I dated a guy with ADHD for 6 months (we are both in our mid-30s). He told me that he had ADHD, that he was diagnosed as an adult, and that he only recently started taking medication, which he took only during the work week. As you hear often on these Forums, when he was focused on me, everything was great. Throughout the time we dated, he was great about calling me every day, and when we were together, we had a lot of fun and no strife. However, the time we spent together in person was very inconsistent because of the million different activities he was always trying to cram into his limited free time (e.g., I might see him 3 times one week and none the next two weeks). Over time, I began to feel unimportant to him because I could not get the time together in person that I wanted (i.e., I was asking to see him once a week). I tried to raise the issue very casually the first few times (e.g., I miss you when I don't see you. I wish we could spend more time together). Eventually, I had a more formal talk with him about it expressing my concerns, how it made me feel, and looking for constructive ways to make things better (i.e., me riding around with him while he ran errands or meeting up long enough to watch an hour of tv). I thought it would be a simple discussion and that we would be able to reach some compromise easily. The talk completely caught him off guard (he had missed my more subtle hints) and freaked/stressed him out , and at the time, I did not understand why. Over the next week, he started pulling away and not being responsive to me. We met in person again, once he had time to sort through some of his thoughts together, to talk some more, but we made no progress. The whole issue completely overwhelmed him. Then, two days later (2 weeks from our formal conversation), he broke up with me via e-mail. It has now been 3 months since the break up, and I only recently discovered this website. Thanks to this site, I now have a much better understanding of how ADHD affected our relationship and his seeming overreaction to our talk, which is something I still do not believe he understands. I love him and I want to get him back, but he has not contacted me at all, except to send a thank you text in response to the happy birthday text that I sent to him. Is there anything I can do, or is all lost since he seems to have hit the eject button and not looked back?
Winning Back Ex-Boyfriend with ADHD
Submitted by dognova on 03/04/2014.
Perhaps a different view
Submitted by tfv0 on
Its very kind of you to read this site and make an effort to understand your ex, clearly you feel passionately about this person now, but beware of that passion. You can see from many other posters to these forums the trails of tears from lives profoundly affected. First consider if you think that aside from ADHD whether your ex is deserving of your trust. I would caution you to ignore the hyper-focus "courting period" as Melissa calls it, and look at the sum total of his behavior. If he has not earned your trust outside of courting, its likely he never will, and he may be running because he knows this about himself.
Being someone with ADHD, I can tell you there is another reason why he might have put up walls. Often, we who are labeled ADHD get to hear from others about what we're not doing, what's "going wrong", what we "should be doing", etc. etc. Its entirely likely that your attempt to communicate to him about your feelings were based on how you've learned to talk to average folks, and you may not realize just how demanding you might seem to him. This is a frightening situation for us, we know that some changes and temporary compatibility are possible through medication, therapy and effort, however permanent change elude us forever. If your ex is self-aware, then for him it is much like a 12-steps program, things must be taken one day at a time, we must never forget who we are, and what our "disease" is. Even for the unaware, subconsciously an ADHD person knows well the limits of effort and drugs (legal or otherwise) to alter how we behave and react to the world. This existence can bring a heavy load of past events, current hurts, and future worries into any conversation about what we may or may not be doing in a relationship, and you may be the least of the triggers that makes him pull away.
Again you'll have to be a bit clairvoyant here to decide whether this is honest self assessment and anxiety over being a good partner, or simply an unconscious stress reaction to being challenged about it. In the latter case this is a very strong sign for you to back away because you cannot convince him to make the efforts necessary for full partnership, only his own daily commitment will do. I say this because of one fundamental truth that must be admitted by both partners - ADHD doesn't go away, and if either of you is hoping/depending/demanding for a miracle, only pain lies in the future. Consider for yourself, do you accept him how he is now, or must he change to meet your needs? With love, acceptance and trust, most if not all ADHD people can be nourishing and supportive partners, and most of us strongly desire to live up to that standard, but none of us will ever be "not-ADD". We don't "grow out of it", and pharmaceuticals are not a magic wand turning mice into stallions.
To break through those walls and get him "back", assuming he is trustworthy and at least minimally self-aware, you will need to put his fears to rest, and reach a point of mutual trust where he knows you are not judging him, and you know he is honestly doing his best. My guess is that you probably also need to understand your own fears about him and to deal with them as they may be entirely justified.
