will he always take me for granted?

I'm dating a guy with ADHD and since we don't live together and aren't married, a lot of common problems don't affect us. But I do feel taken for granted. I feel like I had his interest in the beginning, and then I lost it, and now I only get it back when he hasn't seen me in a couple weeks and misses me. So when I don't have his interest, I'm low on his list. He agonizes over canceling plans with people who honestly probably don't care, but when he cancels romantic plans with me at the last minute he doesn't even feel the need to say he's sorry. I ask him to reschedule and he says he will but never does, and obviously there are no romantic gestures just for the heck of it. He fills our time together with work or TV, like I'm too boring by myself. He only compliments me on how I look or how our sex was. I'm confident that he's not just using me for sex, but sex gets his attention, and I don't think I do, anymore.

Some friends tell me I should tell him that he risks losing me if he doesn't put some effort into our relationship. But even if I didn't think ultimatums are a bad idea, even if it worked, it would be temporary. He'd attend to me while he was worried about me leaving, and then he'd start worrying about work again and we'd be back here. Thinking that through made me realize that it looks to me like this is just how it's going to be with him. Is that true? Is it the natural state of an ADHD partner to bored with you in between shake-ups that grab their attention? What does it take for him to care about me every day?

This is a big problem for me.

This is a big problem for me.  I've been married for 27 years (well, 26 years and 355 days), and although the problem hasn't been present all the time, it's definitely an issue now. My situation is that my husband goes out of town every week to help care for his elderly parents, and during the four days he's gone, he almost never sends me a message or calls.  Usually, I'll contact him periodically, typically by email or text message, and he'll respond only hours later, if at all.  I've been feeling really lonely lately, because this is my first year without any children at home (they're both in college).  This past weekend, I practiced not contacting him, and I actually felt OK.  I was still kind of lonely but I didn't feel desperate and humiliated, which is how I feel when I've contacted him and he doesn't respond or when I've asked him to contact me and then he does and I feel like he's only doing it because I groveled.  I honestly don't know if my husband doesn't love me or if he thinks this is normal behavior:  woman pays lots of attention to man, man responds when he feels like it.  At this point, because of this and many other issues, I'm contemplating divorce, and so I'm not inclined to push the lack-of-attention problem, but yeah, it definitely bothers me a lot!

It's not you...it's his ADHD

You didn't mention if he was treated/diagnosed ADHD - meds/therapy?  I can tell you i was with someone for 3 years and it was the classic tale described in Melissa's book, on these forums and even in your post.  The beginning was amazing.  Then he started to travel for work, not contact me often while gone, expect me to just handle everything while he was gone, and then expect me to be Mary Poppins happy when he got back.  Well, that worked a while and the resentment and anger starting building - this was the only the beginning of many more problems that came about because of the symptoms and the response/symptom response pattern.  We are no longer together - he left after trying for so long, but got diagnosed with ADHD shortly after.  Even though diagnosed, he still doesn't believe that the symptoms (and our responses) created an incredibly rocky foundation.  

I think you have to realize that you will struggle with a lot of times feeling like he's just not into you or taking you for granted.  A lot of us know from experience that this simply isn't true - it's wherever he is currently getting his stimulus from.  That's distracting him.  It is great that you are recognizing this so ahead of time and reaching out.   If you haven't please read Melissa's book.  If your boyfriend is indeed diagnosed and willing to engage, maybe you could send him the first few chapters of Melissa's book that are offered, direct him to so articles on the web that are particularly on point for you, at least get the dialog started from a non confrontational standpoint.  

Again, I commend you for getting out in front of this early and realizing that there is something to work through first before going further.

I'm sorry

I don't think I can offer much feedback except to say that I'm in the same boat as you. I've been dating my ADHD partner (who gets treatment) for almost a year, and I have suffered through much of what you're discussing in this post. As I said earlier today, I've never fought so hard for someone to love me, and I feel like I'm in a sinking ship. My partner cancels on me regularly and even when he HAS planned a great date, he will inevitably cancel it. Today, I reached out to him, asking if he could come over tonight because I've hard a hard time at work. He immediately said no because he has different plans. What I keep learning time and time again is that he will always put himself first, whether he means to or not. He will always choose him - not me, not family, maybe friends sometimes - even if I am in a "crisis." He even said today that I use "crisis situations" as a way to get him to visit. Honestly, I am just looking for a friend and partner in those moments, and I don't ask often. I am so sad that someone who once looked at me with such high esteem now seems to view me as a chore. 

