself out there, bare my naked soul to him and admit my faults risking his rejection..or the 'normal' reaction, him using it against me somehow down the road. Genuine admissions of fault were often used later as ammunition to blame any future indiscretion on me...so it wasn't something that came easy. I did, he responded positively, we got into counseling and reconciled and he finally got the diagnosis of ADHD. Throughout it all we remained friends..best friends. I don't know how, but we did. I am not the kind of person who just loves someone when love feels good. I love him unconditionally, but it is really nice to love him and not be hurt beyond all I can imagine by him at the same time. I have hurt him too, I would never deny that.

It is really easy to praise those who don't give up. It is really easy to be critical of those who complain. It is really easy to say ADD is just a 'wiring issue'. It is really easy to be frustrated by generalizations. The respect and understanding can be lost by both parties. I personally have zero respect for any man or woman who has the ADD diagnosis but refuse to see the potential for problems (for themselves and those who love them) and get treatment. I thank God everyday that my husband was open and willing to get treatment. I can't imagine how differently things might be for us if he wasn't. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of others..we HAVE to...in order to help them in their journey to peace.

My whole point is that what you label as a wiring issue has caused me and my children (and my husband) so much pain and devastation that none of us asked for. Had I found this site 2 years ago you would be accusing me of 'brow beating'...and that bothers me. I have weathered the storm and have a willing, loving spouse who is helping rebuild what we nearly destroyed...it TAKES TWO. If I had come here 2 years ago and read things like that, being able to relate at the time, it would have done nothing but added to my already failed sense of self (why can't I make my marriage work? What is wrong with me? Maybe I am the horrible person he and his daughter accuse me of being even though I get along with others just fine"). Please consider how helpful you could be to the 'brow beaters' of the site by offering your input. Just sayin.


Like button :)

I guess a Like button is kind of needed, sometimes you just want to say "yeah" or something like that and not write a whole comment. I always appreciate your point of view Sherri and you manage to see many sides at once (probably because you've been there) and you state it so clearly.  These are the posts I come here for, and also those from ADDers who aren't snippy and defensive but trying to help non-ADDers understand them better.

I also understand peoples' need to vent, but it can get overwhelming when you are looking for help and positives to feel sort of bombarded by negatives and you can start to lose hope.  So please Sherri and other helpful posters, keep posting so that we can find hope and love in our relationships and aid communication between ADD and non-ADD spouses.

Sherri - thank you

Sherri - thank you for this post.  When I talk with people about how they can be in a very angry and awful place and then come out of it they often look at me as if I have two heads - yet you describe well this very thing.  And I agree with you completely, that everyone here would benefit from understanding that we are all on a continuum - some need greatly to vent, while others are looking for tips for change and others have gotten through the worst of it and are hoping to share their wisdom and experiences with others in order to help.  ALL of us deserve a voice and respect...wherever we are on that continuum.

So, again, thank you.

(George - can we install a like button?)

Troubling defenses, Melissa

Melissa, I do not think bigotry deserves a voice or respect. People here have written some terrible generalizations about people with ADD. There is nothing constructive or helpful about it.  They dump horror stories of their partners' many misdeeds, wail that "It's all because of the ADD!" and then say we're uniformly unsuitable partners.

When you excuse abusive, bigoted language as "part of the continuum," you place it under the banner of YOUR expertise. In fact, the unrestrained "venting" here only contributes to misunderstanding.

1. It's ammo for ADDers who don't take their diagnoses seriously: "Well, I'm not this awful. I don't cheat, abuse or go bankrupt. Those are the people who need treatment."

2. By ascribing all extremely bad behavior to ADD, your users are distracting from symptom management. If you get the idea that a person's cruelty, infidelity, rage and selfishness is bound to ADD, it is hard to stay interested in stuff like list-making. You just feel hopeless. (Conversely, blaming all a person's bad behaviors on ADD could direct attention away from other big problems such as mental illness, a history of abuse or simply being a lousy person).

3. It deters ADDers from seeking support in mixed forums like this because they are lumped together with creeps and psychos and reminded that ADD makes a person "thoughtless, cruel and unfeeling," as one user put it. Then, when we stick up for ourselves, we're told that we're A. disrupting communication or B. pricky, in denial or too defensive because that's how ADD people are.

I'm not sure you are thinking about the mission of your own site when you defend all the rage-expressions that go on here. The most vicious commenters don't even have anything to gain; they already dumped their ADD partners. How does their input "help adults thrive in relationships impacted by ADHD?"

If someone needs to vent their anger as part of moving forward, that's fine. But when their venting attacks ME, I have every right to call them out and defend myself. 

I have gone back and forth on whether I belong here. I've tried to focus on the useful threads, contribute positively and start productive conversations. But it's awfully hard to ignore the attacks when the moderator herself defends the right of others to disparage me and spread misinformation because their need to vent apparently trumps everything else.

Posting Rules - looking for input


Ailin - thank you for your post.  Your interpretation of what I said is valid, upon reading it again, but not at all what I meant.  I in no way defend bigotry nor terrible generalizations about people with ADHD.  I do support people's right to express what they feel (both ADHD and non-ADHD) but request of all posters that the conversation remain civil (see my "read this first" post for new users at this link.)

We face constant tension on this site because of the inherent hurtfulness of expressing the depth of the anger and frustration many non-ADHD partners feel – particularly those new to the site.  And, with thousands of people here every week, we have a constant flow of new people posting.  I will, therefore, clarify and make more prominent specific ground rules for posting that will hopefully help the situation.

I post my proposed list here for people (you included) to review.  Please add and comment.  I will then post the rules where all can read them.  Note that I would like the list to be short and succinct so everyone will read it.

  • Write about your personal experiences
  • Do not make gross generalizations about people with or without ADHD
  • No personal attacks are tolerated
  • Helpful hints and advice are strongly encouraged
  • Be civil and respectful, even when writing about difficult topics
  • No email or phone contact information in posts

Posts that do not conform to these rules will be taken down.

I invite everyone to post your thoughts and ideas about this particular list, and then we will get it up.


Thank you

Melissa, my interpretation of your post was not based only on that comment but on other statements you have made protecting the "venters." You say you understand it's painful to read the truth, but many of these generalized "vents" aren't true -- hence the indignation.

The rules you listed, I think, are a positive change in policy.

I really only care about the generalizations because they

  1. are demeaning to every individual in the group they're directed at
  2. divide us into classes/enemy camps
  3. publicly and dangerously mischaracterize the condition

Anger doesn't even bother me.  I just don't want personal attacks, which generalizations are to each person in the group they address.

This comment, however negative, is perfectly acceptable. It focuses on a personal experience. So does this one. I have no problem with the anger and frustration.

This comment is downright abusive. The fact that it also includes a personal story does not erase the sweeping insults.

And you know what? I wouldn't mind having it on the board if you offered even a gentle rebuttal/notice that they've crossed the line. That way you can establish the standard for comments without erasing people's grand tomes.

To keep track, you might want to add a "report comment as abusive" feature. Many news websites have this to monitor comments.

You should do whatever works best for you as the site creator, but that's my input.

I agree with Melissa, people

I agree with Melissa, people need to vent. You can't relate to my situation because I am the non-ADD spouse and ADD has caused my marriage to be quite difficult and hurtful at times. You can't relate to my anger that was born from the frustration of never quite getting what was going on within my husband's mind, but always feeling something was causing him to have problems controlling his impulses...and bringing himself to make his actions match his words. (for the record, again, my anger and his uncontrolled ADD are in the past for us, but I can still FULLY relate to posts that are dripping with resentment and anger. In the same aspect, I cannot relate to you either because I have never been in your shoes. THIS is why it is crucial that we apply the same 'rules' here as we do in our marriages and NOT respond to anger with anger. It helps no one, solves nothing, and results in a lot of time wasted. Having said that, when I see broad generalizations (such as people discouraging someone from marrying someone based solely on their ADD diagnosis, people stating that ADDers are incapable of any compassionate human emotion simply because the person they dated had this characteristic AND had ADD, etc) I don't find them helpful either. I have even found some hurtful, and have stated so, because some of these statements are made as if they are based on FACT..and scientific proof. The more I educate myself, the less they bother me.

The majority of people here do not feel that ADDers are undeserving of love or relationships or anything else for that matter. I haven't gotten that impression, but maybe I'm not in a position to be sensitive enough to it.

I am still a bit confused as to why you seem to want to refuse to contribute 'bad behaviors' (for lack of a better way of putting it) with ADD. It is so different for each individual...some ADDers are extremely organized and successful in their careers. Some are extremely unorganized and a mess in their careers. Some cheat, some don't. Some drink, some don't. Some are amazing money managers, some have no sense of money management at all. Some are 'take charge' kind of people, and some need someone in their lives who is willing to be their grounding. When I did a research paper on ADD in adults I found appx 15 articles (one was Dr. Hallowell's) and many of the bad behaviors discussed and often in common here are most definitely in the papers/research as 'symptoms' of ADD in adults. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding, but it seems that you're feeling that we're all WANTING to blame all bad behaviors on ADD..we're not...but at the same time we ARE looking for answers and it seems that the experts agree that some of the problems caused by the ADD brain do, in fact, contribute to many of the behaviors we see in our spouses. I am not saying that my husband isn't responsible for what he's done..or for every decision (good or bad) he's ever made...I am just saying that there are many people here who are living, breathing proof that ADD can be hurtful, especially if not treated. I don't mean that as a generalization that ALL humans with ADD are hurtful. I just think saying that it isn't ever responsible for hurtful behavior is false. In many of the cases here, I believe it is. I DO believe it just as equally detrimental to the process of treating ADD (or healing a marriage affected by it) to DENY this.

Too much ground

I never said people shouldn't vent, Sherri. In the post above, I pointed to a couple of angry comments and said, "These are fine." I have repeatedly said venting is fine.

However, it is NOT an excuse for misleading, bigoted and abusive comments.

I have never responded to a person's attacks with angry posts. I have simply pointed them out as attacks. Which they are.

It seems that you are hoping for a place where non-ADDers can say anything about ADDers -- IN GENERAL -- and never be disagreed with. That is unrealistic and destroys the utility of the forum.

I appreciate that you see my point of view on the generalizations presented as fact, but I don't think you appreciate why they are so frustrating for someone who has ADD. Look, we need to be able to ask a LOT of people for accommodation -- employers, sig. others, family, friends. If they go to an eduacational resource like this, they should be getting the TRUTH. Not someone's personal experience translated as truth.

Again, the therapeutic benefits of venting DO NOT outweigh the harm of venting irresponsibly. Why do the venting partners deserve immunity? This is not a private counseling session, it is a public web site. There are consequences to what is said.

As for whether or not ADD causes bad behavior ... The problem is when people confuse induction with deduction, broadcasting one person's bad behavior as proof that, say, "ADD makes people cheat." That is absurd. There may be correlation, and that correlation may need to be looked at along with all the other problems that can accompany a long life without treatment. But there is no causation. To claim causation is to say every person with ADD is more likely to cheat, when that is NOT a symptom and there are a LOT of factors. If the commenters could make that distinction -- "My husband has ADHD and he cheated on me" vs. "My husband has ADHD, so he cheated on me" -- the discussion is fine.

But instead what we get is diagnostic statements like, "The ADHD did make him more thoughtless, more cruel, more unfeeling." Then, when someone says, "Well, it might not have just been the ADHD," we're told to shut up and let them vent. I don't care if people WANT to blame ADHD for every marriage problem. But they often do here, and it's warping the educational messages this site might provide.

Honestly, I think you and I agree on most points, Sherri. But we will have to agree to disagree on whether people should have the right to say whatever they please and face no opposition.




actually we agree on that

actually we agree on that point too...that people shouldn't have the right to say anything without opposition...this works with good thoughts and bad thoughts. Opposition is OK. There are harmless venters and then there are digusting comments that do no one any good. We agree on that too.

I don't want a place where anyone is allowed to say anything, I agree 100% with the rules Melissa posted earlier. I am only trying to 'protect' (for lack of a better word) people who are trying to save their marriages and make changes but struggling to do so..and dealing with the frustration that goes along with that. The ones who 'dated' someone for 4 months and think they know ADD front to back and are certain that their experience is the gospel are harmful and need to rethink their anger and bitterness. Another point we agree on.

We will, however, have to disagree on the argument of whether ADD symptoms (impulse control, compulsivity) play a big role in many of the behaviors of ADD spouses. It was explained to me that the "H" ADHD for adults (mostly males) in lack of impulse control and/or compulsivity. (doing things without the ability to consider the consequences later). I believe this to be a very real part of ADD/ADHD. I am not looking to blame my husband's infidelity on anything or anyone but him...but it certainly does answer a LOT of questions I have had for years about him and for that reason alone I think it applies to him. You might like to know that our counselor does not necessarily feel the affair and his ADD are related. Either way, we are in treatment and for that I am very thankful.

We're cool

I'd reply more, but now we're writing in skinny little columns that no one can read!

fuzzylogic72's picture

Wiring tirade

You were 'bothered' by my use of the wiring analogy of the adhd brain? Compelled enough to  imply that it's some kind of generalized excuse that causes you frustration? Really? 

Since you clearly do more ranting than researching (which admittedly can be a problem with the adhd sufferer as well) I will do my best to educate you on why someone like me might have the audacity to refer to my adhd as a problem involving "bad wiring"

I apologize that you had such difficulty with the layman's analogy of 'bad wiring' in reference to adhd; perhaps you would have preferred 'brain-damaged', or 'mentally twisted' as a more aptly berating description (as i've heard from more than a few non adhd in reference our unfortunate condition; no, not from you, just from some others, like girlfriends, fiancees etc.). Rather than launch into a similar self-righteous, and grossly misinformed tirade of my own when responding to your scolding, I am instead pasting excerpts from research articles from two prominent medical sites (of many) which use this term:

I hope that knowing some of the many sources utilizing this term helps you understand that I had no malicious intention of offending you when I passively referred my adhd brain as having a wiring issue. If you have further issues with the terminology, please consult the Mayo Clinic or American Journal of Psychiatry, or any one of a multitude of medical resources who use the term in the definition and reference of adhd, rather than criticizing my choice of words when referring to my own condition.

Ok, now for a brief survey of the aforementioned references:

If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder--ADHD--your brain has distinctive patterns that are different from those of normal people. While ADHD brain "wiring" has created problems for you in paying attention, sticking with boring tasks, and remembering things, your brain patterns may also have given you unusual creativity.
ADHD is caused by brain "wiring" problems that result in the characteristic ADHD behavior patterns: trouble paying attention, impulsiveness, and extreme physical and mental restlessness or hyperactivity, as described by the National Institute of Mental Health in an article, "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder."


"Now, new research presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America’s shows that the problem is at least in part due to defective brain wiring. It’s believed that ADHD is due to a chemical imbalance of a brain hormone called dopamine. But this study shows an anatomical problem; brain scans of ADHD patients showed that the brain actually looks different in people with ADHD. Dr. Manzar Ashtari, the lead researcher at Long Island Jewish Hospital who took these ADHD brain scans using a technology called diffusion tensor imaging, says “These ADHD brain scans don’t just look at the structure of the brain. They dig deeper and show how the brain is actually connected.

The question is, can these ADHD brain images of abnormal brain wiring help doctors make better diagnoses, and provide inroads to better treatment? Dr. Ashtari says, “Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Research happens step by step. If the study is replicated and we find that the problem is in the cabling of the brain, I think it will revolutionize the way these kids are treated, because then I think perhaps the drug companies will go after what really repairs those cables.”

These ADHD brain images are at least evidence that children with ADHD differ from others because their brains are truly wired differently."


ADHD Coaching Blog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ADHD is a Unique Brain Wiring

This video supports our foundational principle that ADHD is a unique brain wiring. It is your special way of understanding the world around you.

Having ADHD does not mean you are broken, it means you have a unique brain wiring.

You are endowed with trillions of different ways to learn and live in the world. Not just one or two ways that are mandated at school and work. You have to discover how your unique brain wiring shows up in strengths and accentuate them.


And finally, here is a link (not sure if we can post links, but I'll try it) to a video aired on Voice of America courtesy of the Journal of The American Medical Association which explains in detail exactly why adhd is a wiring issue:


The destructive behaviors you mentioned regarding your partner sound more like alcohol-related behaviors, or a any one of a variety of other common comorbid conditions known to be associated with, or similar to adhd in presentation, such as Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality disorder etc.

I humbly ask that you do more research to try to understand this condition more thoroughly and look for workable changes that BOTH partners can make, rather than snap at the people who have the condition for using analogies that you do not understand, shifting the responsibility of your own anger issues over your inability to cope onto people like us. We are trying our best to cope too. Many of us are constantly self-evaluating, and taking full accountability of the impact of OUR words and actions on our partners; it sounds like adhders aren't the only ones that should be trying that rather than flying into a diatribe about how much of a victim they are. After a while it feels like a bit of a *wait for it*.. brow beating.

-Just sayin'...


fuzzylogic72's picture


I know that my post may have seemed overly defensive, it's just that I don't appreciate being told that I have a simplified/generalized understanding or account of what adhd is. Adhd is a complex and potent disorder, and iff anything, I am hyper aware of the causes, implications, recent research and most importantly, the impact that my words, actions and patterns of behavior have on those I love. i just have  ahard time understanding how non-adhders can think/say/imply that we somehow don't care, are not aware, or are not AT LEAST as tormented by our disorder as our partners are. I also realize that not every adhder is self-aware or trying to change, in which case the non add partner needs to make their decision and leave if it's too much for them. Often that's what it takes for the adhd person to wake up and get on the path to change and self-improvement. However (and these are my last two points), the adhder has a LOT more going on in their minds than their partners can fathom (not angry, hostile, cheating, fighting thoughts as we are often made out to be), thoughts of shame, guilt, inadequacy, fear of rejection, incompetence, inferiority etc. These thoughts are the result of a lifetime of criticism, blame, accusations and lack of the feeling like they 'belong' in this world. We are also far more self-critical and self-aware than people assume, but it is SO frustrating when we have this self-hyperawareness and self-critical brain, but there still seems to be nothing we can do to effect a lasting change no matter how hard we try. We feel like no one will ever understand us, even family, let alone a new relationship. It is a desolate, hopeless feeling. On top of it non adhd partners can be so vicious and cruel with their words and judgments of us. Yes they so often have been triggered by our actions, but some of the words (mentioned in my last post) about our mental status is just pure evil in the devastating, demoralizing effect they can have on us, and adhd people are like satellite dishes compared to car antennas in terms of how we receive these messages. Yet so often they take no accountability for any of the communication breakdowns, arguments, etc that transpire; instead they use the adhd diagnosis as a visa to pin any and every fault in the relationship on the adhd partner, scolding, guilting, and berating them ruthlessly while disregarding that they have any part in the conflicts. This is how most fellow adhders who I know feel every day, but we bottle it up because we are so used to being in the wrong every time we speak, or try, that we just keep our mouth shut, or find some distraction to get our minds out of the darkness. Unfortunately, substances are a convenient, effective and commonly used means to escape this reality. Of course, then you have a hurt, guilty, anxious, insecure adhder PLUS the destructive force of alcohol, and the inevitable result is an explosive release of all of these pent up emotions. This hurts the ones we love, we know it's our fault, feel guilty and ashamed and confused. Then we get avoided, treated with contempt (often understandably), shamed, punished (passively or directly), and then the cycle of escape starts all over again. 

In my experience, My cylcle (and many adhd acquaintances) goes like this: 1)SHAME/GUILT/INADEQUACY --> 2)ESCAPIST/AVOIDANT BEHAVIOUR (drinking, taking off to get space, not coming home until late, not answering the phone, etc) -->  3)EXPLOSIVE RELEASE (threshold to avoid conflict and govern pent up emotions diminishes, resulting in a floodgate of emotional purging).

To many adhd (especially undiagnosed), you could add a "DENIAL" stage in there somewhere, but many of us are vigilant at taking accountability (which I believe is key) for our actions. The escapist/avoidant behaviour will also differ with the individual, the communication style/effort of their partners, and efficacy of medical/counseling treatment. For some it may just be an 'emotional zoning-out', or pronounced introversion, going for extra long walks etc., and for others it might be drinking a 40 of hard liquor, smoking weed, taking pills, or partying all night. The more extreme the behavior in this phase, the more likely it is that they are either undiagnosed, not properly treated, or not  currently able (lack of tools), or worst case, not interested in TRYING to regulate/balance their emotional processing in a positive manner. However much of the above behaviours occur in people without adhd as well. The substance abuse and codependant, cruel behaviors are not a part of the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria, and should not be indiscriminately attributed to adhd (see 'scapegoat' post from another user above).

I wrote this addendum, because my first response, though justified from my position seemed unnecessarily defensive and passive-aggressive in retrospect. Moreover my response was just perpetuating what triggered it in the first place; mutual intolerance and biased judgemental reactions from both sides of people in adhd relationships. That's not what this site is here for, and that's not what i'm here for, nor the kind of person I wish to be.



Charlie, thank you for

Charlie, thank you for proving my point..that you DO have a lot to offer people who don't have ADD. I found the post above VERY helpful.

I am not surprised that you saw my post as a 'rant'...I get the defensivness, I live with someone just like you..whom I happen to love very, very much. I could say it wasn't meant to 'scold' but you probably would not believe me, and that's OK too.

Please read: I never said ADD isn't a wiring issue, I wasn't arguing semantics. Why I was bothered by your statement is because I took it as you saying that the "brow beaters" here were basically getting all worked up over a little wiring problem. I URGE you to go read your initial comment and TRY and see how it might be taken that way. It is SO complex (THANK YOU for agreeing with me on this finally..see above post) that I don't get how you can be upset at people who are hurt by it. It does cause hurt, you admit yourself it's not easy for you and those who love you...and maybe you've got things under control a bit better than others? Can you consider this possibility?