Best of luck to you both,
Submitted by jennalemon on
I don't know how old you are but you are mature and wise, I can tell. This calmness you are exuding in the midst of what must have been frustration many times is admirable. When I think of my own struggles or challenges that I come into a relationship with, I don't know if I could have thought to have been so self-aware as you seem to be by this writing. I am glad you wrote. It takes away some of the confusion for me and the denial I have been using in my own life. To accept and balance.
thanks tfvo for the post
Submitted by Sade88 on
Thanks for the post. It gives me some insight on my ADD husband. Any suggestion on how to get through to ADD husband that trust is important in a marriage? A huge part my problem with him is his impulsive behavior and his lying (he has emotional affairs with other women). I can't trust him. I told him so but that doesn't faze him. It doesn't matter to him that I can't trust him so he doesn't even try to rebuild the trust. I can't continue to stay if I can't trust him. But leaving is not an option at this point.
Trust is a "big" idea
Submitted by tfv0 on
Hi Sade88, to put all I say below in perspective, let me pass along some very wise words that you might have heard elsewhere: "Put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others"...
First I'm guessing that he's probably aware that trust is important, that doesn't mean he is today willing to make the effort to meet your standards, or able to take action around what you are saying. It may be time to stop asking him to agree that "trust is important" and instead work on what trust really means to each of you. Its entirely possible that your use of the word "trust" is a very big idea to both of you, and this is overwhelming for him to address (what Melissa calls "flooding"). If you need something specific (what Melissa calls "actionable" as part of the S.M.A.R.T. process), and you can focus on that, and communicate this as a need it greatly improves the chances of getting his attention. I wont guess too much about what that might be, but I suggest you start with something small that would give you hope and strength, perhaps an affirmation that he can say out loud to you. Don't skip from small things to the big idea, keep working one small idea at a time, and someday you'll be on the other side of the woods wondering why it was so hard. Actions repeated become habits, habits become personality.
Lets not kid ourselves however, its entirely possible that he wont choose to build trust with you, and that is not ADHD, that is selfishness. People come in all strips and colors, some more open and loving than others, some distracted, some perceptive, etc. - where does he fit within the great spectrum of human behavior? Ignore ADHD for the moment and consider, are you hoping he would be different tomorrow from what he was yesterday? I would call you to consider the very first precept of AA/AlAnon/12-steps that you cannot control his behavior (the steps call this "powerless over xxx"), only he can. If his behavior is merely inattention, or a lack of self-awareness, then using non-threatening language and a sympathetic approach to expressing your needs for trust can be a first step in a process of growth and healing for you both. If he is neurologically compromised (psychopathy), baseline selfish (personality), or acting from profound hurt (defensive), then his behavior may never change until he hits "bottom" and realizes what the impact is on him so that he may choose to deal with the cause(s) that he owns. One might say that at this point he would "open his eyes" and see you, and recognize what you have been saying. Your pain is real, but its power is but a candle in the wind compared to his own internal experience.
That means, and I'm sorry to say this, you must be able to sit down, take a breath (or many) and reach a point where you know what you need. The reason is that you must STOP enabling him to violate your needs. Some might call this "tough love", independence, self-confidence, or personal safety. You cannot recover so long as you are violated, and regardless of whether he wants to, he cannot ever accept/agree/collaborate on your boundaries if they are not marked. Vice versa he cannot establish his own boundaries when overwhelmed. The really, really, really, really hard (times 100) part is to separate needs from wants and to start small. If you are hurt, and it sounds like you are, you probably want everything, this is natural. Impatience and desire are part of being human, and a daily struggle for everyone, no matter how saintly. Mastering impatience is one of many keys to being whole.
Returning to the beginning, you'll still need to be vigilant for yourself. How much do you desire for him to prove himself to be trustworthy? How strong is that feeling? Does it pour out of you when you speak to him about trust? Does that emotional message drive him away/flood/overwhelm him? Can you state your boundaries, and stop there for now? The key is FOR NOW. One day at a time, one breath at a time, one need at a time.
I hear your anguish, and hope that these small words not only offer enlightenment, but hope and strength. Nothing is hopeless, nothing is worthless, and no-one is ever beyond reach in the fullness of time. May your journey be one of peace, growth, and fulfillment.
thanks tfvo for the reply
Submitted by Sade88 on
Sorry for the tardy reply. I've stayed away from here for a while because I felt I was doing myself more harm by reading post and getting frustrated with my situation. I was thinking that he would have to "hit bottom" as you say before he would change. I don't know what event would trigger that for him. I think his thing with trust is a personality issue as well as a defense mechanism because of the things he has done wrong. He's said that he doesn't do things to hurt me but that doesn't make things hurt any less when he does them. I was trying to focus on other things for now. He went to see a psychiatrist today to begin real treatment for his ADD. Until now, he has been getting his meds from his primary care provider. Trying to focus on this positive event is hard for me at his very moment. He called me 3 hours ago letting me know he was done with his appointment and getting something to eat. He said he'd call when he got back in his car. Haven't heard from him. Is this attributable to his ADD ( He forgot to call then went shopping or to see a client) or did he stop to see someone (i.e. another woman)? Its nerve racking. I have no reason to call so if I do call, he'll think I'm checking up on him. We had a positive conversation this morning after a very good weekend. I don't want to ruin a good thing but it would be nice to know what is going on.