I can't answer your question about how to get him to care for you everyday because I deal with the same ups and downs as you. I've never dealt with such uncertainty. I think it's up to us to determine whether we're strong enough to deal with this treatment - and if we love our partners enough to make a go of it. So often in these scenarios I forget what makes ME happy. 

Will he always take you for

Will he always take you for granted? Eh...probably...but who knows?

DH (who's ADHD) and I dated for a year and half before we got married. The first 9 months or so were bliss. We spent every evening together, he was very conscientious about planning time away from me so that he maximized time with me. For example, he was a 3rd shift cop so he would have dinner and spend the evening with before going to work. On his two nights a week off, he would generally spend the day or evening with me and then wait until I went to bed before going out to meet his buddies. But then I moved 45 minutes away for a job and although I didn't know it at the time, he started tuning out. I chalked it up to his busy schedule as a cop and being away from him, but fights about commitment, his waffling on whether or not to get married, etc started up. We eventually got married because he was afraid I would walk away otherwise. It's not a good way to start off a marriage, that's for sure.

I've always found it interesting that those first few months dating were more like a real marriage than what our real marriage has turned out to be. We've been married for four years now and have spent most of it away from each other. What started out as a move for a job opportunity for him turned into a informal separation. We've just now got back under the same roof. I have found that distance doesn't do us any favors. He's basically incapable of keeping me in his brain when I'm not in his face, so to speak. Even under the same roof, we're ships passing in the night. He plays semi-professional pool on Monday and Tuesday nights, we have Wednesday night together, and then he works as a DJ on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and then finally works a bar cook on Sunday night. It bothers me sometimes that he devotes so much time to pool, but it's his hyperfocus right now. At LEAST, he is very focused on going to the national championships to "get us a nearly free vacation to Vegas." I guess that's how he shares his hobby with me, LOL. But right now, I'm spending a lot of time with a sick grandparent, so it offsets the time he spends outside our home. We may have had more issues adjusting had I kept my usual schedule of coming home after work and staying home.

My advice would be to sit down with your boyfriend and ask for a day/evening or maybe two days/evenings that he can devote to you. Those days needs to sacrosanct and any changes should be approved before hand. It might not always work. I got pretty ticked last week because my hubby picked up an extra shift at the bar on Wednesday, which is usually our night together. When I called him on it, he felt bad and confessed that he didn't even realize that it was Wednesday. That may go to show that we need to actual schedule activities for that night so he will have a place marker in his head for it.

Hang in there. I know it's hard. I don't know about you, but I spend time on Facebook and it seems that a lot of my married "friends" are constantly extolling the virtues of their husbands. "Hubby sent me flowers", "Hubby did the dishes tonight", etc. **VOM** It pisses me off and makes me sad all at the same time. But when I confessed it to our counselor, she was like, "I know right? What are they trying to prove?" That suddenly made me feel better! :-)

What's the deal with this

What's the deal with this forum? The only people who seem to have success stories are Melissa Orlov and YYZ.

Message to annewug

Apparently you haven't read anything by me.  Please do.

I just read a post by you

I just read a post by you actually, it didn't sound as positive to me as I guess you feel.  I'm glad your story is overall one of success, though. I'm disappointed with the dynamic I see here, though. I see several posts like mine where someone is asking if they can expect progress, and the responses they get are of the type "I don't know but here's my similar problem." It's like too many students and not enough teachers.

But since you're happy with your relationship, would you say that I can expect for my boyfriend to regain interest in me the way I'd like? Is that within the possibilities of a successful relationship involving ADHD?

I'd love to be able to give a

I'd love to be able to give a positive response, but I can't.  That would be dishonest, at least as reflective of my relationship.  At this point, I don't think of myself as a "student" but as a "teacher" who has bad news to give.  The thing about a relationship involving ADHD (or a relationship involving any disability or disorder, because that is what ADHD is) is that the person without the disability can only do the things that are under his or her control.  For there to be big and lasting change, the person with ADHD also has to do things.  And a lot of people with ADHD don't seem able or willing to do that.  My inclination is to say, "No, you should not expect progress, because number 1, in my experience, there won't be progress, and number 2, expecting anything good from your partner is just setting yourself up for disappointment."  I hate to be that negative, but that, at least, is what has happened in my relationship.  I've given 1000% and have gotten not much in return.  I'm focusing more on myself now.  That does help.

