Tips to improve my ADHD girlfriends life!

Hi. Im in my early 20's & have been dating a girl with ADHD. At first I didnt know she had ADHD, but different tendencies kept popping up so I researched the symptoms & realized she had it. She's also since admitted to having it to me. I saw a lot of good in her & I thought a lot of people gave up on her early in life because of something she did not control, so I promised myself I would at least improve her life , even if I eventually lose interest in this relationship. 

We've made some strides because I've tried to be very caring towards her & communicate to her in a way that she doesnt' feel like she's being attacked. I never mentioned the ADHD to her but I have given her tips on how to improve on some things. But as the months have gone by I've sometimes become so exhausted with her & have my own stresses to worry about that I become distant towards her. I see the positives in her less often & notice the negatives more. It's not really fair to her but sometimes I have a conversation with some of my friends who are girls & I feel so much more understood & I feel like I have potential for more fruitful relationships. My dating experience has only been for the last few years & nothing too significant, I have had low self esteem for most my life until I changed some things around & expanded my social network dramatically. Anyway sometimes when I'm really loving life I notice that this relationship won't last because I want to truly feel understood by another person & actually feel love (unfortunately I may love her as a person but this is not what my idea of true love is). And a lot of times this relationship just saps my energy & makes me feel like I'm there for her enjoyment, but not really for a relationship. 

So anyway I still have to fulfill my promise to myself and am looking for tips here. I'm not completely giving up on this relationship yet but I know that eventually I'll give up because we're just too different. But if any ADHD'ers or spouses of ADHD'ers can give me help on this situation it would be great! I'm basically wondering what things I can teach her so she can live a fruitful life. Or what types of ways are best at connecting with her. I feel like she hasn't matured enough to understand another person's perspective. I feel like she has an idea in her head of what the other person is thinking, but she labels her own judgements on it & isn't truly open to what the other person says. This causes some issues with my friends too, who notice that she's very out of tune with other people when she's having a conversation. 

So what would you do in my situation to improve this girls life. What insights should I focus on teaching her. How should I communicate differently with her? Any types of tips are appreciated! Thanks

Hi there, I have a mixed

Hi there,

I have a mixed reaction to your post. On the one hand, it's kind of endearing that you want to help your girlfriend out. On the other hand, it's extremely patronizing that you have already essentially decided to bail on the relationship but want to do your duty and give her tips to live a fruitful life.  

As as a woman with ADHD, I can tell you first hand that I live a fruitful life, created by myself. I am sure your girlfriend will live a full and exciting life, with or without your tips.  She may well be different. She may have some social issues  and at times I am sure she can be awkward... But  that's okay. She will find people who understand her, appreciate her and  find her delightful. 

This is not your charity project. It is more hurtful than helpful for you to stick round to try to  'fix' her, when you don't really want to stay with her. If you want to move on, I think it's kinder for you to be truthful- if that's how you feel. No one benefits from a pity relationship. She will be sad- but she will move on and hopefully meet someone else. 

If you lay a bunch of tips on her- and she thinks you are invested in her and on working on things and then you bail- that feels like a true betrayal. 

I hope this hasn't been too harsh. I think you mean well but you need to understand that ADHD is not some terrible affliction for all people who have it- rendering them doomed to live an unfruitful life. For some people- yeah- it's debilitating... But there are lots of 'us' that live pretty incredible life's and manage our conditions quite effectively. I have a prestigious career as a lawyer. I have a house, 2 cars, lots of wonderful friends in my community, a husband and 2 beautiful children. 

my ADHD father is a CEO. My ADHD cousin is an anesthesiologist. My ADHD sister is an opera singer and my adhd brother is an architect. I have two ADHD cousins who are attorneys and one who is a writer and getting his first film made.

It sounds like you don't always feel understood or loved and that she doesn't really fit in. I bet she feels misunderstood as well- but that doesn't make her deficient. Maybe you guys just are not a good fit right now.

I urge you to consider ripping the bandaid off rather than letting this languish. 

I wish you the best.

Thank you

That was a very helpful post and I thank you for speaking honestly. I know I have my own ego issues & I wanted some credit for this supposed "great deed" im doing for her. I feel like I liked her presence a lot more before coming to these ADHD sites because I would read about the terrible marriages & I dont want to "fall into that trap". I do care about her deeply but I'm scared for my own sake of investing in this relationship to the point of marriage, and then after a few years an ugly side would come out. I should deal with my current reality & not be so biased by a forum. 

