My ADHD Partner Barely Notices Me at Bedtime - 8 Ways to Get the Attention You Want

Many non-ADHD partners want to connect at night with a meaningful "goodnight, honey," a kiss and hug or with some sexual intimacy.  Yet disappointment follows when their partner is too distracted or too tired to shine the spotlight of their attention in the non-ADHD partner's direction.  (Conversely, I sometimes hear complaints from ADHD partners who say that the demands of their non-ADHD partner to come to bed at a certain time are obnoxious...but that's for a different post.)  What to do?

I don't know about you, but I think of the bedroom as a sort of 'sacred' place - a room of refuge and rest - and so it's important that my husband both respect my need for peace in this room and also that we connect in meaningful ways when we are there.  So it's a real drag when he's too distracted by (fill in the blank) to notice me at night when we are settling down to sleep.  (We fixed the differing bedtimes issue some years ago - that's for a different post...)  Over the years, I've learned some things about making bedtime more fulfilling, though:

  • Don't take your partner's distraction personally.  It's ADHD, not you, and it (probably) doesn't reflect his feelings for you
  • Be kind when seeking attention.  You'll get much more of it if you cuddle up to distract him towards you, than you will if you complain he didn't give you a kiss yet again
  • Don't stew over his not getting it right.  Reach out and ask him to make it right - in a very, very nice way.  You are about to go to sleep and don't need an argument.  And he doesn't need to feel you're constantly carping at him as his last thought for the day.
  • Use touch to get his attention.  Move over in the bed, put your leg over him, whatever it takes to let him know physically that you are there
  • At some point NOT while you are in bed, tell him how much you love getting that goodnight kiss and how much it means to you.  Reinforce how much you like getting his attention by letting him know about it when you do (i.e. you are creating a wonderful experience for him to interact with you at night)  Something as simply as "that was a nice kiss" can reinforce the positive
  • Try not to let computers into the bedroom as they are almost limitlessly distracting (we don't use this rule - my husband's bedtime 'book' is his computer or iPad, and that's just the way it's going to remain, so I've gotten used to it)
  • Don't hold out your own affection, waiting for his.  This is not tit for tat.  If you want affection in your relationship, make sure you are doing your own part!
  • Try to go to bed early enough to leave time for affection of some sort

Over the years I've concluded that I hurt myself more by assuming my prince will always pay attention to me when I am ready for it than if I simply reach out and let him know 'hey, I'm here!  Would love to (fill in the blank) with you right about now!'  Asking for attention when you need it, rather than assuming your partner will know you're interested, is just part of living with ADHD.


Great post!

Thanks for this summary - it is a perfect kind of checklist for me to follow!


Thank you for this post. I'm finding your book and this website helpful. My husband was just diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD a couple months ago. You mentioned in this post that you and your husband had worked through the issue of going to bed together. That is the issue that my husband and I are struggling with. I am curious how you worked through this and what conclusion you came to. I would like to go to bed together at a consistent time and he would prefer staying up later for some alone time and have a variable bedtime. Thanks!


Hi JulieD,

If you'd like a perspective from an ADHD Inattentive husband, that would be me.  My wife & I have read both the books, The ADHD Effect on Marriage, and the book by Gina Pera, "Is it You, Me or Adult ADD?", and one could easily place a photo of me next to most of the errant behaviors described in them.  Unfortunately, since being diagnosed about 2 months ago, and now receiving treatment and medication, my libido is almost nil.  I've not had any affairs, nor have I become a porn addict, but I've also not been intimate with my wife for several months.  (Not sure how many, but more than 5).  There's just no incentive on my part, and for a long time before receiving a diagnosis, my wife wanted nothing to do with me anyway.  We even resorted to sleeping in different rooms of the house for a time.  I've been on Adderall XR for about a month 1/2 now, and things have evened out considerably.   Part of my problem, is we live in a different country than we grew up in (USA), and the stress accompanying life there adds to my inability to cope.  While back in teh US for treatment, I understand there are likely several side issues that I need to confront, and my Dr. says that the therapy will become a lot more painful before it gets better.  I have committed to go through it for the sake of improving our marriage.  We both have the hope that, with medication and therapy, that several parts of our marriage that I've damaged will fall back into proper place, including the intimacy.  We are hopeful, and I hope you will remain so.


bed times

enough people have questions about this that I will write a post about it...see main blog

Deborah__'s picture

Awesome Post

WOW! Even though I'm new here and have so many issues to work through...THIS is one area that has been worked out. lol lol   I actually did something right. This gives me hope for everything else.

This is definitely an issue

This is definitely an issue in my relationship.  At one point, I gently asked him for a kiss since it had been so long... he said he needed to call his mom.  That was a couple of years ago - and it really hasnt gotten much better.  I cant even remember the last time he showed any romantic interest in me.  I have started shutting that part of me down just to keep myself from drowning in disspair.   Right now, we are just working on him getting proper medication.  I dont honestly know if its the ADHD or him not wanting to be with me.  I guess time will tell.  

Resigned2B's picture

Get his attention?

"Use touch to get his attention.  Move over in the bed, put your leg over him, whatever it takes to let him know physically that you are there."

I have been the only one of us that has used this technique for 30 years. Being the sole initiator of this move eventually makes you feel SO intrusive on your partner's 'space' that it's simply easier to realize you will ever have what it takes to get his attention. At this point in your lives, you better just get used to it. It's never going to happen. You'd be better off to find someone outside your marriage to meet your needs or count on being lonely in a room full of people, forever.