She Drives Me Crazy

I love my girlfriend deeply and we have been together for a year and a half. I want to scream at times because she cannot keep her appointments or her conferences straight.

Again, last night, she sprang it on me "Oh, I have a conference in Albuquerque next Wednesday so I will be gone Tues night and be back Wednesday night." Why didn't you tell me this? "Well, they sent me the email but I think I deleted it and didn't remember until they sent me a reminder this week."

Then she will do things like "Oh, I told Congi that I would meet her at the gym at 8pm." You're usually in bed by 8:30pm why so late? "Well, that's the only time she can get a babysitter."

She changes plans almost randomly. It makes me crazy. I even went so far as to accuse her of cheating on me last night because she changes her plans so much. That didn't help.

She has two or three ways to keep track of her schedule but she doesn't use them well. She has been diagnosed with ADHD but she is not medicated and we're not going to start that.

What do I do? What do I tell her? She knows it makes me crazy. I am not the type of person that likes to change plans at the drop of a hat. I feel abused every time she changes her plans.

You know she treats me like I

You know she treats me like I am a tool in her life lots of the time. Getting needed attention from her is difficult at times. What can I do about this? How do I help her change for the better?

Wow. What do you mean she's

Wow. What do you mean she's not medicated and we're not going to start that? That's what started to give me a little hope. The medication works quickly though there's still more work to be done...

I've told him I'm like a toaster, at the ready... After realizing that he wasn't going to change, I had to. I don't know that it worked so well... I changed my attitude, I assume I "lovingly" detached (I've read about that here but, I'm not sure what it is) and find the company of a few friends is more enjoyable than him any day. I have no natural affection for him and try to enjoy the safe sex on occasion. I'm feeling nothing. If I knew it would be like this forever, I would of moved on, now I feel stuck. sorry... after thirty years, I'm no longer as hopeful as I once was...

Things would be completely unbearable without the meds.

Sorry to tell you this but it

Sorry to tell you this but it will probably never get better.  My husband will make a list of all the things he wants to accomplish the next day but then the next day gets here and he doesn't do anything, much less what was on his list.  Very frustrating!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elisabeth's picture

Can I ask why your girlfriend

Can I ask why your girlfriend won't start meds?  Because my feeling is that unless she does, she may always behave in the way that you have described.  Not that meds is a fix-all, but as my ADD-boyfriend says, meds give him the clear head to be able to focus on what we non-ADDers perceive as normal, easy, every-day behaviours - but this is just in my experience with my boyfriend.  We notice a HUGE difference when he is not on meds (and this has only happened by accident, not because he chooses not to be medicated).  In fact, when there have been the very few occasions that he has left his meds at home or when we lost a prescription a few months back, he says he feels so lost and ditzy and really does not like that lack of control.  He is aware of how his thoughts and focuses can spiral out of control and can see it happening, but feels powerless to stop it.

I understand your feeling.  When my boyfriend and I first started dating (the same time he got diagnosed and medicated) and we were still working out what ADD behaviours and symptoms were and which ones he exhibited, I had the same feelings you did.  It drove me crazy.  We lived in different countries at the time and would set up times to Skype, which he would forget about...even when we had organised it over email only an hour before.  Or he would forget to tell me important things like your girlfriend forgets to tell you about appointments.  Or nearly forget to pick me up at the airport (he was so relived my plane was delayed and so I got out of customs the same time he arrived - otherwise I would have been waiting for 2 hours!!).   I had to learn not to take his behaviour personally, which was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do.  It was not an attack on me.  It really was to do with his ADD.

You will need to speak with your girlfriend in a calm, rational tone.  Try not to speak with her in an accusatory tone.  Using phrases such as "you did this, you did that" or "You never...." are never good, try to be more neutral and be able to say how you feel and why you feel like that.  So for example like you, I do not like to change plans at the drop of a hat.  I had to say to my boyfriend that "while he is good with coping with last minute changes, I am not.  When that happens to me, I feel panicked and out of control (which I do....I am very organised and like to prepare and get things ready) so when things do change, I really need as much notice as possible. When he doesn't let me know, even though I know it is not his intention, it makes me feel like I am not a priority or that our plans were not important to him."   Do point out what your girlfriend does well and be encouraging but the huge thing to remember is for you not to take these behaviours personally - so hard to do, but so important. 

