Not new to marriage with a person diagnosed with ADHD

Hello all and Thank You for what seems to be a very real discussion!

I have read several posts by partners who seem completely exhausted by their marriages and I want to say that I have been there, too. However, I believe that there are degrees. In my case, I left a nine-year relationship (that I considered a marriage) because of issues that may not be attributable to my (then husband's) diagnosis of ADHD. He was diagnosed with ADHD when we had been together about 6 years. There are a lot of issues here that I have tried to deal with and most are outside of the scope of this forum.

The more pressing issue for me is that I am currently in love with a man who has ADD. I had been celibate for about 8 years (for various reasons) when I met him and have met many attractive persons of both genders during that time (I am bisexual).

This guy is so special. I can see us being together. He is on Adderall and also on Wellbutrin. He also takes a heart medication for (what he has been told) are the side effects of Adderall. His relationship history is complicated, but the mother of his daughter is in his life and I respect that. He does exhibit some symptoms of ADD, but they seem mild to me.

He does not seem to have signs of hyperactivity. For example, people on the forum talk about "hyperfocus" during the courting stage. I have not experienced this with my friend. The physical intimacy is so relaxed. I feel more comfortable with him, sexually, than with any partner I have ever had.  I adore this man. I never thought I would care for anyone in this way, ever again.

One complicating factor is that we are both members of the same profession and we met at work. I can't say I respect his reputation, although he means so much to me on a personal level. To be frank, I worry that he will loose his professional status and thus his ability to earn enough to support his daughter and his ex-wife. Perhaps that will have a minimal impact on me, financially, but the impact on our relationship could be huge if he looses his independence and his self-respect. 


                                    Thank You,




Hyperactivity vs hyperfocus

"He does not seem to have signs of hyperactivity. For example, people on the forum talk about "hyperfocus" during the courting stage" -

Hyperfocus and hyperactivity are not the same thing -  an ADHD-PI (primarily inattentive) person can certainly exhibit hyperfocus on a wanted object.  It is when hyperfocus wears off that the non-ADHD partner (if the wanted object is a person)  wonders what the heck happened (this site is full of examples).  This might take 2 days, 6 months or 5 years, you never know when it will happen.  Or if the shiny bauble is an electronic toy, a tool, a motor cycle, a new kitchen etc then the new object, once attained, loses all desirability and is put on the shelf as a new pursuit looks more interesting. 

Hyperactivity on the other hand manifests differently in adults from in children (eg not many adults fall out of trees, climb to the top of kitchen cupboards and run-around the workplace, for fairly obvious reasons) and is more consistent over time.

I'm wondering how long you have known this person? You are pointing out the red flags (finances, work, reputation in the workplace, a complicated relationship history) before you are even together, are you so sure he thinks it's different this time too?



Thanks for the clarification.  To answer your question, I have know him for about 14 months.  I think that he is quite cautious about entering into a new relationship at this juncture, and I am not sure of anything at this point.  I do not want to put too much pressure on him, although I have told him that I love him and that I want him.  He is willing to entertain the idea of setting aside some time each week for us to spend some time together, but I will count on nothing.  I just feel really lucky to have spent some time with him, even were he to reject me today (of course, I would be sad, but that's life and people do come and go).

Follow up

When I posted this, I still had hope for a serious relationship with my friend with ADHD,  and I still do!! 

However, some things have changed.   I think that he still in love with the mother of his daughter.  But this has little to do with ADHD. 

I let him know that if there is to be any future contact, he will have to reach out to me. His responses to my requests for  contact this week were typical of him -  sweet and brief.  However, I do not want to feed into a dynamic where I will always have to be the caretaker of the relationship and he is along for the ride.  We may not end up being together, but that's okay. He's a dear friend and I owe him my honesty  In reading these posts I have also realized that a marriage to my friend might take more from me than I have to give.  If he decides to end things, I can move on with my life.  If he decides that we should move forward together, I have a resource to look to that will help me keep things in perspective and that will help me know where to go when we need help.