I think you're right that she is not deficient, but I do worry about her because of some of her behaviours. 

I'm not sure what to do really, I had a good conversation with her yesterday about how we can both improve in the relationship. I decided that I would put more true effort into the relationship & into myself as a person. At the same time your advice to break it off may have more sense. I'll give it a try one more time and stay away from reading any negatives on this forum & making my own opinion. If I do end up not appreciating her again I think it's best to end it at that point like you said. 

If you do have any tips to give me, whether how I should deal with her perspective or any tips that can help her they would be appreciated. You do have a point in that teaching her these tips & then giving up on her would be damaging. However I do want to give this relationship another true effort & I'll always care about her regardless of whether our relationship ends or not. (But if you dont think it's appropriate that's okay :( ) 

 

Thanks again I realize I need to start from myself 

Do her a favor

I am the non-ADHD person in my relationship and I found this post to be very condescending. When your girlfriend finds someone who will treat her like an equal and love and respect her for who she is, that will improve her life. I don't think you have anything beneficial to offer her in terms of advice from where you are standing. You're right, it's not fair to her that you are talking to other girls behind her back. You write that she hasn't matured, but I think it's immature of you to be hanging onto something that you aren't planning to stay in, talking behind her back, and then thinking you can somehow advise her how to lead a better life. Maybe I am misreading your post and you want to improve your relationship, but it doesn't sound that way. She is not your student, she is your girlfriend. If you want to work out your issues within your relationship, your girlfriend needs to be included in that and made aware of your thoughts. The best thing you could do for her would be to be honest with her about all of this. I understand that you feel disconnected from her, but you also sound embarrassed by her and not committed to her as a person. Do her a favor and stop keeping her in the dark.

Thanks

Hey thanks for your response. I think I have been a lesser person by posting this & was probably wanting people to comment on all the good things I was doing. I feel like I deserve credit or something for being in this relationship but I guess I'm not really helping her out at all. 

Just as a comment to defend myself a bit, I don't talk to other girls behind her back. They are purely friends whom she knows and knows that I talk to, I just feel more understood by those girls is what I was trying to say. I do respect her & care for her at a deep level (it doesn't sound like it from my post but that was my ego wanting acknowledgement I suppose). 

I think you're also spot on about me being immature about the whole situation. I'm a pretty intelligent guy(suprisingly) but I'm not mature enough about my own situation in life and i shouldn't be trying to help another person if I'm not improving myself.

I did have a good conversation with her & do want to work towards this relationship one more time. I need to stay positive & stay away from the negative types of forums because they scare me of what can come in the future, but who knows maybe our relationship can be a lot better. If I do lose interest again though I'll need to cut myself off because it's not healthy for me or her.

I hope

I hope I didn't come across as being too harsh. Maybe you are putting a lot into the relationship and feel like things are not reciprocal. It's good that you are communicating with her. While it is understandable to be apprehensive about the future, other people's stories are not necessarily predictive of what your relationship may look like down the road just because your girlfriend has ADHD. The most influence I think you could have in improving her life would be through being supportive and caring. I imagine she is aware of her ADHD symptoms (for lack of a better word), and explaining things to her or trying to change things for her is not really the way that change comes about.

It can be hard for non-ADHDers to relate to how people with ADHD think sometimes (that sounds like more of a generalization than I mean it to be). It is tempting to think that if only we could show or explain a different way of doing things, that that would be effective. I have told my bf many times that it upsets me when he is late, for example, and that if only he did x y and z he could manage his time differently, but it doesn't work that way for him. All I can do is tell him how I feel and offer advice if he wants it, and try not to take it personally if he is late. For a while I didn't understand why something that was easy for me to do was harder for him to do, and then I started to understand how different our thought processes can be. My way of thinking isn't better than his, and saying things like "give yourself more time to get ready" doesn't help when he is on his way out the door and remembers three things he needs to do. It is not a lack of knowledge of his own behavior that makes it difficult for him to do things differently, and I imagine the same is true of your girlfriend. Your girlfriend also might not like it if she feels like you are trying to change her or instruct her. It is nice that you want to help her, but if you try to make yourself responsible for changing her or her habits, you are setting yourself up for a parent-child dynamic, resentment on both sides, and a false sense of influence (I have been there). If you want to keep trying at your relationship, be mindful that you will also have to try to contribute to a dynamic of equality.