Thanks for telling me your

Thanks for telling me your take on it. I'm still hopeful because my boyfriend is willing to work on it; the problem seems to be that he won't ever think to work on it if I leave it up to him. He's not in counseling right now but is open to it, so maybe that will make a difference.


I think it is possible but you will have to drive that bus.  I have found there is a reason they lose apparent interest despite actually loving you.  Is he distracted by something else, is he harboring a secret grudge, is he filing you to the back burner because he can?  Once you figure out the why it is possible to coax them back with positive encouragement.  Complaining has never worked for me nor has sitting down and trying to talk it out.  Conversations often get forgotten or over ridden  but for people who need so much reinforcement the good feeling of positive feedback lingers.

You have to decide whether you can live with issues particular to your relationship.   They are manageable but won't change.  If he is withdrawn now there will always be circumstance where it will happen again.  Can you work it through without it sucking the life out of you.  I am genuinely not bothered by the times he doesn't seem sexually interested because I know he loves me and shows me in other ways.  On the other hand, I simply cannot live with him flirting with other women.  That sucks the life out of me and is a deal breaker.  Know your own boundaries.

It will never be a traditional relationship.  In some ways it outshines and in others just plain hard work.  Try keeping a journal not on what happened but on how you feel each day for a while.  Is it a rythym you can live with.  Be conscious that when little changes keep happening over time they become our norm.  When you hold that norm up to the norm you started with, is it acceptable to you.

It will never be an easy relationship.  That's not to say it's without value but you absolutely have to let go of traditional expectations.   It's not a realistic projection.



I already do give him

I already do give him positive feedback whenever he's nice or attentive. There are too many people here already who try to shower a-holes with love and it doesn't work, it just makes the non-ADDer more codependent. And I don't like the implication that I did something to cause this. I'm obviously not perfect, but it's his responsibility to treat me properly even while he deals with the typical annoyances everyone deals with in relationships and life. The fact that he has ADHD makes me willing to be patient while he figures out how to do that, but it does not make me willing to lower my standards for him or take responsibility for the relationship that belongs to him onto my shoulders. From what I've read, that shifting of responsibility is a dynamic that ADHD tends to cause and that needs to be avoided.

But thanks for the advice that this can be managed but not changed.

Well annewug

I don't know what post of mine you read.  If you put my name NJTWINMOM in the search bar, you will see how our life with ADHD has come around, and very much for the better, since my husband was diagnosed last year and finally began Adderall on January 6th.  YES, we still have issues, YES there is still resentment and SADNESS at knowing we will never have the "normal" healthy relationship that we both dreamt of 25 years ago when we walked down the aisle.

Your "too many students not enough teachers" comment rubs me the wrong way.  This is a free site, set up by two highly respected members of the ADHD educational community.  Its not one on one therapy (don't we all wish ;)  )

We are here for one another.  To make one another feel less alone.  Validate that what we are feeling/going through is the same as others in our situation.  That's what I have taken away from this forum.

As far as answering your question, annewug....let's be 100% honest here.  Can anyone answer that question?  Your husband?  You? A psychiatrist?  Neuropsychiatrist?  Not really.  All that anyone can do is say, "Look, here is my story, take it for what its worth and maybe, just maybe something that we have said or done can benefit you and your struggle with this very frustrating thing called ADHD.

I wish you all the best.  I have read here people do change, they do not change, they do get better, they get worse.  It's a bit like a Cancer of the relationship.  Some have very serious cancer and survive, while others have a milder form and don't last a year.  I wish I could tell you it will all get better, it will all work out, but sadly, I can't.  All I can say is that I walk in your shoes, I feel your pain, and I wish for you, and me, and everyone else on this forum, and others who deal with this on a daily basis PEACE.


It started out that I just

It started out that I just assumed there were success stories out here, and I wanted those people to answer me, instead of only the people who are miserable. Obviously no one can tell my future, but people who started this journey years ago can tell me what their future turned out to be, and I expected at least some of those stories to be positive, or some ADHD people to be like "What, of course I don't take my SO for granted," or something. But then I started getting really disturbed. It's no one's fault if nobody here is having success, but there is something wrong with telling people that it isn't going to get better and they should keep trying anyway. I haven't learned what I hoped to learn from this forum - what sorts of plateaus are reached by well-treated people with ADHD - but I have learned that it is a slippery slope to codependence and that I never want to say that I will always be sad and I've just accepted that. (Not implying that's what your statement meant, just saying that for myself.)

almost 4 months

Well all I can say is that in the nearly 4 months that my husband has been on Adderall our life has changed tremendously....FOR THE BETTER.  One thing that cannot be changed is the past, and learning to put it in the past.  We still don't have a perfect relationship.  

