New and Needing Help About Commitment

Hi All,

I'm a non ADD woman with a ADD partner. We have been together for 5 and a half years, living together for all but 2 months in the beginning. We area very loving, happy couple for the majority of the time but during our relationship there has been two major blips.

Both times we have had the major blips it has been during stressful times. The first time he told me our relationship was over, that he wanted to travel. I reacted as calm as I possibly could and we had a long talk but he was adamant. The next day as I was due to leave our apartment he cried and said he wanted me to stay. So I did, and we tried our best to work through things.

Everything was fine for just under two years then a couple of days ago there was another blip.

Last Summer he asked me to marry him, but he wasn't comfortable about making any plans. This changed a few weeks ago and we began looking at wedding ideas, we decided on very low key and simple so we would have as little stress as possible. We were both really happy. Then we set the actual date and decided that we would tell our immediate families the following day.

Ten minutes before he was due to speak to his, out of nowhere he exclaimed that he did not want to get married, that he wants to travel...

I was yet again heartbroken.

Again I tried to be as calm with him as possible but I feel so let down. At the very beginning of our relationship we talked marriage, kids, a home. It was what we both agreed that we wanted. Now he tells me that he can't commit to anything, no getting married, no buying a home, nothing. These are things that are incredibly important to me, especially as I am mid thirties now.

I love this guy beyond reason, outside of these two instances he is the most loving, thoughtful, kind man I have ever known. He's been a rock for me during ill health of both myself and my parents. We laugh, have fun and he's written the most beautiful sentiments to me that I have ever read.

I know it's the ADD making him behave this way, I'm trying so hard to work around this, but it's the second time this has happened and other than join him on his travels I don't know what on earth I can do to get some of the stability that I crave.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

The instability is probably permanent

Hi there,

You're probably correct that part of his instability is his ADHD. I would never presume to tell you what to do with your relationship, but I will advise you to think long and hard before ever adding children to the relationship. As I'm sure you know, his sudden reversals are emotionally devastating and will be a thousand times worse for a child. Further, your children will have a high chance of having ADHD themselves, and will need stability even more than other kids. 

I say all of this because I have been married to someone with ADHD for 20 years and have two children--one with ADHD and one without. We all suffer greatly from the lack of stability in the family due to my husband's ADHD. My husband's and my relationship would have been SO much better if we had remained childless. There is so much less responsibility needed, pressure, etc. Sometimes I wish I could go back and live two parallel lives--one where my husband and I didn't have kids and we had an awesome, fun, spontaneous life where I could have enough resources, freedom, time and energy to be ready at all times for it to end or change dramatically, and one where I had my two kids by myself and could provide the stability they need. The two lives just don't mix.

As for your relationship, you'll have to just decide if you can handle these "180s" as we call them.  You can't count on his changing. You can't push him to change. (He might do it on his own if he recognizes the pain it's causing, and that would be awesome, but you can't count on it.) All you can do is ask yourself if you are willing for it to be this way forever.

I wish you the best!

Don't even know...

I have to be honest, your story is so common that I don't even know if the ADHD is the main issue here.  I can understand that it would only exacerbate the problem, but many, many men do this to women all the time.  Decide they want to marry, then change their minds.  Many men are quite simply not cut out for the commitment of marriage, and home and family and all that it entails, and you have to respect that, and be thankful that he is being honest with you.

I so agree that bringing a child/children into this relationship would not be in your best interest.  That is, unless you have in your mind, and understand that you MAY wind up being a single Mother caring for these children ALONE.

Someone with commitment issues, and ADHD will be very hard to ever plan any sort of future with.  Have you considered counseling?  I really do wish you nothing but the best.  

I have been married nearly 25 years to an ADHD husband who was only diagnosed last summer and began medication January 6th of this year, and we have 2 children.

Has he explained "travel"?


I can certainly see why you're heartbroken and feeling let down--these are important things to you (marriage, kids...) and his 180s are clearly hurtful.

Have you guys talked about what exactly he considers "travel"? Does he want to quit his job and backpack around India for 2 years? Or does he want to drive across the country? Or something else? 

I wouldn't necessarily say it's only the ADD that's making him behave this way (it may be, I don't know him, so I have no idea)--for what it's worth, I'm a non-ADD wife. My ADD husband really wants children, but I'm not ready yet b/c I want to travel, and I have a few specific trips in mind that I want to do without kids in tow (Kilimanjaro, a trek through Nepal...). He and I need to discuss what's realistic in terms of time and money, but the point is, we need to figure this out together so that we're on the same page.

From everything else you say, it sounds like you two have a healthy, loving relationship, so I have hope that you'll be able to work through this.

I'd say the most important thing to find out is why exactly he feels like he can't travel if he were to marry you (the kids and travel thing I totally get).

Good luck! 


