Should I stay?


Hello. I am brand new to this site, but have had one of those "a-ha" moments after reading these posts. I am engaged to a man (well, sort of engaged- we've broken it off twice due to "moods") whom I believe to be ADHD. He has not been diagnosed, and I'm not sure if he really can see that he might have it. But I see so many of the patterns mentioned here in him. His son is also very hyperactive, as well as his nephew, and his whole family has addiction problems (especially to games and the computer). Here are the things I have seen in him:

The first few months were awesome! He was very attentive, we were (and still are) super attracted to each other. He is great with my children, always wanting to have fun and go places. Wore me out in fact. It was like Prince charming had walked into my life. Then came the moods. Little things I said or did (usually very silly things to get upset about) unintentionally, would cause him to fly off the handle, shut down, and get very angry. It was like all of a sudden he no longer loved me. In fact, I seemed to repel him. I never knew what would set him off. I was walking on eggshells not wanting to put him in a mood. After a day or so, he'd be fine and back to normal.

Little habits of his, that drove me nuts, began to creep in. He is completely addicted to video games. He'll tell me he's just going to play for 5 minutes, but that will turn into hours, all the while ignoring me. He will even play all night long and miss work the next day because he needs to sleep it off. He actually cancelled his online gaming after months of me bugging him about it. I was so proud of him. But, within the week, he was now playing his nephew's new game instead and missing work, time with me, etc. again. Ugh! He will spend hours on the computer also searching through his e-mails or craiglist.

He is not messy. In fact he can be rather OCD when it comes to cleanliness. But he always seems to have a "to do" list that never gets done. He will take days off of work to get things done, and not have done a darn thing by the time I come over.

He has an incessant need to always be doing something or going somewhere. He loves to travel, but travelling can also make him tired and irritable, thus leading to moodiness.

He has been divorced twice and had several "dysfunctional" relationships with women, mainly ones who are very controlling.

He used to call me all the time, and constantly want to talk. Now I feel as though I'm getting "humored" with as occasional call or text if I bug him enough.

He will not admit fault for anything, and turns it all back around on me in an argument. I have to just shut up, so as not to rock the boat.

He will promise to do something with me, then make other plans if someone else asks him to do something.

He will make many promises that he forgets he ever made (some of which have really messed me up financially).

He is oftentimes very late. He says he will meet me at a certain time, then not show up for hours (yet not realize it's been hours). Tonight he came over 4 hours late for a fun family night, and was annoyed that I decided not to go out with them after all (I was too frustrated that the rest of our plans for the night had been ruined).

He has many wonderful qualities as well. He is so kind and very affectionate toward me (we do not have that particular ADHD problem), when I have his attention that is. He is wonderful with my children. They adore him and he gives them a lot of extra needed attention. We have extremely good days where we cannot get enough of each other. And our time spent alone together, without the children, is awesome! We tend to want to spend every possible moment together (when he's not distracted at least). We're a bit obsessed with each other and have been since day one, although a bit less so than in the beginning.

When I broke off our upcoming marriage a couple months back (horrible moods again that I realized I might not be able to deal with), he decided to go to counseling and try to work on things, which I saw as a huge step in his recognizing that he has a problem. Unfortunately, the counselor has not been that helpful and is, in fact, ADHD himself! Really, until today, I thought finding a different counselor would work. I thought we could get through all of this if he could only recognize that he has a problem. After reading many of your stories though, I'm beginning to think we're doomed. Is there any hope? I love this man to death, and have put over a year of my life toward him and his children and don't want to see it end. But, I also don't want to end in another divorce. HELP! 


Run for the hills....grab your children and run.

And be happy you only wasted a year. I've wasted 27 years with an ADHD husband. I'm resentful and angry - I admit it. We have been separated since June (it is now October). I will probably be lonely for the rest of my life but at least I won't have the problems you described in my life anymore. I'm more self confident now that he is out of my life. Do I miss the fun times? Yes, but they were fewer and fewer. I don't miss the rest.

Run, I repeat run while you still have your self esteem and self worth - not to mention your childrens'.


I realize you may love this man and that you've invested a year of your life with him.  Be glad it was only a year.  You do NOT want to entangle yourself in a marriage with a partner with ADHD.  Trust me I've been in such a marriage for 11 years.  My husband is a good man but the chronic under or non employment has taken it's toll as well as the many other issues.

Get out before you have kids!


This relationship doesn't sound very promising - not because of ADHD but because he has not yet made any changes that you report that might make him better this time around than the last two times.  Furthermore, the appearance of "walking on eggshells" at this point is a very bad sign, indeed.

You need to think of your best interests here - at a minimum I would call off the engagement until such time as you feel comfortable that measurable, meaningful progress has been made and is being sustained.  In my mind that would include:

  • greater financial responsibility (no skipping work for computer games)
  • external structures in place that help him be on time
  • anger management (NO MORE wild mood swings)
  • full evaluation and acknowledgement of whatever he has (it may not be ADHD), including meaningful treatment
  • treating each other with respect all the time, not just some of the time

No one is perfect, but you should feel comfortable that your days are good and the two of you are on solid footing BEFORE you get married.  If there is any question, don't.  

