In a new relationship with untreated ADD

I posted this in the Hope forum, because I guess that's what I want to hear about...hope.

Very briefly, I am a 30 yo woman with some mild anxiety issues and four years clean and sober through 12 step work (I guess I'm trying to say "Hey, I've got my issues, too").  He's 35, and I'm going to talk mostly about him in the following paragraphs...  We've both been in some bad relationships, and I feel like we're equally relieved to have met each other.  We have a wonderful time together, we talk about everything, and we have very similar goals and aspirations.  He's adorable and fun and smart and kind....but....

Let me begin by saying I am rapidly falling in love with my new boyfriend, but recently I've been more aware of his ADD-qualities, and I'm worried about the future.  I've been dating him for two months now.  To say it was (is) a whirlwind courtship is putting it lightly.  I feel like we've said and done so much that we are about where a couple of one year might be.  This is, in no small part, due to what I consider his ADD/ADHD.  He jokes that he is ADD, but he's never been diagnosed or treated.  I don't think he comprehends the impact of ADD on his work, relationships, and life in general.

He is sweet, caring, and desires so much to have a family.  He's industrious and hard working but it's like watching a hamster spin in the wheel sometimes.   I watch him rush about, building to-do lists a mile long, and nothing gets accomplished.

He's self-employed and works from his home, but he's not successful, and his house is chaotic with two dogs, stacks of inventory, piles of paperwork, and never enough time to mind it all. 

He berates himself for not having more money/being more successful/having more material things.  His stress is palpable at times, and I feel sorry for him.  The level of disorganization in which he lives really holds him back from being to relax at all, because there's always something that needs tending, and his environment is like an ADD playground of potential distractions and activities on which to hyperfocus.

Granted, it's messy, but it's far from being the worst I've seen.  Considering his ADD issues and his home business, it's really not that bad.  The other day he told me he hates it there, it's too much, he's too overwhelmed.  He tells me I'm too accepting, that I need to expect more from him and not be so okay with his house.  It was pitiful.  He said if we want to live together one day, he's going to have to get it all together and I'm going to have to be tougher on him.  That's just not my style.  I'm there to spend time with him, not come down on him for dirty laundry on the floor.

Yet, when I do start tidying up, he tells me I shouldn't pick up after him, and I feel like my shows of empathy or assistance are blows to his ego.  It's really no bother right now.  Why not pick up stuff as you find it?  Right now, in the dating phase, it is acceptable, it is okay, and I'm not resentful.

But I can definitely see a time down the road when in living together it becomes unacceptable and I become as victimized and resentful as the other posters I've read here.  Neither this man nor I are spring chickens in relationships, we can see the potential pitfalls and issues that may arise if we choose to bring our lives together.  We're not blind in love. 

I can also see the hyperfocus on me wearing off, and at first I thought he was losing interest in me until I started reading these posts.  Now I know what it means...it doesn't mean anything, it's just how his mind works.  Still, in the moment, I find it hard not to get a little jealous of the attention he pays his loser friend or his PDA or his laptop.  Everything is treated with equal importance, so it's hard for me to feel important at times.

I know that cleaning his home and helping him get organized isn't going to solve any problems.  This is how he is.  I could get him straightened out tonight, and by the weekend it'll be a wreck again.  Tonight, I did tell him that we're going to clean his bedroom closet and get rid of some stuff.

Add to the above some equal parts immigration issues, constant tardiness, and a strong people-pleasing streak, and my boyfriend has some problems that I can now see contribute to him being single and 35.  Yet, he's so sweet, committed, courteous, funny, spontaneous, generous, and giving that it's hard not to fall for him.

Our courtship has been rushed, and already I feel like major decisions about being together and where we live are coming down the pike sooner than I'd like.  I feel like I get a bit caught up in his tornado, and I'm unsure about where I'll land.  Yet it's thrilling to be in it sometimes...

You are VERY fortunate that

You are VERY fortunate that you know what you're dealing with and see things for what they are up front. This will hopefully help you avoid ever feeling resentful of him if you decide to marry him. You are observing all of his issues with open eyes and an open heart, that's great.

The main thing that came to mind when reading your post was how he is very critical of himself. Have you suggested counseling to him? Maybe he should get an official diagnosis from a professional and then start therapy to help him deal with the issues that make him come down on himself so much. You also will have to learn how to communicate in an effective way. Right now you're both far more 'accepting' of things (You of his issues you point out, him of your 'help') but eventually these things can spiral into something very detrimental if you don't have a plan. He is not incapable of committing, but it will be harder for him to follow through with a lot of his 'promises' without behavioral therapy and possibly meds. Saying one thing but doing another is very common with ADDers...they mean what they say, but following through is sometimes extremely difficult (when it seems it should be so easy to us)

Keep reading...know the treatments...see if he's willing to get treatment...and give things some time. You don't want to end up resentful of him for a condition he cannot help having, but in the same aspect, he needs to recognize that he has some issues and get the help he needs in order to minimize its impact on his life...and yours if you decide to marry.

You're 1000 steps ahead of most of us here...some of us had no idea what we were dealing with...and ended up angry, hurt, and resentful before getting the clarity and understanding that you have. That is a bonus! :) Good luck!!

Re: Very Fortunate...

