Showing appreciation/giving thanks

I was dating a girl with ADD and one thing that bothered me was that she very often would not say "thank you" or show appreciation for dinners, gifts, doing nice things for her, helping her with her school work, lending her things, etc.  It was something that really bothered me over time because I felt like she was just taking advantage of me and it caused me to close down quiet a bit.  I raised the issue with her and although she acknowledged what I said, she seemed not to really change her ways.  I told her it made me feel like she didn't care about me.

Anyway, I didn't realize the impact of ADD at the time of the relationship and I have only started reading about it now that we have been broken up for 2 months.  I don't talk to her anymore but now based on reading about ADD symptoms and understanding her behaviour better (anger issues, impulsiveness, etc) I am open to being friends with her again down the road.  One thing that I still don't understand is whether or not there is a link between her lack of appreciation/ saying "thanks" and her ADD.  I am seeing it as her being so focused on the enjoyment of the meal/movie/whatever that she doesn't realize/observe how she got it and doesn't think it is important to say thank you.  I posted this on another ADD forum and a few people with ADD said that they are struggling with the same issue.  However, on here I saw a thread where people were saying that their partner was VERY giving, empathetic, generous, etc.

Any insight would be appreciated from both ADDers and Non-ADD partners.

My husband rarely

My husband rarely spontaneously shows appreciation to me.  He is generally a polite person but he only says thank you if I tell him (repeatedly) that I feel unappreciated.  I, on the other hand, go out of my way to thank him.  Given that I do much more of the work around the house and in our relationship, this does lead to a very unbalanced exchange of appreciation.

My husband has ADHD and

My husband has ADHD and thinks he is owed a thank you for every flipping thing he does. On the other hand, I don't really want a thank you for the normal things I do around the house. I feel it's my duty. In fact when he says thanks for helping the boys with their homework, I feel like an outsider. Why are you thanking me for helping my own kids? it doesn't feel right, does this make any sense? I tend to compliment more than thank my husband, like wow dinner was delicious! Rather than thanks for making dinner. I guess that's what I'd prefer, you know, being told "you are really good with the kids and their homework" sounds more intimate.

I don't want or expect a

I don't want or expect a thank you for everything.  But an occasional thanks would be nice.  My husband would probably say that he doesn't thank me because he never asks me to do anything.  Which is true, but partly it's true because I do almost everything without being asked.

I do feel like their ADHD

I do feel like their ADHD makes them hyper-focus on themselves. My husband seems to need thank yous for everything, like anything he does is special and needs to be recognized. That makes me a little resentful, because, honestly, I feel like I'm the one bearing the brunt of the load.

I would even have been okay

I would even have been okay with "that was a great restaurant" or "I really enjoyed my meal" or "I thought the film was interesting" but I feel like I didn't even get feedback that she was enjoying or not enjoying things.  

I don't think I could be happy without feeling appreciated

I don't think I could be happy without feeling appreciated.  I can accept that some people might show their appreciation in different manners, but to not express it at all?  Not at all ok with me.  And I think part of being in a loving relationship is to do your best to show your appreciation in a way that resonates with your partner.  People who say "I just don't say thank you...that is not me".....I don't accept that.  I think that is using a crap excuse to be rude and content to be so.  Some partners might not be bothered by it....takes all kinds to make the world go round I guess :)

I was raised to always be polite and to say thank you for anyone going out of their way for me, and my husband's family is not really like that at all.  I mean my husband has manners (some in his family do not), but thank yous and the like seemed more to be aimed at other people than within the family.  Which led to a situation where my husband....who I could swear is fueled entirely by appreciation...wasn't verbally expressing appreciation for things I was taking care of for our family, and I unconsciously retaliated by not expressing appreciation to him for the same kind of things.

It wasn't on purpose I swear, but when he started saying "Hey you don't say you appreciate x or y anymore"  my response was, "well you don't either".  He admitted he didn't either, but as appreciation is something I like but not my fuel, he really seemed to miss it's lack more than I did.  So I started on purpose getting into a better habit of thanking him for things he was doing....not over the top just a quick "I really appreciate how nice X looks today" or whatever.  And he got back into the habit too.

I wouldn't say we were in the OP's situation because many things were always expressed appreciation I said that is the way we were both raised, but some of the regular things between a couple that can start getting taken for granted was definitely getting taken for granted, esp in the year immediately preceding the diagnosis where I swear he thought he was doing everything on his own....BIG EYEROLL.  I swear to you he wasn't even doing 50% of what he thought he was doing.  But anyway I think that is what happened now that I mull it over.  He got the idea somewhere that he was doing everything......I felt unappreciated and taken for granted, so I stopped verbalizing a lot of my gratitude partly cause it is hard to feel grateful when your mate is getting full of himself and partly because I just didn't feel grateful anymore cause I didn't like how he was acting.