Thank you tfvo. The other
Submitted by dognova on
Thank you tfvo. The other commenters are correct. Your words are very wise. I do feel that my ex actually had earned my trust. He was always a very caring, considerate, and honest person. And, other than the issue of spending more time together, I thought our relationship was really great. He certainly has many of the traits common to people with ADHD (lack of follow through, excessive spending, disorganization, forgetfulness, etc.). However, he has found coping mechanisms for many of those issues that at least kept them from getting completely out of control such that they never became obstacles in our relationship. However, in his mind, he really thought we were spending much more time together than we were, and so, I think that issue is the one that would provide the most constant struggle for him. I am certainly not expecting him to change or be able to fix it permanently. Rather, having read others' posts on this Forum, it has allowed me to calm my own insecurities that him not spending time with me was a reflection of him not caring or my being unimportant to him. So, I believe that, if he gave me another chance, I could deal with that being an area where I have to accept him making an effort as much as he can, while also learning to be more patient and understanding when his effort falls short of my momentary needs.
On your question about whether his reaction was his own anxiety or an unconscious stress reaction, I have no idea and am certainly not that clairvoyant. I think I just have to decide if it is worth it for me to try and reach out to him again, even if that means I might get my heart broker further because: (a) it really was the latter, or (b) despite it being the former, he has just moved on from me.
Submitted by tfv0 on
I think you hit a nail on the head there with "coping mechanisms". So long as these appear to work from his perspective, there is little cause for change, so when you intended to talk about it he probably felt challenged. For an ADHD person, the web of coping mechanisms are like a house of cards. For some the way to deal with the "normals" in the world is to dissemble and avoid commitment (I hear that being called 'lying' here quite a bit), some avoid communications altogether so as not to be asked to do things we know we cannot or should not agree to (often called "distant"), and for others it is hyper-commitment through excessive planning and controlling. These are all really just ways to void being "naked" and vulnerable in front of your boss/teacher/parent, your friends, your spouse and your children. No-one likes being vulnerable, and when the house of cards comes apart, the defensive reaction can be like sodium and water: a bright violent spectacle that is touched off by something seemingly innocent and harmless.
I hear your hesitation on opening up to possible heartbreak, but remember some advice those wiser than me have said: "Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from making mistakes." You cannot know yourself, or learn how to be a whole person for yourself without risking a bit of sanity, happiness and stability. The rewards of wisdom are literally priceless - they cannot be purchased with money, only time and struggle. If you do tackle this, you can look at it as something not unlike when you "grow up" and move out of your parents house. While being an adult may by stressful and busy, with responsibility comes freedom. You can always choose to go to 7-11 and buy a slurpie if that bit of indulgence is what will brighten your day, and you need ask no-one else's permission. You can also choose to bypass the 7-11 and go for exercise, or go home and read a book. Knowing for yourself which one is better right now is your goal, not solving every problem in your future. Embrace your own ability to make choices, accept consequences, savor the successes, and be the whole person you want to be, and if he is mature enough to join your journey, all the better.
Disclaimer - I am writing these words, as everything else here, as part of therapy and self examination. Just as often as wisdom enables me to be open and spiritual, fear and doubt appear in my life to make "easy" and "right" choices seem hard. By confronting them today, I rob them of power to control me tomorrow. If you read these words and feel enlightened, do not despair if the changes they might make elude you for now, as they elude me often. Let us mutually agree to make the effort every day to be better, wiser, humbler, and more loving. The only permanent "sin" is to refuse to try.
Thanks tfv0. More wise words
Submitted by dognova on
Thanks tfv0. More wise words and good advice. I think I may trying reaching out to my ex again. I will give some thought as to the best way to do it. I will try to keep you all posted as to the results (hopefully success).
