Trying Not to Find ADHD in Everyone

I have been a member of this website for a while now and continue to visit regularly even though I am no longer with my ADHD partner. The main reason I continue to come here is because I believe this is a supportive community full of strong, strong people who work so hard everyday to make the sometimes impossible, possible. I come here because you all provide me with a certain comfort and understanding that is hard for others to grasp that have not dealt with the relationship issues we have.

With this said, I am having a hard time not finding ADHD attributes in each new person I date. See, after a long time I am back in the dating world and my biggest fear is falling in love yet again with someone with ADHD. On it's face I know that comment sounds harsh but it's actually a negative statement against me, not my ex-ADHDer. What I learned from my ex is that even though I am strong, I am not strong enough to be a good support system for someone trying to overcome obstacles they may have with ADHD. However, I will say ex-ADHDer had an extreme case. He was hyperactive and inattentive and grew up in a household that only fostered these traits to their upmost negative. Even though I tried my hardest to be a support system for him he, at the end of the day, never fully grasped how big the "problem" was in the first place.

Back to my point. I have met a few men and if I think I may like them even a little bit, I start looking for ADHD traits. You know, oh they always seem to be 5 minutes late, they must have ADHD. Or it's taking them so long to call me back, they must have ADHD. I know that most of this comes from my own nutty-ness but I also truly believe that I have more than the average bear of ADHDers in my life (because of my personality).

Now I have met a guy that I could really like but he, just last weekend, moved 4 hours away. I live in Colorado so 4 hours here is a bigger deal than say people who live in a state that have mostly flat land and not a lot of snow. Obviously it will be a challenge on both our parts to make this work. But I am on the ADHD wagon with him. He carriers a lot of traits and in some ways reminds me of my ex. He seems hyperactive and distracted and....etc.

I guess what I am asking all of you is any words of advice you may have...kind of an internet counseling session. It's cheaper this way :) I want to fall in love again, I want to move on with my life. Do any of you have a hard time not seeing ADHD in everyone? Any support or slaps across the head would be great!

Thank you!!

Honestly, I have a hard time

Honestly, I have a hard time not seeing ADD in MYSELF sometimes. I was telling my husband the other day that the forms I was filling out, as an observer, for his ADD evaluation asked if he was messy. We chuckled and then he looked at me and said "are you ADD?" to which I responded "I really wonder sometimes!"

I have a sister who is ALWAYS late for everything...but I'm fairly certain she doesn't have ADD. I know people who are forgetful, but don't have ADD. I think if you look at the majority of adults we'd all have a trait or two, but that is just personality and not an actual disorder. Since you're willing to admit that you aren't strong enough to be supportive in an ADD relationship, I think it is wise of you to try and pay attention to more of the details of the people you date. However, it is impossible to know if they don't come right out and tell you they've been diagnosed (some may not be diagnosed, but have it, of course) so I suppose with any person who is in the dating scene, it will just take time and patience to figure things out. I have very little dating experience so I pretty much only know 'hyperfocus' dating. My only other experience was with a HUGE Momma's boy....don't recommend that either. LOL

I wish you all the best!

Seeing ADHD

Just a guess, but I'm thinking if they are showing signs of ADHD while dating they probably do NOT have ADHD.  If they did, they would most likely be in the hyperfocus stage, NOT forgetting to call you, NOT being late, etc. 

Hoping has a point there

Hoping has a point there about the hyper focus...

This has always been one of my thoughts about divorcing my ADD spouse, I'd probably attract another adder. Oddly enough, I meet admitted adders often enough that it seems odd. Yes, I've wondered if I'm ADD but I know if I do it's entirely "environmental" having lived with it for almost 30 years. I've read that we all have ADD moments but for real adders, it's chronic! Anyway, I know what you mean, I think I have Addphobia! Too bad we can't request a resume, references and medical records to prescreen people before we let them enter our lives. Geesh! Sorry, but it's been a long haul for me, I'm so craving a quiet, logical atmosphere I can thrive in!

You know, if he reminds you of your ex, maybe divine intervention moved him 4 hours away...

ADD Traits

I am a male with ADD and I will try to provide some insight if possible :):

  • I agree with Melissa Orlov statements surrounding people with ADD live in the moment, especially when we are hyper focusing on a task, thought, object or person.  My first advice is to always remember this one element in any relationship that is just getting started.  You won't see the signs of ADD (in the classical sense) because you are the hyper focused element.  You will be so involved and enjoying the "romance" stage that you aren't seeing definitive signs and if you are looking for the "after hyper focus symptoms" you will miss it.  It's the "hyper focus behaviors" that will be most obvious to you and honestly those are harder to identify as "just" ADD symptoms.
  • Second it never hurts to just ask when the timing is right (which is way before you get deep off involved IMHO).  Personally I appreciate someone that is straight forward and is willing to considerately ask if I have had to deal with or am diagnosed with ADD.  Obviously a first date would be a no no but there is a time between "just got introduced and dating" stage and "committed relationship" stage when it is appropriate to ask.  Hell I figure if you can ask if someone has STD why not any other ailments.
  • Third time reveals all, I was raised in a strict home where it was considered a sin to live with someone before marriage.  As a 30 year old living with ADD I see this as a critical step in the courting stage.  I can easily tell someone I have ADD but it is virtually impossible for me to educate them on what it's like to live and deal with it daily.  In hindsight I would have spent more time courting my wife and eventually living with her prior to a marriage commitment.  My opinion is you need enough time to pass that the "honeymoon" stage is passed.  You need enough visibility into each others world to not only discuss how you deal with things, but to observe them in action.  How do they handle their emotions in high stress circumstances? How do they handle their day to day lives? How do they communicate with me during good, bad and day to day times?  If someone is unwilling to provide visibility into these elements the risk is to great in my opinion to commit the rest of my life to them.
  • Over time all ADD symptoms will reveal themselves.  I read a great book recently (The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck) who has a great framework in which he discuss how people see the world.  I won't do it just and I recommend the book to everyone interested in a great base in humanity and our character.  He says that we each have a map through which we see the world around us.  That map is made up of experience of elements of our past that frame how we see our present and future.  If we are not able to be honest with ourselves about how we are building our maps (both past, present and future) then our "reality" is not truth.  I believe if we consciously strive for truth and a reality based map in any circumstance (over time) we will see all the signs or tales of the experience we will have.

Those are what I could come up with in a short time I have other thoughts from living with ADD but will be another time got to move on to another task :P.  I know it's not a quick list of attributes or even an easy answer, but hopefully it helps.

Here is a great link that I found a while back on some of the mechanical theories/facts behind why people have ADD and the dysfunctional elements in the Pre-frontal Cortex of the brain.  If you just look at what the Pre-frontal Cortex is and what it is responsible for it provides a pretty good quick list of behavior and character elements you can try to observe in future relationships.  One thing to keep in mind is there have been studies that while ADD is a lack of activity in the Pre-frontal Cortex bi-polar is an overactivity of dopamine and other receptors in that same area.  The symptoms while not exactly the same can look the same in the short term.