Once he started realizing how much I really do and I started appreciating how hard for him some of those things he was doing were......well the feelings of appreciation I guess came back first and then it was a small matter of getting over the initial awkwardness of restarting a habit we'd kinda let fall by the wayside.


I have to say that your girlfriend sounds more like she has an entitlement issue.  Why would she feel grateful when she clearly feels she should be treated like a princess by everyone......I could be wrong but that is how she came across in print to me.

I agree...I know I feel very

I agree...I know I feel very 'grateful' for things my DH does, and whether it was him, my sister, my friend, or anyone for that matter buying me a meal or taking me to the movies I would say thank you. This is an especially important acknowledgement since you all were dating, not married. My gut tells me she just simply wasn't FEELING the appropriate emotions (gratitude, appreciation) and that is probably due to feeling entitled more than having ADHD. My DH has ADHD and thanks me for everything...including sex. 

I am starting to feel that

I am starting to feel that she felt "guilt" around accepting meals/etc.

Originally I thought she felt entitled and it really bugged me.  As I mentioned I raised it a few times and occasionally she would say thank you (like, at the end of the weekend a quick "thanks for the weekend" which was better than before) but it wasn't consistent.  I think the other issue is that we didn't define the relationships and we never called each other BF/GF or really made it a "committed" relationship verbally.  I felt like I was showing her I cared by my actions but because I didn't feel like she was reciprocating or appreciating me (as well as some other ADD symptoms which I am starting to understand now) I starting backing off/closing down because I didn't want to be putting in too much effort.  I am wondering if she wanted a "BF/GF" relationship and maybe she thought I was just having fun with her.  I feel like the dynamic would have been different if we defined things but I was afraid to define things because I felt like she wasn't at the same point I was/or where I was going.  Almost a chicken/egg type problem.

People either work together

People either work together or they don't...relationships that 'work' don't fail because you don't define them. You most likely felt she wasn't at the same point as you simply because she wasn't. It seems to me like you're wanting to find fault in YOUR actions (due to a lack of information about ADHD at the time) and that is probably the worst thing you could do. ADHD or not, the relationship didn't make you happy and it ended. Your 'understanding' might likely have changed typically isn't even close to enough for the 'non' to simply understand ADHD, to keep it from having an impact on the relationship. You also could fall into a very dangerous, but common, trap...thinking you could 'fix' her or 'help' her somehow. She will resent the implication, you CANNOT 'help' or 'fix' her (not even through better understanding) as that is something that has to come from within...or with the help of a professional, and you'll eventually resent her for all of your efforts not yielding the results you hoped for.

Thanks SherriW13, You are

Thanks SherriW13,

You are right, I probably would try to have "fixed' her but I realize based on what I have read that it is not something I could do.  But, to clarify, what I meant was that I thought her lack of attention/distraction was related to her feelings for me and I was reacting off of that.  I recently read about the 5 Languages of Love that someone linked to me on another thread and I realize that she probably was showing her cared by her touch (her desire to cuddle with me, her giving me massages) and at the start she was making more of an effort to ask about me, but, I feel like I closed down because I was confused by her anger and impulsive behaviour (wanting things RIGHT NOW).  

Maybe I should just forget about her and move on with my life, but, I still do care for her and part of me is wondering if I should make an effort to communicate with her about these things that I learned.  I am wondering if it is possible that she is not realizing the impact that the ADD is having on her interpersonal relationships.  Is there a way to communicate this to her without "blaming" her.  I don't know if I said it before, but I do want to see her happy even without me.

It's funny, but it's

It's funny, but it's not...

This morning DH asked me to pick him up breakfast and run by the bank to get out his money for the coming work week, to avoid me having to give him my debit card and since I was going to town. Not a problem. I got him breakfast, got his cash, and got him cigarettes. I get them by the carton to save money...he won't buy them that way for some reason. I dropped it all off, he counts his cash, says he has to go..he is right in the middle of something..and tells me he loves me, gives me a kiss, and walks off. I was a little offended that he didn't thank me, but I am sure it never even dawned on him that he didn't. :-/  In all fairness, he has a LOT on his mind...just had to share. 

I often times thank my wife

I often times thank my wife for things that she doesn't feel deserve appreciation. Then I don't thank her for things she does want appreciation for. For me, it is sometimes difficult to determine when and where a "thank you" or any general form of appreciation, should be shown. I find myself just going overboard with it and that doesn't really work either. Having ADHD creates, at least for me, an invisible barrier between you and your spouse or mate. I know she wants to feel appreciated, like any human being, but I just pick the wrong times to do it. I tell her she looks beautiful when she feels ugly, then fail to acknowledge her beauty when she gets all dolled up for me (maybe that is just called being a guy haha). I will jump out of the car when we get back home, distracted by the garbage, a branch that blew down, a piece of paint chipping off a wall etc. and in the meantime forget that my wife now has her arms full of groceries or boxes or whatever. Then when she is cleaning, I try to jump in when she is half way done, realizing "crap, I should have been helping her this whole time!", but then it's too late and I am only in the way. 