Work in Progress...

I stay out here reading and posting to keep this stuff in real time. Things at my house are pretty calm, but unfortunately, more business like than I'd like. The romance flame is stuck in pilot light mode. DD#1, recently diagnosed with ADD (AND a Teen-Ager) still worries my DW most of the time. She does not know why DD#1 never seems to be happy. My DW still does not really believe DD#1 has ADD?!? I wish my DW would set the appointment with her psychologist, like she says she is going to do. MAYBE thinks would begin to make sense. My DW and DD#1 clash big time, I guess it is normal for a Teenage girl to be at odds with her mom. Denying the ADD is the problem. I believe my DW denies the ADD because it voids her right to be mad at me when things got bad around the time of my diagnosis. I know my DW will not focus on us until she feels better about our DD#1's mental state. So I keep trying to improve myself in a constant Room Mate Holding Pattern... Not divorced, but not real happy either... I cannot figure out how to break out of this flat marital state. 

"So I keep trying to improve

"So I keep trying to improve myself in a constant Room Mate Holding Pattern... Not divorced, but not real happy either... I cannot figure out how to break out of this flat marital state."

That's me, too, right now.  I told my husband tonight that I've been thinking about this quandary a lot lately:  I don't mind living the life of a single person (he's gone four days a week and barely around, either physically or emotionally, when at home), but I'm NOT A SINGLE PERSON.  I'm married.  

It's hard.  But I'll get through it.  I'm a survivor. I hope he can survive, too, with or without me.  That's what I want most for him and for me, survival of us both, whether married or separated.

Not single...

I'm not Single, but I just cannot believe that marriage is supposed to be this flat for this long. I work 5 days, then get a 2 day weekend. The weekend is only different from the work days by the type of work that I do. I never travel, nor does my DW, we work the same basic hours, but the status remains unchanged. I honestly think she liked my ADD Character that she never had to worry about. When my life got to over-whelm state and I cracked, needed help, got help and started getting better, like many ADDer's, she never got past the fact that the one thing she never had to worry about (Me) broke her trust and now I'm on the worry list. So her shields remain up most of the time...  

I get the impression that

I get the impression that you're in our boat at this point. You sound like you're doing your part, and you need her to do hers, which starts with believing in ADD. I wish you luck! And thanks for showing me what a self-aware person with ADD can look like.

Thank you :)

I am far from perfect, but it does seem that I am dealing with the inverse of most out here. My traits make perfect sense to me, but I cannot fix what is not broken in my DW's eyes. So we can just keep working on ourselves until things work out. I appreciate the feedback!

There are lots of successful marriages here

and I am one of them.  I am sorry that you seem to be reading negativity when you really really want and hope for positivity :(  That is difficult and frustrating.  My ADD-I husband was diagnosed close to 5 years ago now, and we run along more smoothly than many couples without a non ADD member, but I have to be honest, when I am posting here (which is fairly infrequently anymore because life just is life, you know) it is generally cause I have an issue I am looking for solutions on addressing or am frustrated.

It is the nature of helpful boards that people mostly go there when they need help.  If you were to read the entirety of my posts, not that I am saying to do it, you would find a really stressed person who came here about a year post diagnoses when it seemed like my husband's progress was moving along snail-likely.  That first year post diagnosis was probably the very most frustrating for me because we finally had a reason and we finally had a plan of attack, but it looked like he wasn't attacking.  He spent close to a year grieving the diagnosis without doing a lot (in my eyes--in his eyes he was doing a ton) about actually mitigating the effects of his ADD on his relationships.  Things got better pretty quickly, but I didn't always post about the successes.  I posted when he backslid LOL  Check out the Progress You are Making thread.......I seem to remember posting a couple of nice ones in there :)


I have never been unhappy in my marriage or with my husband in a complete sense.....frustrated and angry about the forgetting, etc --yes yes yes.  We have never been anywhere close to discussing divorce, but he has always been proactive.  When we started arguing about his behavior (which took about 3 years post marriage to manifest to a frustrating degree) he within a few months went looking for a solution.  Just having a reason makes a TON of difference.


That said my husband and I were close friends for 5 years before dating and there was a part of that where he fairly obviously wanted to date me and I wasn't willing to risk one of my best friendships over a relationship.  So we had some history of support and working within each other's different feelings for a long time.