God knows (again referencing your above post..the one I'm directly responding to) I do NOW get these things about my husband...I NEVER said ADDers don't care. I NEVER said that he wasn't as tormented as I was. Ok.maybe I didn't make it crystal clear that I get this NOW...and didn't always get this...but for years I told people I didn't give up on him (when everyone thought I should) because I KNEW he was struggling and I saw him trying..even if his progress was baby steps. I had no idea what he was struggling with, but I knew he was struggling. I never stopped loving him..I never stopped trying WITH him...I never gave up on him...even when he gave me plenty of reasons to. (and I'm willing to admit I wasn't fun to live with either!!) I lived with your 'escapist/avoidance' behavior for 6 long years...it was some of the most hurtful times in our marriage. I cried myself to sleep often...until the day came that I had no more tears left.

For the record, I am not here to rant...nor am I here to bash anyone with or without ADD. My husband and I have reconciled (10 months now) are in counseling and are at a much happier place. I 'get' him now. He thanks me constantly for caring enough about him to take the time to learn about his ADD and how he's 'different'. I do not prefer any specific 'label' (wiring issue wouldn't be my favorite, obviously), he is just simply different from me in how he thinks, listens, communicates, and processes information. If you'd have asked me 2 years ago what I thought about him, I'd have had a much harsher answer.

Thanks for posting!


Taking a risk...

...by jumping in here.

Charlie, I find great value in hearing from your perspective, from the horse's mouth as it were. (which is next best thing for me because my husband won't engage the subject at all.)  Thank you!

As some have said, everyone here is on a different place on the continuum from extreme frustration to having some great tools in place and thriving.  You said you had a hard time understanding "how non-adhders can think/say/imply that we somehow don't care, are not aware, or are not AT LEAST as tormented by our disorder as our partners are."  Perhaps I can shed some light on that, sort of reciprocating insight, I hope. 

I am in the early stages of working things out as the non-ADHD spouse.  I'm grappling with the realities of how much or how little of my husband's behavior is affected by ADHD; I don't want to assume everything is.  As I am just now learning about it and the wide range in which it shows up in people, I sometimes have trouble differentiating ADHD inspired behavior from non-ADHD behavior.  (Or maybe untreated and un-dealt-with it affects everything; I haven't gotten that far yet in my self education to understand.)  I know in my head that ADHD is a factor and I try to be rational and unemotional enough to sort that out.  But there are times in my heart, that I just can't get past the offensive behavior.  It's the evolution of changing my own behaviors to be compatible with ADHD, including emotional responses.   In the state of mind/heart that some are in here, I dare say they just can't sort out the difference right then when they say that ADDers don't care.  In the heat of a heartbreaking/offensive moment or phase, sometimes it's hard to rationalize "I know he/she loves me and he/she does in fact care" when before your eyes is "evidence" that he/she does not.  Later (maybe much later, depending on the state of affairs) we'll think about it for real and say, "Duh, how could I ever think that?! Of course he/she cares!"  Part of what got me thinking that my husband might have ADHD was this (to me) bizarre duality between what I knew (he cares) and what I saw (total disregard for what makes me feel cared for).  Now that I know some of what's really going on, I can in MOST moments remind myself that what I SEE doesn't change what I KNOW.   Sort of like walking by faith, not by sight.  It can sometimes be a real struggle.  People in here are learning that art and we will sometimes stumble.  I'm working as hard at adjusting myself and being self aware (and failing at times) as you are--I think the struggle is similar from both of our perspectives.  Again, thanks for the time you take to explain your perspective.

fuzzylogic72's picture

Thank you for risking...

Hi Hermie,

I've been peppering this site with "thank you's" for various posts, and those have been by default, to the adhd'ers who are validating and supporting each other. Adhd'ers supporting is so important, but it still feels like something is missing when 'normal' people don't seem to look at us as equals in this journey. Your post... I can't even describe how good it felt to hear what you said. You're right, there is a continuum of emotional layers amongst the people here, and i guess it's natural for people from the adhd group to consciously or subconsciously 'side' with the people who they share the same perspectives with. Reading nearly every post (I try to scan and disregard the purely antagonistic ones from both sides), it was clear to me that even the most objective posts had some kind of bias. Your post above is the only time I've EVER heard a non-adhd person speak with such understanding, compassion, and a genuine sense of equality in the struggle. It's the absence of people with your perspective and way of communicating it that for me, is the single most influential factor in the feelings of inadequacy and inferiority that so many of us feel. Adderall gives me sustained focus (but makes me sweat, takes away appetite, and makes it hard to sleep; anti-depressants impair libido, and anti-anxiety meds make us dopey. They all help a bit, but the kind of understanding you expressed, and the efforts you are putting in to working on both sides of the relationship, is a RARE and powerful medicine. i thank you so much for that, especially at this point in my life, when my engagement seems to be evaporating in front of my eyes and nothing I am doing seems to be working. I am so sorry to hear that your partner is currently not engaging the subject, because you clearly deserve that reciprocity. I hope I can reassure you that that will probably change, but keep in mind (which you already are painfully aware), that your baby steps, would be a giant leap for him; the changes will come very slowly, but they will be lasting. We have to unlearn years of repeated automatic patterns of behavior before we can 'install new software'; it feels like trying to run a Windows office document on a Commodore 64 (we need caring, persistent people like you to keep hacking the system to run the right programs, and help us reboot when the system crashes). geez, I sound like an IT nerd! I guess I'm in the habit of using analogies in the classroom...

The most difficult, yet effective strategy (even though it seems unfair and draining), is to keep remembering as you said, that what you SEE isn't the same thing as what you KNOW. And have faith that many of us, I'm betting your partner as well, IS aware of what they are doing, and what they need to try harder at, but we are often just avoidant of talking about it directly, because we are afraid of looking directly at our deficiencies and being seen for what we are because we are painfully aware of them already. It's like looking at the sun; we know it's there, but if we have to look straight at it, it burns our eyes out; so we tend to do things peripherally!

Thanks again; you actually made my week.

With support and understanding,


Thank you

@ Charlie, 

I am so grateful to have found your posts. I come from an interesting (or perhaps very cliche) story. I studied psychology during my time in undergrad and went onto graduate school so I could do research. During that time I got engaged and was starting a new life with someone in a new city. After being in school for a few months and realizing very quickly that maybe I was not cut out for grad school, I began to get very stressed out. On top of that, my fiance could not find work and was also dealing with some serious family issues. Between his issues and my undiagnosed ADHD, things fell apart. During the same time, I decided to finally get diagnosed for ADHD. I knew my sister has it, and I have always been curious. But I never experienced any real difficulties until grad school. I don't tell many people this, but I literally had a dream in which a person appeared to me and looking me straight in the eye said, "Anna you have ADHD." I was so blown away by the dream that I knew I had to do something. (I mean, who has literal dreams like that? Weird.) Thankfully my university provided affordable testing and I completed my five hours of diagnostic tests. My fiance had not left by this point. There was a lot of tension, but in my mind, things would work out eventually. In the course of waiting for my test results (it took several weeks), my relationship ended. Not a week after my fiance left, I got my test results back and they were 100% positive. I was blown away. I thought maybe I would have "light" adhd or inconclusive results, but never 100% total ADHDer. It took me a long while to come to terms with my diagnosis, and perhaps its influence on my relationship. I felt lost for a long while, not really sure where my diagnosis ended and my personality began. It seemed that all the things I just regarded as "me" were actually symptoms (daydreamy, forgetful, lateral thinking and a random sense of humor). It all seemed so obvious now. I was interested in pscyhology in part because I wanted to understand (or maybe justify) my tendencies. Although I have since decided to not pursue psychology as a career (too much sitting down and paperwork), I am grateful that I have that scientific background to better understand my diagnosis and better explain it to others. It is, as you said, "bad wiring" in that it is completely neurological. ADHDers suffer from a deficit in executive functioning in the brain. They also have very poor working memory (which is under the umbrella of "executive functioning"). Working memory is, in short, your brain's ability to hold information in the immediate time after it is received. It has not even made its way into short term memory yet. My working memory is in the 11th percentile. 11th!!! I am more than two standard deviations from the mean, in stat speak. If that percentile were compared to IQ, my working memory would be considered profoundly mentally retarded (medical term). It is no wonder that my thoughts get derailed repeatedly. I forget what I was doing, or what I was reading, or weather I had completed an assignment or not. I act without thinking, which has resulting in everything from speeding tickets, to repeated ER visits. With that in mind, it is a wonder I have gotten this far in life without a diagnosis and with two college degrees. I sometimes give myself a pat on the back for that alone. It makes me feel a bit better when things get rough. I have since changed my career to art education and am currently in school pursuing that career. 

Hum, I may have gotten away from my point. It is getting late and trying to be cognizant while tired is especially difficult. Since coming to terms with my diagnosis, and realizing it should only be regarded as a tool, not as a box to put me in, AND since changing career paths, I have gotten a lot more confident talking about my ADHD with others. In my experience, for psychologists being all about empathy, they really suck at actually accepting someone with a mental disorder as a colleague and an equal. As an art teacher I feel like I can talk more freely about my ADHD without being judged because a) who doesn't expect an artist to have some level of ADHD? and b) because of my disorder I can empathize a lot more with the special needs learners in the classroom and really know what they need to succeed. I had a tumultuous time in school as a kid, and I don't want other kids to experience that kind of confusion and self-doubt as I did. Not only do I feel more comfortable talking about my ADHD, I see it as my personal mission to raise awareness of ADHD to both those with it and without it (and those who don't really know one way or another). My life isn't perfect and it is never easy, but because I have sought treatment and have accepted both my strengths and my weaknesses, I feel more prepared to deal with some of life's more difficult issues, like relationships. And I also know that because of my ADHD, there are some expectations that I may have to adjust, like having kids. Having two kids is my max because I know enough about myself to know that I could not handle more than that. I also know more about what type of partner would be good for me in terms of me adding to their life experience and vice-versa. 

Anyways, I guess my point is that I appreciate Chase's posts because they show that some ADHDers take their diagnosis seriously and are actively becoming more knowledgeable about themselves because of it. 


LavenderLisianthus's picture

Thank you, Charlie

Charlie, I want to thank you for your sincere, well thought-out response.

The honesty and depth of your response, from personal firsthand experience is invaluable to those who do not have the condition (speaking for myself here ;-) ). It is your openness and honesty that help me and, I am sure, many others, gain a better understanding of just what is going on in the minds of those affected by the condition. After all, we only really know what others actually make known to us, whether by word or deed.

Your respectful yet factual, personal, and honest response, especially when coming from someone who has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD is very encouraging. Your acknowledgement of the condition/its patterns and your ability to separate the condition from yourself as a human being are an example of the ability of those with the condition to function "normally" in society, and be responsible for one's own actions, condition or not.  I have suffered from severe depression and do realize the difficulties involved in dealing with a chronic condition while still developing and growing as a uniquely capable, talented human being. Your maturity, humility, candor and reason do not go unnoticed. Thank you so much for explaining what goes through your mind, as I am in a relationship with a person who seems to be in a similar struggle, as far as the manifestation of the condition itself goes.(and with a condition that affects one's thinking/mood/perception/ ability to respond in certain ways, it does take extra effort and I commend you for taking this extra effort - with depression it was the same way for me. Actually it is harder  (at least for me it was) in the sense that we KNOW something is 'wrong' with us. We are aware of our struggle and the only thing we can really do, since we cannot eliminate it completely, is to put in the extra effort and do the best we can in spite of our burden. However doing so does have its rewards of greater perceptiveness and growth, if we are open to them (true for anyone in any adverse situation)).It is also important for readers and posters to read/write from their own heart and realize that others are doing the same thing, and perhaps take a step back to reflect on the feelings/thoughts of others before trying to attack right back immediately, without prior reflection/ take a defensive approach. (Please note that when I used the term "we" I was really speaking from my own experience about my own situation, from my own perception ;-) call it the "Royal We", if you must ;-) )

ADHD/ADD, as Charlie has mentioned, is a condition that has medical classifications/symptoms. In order to be diagnosed with the condition, one has to display a number of those characteristics(which can be either positive/negative/neutral...).  To say that one has the disorder, but not acknowledge the fact that having the disorder means that certain symptoms are present, is either in denial or lacks the humility/ has not taken time for self-examination.

The symptoms of ADHD/ADD are just that, symptoms, and symptoms(ie symptoms that affect perception/reactions) are factors that affected person(s) and those interacting with the person(s) will experience - aware of it or not. That that does not mean that the condition/symptoms are the INTRINSIC character of the person. Like any medical condition, it is an additional struggle/consideration that affects the ACTUAL person underneath the condition, but the condition is nonetheless there. That is what makes it so difficult, and such a shame that people do have to struggle with it and/or struggle to understand it/ function well in light of the condition's defined symptoms. It would be purely superficial and unrealistic to assume that a person IS a condition, or that all people with a condition - any condition - are the same. Many spouses of ADHD/ADD without the condition also have other issues/possible conditions that they themselves grapple with and are, in great likelihood, very understanding of the condition/human difference. That is not to say that the effects of the condition are not factors in life.

When people vent, it is from a prolonged period of time TRYING to deal with a condition that they may or may not understand or even be aware of. People do not come here after one attempt to be patient and just lose it. There is a reason, and they should be given a platform to vent, if they really did NOT care so much , they wouldn't bother to post here at all. Often, the ability to express such strong feelings of frustration is the first step in the healing process. to release pent up emotions in order to clear a way to be able to take a step back and address the problem with more clarity/reason.

It has taken me time and maturity, and a great deal of self-examination and humility to recognize in myself my previous tendency to internalize certain statements as "personal attacks" on me, which was rarely the case(Me being non-ADHD/ADD). I encourage those who feel that certain "generalized" posts are targeted at them to realize that everything anyone ever says is the result of their own perception. No one can be reasonably expected, on this site, to be completely "politically correct" or "legal" or "sterile" in their comments and heartfelt sentiments, and I do not believe the purpose of this site is for solely factual/non-emotional data.

This site is for ADHD/ADD relationships, which, by definition may either involve one party(in which case the other person is non-ADHD/ADD) or two parties with ADHD/ADD.  Relationships by definition also involve emotion. Therefore, both those with and without the condition will post here, and such postings will likely have emotion/strong feelings involved. They are all valid. As long as they follow the rules that Melissa has set forth in the Code of Conduct.

Please also be aware that how a person expresses his or her sentiments reflects greatly upon the poster himself/herself, more so even than WHAT is said or who may be being criticized, necessarily. I bring that up because not everyone is aware that HOW what one says reflects upon one's perception by others.

The majority of users who come here to read and post are very intelligent and willing to understand, and they can see what is valid/not valid in any given post, is they are being reasonable.


missed point

It's possible to have empthy and even concern for someone who is hurt and also to say at the very same time that it's not ok to promote prejudice.  If a person is mugged by someone of a different colour it's absolutely possible to empathise and care for the hurt that person experienced and very important to point out that it's not ok to hate/malign all people of the perpetrators colour.  


Once again, promoting prejudice is not nor should it be tolerated under ANY circumstances.  

fuzzylogic72's picture


Sorry if this sounds redundant, but I just wanted to say thank you again for your words.

For anyone who is married to

For anyone who is married to someone with ADD, it is ALL personal. When you're hurt and angry, sorting through the crap and realizing that their reality isn't everyone's reality is hard if not impossible. ADD/ADHD IS a problem for marriages...otherwise there would be no need for this site.

You should not feel offended by someone else's opinion about what life with someone who has ADD is like. Most of us have one experience to report..since having more than 1 ADD spouse at a time would be impossible..and illegal. We just have to work with what we have, our own personal experiences, and pool them to gain some knowledge somewhere in the midst. From "My ADD spouse is the best thing since sliced bread" to "My ADD spouse is horrible and mean"...there is always something useful to take away. What I get from the post, because I am able to sort through the anger to see the real issues, is that her husband isn't a very good provider and doesn't care. Is that ADD or just a selfish jerk...who knows? Ironically my first husband didn't have ADD and was the 'drag everyone down financially' type...didn't care if anyone but him had anything they needed, including our son..who was an infant when I left him because of it. My ADD husband is a wonderful, hard working provider. However, maintaining stable employment seems to be common in some ADDers.

Bottom line, education is one part of the key to a successful marriage..the other being having BOTH spouses willing to learn about each other (not just ADD, but everything) and unconditional acceptance. Getting treatment when needed is key too. I love reading other's experiences but have admitted to feeling doubtful and fearful (after 13 years of marriage and getting things back on track 10 months ago) when I read broad generalizations that seem to be 'educationally' based (quoting this author or that doctor)..that' my only issue with generalization. People's own experiences are just things that make me go 'hrmm'....

I don't have ADD so I don't know why you would take a strangers personal experience personally...I am fairly defensive of my husband and I don't take it personally on his behalf...because I know that person she speaks of is not him.

As for why people come to this site, I would say the reasons are far reaching....and as I posted somewhere below, I've been in the 'angry shoes'...I thank God I am not there anymore...but I feel it is sad to see people here, reaching out (even when they're reaching out with the dreaded anger we all love to hate), and see them criticized for doing so. What you see as a personal attack I see as someone who is hurting...deeply.

AD(H)D is NOT the Kiss of Death for Relationships

I am sorry to say that it seems to me that in several of these instances the author's partner just isn't a very good one. AD(H)D doesn't make you cheat and lie. It doesn't control a person. People are capable of rational thought, and if they aren't, then that person is not a good partner for you. My husband and I understand that AD(H)D makes him way more impulsive than me, but he understands the difference between good and bad behaviors. I don't mean to be uncouth, but he and I are in agreement that s*** like this just doesn't fly in our house. We respect and love one another. We channel his energy in different ways. We have been researching getting him a dog for the past couple of years. We discussed that the dog is a family dog, but that he will be my husband's responsibility for the most part. He walks him twice a day (draining the dog's extra energy, as well as my husbands!). We all attend obedience classes together, so that we are all on the same page and sharing in the same stimulus.

My husband does work 50 hrs + a week, rather than 40. This is because he directs his hyper focus on it. When he is feeling bored or unmotivated he tells me, we go in to his work after hours and we reorganize his desk and come up with new goals for him at work. I don't monitor this goals closely. I probably ask about them every month, or even every other. But he feels more motivated because we came up with a plan of action. Really, the most important thing is respect and communication. Someone who cheats on you, drinks excessively, etc. does not respect you. No matter how much they say they love you - this just isn't what love is in my opinion. I know that every relationship is different, and I am not trying to put anyone down or diminish them in any way. I believe that by not sharing my side of being with a partner who has AD(H)D that I would be failing those who are trying to work on their relationships and/or themselves. Being with someone who has AD(H)D doesn't mean being with someone who lies, cheats, drinks, or whatever. Trust me, there are plenty of people out there who do those things and don't have AD(H)D.

Only you are in control of your actions and what you're willing to put up with.

A little offended by your response..

Can you consider this from the viewpoint that you are "lucky" that your husband "agrees" with you that 's**t like this' doesn't fly in your household?  I am not willing to say ADD makes people cheat or that it doesn't make people cheat. I don't come close enough to understanding the ADD mind to say either way. I do know this...it has varying degrees with varying 'symptoms' and it also probably is greatly affected by upbringing and environment.

For the sake of argument let us say we have a 35 y/o male who has had a past of compulsive, destructive behaviors including lying, cheating, drinking, poor money mgmt, many unsuccessful relationships, gambling, etc. Finally, his life tumbles out of control, years of struggle after struggle mount up, and he hits rock bottom. He seeks help and gets the diagnosis of ADD. He starts treatment and learns ways to control the impulses and compulsions, learns communication skills specifically designed for ADDers and their spouses, and his life starts to turn around. You think none of this is or could possibly be ADD related? I think you're wrong to dismiss anything...and wrong to assume that your ADD experience proves anything about or against ADD. I certainly would never assume that just because my husband doesn't possess a certain trait common to some ADDers here, that it isn't ADD related. Yes, non-ADDers cheat, lie, drink, manage money poorly too...but that proves nothing.

I hear/read it all the time...don't mistake the ADD behaviors as disrespect or to mean that they don't love you...and I get that. I also get that many of the behaviors here would be deal breakers for some of you. That's fine. Where I take issue with your response is where you express your experience as fact."ADD doesn't make people cheat", "my husband knows right from wrong"..as a statement of 'proof' that all it takes to do 'right' is to know 'right'...um.."lack of impulse control" certainly doesn't imply there is never a problem for ADDers to make the 'right' decisions all of the time otherwise it wouldn't be a 'symptom' of ADD, would it? What YOUR husband's experiences with this are and what anyone else's are can, very realistically, be two very different things. You and your husband seem to have a firm grip on his ADD, and I think that is wonderful, but it seems that maybe it has made you insensitive to others who don't..or haven't always.

Melissa hasn't made it any secret that she and George were both having affairs when they finally decided to turn things around. One thing I learned the hard way, that I hope you never have to learn, is that affairs don't come in a 'one size fits all' box..and they certainly do not always indicate a lack of love in the marriage. Your statements feel very judgmental to me..as you don't know my husband (or Melissa or George) so you cannot say that you know what they were or weren't feeling at the time they had affairs.

With OUR patience for each other, OUR forgiveness of each other, OUR acceptance of each other, and OUR love for each other we are moving forward to a much happier marriage than we had before the ADD diagnosis. Just for the record, we got the diagnosis AFTER we'd started making huge changes...learning lessons from the past and deciding life was too short to spend it fighting and angry..it was just a bonus that we now have a diagnosis to work with.