If your ex wasn't showing any appreciation at all, for anything, ever...well that just seems strange. Yes my mind is constantly working in hyper-drive and there have been many times that I missed an opportunity to show my appreciation or thankfulness. BUT, I can also recognize those instances, usually it is too late and the moment has passed (see above), but I still realize that I missed that opportunity to show my love or appreciation. It happens all to often really. I feel like she is constantly putting herself out there and sometimes silently begging for a compliment and I just miss it. I hate when it happens, it makes me feel as low as I could possibly feel. Thankfully she understands, knows I love her and just have a rough time communicating in a way that she fully understands...yet! We are both working hard to find the key to our communication and I am so grateful to her for sticking by me. That is what it will take for you two as well. Equally determined individuals, growing and learning together until you ultimately reach a place of better understanding and overall peace about your relationship. Luckily for me, I have, without a doubt found my soulmate in her and she feels the same way. It is a lot easier to work this way when you both agree that quitting, simply is NOT an option. It is amazing what the heart and mind can accomplish when they are both working together! good luck to you both and sorry if I rambled, goes with the territory I suppose :)

I am very good about saying

I am very good about saying "please" and "thank you."  My unmedicated ADHD mother was my "trainer."  It is something that she worked very diligently to accomplish.  I'm sure it wasn't easy to produce the automaticity I now have with this habit, especially since I wasn't medicated at the time, either.  How do I know this?  Because my ADHD son has significantly more issues with this than my daughter, and it is because he's distracted by his own thoughts.  I can sometimes see the glazed over look in his eyes.  He's on medication, but he is still young, and has lots of things on his growing mind.  He's a VERY sweet boy, and has shown marked improvement in this area in the past 6 months or so (he's in 1st grade).  We don't have to prompt as often, but we are extremely consistent on reinforcing this habit.  It's very important to us.  ADHD or not, it's something parents either enforce, or they don't, and you are reaping the benefits of that.  It takes even more discipline to enforce such habits with people who have more difficulty remembering...

That is a good point about

That is a good point about learning it at an early age.  Actually, I didn't mention in the first post that when we broke up the "appreciation" issue came up again and she said "yeah, this has come up in past relationships before and even my mom said the same thing to me"... I don't know why she didn't tell me this before when I brought up the issue!  That is why I feel like it is a broader issue than just being spoiled or feeling entitled.  As I may have mentioned before, I almost feel like she felt "guilty" for taking something/accepting something.  Like, she wasn't worthy of it.


I don't get it because I am very gracious for people that do things for me, so hard for me to understand what was happening.



I think there are two

I think there are two different points we are addressing on this forum. One, manners, and two how a person with ADHD handles gratitude, both giving and receiving. 

My husband has ADHD and he has very good manners, especially when he wants something, or is very focused on the person/situation at hand.

however, I read somewhere that people with ADHD lack that mechanism that allows them to feel good from within, so they often look to outside sources for validation, or simply just to make them feel good. I believe this is why they often turn to alcohol, drugs, porn, etc. they need that outside stimulation. I know my husband seems really needy of affirmation from me. I think it's all related.

When I do something around the house, like clean out a closet, I feel good about the accomplishment. I don't feel slighted if my husband doesn't make a big deal out of it. However, if the situation were reversed, my husband would seek my accolades, to the point it could get annoying.

When my husband doesn't thank me for things he probably ought to, I'm starting to realize it's because he simply doesn't notice. If I pointed it out to him he wouldn't hesitate to thank me. Of course, it loses it's effect when you have to ask for it:)

It's not ADD - It's poor manners

I have ADD and so does my mother. She was raised to be extremely polite, especially with regard to saying "thank you" and expressing appreciation. She taught me to behave similarly. I know a lot of non-ADDers who are exactly the opposite. Therefore, based on my own experiences, I do not think your ex-girlfriend's poor manners/lack of appreciation, etc. are in any way related to her ADD. If she is attributing her behavior to that, it is just an excuse. Similarly, I think you may be seeking to make an ADD connection here in order for you to accept her behavior on some level. In other words, her behavior is obviously inconsistent with your values; yet, on some level, you would like to believe that her behavior is not her fault so that it is easier for you to accept. By no means am I criticizing you--in fact, I think it is very endearing that you are giving her (and her ADD) as much credit as you are. ADD or not, good manners and characteristics like appreciation and gratefulness are largely the result of upbringing. And, in my opinion, the absence of such qualities is often related to self-centeredness. While it is good that she at least acknowledges her shortcomings, her failure to change is the direct result of personal choice. ADD makes life a little more challenging for the personal afflicted with it, but by no means is it as much of a barrier as you might think.