Trying to Understand and Cope

First of all, reading through this forum and realizing that my experience has been so similar to many of the members here has been somewhat therapeutic. I've noticed that there are three very common feelings: loneliness, anger and resentment and that I'm not alone or crazy for feeling these three things so strongly.

In many ways, my story is so typical.

My boyfriend (we are not married) and I met in college. I was in undergrad and he was just starting law school. I experienced the intensity that I've come to realize is so normal with someone with ADHD. We hardly spent a moment apart. I was invited to everything he did. It was a given that we would spend our evenings together. He called and text regularly and I never felt forgotten. He was affectionate and attentive (he would ask me if I was cold and get me a blanket, make me tea, try making dinner for me, hold my hand, etc). For obvious reasons, I ate this all up. I loved it. About 6 months into our relationship, I got a job that required me moving. There wasn't even a question if he would come or not (his law school had an extension in the area) so we moved in together and that's when it all went downhill. It happened really suddenly. I wasn't invited to do anything with him, he was always too busy. Any affection or attention I received just stopped. It left me very, very confused. What did I do wrong? I kept asking this question, assuming it was my fault. This was our first serious issue in our relationship and I realized it was very hard to communicate with him. He wouldn't look up from his computer. Or he would stare at a basketball game while I tried to talk to him. After that, everything sort of spiraled. I made a list of everything I felt affected me negatively:

1. Lack of intimacy and feeling like he is a roommate - we don't talk about anything I'm ever feeling, or any life issues (God, future plans, etc). Conversations are about surface issues that are not complicated. Because of this I never feel understood or feel like he knows me as a whole, complicated woman. Also, he doesn't touch me nearly as much as he did in the beginning. Sex is just sex. It's not intimate. He will hardly even kiss me. (For awhile he turned sex down and said he was too anxious and stressed and not feeling very sexual, although I found out he was spending quite a bit of time looking at porn. It was very confusing/hurtful. I'm not even against porn but was confused why it was replacing the real life girl that wanted him. He would mock me basically saying all guys look at porn so get over it). He doesn't hold my hand and sometimes hurries off in front of me. I feel like outsiders would hardly even suspect we were in a relationship. This has lead to me feeling depressed and rejected. I ask myself what I did wrong, what changed/happened to turn him off so suddenly. I also have a wall up with other people now. I feel a fear of being rejected so I have closed myself off and it's been hard to even make new friends. This has also led to mistrust. I ask myself if he's not interested in me because he's cheating. Which has led to me being a snoop which has only caused it's own problems.

2. Feeling exhausted over his lack of predictability - we can't make plans. It's almost hard to put into words. I feel like I have to jump through hoops just to pull anything off (does he want to go?, will he be on time?, will he cancel last minute?, will he even remember?, how can we plan around his hobbies? - this process seems to take an entire day) and I accommodate his preferences and only suggest things I know he will want to do. We don't do anything I want to do because he will get bored and complain or just refuse.

3. Never celebrating milestones - he has no respect or interest for celebrating things "normal" people do. He either forgets or ignores it. I cooked him dinner on our last anniversary and he went out with his friends instead. There's just never a feeling that anything is important enough to make a big deal out of. If I say it hurts my feelings and it's important to me he gets frustrated and closed off.

4. Frustration about his need to be "on" constantly - I'll preface this by saying I know this isn't his fault, I know it's a symptom of ADHD and he's trying to cope. He needs constant stimulation. I don't remember the last time we had dinner and he wasn't on his phone. His life consists of a multitude of hobbies, gadgets and small addictions. He will literally have a panic attack if left in silence too long. He says podcasts have saved his life and I never see him without headphones in. He can't sleep without them. This makes me feel like I never have his attention and therefore feel like I'm always second to everything. He has never been addicted to anything major, but I see addictive tendencies in him. For awhile it was online poker. Now it's tobacco. It seems to give him something to do and concentrate on. He's never risked anything like his job or significant amounts of money, so I'm thankful for that. Also, he is quite protective about his phone and computer. We don't have an open policy about sharing the content of them. It's led to some resentment on my part because he's constantly on them but I'm not allowed to know what he's up to.

