new relationship with AdHd man

I am happy to find this forum. I have never written on one before, but I am a 52 yearold school teacher whose husband ran away with a 25 year old 4 years ago. I am quite certain, after a 29 year marriage, he had some psychological problems. That, however is another story.

I have been seeing another teacher for almost a year now, and I am astounded that he most certainly has a rather significant problem with ADHD. What is so amazing is that he is a special ed teacher (30 years), his 29 year old son is a special ed teacher, and many of his friends are teachers.

Is it possible that no one until me has ever been so sure that he has tis problem?

The problem is I really do love him. We have many things in common, and I would like to have a future with him, but I have two daughters, 25yrs and 22 yrs., and I have to consider their relationship with him, as well.

Is it possible for me to ask him if it has ever been mentioned to him before?

He has every symptom, and there is no doubt in my mind that his life would be improved immensely if he were to get some help.

He says I am the woman he has always hoped for, that I make his life better than it has ever been, but I am sure it is because I understand his ADHD, and I deal with him in an appropriate manner.

 I know that I cannot continue unless he can aknowledge this problem and learn to deal with it better.

The severe moods, inattention, forgetfulness, hyperfocusing, and the agony I see in him as every sense is overloaded on a daily basis makes me ache for him often.

Can someone please tell me how to approach this? His son? A friend? A professional?




Any Insight please? New relationship with a combined ADHDer

I am about 3 and a half months into a relationship with a 42 yo man who was just diagnosed with ADHD last year.  I have read up on this condition, but I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around this; I am beginning to take on and internalize some bad feelings about my thoughts on this situation.  I'm 44.

Putting myself and my concerns aside, I'd like to share some of what I've observed, and find out if what I'm observing is typical of ADHD behavior and how it relates to a relationship and my feelings thus far. 

I'm starting to get easily agitated about what is happening, and I am typically a very laid back person.  I want to do my best to understand, to treat him and the situation with compassion, but yet know where to draw the line as far as what I can contribute and how much I am "responsible" for - as I tend to take on way too much in shouldering others' issues, and I then lose myself in the meantime.

A little help?  Is what I am experiencing and seeing typical?   Am I being overly sensitive?  How best to approach a discussion?

1. Early on he was very attentive towards me.  He is very deep, intuitive, and well-spoken and he expresses himself in a very eloquent fashion, especially when it comes to love, romance, and affection.  He is also sharp witted, funny, gregarious, and intelligent.

2. Within the first two weeks, he told me he loved me and wanted to marry.  He states he loves me because I understand and I am accepting of him.

3.  I'd noticed in the beginning, and even moreso now, he is always go-go-go.  Full time job, extra work maybe 2 nights a week, and then internet classes thru a local college to obtain an IT certificate.  There is no "free time."  This man also earned two 4 year degrees simultaneously over a period of 36 months several years ago.

4.  I'm feeling he doesn't have time for ANY type of relationship.  The fact that he has told me he has been looking for someone like me for so long - but then he has a life "like this" - makes me question his sincerity, and if he truly wants a relationship.  He has told me, when we first met, he hadn't been in a serious relationship for ten years.  Why?  Because he was doing his "own thing" for a while.

5.  Focuses easily and for long periods of time on his tasks and interests at hand, but tends not to listen to something I'm talking about, or doesn't have much feedback.  He's also not into planning ahead.

6. Seems to hesitate on going to bed at a decent hour, saying something such as, "It's not even 10 o'clock yet."  He can be exhausted, but can't seem to get to bed earlier than midnight on a regular basis.

7.  We spend weekends together, and we literally do nothing together.  He works on his computer all day.  I'm getting very bored and I feel like I'm beginning to lose my mind.

8.  He complains about being mentally drained and his brain going into overdrive, but doesn't seem to take easily to relaxing.

What can I do?  My fear is, if this relationship was to go forward, is this what it's going to be like the rest of my life? 

He is currently on Strattera that he gets thru a research organization, and prior to that, he was on Adderall XR.  I do not know if he has been in any sort of therapy with a therapist.

Help!  Thank you.


New Relationship with ADD Man

Yes, many of the things you describe are common in ADHD relationships.  So, the question is, what are the TWO of you going to do about it.  If you don't change anything, then the answer to your question about "is this what it will be like for the rest of my life?" will be YES.  If it doesn't change, it doesn't change.  Miracles don't just happen in relationships.  THey get better because two people decide to make them better.