He has a history with the mother of his daughter that is very meaningful and important.  I want everybody to be happy but right now I feel sad because I fear the loss of the relationship. I love him with all my heart and as they say...."If you love someone, set them free"

Easy for me to say with no practical considerations a concern...



Caretaker of relationship

I have found that I am the "caretaker" of my relationship with my husband (who has ADHD).  I feel sad when I think about my husband's neglect of me and the relationship.  I've often said to my husband that although I'm not always sure whether I want to be married or not, I've always been willing to work on the marriage.  He, in contrast, while always claiming to be in love with me and to want to stay married and that the marriage is the best thing that ever happened to him, has put almost no effort into working on the relationship.


You both have put into words what I have thought for a long time about our relationship.  One of the good things about this site is that "if you can name it and recognize it, you then can deal with it."  I am the only caretaker of the relationship.  He is the one who neglects the relationship.

This caretaker business is

This caretaker business is one of those things that I can understand cognitively, but what I know about it is out of focus. What does this mean? Thinking about the state of the relationship, and taking actions that strengthen it? Is it synonymous with being cooperative and compassionate with your spouse? I feel like I'm missing some piece of understanding here.

Good question, jackrungh.

Good question, jackrungh.  I'm not sure I can explain what I mean, but here goes:  I think that my husband and I want some of the same things from our relationship:  companionship, both emotional and physical; someone to talk to; being with someone who will help and protect you, when necessary; knowing that our children will be taken care of, now and in the future.  To have such a relationship, I believe, people need to have time to spend with each other; people need to be healthy or have access to health care; there need to be sufficient financial resources; the chores need to get done; people need to be aware of the other person's situation and moods and health and abilities; people need to be willing to talk about problems.  In my relationship, my husband is very focused on himself.  He doesn't spend much time at home.  He doesn't like to think or talk about problems if they involve him.  He doesn't seem willing to contribute more dollars or labor to the household. He doesn't express interest in me.  But he wants to have financial security; he wants me to be his companion and he likes to have conversations but doesn't like to initiate them and doesn't communicate with me when he's away from home (e.g., he's at his parents' home four days per week and never calls or emails me); he seems to appreciate me being interested in him but he never asks me about my life; he appreciates me cooking and cleaning but doesn't cook or clean or do other household chores; he worries about money but hasn't made an effort to make more than minimum wage, at dead-end jobs, for the past four years.  So, I feel as though I'm the one taking care of myself, taking care of him, and taking care of the relationship, such as it is, while he takes care only of himself.

Picture of the Future

What Rosered is describing is what I fear.

I am afraid I will be left all alone, like I was in my last relationship. If I chose to remain single, then I will be alone by choice.  If I am chosen (by default) by this adorable person, I might end up not only alone but bleeding all of my energy and strength into a relationship where there is no hope for getting my needs for intimacy met,  my own need to be "taken care of" in a relationship of equals.  In the end, not only will I find myself depleted and empty again, but having lost the good and precious feelings I have for him.  I hope that it doesn't have to be that way, but I am skeptical based on my past experiences.

I am a very strong and self-sufficient person, but I even I have my limitations, just like he had his.  If he can step up to the plate, then I will consider a relationship.  But he appears to be getting his needs met by his ex, now.  It is much easier for him since they have a relationship based on co-parenting.  If it works out, I can only be happy for them.  I straight-up told him that, and I meant it.

I love this man.  If we are to be together, it must be a quality relationship.  I cannot enable him to be a user.  If he needs a caretaker, he should go elsewhere.  I hope that, whomever he chooses can learn to thrive in that role or has what it takes to motivate him to change.  It appears that I am not that person.  I would be willing to give it a shot, but the main similarity with my past relationship seems to be that I am mostly just a  convenience for him and he wants it to stay that way.  I'd rather not, thank you. It saddens me like everything, but I am proud of myself for stepping back and for being honest.