5. Feeling like we had no plans for our future - the subject of our future together was completely taboo. He was too stressed to even think about it. I feel like I've lived the last 3 years with no direction to where I'm headed in my life with him. I'm 29 and he's 30 so knowing if he wants a future with me is important to me. But talking about it is off limits. I can figuratively see steam coming out of his ears and his brain melting down if I even bring it up :)

I could go on for a while, but to sum it all up, I feel so frustrated, rejected, sad and emotionally unfulfilled. I feel messed up because of the effect the last three years has had on me. I feel like I had a melt down (and a lot of bad reactions) and I started feeling depressed. This last spring, I moved out of our apartment and in with my sister. He had one semester left of law school and I knew I couldn't make it through the summer. He let me walk out (literally didn't stop me and went to the gym). Once he realized it was for real, he told me he couldn't concentrate on me and law school so he choose law school. He wanted to try and fix things and because I love him, I wanted to try. I continued living with my sister. Things got a lot better and we were working (slowly / baby steps) on it. We started spending a lot of time together again and I felt like we were making progress. Well then I walked in on him with another girl. Talk about amazingly deep disappointment. He just did it "because" and it "wasn't really cheating because it meant nothing". (They hadn't got to sex but they were pretty darn close). It was someone he had met through a coworker at a bar. I thought OK this is SO over. I didn't talk to him for weeks. Someone that never cared if I was hurt and would close himself off completely if things got too emotional/complicated was suddenly texting me 15 times a day and calling me and couldn't sleep because he was so upset. I had never witnessed this behavior from him. Slowly we started talking again. It's been about 3 1/2 months.

I started taking Wellbutrin and that's helping with my depression. I feel very hesitant about our future. But despite all of this, I love him. I've been in a difficult relationship in the past (physically/emotionally abusive) that I just turned the switch off and was able to leave and never think twice. That's not the case with him. He makes me laugh, makes me feel safe, he's smart and articulate and would never lay a hand on me, he's tender in other ways like he loves animals and although he has a lack of empathy for me sometimes, he is very empathetic to the underdog. I feel lonely with him but I feel lonely without him too. I'm struggling with staying and feeling disappointed by him or leaving and feeling like I left someone I love. He's very aware of his ADHD. He was diagnosed young but pills made him feel like a vegetable so he's just tried to manage. However, he recently went to the doctor and got a prescription. He hasn't started the meds yet as they make him nervous.

If anyone has any advice or a story to share, I would love to hear it. It just feels relieving to know I'm not the only one that's been damaged by this.


Thanks for listening.







Run while you can

Your not married, you do not have kids with him, your still young, now your on depression medication, your concerned about a future with him, and he is a cheater! You have only lost three years, cut and run while you can! He didn't even care when you were moving out. I know adhd people have good qualities about them and when you love them, you love them. I love my adhder, however if I knew then what I know now (before marriage, kids, and family life) I'm not sure I would have taken this road. Don't get me wrong I love my husband and my children very much, but marriage with an adhder is stressful, and if you have children with him you run the risk of having adhd children (I have three kids, one has adhd, one is showing sings) you cant divorce adhd kids. Take some time, research and learn about adhd, read other post from non-adhders. Only you can be sure what is best for you.

PS, it has been MY experience that when you have a closed door policy on cell phones and computers with and adhder they are up to NO good, including sexting, & cheating. (my husband has done this more than I can count) Once the trust is broken it's a B**** to get back if ever.

Good luck to you in what ever you choose.

trying to understand and cope

Good heaven's hon- the whole POINT of dating is to see if you are compatible and could maybe go the distance.  He hasn't even been able to DATE you successfully.  If you feel this bad now, imagine how you will feel when you are trapped with a few kids, economically compromised and entombed in a relationship where you don't feel like your spouse knows you as "a whole woman".  No, you can't imagine it.  Because if you COULD imagine it, you would not be asking anyone about it.  You would already have run screaming in the opposite direction. If it is important to you to be known as "a whole woman", then you need to find someone who ALSO wants to know you that way. This ain't even about ADHD per se, this is at base about incompatibility.  If he is "into" porn, and you're not- problem.  If you are "into" sex and he's not- problem.  If you believe in sexual fidelity, and he doesn't- problem.  If you want open communication, and he hides his computer and text message from you- problem.  If you want a romantic anniversary dinner and he thinks hanging out with the guys is more important (not just THINKS IT-many men may think it- but DOES IT)- problem.  You see where this is going?  Think about it again.  

adhd commitment

I so relate to your story and have the same list, and I've been married thirty years. Your lucky your finding out now and not after twenty five years and two children. You say he has known about his adhd since childhood and he still is in denial about how it affects his life and those around him. It doesn't sound as if his patterns are going to change. If you are not ready for educating yourself on adhd and going through years of hard work and counseling for relationships, communication, how it affects your future, children, etc... Please do yourself a favor and leave now. 