During our friendship, I occasionally had times where I didn't feel like I was a high enough priority as far as cancelling plans, etc.  If he did that, I either calmly mentioned it and he adjusted, or I just wasn't available to make plans with him until he snapped back into focus.  His ADD really didn't run my life and NEITHER of us had any idea he had it, though years later he'd admits to having always felt different and like maybe something was wrong with him sometimes.  Once we were dating, his attention was like laser focus...the hyperfocus stage we all love I guess. And he stayed laser focused for years.  I think that he had to put so much into getting me to give our relationship a try that he didn't take it for granted.  He still mostly doesn't though the shifting attention of course frustrates me at times.  Who knows but I think men in general do enjoy the chase.

I have no experience in dating someone with diagnosed ADD.  And your boyfriend has a few extra challenges in that he seems to be undertreated or underfocused on mitigating the damage caused my his ADD.  And no one has any way of knowing how he will always be.......it all has to do with how seriously he takes his diagnosis.  Will it be part of your life if you stay with an ADD man, to be gently trying to bring him out of an over-focus on something else and back into real life with you?  I suspect yes.  We all have to do that some....it seriously is the nature of this particular beast.   But it certainly can be done within a loving relationship and feel loving and validating to both of you.....it sounds like he still needs to learn how to do this though.  It probably doesn't mean he doesn't care for you.  He likely has no idea what he is doing, and you are either not communicating it to him in a way that resonates with him or he just doesn't believe it.  That can be a real problem with ADD.  My husband now goes out of his way to validate my feelings and to make me feel loved and cared for and NOT taken for granted, if I point out that something else is getting too much time and attention.

Is he treated beyond taking meds?  My husband's psychologist who acts as his coach makes a lot of difference in how mindful he is of things outside his thinking and desires.

Anyway I need to start my day, but I just wanted to say there are lots of success stories here but they usually aren't the most prolific posters cause we are busy living our life and having sex and going on dates.  I am sorry to put it that way, but it is true.  Even Melissa seldom posts here anymore and it is her site!  People are busy and when you are happy about your relationship, you don't generally need to spend a lot of time posting about it. 

That said, this forum was SO helpful to me when I was at my wits end with no idea how to move to the next step!  Arwen is one who had lots of tips and tricks to try.........check out her posts.

XYZ is doing AWESOME!!!  He is a very self analytical ADD guy which in my experience is fairly rare.  I hope regardless of what happens in his life that he will continue posting here and helping others.  I know that is always my intent, but lets be honest.  As soon as his wife comes around and he is back to having a non-flat, happy, sexual marriage; he won't spend a lot of his time here with us........and to be honest he really shouldn't at that point either right?  Marriages need time and feeding and fun :)


Wishing you all the best with your decision.  I suspect he has started taking for granted that you will always be there, and I am with you on not threatening to leave him because it will likely only get you temporary results esp as long as it is just a threat you aren't really at the level of carrying out (by that I mean, you may actually end up leaving him over this and you should definitely clue him in before this happens to see how he can step up).  I think you should start by not being so available.  He has to call you by X for a date on Friday, and if he doesn't, then you make plans with your friends. You need to be happy, fun girl with alot going on in her life that isn't focusing on him all the time.  And you need to do this because it is TRUE and not because you are being manipulative.  It sounds like you are putting more into this relationship at the moment than he is, and in my opinion you should change that quickly.

That said, during the dating phase, guys are usually putting their best foot forward, so keep observing.  He MAY be telling you this is all he has to offer you, and at that point you have to decide if it is enough.  I know for me I would not accept cancelled plans, video games, or friends put in front of me, and I never did accept it.  Once we were dating, it took years before I felt like I wasn't the priority, which makes me feel concerned for your situation.  But if your relationship is relatively new, he may just not be prioritizing it as high as you but will still get there.


Again wishing you all the best!