SherriW13, I most definitely

SherriW13, I most definitely consider myself extremely lucky and very blessed indeed. My comment must read differently than I intended it . . . .

I am not saying that negative behaviors are not AD(H)D-related. What I am saying is that not all negative behaviors are AD(H)D-related. I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable and offended. My comment was not intended as a direct response to you or any one else for that matter. I just wanted to share my experience, as you have shared yours. I joined this site to socialize with others in AD(H)D relationships.

To be blunt, your response seems aggressive. You are correct in pointing out that I do not know you or your husband, nor Melissa and George - I never indicated that I did! I actually posted a disclaimer in my comment, noting that I do not intend to diminish anyone. I am not claiming to have a perfect relationship - I am also not prescribing advice to others.

To others who read my comment: I do not have any intention of putting anyone down. I just believed it was important to voice the fact that just because someone with AD(H)D treats you badly does not mean that you have to accept it simply b/c of the diagnosis. I was trying to illustrate that wonderful relationships exist with those with AD(H)D.

In closing, I understand that this site is open forum, but I am disappointed in the palpable, border-line anger. I appreciate your response SherriW13, but I'm not here to attack you. I came to voice my opinion and allow others to do so as well.

fuzzylogic72's picture

I hear ya

I do believe that she has a lot of valid points, but I also had trouble with the subtle aggressive nature to the way they are sometimes expressed. But then, i'm paranoid, hypersensitive, and defensive LOL. Just kidding. 

Man, I just REALLY hope we can all get past the bickering now (myself included), and focus on the positive, in the Now.

PS- You are a very good writer!

You rightfully picked up on a

You rightfully picked up on a little frustration in my response, but in all fairness the original post by you that I responded to came across as aggressive as well. As I'm learning though, that doesn't really justify my reaction. I re-read the original post, thinking maybe I was missing something...but I stand by my initial reaction. (not the frustration, but the interpretation of your post) Maybe someday in my quest to learn as much about ADD as I can I will feel equipped to argue the point of whether or not ADD causes people to cheat, lie, drink, etc. For me, it seems very possibly the case (or  for my husband I should say) because the MAJORITY of our problems in our marriage on his part could be directly related to his compulsivity and/or lack of impulse controls. Saying one thing, doing another. Swearing he would die without me, and then hurting me horribly. (all in the past, thankfully).

And I do think you should give a little tiny bit of thought to the statement that anyone who cheats doesn't love their spouse. Many here have survived affairs and feel quite differently. I suppose maybe I need to evaluate why that bothers me so much...I suppose it could be I feel it is a generalization. I suppose it could be that I feel enough 'judgment' from others in my life for staying with a 'cheater', I just don't want to feel it when I come here for support. I cannot know for sure where I stood in his heart when he cheated...but what I feel, based on what I experienced and lived and felt at the time, I do feel like it was for reasons far more shallow than him not loving me (attention, mainly). It is hurtful to have been through an affair, and to feel in your heart and soul that you're going to make it and survive it, and then read statements like that coming from someone you consider a 'peer'...someone who has been one of the 'lucky' ones who hasn't had to deal with infidelity. You just honestly don't know until you have....that's all I'm saying.

I really only intended for you to consider what you were saying and how it might not necessarily be 100%, across the board reality for everyone here...I am sorry my frustration got in the way of my message.  A year ago I would have taken the 'aggressive' and 'angry' label gracefully, but that is not who I am anymore...not saying I don't get angry, just saying I am still a work in progress when it comes to trying to get my point across without letting the anger seep through. Win some, lose some.


The most important thing you said: 

"I just believed it was important to voice the fact that just because someone with AD(H)D treats you badly does not mean that you have to accept it simply b/c of the diagnosis."

If you are in an abusive relationship with some with ADHD, the ADHD does not excuse the abuse (emotional, mental, or otherwise). And remember the abuse can go both ways. Using derogatory language or always "blaming the ADHD" does nothing to improve the relationship. Although ADHDers are challenging, the most important thing, as Sherri said is that we come to KNOW our partners inside and out and appreciate them for who they are once you know them. If you cannot, then you should not be in that relationship. Also treatment is SO IMPORTANT! God helps those who help themselves. I'm am sick of the stigma of ADHD (and other mental illnesses) keeping struggling people from seeking help. It's really not a big deal people! You talk to a professional, get some drugs and ideally also get a doctor to vent to about your frustrations with ADHD. Doesn't that sound nice? 

Again with the misreading


There is a big difference between "My ADD husband did this" and "ADD made my husband do this."

There is a big difference between "My ADD marriage was impossible" and "ADD marriages are impossible."

One is personal and subjective. The other implicates every person with ADD.

There are a lot of statements on this site and on this thread that, by definition, attack all people with ADD.

Sherri, I truly believe you see me fairly. But I have a right to criticize the claims of anyone who makes reckless and hurtful statements about me. I don't care if they meant it or not. They're publicly mischaracterizing my condition for any reader who might want to learn more.

fuzzylogic72's picture


Well said ailin. I think your comments are unbiased, accurate, and valid.

It takes cojones

Hi StopInterrupting,

It's not easy to say what's what when it comes to ADHD. You and Ki put the truth out there and it has been enlightening to read the backlash, which falls under what you have rightly described as "defensive listening." 

I think one of the worst parts of living and dealing with ADHD chaos is how it instills, over time, a lack of confidence in your own judgment. Also there is the feeling of shame at being right about something. ADHD people often live their lives ENTIRELY dependent on the reflection of themselves in other's perceptions. Not liking what they see reflected back to them, and unwilling to change themselves, ADHD-ers can and do set out to manipulate the reality of people around them. Unfortunately, conventional counseling often plays right into their defenses.

For example, I can mention that the shelf in the den is too flimsy to hold the new HD receiver. I cannot let myself be forceful about my opinion because that would be seen as "harsh" by the ADHD person in my life. Both the counselor and the available ADHD literature advise me to be sensitive and hold back.  As a result, I have to tip toe around a situation that nearly anybody else would see as an obvious misjudgment in weight. The books say I have a right to express my opinion, as long as it comes out in a way that's digestible to the ADHD-er.  I hide my trepidation. I make my voice bright and happy and end my thought in the form of a question, "Gee you know, that looks a little heavy to be on the shelf?" I have to remain calm and unoffended when I am ignored (completely ignored - no eye contact - nothing) while the receiver is placed on the shelf.  The ADHD-er isn't paying attention you see. It's part of the disorder - there's nothing I can do. I must then try to remain complacent when the ADHD-er turns to me with a triumphant "Ha! See? You're wrong!" Once again, he has taken my opinion as proof that I'm out to get him, and I am left feeling devalued, defeated and disconnected from reality. I feel small. He feels good. Many of the books out there define this kind of communication as "making progress."

Seven hours later of course, the entire shelf buckles outward from the wall and comes tumbling down on the television. My heart sinks. The wall, HD receiver and television are all ruined. I quickly put earphones on to pretend that I didn't hear the crash. All acknowledgement that my original assessment was on target will be used as a catalyst to restore his ego defenses. The earphone avoidance is temporary. My "it's OK we can get another one" speech is ready, and I also prepare myself for his nasty declarations. Because, it's not that he misjudged the weight of an object on a shelf; Rather it is the shelf itself, and the fact that I was stingy enough to have purchased it at IKEA instead of a "real furniture" store. That's right - it's my fault. This is the reality that the ADHD person is demanding I comply with.

The most the counselor will say in my defense is to underhandedly blame me for assigning fault on him. (what??) "Well it looks like he put something too heavy on a shelf. Why are you making a big deal?" The ADHD-er sits there calmly.  I know that he isn't being calm; He's checked out mentally and is not attending to anything going on around him. As a result, he is the absolute example of reasonability. Meanwhile, my protestations as to what really happened and how I feel about things only serve to make me seem incoherent and disorganized and above all - not "doing enough" to help my ADHD spouse.

Everything is a game. Everything is a he said/she said. Except it isn't. Except it is, and I am on the losing side when the ADHD-er needs to have dis-reality reflected back to him. 

This is exactly me too.

"He ... spent his entire life treading water just above drowning. Now he has dragged me into the pond with him and he is standing on my head to keep his above water."

I'm divorcing him right now. He isn't mentally retarded. If he wants to face the reality that his life has been a catastrophe and he's losing the best thing that ever happened to him because he wants to keep living in denial about the ADHD, it's not going to be my problem anymore.

Sometimes you have to Divorce to save yourself.

He has become the "Dream Killer". We have no hope or dreams. And when I decided to dream he finds a way to pull the rug out from under us. I gave up on having other children, owning a home, traveling, do figure competitions etc. Right now the only thing I wanted to manage was to drive a few hours and take my daughter to Disney so she could see the Princess Frog live. He took that away too. She might also have to stop doing ballet unless I can magically create extra money every month for it.   We've just went through job number 25 since I wrote my first response above. I have delegated myself to living as a single mother to an adult man and a 4 year old child. When she can understand better I'll probably bail out of here and just explain to her daddy is "sick" and needs to be alone. We just gave up on him trying to work. He is on medication but medication only works when you take it, who would have known?! He is the first person I've ever known to get banned from a psychiatrist office for constantly forgetting to show up to appointments. His father and step-mother are trying everything to keep us together and they are now paying for him to see another doctor. And of course because he has no money, no job, no car, and can't provide for himself if I do leave he'll migrate over to them and burst their blissful bubble of happiness. His crying and violin playing aren't moving anyone anymore. We're all too tired and so over it. I don't even have tears anymore to cry. I think my tear-ducts are scarred over. 

Not sure how to support him anymore than I am besides wiping his a** when he poops. I do pretty much everything already. Took me two years to clean up a tax/audit mess he created because he decided he needed to write of 20,000 worth of socks he made up that he purchased and that he drove his car (which now has been repoed) 100,000 miles for business purposes. ("Hey this is getting too complicated. Let's just go to a tax professional." *next morning* Hey no need to to pay someone I finished up the taxes up last night while you were sleeping! yay me!!*).  He is filing for bankruptcy and if I could do that in his place I would because he knows what a trainwreck he's can make that in to.

I would hope if we did divorce he would stay single or at least not date or remarry until he was able to get it enough together to at minimum maintain employment for 5-10 years. I would hate for someone else to go through this.

I just had a panic attack this morning that is something happens to me he could get custody of our daughter and he'd probably had her living homeless and destitute or worse yet she'd have to "raise" her own father thus stealing her childhood. I asked him if that happened would he be okay with giving up custody of her and he said he would never do that. It scares the hell out of me. If it weren't for me he'd be homeless. I even asked him what he would do if we divorced and he said sleep in his storage unit. Is there anything I can do legally that if something were to happen to me in the near future even if we were still married legal custody of our daughter could go to someone of my/our choosing?


I feel sorry for him. He does try, he has drive and ambition but he is just a walking disaster. I couldn't stand to live his existence. It's pretty sad.

"That grass is really orange,

"That grass is really orange, it just looks green because of the red spectrum from the sun hitting it at a 2 degree angle" 

Yes that's IT exactly ... EXACTLY. And the only solution is for you to 1.) suck it up and 2.) do EVERYTHING. 

Cebless's picture

please breath

My hubby is also the most sincere and loving person I know. He uses his creativity to give me sweet nicknames.... we've been together for 8 years, married for 4 years. There are times it is not easy. BUT the great, sweet, loving times compensate.

HEY, Everyone!! My hubby (ADD) does help me at home!! Does the dishes (from his breakfast everyday, and the other meals when I'm tired or too busy -the good thing is that I don't tell him I'm tired, he sees it and says he will do the dishes while I rest)...takes the trash outside (always)... helps with cleaning (when we need)... Also, he is VERY cautious with money, sometimes I even wish he would spend more... He is very responsible. He puts a lot of effort on our relationship.

We are best friends. We are very close to each other.

The only things that bother are:

mainly the verbal abuse (he can say things that hurt without noticing) and I don't want to talk about it (I'm working on my own strength), but takes an hour for him to forget what he said and hug me... a day for him to be sorry and say that he was too hard on me...

and the distraction... he forgets daily things...(honestly, I'm trying to change myself on this issue...I was raised on a family in which men (granddad, dad and brother) are very attentive to detail, they really do see every little thing, they are gentlemen who help the women, they are the very opposite of distracted. My husband realized that and thinks they are wierd -too connected to the world, whatever!- but he tries to be better on this point. I used to (okay, I still do sometimes) overreact to his little distractions... those would drive me crazy... and then He would say I was acting like crazy...and then the whole problem of our marriage was my "crazyness". That way, he was never wrong, I was always the one to say sorry....

When we got married, I KNEW he was "different" (bc we were engaged for a while), but we did not know about add. The fact is that I did think about it and I CHOSE to marry him because I LOVE him. I still love him and he does love me very much without hyperfocus.

Dating non-add people: please do not make your choices based on other people's feeling. I'm starting to think that you should only read plain add websites....so to be informed and work on your relationship... this "add marriage" website contains too much hurt people... as any "marriage problems" website would have. So many people get hurt and divorced in this world!!! We can't blame add! You just need to be informed. You know when you dress white and say "I do"? You mean that you are wiling to LOVE. Therefore, if you are wiling to love, to work hard and SO is your add partner, then go for it!

My husband is a diamond. Your's might be one as well -don't give up.


We just (as in 5 days ago) put the pieces of the ADD puzzle together with our counselor.  After 11 years together, during which I felt that I was losing my mind most of the time, I finally said, "Something is seriously wrong with my husband."  Now we have to begin the hard, long path toward understanding out new life together......This article is immensely helpful. Thank you.

wow by agnesann

My thoughts are with you.  Yes, it possibly will be a long, hard path toward an understanding.  Hopefully, in your case, your husband isn't stubborn like mine and will accept his counselor's help.  My husband has been going to a counselor for awhile now and says he is benefiting from it but I have yet to see any changes in his character other than his anger issues, which they worked on a long time ago......   

Elisabeth's picture

I have been reading these

I have been reading these comments with great interest.  I guess I take a little bit of offense to comments that suggest dating an ADDer is a no-go zone....particularly when much worse things can and often do go wrong in a relationship, whether ADD is present or not.

If someone had given me this advice, that is to head for the hills, and I had followed it, then I would not be with the love of my life now.

I can only go on my own experience but my own experience of being with an ADDer has been nothing short of wonderful.  I am with a kind, loving, hard working man who loves to communicate with me and show me nothing but love and honesty.  I have never had this kind of depth to any previous relationship and those were all with non-ADDers. We have an honesty and open line of communication that we do not see amongst many other couples - and we tend not to have all the drama other couples do because of this.  In regards to the non-ADD couples I know, if I had a dollar everytime a mate told their spouse that they were working late rather than admitting they were actually stopping for a quick Friday night drink on their way home, or the old "What's wrong honey?" "I'm FINE" routine and then seen the drama unfold once the little "harmless" white lie is uncovered or the truth of pulled out bit by bit, I would be a rich woman (just some examples I can give you).  We know exactly where we stand with each other, which is a lot more than most non-ADD couples I know.  We work hard at our relationship and at managing the ADD, and to read that people would run the other way makes me feel sad because chances of our children having ADD are high and so I would hate to think that they would have this negativity towards them when ADD can be a managed and workable condition with the right treatment, support and networks.

I love my fella just as he is and would not trade any part of him for anything.  He feels the same way - particularly about his ADD. We are well aware of how ADD affects our lives and tend to focus on the positives - yes there are many.   And no, contrary to one of the comments above, we are not masochistic.  We are just very upfront, honest and direct about what we are dealing with and it works for us.

Thank you for your post Elisabeth...

Elisabeth, reading your post was a breath of fresh air. I told my husband about some the negative posts I stumbled across on this site, and he told me to stop reading them ;) I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was five. I am now 27 and happily married to a man without ADHD. My husband reads books with me on ADHD and embraces that part of me. He loves the way my mind works and I love the way his works as well. We compliment oneanother in many positive ways. I feel it's important to embrace the positives. He says I help him step outside the box and I know it's his calm nature that holds me together at times when I'm highly frustrated or overly emotional. People with ADHD do have certain things in common, but it doesn't mean that we are all the same. In any relationship or marriage it is about finding someone you mesh well with, someone you love and don't want to live without, regardless of their imperfections. No one is perfect, regardless of whether you have ADHD.

I (and others) envy you because your heart wasn't broken.

I'm sure many of us who have been in miserable relationships with someone with ADHD read your post with envy. I do. Because we all fell in love with a person who has ADHD. I don't think anyone is denying that people with ADHD are loveable because we all loved one. The question is whether the person is able to hack it in a healthy relationship and if there weren't a package of behaviors particular to ADHD that put a serious strain on relationships then this forum and all these posts wouldn't exist.  But happily, there are some people with ADHD who are managing it, and have good relationship skills, and they're able to make relationships work with other people.  I love and miss the man I'm going to divorce. He was the love of my life, but all my empathy and understanding, teaching him about fighting fair and good communication, forgiveness and patience through endless cycles of repeated misbehavior were not enough to get him where he needed to be and that's the case for most of the frustrated, angry, exhausted posters on here who have come to this forum primarily to ease their pain by finding others who can relate to the hell they've lived through.  It would be like pouring salt in the wound to see a bunch of posts about how other couples with ADHD are happy. 

We all know it could have been awesome with our ADHD partner, if the circumstances were different, but most of us here exhausted every possible solution and still came up short which is why there's so much bitterness and genuine concern for people who've already seen the red flags and yet are considering going forward with a lifelong committment to the person.

To people considering marrying someone with ADHD I would say THINK VERY CAREFULLY - see whether you and your partner have the skills, knowledge, energy and commitment to invest in solving big issues (beyond the scope encountered in a marriage between two people without a comparable challenge) and see how many major problems can be resolved BEFORE marrying because things only get more complex when joint finances and parenting are involved.  If I had any idea what I was in for, I would NOT have thrown good after bad for years with the man who became my husband. It would have ended at the 6-month mark.


Props to you for a) seeking counseling and b) deciding to go on that journey together and sticking it out. After all the negative tirades on here, it is nice to see that even when things get rough it doesn't always end in disaster. As an ADHDer, I have to believe that a healthy and loving relationship is possible for me. 

Also, if I have learned anything is that I should get in the habit of making contributions around the house because it could save a lot of headache and heartache. Although I despise chores, after reading some of these "worst case senario" posts, I think maybe I will be a bit more motivated next time around (whenever that decides to happen). 

Sunray4life's picture

Accept and deal with it

I myself have been diagnosed with ADD at the age of 24, in 2001. I am a lucky person, because in Germany ADD in adults is still more of a "rumour" than a diagnose. Nevertheless, I have been able to maintain long relations before my diagnose - my first boyfriend stayed with me for 6 years. My fiance I was with at the time when being diagnosed was my partner for eight years and we broke up about other issues than ADD.

Now I am about to get married - and from day one of getting to know my husband, I knew he is ADD as well. His son is diagnosed. He is in the military and cannot really get medicamentation, at least he is worried about being put out due to that diagnose. For me, I know all the things he is going through, and it is easier for me to deal with him for sure - though it is not always paradise!

Just yesterday I started to get back on medicamentation (had to drive six hours by train for a 15 minutes doctor appointment in my old hometown because I did not find any doctor around here taking ADD in adults as a diagnosis). After 2 years without methylphenidat I thought I had "overcome" the disorder, but I think I got to accept that it stays all my life with me, and that there will be times I can deal with it better and times I can deal with it worse. The stress of organising a wedding make it worse, and I know for my partner it has been hard the last 4 weeks when I was in a depressive and agressive "hole". Still my partner was supporting me and trying everything to make me better.

But, what I want to say really, is: when we get married, do we not say we will accept the flaws of the other person? ADD is not something we "like" or we "do" to the other person as ADD-people - it is a disorder. As long as the partner tries to understand that this is not personal, and the ADD person tries to be in control of the negative sides of ADD and gets help to deal with it, wether counseling or/and medicaments, it is one of the things that should not break up a marriage, at least one based on mutual love and understanding. But that's just me - I would not run either when my partner has a car accident and gets paralised. Sonja

Changed my mind hundreds of times.

There have been many, many times that I've planned to leave my husband but we're still married.  I am the type of person who likes to "fix" things and people.  So when my husband was diagnosed 20 years ago, I took it upon myself to fix him and when I couldn't, I thought it must be his fault.....that's when I felt most hopeless and depression would always set in.  (Would my husband have married me if he had known that I was a fixer and proned to depression?  I think so.)  I can chase depression away when I work on changing myself...when I find encouraging friends to support me, when I read the word of God and make my way closer to Him.  I was reading about a woman who was feeling very alone while her husband battled depression and long term health issues.  Did she wonder if she should have ever married him?  Maybe, but people would not think her justified for those feelings...you know sickness or health....etc.  A wise friend asked her if she would marry that man.  She was confused because she was already married to that man.  But her friend meant THAT man.  Would she marry him the way she knew him now?  I've been asking myself that lately and I can honestly say that when I see my husband for the way he really is (not what I want him to be) my love for him grows.  Yes, I'm learning to love THAT man.

arwen's picture

ADD can change with time

Melissa, you have put together a wonderful group of considerations about this question, and I agree with you that people should not automatically avoid relationships, including marriage, with ADDers.  But I do feel there is one aspect of the situation which you are overlooking.