It takes a lot of personal commitment from both side in a regular marriage, adding the different wiring of adhd brain is a whole another dimension. If you decide to commit to this relationship without doing your homework about the ADHD brain than you are the one letting yourself in for a whole lot of stress and heartache.

I say this because not only do I live with a husband with adhd, I also have an child with this wiring. As with most, it was through our child that we learned about the heredity factor. And as most on this site, it took a long time before my husband stopped denying it and sought out help. There is a lot of damage that needs repairing.

You are lucky to have this knowledge ahead of commitment and can make an informed decision.

I wish you the best in your whatever direction you take.

ebb and flow's picture

Marie Loren


Cheating is a deal breaker in my opinion.

You are my age, not married and no kids... like me you have no major commitments to your guy. Please save yourself a lifetime of misery and exit this. Respect yourself enough to leave!

ADD has nothing to do with the advice I'm giving. I don't care what disorder he's been diagnosed with!!! Cheating is cheating is cheating. ADD + cheating = miserable life! ADD is a hard enough disorder to deal with let alone major trust issues and abandonment issues and respect issues... and I'm guessing poor communication issues too! :(

I hope, if in your heart you really feel like this must end, you have the courage to face your fears of being alone and move on.

All the qualities you've listed he has, you can find in someone less messed up who respects you as a "complicated women".

Please don't do this to yourself...

Choose happiness!


Trying to cope.

I read your post with great sadness.  It's not an easy decison to make, I know. Adder's have a lot of great qualities. I know my husband is a sweetie , never cheated on me, and everyone has told me he worships the ground I walk on. He's smart, funny and interesting. Like many spouses of ADDers, I am still hanging in there, and have a love/hate  relationship with my husband.  I'll share this, On my wedding day we ran out of gas TWICE on the way to the church, I have no wedding pictures because it was on his list to bring the cameras, and I spent my wedding night sobbing in the bedroom while he played video games with my brother.

On the flipside, He and his buddies hauled a huge rock into the house at some point before the reception and he proclaimed it represented the foundation of our love. He has done some amazing romantic things in our many years together. We have an amazing son who doesn't have ADD and I wouldn't trade him for the world.

For most our marriage I have had to take antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medication just to cope. I used to joke that it would be easier if he cheated on me, at least I could compete with another woman, but instead it's t.vs, movies, video and computer games I'm up against. I once bought a wedding band and handed it to him. He was puzzled. I told him it was for his T.V. I said you're married to that D*** thing, might as well make it official.

If you read the posts on this forum, ask yourself do you really want to end up like so many of us spouses of an ADDer? My husband attempts to do better off and on, takes meds from time to time, but it is a roller coaster ride.

I know there are often other issues that seem to go along with ADD. I now have to sleep in a separate room, for several reasons, his snoring, his restlessness, his inconsistent sleep schedule.

I feel like I've lost my dreams, never have time to fulfill them. I hate to agree with some of the other posters, but if I had known what my life would be like I would have run and never looked back.

Thank you all for your

Thank you all for your responses. They mean a lot. I do know leaving is in my best interest, but easier said than done, I suppose. A little back story: I grew up in a strictly Christian home (although I haven't gone to church myself in a very long time). When I was 21 I got engaged to my good, Christian boyfriend. He had a family history of abuse (as a result his mother was messed up and his father hadn't spoken to him most of his life). I thought he had risen above all of it. Well about 11 months into our marriage he started getting VERY emotionally abusive (he was stressed over a few issues, he said). By the time he hit me (punched me, bruised me by digging his fingers into me while throwing me repeatedly into a wall, threw me down stairs, spit food at me, stole my credit card, threw my suitcases off our balcony, locked me in my bathroom, insinuated seriously injuring me and basically emotionally tortured me to the point where I was hiding behind my couch) I was relieved. I felt like I had an excuse (as if emotional abuse wasn't enough) to finally leave and I did (he ended up stalking me for awhile and everything ended in his arrest. That scared him and after that he left me alone). BUT my family (mother and extended family for the most part) was deeply disappointed that I chose divorce. My uncle wouldn't even look at me on Thanksgiving. They thought God could change him and I was giving up on our vows. Years later my mom confessed she hoped we would somehow get back together again STILL. They go to church together and she thought he somehow changed, which I don't think is really possible considering he never apologized and couldn't admit that hitting a woman is wrong. Since, I have worked out these issues with my family and my mom apologized which was hard and a part of me didn't want to forgive them. So, after getting out of my abusive marriage, I picked myself up and put myself through college. I wasn't jaded. I was really hopeful. I got counseling and was being productive. I was happy and social and optimistic when I met my boyfriend and now (3 1/2 years later) I'm on depression medication and I feel super jaded. I say this all because it scares me to have another failed relationship that is my choice to end (even if neither are technically my fault). I'm sure that sounds super pathetic. If I'm honest with myself for a minute, I know I fear leaving and just meeting another jerk who doesn't seem like a jerk for awhile and then SURPRISE, 6 months later he turns into a jerk. My boyfriend would never, ever touch me so part of me thinks I can get over the rest. Honestly, compared to my ex he's a winner! :) Logically, I know I'm not having much respect for myself by thinking this. I know we aren't married and I have no commitment to him, but in my heart I feel like our relationship is deeper than that so it's difficult for me to end it. I guess I ask myself if I'm somehow so messed up that this stuff happens to me—do I somehow ask for this or have I just tragically met two guys that have screwed me over.