YYZ is still here

Aspen... As usual, you give great advice. Things are stable, but just flat because we cannot seem to "Talk" about that old "Elephant in the Room" which has never been officially recognized by both parties. You are totally right about "Year 1", at least for me, I was like "So What is next?!?!?". I decided to keep reading/posting (Hopefully helping some), because I did not want to forget what I was working on, as well as, formulate ways to help my DD's through dealing with their own ADD. (I'll be Damned if I let anyone make them feel lazy, stupid, crazy) They are both smarter than me and have pretty much been straight A students :) 

This is interesting... Aspen, you said... "That said my husband and I were close friends for 5 years before dating and there was a part of that where he fairly obviously wanted to date me and I wasn't willing to risk one of my best friendships over a relationship." I find this Very interesting... Almost every relationship in my life, including my DW, started as friendships. I never has the nerve to just ask someone out who was unknown to me. Also... I had to MEGA-Pursue my future DW just to get her to go out on a "Date", we went out quite often as friends but the transition to More took all my powers. I believe my Laser Focus as you mention sealed the deal. I did not realize that these were boundaries she expected to be maintained. #1 Cheating = Death Penalty, and others like "Not looking at women", "Opening doors for her", "Flowers on V-Day", "Never forget Important Dates/Anniversaries" and other old time standards that I still do today. 

Hopefully soon I'll be so busy at home with "Special Projects" that I'll only be able to post at work ;)

Also... Thanks for the "Pat on the Back", as an ADDer, you KNOW I like those ;)

I really appreciate your

I really appreciate your comment and I'm glad you think he sounds undertreated or something like that, because that means there's room for improvement. I think my study of ADHD lately has taught me that he has certain things under really good control, while other things have really not been worked out yet. 

So the reason I've been sort of complaining about the forum is that I'm worried that it's creating an atmosphere that unintentionally promotes codependence. People don't have much hope that things will get to the level they want, but they are also really loathe to leave their partners, and they're reprimanded when they say that the situation is hopeless, and that might make people prone to keep trying even if they don't think it will help, which they might justify by taking on a martyr mentality. Also, I find it very easy to have my standards affected by the standards of the people around me, and I imagine that if a person listened more to people here than they did to friends in real life, they might start finding their unhealthy relationships much more acceptable than they otherwise would.

Your points are good ones.  I

Your points are good ones.  I don't think that anyone should be a martyr.  Here are a few things that I've discovered when examining my marriage and the effect of ADHD on it.  1) It's a huge decision to decide to leave a marriage, and it becomes bigger when the couple has children.  I truly believe that no marriage is sacred; no person should feel tied to a marriage because of taking those vows.  But it still is a huge decision to leave.  2) Even if a spouse decides that the relationship is more bad than good, there may be practical reasons for not being able to leave.  The person's financial situation is obviously a big factor.  It might be financially, and thus physically, impossible for a couple to divorce.   3) I harbor no illusions about my husband's ability to make changes.  I think he could change but I think he doesn't want to change.  Then, it's left to me to decide what I'm willing to put up with and what I can live with, given the realities of our own situation.  I'm fond of him, I don't want to hurt him, I don't want to be codependent (and I know that I have been, in the past) but I don't want to sacrifice the rest of my life to him and his family.  

Now that you mention

Now that you mention children, it also really disturbs me how much consideration I see of the damage divorce does to kids but how little consideration I see of the damage that growing up with an out of control parent and an unhealthy relationship as a model does to kids. I couldn't possibly know what's right for each family on here, but I fear that the codependence keeps the non-ADHD parent from realizing that they need to stand up for their children.

You won't see a great deal of

You won't see a great deal of positivity here. I resigned myself to that a while ago. Although as a compliment to YZZ, he is a great addition. I hear him and think maybe my husband will eventually function like him. I think this forum is more about venting. As you probably know, you try to talk to someone unfamiliar with ADD and they'll promptly tell you to leave your ADD partner. People who have never dealt with this just don't understand. Questions to ask yourself: 1.) Can you handle being in a relationship that doesn't look like other people's? I can't remember if I said before, I really struggled with seeing all of friends post on Facebook about how wonderful their husbands were and it really bothered me for awhile. But I've accepted that I love my DH and I will work with what I signed on for. He has the desire to improve which is SO important. Many of the women are frustrated on here because their spouses refuse to be treated, refuse to seek counseling, etc. 2.) Can you handle having to put more effort into a relationship where your partner appears to not be as invested? This is ebb and flow, for months my husband refused to move back in with me after our separation. He said he loved me and that he wanted to be with me, but he couldn't do the one thing I needed. He did eventually and did at a time that I desperately needed support. Now that we are back together under the same roof, he is more invested. Now he is really putting forth an effort to communicate his feelings to me. After being MIA all day, he finally e-mailed me and said that he had hung around the house as long as he could (before going to work) but I didn't make it home...that he missed talking to me, etc. That made such a difference to me. You have to have patience and a big rserve of self-esteem. You probably won't get a lot of compliments or spontaneous romantic gestures. But in the end, does it matter if you truly love this person? Have you tried to sit down with him and established a pre-arranged date night? Believe me, it will make a diffe rence!
arwen's picture

the memory stack

Annewug, I'm one of the "success stories" here (thanks, Aspen) -- I've been married to my ADHD spouse for almost 40 years, been separated and reconciled, raised kids, doing *really* well the past year -- and I have a somewhat different view of this question than most posters so far.  I'd like to introduce you (if you aren't already familiar) with the concept of the "memory stack".

