New here, need advice

I am 37, have been dating a 35 year old man with ADD for the past two years. I was fresh out of a divorce from a sex addict who abandoned me and my very young children to a very young woman, overnight, literally, after many affairs and some crazy stuff. I waited a year to date, probably not long enough in retrospect, but my BF was very attentive at first, seemed to really love my kids, and supported me through the legal steps of my divorce (which had only just begun when we met... another mistake on my part to not get through it first). To his credit, he saw me through too much drama...

He had been diagnosed with ADD a year or two prior to us meeting. He thinks he may never have become divorced if he had known about his ADD (he chose to leave his wife, four years before I met him, and he has a daughter, now 8, with a lot of health issues).

I noticed a lot of small things early on, mainly his inattention to life responsibilities-- power getting turned off for failure to pay, house getting foreclosed on, he'd buy alcohol or nice dinners but not be able to pay for utilities, he has credit problems even though he has a good income, he would speed and get tickets and then forget to pay them. His excuse was that he gave too much away $ in his divorce, then had to buy everything on credit. I think that may be true, but I also think that if he hadn't had ADD, he would have taken better care not to get in that situation.

I also noticed that he is very inconsistent in his words/plans. He cycles through hobbies but rarely gets very far into them before switching gears. I've really just observed this, and not done anything to comment or change it. Since he told me he had ADD, I opted not to give him a hard time or really try to help him get consistent with these things, unless he asks for help.

His house has been an utter disaster-- trash everywhere, very dirty. At first, I really tried to help him clean it up, thinking then he could just maintain it once it got cleaned. He didn't, and he also resented me, thought I was being controlling, so I gave that up. He really seems to resent when I do things that a parent would do, even though I don't feel like I'm doing them with that sort of attitude.

He plays a video game which can suck up 15 hours at a time, and yet he doesn't have time to clean the house. When he lived with me for a couple of months, he did very few chores, got very irate at me when I would ask for help, yet had no problem blowing an entire weekend on the computer. He'd say that this was his way of coping with our stress, that he needed that release. I have no problem with some time on the computer, mind you, but the proportion was such that he could not even remotely close to pull his weight. During this time, I also had a daughter in the hospital, so I had a lot to bear.

On the good side, he has a good job, and seems to have no attention problems at work that I'm aware of. He's an involved father. He loves my kids. He's very creative and funny. And he says he wants to be responsible. He's in counseling right now to learn life skills. I see some improvements. He shares my values and faith, is very faithful to me (big relief after my husband). He doesn't care whether I primp or not. I feel like he loves me for who I am, not what I am (as opposed to my husband). He can have very deep discussions, when he is in a good space, and I've learned a lot from him, and he's helped me regain faith that I can love and be loved.

The big issue I have with him is his anger. When he gets angry at me, which is fairly often, and usually over something that I perceive to be him misinterpreting some "small" thing I've said, he gets very angry. He rants at me, curses at me, labels me (stupid, nitpicky, jerk, ridiculous, vulture, as someone with issues). When I try to get to the bottom of why he thinks these things about me, he gets more angry, says it's not worth telling me (as if I wouldn't get it). He is also very controlling. He'll get angry if I don't email him at the right time, but then angry if I contact him too much when he's not up for it. He will even get angry if I ask him if he's coming to dinner (as if he feels put on the spot), but he's also said he wants to see me all the time, always wants to see me. I think that he's verbally abusive. His anger gets over the top, and I can't reason with him to save my life. He will threaten things, saying, "You don't want to see me get angry." I step away, but then he doesn't talk to me much for a few days, holds a grudge against me. When he finally does communicate again, he usually gets over it. Sometimes he admits he has an anger problem. But most recently, he said he can't change, this is who he is, and maybe we should just break up because we fight too much. He seems me as too sensitive. I've been in therapy to help myself detach from his rages (and from my ex's anger towards me), so I don't think I react inappropriately, or too often. I let his minor cuts and frustration at me go. But there are times when I do speak up, if I feel it is very over the top, or I've had enough. That's when he gets upset, and I can't speak. If I don't react though to his rants, he has said that I don't care. He once admitted that it makes him feel good to know that he's hurt me in these conversations.

