Hi all. This is only my second post here, but I have been following this site for almost a year now.
I am desperately looking for some help in finding a better wat to communicate with a partner who emotionally stonewalls. Absolutely refuses to acknowledge the validity of any viewpoint other than his. Wants to spend his time arguing the nuances of "logic" in a situation, rather than addressing the emotions involved. Tells me that whatever he did/said was "no hurtful" and therefore "he can't give me any acknowledgement for that".
My boyfriend has ADHD. We have been together a little over a year. He is medicated and usually very well-controlled/adjusted. He was up front about this when we got together, so I have been researching and trying to understand things from this perspective all along. For the most part, he is a VERY high-functioning individual. Incredible work ethic, puts his own time management and 'memory' strategies in place (white board where he writes down lists of things to do before leaving the house, over the weekend, etc).
The area in which we struggle is everything to do with this post. His concepts of my emotions and responses are completely self-focused, combative, and defensive. And I CAN'T figure out how to change this dynamic. He seems to have this mentality that it is his right/prerogative to decide which of my feelings are "correct", and therefore deserving of his attention. Something I often hear from him is "I can't give you support for feeling like something I said was hurtful, since it wasn't hurtful". He says that "validating my misconception" will only lead to further escalation. Whereupon I get incredibly frustrated because I am being spoken to like a child, and he is NOT the emotional "boss" of who gets to feel what.
What is this tic that makes him think he is the arbiter of what is/isn't hurtful to me? If this a manifestation of RSD (rejection-sensitve-dysphoria)? I think perhaps it has to do with sensitivity to feeling like I am attacking him by saying something is hurtful. Even though I am always careful to make it very clear that I am saying "I feel", NOT "you did".
Another facet of the problem is that, perhaps because he is such a high-functioning individual, he SINCERELY believes that he is being empathetic, understanding, and compassionate. He also believes that once he has "processed" something, his opinion about the subject is absolute FACT. There is no other way to look at it. Period.
We are separated at the moment. We had an argument, and he physically backed me into a corner. I started it, and I escalated it. I got angry, he got angry, but it ended with him backing me into a wall and screaming in my face. So I packed my things and left. We started talking about trying to patch things up. But his concept of this situation is that he has done NOTHING wrong, because he was pushed into losing his temper. Whereas I abandoned him, with no justification possible, because there was no reason for me to feel afraid, and therefore I should "consider myself lucky" that he is even contemplating returning to the relationship and undertaking counseling together.
I am frustrated beyond words, terrified that I am going to lose someone whom I admire and adore and can easily see myself spending the rest of my life with. But I CANNOT tolerate a partner who refuses to acknowledge the validity of my emotions. Who thinks that his perception is the only one possible, the only one that can be valid. The fact that he places 100% of the blame for this on me is just insupportable to me. And I'm shocked, hurt, and betrayed that someone I KNOW to be a wonderful, kind, good person would treat me in this manner. Is this defensiveness/refusal to accept part of an ADHD-driven response? Does anyone have any insight into this?
We once had an argument wherein we were both heated and needed to walk away. When we came back to sit down and discuss things the next day, he informed me that he had considered the issue from all possible angles and decided that, although it was going to be difficult for me to hear, he felt he should be the one to tell me that I seem to have some sort of mental/emotional difficulty in interacting with people appropriately. This was the only possible explanation for my behavior in his mind.
We are supposed to start counseling next week. I am afraid that he will walk into counseling expecting the counselor to validate all of this for him, then when she fails to do so, accuse me of picking a partisan professional and walk out.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can work with him to re-orient his perceptions here?
Thank you all for being such a blessing and support. When things are bad, I always know I can login here and read about someone else experiencing a similar situation. It has kept me from leaving many times!