Maybe you have seen the baby's toy that has a spindle with a base, and then six or eight different colored rings that fit on the spindle?  Think of the rings as specific memories and the spindle as the place in your brain where they are stored.  You push the memories ("rings") onto a memory stack in your brain ("spindle") to store them, and pop them back off when you need them again.  (OK, this is not really exactly the way memories work in the brain, but it's still a useful concept.)

The "spindle" for a normal person's memories usually allows quite a few more layers than the six or eight rings of the baby toy -- most of us can hold dozens of things on our mental "spindles" at a given time.  But the "spindle" (or memory stack) for a person with ADHD is typically more limited.  I joke (but it's true) that my ADHD spouse's "memory stack" is only about 5 or 6 rings high in the summer, and it dwindles to 3 rings in the winter.  Furthermore, his spindle/stack has a weak bottom -- so if I try to get him to remember more things than his stack really can hold, the bottom-most items (memories) just fall off the stack and disappear into oblivion.  He uses a PDA for things he can schedule, so he doesn't have to clutter his mind with logistics, but there's no substitute for brain memory in terms of keeping "what's important" in mind.

So, I have to think hard about what I *really* want my husband to keep in mind.  If he can only keep 3 things in mind, which three should they be?  When our kids were growing up, meeting their needs often meant that I accepted that my husband wasn't going to be thinking very much about *me*, so that he *would* be able keep the most important things in mind (e.g., doing his job well, how to deal differently with two very different kids, how to work and play safely). 

But it doesn't have to be a shake-up that changes what's in his memory stack.  Since our kids have grown up, he obviously no longer needs to focus on some of those past priorities (nowadays his priorities are mostly his job, the "honeydew list" and his health) but there have been times when I have had health issues and needed my spouse to focus more on me.   I initially assumed that it was as obvious to him as it was to me that he would replace one of the "standard" priorities with a focus on me, and I got very frustrated from being ignored when I needed help, as a result.  I learned that in such situations I need to simply discuss the need to change his priorities with him -- I figure out what I can live without for a spell so I can get his focus, we negotiate, he adapts -- then later we rearrange things again.  His memory stack isn't overloaded, and we manage.

On a different tack, my spouse's brother, also with ADHD, chose a married life but without kids.  He and his wife have not had nearly the problems dealing with the ADHD issues as my husband and I have had, and she has been much more of a priority, more of the time, to her husband than I have been to mine.

So what I'm trying to say is that, unless you want to live an simpler life with limited responsibilities, so that your ADHD partner will have the mental capacity to stay focused on you -- you are probably going to have to make some kind of compromise on this question.  You *can* work it out so that he doesn't *always* take you for granted -- but if you want him to earn a living, be a responsible homeowner, be involved in a family life with kids -- you will probably need to accept that there will be times (sometimes very very long times) where you are not one of his priorities.  If you can get a handle on how many layers deep your partner's memory stack is, and you have a clear idea of what kind of life together would be acceptable, you will be in a good position to determine whether or not you can make this work for you.

Good luck!

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore


Sorry annewug... I have read

Sorry annewug... I have read your post and others responses but I haven't got the time to read through to the end and this may have been said previously. While i do feel for you, and i have battled to get someones attention in the past, I'm compelled to respond as I feel this ADHD may not be entirely to blame for people's relationship problems.

Please don't get me wrong - I am a diagnosed & treated adult ADHD female (I'm sorry, but I refuse to see that as being a "sufferer" or as being a source of my family or partners "suffering", as I've read on someone else's post earlier).

 My point in response is, that a lot of relationships go through the same sorts of issues with losing the attention of their lover - it's a common complaint from most women! And most of the time has absolutely nothing to do with ADHD!