This is turning into quite the confession for me, so thanks if you're still reading :) I really appreciate your insights and knowing that from an outside perspective it's obvious I should leave is an eye opener for me. Topaz, thank you for sharing your wedding day story. If my boyfriend and I ever did get married, I know I would have to be realistic that he would probably act similarly! 

Marie Loren

You've done a lot of living in 29 years, and have been through a lot.  When you say that you are afraid to have another failed relationship, that sounds so sad.  You chalk ending bad relationships up on the "failure" side of your list.  You should be making that chalk mark on the "success" side.  It is very easy to stay in a crappy relationship; it takes energy and intestinal fortitude to end one.  You list all these strengths (leaving an abusive husband, divorcing in spite of family pressure, working out those issues with your family, putting yourself through college, etc.).  You appear to be a person who is capable of taking care of yourself.  I don't know anything, but it occurs to me that maybe you could acknowledge to yourself that you can TRUST yourself to take care of YOU.  Just the fact that you posted for advice on this forum is evidence that the part of you that you can trust is trying to look out for you.  Listen to THAT part of yourself.  Your truest you.  YOU know what you need to do.  Will you meet another jerk?  Maybe.  But if you listen to YOU, you might end it at, "It's been nice meeting you", instead of getting wrapped up in a relationship that (because its gone on so long), seems to be vital.   Best wishes.


Thank you for the response. I do trust myself to take care of myself. I have learned to not really count on anyone and ultimately I don't rely on anyone for anything. My boyfriend and I lived together for more than 2 years, and we didn't split a single bill except the rent. Everything was paid separately and as long as we each paid our bills, we didn't even discuss money. We didn't share a bank account and rarely helped each other out financially. And I know that really, I'm happy alone. I was single for quite awhile post divorce and I was really, really happy. I think my problem is that I'm scared I'm losing faith in people. I forgave my family but I view them a little differently now. I planned to spend my entire life with my ex, have children, etc and that ended in disaster. And now this. I just feel like I don't have anyone to count on and don't trust anyone new really and that's really sad. I want to but I can't seem to conjure up the right emotions. Maybe in time.

I've decided (as of yesterday and today) to end it with my boyfriend. I had that feeling of female intuition yesterday and basically hacked (I'm decently good with computers :) his email. It wasn't right, but I never get the truth out of him so I stoop to it here and there. Basically I found that right around the time i walked in on him with another girl, he was also more seriously spending time with someone else. Here's an excert of his email to her:

"So my phone is officially dead, please remind everyone that SOMEONE kept me late last night too...!!!

please get everyone home safely, too bad u drove, we coulda had a sleepover...

Email me when u get home please.


Then they went on to make movie plans, etc. I confronted him and sure enough he said I am misunderstanding the situation. "She's just a friend." As if having a sleep over with another girl means friendship. He thinks I'm somehow intimidated that he has female friends. He doesn't seem to get that it's only when he hides them from me and I've never met them and he spends time with them when he's told me he's too busy. Cheating once with a random girl from the bar, maybe I can forgive him but not a second time where they are having sleep overs and going to movies. Not when that was around the time we were really working things out and I was under the impression that we were on the right track (not to mention having sex and saying i love you).

The amount of disappointment I'm feeling and also being annoyed with myself for giving him another chance is pretty intense. But in the end, I KNOW it will be for the best. Wish me luck! :)