We are on the verge of breaking up, and I don't know if I have any choices in the matter or not. He says he feels resentful, like I didn't even try to understand him. I have, and I do comprehend why it's hard for him to sort through things mentally enough to let things go. But the effects of it are that 1/3 of the time, I'm dodging his bullets, having to internally reassure myself that I'm an okay person, trying to filter out what is constructive feedback from him, versus verbal abuse.

He is also very critical and controlling of my life. He admitted that he was reading all my email for a while when he stayed with me. He'd get mad about that, thinking I was having inappropriate relationships with my clients (I am a writer/editor, so I have to sometimes ask in depth personal questions to help an author write their story... I did this with one client, and he thought I was just for pleasure getting personal... even though I didn't talk about my boyfriend at all, have said nothing but good things about him.) He criticizes my driving, my parenting, my career. I will try doing something one way per his suggestion, and then he criticizes me in the opposite way. He seems to have a very high need to control me. I'm a very independent woman when it comes to practical things. I run my own business, fix my own house, take care of everything myself, and do a good job at most of those things, despite sometimes making mistakes. I sometimes think that threatens him.

I love the guy. He's the most comforting and fun person when his mind is in a clear space. I want the things he says he wants. I feel like he shifts in and out of "ADD" land, has days of clarity, followed by days of being stuck in what seems to me to be a very irrational place.

He started getting into these same irrational arguments with my 7 year old daughter, who is a very smart girl. She would come to me in tears. He would come to me ranting about her being selfish and rude. I tried to listen, but honestly, I think he's not being kind or fair to her. I've stopped letting them be alone together, in order to not have her exposed to this.

We have not gone through any sort of communication therapy, and I guess that's the one last thing we could do. But I'm wondering, what can I expect? He tells me I'm "too sensitive," and if only I wasn't, we wouldn't have problems. He wants to be able to dump his anger on me. I just don't think that the amount he dumps is appropriate or healthy, and I've said this a thousand times, but he can't seem to stop himself. I'm not sure that the relationship is worth it, if I have to endure that. In fact, there have been probably 75 times in the last year when I tell myself that I have to get out. But then the storm calms, and I miss him again, and I love him, and I try again to make it work.

THe one thing I don't understand is the thought that he can't change his communication with me to be more kind. Is this just him making an excuse, or is this true?

I'd like advice on this... what to expect, is there anything I can do to help our relationship, or should I cut my losses and move on.

Another thing, he can be overly attentive at times, controlling, but it's usually balanced by periods of withdrawal, where I wonder if we're even dating. He'll talk about breaking up with me, and then the next day talk about marrying me. It's very confusing, and I don't know which is real.





It sounds like you are an

It sounds like you are an independent woman who is capable of taking care of your self and your children. Why would you continue to put your self and your children through this mental abuse? Your children will learn from you if you stay with him that it is ok to have their spouse treat them this way. If I were you I would cut my loss, however I do understand it is easier said than done when you are the one in the situation. It is very hard when you are told he wants to change and wants the same kind of life you want. As women we tend to hold out hope that if we stay long enough and try hard enough things will work out in the end. I am dealing with that in my marriage. Some times you think is the grass really greener on the other side? All men have some sort of problem (cleaning, cheating, the list could go on). Making the decision to stay or go is a decision that sometimes can take years to finalize in your mind. Kind of funny, my first husband of nine years was mentally abusive and at times physically abusive to me but he never cheated, my current husband of seven years is very loving and NOT abusive, however he has adhd and has cheated many times. So I have been your your shoes and you have been in mine. Men like to blame all the problems on the woman, however we are to smart to fall for that BS! We only have one life to live, while living that life the most important things we can do is what is best for our children. Has your man tried add meds? If not is he willing too? My husband has been on and off adhd meds currently he is off and does not want any. I have three children and I often feel like not only am I parenting them but I am also parenting my husband. This leads to a power struggle of sorts. He hates that I parent him however his behavior and actions are so childish he needs to be parented (which I hate to do). From the out side looking in the answer is clear, from the inside looking out the answer is fogged with a hays of questions and what if's. There is no easy answer, what ever choice you make there will be some sort of hurt and pain involved along with a ton of what if's. Look at your children, the answer is in their eyes.