FYI - the chemistry of infatuation is all about dopamine.  Scientific research suggests that very high levels of dopamine flood the brain during the infatuation stage of courtship for about 20-24 months.  Dopamine happens to be one of the things that people with ADHD have less of (when they aren't infatuated) hence the huge difference between hyperfocus courtship and what comes later.  You are most likely STILL in the infatuation stage, which means you haven't seen the non-dopamined version of your partner yet.  If you do decide to stick around (and I think the advisability of that is questionable) I suggest you wait it out for at least another year and a half in order to give him plenty of time to both make meaningful treatment progress AND to get past hyperfocus.

And, one pattern I see over and over again that you should be aware of - impetuous marriage.  Not sure, not sure, not sure then you have a good month and you both jump.  Don't do it that way.  KNOW your heart that it's right, don't just hope for it.  Love DOES NOT conquer all - you have to have a strong foundation in place.

Think Long and Hard

Please take a long hard look at the reality of your situation. Can you can tolerate chaos, unpredictability, moodiness, being blamed, surreal conversations, no conversation, lies, addictive behaviors, child like behavior, and irrational arguments?

For me, the ADHD was never about the forgetfulness, not finishing things, or losing things. Those are not deal breakers. Before you commit to a relationship , ask yourself (as I would have asked myself had I known):

Can you trust someone who lies repeatedly, even when there is no reason to?
Can you stand to hear about one more lost job because his employer was “mean” to him?
Can you weather the storms until the right dosage and combination of meds and therapy is achieved?
Can you survive financially when he blows through his 401k?
Can you not be afraid to answer the phone or the door unexpectedly because you fear what crisis awaits you?
Can you not begin to doubt yourself?
Can you lay your life on the line to defend him only to be slapped in the face with the reality of what really happened?

I don’t mean to be harsh and I hope my reality is not your reality. And every person and situation is different. To the world my husband presents a different face, and there is good in him. But living this way just wears you out and breaks your spirit. I urge you to please consider carefully.

ebb and flow's picture

Don't rush into anything!

Definitely hold off on marriage until some serious changes happen in the areas of treatment and behavior or mood.

You don't want to commit to anything lifelong if you have any doubts it'll work out in the long run.

I know it can be confusing, as there are bad times, really bad times, and then really GREAT times! And we tend to hang on to those really great times as they seem to give us some hope.

I think there can be hope... I'm not always sure in my particular situation, as my partner and I are still working on getting some therapy going by someone who understands ADHD fully. Every change and little bit of progress comes incredibly slowly with my ADD partner... months will go by after a many conversations/fights about 'treatment' and he will only begin to think about treatment fully. It's a very slow process and a very sensitive process... ugh!

It must feel so terrible to have to call off the whole wedding plan depending on his "moods"... :(   But I really would tread cautiously as we are talking about a serious, life long commitment with someone who seems to have a lot of stuff he needs to figure out in his mind...

Take your time and be patient with him... 

"Take my advice; I don't use it anyway"

He has been divorced twice

He has been divorced twice and had several "dysfunctional" relationships with women, mainly ones who are very controlling.

One can only assume this "information" is coming from him? Many of us here are consistently 'accused' of being controlling/nags/mothers because it is a very common and human reaction to the 'out of control' behaviors..we kick into 'auto pilot' and start trying to reel in some of the behaviors, unfortunately in very negative ways. I had to chuckle when I read that, not that I don't take your situation very seriously, I do. It just doesn't surprise me that you've been given this impression...if you're together long enough and don't get control of the situation, you'll be given more than this impression, you'll be given the title.

One major theme of your post is that he's inattentive. You wanting his attention, when he's not able/willing to give it will earn you the title of 'controlling' if you're not careful. The key here is know him. You know what his positives are and you know what his negatives are. If he's willing to listen to your concerns...and you're willing to listen to his..and you're both willing to get the help necessary to gain the tools you need to communicate (it isn't the same as with someone who doesn't have ADD, make sure this is understood and on the radar of the therapist) then you CAN make things work. You have to keep your cool, love him 'as he is', and don't fall into the trap of resentment and anger because you cannot change the things about him that drive you nuts sometimes. Motivate him to change with love and acceptance and get creative with your solutions to your issues. Compromise. Get his input on solutions...find solutions you can both be happy with and adhere to.

It can be done. It isn't easy...but what relationship is? I've been in 3 long term relationships in my life (one was my 1st marriage). No ADD involved in either of the other two. Although I won't deny the pain I've suffered (and inflicted) in my current marriage, it is by far the most fulfilling and equal relationships I've ever been in. Painful memories aren't only created by those with ADD.

I wish you the best of luck. Definitely get to a place where you're happy and satisfied before you get married. That's just common sense.