My husband has ADD (I do not), as do all the men in his extended birth family in his generation and the several generations before his, and a handful of the women.  In the men, their ADD manifestation actually changes over the course of their lives, relative to their hormones -- they have classic problems as youngsters, the ADD behaviors abate significantly during puberty, so that they do not appear to have ADD at all, then resurge in their early forties as hormone levels have dropped.  This pattern has been manifest regardless of occupation, marital status, offspring or no.  From talking and sharing experiences with others, I know that this "grow out"-"grow back in" pattern has happened with others who have ADD that are not part of my husband's family as well, although not all experience as strong a resurgence as my husband's family seems to experience.

Those of us who are married to this particular variety of ADDer typically saw very mild or no symptoms when we met and married our spouse, and only later experienced the full-blown ADD behaviors as they "grew back in" to their earlier problems.  Of course, ADD is much better recognized today than even a generation ago, and many of our spouses  had not been diagnosed with it as kids (especially if they were not hyperactive, as my husband is not).  So neither they nor we had any clue that they had ADD when we met and married -- we weren't attracted to them while they were exhibiting ADD behaviors, we were attracted to them when they seemed pretty close to normal.

The reason that I make this point is that since today we do diagnose ADD somewhat more effectively than in the past, a younger person today is more likely to know whether his/her partner has ADD already.  But they should not necessarily assume that the behaviors they see today are the same behaviors that will manifest in the future!!  They need to consider not only the question of whether they have the ability to deal with whatever level of ADD manifestation they are seeing now, but also whether they can handle possible future behaviors that can have much more adverse effects on the relationship and on family life.  I understand that ADDers like my husband are not the norm, but I suspect there are more than has been appreciated by the medical and counseling community.

I know that I would have married my husband even had I known about his ADD, because I was cocky and bright and I thought I could handle anything life threw at me.  Life has taught me to be a little wiser, and if my husband had passed away and I was contemplating a second relationship with another ADDer, I'm pretty sure I would not choose marriage, once around was more than enough for me.  My daughter is in a longterm relationship with a young man who has ADD, and I am really concerned about her marrying him, even though he seems to be a fine young man who has a far better grip on his ADD than my own spouse does, and whose older ADD relatives don't seem to fit the same pattern as my husband.  While I don't tell her she shouldn't marry this young man, I do feel it's important for her to understand that the face of his ADD could change, and she could find herself married to someone significantly different from the person with whom she walked down the aisle.

Intrigued by note that ADD can change over time

Hi Arwen, 

Thanks for your post.  I am really intigued as I have previously written the below in connection with which I was quite puzzled.  Have you found any explanations in the literature?  Do you have any idea if there are specific patterns to the changes?  I am especially interested if my husband is likely to go through another change and if so if there are any ideas of when that is likely to take place.  Any other insight you have I would love to hear.


Excerpts from previous posts:

Around his turning age 38 [in reference to my husband] I started noticing a variety of changes in my husband that have continued to this day [he's now 44].  I don't know if they were triggered by or are a part of mid life crisis (whatever that is).  In any event around that age he started needing less sleep [previously he always needed more then me - now I can never keep 2 steps ahead], started being more interested extreme sports [when I first met him I was the one to sign up for river rafting, mountain climbing etc.... now he's the one and wants to step it up all the time], started being more interested in his appearance and started feeling what, on reflection, I describe as the itch - a feeling of dissatifaction and a need to do something.  It was shortly thereafter that he commenced his first affair.  As part of these changes I think he has become much more interested in sex and his sex drive has increased.  I am not sure why all these changes have come about.  One theory is that work was satisfying enough to quell the itch or satisfy the need for thrill seeking (he often deals with life and death) but over time it's not enough but this does not explain the needing less sleep.  My sense is that there are some changes going on but what exactly and why, I am not sure. 


My son's diagnosis is combined type ADHD and I think it's accurate although he started to become much less hyperactive in an around grade 4.  Moreover the Different Minds:  Gifted Children With AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits” by Deidre Lovecky describes general attributes of gifted ADHD individuals and breaks down the descriptions into inattentive versus combined.  My son fit more of the inattentive descriptions in her book then the combined but especially as a young child he bounced off the walls unless I read.  ... I 've been intrigued by this apparent transformation in him starting, like I said, in and around grade 4 because the other literature that I have read seemed to indicate that I shouldn't expect slowing down until adolescence.



arwen's picture

reply to intrigued about ADD changes

I have not found any explicit explanations in any literature for these ADD changes.  Empirically, all I can say is that they seem to be hormone-related because they occur at times of life where hormones are changing.  It's my understanding that some hormones do affect serotonin levels in the brain, and since serotonin is a key factor in ADD/ADHD, I'm sure there's a connection there somewhere.

Re: your son, keep in mind that puberty-related changes aren't always visible.  Some of the early changes are less profound than we tend to think of in association with puberty, but that does not mean puberty hasn't started.  Same with mid-life hormonal changes.  For example, I've just come through menopause, but I started experiencing some of the early, less profound, hormone related changes as much as 10 years ago.  My son's ADD changes also started around 4th grade.

I'm fascinated by what you write of your experience with your husband! Even though the manifestations are very different between your case and mine, the *timing* is surprisingly similar! My husband began exhibiting some ADD symptoms at age 38 --  but things kicked up several notches around age 43.  What interest me greatly is that your husband now needs much less sleep, whereas mine needs much more.  Your husband became more active, mine less.  Your husband became more interested in his appearance, mine never cared a lot (being color blind, he couldn't see the colors in his clothes,etc)  and now is pretty much oblivious to his personal appearance (sometimes he's pretty grungy).

I'm no professional, but I have read a great deal about serotonin, including scientific papers, since serotonin is also key with my spouse's other problem, Seasonal Affective Disorder (which was not a problem before midlife but is now). I'm pretty sure that what has happened with my husband is that his serotonin levels dropped through mid-life hormone changes. (I don't really have enough info about his childhood to know whether his serotonin might have raised or lowered during puberty, although I understand that serotonin typically does increase at this time.)  The reason I conclude this is because he has seasonal serotonin changes with his SAD (higher in summer, drops in fall, lower in winter, raises in spring) and the behavior he exhibited pre-midlife was like his current summer behavior.  (I've often thought my husband would make a fabulous case study, lol!)  It's very normal for everyone's serotonin levels to drop during midlife change, but it appears to me that it affects ADDers more than the norm.

You should not necessarily conclude from this that your husband's serotonin levels have risen during midlife because his changes are the opposite of my husband's!  As I understand it, there are numerous subtypes of ADD/ADHD, where some involve high serotonin, some involve low serotonin, some involve irregular serotonin, etc etc.  It may be that your husband's serotonin levels were extremely high before midlife, and now they have dropped to a more normal level, or they were less regular before and now are more regular.  These are very subtle chemical interactions going on in the human body, and are still not well understood even by the medical community.

One thing I would note about your husband's reduced sleep need: this is not unusual when levels of some ADD meds are too high.  If your spouse was on meds before this midlife change, you may want to investigate the possibility that his  med levels are now too high for his present condition.  We've had to tweak my husbands meds periodically as his serotonin levels continue to drop over time and have significant effects on his SAD symptoms in winter.

Finally, here's a really seemingly wacky but possibly useful thing to know about serotonin --  low levels can also make you more susceptible to infections, especially fungal infections.  My husband used to get athlete's foot and jock itch from time to time, got more frequent in his late 30's (sound like anything you've heard before?), stopped for years after he got on ADD meds, now happens in winter but not in summer.  So, you may be able to get an idea of whether your spouse's serotonin levels are changing or have changed by finding out if there are any changes in his incidence of fungal infections!!  If he routinely gets them, I would guess his serotonin levels are too low.

I would *LOVE* to work on research on this particular issue, but I am not even remotely involved in the medical profession or bio-science, I'm involved in computer systems and have no qualifications for such work.  Maybe Melissa or Ned will start a blog for this topic?

arwen's picture

DHEA hormone may be linked to ADHD

Some recent research has opened a possible explanation for why some folks with ADHD may experience the pattern of childhood ADHD, apparently growing out during puberty and/or young adulthood, apparently growing back in later in life.

It seems that a neuroactive steroid hormone called DHEA has been known to be typically lower than normal in people with ADHD.  DHEA kicks in *before* puberty, during middle childhood.  According to an article in the New York Times (link below at end),  recent research now shows that "Middle childhood is when the parts of the brain most closely associated with being human finally come online: our ability to control our impulses, to reason, to focus, to plan for the future.  ...  Subsidizing the deft frenzy of brain maturation is a distinctive endocrinological event called adrenarche (a-DREN-ar-kee), when the adrenal glands ... begin pumping out powerful hormones known to affect the brain, most notably the androgen dihydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA."  DHEA begins to drop, very gradually, in the early 30's.

Please note:  the following paragraphs are my own personal, individual speculation.  I am not a medical professional or endocrine expert -- just somebody who reads a *lot* about this stuff.

It seems logical to conjecture that if  this DHEA surge during middle childhood did not take place, a child might have trouble learning to "control impulses, to reason, to focus, to plan" during middle childhood.  Then, when the hormones of puberty kick in, a youth might have a lot of trouble dealing appropriately with the raging changes, in certain environments -- which may explain why a higher percentage of youths with ADHD have problems with discipline, drugs, academics, etc.  Or, in other environments, since the sex hormones are also neuroactive, it may be that they provide an opportunity to acquire the behaviors that couldn't be learned in the middle years, and the youth (possibly the proverbial "late bloomer"???)  "grows out" of his/her ADHD behaviors.  Then, later in life, when both the sex hormones and the DHEA levels have dropped significantly (typically in early 40's), such individuals might be unable to sustain the behaviors they acquired later than their peers and might revert back to behaviors that are typically deemed less mature.

For someone who learned how to control impulses/reason/focus/plan later than his/her peers, it would perhaps be difficult but not impossible to re-acquire these abilities through medication and counseling.  For someone who never really got a handle on these abilities in the first place, it would perhaps be impossible to overcome the apparent reversion to immaturity.

Unfortunately, not a great deal is known about how DHEA works.  The hormone is not patentable, so drug companies are unwilling to spend money doing further research on it, thus much of the research today is done in universities (who are perennially short of funds).  I can't help thinking there is vital connection between DHEA and ADHD that has not been given adequate attention in research.  As far as I can find, there haven't been any studies done on the effectiveness of DHEA on adult ADHD.  There was one study done in 2003, of adolescent boys with ADHD, which showed that DHEA levels rise after a 3-month course of methylphenidate (ritalin) treatment, which implies that DHEA somehow plays a role in the drug's effectiveness (Maayan R et al), but the specific mechanism is not known.  A 2001 pediatric study showed that higher blood levels of DHEA, its precursors, and its metabolites are associated with fewer symptoms  (Strous RD et al).  That's about all the research I could find.  I will be continuing my investigations relative to this interesting development.

Since 1994, DHEA is available OTC but should *never* be taken without first consulting a medical professional about its use.


"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Arwen, I think my husband has


I think my husband has experienced the "out" and "in" patterns of ADD, too.  It's interesting when you really think back about alot of your life together and truly see this.

This is true for women with

This is true for women with ADHD as well. Being pregnant can abate symptoms, but Menopause is known to make ADHD symptoms significantly worse. 

getting married in less than 3 months..

Wow! I am so happy to have found this blog about marriage and adhd. I am about to walk down the aisle with my fiancee who was recently dx with adhd and given medication a few months ago. When I met him nearly 3 years ago, he had just broken up with his ex girlfriend of 9 years. He had been with her since he was 16 years old, had a business together, and practically living together. When we first met he told me that his ex gf told him he had adhd, but since he had never been formally diagnosed, I never paid attention to it, until now. Reading everyone's comments, I have experienced some of the things someone with adhd tends to do...gambing, lying, impulsivity, cannot manage his finances, and instabilty with jobs. 

A few months after we met, I caught him lying and found out he was gambling almost every weekend. We broke up for a year, and after many months of him proving himself to me and him accepting God as his personal savior, things improved for us and we got back together. He is a very loving person, generous, helpful, great cook, intelligent, goal oriented and is aware of his condition. We got engaged in June 2009 and are planning to wed this December 2009. I failed to research about his condition of adhd, and just now trying to understand why he can't follow through with the things I ask him to do in regards to planning the wedding.

I love him, but I am very afraid of what I am getting myself into....  

It is scary!!

I know is a difficult decision to make, when you are so inloved, and the other person seems almost perfect and so willing to work and change, not all cases are the same and not everybody ends in a horror movie, but I guess most do. Be very carefull, maybe give it more time, specially  ADD and gambling, all ready any addiction is horrible. My husband went from not gambling for 4 or 5 years (or so I thougt) to gamble 1/4 million in a month or two. Without mentioning that the 9 years of our marriege have been extrimly diff. and the las 3 or 4 HORRIBLE!!!

One year roller coaster

I broke down crying at work when I found this website/blog.  This explains everything that has gone on in my life over the past year.  I can't describe the feelings I had when I realize how similiar my situation is to some of you.  I had no idea this was the explanation for what has happened.

A year ago, I was getting out of a long term marriage where my spouse was constantly critical, inattentive and unsupportive.  I am successful professionally and been told I'm attractive, smart, funny, etc.  But years of being told otherwise from my spouse led me to serious personal self confidence issues.  However I still found a lot of creativity and rewards in my work, so I ignored the problems.  But stress finally caused the marriage to fall apart.

I have fallen in love with a friend with ADD.  He was up front about his having ADD.  He is charming, fun and exciting.  I have also experienced the "hyper-focus" from him - I had never had this extreme amount of attention, being constantly told I am beautiful, sexy, smart and funny.  He says I am the love of his life.  We were best friends before lovers and have sworn to remain best friends forever.  I truly love everything about him - he is passionate, sincere, funny, kind, smart, handsome and the sweetest person I have ever known.  He constantly checks on me during the day, even when he is busy at work, through texting or instant messaging.  He has told me I am the most beautiful, smart, sexy perfect person.

I am now occasionally experiencing him withdrawing. This has happened several times, but the most recent was after a minor disagreement where he hurt my feelings.  When I let him know, somehow it got turned around that it was my fault (ok, I probably was being overly sensitive, but I can't help if my feelings get hurt) and then we had to have the conversation that he wasn't sure this was the relationship he wanted or wants for the rest of his life.  He wants me in his life, but he has to "figure out who he is" too.  Our relationship has been very intense - both on the friendship level as well as initimately.  We are very compatible physically.  I thought his feelings have changed.... which he insists is not the case.  He does still vary from the intense "love" and attention to being distracted.....  I can live with this - I understand that someone can't be perfect and loving and attentive all the time, but I am very afraid that his profession of love is really just the stimulation of the new relationship that everyone has talked about in this post.  I don't think I can tune down the relationship at this point.  About once a month, he acts like he wants to go back to being "just friends" but the rest of the time we practically live together, with sex every night, and his constant attention.

I am devastated to realize that I am not special in this...I really thought I had found a soul mate.  And I thought he was just afraid of commitment because he went through a divorce recently as well.  I thought we were special and this was worth fighting for.... but some of my thought was based upon his obvious love for me as well.  I am still certain of how I feel, but now I am incredibly uncertain about him and am seeing so many similiarities in your posts.  


Me Too - Abrupt End to our relationship

I just finished reading all the postings on this blog and want to say thank you.  It has helped me cope with the break up.  This is very difficult for me to write, because I am a very private person.  By writing this, I am not in any way trying to blame my ex for the way our relationship ended, I’m just trying to share my store.  She is 46 y.o. and is currently working on her Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology.  I am 43 y.o. and work in the legal field.  We both have children from previous marriages.  She has two adult daughters (mid 20s) and one son, age 9.  I have one son, age 11.  We thought that destiny brought us together and that we were meant to be together.

This is my story:  I met NJ June 20, 2009.  We dated for 12 months – off and on.  The whole time, it was a big rollercoaster.  A week or two after we first, met, I saw her again at the pool in our apartment complex.  She started our relationship by telling me that she had to apologize to me because she had a sexual dream about me.  We ended up getting sexually involved and before you knew it, I was watching her son, during the nights that she had to work late due to her schedule as a Therapist.  The first 2-3 months were great.  Then, things started to go up and down.  She wrote me a 10 page hand written letter within the first 2-3 months, which was full of hate, resentment, offensive language, etc – she basically told me of what I was going to dye of.  She always found reasons to fight with me.  Granted, I have a temper too, but always chose to walk away or go back to my apartment – which she did not like, since she wanted me to stay and argue with me more.  She broke up with in so many times, that it’s hard to remember how many times exactly.  One day, NJ, her son and I were at a Cub Scouts meeting and she was not happy because I said hello to a lady that I knew, so at the end of meeting, when we were walking out to my truck, she started yelling at me and telling me all kinds of obscene things in front of her 9 y.o. son, because she was very angry and upset.  I did not know what she was angry about until I found out at a later day, when she was calm, because I asked her what happened.  I can go on and on about all the different arguments and break ups during our 12 months of dating.

I always tried to make it work, even after I got the first sign of trouble (the 10 page hand written letter), I called and apologized to her for what I had done and got back together.  I realized that she needed to vent, because may be her job as a counselor/therapist was demanding or perhaps, because she was sexually abused by her biological father when she was 5 y.o. or because her son also had ADHD and was also sexually abused her his own biological father and step brother when the child was 4 or 5 y.o., I don’t know what the real reason was, but I was tried to make the relationship work, over and over and over.

On many occasions, NJ and I made plants, for example, we were going to go on vacation last summer, but for whatever reason, she told me to hit the road and did not want to see me anymore.  One day, she brought up the fact that she wanted us to move in together and make a family for the boys, we then decided that we were going to buy a house together, based on my excellent credit, because she had just declared bankruptcy, but for some reason, she broke up with me again and told me that she did not want to see me again.  She could not manage her finances; she admitted on several occasions that she could not balance her check book and that in fact, she had never balanced her check book her whole life.

I always told her that she had two personalities.  One was the personally that I fell in love with and loved very much and the other personally, was the hurtful, mean, no care in world or did not care about other people’s feelings.  She always found reasons to start an argument, even though, I told her many times that I did not like to argue/fight.

Our relationship was mostly together because we both loved our sex life.  She is a very sexual person and so am I.  But, she requires masturbation all the time.  She explained to me that through out her life, she had had multiple sexual partners and that on previous relationships; her way of getting over other guys was to find another guy the same day and jumped in bed with the new guy that same night.  I initially thought that that behavior was due to her being sexually abused at age 5, but after reading the posting in this website or other books that I got from the library - sex drive increases due to ADHD.  I could never understand why she needed to masturbate so much, because she had me and because she always told me that I satisfied her, but I wanted to deal with it, because I am a sexual person myself.  Which, now looking back, that was the only time that we never argued – we were very comparable in the area.

She always borrowed money and/or told me to buy groceries and/or made all kinds of promises, but never paid me back the money that she owed me or never followed through with her promises.  She kept her house not that clean and I always excused it because I though that she was too busy due to her schooling, job and her ADHD son. 

On several occasions, I told her that I strongly believed that she had ADHD, because she exhibited the same types of behaviors as her son who was diagnosed with ADHD.  She dismissed it as saying that I did not know what I was talking about.  On other days, she did acknowledge that she could not balanced her check book, could not keep up with the house chores, was short tempered, could not handled a lot of stress, her mind raised and had a million thoughts, wondered why she chose a profession that deals with people when she does not real like or trust people, or how she is so depressed that she is unable to get out of bed.  She likes to go to Bingo, but did not do it as often as she wanted to.  She made several impulsive decisions, like buying a whole set of living stuff, just because she broke up with me in May 2010.  When I asked her about it, she dismissed it as something normal that she does when she is mad. 

In June 2010, we talked on the phone and she told me that she wanted to get back together and I told her that she needed to see a doctor to helper her with her ADHD and she responded that she was worried about the side affects of the medications and did not know how it would affect her personality.

I’ve suspected that she was either talking to some one online or by phone, but could not prove it, because I am not one of those people that like to snoop around.  I believe in trust in the relationship and trusting your partner.  I caught her in so many lies.  I found out that she liked to trash me to her friends and family.  She always blamed me to everything that went wrong in our relationship.  She never apologized for all the hurtful things that she said and did or all those empty promises.

Since we were unable to buy the house that we wanted (due to the fact that she changed her mind more than once), we were able to find a house out in the country and signed a lease agreement early May 2010.  However, on my son’s birthday weekend during which we were planning to celebrate his birthday at the new house, on May 29, 2010, NJ decided to break up with me for sure, so she told me to get out of the house or if I would not leave, then she should leave, but that we could not leave together at the house.  Obviously, I left.  We tried to be friends for the month of June, but I noticed that she started flirting with other guys more openly than before, in front of the boys and I.  Later I found out that she had another guy over to the house the same day that she broke up with me (5/29/10), but when I confronted her, she said that it was nothing.  Mid July 2010, we attended a Christian Church Camp together and I over heard her talking about me, so I decided to leave the camp (I do not like to make scenes) because when I confronted her in private, she denied the whole scenario.  Two days later, my son and I came back to the church camp because NJ’s son was going to be baptized; however, we were only there for about an hour, when NJ had us kicked out of the camp, because she did not want us there and made this whole scene in front of all the people at the camp. We did not talk for about 7-8 weeks, I tried emailing her, no reply; I called her cell the last week of August 2010 and told her how much I love/care/worry about her and ended up writing her a letter with all my questions as to how our relationship went from good to worse (closure letter).  Instead of answering or calling, she called the Sheriff Department.  On September 1, 2010, I received a call from a sheriff deputy telling me that NJ had filed a harassment complaint against because she did not want any contact me, because I was extremely controlling and told me to never contact her again, which I never did again.