We now have a number of systems in place that, along with his meds, works really well for us.  We are not perfect and we are very well aware that meds are not the be all and end all, but they help.  The way we deal with ADD is constantly evolving and you have to be prepared for that too - not one system will fix everything either.  We make plenty of mistakes but we learn and try to figure out how we can prevent that the next time around.

Still, I think it is important first to understand why she is not choosing to get meds.  Is she undergoing therapy of any sort?  Without either of these, it will be extremely hard for her to be able to focus on working on these issues with you and you need to be aware of that.



Well, she really hasn't said

Well, she really hasn't said that she won't ever start meds. She did tell me that a few years ago she got evaluated and they said she was ADHD, gave her a Rx but she did not get it filled. She might be more amenable to doing so. She doesn't like taking pills is the main reason she won't as far as I know. She says I take too many pills for my age. I'm overweight, stressed at work, and at home. I take 2 pill for hypertension, 1 for acid reflux, 1 supplement for hormone problems twice daily, 2 nasal sprays for allergies twice daily, and a shot every two weeks from my Dr. And a multi-vitamin.

No, she isn't undergoing any therapy. It is so hard to not take these things personally that she does. I feel like the furniture at times and every time I almost want to double over from the pain and cry. Some times I do cry. I don't want to detach from her because I love her so much. The good times we have are intensely good for both of us.


Sorry, without medication and

Sorry, without medication and good counsel, nothing is going to change. You will need to find ways to cope. I've done this for almost 30 years and it's only recently that I've found this site to help me realize that I'm not a psycho b****. The reality of ADD is that reasoning and logic are skewed to favor the ADDer. There is no easy cure here, ADD is a chronic condition and the devastation that follows in it's wake is apparently not very well documented. This site looks like it! If I would of know that when I was newly married, I could of left. For now, I'm trapped. Maybe that's just my reality...

Elisabeth's picture

Hi Devon, I really feel for

Hi Devon,

I really feel for you.  I know exactly how you feel - yes it is so hard not to take these things personally.  That is probably the most difficult thing I have come to learn and understand about ADD.  But please keep telling yourself this.  It is important to understand that your girlfriend's ADD is making her act, react, respond and behave in the ways she does.  

Clarity is right.  "The reality of ADD is that reasoning and logic are skewed to favor the ADDer. There is no easy cure here, ADD is a chronic condition and the devastation that follows in it's wake is apparently not very well documented." With proper treatment, be it by meds, counseling or a combination of both, your girlfriend can learn to live with and manage her ADD. It is up to your girlfriend to take responsibility for her ADD and it does not sound like she is.  My boyfriend has ADD and so does his dad.  Up until recently his dad refused to get treatment for it and it wasn't until my boyfriend pointed out to him that while he does not do anything about it, everyone else has to cope with his ADD.  His dad just assumed that people were happy to make what he thought were minor allowances in their lives for his behaviour.  He didn't realise up until this point that everyone else was actually being put out and inconvenienced by some of his behaviours.  And when he did that embarrassed him and gave him a new perspective on his ADD.

Along with meds and counseling, a good diet and exercise are important too for ADDers.  My boyfriend is less focussed if we have not exercised and he notices it too - It may also be good for you too in terms of coping with stress and perhaps helping with your weight and therefore your hypertension.  Perhaps you can reach some sort of compromise with your girlfriend.  That you will do what you can to reduce the number of pills you need to take if she will at least attempt meds for her ADD?  I hope you do not think I am being out of line, I am only trying to help with some ideas to help you reason with your girlfriend, although it can be difficult to talk with reason and logic with an ADDer at times, particularly if the conversation is one that they are going to be uncomfortable with from the start.  The thing is, her not taking pills simply because she doesn't want to is not a good enough reason to not treat her ADD.

You need to talk to her and perhaps point out how her behaviours are impacting on everyone around you.  Can you suggest that she at least try the meds?  And if she does, it is important for you both to realise that meds are not the be it and end all of treatment and cure. It is a start but it is important to remember that there is no cure, though the meds should help give your girlfriend the building blocks and focus she needs to put systems in place that will help her ADD. 