Consider a heart-to-heart.  Forget about the ADHD right now and talk about what the issue at hand is - he's ignoring you.  You might be able to say to him "Look, I know that you haven't had a relationship in 10 years because you've been doing your own thing - and that's great.  But it feels to me as if you are STILL doing your own thing.  I'm not saying this as a criticism of you.  I'm telling you how it feels on my side of this relationship.  I'm lonely, I'm unhappy, I feel ignored.  You don't cuddle with me or express the love in the same ways you used to when we first met.  You don't like to come to bed early enough so we can have more sex.  I really miss you!  I want to hold you every day!  I want to feel as if you care more about me than the computer!  I miss having fun with you on the weekends - let's go do something fun together this weekend!"

Furthermore, you can tell him honestly that you are accepting of him as a person, but that you are not accepting of him treating you as if you didn't exist.  That's not the same thing as accepting him.  That's just thoughtless behavior from an otherwise really wonderful man.

You mention the Strattera but don't mention whether or not he feels that he is getting any benefit out of it.  If he is part of a study, it is possible that he isn't being treated to the optimal, but rather at a specific dose (or even with a placebo).  Make sure that he feels that the Strattera is working for him and, if he isn't sure, have him talk with his doctor.  Sounds as if some of the symptoms he might need to address include disengaging from activities.

You have only known him for a short while.  You have lots of time to figure out whether or not the two of you are a good match.  Don't marry him, though, until you are quite confident that you a.) love him for who he is - warts and all and b.) have a good ability to communicate with each other in any situation and about anything.  That's good advice for anyone, ADHD or not.

For Melissa

Thank you very much for your input and thoughtful response.  Although "simple" and fundamental, your response has helped me confirm in my own head what I need to do and consider.   I appreciate your straight-forward insight in addressing issues that can have such an impact on people on an emotional level.

About the strattera, he has told me that he prefers the Adderall XR, although I don't know why.  I haven't you stated, it is very early on and I don't want to be inundating the man with a bunch of seemingly meaningless questions that don't seem to have anything to do with anything.  I like to put intent and thought into questions that I ask.  Not to say I won't ask, but I kind of like to be even somewhat educated on the condition first and then take it relatively slowly and with intent.

Anyways, thank you again for your straight-up feedback.  I know where to come to ask questions and express concerns - that's here!  By the way, we did have a heart to heart since my post, it was a really good step.  He was totally open to it and it helped take some of the load off.

Have a terrific holiday. 

Meds Don't Work All the Same

The various ADD meds are not interchangable.  Almost everyone finds that some work better than others for them, which may be what your partner means when he says he likes the Adderall better than the Strattera.  (For the members of my own family, Strattera simply didn't work, while Adderall does.)  If the time comes up, you may wish to explore whether or not he thinks the Strattera is relieving symptoms or not...but don't assume that just because he is taking an ADD med that he is being effectively "treated".

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, thank you.  And I'm glad to hear that your talk went well!

To Jean

You pose an interesting question.  My advice would be that you should approach this man directly, in a calm way.  The issue isn't whether or not he has ADD.  The issue is that there are ways that the two of you are interacting that may not make for a good long-term relationship.  For example, you are concerned about his relationship with your girls.  In addition, you seem to be suppressing some of your concerns in order to "deal with him in an appropriate manner" - in fact, so much so, that you think that in spite of how much you care, you will not stay with him unless he changes.  Isn't it fair to him to talk with him about it directly?  Don't use some middle man!  What would that say about the strength of your relationship?

Whether or not he has ADHD, you two won't have a fulfilling relationship unless you feel safe in approaching any topic.  If this man is a special ed teacher, surely he knows enough about ADHD so that a calm discussion of the topic would not be threatening?  What's holding you back?

But I wouldn't approach it from the ADD perspective, since he's not diagnosed.  Simply from the "I love you a lot, but am having some difficulty with us as a couple.  Here are the things that I see that concern me" and explore the issues - not the cause (in both thing you might explore is why you feel shy talking openly about your issues).  Then, "I want to talk with you about these things, and let you know that I'll work with you to iron them out because I think we are great together most of the time and I really want it to work long-term.  I know it's up to you to make decisions about who you are and who you want to be, so don't take this as a criticism, but I've been doing some thinking about what I'm concerned about and am wondering if you might have some ADD.  I know you know about it from work...would this make sense to you?  I thought this might be one avenue you might wish to pursue..."