Butterflykisses123- You're

Butterflykisses123-

You're not a lesser person by posting here. And you don't have to feel bad or apologize for it. You may not have everything figured out and have some work to do on yourself- but your intentions were not bad.

Relationships at your age (I'm guessing you are between 18 and 22?) are fraught, regardless if someone has ADHD. That's a very tough time of life- transitioning into adulthood. So cut yourself and your girlfriend a break. I want to point out that no matter what relationship you are in- if it's a long-term thing- you are going to 'lose interest' at some point. Long term relationships go through many ups and downs and twists and turns. The sign of mature love is realizing that and sticking together through the downs in order to enjoy the ups. I was not ready to do that until I was 25 or 26... I hadn't yet accrued the wisdom to realize that no relationship is perfect and no relationship can maintain it's intensity past a year or two years max. They actually did studies about that and found that the 'in love' period is based on phermones and endorphins and tends to end after about 18 months on average.

My point is that some of the stuff you describe about the relationship is just par for the course for any relationship- particularly at that age. Just because she had ADHD doesn't mean that the relationship is doomed to fail. My parents have been happily married for 38 years and they have a great life and hardly any conflict. My mum had a hard time when we were little because of my dad's (undiagnosed) adhd and the fact that he was mostly working and not around enough to help. But since they don't have the shared responsibility of raising kids anymore, this isn't a point of conflict anymore. They are free to enjoy themselves and to be themselves. 

This forum can be very helpful to many, particularly those who are struggling with some pretty awful behaviour in their spouse and feel alone... But you have to remember that people in happy marriages with an ADHD spouse don't tend to come here to sing praises- even though there are many in that situation (5% of the population is thought to have ADHD- so it is not uncommon) it's a pretty lopsided representation. So while the people here are speaking their truth, there is another truth out there that isn't being represented much here.

No one is perfect. We all have stuff we can improve on. I would stop worrying about her ADHD and instead just work on yourself, on your communication with her, on having fun. you asked me above again what tips you should teach her. The truth is- you probably can't teach her anything. You are not a medical professional and are not equipped to take that on. If she wants to learn more about ADHD, or you do, I recommend www.additudemag.com. It has a lot of great resources and information. Everyone with ADHD has different areas of impairment- so it's not a stock set of tips that you can give her. Is she hyperactive? Is she impulsive Or is she just daydreaming and not able to listen? Does she have an anger issue or a self-esteem issue? There is no way for me to provide tips for her, having never met her. And you should stop trying to do this as well, except for in the areas where it affects you directly- because that will poison the relationship.  I think as her boyfriend, your job is to have fun with her, enjoy her company and be there for her. If she mistreats you or others, that is something you should address with her. Other than that- it's not your place, and it won't be effective anyway. 

Lastly, a note for you: it sounds to me like you have had your own struggles (depression? anxiety? low self-esteem?). You mentioned that you were hoping to get comments congratulating you for your good deed. A true good deed requires no acknowledgement because it is not done with a view to getting something back.  People who are not totally happy and confident with themselves look for that kind of validation. The truth is- you don't need our approval. You need to feel good about yourself and your values and actions within yourself. You sound like a perfectly nice guy, if a little bit young and perhaps a little bit inexperienced in life and relationships. Have fun. Be young. Don't be so hard on yourself or on your girlfriend. Life is hard and being young is very hard... but try not to take it so seriously. Humans are just animals that put on clothes and walk around. If you are doing your best, that's enough. I just wanted to encourage you to take care of yourself and to hang in there. You will work through all these things in time. And in case anything said here has stuck with you in a troubling way- please let it go. Read the advice and take what's helpful and discard the rest. None of us know you and no one should judge you- so just go easy on yourself. Don't take anything a stranger writes to you in a forum personally.

Best of luck to you.

Also

I want to add that I certainly never meant to speak to anything about you as a person, and I did not mean to imply that you don't care about her. My apologies if I said anything that made you feel bad. I don't know you or your situation, and I'm sure you're a great person. It's admirable that you want someone's life to be better for having known you, and wanting to improve her life certainly shows that you care. Posting on here shows that you are thinking about her and care about her happiness. I was just troubled by the idea that you had already decided that your relationship won't work for you and hadn't communicated that to your girlfriend, but were planning to stay in it to fulfill a promise you made to yourself about her life. I'm far from perfect (as is evidenced in that I could have chosen my initial words more carefully) and I know relationships are complicated. Good luck to you!