I hope this helps.



Thank You so much

Thank you so much for your replies. Things have continued to seesaw. I can't stop crying this morning. Things are bad at work, she's treating me like a stick of wood but "Nothing's wrong" according to her. I basically begged her for attention this morning and she just looked at me in that wooden way like I was an alien or something. 

I am so down and disheartened today. I don't know if I can go on the rest of my life like this. 


Think hard about the future


Like you, I'm a non-ADHD guy involved with an ADHD woman, except in my case we're 20 years into it and have added two ADHD children to the mix. I have used the exact phrases you do - that I feel like furniture, or an appliance - in talking with my wife, and all I get back are blank stares. After a number of years she got help and medication for her depression, but has never been willing to do anything about her ADHD. I believe that she got help for depression becuase it affected her, however the ADHD has its biggest impact on other people - primarily me - and so she hasn't felt the need to do anything about it.

I hate to be negative about your relationship, but do think hard about whether you want to spend decades feeling this way.


It seems to go in cycles

She seems to do these things in cycles. Sometimes things are intensely good and then sometimes things are like they are today. I want to scream!!!!!!!! It doesn't seem to matter. I can talk to her nicely or I can scream at her and she just continues on with whatever she is doing. 

Devon, she has to accept

Devon, she has to accept responsibility for her situation.  If she is unwilling to do that, then you have to decide if you can live with her the way she is.  It sounds to me like you can't.  Therefore, the difficult choice of letting go and moving on is the only thing you can do.

I have ADD, and have only in the last 12-14 months been taking medication and other steps to manage it. Its a daily commitment on my part to manage this condition.  I refuse to call it a disorder or disability.  My brain functions an entirely different way.  Its not right, its not wrong, its just different. 

In return, however, I have to accept the fact that I can't expect to function "normally" in the real world the way people without ADD are able to.  I have to take extra steps to prevent the negative aspects of ADD from destroying the relationships in my life that are important to me.  Its a burden, but its been borne very lightly by me because the level of frustration and shame I feel now is magnitudes lower than it used to be.

Your girlfriend must come to this conclusion, too, if she is to have any hope of maintaining a healthy relationship with you or anyone else.

If she can't or won't, you have a huge decision to make for yourself.

A little changing?

I have changed my entire world to be with her. I divorced my wife to be with her. I no longer live at home. I have to drive across town to feed and visit my pets. I no longer hang out with my friends like I used to. I always try to spend my free time with her. I have taken her son to myself as if he were my own. I spend as many lunches with her as I can. I act as supplemental memory for her when she can't remember stuff. I pay at $600 a month to help pay her mortgage and her bills. Not to mention I also buy almost every thing we get at Walmart and that is at least another $300 a month. That means I spend at least 36 hours a month working for her benefit. I have even agreed to start going with her to her gym, she said she'd pay my membership, even though I am deeply embarrassed by going out in public to exercise. That's at least 12 hours of embarrassment a month in a small town where everyone knows me. Us fat guys have it hard.

So, you think I should be more understanding? Less controlling? When sometimes I have to yell at her to get her to pay attention to me. I can't control her in the first place. How am I supposed to compromise with someone who can't have a 2 minute phone conversation with out saying "Oh wow, look at this..." With someone who is unable to set boundaries with her ex so he can move on? To a woman who thinks her 9 year old should be able to wander into our bedroom at any time that he isn't asleep? And yes, I wash the dishes and I clean the bathrooms.

What am I supposed to turn into? An automaton? If I had a vibrator attachment, was able to babysit, complete tasks around the house she finds "yucky," spit out money once a month, and not have any emotional needs then I suppose I would be perfect for her.

When I have begged her to hold eye contact for more than 15 seconds?


I don't know how to "lovingly detach" and I wish someone would tell me.

Your picture is too one-sided

Do you expect to live with this girlfriend without contributing anything? You talk about "our bedroom" but complain about being asked to pay some of the expenses of the household! Should she support you totally because you left your wife for her?

If you left your wife for her, how does she know you won't leave her for someone new who catches your fancy? There are other issues here besides ADD.