I did not understand why she did all of these things and why she had to end it the way she did.  Why she made all those plants for our future and all of those empty promises, which she never followed through.  I was devastated.  I was heart broken.  I felt that I must have done something wrong or may be not enough.  So, I decided that since she did not want to give me an answer as to why our relationship ended the way it did; I went to the library and read books as well as articles online.  I found this site very helpful, because it made me realized that I did not do anything wrong and that she is not an evil person.  All that happened was just her un-diagnosed ADHD or her lack of desire to get help.  I remember that last letter that she wrote; it said that she tanked God that I am out of their lives!  She also said that I only brought her conflict and that as soon as I was not present, peace returned.

Sorry for the long story, but I wanted to give you all the whole picture and my experience.  Thank you for writing your stories, because it has helped me cope with the loss of the person that I thought was the love of my life and my best friend; and because I felt guilty that I did not do enough to help her and make this relationship last.  In my heart, I feel that she will come back into my life, but my head tells me that I would be a fool if I trust and believe her again.  I’m taking it one day at a time.  Thanks.

One year roller coaster

I broke down crying at work when I found this website/blog.  This explains everything that has gone on in my life over the past year.  I can't describe the feelings I had when I realize how similiar my situation is to some of you.  I had no idea this was the explanation for what has happened.

A year ago, I was getting out of a long term marriage where my spouse was constantly critical, inattentive and unsupportive.  I am successful professionally and been told I'm attractive, smart, funny, etc.  But years of being told otherwise from my spouse led me to serious personal self confidence issues.  However I still found a lot of creativity and rewards in my work, so I ignored the problems.  But stress finally caused the marriage to fall apart.

I have fallen in love with a friend with ADD.  He was up front about his having ADD.  He is charming, fun and exciting.  I have also experienced the "hyper-focus" from him - I had never had this extreme amount of attention, being constantly told I am beautiful, sexy, smart and funny.  He says I am the love of his life.  We were best friends before lovers and have sworn to remain best friends forever.  I truly love everything about him - he is passionate, sincere, funny, kind, smart, handsome and the sweetest person I have ever known.  He constantly checks on me during the day, even when he is busy at work, through texting or instant messaging.  He has told me I am the most beautiful, smart, sexy perfect person.

I am now occasionally experiencing him withdrawing. This has happened several times, but the most recent was after a minor disagreement where he hurt my feelings.  When I let him know, somehow it got turned around that it was my fault (ok, I probably was being overly sensitive, but I can't help if my feelings get hurt) and then we had to have the conversation that he wasn't sure this was the relationship he wanted or wants for the rest of his life.  He wants me in his life, but he has to "figure out who he is" too.  Our relationship has been very intense - both on the friendship level as well as initimately.  We are very compatible physically.  I thought his feelings have changed.... which he insists is not the case.  He does still vary from the intense "love" and attention to being distracted.....  I can live with this - I understand that someone can't be perfect and loving and attentive all the time, but I am very afraid that his profession of love is really just the stimulation of the new relationship that everyone has talked about in this post.  I don't think I can tune down the relationship at this point.  About once a month, he acts like he wants to go back to being "just friends" but the rest of the time we practically live together, with sex every night, and his constant attention.

I am devastated to realize that I am not special in this...I really thought I had found a soul mate.  And I thought he was just afraid of commitment because he went through a divorce recently as well.  I thought we were special and this was worth fighting for.... but some of my thought was based upon his obvious love for me as well.  I am still certain of how I feel, but now I am incredibly uncertain about him and am seeing so many similiarities in your posts.  


Laurie - Don't Be Heartbroken

Laurie - he might still be your soul mate.  It's okay to have fun with a hyperfocus courtship (as well as a possible rebound relationship, which is a possibility for you) and you can come out of that hyperfocusing on each other and still be in love and have a great life together.

So, let me give you a different way of looking at your situation.  First, you have found someone with whom you are very compatible and whom you love deeply.  YAY!  Second, you know about the ADD in your relationship up front.  This is also a very good thing.  Third, you know the value of a good relationship (having been in a bad one) and that they are worth fighting for.  Fourth, this site can give you the resources you need to avoid the common traps that couple with ADHD in their relationship fall into.

The most important thing that the two of you need to be thinking about right now is developing good patterns for negotiation when you have conflict.  If you can do this, your relationship can not only survive, but thrive.  These patterns are based upon:  mutual respect for your individuality (including differences); an ability to see the "forest for the trees" (i.e. not everything has to be a crisis!); the development of specific conversational and negotiation tools that work for the two of you.

So here are some of my tips:

  • embrace the fact that the two of you do things differently.  Don't assume that the "fastest" way of getting something done is always the "best" way.
  • agree that sometimes it's okay to "take a time out" if an argument is starting to escalate.  Promise that you will come back to that topic...write down what it is so you don't forget...and set a specific time to do so.
  • don't overload your lives with routines and commitments that need constant attention any more than you have to.  This includes simple things (put bills on autopay, for example, so you don't have to worry about them every month) and more complex things (think twice before committing to that oversized mortgage).  The less "pressure" you can put on yourselves as a couple, the less ADHD will come to interfere in your lives.
  • schedule "together time" AND STICK TO IT
  • master the art of "learning conversations".  There will be much you don't understand about each other.  Learning conversations can help you stay in touch with each other and strengthen your understanding of just how different you are
  • keep dating.  Make sure you date past the time when the hyperfocus wears off and you are both "just you".  You'll get a good idea of how important these negotiation and living together tactics are...and that you can do well.  (FEAR of potential disaster is will be a problem for you if you move past letting it motivate you to do things well in your relationship to letting it block you from doing fun, creative and happy things together.  Don't let fear take over!)
  • open up the conversation about ADHD in a non-judgmental and accepting way.  Don't forget that the very characteristics that you say you love about your partner are also ADHD characteristics.  What people with ADHD want more than anything else in the whole world is to be loved for who they are.
  • make sure you find ways to "get things done" without you being the only person who does them.  As you continue to date, find ways to share the workload.  This will take effort, but is critical to your success as a couple over the long term.

Please don't give up on this relationship yet!  ADHD in itself doesn't doom relationships.  What hurts these relationships is the misinterpretation of ADHD symptoms, and not setting yourselves up for succeeding in a way that takes ADHD into account.  Embrace the ADHD and all that comes with it, set up ways to make sure you continue to be each others' best friends and you could have something very special.

You could easily be dating my

You could easily be dating my ex.  He tells all of the women he dates how beautiful, sexy, wonderful they are...multiple women at the same time.  Then after a while, the newness wears off and he wants to be just friends with them.  This is not to say the same about your friend.  Just be cautious.  As Melissa says, date him longer.  But remember the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.  We all want to be special.  So it hurts so much when the treatment starts changing. Does he give excessive flattery (not just compliments) to others, too?  Does it seem like he is just boistering the self-esteem of others and being nice?  Does he say things in a way so that you pity him?

Why just him?

I have ADHD and I am a woman, I have been married for 14 yrs and have 3 children, 2 of whom have ADHD, my 13 yr old son is very bad, he also has severe OCD and ODD, I am the type of girl who does sit here at 9pm and decide to go visit someone or want to go for a walk, 9 times out of 10 nowadays we don't but 7 yrs ago I would get highly aggressive if I couldn't go, I tend to become attracted to lots of men who are our friends and then after the initial flirting wears off and I get bored they are left feeling wounded, I don't cope very well with it and as an adult in the UK there are few services for adults wih ADHD, when I was a kid I was a nightmare, my school reports were of hyperactivity and fidgeting and non stop talking, did he docs help my mum? NO, so here I am as an adult totally depressed and losing my mind, how does my husband cope? I have no bloody idea but we both love each other very much and I would be lost without him, yes the hyper attention wore off not long after we had children and I will get bursts of over attention to him, but he is used to it and he knows what I have and he loves me for it, even though when we first met I didn't know what was wrong with me let alone him yet we cope and he wouldn't have me any other way

I have all different urges to try new things and never stick to them, I have done courses and never stck to any of them untill I did Interior Design which because I am very creative held my attention for long enough to pass, I change the decor in my house frequently and drive the kids nuts as I change my mind so much but it is who I am, has anyboy thought to ask what it is like for some who has ADHD, I hate the way I feel most of the time an how I treat people but I really can't help it, please have a little thought to us

I am not sure why you think that we don't

I can totally understand that your ADD is the reason behind your behaviors. I can sympathize with how uncomfortable it makes you.  I have several friends in a similar boat as you as far as interests and behaviors that are all over the place.  Most of them have a mate that is hanging in there and making it work with varying degrees of success.  It affects me mildly when I try to have plans with them, but I understand their limitations and can roll with it when I am with them.  It does however limit how much time I'm willing to spend with them.  One we have to tell a 45 minute eariler time to be somewhere just to hope that she'll make it before dinner is over.

Does ADD cause this?  Yep.  The fact that it is so uncontrolled makes it so that many other people do not enjoy spending time with them.  Is that the friends fault that they are not *considering* what it's like for the ADD person?  You may think yes, but I think no.  They go out with them some, but they don't want to be waiting around, stressed out, and/or bombarded by one person's every thought while trying to have a nice night out.  It is irritating regardless of the cause.  I have another friend that is blind.  She is also included some, but she has a lousy personality and is difficult to deal with (not all because of her disability) so she is limited in how often she is invited out.  She is not relaxing and doesn't allow anyone else to relax.  Ironically our ADD friends generally don't want to hang out with other ADD friends because it puts them into *competition* for center stage and they exhaust themselves--demonstrating no concern for the rest of us who were exhausted hours before!

A person with ADD that is under control has less negative affect on others.  It is just a fact.  People are busy and they are stressed in general.  If some people choose not to be further stressed by a friend who acts in a way that bothers them, they have a right to make that decision.

You sound to me like a great person. I'm sure you'd be a fun person to have as a friend.  I can assure you that based on your post I absolutely could not be married to a person with the qualities you display.  I need a different kind of partner...not someone who is going to spend time remodelling the house when thousands of other things actually *need* to be done, not someone who is going to spend time and money to take a lot of courses that they won't stick to, and certainly not someone who is going to flirt with our friends.  That to me is disrespectful and embarrassing for everyone involved and around in my opinion.  I need to be with a person who is actively working toward joint goals.

I am married to an ADD man who now has his ADD mostly under control.  He was undiagnosed when we met and until more than 5 years into our married life.  He frustrated me with his behaviors but I never didn't love him.  Now that I know the cause, I can roll much better with his ADD behaviors because I DO consider where he is coming from and what he can and cannot help.  He has fabulous qualities that make any negatives worth the effort.  It sounds like you've found a man who accepts you ADD behaviors and all and I am SOO happy for you.  You make it work with a man who definitely considers you and what is behind behaviors that other people would likely describe as erratic.

I don't think people saying that they do not want to be married to a person with certain kinds of ADD are being inconsiderate to people with ADD.  I know people who say they don't want to marry a person who already has kids, or who doesn't want kids, or is less educated than they are, or more educated than they are.  It is all personal preference and it is about each of us finding our match.

For a lot of people that is a person without ADD, or without unmedicated ADD, but that is not a limiting factor for everyone.  And I don't think either is inconsiderate toward what you go through, but some people don't want or can't take that kind of chaos into their lives.  That recognition is GREAT for everyone in my opinion because everyone has the opportunity to find someone who will be HAPPY with them....warts and all...and not disappointed, frustrated, or angry.

I wish I had warned my wife!

I didn't know I had ADHD until my 4th yr of marriage, but I wish I could've warned her.  If I had, I don't think I would've married someone who can't grow from the variety I bring to her life!

How Depressing

I have only just found this site, and upon reading all of these posts, I had to stop and ask my husband if being married to me was really this bad. I read him some of the comments, and he laughed and told me that he loves me exactly as I am.

I have ADD, and was not diagnosed until I was an adult. Does it affect my behaviour? I would say that it makes some things more challenging for me. However, I am responsible for my behaviour, not my ADD. Am I frequently late?  The answer is sometimes, but not more than 5-10 minutes late. I work really hard at that. Do I have problems being organized?  A resounding YES!!  My husband, bless him, does help in that regard, particularly with finanaces - taxes, my billing, etc. (I learned long ago to put my bills on pre-authorized payments!!). Anyway, he is simply better at that stuff than I am. I literally post lists of my morning routine, after work routine, after supper routine, because if I don't check things off as I do them, I will forget. My planner goes everywhere with me, and he knows that if it is really important, I need to write it down, and tells me to!! We are able to communicate really well together, and he never tries to "parent" me, thank goodness.

Do I have behaviours that bug him?  Of course. He has behaviours that annoy me as well. I talk A LOT when my meds are wearing off, but he has learned to either tell me he is busy, or listen with half an ear. I can spend impulsively,never to the point of financial problems, but it still bothers him, and I work at it, because it is OUR money, and I feel that it is selfish and insensitive of me to worry him about it.

I am currently the sole wage earner - I have a very good job- as he has gone back to university.  That was a joint decision we both made. It takes a huge effort for me to work the hours I do - about 50+ hours a week, plus try to be organized in making sure that we have groceries, meals, clean clothes, the dogs are fed and exercised and groomed, and the house is at the very least not a health hazard. He helps out equally in all these areas. I consider myself lucky to have him.

While I know that those of us with ADHD are prone to impulsive behaviour, things like excessive gambling, drinking, or rages are not necessarily part of ADD. It is my responsibility to manage my ADD and my behaviour. I refuse to use my ADD as an excuse for bad behaviour.  It certainly is an explanation as to why some things are so very difficult for me, but that is all. Growing up with ADD, especially undiagnosed ADD, can leave people with a LOT of baggage. People "self-medicate" in various maladaptive ways - alcohol, drugs, gambling, anger, etc. And some people are simply addicts. And finally, some people are simply badly behaved. Period.

Using ADD as an excuse for your spouse's bad behaviour is not the best idea. Bad behaviour is simply that. Understanding why some things are so very difficult for your spouse is one thing. Having a spouse who refuses to learn to communicate, or control their impulsive behaviour, or try to learn to become organized to some extent, is not just due to ADD; yes they have problems in those areas BECAUSE they are ADD, but refusing to deal with any of it is, quite frankly, simply poor behaviour.

By the same token, using ADD as an reason for problems in a marriage also makes me wonder a bit. There is no doubt that ADD symptoms make life more difficult for people.  I know.  I live with those symptoms every single day. I take my meds, and use stratagies that are helpful to me. However, if I have a fight with my husband, it is not because I have ADD. It is because we have annoyed each other to an extent that our usual methods of communicating issues has broken down. That is OUR fault - not the fault of ADD. I love my husband dearly, and take responsibility for my part of our marriage. My husband married me - a woman with ADD, not a collection of ADD symptoms that happen to be in a woman.

Marriage and Kids in Shambles

With all due respect Melissa, your expertise notwithstanding, under NO circumstances should anyone marry someone with ADD unless they are aware of it, have taken responsibility for it, are stabilized on medicine and have been in counseling for enough time that they have developed and incorporated excellent coping skills.  I have been married for almost 18 years and it has been nothing short of a disaster.  My wife is horrendously disorganized, disgustingly messy, obsessive, always chronically and excessively late, incapable of making any decisions and when she does, the aftermath of insecurity over having made it is insufferable.  Worse, our kids have ADD and because she is completely incapable of setting or even following any sense of order, discipline and consequences, they are a bigger mess than her.  The house is not to be believed.  Forget that it is a physical mess, to the point that my side of the bed is literally piled up with her clothes and crap that i can't stay there - although we have no sex life at all and haven't for years, mainly because she is a complete turn-off.  Forget that she has never even done anything to beautify the rooms.  But it is so embarrassing that she will not let the kids have friends over.  Now their crap is all over the floor.  She won't clean up after herself and they don't either.  So, not only has she effectively ruined my life, but she's ruining theirs.  How well prepared will they be to take on life, careers and dare I say marriage with her as their role model.  I cannot do anything with her because she'll never get it done until it's far too late and the stress of me trying to delegate anything to her is so bad because I know she won't take care of it.  For crying out loud, even a damn phone call to make a time-sensitive appointment she can't do.  She has turned my life into a living hell and I'm sick and tired of living this way.  I would go have an affair, but I'm not that kind of person.  Oh, did I mention that she has never been diagnosed ADD?  Well, she hasn't and knowing that her marriage is on the verge of being destroyed (I have such hatred and resentment that it is likely beyond repair at this point), she still hasn't followed up on a referral to get evaluated.  Even a counselor/coach left numerous voicemail messages expressing frustration that she wasn't returning calls.  Actually, that's another thing; she rarely returns phone messages and when she does it's ridiculously belated.

If it wasn't so pathetic, it would be comical.  But this is my life and she's ruined it.  Frankly, even if it's ADD, I'm sorry, but it's no excuse for not dealing with it.  It is rude and disrespectful to me and our kids.  Plain and simple.  Did I see warning signs when we were dating and thenn engage?  Absolutely.  But I failed to see them for what they were and certainly didn't understand their significance.  She's like this because her mother followed her around like a dog's owner does with a pooper-scooper doing everything for her.

One more thing.  I'm ADHD and have been off medicine since college.  I had much counseling and have developed amazing organizational and other coping skills.  Sadly, the last 18 years of my life have felt like living in quicksand.  No order, only chaos and instability.  I'm ready to move on, and had I realized where I would be now, there is no way I would have ever married her.


ADHD spouses

I am so sorry to have to say this, but if I had known all the emotional pain, financial pain, physical pain, and spiritual pain I and my three children would have suffered marrying an ADHD man it is the only thing in my life I would go back and make a point of doing differently. I was married for 22years, divorced now for almost 4 years, and he still creates stress, conflict and difficulties in all our lives because I still have one child that is 12.  Former spouse uses him as a piece of property to continue to attempt to get back at me for not staying in an unhealthy relationship and taking care of him to my own physical, emotional, and spiritual detriment.

I mistakenly believed that if I divorced him I would be free of the emotional immaturity, stress, conflict, insecurity, anger, irritability, defensiveness, lack of compassion, financial stresses and many other quality-of-life desctructive characteristics that his denial and refusal to deal with the issues our family faced. A relationship can only exist where both partners are able to face the reality of  day to day problems, learn effective communication skills, and positive conflict resolution. Running from job to job, changing living locations, and avoiding the past issues does not  constitute a resolution to problems. It merely avoids thems and attempts to distract from them.

If you choose to marry a man with ADHD, TAKE YOUR TIME!!!! Know him well and whether or not he is willing and able to see and accept the extra help that your family will need to survive!!! For you will need help, particularly if you have children. In reality, you will have married someone that has the potential to be an adult child and therefore a constant responsibility instead of a partner.





When and why does the hyperfocus wear off?

I don't really understand how someone can change so drastically.  Does this mean their personality alters? It couldn't be their character, that is something that does not change in anyone.  How is this different than a 'normal' person putting on their A game and then once they have conquered the relationship they revert back to more of themselves.  Could you please explain this?  Thank you.

Changes of all Kinds

In my experience with my husband, the small changes happened over time as we settled into a life of raising kids, running a business, and managing a household.  The bigger changes that affected how he acted were due to bigger events in our lives.  Some of the big events that triggered more ADD behaviors were:  extra job stress, a child leaving home, death of his father, and the challenges of watching his mother's aging.  With the big events, it seemed to cause so much stress that it triggered significant changes in his behavior.  I was used to the level of ADD that we'd had for a while - the forgetfulness, disorganization, etc.  But after his father passed away, all of those things became MUCH worse.  I've also heard that midlife changes can cause ADD behaviors to get worse, and that definitely fits for my husband. 

I don't know if this is what you were asking, but I hope it helps.

From the horses mouth, Important to know about hyperfocus.

Hyperfocus is an ADHD phenomenon (and Autism too I believe). Because it is so difficult for people with ADHD to get focused on anything, when we find something we are interested it, it is easier to become hyperfocused than just normal focused. Hyperfocused means instead of allowing outside distractions to come into play, our minds just simply shut them out to an extreme extent. It is like a defense mechanism for our overtaxed brains. It saves time and energy to just remained focused on one thing, then to switch our focus from one thing to the next. When this happened for me in a relationship, I began to get resentful towards my partner because I just couldn't pay attention to anything or anyone else but him when he was around. I couldn't switch my focus manually. This meant that my friendships and hobbies went on the back burner for months, and eventually my well being suffered because of it. It felt like I was losing my identity for a bit. So eventually the relationship plateaued, it didn't get bad, it just was no longer on an up-climb, which is natural. When this happened my hyperfocus suddenly snapped. I no longer had the stimulation and interest to sustain it any longer. Hyperfocus never lasts forever. It always stops eventually, so it is best to mentally prepare yourself for it. Once that hyperfocus is broken, it is very difficult to immediately go back to focusing on that person if they aren't the most interesting thing in the room (literally... Oo something shiny!).

The important thing to remember for both people is that ADHDers are terrible at maintaining focus on multiple things at once and switching their focus, once they are focused. It just doesn't happen very easily. It is hard not to take it personally, or be worried about it, but it is literally because of how our brains function. It sucks, a lot, for both people in the relationship when the hyperfocus is broken, but it doesn't mean the relationship has to be over. I think the best thing couples can do in that situation is to a) not resent each other for it and b) back off a bit, give each other some space. My Dad has ADHD and he told me once that the best thing for his marriage with my Mom has been all the traveling he does for work. He said it helps keep the relationship fresh and he can't wait to see her again. I think after hyperfocus, the best thing is to be independent people for a while. Maybe travel a bit or something, indulge in a hobby, visit family and friends. It will be better for both of you. And this isn't just something you have to do once, this back and forth of hyperfocus and hyper-independence will happen again and again to some degree. It could keep the relationship interesting and fun, if you play up your strengths as a couple. Some non- ADHD people appreciate this independence and time apart, and some people hate it, but it is necessary for a long term relationship I think. 