Thank you for the insight.

Thank you for the insight. Yes, since I was cheated on, and abandoned so terribly (I'd just had an infant, and my husband tried the same deflection techniques with me to blame me for why he was leaving me for a 22 year old girl, and in my state of mind at the time, I had a very hard time NOT trying to take responsibility for all of his actions, thinking I could have prevented them.... I've been in a recovery program for partners of sex addicts, and I now understand that it wasn't my fault or issue.) So I think having someone who nurtured me through that, and someone who doesn't cheat, has made me think I should hold onto that. I know everyone has issues, so I am okay tolerating some things, even the messy house. But at the same time, when he is what I deem to be verbally abusive, I regularly tell myself I need to get out. I called my mom the other day, since she's a great support system, and said, "Mom, please help me get out of this." I know I can do it. I really can. But there's the part of me that second guesses myself, thinking maybe if I were just _____ enough, I could make do with it, or maybe he wouldn't be so angry with me if I could just learn to communicate better, detach better, do whatever better. But at the same time, I think that no matter what I do, he'll find a way to be this way. And yes, he is on Adderal now, which has helped a lot. But even on Adderal, this happens. Not as often or as extreme, but still beyond what I think is okay. Interesting how you pointed out the reverse situation, being with someone not abusive who cheats. My husband was a very outwardly sweet man. He'd rage at me now and then, but rarely, and it was almost always about sex. Other than that, he was calm. We had a pretty peaceful life. ALthough I think part of that was because I learned to tolerate his addiction, look the other way, and I hid behind my own issues (anxiety) as an excuse why it was okay for him to act out. I've since gotten a handle on my own anxiety, feel pretty darned strong and like I have a lot to offer. Thank you for this, and I'm sorry for what you have been through too.

I had losses in my childhood that lead to me being more tolerant, I think, than I probably should be. My dad died when I was nine, and my mom quickly started dating a man who was verbally abusive to me. She left me alone with my alcoholic sister who neglected me. That went on for a year before she remarried a great guy, who became my stepdad. I'm in therapy to learn how this shaped me. I think I learned to tolerate a lot, so as not to be abused/neglected/criticized. And I've had an attraction to the passionate type men who seem to love me enough to never leave me, at first... only now I understand that this "type" is a red flag. I also took care of myself and my sister at age nine, so I've learned a lot of independence... meaning I don't really expect much from a mate, and therefore probably tolerate a lot more neglect and mistreatment.

Been there done that...wish I had someone to say to me...

RUN!  Woman, run as fast as you can. His abusive ways have nothing to do with ADHD and no amount of medication will change this hateful, controlling, abusive man.  When someone is attacking you...they are announcing that they have a problem.  Its not about you.  Its all about his problems.  You can't and won't change him or fix him.  He will only get worse, trust me, been there done that. 

Kick him to the curb for your own sake and for the sake of your children.  There isn't any amount of any good qualities in someone that can legitimately balance out the abusive trait.  

Thanks for this. I've read

Thanks for this. I've read that abuse comes from a sense of entitlement that is often very ingrained in someone's personality. I can certainly see this in him... he is angry at his parents, and yet they lend him large sums of money... but then he gets irate when his dad asks him about finances. To me, his dad should be able to ask about it, if he's giving him money. But he seems to be entitled. He once took my car on a very long road trip without asking, when I was out of town. It's these little things that sometimes make me wonder if it's about more than ADD. But I've also read that ADD and anger go hand in hand, which is why I came here. Thanks for the insight. I know I need to get out. It's just the doing it part that is hard. I'm trying to take it slow. We still talk by phone, but I'm trying to have as little contact as I can muster.