As for your daughters.  They are grown.  You do want to consider their relationship with a point, and only to a point.  You should try to make them feel comfortable that you have made a sound choice and help them understand how much you love him.  They do not need to approve of him completely - only enough so that they are comfortable around him so that their feelings don't interfere with your future ability to spend time with your daughters.  If they are getting in your way in some way, it may be time to ask them why.  Sometimes a parent feels that the kids may disaprove, when in fact they don't at all.  Don't assume anything (or if you do assume something, err on the side of assuming that they love you and will support your choices).


melissa's reply

Thanks for your response. As ridiculous as this might sound, years ago special ed teacher certification required only four college courses; therefore, there are many older teachers with little credible info about ADHD. Can they become informed? Of course. Must they? No. Once when he was hyperfocusing on TV for two hours when there were things needing to be done and I began doing something else, he actually asked me if I had ADD. He is very sensitive to criticism, and I don't expect a good response if I bring up the topic. He truly has two concepts of time - now and not now. This was probably the most clarifying infomation from your forum. This man has lived this long without getting help, so why should he believe he needs help now? I don't have the energy to help him, so I will let him go. Will it still be helpful to him for me to explain what is so evident to me? Or will it simply leave him feeling badly about himself? I do want to see him interact better with his children and grandchildren for his sake and their sakes. I'll try to explain it to him Thanks. J

In love with an ADHD man

What an interesting forum to have found in my own plight to understand my adhd lover, and I feel for all of you DEEPLY. There is no right answer, only trial and error. If you love him, you go through it with him. If you don't love him already, RUN!!!!!!!!! It is by far the most challenging thing I have ever had to deal with and I can't escape because I already fell in love-hard-with my man, my soul mate. It sucks a lot. It isn't easy, it is painful beyond words sometimes, and both of us feel the pain because he gets to deal with me and my issues -bi polar, co-dependency-volitility. You name it, we are both IN IT! But I am stronger emotionally than him (barely) and when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road, well, I GIVE HIM WHAT HE NEEDS. I die to my own needs (for that moment) and give in. Which, by the way is a complete stark contrast to my nature, for I am the ruler of my domain and I am the princess and I bow to no one, so you can see, it's somewhat of a nightmare at times. But I'm in it. I'm in it with him. I love him and I do it FOR HIM, something I've never done before. So, lucky me, I get to be on the other side of the fence with this one and it is teaching me the value of selflessness, and in doing so, he trusts me enough to little by little let me SHOW HIM a mirror, an image of himself he refuses to acknowledge. It's hardcore denial if I have ever seen denial, and it has taken me 9 months of grueling work to even have him be willing to open that door and look at his own behaviour, to own it, as we say. He has just this week said, "Well, if I am doing to you what I am experiencing you do to me, than, I am truly sorry and that must be true because I believe you and I know you aren't a liar." So, strides. It's a step. I don't know what will happen with it as he sees his own lack of resposibility toward his actions and how they affect me, he might get defensive, a very common response, or angy, an even more common response (it's funny cuz he says he never is the one who gets angry and blows his top) but we both do, and when I do, I have to come crawling back and when he does, he justifies it as if it is my fault. Yea, we deal with the "emotional blackmail" quite a bit. It's deep here ladies. It's deep and it is dark and it is not something ANYONE SHOULD GO THROUGH if they don't have to. So like I said, if you aren't "in love" yet, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. Me, well, I am in love, I love this man from the tip of his toes to the top of his head and everything in between. I am IN IT FOR GOOD. I am incomplete without him, since we are truly soul mates, and we have A LOT TO OVERCOME TOGETHER to find our way of "meshing" in the HARD TIMES. The good times are easy, they are a cake walk, and they are the reason we believe it can work out since no other experience has ever brought us such contentment and joy and harmony and bliss and euphoria. Yep, yep, yep, you take the good with the bad, ladies. It all amounts to you asking yourself "is he worth it to me?" If the answer is yes, well then you go through it WITH HIM AND HELP HIM WHENEVER YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DO SO. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for a lot of agony, a lot of confusion and a lot of hurt that won't help YOU in you FUTURE to behave well with the next guy. So run, like now. Anyways, I hope this helped someone else and it sure has helped me reading all of your plights, as I now know I am not alone in dealing with this. If anyone wants to hear some of the wonderful "GOOD" parts of our relationship, and some of the trials and tribulations too, then check out my personal blog, at:

To Jewels

It sounds as if you have a very interesting relationship!  Be careful, though, that in your effort to sublimate yourself to his needs you don't lose yourself.  That would be a tragedy for you both, as it will eventually make your relationship even harder...and do you need that?

A good book to consider reading on this topic would be "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie.  It's hard for me to tell whether or not you've gotten completely into the "controlling" side of codependence, but there are certainly shades of it there...and you just DON"T want to be there!