I can certainly sympathize with you. My ADD husband waffled on getting married for over a year. He was the one rushed things--telling me that he was in love within two weeks of dating, mentioning getting married within 3 months of dating, and then...nothing. Back then, we didn't know he had ADD. But I also made the mistake of forcing the marriage when he had concerns. I have abandonment issues myself, so I didn't want to get stuck in a relationship that wouldn't end up in marriage because I too, wanted children.

We got married after a year and half of dating and he was diagnosed about a year later. Even with the diagnosis and occasional meds, he had the characteristic angry outbursts (fueled by some other emotional issues); he waffled on things A LOT, most recently pushing back our reunion under the same roof (after being informally separated for two years). It hasn't been a cake walk, but we're slowly making progress. I would definitely echo the other poster who suggested counseling. You may be surprised at what is at the root of his 180 changes. It sounds like despite his lack of commitment, you have a good relationship. Are you prepared to remain in a domestic partnership without the marriage certificate? Are you prepared to have children out of wedlock or forgo them altogether? I'm about to turn 30 in a few days and I have to admit that there was a time when I thought I would be freaking out about having kids if I was in my mid thirties. Now, I've kind of made my peace about not having children. You've got to decide what compromises to make and then decide if those compromises will make you resentful down the road. 

Best of luck to you.


Marriage can make a good relationship better, but it can't make an "unstable" one more stable.  Kids can make a good marriage even more fulfilling, but they can't make an "unstable" one better.  Raising kids is absolutely the most demanding challenge anyone can undertake, and it is a very long commitment.  You will be more tired, more broke and more worried during the time you raise kids than any other.  Yes, they are worth it, but they are your gift to the world and it better be a quality gift -- kids can never be something you do for yourself or your spouse.    He can be someone you love whole-heartedly, yet not be the person who shares enough of your values and life skills to create the marriage, kids, a home you are seeking.  My (untreated, unadmitted) ADD guy has seems to have a strong sense of how to avoid commitments he knows deep down he will be unable to keep..... Your guy may truly not want to get married for fear he won't be able to succeed at it.  It doesn't mean he doesn't want the marriage, kids, a home dream just as much as you do, it doesn't mean he doesn't want it with you, but it might mean he's terrified ...  

This definition should be published

There is Absolutely Nothing that I would disagree with in your post Gardener. Too many people are "In Love" with the Image of Marriage, like "Little House on the Prairie" or a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Diving, head first, into marriage as a method to Force Strengthen the relationship, then when that does not work having children to Bring Joy to a stalled marriage is a Plan for Disaster. "Damn the Torpedoes, FULL Speed Ahead" ~Admiral Bull Halsey was his great quote from WWII. Heroic, sure, but this almost lead to one of the greatest naval disasters in history. I think this thinking can lead to family disasters as well.

As an ADDer, marriage, kids and home was my dream like most people, but I've fought tooth and nail to keep it working. I rushed into marriage, because somehow I knew I'd lose her if I gave her too much time.

Damn the Torpedoes, Full Steam Ahead...  Some of them hit home using this method.

Thanks for the replies. I

Thanks for the replies. I haven't felt able to come back here until now as we sort of just settled back into being 'us' again, no upset or drama, quite the opposite in fact.

Despite my age, having children wasn't something that I considered to be in the near future at any point and don't now. It was something that we had talked about and agreed that we would both one day like if it happened.

After he asked me to marry him for the second time in our relationship (I said yes the first time), he called both our families and broke the news, that was his own choice and absolutely not because I had asked him to. Now it's somewhat embarrassing after being sent gifts and cards for our engagement for there to be no news.

Since the last 180 (thank you) he has since said that he will marry me with no prompting from myself. He just brought it up. I left it at that because no way am I going to mention that we actually go through with it, I'm still hurting from the last 180.

The thing that I am trying to get my head around is that in the weeks after all the hurt and upset, when we spoke calmly again about it he had no recollection of telling me that he didn't want to be committed to me, didn't want to buy a home and didn't want to have kids. He just said that things were moving too fast in getting married. I respect that. I know him well enough to know that he really doesn't remember saying those things. He also said that he doesn't want to travel, I can't keep up.

Since learning that he doesn't recall saying those things he has told me countless times that he wouldn't have said them, but he did. With hindsight when the outburst came he changed, it was like being sat next to a different person. This is what scares me a little.

We're together but I feel like I'm living a daily existence, we have no plans. For reasons that I can't go into, the area in which we live is not going to be a safe one for the next few months, he knew this but has decided to he is going to visit family abroad for 2 weeks during this time.

It's like a switch gets flicked, one minutes he's beyond caring, the next, he's off to another continent during a really shady time leaving me alone in a place that will not be safe at all. I just wish that he could see how his actions are affecting things, but he doesn't and that I wish I could learn to understand.