Many people do not know about

Many people do not know about the ADHD when the hyperfocus wears off, so as you can imagine this makes for a very heartbreaking and confusing time in many of our lives. I have seen personally the hyperfocus come and go in my marriage...right now his focus is on everything EXCEPT me. For the first time in our 14 year marriage I have taken off the controlling/parenting hat and am just letting him BE HIM. Although I don't take it personally, I do not like the inattention and do not feel I could ever 'get used to' it, but for now, I am focusing on me and rebuilding my self-image and self-esteem and evolving into someone I can be proud of. For many years my life has revolved around and focused on others and their problems and how they affect me. I am feeling quite selfish right now, and it feels good.

This comment thread has been

This comment thread has been enlightening for me as a person with ADHD. I have thought about how my ADHD may have affected previous relationships (before I knew I had it) in terms of being disorganized and impulsive, but never considered the hyperfocusing, especially from my partner's perspective. It is very helpful to know how my actions could be interpreted, even if I don't mean them that way. One thing I found most helpful was to be very clear and honest when I needed help and when I needed time to myself. When I am exhausted because of a mentally draining day, instead of just locking myself in my room without saying a word, I would explain to my partner that I needed an hour to myself to mentally unload before diving into more person-to-person interaction. When I ask for these things in an honest and non-judgemental way, my partner was less likely to take it personally and was more willing to be accomodating. It can be very difficult sometimes, knowing when to speak up and ask for help. Again, the only way any of this is possible is for judgement free communication and me not being in denile of my weaknesses, which is much easier said than done. Sherri, thank you for telling your experiences. I can imagine it being very difficult when he is focusing on everything BUT you. That sounds emotionally taxing and hurtful. And as was stated previously by other people, and I think you understand, but I wanted to reiterate it for others reading: It sounds like maybe it is something more than just ADHD, but the ADHD definitely adds gasoline to the fire. Depression and anxiety are very common comorbid conditions for ADHD.

I am curious how things are going with the "let him be him" strategy. Has his behavior changed? Has it made things any less stressful for you? I am so glad that you are taking more time for yourself. Selfishness is a very good thing in this case. I hope you continue to take care of your own needs first for a while. You clearly deserve the break. Best of luck to you. 

Well, I didn't really

Well, I didn't really consider it a strategy as much as just something that needs to be done at this point in our lives. We've tried everything else, nothing worked. We couldn't get along for more than a day or two and it was getting toxic to even live in the same house together. I essentially reached a breaking point and realized that until I got in a better place myself, I had no right to ask anything of anyone. (well, you know...within reason..I still expect him to be a husband and father) I set him free and have made a very concentrated effort to do nothing or say nothing that could be deemed as controlling. I NEED him to stand on his own and show me what he has to offer me in terms of how much he's willing to work at controlling his ADHD, how much he's willing to put into the marriage, and all of this hopefully will help us get a better idea of where we stand as a couple.

His behavior has changed...for the better...and for the worse. His attitude is 100% different. Now keep in mind, I quit asking ANYTHING of him (aside from the obvious expectations above), and have just focused on getting emotionally strong myself...for possibly the first time in my life. I am codependent. If he unravels, I would always follow. His mood dictated mine. My entire life revolved around figuring out ways to 'fix' him. I let go of the anger...just laid it down and walked away. We haven't fought in exactly one month. This alone is a miracle.

I also left his treatment entirely in his hands. That, not going so well. I'm not sure exactly what has happened, but best I can tell from what he has shared with me is that he was doing OK until his psychiatrist increased his Vyvanse and now he's 'crawling out of his skin' as he puts it. He has spent the majority of the past few weeks in the den (in contrast to spending 10-16 hours a day at work prior to that), he is drinking again, and he is missing 1-2 days of work a week. All of which he is blaming on the medication increase. He says the drinking helps calm him, he cannot stand to be at the office...can't get anything done, and his plan was to call his psychiatrist yesterday and get him to put him back on the lower dosage. He finally came out of the den today...and went into work at around noon...after spending from Friday evening until this morning down there doing God only knows what.

Sooo...it has not been easy to watch his recent decline...but unless he paves his own path without ANY input from me at this point...he will continue to exist solely for the purpose of pleasing others. He may hit rock bottom. He may not. He may hit bottom and decide to take a better, healthier path in life. He may hit bottom and never come up. Either way, I am prepared to face it head on and make the choices for MY future based on who he winds up being when all is said and done. I am completely done trying to control his life, and I pray every day of my own that God moves his heart to get back on track, treat his ADHD appropriately (he self medicates), and makes the restoration of his family a priority. That is all I can do for now.

Yes, although there will always be a certain level of stress as someone who is emotionally invested in this man, the level of stress has dropped dramatically. I love him...although I am not sure who 'him' is sometimes. As I said in a recent post, I am just trying to let him figure out who he is and what path he wants to take in life and trying to get to know him again. I am hoping for the best.


I have not read all of your posts, so pardon me if I say something repetitive or inappropriate, but I feel like I need to say it in case someone in a similar situation is reading this. It is good you are taking more time for yourself. I don't know if you have considered counseling, if not as a couple, then just for yourself. It sounds like his denial is well rooted, so I doubt he would agree to counseling, but I could be wrong. I don't know what kind of support system you have in terms of friends and family, but adding another individual to rely on will certainly help. I know what it is like to watch someone you love self-destruct and fall to pieces. Having a counselor as an objective voice of reason can be extremely useful and provide a sense of constancy. He will never change unless he decides to for himself, which you seem to know very well. But you can do things to ease your situation and clear your head. I know that sometimes money is an issue when it comes to therapy and counseling. Some places offer graduated price scales based on income level, and many places take insurance. If counseling isn't a practical option, many organizations and non-profits offer free or cheep group counseling for family members of ADHDers or for struggling partners. Some churches offer marital counseling as well. I wish you the best. You both are in my intentional thoughts. 

Very grateful for your

Very grateful for your thoughtful and compassionate posts.

Let's see...we were in couples counseling (with 3 different counselors) for about 4 years...off and on. I boycotted the entire idea in June and just laid down and gave up. This was on the heels of him stopping ADHD meds, coming completely unglued, shutting down, barely working, and checking completely out in February. When he started to come around, I shut down. I spent the entire summer trying to crawl out of my very dark place and not only did I come out of it, I soared to heights I've never known before.

I am in counseling now FOR ME. It is free, through my husband's job. Our old counselor was awesome, but not covered by our plan so we had to pay $50 per session, which was her giving us a 50% discount. I am focusing on ME. My codependency. My low self worth. Besides this site, I have a small but POWERFUL handful of friends and family that are amazingly supportive and who have encouraged me to grow emotionally. I have an enormous amount of support, I just stopped utilizing it for the longest time because it was too much effort to do so on top of everything else. I feel truly blessed to have the friends and family I do.

My husband has gone, willingly, to counseling. As a matter of fact, it was initially his idea to go. I stopped going with him when our sessions became nothing but 'the blame game' and 'he said, she said' again. I cannot stomach it as it is the one thing that rips away at every shred of hope I have for us. I know my faults, admit them freely, but for a long time I secretly justified being angry (said it "protected" me...such a sad lie we tell ourselves) and didn't TRULY acknowledge how toxic it was to everyone who loves me. I am working on ME and becoming who I want to be as a wife, mother, and human being...and Christian. God has been my sole source of strength, without him I could not have overcome any of this. If and until my husband comes to me and says he wants to return to counseling to help us deal with the issues his ADHD brings to the marriage, I most likely will never ask him to go with me again. If I have learned anything it is that if they aren't going for the right reasons, it is a waste of time and money.

You're right, it is hard to see what FEELS to me like him self-destructing, but I stopped assuming I know him or know what he thinks months ago when I finally woke up (but was still in denial until recently) to the fact that I do not know who he is anymore, although he's fairly predictable in some ways, in others he's gone so far in some directions that I don't know how to even relate to him. His self-medication (and attempts to hide it) is a good example of something I never dreamed I would have to deal with...beyond alcohol abuse. Maybe in his mind he has everything perfectly under control. Maybe in his mind nothing needs to change. Maybe in his mind he is falling apart and working hard to get himself together. I do not know anymore. He seems to be OK on the outside, but other things are saying 'no'. As I said, prayer is all I have to offer him right now. That, and my love. It has never changed.


I've been married to my ADD husband for over four years now.  We married just under a year after our first "real" conversation.  I may be in the minority of the commenters here in that my husband was diagnosed as a child, so I entered the marriage with my eyes open.  By the time we met, he'd found meds that worked for him pretty well.  In reading through the comments, I've realized for the first time that he _was_ hyperfocused on me during our brief courtship and engagement, but that hyperfocus quickly melted away when we got pregnant (unexpectedly) two months into our marriage.

We've definitely had our ups and downs and it's been _HARD_ at times...but I think we have a few things going for us:

1) We have the same faith and values (so there is less friction about that, and we both recognized the length of the committment before we made it)

2) We're both probably more stubborn than is smart (it's almost a joke between us that neither of us is willing to be the one who throws in the towel, although both of us have considered it - we each are determined to at least stick it out longer than the other)

3) We were both in our late 20s before we met (so we each were independent, knew our own minds, and knew ourselves).

It DEFINITELY helps that hubs already accepts/admits his ADD, but also doesn't let it define him.  He's open to trying non-medicinal treatment options, especially as I can point out specific patterns that are triggered by environmental things (red food dye being the most recent).  We're also learning when to and when NOT to have a "discussion."  He doesn't take his meds on the weekends, so we go through the daily tail off when he gets home, but we also go through another one over the weekend as more of it leaves his system (that is _NOT_ the time to introduce a trigger like the food dye, nor is it the time to try to talk about anything important).

There is definitely the potential (as the non-ADD spouse) for being taken for granted or being taken advantage of.  I think we are able to deal with that because we were "older" when we met/married.  I will stand up for myself when I am feeling that way, and he _knows_ (since he's done it) that he _can_ do these tasks (and how much work they take) all by himself if he needs to.  At the same time though, I'm someone who can be intimidating (so I've been told), so it's always like a breath of fresh air when he's never afraid of or intimidated by me (one of the most endearing aspects of our courtship/engagement was that there was never a moment of wondering if we were dating or if he was my boyfriend - he was always very frank about it and very bold about asking me out, asking my dad's permission, etc.).

From time to time I've found him "hyperfocusing" on a (female) friend - not ever being physically (or even mentally) unfaithful, just focusing on her to the point of making her uncomfortable.  I can point that out to him and he then can (and does) recognize it and rein himself in.

One other problem we have frequently is that he always wants things to be someone else's fault.  Issues at work are because of co-workers, issues at home are because of me (I have some faults too!) or because our kids came along sooner than we planned, etc.  That's hard to deal with and is really something that I'm only just now recognizing.  As I can, I'll bring that up to my husband and point out how frequently he does it.  Usually when I point out a destructive behavior/pattern (repeatedly), he (slowly) begins to recognize it himself and starts to address it.

One thing I've found that helps (and is definitely stretching for me), is keeping the clutter to a minimum.  When there is less to distract him at home, not only is he less likely to lose things (and blame me for it!), but he's also less overwhelmed and overstimulated just in general.

Another thing that I try to keep in mind is that even though he doesn't often compliment me and when he does it frequently sounds forced, when he asks something like "why do you love me?" he's really saying, "what does someone as great/hot/sweet/awesome/etc. as you see in someone as awful/messed up/broken/etc. as me."  I try to take those opportunities to point out the great things that ADD has brought into our relationship (once he takes ownership of something, his passion for it is matchless; he's not intimidated by me; he's a GREAT dad; he's devoted to (i.e., hyperfocused on) providing for us; and LOTS of other things).

No matter what I may say in jest, the bottom line that keeps us together when everything seems to be falling apart is that he is my perfect match and there is no doubt in my mind about that.  No matter how angry I am or how fed up with it all I am, he's "the one" for me.  Keeping that in mind and working _with_ him rather than fighting for my own desires has worked for us so far.

So...bottom line...yes, go into a relationship with an ADD partner with your eyes open.  Is co-habitation prior to marriage a requirement?  I don't think so.  Yes, you get to know more about what it's actually going be to like to be married to them, but that's the case with anyone, ADD or not.  The transition from not living together to living together will always be a difficult one whenever it happens and whatever issues you both bring into the relationship.  The most important thing (imo) is for you to be confident in who you are.  Appreciate what they bring into the relationship, but don't depend on them for your identity or self-image.  But then again, those things are true whether ADD is in the picture or not.

Reply to "Hope"

I think your greatest strengths are 1) that you're working together to build a good marriage and 2) that he's willing to work on his issues.  You're doing so many things right.  I wish I'd known about ADD 32 years ago, but I didn't.  We spent so many years developing bad patterns and habits that I don't see much chance of change now.  I hope your life together will always be positive and growing.

im exhuasted

hello im new here and i have spent some time reading the posts . i am in a relationship with some one with add and i do love her very much. the hyperfocus i deal with is odd when we are together most of the time the relationship rocks . i do find its expensive though . i got a 2 fold challenge not only is she add she is also addicted to drugs and booze . im not thank god . i know she is not the unfaithfull type thank god . I know she has an addiction issue and its not healthy for her health. im patint with her and i encourge her and praise her for all that goes well. we do comunicate well i would like to say better than most. but when she focuses on something else like hyperfocus i loose her attention during these times .These are the times i realy worrie about loosing her all together . we do love each other very much we are on mnth 8 of our ralationship and everytime we go through something we grow instead of stacking resentment . i know very well that we have the odds against us and it seems i hold most of the relationship together . the heart thing is great but i seems im the one looking after our current and futer goals . the combination of the addiction and hyperfocus she has that is ever changing is tough to keep up with i find myslef extreamly tired after about 3 or 4 days together becouse we serously on the go . and when i were down she changes her focus to other things and leaves me in the dust . when we are together we do well but when others distract her im never sure when her focus will come back to me . as i learn more about add im more at ease at the same time when her focus is somewhere else i feel left out and long for her return . any and all feed back is welcome . its tough being with her but i have streamlined my life to make things easier to keep up. 


Advice from someone who knows

Does she know about ADHD? I ask because her ADHD may not only be the reason causing her to do Drugs and booze but could also be caused because she is attempting to deal with her ADHD. So in short the addiction may be connected to the ADHD not a separate issue. It appears she has alot of energy, both mentally and physically, I know this can be very draining. I'm sure she cares about you but she doesn't always show it. Communicate with her found out if there is anything you both can do together that will keep her attention but also allow quality time together. Things that may work include Movies (netflix), Video Games (Gamefly). I would reccomend things that would slow her down. (things less fast paced)

tell her your concerns I'm sure she will work with you.

Hope about people with ADHD

These are things that can be done that have worked for me.

1. Awareness: Learn about ADHD (both Spouse with and Spouse without) to learn more about each other. This helps because your ADHD spouse will find out about their ADHD and so will you. Please do this with a open mind and heart. This helps you be more tolerant and less resentful toward each other.

2. Guidance: Guide your Spouse (again with or with out) to possible solutions. These include medication, therapy, anger management, and talking about problems.

3. Understanding: Understand that ADHD people cope with things in very strange ways, ways that you would not think of as coping strategies. Excessive silliness, Destructive behavior, and seeking solitude, Addictive behavior, Excessive spending, among others is common.

4. Communication: Talk to your partner, explain you know it's the ADHD and not them. work to find solutions. Talk about stressors, talk about problems.

5. Persistance: whether it's you or your partner, work toward change, learn (help them) to manage your anger, (their) your symptoms

6. Don't let history repeat itself: Get your children diagnosed early, on a treatment, help them learn how to manage symptoms without medication. The earlier it's treated the less the impact, the less severe the impact on your relationship. They will struggle much less.

7. Love: Be there for them through this difficult period.

(to non-ADHD spouses) It will seem like you are doing alot for a long time (this will likely take a few years.) but if you keep working at it, your relationship will improve. You will likely feel like you have another child. It will be frustrating.

(To ADHD spouses) work with your spouse. You may not like this change but you will realize it's for the best. Take the time to talk to your spouse about your difficulties with concentration. seek help, a support group, to show you you're not alone! It can be done.

I know about this because I have ADHD/ADD i know first hand the difficulties of relationships, friendships with someone with ADD. Boundaries are hard to learn. But can be learned. I have learned to prioritize people before distractions. I have learned to spend a small amount of money 20-40 at a casino (I do penny slots) Improve my credit. it's possible to fix these problems. I have been with my fiance for 16 months I make a point to pay attention to her still. It's true the Hyper focus has worn off but I knew about the problems ADHD people have in relationships and made a point not to take anybody for granted.

It can be done, but it takes a long time. it's best if you start early at a young age. talk to your children about relationships they will be interested. Talk to your spouse. When people with ADD have to take responsiblity they can do it.

Please remember that they started dating you for the same reason you started dating them: love. not for a caretaker. They do good at work, show them the benefits of being a better husband, and father.

I wish you all the best of luck. And God bless

its over

around july 4 it all came to a close . she got into a accident of course she was drunk i covered her from getting a dui . she realy hurt herself bad she put her foot peg into her calf all the way to the bone never seen anyone bleed that much , blood all over me all over her bike all 0ver her  3 weeks later i pulled the plug i think i was at the end of my rope frustraited . she was drinking instead of taking care of herself and mixing the pain meds in with it . i asked her repeatedly to please get a doctors appointment for the after care she wouldnt . finaly i blew my stack and told her to get her shit together or there were going to start to be consaquinces like no more beer, no more satalite tv no more internet as i was buying it she hasnt worked in some time between me and her family seems to allways bail her out of her problems . i love her , i cant tell her no so i enable her to continue down the path of self destruction . i cant describe the pain i have felt since in my heart and emotionaly , i struggle day to day to not cry my eyes out , i struggle not to call her email her . i will be honest i knew we were most likely not going to make it i believed n the power of love to see us through the rough patches . but when you add in denial , and super stuborn , doomed . she knows she is add but she wont admit being a alcaholic . if she would have aty least admitted it i would have stayed even if she had lied it would have been enough. i let her down and me i wasnt stong enough for the task and it kills me everyday

There are also joys that ADHD can bring...

I have read a lot of negative posts on this thread and I think it is their right to vent about their pain...BUT Adhd is not only sorrow!!!!! My partner is the only human being I never get bored with. We always laugh together and he says that he loves me everyday! Of course we have had a lot of trouble with his impulses etc...But things can change for the better if the ADHD partner is willing to do so I think...

He is so caring and charming most of the time!!


I am so glad you mentioned the positives of being married to a partner with ADHD. My ADHD husband is the absolute light of my life! But, I don't necessarily think of him as my "ADHD husband," only my incredible husband, who has ADHD (among many other perfections and imperfections)!

Not a day goes by that he does not tell me he loves me. I think it's important for those with spouses who have ADHD to realize that this diagnosis does not mean that you should expect that your partner does not make you feel loved daily, and that they are insensitive to your position. My husband is fully aware that he has ADHD - meaning that he not only recognizes the diagnosis but he works on it daily. I will note that this may be because he was diagnosed as a young child and has been medicated since.

Still, the spouse with ADHD should not see the diagnosis as "just the way it is." You can work together to improve the situation for your partner and your marriage. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to struggle with ADHD. My husband doesn't want to forget to do chores, he doesn't try to forget things just to upset me.

Often times as the "doer" is our relationship I get frustrated and I nag (which makes me upset with myself). So I've started to focus on improving myself in my dealings with my husband. I also think about how blessed my life is in so many ways - everyone faces challenges - ADHD just so happens to be ours. I'm just glad that I get to face it with my hubsand :)

One more thing....

Having a partner with ADHD does not mean that they will be a better or worse partner than someone without ADHD. Often I think the non-ADHD partner attributes the negatives of their partner to ADHD. I completely disagree with this. ADHD does not make you less loving or kind. Every human being shows their affection differently. We are all different. Some relationships are not meant to be, whether someone has a diagnosis of ADHD or not. I just don't want someone reading posts on this site to think that they have to have lowered expectations or assume that they'll feel unloved or unappreciated because their partner has ADHD. We ALL deserve to be happy.

"You're too sensitive"

Wow! I know those words very well. They usually came sometime before "Deal with it". We could come up with a list! Top five comments most spoken by...  

No offense, it is a bit comical!

Hey! I was editing

and lost my comment! I wanted to mention that the beginning of this blog was some well written information by Melissa.

