staring without awareness

I have been diagnosed with adult ADD for several years now. My wife often calls me out for staring at other women, which she finds offensive and hurtful.  In many cases, I am completely and totally unaware that I have been staring.  I frequently accused her of making it up, which engendered even more hurt feelings and inevitably an argument. I now accept that it does happen, and she has noticed that I also occasionally stare at men, children, animals, or inanimate objects. This has given some credence to my claim that I am unaware that I am staring, but she still finds it difficult to believe that I am truly unaware or that it is not volitional. She has pointed out occasions where I stared at someone and my head actually moved to follow them--again, I am oblivious to doing this or having done it. At work, a colleague has mentioned that others have commented that I occasionally stare at them and they are unnerved by it--and I have no idea I am doing it. A new employee recently told the boss that I was an "a-hole" because I stood in the doorway to the staff kitchen and stared at her and ignored her when she said "hello." As God as my witness, I had no recollection whatsoever of this happening. (My boss knows about this issue and simply assured the new employee that I really hadn't been staring at her, that her greeting did not register, and that my head was somewhere else at the time--not sure she believes this, but we get along ok now). My psychiatrist has not been able to offer me any insight into this, nor has he heard of it in others. I am wondering if I am alone in this experience, or if others have experienced the phenomenon of what I have come to think of as subconcious staring--obviously, based on the feedback from others, I AM staring, and my head movements indicate I am staring at someone or something in particular rather than a vacant stare at an unmoving point in space. But I dont' know when I am doing it, don't remember what I saw when it is called to my attention, and can't seem to control it (my wife has trouble believing that I can't control it around her. She says I know that it hurts her when she sees me staring at other women, and so if I continue to do it knowing that it hurts her, she feels that it is even worse--and from my perspective, I would rather pluck out my eyes than hurt her, so when she calls it to my attention, I can only lamely try to assure her that I didn't know I was staring. BTW, it happens most when I am particularly stressed, fatigued, or preoccupied.


Anyone else have anything similar? Any suggestions on combating it?

You are not alone! I have ADD

You are not alone! I have ADD and do the exact same thing. For me it has been most obvious on the train as the train isn't very stimulating. I often end up staring right into the eyes of a random person on the train. As I am not really looking at them I don't realize them noticing that I am staring. Some people even get freaked out. Usually I am able to snap out of it but as I am a woman sometimes this causes trouble for me as some men have take it.. the wrong way, heh.

Like you said, it happens when my head is exhausted which is either when I have been stressed, busy, hungry or when my environment is so NOOT HAPPENING that my brain slows down enough to feel how tired I am naturally (as ADD is exhausting for the brain).

I take it that your wife is the biggest "problem" in this? I'd try an honest approach. In exchange for her accepting that you drift off you will always be honest when you do look at another woman. That way she doesn't have to be insecure, guess, doubt you. It is a known fact that men look at women, doesn't mean that you want to run off and have a wild passionate affair and that your wife should know.

I also do follow the thing or person when I stare like this. I think that's just the body doing what it's designed for as my mind usually is somewhere else and my vision is usually blurry.

Thank you. It really helps go

Thank you. It really helps to hear what having ADHD is like. I learn something everytime come here.
Determined's picture

Eye Lock ... Staring

Yes I've had it for ever since I could remember; I call it "Eye Lock" . Thought it might actually be like petite seizures and had a test where I went 48 hours with diodes all over my head and every time the eye lock happened I'd push a button. Happily I can say it was not epilepsy and then I was still wondering what the heck it was, because i had found out its just not normal. I thought everyone had eyelock... kinda like yawning ya know?

So this is kind of helping me piece all this together now. Thank you for posting!

Yes I known this

Yes this does happen to me also and it bothers my girlfriend quite a bit. Although she says she understands I am not actually looking, she is mostly embarrassed because she thinks other people might catch on to it with her sitting next to me. Which I can understand being hurtful.

One could also be "caught" looking at a younger person, with all the wrong interpretations.

I would not know what to do about it other than that common ADHD medication seems to help a bit. I try to train myself to look at anything  non conspicuous when I sense myself going off, or avoid eye contact more in general, being afraid I look at somebody when I go "off".

Tips welcome.