No one but me will take care of me.  I would love to take care of him, but I don't have the strength of two people that is required to do that.  My past relationship was an "open" one because I could not get my physical needs met.  But what other needs were being met that led me to hold on to the relationship?  I still don't have an answer to that question.. Drained, depleted, sad -  I am just beginning to recover enough to open my heart again.   I don't want to go back to that drained, depleted shell.  I can't survive it again, and I do have other people that care and love me to consider.



I'd like to emphasize one

I'd like to emphasize one thing:  I don't think that "not being a caretaker to the relationship" is a characteristic or symptom of ADHD.  It just happens, in our situation, to be one of my husband's traits.  When I told my therapist about my husband, she went to her bookshelf, took down the DSM, opened it, and began reading a list of symptoms that sounded just like my husband's behavior.  The symptoms are for something called dependent personality disorder.  

My Question



  Thank You.   My next question is -  is there a strong association between these two disorders? For instance, people with diabetes have a higher instance of heart disease.  Do people with ADHD have a higher instance of dependent personality disorder?  



I don't know if there is a

I don't know if there is a correlation.  I will admit that I'm not 100% convinced that my husband has ADHD, but he does exhibit behaviors that seem to indicate ADHD, and he also has behaviors that seem to indicate dependent personality disorder, and some of these behaviors are the same.

Some of these DSM diagnostic

Some of these DSM diagnostic criteria are so overlapping that picking the correct approved disorder label becomes an exercise in semantics. For my part I just keep thinking of deficits in certain executive functions that plug into several disorders. Is it Major Depression or is it that the consequences of undiagnosed ADHD lead to negative life events which spiral into feeling nothing and caring for nothing? At a certain point it doesn't matter. The treatments overlap just as much if not more than the symptoms.

I agree, jackrungh.  To me,

I agree, jackrungh.  To me, it's less important what something is labeled than how one responds to it.  My husband is willing and eager to respond to symptoms with medications; he is unwilling to deal with the dysfunctional behaviors by attempting to change the behaviors and related habits.  


Speaking as a pro in the caretaking business in a relationship, I believe it means that one inappropriately does things for another that the person should do for himself.  The ADHD-Er in a relationship with a self sufficient spouse begins to regress and shove things over to the other's list, becoming more and more helpless in the process.  Probably this behavior began in childhood with his mother.  So an unconscious association with mother forms with this self sufficient spouse, thus killing the natural sexual drive.  Some of this shirking of one's own responsibility for  coping  by the ADHD-Er seems to have a gaming quality about it, as if intentional to just convert you into their servant.  At this stage you are losingground and. Losing yourself.      Melissa's term, of "reset" is good here.   ADHD-ers are heat seeking missiles for women who will just orchestrate their lives out of some malajusted control problem. If you don't understand what thiscaretaking is, you may not have children.  Young women  often buy into marrying an AdHD-er out of a mothering need before they have children IMHO.  When children come and they realize that the brilliant, but disorganized husband, is really just a child masquerading as an adult, the path can be tortuous.  Hang into Dr.Hallowell and Melissa's wonderful work.  I took my psychiatrist husband to a child psychiatrist to get his ADHD diagnosed.  Thank God, Dr. Hallowell's book came a few years later.  But, the therapy world had not produced people who were clued in for those of us who were early in the diagnosis game.








My reply to   Jackrungh's question is found below.  I have not posted in awhile to catch on to the threading on the blog.  Apologies.

Sunlight's Reply Excellent

Sunlight's reply is a mini tutorial on hyperactivity and hyper focus.  When we are not living in a committed relationship with someone, the glue is missing by which all the problems in the relationship become apparent.  We don't know the range of the behaviors that will affect all areas of living with that person.  We are literally flying blind.  I am a big fan of Imago Therapy which believes that at the six month time the perception of our beloved switches because the endorphins don't pump out as easily.  At that point all of the negative attributes which we tried to ignore come to the front.  At this point the relationship ends or goes forward and the power struggle begins.