Thank you for your response.  As a social worker with some years experience in mental health, I am aware of certain disorders, though I am loathe to diagnose my loved ones (as tempting as it may be).

After posting here and reading more, I watched him carefully last night.  A lot of it certainly fits the bill...  I asked him (gently)  if he truly thought he had ADD or if he was just joking around.  He said, "Oh, I don't know, I just know I can get really distracted."  I didn't say anything else.  I know for a fact that he is vehemently opposed to medication in any form - he will not even take a multi-vitamin or an aspirin. 

As for counseling, I'm not sure how or if I would broach that topic.  As a recovering alcoholic myself, I know the best time to offer help is right AFTER a person asks for help (the worst time being before they ask).  I've told him before that if we continue dating and decide to have a future together, it might behoove him to attend some Al-Anon meetings.  I couched it in a way that it would help me, not that it might truly help him by changing his attitudes and outlook on things such as self-acceptance, people-pleasing, and boundary-setting.

Perhaps if and when we near a stage of a more spelled-out commitment would I feel comfortable making suggestions such as counseling, etc.  Right now, we're still pretty fresh.  And right now, just reading here is tremendously helpful to understanding where he's coming from and not taking things personally (like his tardiness, aversion to touch, feeling left out of his decision-making).

It is a general feeling that

It is a general feeling that symptoms get worse with age if left untreated...especially around mid-30's to early 40's. It really is something you need to give a lot of consideration to. Read in Melissa's favorites here about treatment and what it involves. I honestly would like to tell you to just love him unconditionally and accept him how he is, but there is no promise that you not falling into the nagging, controlling wife role would assure that he won't get less attentive, more aversive to your touch, and worse with finances as time goes on. I would URGE you, at the very least, to keep your finances separate and always be able to take care of yourself if the need were to arise. This would possibly prevent one of the main issues with many ADD couples...financial ruin.

ADD takes on many forms and has many different symptoms for many different people. My ADD husband is completely opposite of 'touch aversion' ... my touch alone is soothing and makes him feel loved and secure. He also never hyperfocused during dating and then lost interest completely like those who suffer from 'inattentive' issues do. Just be aware of his possible symptoms and prepare to deal with them as you procede. I do really wish you guys the best of luck.

I've been married to someone

I've been married to someone with ADD type behaviors for over 30 years.  I also come from an alcoholic environment - every person in my immediate family.  Somehow I managed to recognize I would probably head down the same path myself and quit drinking alcohol many years ago and haven't succumbed to any other kind of drugs either. Being an adult child of alcoholics though I'm the first to admit I have my own issues and set excessive behaviors.

We are pretty happily married though in spite of ADD behaviors that bother me and my behaviors that bother my husband.  I'm actually more "at peace" recently learning about ADHD and realizing there may be a logical explanation for why my husband is the way he is.  There are two major points in our life that I think have allowed us to be happy and they relate to two very important things SherriW said.  They are managing your finances and being able to provide for yourself if needed. 

In our case I have always managed our finances - he knew he was not good at this and we agreed on this before we got married.  I have also been career oriented my entire life.  My career goal was to be able to provide for myself without being dependent on a man since my alcoholic father left my mother and me in a real bind financially.  As a result I now have a good job and good income - enough to support both of us when my husband is unemployed - which has happened a lot of the last 10 years.  We did not set out to be childless but that's how things turned out and knowing what I know now that is a blessing.  At some point we made the decision that if kids were part of God's plan for us then it would happen naturally without intervention.  It wasn't in the plan and He certainly knew what was best for us.

There are probably a lot of people who are happily married to someone with ADHD - who have figured out how to make it work.  You won't find them here though - because they're not looking for help.

Now 3 months in...

Our relationship looks and feels a lot like what is described by other folks - the hyperfocus, intense, every day together, lots of activities...

On one hand it's thrilling and exciting and romantic.  On the other hand, I'm tired!  Every weekend is chock full of plans and activities and trips and chores.  If I try to pull him down for a mid-day snuggle, it's, "There's no time, what's next?!?!"  I need more downtime, and it seems as if downtime for him isn't just boring, it's uncomfortable and unpleasant.  He's got to keep moving like a shark...

His mood seems dependent on his business which, on a day-to-day basis, seems to be floundering.  I want so much for him to feel successful, but he struggles...

He had made jokes about having ADD, and I've tried hard not to push him about it, but I did encourage him to watch ADD and Loving It?! with me when it was on PBS this week.  He was strangely quiet and I think he got something out of it.  I didn't ask him too much about it, because I don't want to be pushy. 

A very telling interaction we had later was when I said to him, "You're funny!" and he said, "I know, everyone says I'm funny."  Then I said, "You're one of the smartest people I've ever met" to which he said, "Really?  How am I smart?"  It was like I found a chink in his confidence.  Normally, he acts very confident, but I've been seeing lately that he does not believe himself to be as smart and sexy as I find him to be. 

I love him very much at this point, but I'm also scared to death as to how I would actually live on a regular basis with him.  When we watched the documentary, they had a part about finding the right partner to cope with ADD, and they said how important it is to have a sense of humor and patience.  I have the sense of humor, but I'm afraid I'm not patient enough.  I know I can be rather impatient in just everyday situations, much less ADD-exacerbated ones. 

Time will tell...but I'm glad I found this site now!