Hello all. I am back and I
Submitted by dognova on
Hello all. I am back and I could use more advice. After I last posted,it took me a while to get up the nerve to contact him. I finally reached out to him two weeks ago and texted him. He did not reply to that first text for a couple of days. However, he did reply, and since then, we have been in fairly frequent contact via text (pretty much every day last week). I always initiate the text, but he usually responds pretty promptly. However, if I sent him a follow-up text that same day, he would not reply. The texts were about different things (e.g., things I saw that reminded me of him, the latest episodes of our favorite shows, things he did when we were dating that gave me encouragement). I confess that the more emotional texts got the most generic/sarcastic responses, but he still responded. Then, last Friday, after exchanging generic texts about road rage, I sent a slightly flirty text. Since it was a follow-up text I was not surprised he did not reply. I then texted him on Saturday and asked about his business (he started a business shortly before we broke up.) and telling him that I hoped it was going well. He did not reply to that text either. I am not sure whether his business folded and I touched a nerve or if my flirting on Friday turned him off. I gave him a break for a couple of days and then sent him a hello text this morning. He has not replied yet. Since our texts have not been personal, I do not know if he is dating anyone, I do not know what his thoughts are about me, etc. I am just trying to figure out next steps, even if you all think my next step is just to walk away from him. I don't know how much of his response is ADD-related vs. him not wanting me related. I would ask him outright if I did something that bothered him, but from my reading on this Forum, I get a sense that that would be a bad idea. Any suggestions?
Submitted by PolyPocket on
How did it go?
Hope you can let me know
I wish I could get him back
Submitted by firefly on
In my case, my ex-bf told broke up with me because he found out about my past that i never told him. He called me liar and not trust me anymore. And he think i cheat on him and slept with another guy. I NEVER DID THAT. I explained everything to him but he still don't believe and left me anyway.
Now he stopped contact me for 2 weeks. Never reply my message or answer the phone call. My heart is broken. I realized every time i try to contact him and he not reply. It hurt my feeling even more.
I love him so much and i want him back. I wish i could turn back time and fix everything. :(
I dont know What to do
Submitted by Germaine on
I met this guy with add. For Some reason I fell hard for him. I noticed Some things but i didnt care. Till he told me hè had add i told him i couldnt care less. We were getting to know eachother and things seem good. He'd tell me i was moving fast but i didn't have to cuz hè liked me. That was weird to hear so okay i slowdown . But i still wasnt clear about our situation cause he kept saying we are getting to know eachother eventhough for me we were dating and he started being distanced. I asked him whats going on he just said am down and hessintant. About What i asked? And he was like we dont like the same things and i miss that thou to which i said but i still do them with you ... i let him be to think and for myself to think too. I came to the conclusion that maybe i wasnt it for him because of his fears. And imagine thé stress that come with it for him it was best to set him free. And thats What is told him: your being distant with me, you dont write the same anymore and thats okay. He said he needed to think about it he let me know the next dat. I work up to a sweet text as he used to send and i was exited! I though he's not sure but doesnt want break up with me mind you i told him if you want to date other girls to figure out feelings for me you can but he didnt want to. So the next time i see him we are having fun and laughin out of nowhere he says " i only see a friendship" my heart dropt but not surprised. We decided we was gonna be friends and What That meant. Let me tell you hè was sad and Crying . So we really we Stayed close texting hanging out and stuff. Till one day i told HIM i was going on a trip for thé weekend with Some girls who wanted to spend Some time with Some guys! Since then i didnt hear from him. I noticed on Instagram hè was adding girls i got jalouse my friends were like he is weird just let it go you can do better but i didnt want to. But thinking hè was dating killed me so i blokked him but i regretted it right away but it was to late.
so now Some time has passed and still no word mind you he's ex wife left him without à word woke up went to see her niece and never came back! I decide to text him hes cold but responsive i asked him What changed and hè said i didnt hear from you, to which i said i can say the same. He lets me know that hes dating without saying it (i was too but still) i told that great you enjoy cause i kinda miss that. Hé asked why and there is where i messed it up i told him a had an boyfriend. He congratulated me and wished me good luck! Next morning hè had send me à text dont be like that you know damn Well what happend and goin off on me. I didnt know what he was talking about! Turned out the guy though that i hooked up with Some guy in my trip and that was the reason hè didnt hear from me Omg!! And he said it was fine! That fine really worked on my last nerve. I wanted to meet up but hè was busy instead we call or we tried at first i though hè really running away from me. Finally we get to talking . Hé admits hes reaction wasnt right but talking to me about my boyfriend hurt him, and that when we were haning out as friends he still had feelings for me when i asked him why didnt say anything or why you break up with me then? He went its like that. I think because i was kinda pressering him in giving me an anwser he though let me end this so i dont have to think about it. I know he has feeling for me, i lied to him hè doesnt know that, he dating someone i hope out of spite, he said we are friends i asked him to put à bit of effort in reaching out to me or hes other friends mom and dad. Its hard u know but Every relationship needs to be maintained. I Also told him that it hurt me that not having me in hes life was fine like i never meant nothing for him he apologized for it that wasn't his intention. We talk for 1h 30 and ended on a good note. It's been a few days still nothing but what's next should I just let it go, let him run or am I really misreading everything and he really doesn't want me