I actually have been through the same thing myself. Again don't get me wrong, I am completely aware of all the downfalls of ADHD, I've lived them all my life. I'm also completely aware of all the gifts I have beyond some of my peers, how my mind works differently and at a hundred miles an hour and how I have the ability to see the bigger picture when others can't. While my mind does seem to get caught up wandering through lala land a lot of the time (more so if I am not taking my meds), my meds help me to engage my thoughts with others around me. If your boyfriend has the right treatment, his should too. 

​My boyfriend has never complained that I look to have lost interest, don't pay him any attention, cancel our plans.

That's because the shoe is actually on the other foot. While I think he's absolutely brilliant and we have a lot of love and respect for each other, I sometimes take on too much of the work in the relationship, of my own accord, because he "seems" to not give a sh*t if we didn't go anywhere in the relationship. I've had to learn that the more we, as women, take on, the less the men will do. 

Basically, I assert myself and tell him what I want. He's open to change for a few days and then it seems to drop off and go back to normal. I make a few warnings, don't nag or scream (especially dont nag or repeat yourself too many times to someone with ADHD, you're wasting your breath) and as soon as it seems I'm not getting what I want, I pack him up and move him out!

Sounds drastic... It's the only way to "get his attention" and show him what you want. 

People with ADHD get transfixed on things that grab their attention. They need to be constantly stimulated. Soooo, grab his attention.

You said you did at the start. Don't be there for him all the time, make yourself scarce, if he cancels your plans - stick to them and go without him anyway. Even if you have a sh*tty time, say it was great and you made a friend. Don't always answer your phone.. It's the old rules of getting his attention back. 

Of course he also should consider taking his meds on weekends or when he's not working. That way he is more "present" in life outside of work, which is what really matters, and he can have a go at building on your relationship. If he is interested. Maybe he should make sure he is being treated with the right medication too. 

There is no excuse for him not having any respect for your time. None. Do not tolerate him not making an effort to remember your plans or holding no importance to spending time with you. He needs to be held accountable and take responsibility for his shortfalls. There's plenty of personal growth help he can get. It's not hard to put a reminder in your phone calendar, especially when you know you'll forget it if you don't. - also, he remembers the plans he made with the boys and not you?? Unacceptable. 

Right on, Rkp

I've had to learn that the more we, as women, take on, the less the men will do.

Amen!!!!  So true!!!! The friends and family women that I know who let the man be the man and NOT pick up the slack "supporting" the family are the best off and the happiest down the road.  Maybe those spouses who have not been helped out so much have more self respect too than those spouses of us who "helped out" with support and patience and forgiveness.  ADHDers may have a tendency to let others do the work but it works best if the ADD and all family members (with or without any disorders) is held accountable. I love the tips.  They are right on, Rkp.

Thank you for the support

Thank you for the support Jennalemon... Wide awake at 3.30am this morning, I stumbled across this forum. It's actually good to see a support group for people living with people like me! LOL..Joking. Didn't realise ADHD could make such an impact on a partner though.

I must admit, I am not perfect and know my mum & dad tried everything to make me remember simple instructions, concentrate, organise myself, be on time, the list goes on.. They thought I was disorganised, a dreamer and very sweet. But a teacher told them I was destined to be a mother or a nun... There's nothing wrong with either, I'd definitely love to be a mother, they just thought I wasn't academic. At all.

I hadn't been diagnosed or treated up until about 8 years ago. I went through my childhood and adolescence completely confused, totally disorganised, and behind. Before I started medication (only just over a year ago, although I had auditory processing therapy years prior to that) I would irritate the hell out of my friends by zoning out in any conversation. 

And if I don't have my meds, I admit I am a complete space cadet, lost in my own little world - day dreaming 24 hours a day. It's a really nice place to be in:)

So absolutely, annewug would be completely frustrated if her boyfriend is only on his medication when he is at work. I'm no doctor, but everyday life still occurs, things on the home front need to happen and relationships need to be worked on.  And definitely in my case; I am on the ball, more organised, and able to hold a proper conversation when I am using my meds.

If he doesn't want to have them outside of work, maybe he could compromise and halve the dose - even to trial it for a while to see if Annewug notices a difference in him.

Aside from that, the relationship issues sound more like what jennalemon and I said, you need to stop picking up his slack in the relationship, tell him what you want and carry out your threats when you need to.

If he's using his ADHD as an excuse - it's not a valid one. He's been given a gift - if he manages it properly.

ALL men will pay you less attention the more you want from them. Good news is, it's just as easy to get the attention and respect back! 

Keep Smiling Annewug :)