Sueann the man hater

You obviously have issues about men. You need to have clear picture of what is really going on before you jump to conclusions. You enjoyed writing that entry and bashing me, didn't you? Good job Sueann, I hope you treat the men in your life better than you do strangers online. No one comes to this web site to be bashed, gee, thanks, I feel so much better now.



Sueann's reply

No, I love men. I loved my first husband til he started beating me. I love my second husband, with ADD, so much that I totally supported him for 2 years while he refused to look for a job. I loved him even though he dropped a bookcase on my foot, even though he wrecked my car, even though I lost a year of school because he didn't call anyone when his new car broke down (and I had to spend my tuition to get it out of impound). I loved him enough to recognize that he has a problem and MAKE him get treatment for it. Now he's happy because he's treating his ADD and he has a job he loves, and he (mostly) treats me like a husband should.

But I did wonder at your expression of dismay at having to "give her money" to pay for the roof over your head and the food you eat. Shouldn't a couple be partners and BOTH pay for those things? I still don't see why, especially if she's the one with the disability, she should support you. If the fact that I expect men (even if they have ADD) to pay their own way and not live off their girlfriends/wives makes me a man-basher, then I'll wear that label proudly.

"Have to" vs. "Choose to"

I see a red flag when people use the words "have to" for their own actions. Yes, sometimes you "have to" do something (like step out of the way of an oncoming bus that is about to hit you). But don't confuse "have to" with "choose to" in this case. You choose to live with your girlfriend. You choose to go cross town to feed your pets vs. making some other arrangement (bring them with you? Live there, instead? Give them to your ex-wife?) You choose to help out with the finances because you live with her and it's fair to do so. You choose to yell at her to get her attention rather than find some other way to do so (DON"T CONTINUE THIS - IT WILL SPELL THE END OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP!!!) She's not making you do any of these things and, in fact, you wouldn't complain about doing any of them (and wouldn't be yelling) if you felt more fulfilled by the relationship. The issue here isn't what you "have" to do , it is that the relationship isn't currently fulfilling. You also choose to continue to be with her. I think you need to take a close look at what your basic boundaries and expectations for a good relationship are. It sounds to me as if you have this boundary or expectation (choose the word that works best for you) - that your partner will be able to pay focused attention to you when you are together. This might include eye contact during conversations, sex that is uninterupted, sharing intimate feelings, being able to sustain a conversation. If this is one of your most critical criteria for a relationship, then right now this relationship isn't meeting it. This is a problem that the two of you can try to solve. A couple of different potential solutions: - she can try to treat her ADHD, lessening symptoms like distraction that lead to disconnection - the two of you can schedule time together that is expressly for the purpose of being intimate - you can set some boundaries and make your needs clear so that she knows what's at stake (choose your top needs - see my post on setting boundaries) What not to do - yell at her. It NEVER helps. Yelling will only make her resentful and less willing to work with you. It won't change her ADHD, but it will change her attitude about whether you're worth doing all that hard work for (as in NOT worth it). Lovingly detach means: clearly (and calmly) state your needs and stick to them in a thoughtful way; respect her right to make her own decisions - don't try to force yours on her; offer support and love in whatever way you can while standing firm in expressing your needs for attention. Listen to her. Consider her point of view. Be empathetic and responsive to her needs (she has a need to be accepted and loved, just as you do). Vow to talk with her at least as respectfully as you would a neighbor (but on deeper topics, obviously.) Help her be the best person she can be. Just as with kids, sometimes this means standing up for what's right., not always for what she wants if that's unreasonable...For example, if she wants to never talk to you that's obviously not a reasonable request in a relationship... I'm sorry to say, but the majority of relationships in which one partner has left a spouse in order to be with another partner don't actually work out. Once things move from "affair" to "being together" the relationship changes and becomes more "real". Don't rely on the fact that you left your wife for her as a good barometer of whether or not this relationship is good. Judge it by its merits on a daily basis. Be the best partner you can be to her and see what happens. Be clear about what your dreams and needs are for the relationship. Either she'll agree with those dreams and be motivated to put in the work necessary to be a good partner, or she won't. Best of luck with it...