Is he helping you as much as you are helping him?  Hope so...but also hope that you are able to have some fun together...sounds as if you are.

never will be able to be enough

It has become quite obvious that this man will never address his adhd, and contrary to Melissa's roe-colored glasses view, this man is tortured constantly by his brain. Every piece of information he doesn't like is a pesonal attack against him. When a ar salesman did not want to give him the price he wanted to trade in his car, his day was ruined and he couldn't understand why mine was not as well. When I tried to explain it was not a personal attack, just car saleman business, he did his best to make me feel like I didn't know anything. He reaction to this was truly bizarre. He is arguing with eveyone - his son, his brother, a business associate. Any disagreement becomes a devastating personal attack. He has arguments with people he loves all the time, and then he insists he hated "all the drama" his ex-wife has with her children. He comments on my mother's annoying ADD, with no cognition of the fact that he behaves much more erratically. After I spent hours helping him get ready to have a nice Christmas eve for his sons and grandchildren (when I had to do all of this myself, too) I showed up later in the evening (at his request) with my daughter when he announced he hated to hurry us but we had to leave so he could go to a friend's house for a vist - and he still had other company and another couple stopped in a few minutes later - he forgot he had invited them.! Now he is having financial problems with some loans he has, and he spends hours badgering loan officers on the phone, getting them to agree to terms and then neglecting to follow through as he thinks he can get an even better deal. I have noticed he has trouble understanding the nuances in conversations, and when I get these, he will sarcastically ask me if I ever get tired of being right all the time. I really am not trying to be right, just help him. This is not just some "different way of a brain working," it is a disability which is ruining his relationships and making it imossible for him to be happy and content. Because I have been busy with family Christmas obligations, he has been cold and distant and told me it is because he needs more passion in his life - but that it has nothing to do with me. It is ALWAYS about him. This is not just some different" way of thinking. This poor man is torured, and he is (or his brain is) his own worst enemy. A person cannot live a good fulfilling life when he has no filter for his thoughts. That's impossible. I am broken-hearted because I loved him, and I know that explaining this all to him will mean hurting him. But making an effort to get him some help with this problem -and yes it is a big problem- is the right thing to do.

Not addressing ADD enough

I am not a doctor, as I like to point out, but it does sound to me as if there is more going on with the specific person that you are talking about than just ADHD.  That wouldn't be a big surprise, as fully 80% of people diagnosed with ADHD as adults also have at least one other issue (many have 4 or more other issues).  Statements like "every piece of information he doesn't like is a personal attack against him" sound excessively defensive at best and perhaps paranoid.  He may also have a personality disorder.

In any event, don't just blame ADHD, particularly if he hasn't had a full evaluation from an experienced medical professional.

And about those rose colored glasses I wear - I would disagree.  I am more optimistic about the potential outcomes for people who deal with their ADD than others because I know many highly functional ADD folks who have many wonderful qualities (and have not always been as successful as they are now).  But NOWHERE on this site do I recommend that people live with untreated ADHD symptoms that are causing them problems.  Your man (husband? partner? fiance?) does have issues caused by how his brain takes in information that need to be both identified and addressed ASAP.  It's not going to be an easy journey for either him or you (should you choose to stick it out).  But at the other end of that journey can be a very happy place.  I offer no magic pill or guaranteed route to happiness - only proof that happiness can be found and some words to get people started on their own journey.

New Relationship

Personally, I would consult an ADHD-knowledgeable therapist first, and then, with the therapist's counsel and when you feel ready, approach this yourself. It's your relationship -- be pro-active! One important thing I have learned living with a husband and son with ADHD is that there is a certain amount of opposition I call "hyper babble" -- it's automatic, un-thought-out opposition. Opposition can be and often is an ADHD symptom, and it's very difficult to handle -- just be prepared for it. Say you understand, but keep moving in the direction you've chosen. Most ADHD adults, whether diagnosed or not, have heard their entire lives about everything that's "wrong" with them -- so they are very sensitive to what they perceive as criticism -- just keep validating, validating, validating -- say you understand a million times over if you have to. Don't emphasize what's "wrong" with him, emphasize that he means so much to you and that you've taken the time to research this. But emphasize that you feel deeply about this. Yes, you will feel that it shouldn't have to be this difficult -- just remember that the object at this point is to get him to the therapist's office to get a diagnosis. If he gets that far, ask him for a trial of medication and emphasize that a trial is just that -- a trial. Once he's on medication, ask him to keep some sort of a diary of how he's feeling every day. And ask him to join and participate in this site!! All this said, there is no guarantee that he will participate. But the odds are higher if you lovingly hold your ground. Do not fight with him about this. Do not create a power struggle. If he refuses, impart to him simply and firmly that you're not sure you can stay in the relationship. If he senses that this isn't a power struggle or yet another person "complaining" about him, he will join you -- maybe not as quickly or easily as you'd like -- but it sounds as if you mean so much to him. If he fights you without let-up, be true to your word and quietly leave the relationship -- he still may come around after a little time without you.