I wish my ADD hubby came with a manual or a list! After 20 years or so, he finally saw a doctor who knew what he was dealing with. I got every book I could on the subject at the library and he got some pills! I never realized that when we agreed to something he would only agree because it was what I wanted to hear. He forgets all about that and does what he wants to do which was not what we agreed on! The commitment required for this kind of relationship can be completely overwhelming. I'm glad to see this information is available to help make decisions that will affect your whole life!

cannot agree more

Bunsy, what you wrote is just exactly describing my situation -- 

I always hear "You're too sensitive" too from my ADHD husband, and he is one way in public and the other way when we are alone or home, or with his family. It does mean that he can control himself, no? He can control his anger burst and short fuse at work, but how come never at home?  I cannot help thinking.. he is intentionally not controlling himself at home.

fuzzylogic72's picture

so nice to hear this

Thanks d2d; you and the poster before you actually choked me up with your comments. I work so hard every day to change and improve. It feels like an uphill battle with myself and I often feel like it's never going to pay off or be noticed, or be enough. Hearing how you both feel about your partners filled me with hope and renewed vigor in my path to try to evolve. I just pray that I will be lucky enough to be married to someone who understands what the other side is like, how hard we try, and how sincere our love and devotion is to the person who accepts, supports, and tries to help. I am hyper-aware of my own faults and there is nothing I wouldn't do to try to have a happy healthy relationship and the posts from people like you two give me a sliver of optimism that is such a rare thing to have for people like us. Thank you. Partners like you are the world to adhders, and give us a reason to keep trying to give you what we know you deserve.

a simple girl in <3 w an ADD boy

I came across this Website looking for answers. I met him a yr ago exactly,I  thought he was EVERYTHING i had EVER wanted. later on realized how "different" he was, he had said to me he had ADD but i thought nothing of it. turns out that things turned out really really reallllllllllyyyyyyyy bad he has ALLL and EACH one of the symptoms ADD people suffers from. i was even pregnant with his child and we decided not to have it and nobody here understand how BADDDDDD i wanted that baby! but at times i used to feel scared of him bc of his temper and verbal abuse towards me, i remember one time he came to see me to go out for dinner....i was sooo sick bc of my belly but yet went out i remember feeling SOOO SCARED! bc i knew he didn't want to have the baby n the reason he was taking me out for dinner what to talk about "it" and what we were gonna do with "it"i was scared he would do something to me i even txtd my friends to let them know where i was just in case something bad happened to me n my baby. his state of mind was scary sometimes and this is y i decided not to have my baby ALTHOUGH I REGRET THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.......i willl NEVER EVER do it again...regardless of the situation. i told him i wanted to have the baby but that he wasnt going to be allowed to drive him anywhere unless i was in the car and i was driving(HE DRIVES LIKE A MANIAC) and he wasnt allowed to stay alone with the baby EVER,he told me that was his baby raising his voice and that he would take me to court...a little taste ofwhat life would of been if i had the baby i guess...i was scared the way he would raise the baby,scared he would get too physical with him or yell at him unnecessarily....lots of things to think about and i guess i was a coward and took the easy way out and i regret it and i hope i go to hell for it, i punish myself everyday for my baby not being here, today he would b a month old..... but i think if he would of been there for me i would of had it im 27 yrs old and i have been DYING to have kids.....one day we got into a very heated argument and things ended....the problem is that im very much in love w him still and the more i read the more im learning. i wish i would of had more patience w him and understand a little more. but dont get me wrong i aint no saint..he might b a hurricane and i am a volcano.....his mom did try to tell me to make him drink his pills but he didn't want to. his world was about me but now i c that's normal for ADD people......... i have been married before and i understand how hard marriage could b.....but the more i read the more i learn the more i realize we wont and  i just simply have to move on. ..............and it totally SUCKS! i still see him once in a while and we catch up on things but right now he hast called me....its been 2 wks and i read somewhere they need time so i wont look for him...i will give him his space and im hoping i could get him to go to a theraphist and i guess b a friend do it for him...............................

Hi guys, I'm new to this

Hi guys,

I'm new to this stuff.  I have a friend I'm very interested in.  I've been trying to figure him out and it's driving me crazy.  I don't know if he has adhd or not.  He's told me that if he doesn't get back to me right away in emails, etc. it's because he has trouble concentrating and forgets when he gets going on something else.  It can be a few days before I hear from him and then it can sound formal.  When we're together I can't get enough of him.  He seems perfect, too good to be true...  He's told me that he has a brother that has mild autism.  He's older and he hasn't had any relationships that lasted for more than a year.  I find I feel "needy" sometimes when I don't hear from him and I don't like wondering if I pushed him away.  I keep wondering if it's me with crazy thinking.  When we're together we mainly talk about his job and what he likes.  We don't talk much about me.   I keep trying to figure out if this is going anywhere because I really like him.  

Just remind him

I do that! I will go on and on about myself- because I get on a "track"... Just politely ask him to chill and ask if he would like to hear about your day? See how he responds.. I need those social cues sometimes. I'd rather have someone tell me. You really need to train yourself as an ADHD person.  Educate yourself about ADHD and be confident that it's not you...it really is him!  He is not trying to push you away- ADHD people don't try to do that- it happens by default! All the time. Attention disorders are just that- he may have the attention span of a flea! If you get that, then you will have a good relationship.

Dating a guy with ADD; I have it too.

The best word that describes the guy I am dating is 'Bizarre'!  He is an accomplished attorney, but his drama is more than 50 wet hens altogether.  There are so many good qualities he has, compassionate, deeply feeling.  I have a lighter version of ADD or I would not ever see him again.  All I ask for are the everyday, common courtesies you would extend to any other human being.  He has no clue.  He loses his phone repeatedly, crashes computers at a high rate of speed, never acknowledges a subject I have mentioned, has asked me to have lunch and when I return the call, never hear another word from him, sometimes for days.  Either this is ADD and he is so into himself, or this is just a behavior I will in time, not put up with.  ADD is never a problem until it becomes a problem in your home life or working world.  We know it affects all areas of a life and unless I am able to pin him down to be specific about certain behaviors, and then see how willing he is to make concerted efforts to make his life better, I will not know that we have a future together.  My biggest concern is impulsivity, that the brain needs this heightened 'spice' to be satisfied.  I hear many with ADD are prone to get sex at all costs.  I suppose, like all issues in a relationship, this will take time to determine just how willing another is to make their life better.

Is it really hopeless? I was born this way.

I have ADHD and thought that this blog was going to give me hope. Then I read the responses... I would like to think that having ADHD is NOT a death sentence for all my future relationships. Here are some tips: I have learned not to get involved in a relationship too quickly. It's much better if you are friends with the person first. They must see who you really are first.  A relationship that starts off physically too fast is going to be  too much for a ADHD person to handle long term.  I am always honest and tell men upfront about it and why I am not going to hop in the sack with them after our first, second or third date. Go figure, they leave because of that and not the ADHD. This is where the hyper focusing comes in. Don't let them see you or allow them to hyper focus on you! Make sure they belong to a gym and make sure they do yoga.  Yoga helps with patience and is a stress reliever. Working out everyday and I mean everyday helps with the endorphins and keeps the hyper focus tendencies away. Remember- a ADHD person will tune you out. Don't take it personally.  Just ask if they heard what you just said- have them repeat it if it's important. My daughter can tell when I do that so she asks me if I heard her- I am honest with her when my wheels are spinning in my head. I tell her to repeat what she said and I'm sorry but I do care. I tell her all the time that I love her. This helps mitigate the issue. We communicate about it a lot. It also helps to have a conversation without the tv, iphone, computer, ipad, and microwave on! Seriously.  Stability? I personally have always watched my finances and held long term good jobs to provide for my daughter so none of that is an issue. I make sure to have enough money put away for my impulsiveness.  Trusting that someone will stay with me because of the ADHD is an issue.  If you read articles on the internet warning of relationships with someone with ADHD- review their background. Ask them how the relationship started. How fast was it? Who was driving it?   There were probably other issues.  I can commit for life to someone who respects me and this horrible flaw (please remember- I did not ask to be born this way).  I see my friends in relationships without the ADHD and their husbands/wives drive them crazy! All the time. If they don't have ADHD, then what is it? I think it's just being human.   On a positive note: My daughter's impression is  that my ADHD really gave her a great childhood...the spur of the moment trips to Disneyland and the beach where fun!  (So I know it is not all bad).  I'm still looking for the love of my life...but so are a lot of people with things much more difficult than ADHD. 

Second Guessing ADD person up dated

Hello everyone,

Great comments, I guess been imformed plays a big role in all this.I have been datiing someone with ADD,almost a year.lately became harder and harder. It seems to be like when I talk to him he doen't want to leasen at all the time .Some time he dissappair for a few day with out saying a word, when I asked him , his replay is that he wasnt feeling well at all.What concerned me most that there is no communication at all. It became imposible.But when he is felling well is sweet make me feel good , but mood change so quickly that am afraid to continue. I love him truly but I dont understan him..What should I do? How should I treat him. I feel sometimes that when I ask to many question he get frustraded, two days late he will text me back like nothing is happening..


Pls advised.

I been true a lot after my previous post: It got to the point where I though it was  end of the relationship. I will tell you more about it: I am in long distance relationship.At the biggining we were in a not serious relationship or least we never set up some standards where we were at.So a six months past by we were just talking but at the samehe was coming to visit me like everything was fine, until one of his trips his roommate called me while he was the plane on the way to see me, she asked  me if I was going to him that nite. I ask her what is going on between both you guys and she replied that she was his sex mate but no feeling were involve. I was so devastated after all. I picked him up i was upset and disappointed at the same time.So we got home and I ask him who this person or ladie was and his respond that my roommate nothing else and he said that she was crazy. I left it like that since I want spend  a good time on the other thinking that the time he disappears it was probably because of him being with her a lot thought were going true my mind but i tried to let it go.. Three days later he had to flight back to his house promising me that stating from now on he will tell me true. So when he got there this ladie was waiting for him to get there, what she did is putted her phone on speaker and told him where you been? letting liasen the whole converstaion his respond was I dont have to tell you where I do go you nothing but m roommate and wherever happens it was a mistake and don't want nothing to do you.At that point he didnt know she had him on speaker and was hearing the conversation . But he dosent want to tell her openly that  I am with him. Which I always asked him why? He said that he doent feel comfortably on doing it especially living in the same house.. What should I do now..

Even though I do have strong feeling for him. I would like this to work. We spend new years eve together, He would like to move to where I live at some point.But I do have doubts.

In my head one of the reason why I let the sleeping around with his roomate was beacuse we wasnt serious but other part of my head tells me why should I beleive he is not doing it anymore, they live in the same house. I get frusrated when I tried to make him understand that how he is hurting me when roomate stil living in the same house I would like to move out.


After that he came to visit me for a few times. Sometimes I do believe that he is not with her and sometimes I do.

What should I do?Please I need help


If anyone reads this - primarily someone with ADHD - I would really appreciate an explanation because I feel bereft at the moment. I dated someone who I BELIEVE has all the makings of ADHD - and it was the most exhilarating experience of my life - emotionally and certainly sexually. Everyone who saw us together commented on how happy we were and how 'smitten' he seemed. Then one day it ended - abruptly. He said he wasn't ready for a relationship, felt like a hamster caught in a wheel and felt I was not the right person for him. But gradually, in time, we started dating again and the hyperfocus on me started again. Last week was one of the most gratifying days I had spent with him. I did, truly, feel loved and desired and wanted, and he certainly behaved that way - like a moment without me would be unbearable. 8 days later he met up with a woman from his past and he is now in the beginning of a relationship with her. I have been discarded with some quite heartfelt apologies. Apart from the unbearable pain this has caused me, and humiliation, I don't understand what's happened. Was any of the emotion real or was it all performance? Is he merely a master lover? How is it possible to be enraptured with one person one day and another person 8 days later? Is it possible she simply turned his head and his life upside down and he's fallen in love with her? I hope this sick feeling subsides soon because the emptiness without him is more than I can bear at the moment. 

I've experienced this

I don't have ADD but my partner does. When we first met, he pursued me relentlessly. I was cautious, however. We had the opposite problem, in that he felt rejected while I was very skeptical. The good news for us is that 10 years later, we're together in a good relationship. However, he has talked to me over the years about what it's like to have ADD and to "fall in love." I think the emotion is genuine but it's more about excitement, hyperfocusing, and the thrill of pursuing and catching someone new that he's attracted to. I have a friend who married a man with ADD because he swept her off her feet. After the marriage, he didn't pay as much attention to her. Now they're divorced. This can be an ADD pattern. My view of this is that the feelings are real but not very deep (how can they be at the outset?) and not a performance. It's hard to be set aside for someone else, but it's not you, it's his ADD. This may not be possible--at least for a while--but instead of feeling humiliated (because you have nothing to be ashamed of), consider yourself fortunate to have your eyes opened to reality. You're feeling empty because ADD guys can definitely be exciting and interesting and engaging, but stay grounded, face the facts of ADD, and if you get involved with another ADD guy--be realistic and be careful. 


I agree with this and as a person with ADD I recommend that you always get passed the "hyperfocus" and the "honeymoon" period.  While your being hyper focused watch how he/she handles everything else goign on.  I guarentee something is being neglected while their hyperfocusing on you.  If they are treating their ADD they could be able to handle more and it wouldn't be obvious until your months if not years into a relationship.  I know that when I am really amped up emotionally and hyperfocusing it my thoughts are consumed with it.  It is definitely taking away from my thought processes tied to maintaining my responsibilities and my system (note these is even when consistenly treating ADD.

Thank you for your comment. I

Thank you for your comment. I saw him last night to tie up loose ends - collect my clothes, DVDs and belongings. He said he was sorry for having hurt me. He admitted he is captivated and possibly in love with a new woman, Kate. 10 days ago he was embracing me and making love to mr like a man possessed, and talking about how lovely it will be to spend Christmas together. Today he is in love with another woman. Intellectually I understand everything I've read. Emotionally I understand none of it and feel devastated. Thanks for your help anyway. Interestingly, last night everything about him was different. He was aloof, uninterested and almost anxious for me to leave. I stayed 10 mins.

Living with someone with ADD/ADHD

Hello, I am a gay male and I have been with my partner for a year. We have had a rocky ride in our first year relationship. We just hit a year on Nov. 6 (yeaaa). The relationship started magical and he was everything that I needed. In reading some of the post in this blog, I realized a lot of things and have decided speak my case on it and see if I can get some insight ion the situation. Back in Jan of this year he came home one day and I wanted to talk to him about having Add or ADHD. I felt like it was necessary before going further. After our talk, he and showing him some of the symptoms of what he really does have one or the other. I feel he has ADHD. He said he thinks so too. Which is supposed to be a good thing when you recognized the problem but I do think it drifts away from time to time. I say this because of the hyper focus. I do think the hyper focus started when we got together in Nov 2010 and ended after June. In May, he cheated on me. After doing some reading in this blog, I do feel that because of the hyper focus is the reason for the cheat. (Needed to draw his attention elsewhere from Feb to the end of May). I need to know how do you KNOW if it has ended or not???? Because I want to know if he still in into me and is not on the same path of the cheat phase.
Furthermore, we get into some serious arguments about nothing. Like he thinks he right but he hasn't experienced it to know if he is right or not. I HAVE and to tell me differently when I am trying to prevent this person from making a terrible mistake hurts me because he is my partner and I'm trying to be patient about it. At this point in our relationship I feel like whatever i say will not matter to him because he doesn't want to believe in what I say. Even when I tell him something, why does he feel the need to ask the same question 4 times in one hour? If that not ADD I don't know what is. I don’t want to bring it up yet to him because I want to say the right thing and hurt his feelings in the process. Like he got mad because I said “well that’s just stupid to think like that” he took it as me calling him stupid and got very upset. I was only saying that it was a crazy to think like that then to think smart about the decisions he makes; He not a very smart thinker but he is not stupid either.
In conclusion, do you think that we should go to a counselor to get a diagnosis because I truly don't want to go back and forth all the time with him on silly known since because he has a short attention span? I need to know how to handle this situation because my patience is running really thin and I don't know how much more I can take.

The Selfish, Spoiled - Non-ADHD Spouse

Wow, is all I can say about all of these "get out now" post. Six or Nine months, is that really enough time to adjust to a new marriage? All of these people talking about how the "hyper-focus" is no longer on me, and it's a horrible marriage now, need to ask themselves what "disorder" do they have to need THAT MUCH attention? 

No, little princess/prince, your Knight in shining armor is not going to sweep you away, feed you grapes and give you massages every night for the rest of your life. From the post I'm reading, it sounds more like the "needy" type aren't happy with themselves, and most likely put more emphasis on receiving satisfaction through relationships, then they have on their own self-worth. The non-ADHD spouse may need to get a job, get a hobby, or find a way to achieve inner-peace without relying on someone else to give it to them. Your next NON-ADHD spouse may not win you over with the "hyper-focus," but don't kid yourself into thinking they will be all about you after marriage. Life happens, and those with inner peace, self-worth, and confidence will make a relationship work. 

My wife is a great example. I have a very active brain, some call it "ADHD." I started reading these articles and felt like I was a horrible person, and started wondering how badly I have ruined this poor girls life. I called her over, because I am huge into self-reflection/communication, and we read the articles together. She did get a great laugh about many shared characteristics that I have with people in the articles, but she then stated she believes we have a great marriage. I am very supportive of her, I love my kids and am an active father, and I've achieved pretty good success in the career that I have chosen.

However, these articles convinced me that I may be blinded to something, and needed to change, so that she didn't turn into the shell of a human, many of these "HYPER-NEEDY," people are on this board. Four nights a week, from 8:30pm to about 11:30pm, I go back to my work to work on my Doctorate. I was sitting there reading, when I started thinking of these articles, imagine that from an active brain! I decided to put my work aside, and go home to save my wife the misery of being there with our 3 and 4 year old alone, and stressed. I was finally going to be the "hyper-focused" husband that she secretly desired. When I got home, my two boys were playing in the toy room together having a ball, and my wife was laying on the couch, with a blanket over her lap, a glass of wine in her hand, watching Grey's Anatomy, while talking to her uncle on the phone. She had a very relaxing system set up, in which she found very much enjoyment and peace, without the need of my constant attention. 

We share dreams for the future, and she supports my Hyper-Focus on making them come true. Does she have to "deal" with things that other wives may not, yes. But whatever quirky things there are about my personality, other wives have to deal with other quirky things about their non-adhd personalities. I would venture as so far to say, the fact that a very active brain (ADHD), leads to some predictable traits, makes it easier for the couple to plan a strategy of success for their marriage. 

The other problems I keep seeing on this board, need to quit being blamed on ADHD. If your husband or wife is a bad spouse or person, then they are just a bad spouse or person, it's them, not their active brain. There are MILLIONS of active brains with successful lives, NOT classified as ADHD, because their is no need for it. Therefore, YES, it is an under-diagnosed personality traits.

The "shutting-down" is not an inevitable trait of an active brain. Most with the active brain are focused on different things, and over-whelm people with their conversations and attention on. 

I'm NOT and expert on relationships, but from merely writing the first things out of my brain, here is what I would suggest you try, before you whine and cry after less than a year!!!

TIP #1 - how about taking some interest in whatever they are hyper-focused on! The changing hobbies, could add some excitement to your life, and could make your Active Brain partner feel as though they have someone to share with. Thinking so deeply through thoughts is exhaustive at times, and can add up, when they don't have someone to share them with. Sit on the couch, and find a good show or movie on TV to watch, while your partner sits on the couch telling you all about there current hyper-focus. We feel better about verbalizing our thoughts, than we do about whether someone is actually listening or not. 

Tip #2 - No hollering allowed by either side. That needs to be understood, and not allowed for any reason. The predictable traits of the ADHD brain, show that this is a horrible way to communicate, because of the quick temper, and impulsiveness does not do well with it. 

Tip #3 - Don't go to bed angry. The non-adhd spouse may be able to fall right to sleep, but the Active Brain, is going to lay in bed and think through the situation DEEPER and in ways, the non-ADHD spouse may not be able to. This wears the active brain down, and over time could lead to the "shutting-down" as a survival mode for their sanity.

Tip #4 - Don't allow the word or thought of "divorce" to be spoken out of anger. When spoken, it becomes a seed that will grow into a tree of reality. 

Tip #5 - Find your own interest and inner-peace, so that you can enjoy other's company, instead of require it. 

Tip #6 - Differentiate between bad spouses, and an active brain. 

Tip #7 - Build a strong Faith foundation, sitting through Church can be hard for an active brain, and reading scripture can be hard, so find a Church that stimulates the brain, with an exciting preacher, rather than a more mono-tone traditional method of worship. 

Quick side note: Most of our greatest inventors and achievers could have very easily been classified as ADHD, what other society classifies the traits of their greatest achievers a "disorder?" Google famous people with ADHD, and ask yourself, if they achieved what they have, who actually has the "disorder?" America use to be a place where the active brain created, discovered, built, produced and led. People don't understand that giving up individual liberties, and succumbing to over regulation is killing the active brains role in this society, and therefore many active brains are self-medicating through whatever addictions, because they haven't been able to effectively utilize their amazing creative abilities (this is cheesy, but watch The Incredibles, and think Active Brain instead of Superpowers) - but I'll rant about that another time. 




summerwine's picture

To be happily married to

To be happily married to someone with ADHD or AS you have to be self sufficient. The kind of person who can make yourself happy and content. That's for sure. If you are the needy type who wants constant attention and romance and stuff we are not the right spouse for you. BUT please don't downplay ADHD as nothing but a active brain. ADHD is a spectrum disorder like autism. Some people just have mild symptoms but some people can have it so bad that they can't hold down a job or have a good relationship even with the best treatment and medications. It's nice that your ADHD is really mild and doesn't cause you a lot of pain and suffering but for most of us its a serious disability and not just being quirky.

To assume mine is mild is a

To assume mine is mild is a gross understatement. I and many members of my family have had a very difficult time getting to where we are. I stand by my post, and hate that people on this board deem my two sons with active brains as having a disorder. They will be taught the correct coping skills for their personality traits, and will grow into amazing fathers and husbands. There are societal, environmental and family factors that play more of a role in the success or failure of the active brain in life. Again, return to my tip #6. The large percentage of very active brains are accompanied by a real disorder of depression, bipolar, OCD, anxiety, etc. Those are real disorders associated with an active brain that may require medication, therapy, etc. The active brain (ADHD), in itself, is not a disorder. The predictability in the traits require appropriate training from a very young age, in order to stop the downward spiral of a large group of people with beautiful minds. Stop generalizing folks with active brains into a one size fits all disorder, with little or no chance at happy marriages. I typed this on me cell, so my apologies if any grammatical errors are found.

Good grief!

I had been a single mother who raised 2 kids by herself for 15 years when I married my ADDer. He acted like I was the sun, the moon and the stars while we were dating, regularly driving 30 miles to pick me up and take me to work. He was employed.

So I married him and gave up my alimony. Then he started hanging up on customers and got fired. I spent the next 3 years thinking I was going to die every day because, without my alimony or any income from him, I could not afford my medications. 

Then he worked for 3 years and now he won't even look for another job. So forgive me if I expect too much from my husband. I gave up a guaranteed income and  maximum social security to marry a man who said he loved me and would support me. I married a man who would drive me anywhere and woke up to a man who let me hitchhike! (I'm a disabled lady in my 50s) Yes, I work, I always expected to. But did I expect to totally carry him like he was a baby? No work, no income, no help with the house. Busy brain, indeed! He sits like a stone all day. The only thing active about him is the finger on the remote control. So who's the selfish one? The one USING ME UP and doing nothing, or the one who works and supports him, his house and his pets with no help from him.

katt2009 Add Boyfriend

I understand what you going true, its hard and very hard to feel what they feel. There is not words to described the symptoms of a ADD person. I guess the only thing we can do is tried to learn more about it...

Updated ADD Boyfriend

I been true a lot after my previous post: It got to the point where I though it was  end of the relationship. I will tell you more about it: I am in long distance relationship.At the biggining we were in a not serious relationship or least we never set up some standards where we were at.So a six months past by we were just talking but at the samehe was coming to visit me like everything was fine, until one of his trips his roommate called me while he was the plane on the way to see me, she asked  me if I was going to him that nite. I ask her what is going on between both you guys and she replied that she was his sex mate but no feeling were involve. I was so devastated after all. I picked him up i was upset and disappointed at the same time.So we got home and I ask him who this person or ladie was and his respond that my roommate nothing else and he said that she was crazy. I left it like that since I want spend  a good time on the other thinking that the time he disappears it was probably because of him being with her a lot thought were going true my mind but i tried to let it go.. Three days later he had to flight back to his house promising me that stating from now on he will tell me true. So when he got there this ladie was waiting for him to get there, what she did is putted her phone on speaker and told him where you been? letting liasen the whole converstaion his respond was I dont have to tell you where I do go you nothing but m roommate and wherever happens it was a mistake and don't want nothing to do you.At that point he didnt know she had him on speaker and was hearing the conversation . But he dosent want to tell her openly that  I am with him. Which I always asked him why? He said that he doent feel comfortably on doing it especially living in the same house.. What should I do now..

Even though I do have strong feeling for him. I would like this to work. We spend new years eve together, He would like to move to where I live at some point.But I do have doubts.

In my head one of the reason why I let the sleeping around with his roomate was beacuse we wasnt serious but other part of my head tells me why should I beleive he is not doing it anymore, they live in the same house. I get frusrated when I tried to make him understand that how he is hurting me when roomate stil living in the same house I would like to move out.


After that he came to visit me for a few times. Sometimes I do believe that he is not with her and sometimes I do.

What should I do?Please I need help

He is selfish

"The other problems I keep seeing on this board, need to quit being blamed on ADHD. If your husband or wife is a bad spouse or person, then they are just a bad spouse or person, it's them, not their active brain."

Katt he's not being honest with you and this has nothing to do with his ADHD, it's him being a bad person. What your significant other is most likely doing is separating his emotional attachments from his sexual attachments by keeping her as a "sex mate" and you as an "emotional mate". He doesn't want to lose either partners, and you deserve someone that can put the two together and love you both emotionally and sexually. You deserve exclusivity more than anything and honestly if he truly loved you he would be there for you and wouldn't be putting you through this.

If he's had sex with her and he can't be honest with you then this is a GIANT red flag that you should cut the ties. Cut him off completely and keep him out of your life so you can put it behind you and move on to someone better. This guy was a learning experience and I understand that your own love is hard to let go of but you have to find someone that deserves it.

He's selfish


I really appreciate your respond. Its sad that I have move on like it or not. I have to face reality and let  my LOVE go. Its been hard for me I will say to understand in fully what was going on. 



    Midnight66 ,Thank youuuuu.

MagicSandwich's picture

Protect Protect

You said it Midnight66, 

Even when individuals are able to emotionally detach from their partner's sexual infidelity, there is the physical danger to deal with.  How many "understanding" significant others wound up needing a dose of Ceftriaxone as a result of their generosity of spirit? Ug. 

Be good to yourself. 

I would like to add a

I would like to add a disclaimer to my original post. I have gotten much deeper in my doctoral research, and grown much deeper spiritually since then. That was my first post as I was coming to grips with my brain functioning different then others. I self reflected when I started becoming tempted to cross a line. While self-reflecting and researching, I realized how crappy I was for even thinking it! That is when one new understanding after another led me back to God. My fear of God prevented me from cheating, my love for God broke my ADHD trance. My mind still works differently, but my focus on God and my family has been the game changer. We have since welcomed 4 more foster children into our home since, 2 on ADHD medicine in which I put away to see if my new parenting techniques would work. My children have accepted my model and medication is no longer needed for any of us. I wrote a night time book for my children I read them each night, they like the "daddy loves you" but it's really a book for me, reminding me of my duties as their daddy each night! It keeps me "focused." I apologize for the arrogance of my first post, but in going back and reading the numbered advice - it was right on! I feel for women married to guys with my brain, but no fear of God. Thinking of all the stupid stuff I have done while fearing God, I cannot imagine what I would have done without it! God Bless each of you on this board trying to improve your lives and find your much deserved peace!

As an ADHD male in full acceptance......


Hi, I was reading this blog and the comments and thought that I would share a few things to help people understand what is going on in the ADHD mind.  ADHD is an anxiety disorder.  the reason the person can't pay attention is because anxiety doesn't allow them.  The reason they can hyperfocus is because what they are focusing on relieves the anxiety.  When the subject of hyperfocus no longer relieves anxiety, the hyperfocus on that subject ends and the ADHD person finds a new subject to hyperfocus on.  An ADHD person that is unaware of what is going on, doesn't realize to a full extent what is going on.

I am a divorced parent.  many of the comments expressed here could of been expressed by my ex-wife.  I hyperfocused on her in courtship, and switched my focus after we were married.  Our marriage lasted 5 years.  After we got divorced I started to date again, I would find a girl and put my intense hyperfocus on her.  I was completely unaware that my brain is wired differently than other people and that I seriously think differently.  I was driven by my hyperfocus.  It controlled me.  I would hyperfocus for a month, and at the first sign that I could get hurt in the realtionship, I would jump out.  I think back and it was really unfair what I did, but I did not realize it at the time, because I was driven.  It really wasn't until I stopped hyperfocusing on what I should be and focused on who I really am, that I started to have success.  

I have learned in my life that my hyperfocus is a means of self medication and self escape.  It wasn't until I accepted that all my hyperfocus is, is a means of my dopamine deprived brain trying to relieve itself of anxiety, and accepted the fact that I will always have to deal with anxiety, that I started to gain control of it.  As I delt with the anxiety, I stopped focusing on things that made me feel good about myself and started to focus on things that were important.   It is when I took control of my brain is when things started fall in place.

I am in a very intimate successful relationship where my fiance completely understands me.  It took a very special woman who tried to understand me for me to want to deal with the anxiety of starting another relationship.  It took alot of self focus and understanding, as well as self-acceptance to be able to communicate with her honestly.  My focus on the relationship is not to get her to like me, but it is loving her and being consistent with my love.  When I focus on things that I have no control of I give up.  However, if I focus on things that I am control of, then I feel a sense of gratification that feels better than any hyperfocus ever did.  

My advice to ADHD people struggling in a relationship, you are who you are.  Accept that.  Learn to love yourself and your strengths.  Become intimate with how you think and why you do what you do.  Understand what "drives" you.  communicate with your significant other who you are, even if its not acceptable by societies standards. 

For those that are dating an ADHD person that is not under full acceptance, I wouldn't get anymore involved in the relationship until they accept themselves,  If they don't realize that they are be driven, then they can't stop.  Keep yourself at a distance where you feel comfortable that if he/she switches their hyperfocus you wont get hurt.  If you don't get hurt you are more likely to be more understanding.

I am a an ADHD with a very spontaneous destructive past.  Through medication and self acceptance, I am living a very successful life with my wonderful fiance that I feel wholeheartedly understands me and loves me for who I am.

Classifying the umbrella term

Classifying the umbrella term of ADHD as an anxiety disorder for all is an incorrect generalization. I don't have time right now to expand - but will. Just don't want any impressionable people buying that as a truth for all. I am sure yours is for you, and i commend you for taking responsibility! God bless you and I wish you the best!

My therapist (I'm the nonADD

My therapist (I'm the nonADD spouse) said that she thinks that anxiety often precedes ADD.  I don't know if that is true  in general but it seems to fit my husband's situation.  I think that it just helps to be aware that ADD often coexists with anxiety and depression and that dealing with one set of symptoms without dealing with the others is apt to be less than optimal.

Every one of you has saved my life and sanity

I have only read a handful of the 161 pages that is this form...I have cried and cried and cried...in relief...

Everyone who has shared good or bad (as life is both) has saved my life and sanity. I have been in a relationship with a man who has been diagnosed with ADD since a child. Besides half-assed short lived treatment as a child; he has yet to come to face with his diagnosis; he has yet to "accept it and take responsibility for it;" and has yet to help himself.

I have been slowly dying each year we stay together with his untreated diagnosis, enabling him, acting like "momie." I have friends, co-workers, and family telling me to get out. I even had his mom tell me that she would understand if I left, even though she sees how much I have done for him and his daughter.

I love this man. Though I feel like I can't continue. I know I can't continue as things are now(I'm crying). 

My mom died when I was twenty. She was everything for me: my mom, my friend, my mentor, my confidante. It has been such a heartbreaking experience these last 5 years with him, and to not have anyone to talk too. I don't want to burden my friends and other family with a the negative/depressing details. 

But you all already know all the details and don't even know me (I'm crying). 

Thank you for this form, thank you for all your posts, thank you for being there for me to not feel alone or insane 

P.S. I'm really not a big crier. 

I've just got a question. My

I've just got a question.

My boyfriend's forty-three and I'm thirty-four.  We've only been together for seven months and don't get to see each other much because of distance.  I have adhd and he hasn't.  Before we met we each individually wanted to have at least one child, although I was beginning to come to terms with the fact I might never be able to.  He, on the other hand longs to have children and I don't want to deny him the chance if we remain together, and I hope we will.  We talk about the future and that we'd like to take things one step at a time, settling down together first.  He doesn't want to be too much older before becoming a father and would like to be around forty-five when it happens.  

We want to move in together when it's possible, but it won't be for months or even a year.  Then hopefully we can have at least one luxurious year together before trying to get pregnant.  Would it be entirely selfish to have a baby any later than that?  I really don't want to risk it's wellbeing.  We do want time together but also not leave it to late so I  guess it's a compromise between the two.  How lomg would you say is long enough for an older couple where one of us has adhd?


You want an honest answer?  Honestly, you said you haven't even been a couple a year, and the time you have been a couple, you haven't spent much time together.  You don't even know all that well how the two of you get along together, let alone bring a baby into the mix.

Wait until you are living together and in a successful relationship before you even begin asking the baby questions. Yes, the chance of chromosomal anomalies, and other medical conditions are far greater in the over 35 population, as opposed to being a younger Mom, but if you are not ready for a baby, you simply aren't ready.

Best of Luck to both of you.

You're Asking the Wrong Question

You're asking the wrong question, in my opinion.  You should be trying to figure out whether or not you will have a relationship at all in a year.  Seven months is not a long time to have been dating and you say you haven't seen each other in that amount of time.  This latter is what concerns me - yes, you can "know" you've met the right person within a short period of time, but being together all the time is a test that helps solidify that it wasn't just a misjudgment on one or the other person's part.  Having kids puts a whole lot of stress on a relationship and changes the romantic nature of it dramatically (nothing like a bit of throw up at 3am to make you feel really lovely!)  Because of your situation of being apart, and the presence of ADHD hyperfocus courtship PLUS infatuation (both chemically induced) you haven't really experienced each other yet in your entirety.  Not even close.  You might find that closing the distance will cement that you are wildly in love.  Or you might find that you lose your attraction to each other up close and personal.  Unfortunately, when we aren't with our partner very much, we tend to fill in the blanks with our own fantasies of what it would be like if we were.  But those reflect who WE are, not who our partner is.

So the question I would be asking is "how can we be together ASAP to figure out if this is really going to work?"  Put the questions about kids aside for the time being, in spite of the questions of biological clock.  If you have kids, you want to introduce them into a stable, loving relationship that works.

Good luck with it!  I hope to hear of wedding bells some time in the future.

Thanks, you both made things

Thanks, you both made things clearer to me.  We're working out how to see each other for at least a week every month right now, we both work from home part of the time which is helpful.  That time can gradually get longer when it's possible.  We've both agreed we believe in doing things step by step.



I've been dating a ADHD male for 3 months now. i didn't know he had ADHD till a month ago. He hyper focused on me for a month then the past 2 months everything has changed and I was completely in the dark. I didn't know he had ADHD till i saw his adderall in the medicine cabinet. He is going thru a divorce, which I also didn't know, because he told me he was divorced. He has 3 children 10, 8 and 5. He now no longer pays any attention to me and jerks me around all the time. Come over, don't come over. Back and forth, back and forth. He hardly even touches me or anything. His middle child is now controlling our relationship, because i just found out from her little sister that she doesn't want me or my 13 yr old daughter around when she is there. His house is utter chaos when the kids are there. He screams and has major emotional melt downs and blames alot on me. I'm so lost. I love him and his children but have no idea what to do. I've read books, blogs, articles, you name it trying to understand and learn and try to implement a strategy to making this work. i don't know if i should get out now or hang in there???

did you say 3 months... going

did you say 3 months... going thru a divorce and didn't tell you, why are you still even hanging around ?   3 months is not that long to be stressing over these things already, what do you think it will be like in 3 years. 

my take

If you want a blunt answer, here it is. I think you are answering your own question. You have three months invested in this relationship. You say he has lied to you, jerks you around all the time, does not pay attention to you, hardly touches you, screams and has meltdowns, and blames a lot on you. And the amazing hyper focus stage is over after 1 month. I am sorry you are so unhappy---anyone would be in your situation. When you factor bringing your own daughter into this difficulty, why put up with all of this if you don't have to? 

Recently got Engaged - Am i doing a Mistake!!!

I recently got engaged to my bf, its been all great till now - he is a successful entrepreneur. he makes me laugh a lott! is very kind and sensitive. kids just love him!

he recently told me about his adhd - yes he is hyper full of energy,  is restless quite a lot , says he just wants nothing more than to be inside a calm body just to be calm for a day ........

after I started reading on adhd on this website & others I was filled with so much negativity. And now I am feeling like clueless.

I am from India so this is an arranged marriage as most marriages are in India. We have been together for 2 months now & got engaged as his parents & my parents have been good long time friends. He has been very clear about his symptoms from the start. And told me we should read a few books together like Adhd effects on marriage and dr hallowell's book.

But almost all forum posts here give me an idea that - this is one big mistake!!! and this relationship is doomed! I feel bad for him .............

anyone out there who has been through it & still feels that it is worth it! that we can make it happen!

my bf seems eager to work on himself , but he says he stumbles a lot from time to time , anger outbursts at times , procrastination etc..

Does your spouse accept his

Does your spouse accept his ADD?  Does he take responsibility for making sure it’s not interfering in his life?  Does he understand that his ADD can affect you?  Most people who accept their ADD and take responsibility for it can manage it so that it will not interfere significantly with their lives.  But a spouse who denies his ADD is trouble.


I notice you say 'most people'.  I accept the affect adhd has on other people and want to take responsibility for it.  However, I still can't see how it wouldn't interfere with my boyfriend's life.  Two days ago I misplaced a large suitcase of towels needed for work.  I only walked to the building over the road and poof it was gone forever.  I hope to find it but can't think where it's gone.  What if it was something that belonged to someone else or if it wasn't just me that had to pay to replace what went missing?  I can chain things to me, hook things over me and write down everything it's possible to write down.  I can use a notice board to plan my week as my coach gets me to do, but what about things that don't lend themselves to being written down?  If I'm forced to move two metres from a suitcase how can I remember to go back to it?  There must be some kind of strategy out there but what is it?  I'll try anything.  Has anyone got any tips from experience?

I read somewhere that someone with adhd can't possibly give a partner the appreciation that someone with out could give.  I don't find this acceptable as I need to give my partner as much love as he needs.  If not, he'd be better off finding someone else and I'd prefer him to for his own sake.

Another question, when all strategies fall short and I make a mistake/ forget something etc, what are good ways to make it up to the person affected?




MANN I have ADHD pretty bad and this site scares the shit our of me all this peoples comments about there experience with people that have ADHD makes me scared of when I get married, I mean is it possible to level out the hyper focus with Adderall i mean i take it every day....would adderall help with anything regarding me being in married and keeping focus on the marrage and on my girl, rather than bailing if the money is tight or just bailing for no reason. i mean i am scared of that happening but i just dont see myself doing it. even though i dont see myself ever bieng able to do that to a person espetially my wife, is it still possible that it could happen to me even if i constently keep in mind not to completely hyper focus or if i do which i can awsomly to always remind myself to stay in hyperfocus mode..

Hey Bob,  The fact that you

Hey Bob,  The fact that you are AWARE of ADHD and you are scared about what you have read and DON'T want it to happen, is a good start. Any relationship is wonderful, fun, exhilarating in the beginning, and then we all tend to get well too comfortable and don't try as hard.  I think what I experienced and many others is this wonderful 'honeymoon' period and then like a light switch it changed, and went in the complete opposite direction to what feels almost like neglect. Also many of us and our spouses did not know ADD was the issue until many years into it and by then the relationship was hanging by a thread...

Awareness, acceptance, and managing the ADD is key, if you do that you have just as good a chance at marriage as anyone.


Well, that explains my sister-in-law. Everyone thinks she's a narcissist, but she's really just self-absorbed. ;-0

Sorry, just had to lighten the mood.


I am engaged to a man who has ADHD and as the wedding date quickly approaches the anxiety about our futures together is consuming me. We have been together for 1 year, living together for about 5 months. He told me early on about his ADHD, but I underestimated how much of an impact if would have on every aspect of our relationship. We fight constantly. I am trying to read as much as I can about ADHD but the more I learn the more I am depressed and dread our futures together. I understand most of the traits I find to be turnoffs are symptoms of ADHD and I am willing to work around them, but the end result is that I am left with very little to nothing I find attractive about him as a partner. He is very aware of the role of ADHD in the relationship (and talks about it constantly), so I feel bad that I cannot be more compassionate. And I admit I am mostly noticing the negative things more than the positive. He tells me he loves me often and I know he is trying his best to make it work, but I feel terrible knowing that his best may not be good enough to make it worth it. On the other side, I am under a tremendous amount of pressure to get married from my community, family, and age (which is why I convinced him to get married so soon in the first place) and the amount of shame, guilt, hurt (not to mention loss of money) that breaking off an engagement will cause amongst everyone involved seems too much to bear. I feel utterly trapped. I don't know how I let myself get in this situation. 

Engagement and blaming/guilt towards myself

Hi all,

i need somehelp to understand what happened.

my ex fiancé was diagnosed with ADD when he was under 10 yrs old. He told at the start of the relationship but said he doesn't impact him but sometimes had many thoughts at once.

We dated for 6 months before I proposed .The first 6 months were great but we talked about responsibility and follow thought being issues but he wasnt really working thought it. I left very alone in the relationship as conversations would happen but he would not remember them or at times would lie about stuff. After we got engaged, as started making plans to transition into marriage. Things started getting worse. I started seeing a different person in him, he would stand me up and say we didn't make plans to meet, he would see my text messages and not reply or claim that he didn't get them but days later when I ask him directly again he said he saw them but decided to not reply. Then He postponed our wedding date as he thought I had issues with getting frustrated and overreacting about things. I think his lack of follow thought was hard on me. Then once he started not showing up to commitments I took my ring off and said we needed to work on our communication. I tried to ask some help by others but he didn't take any help and unwilling to see a counselor or consider a ADHD diagnosis by seeking a professional. We broke up twice and last break up due to him saying mean things to me that he said later were  not true. The last time before broke we broke up he said if we didn't marry he didn't want to invest. He wants to rush towards marriage when we  are having lot of problems which concerns me.

could it be he was hyperfocused on me the first 6 months then things got boring since the real life came to play? I am blaming myself for everything and there are people in our life that seem to think it's all my fault. The hyper focus might be the reason ???

I didn't want to go back to the relationship but I struggle at times but I know In time I will get over the person I so love/loved. How do I discern between ADHD/immature of the person? Where are some areas I am responsible but I had no idea about all these things listed in this blog. As I read and also reading a book on ADD and relationships which helped me see patterns in my relationship. I feel very hurt that this is not talked about add much and not clear why he doesn't want to face the diagnosis? Does it really get better if someone got treated for it? He is not willing to do any of the work with add/adhd

I am concerned that he might come back and I didn't want to get back together without thinking about and why I been depressed for 4 months during the relationship. 

Appreciate your input and your thoughts on hyper focus and My situation 

thank you


Where to start....birdie

Unless and until a person accepts and believes they have ADHD there is no "getting them" to understand the effect on ANY relationship. He has told you it does not impact him. It surely does but the difficulty in seeing it is an obstacle itself for him.

Please be assured you will be in over your head if you try to have a marriage with him. I am not saying he does not have good qualities as a person but the ADHD when it is not addressed seriously will doom what you may hope for in a marriage. 

Please take a breath and slow way down here. I am thinking you know inside you need to move on for YOUR sake. You owe him NOTHING.