At wits end, but hopeful

Hello,

I just ordered this book even though I am not married.  I have been in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend who has ADD.  He definitely has the inattentive disorder and not the hyperactivity.   Luckily he is not impulsive and not a substance abuser.  He actually has a very hard time making ANY decisions and can be very tight with his money, even though he is very successful.

Luckily he is going to see a psychiatrist, but I don't want to get my hopes up too much.  It has taken so long to get him to this point where he would consider counseling and medication.  I have thought about breaking up with him many times, but there are so many things I love about him and know I would miss him very much.  The issue I really struggle with is what I have seen posted on this web site.  I have even said this to him many times.  I feel like such an afterthought in his life!  I am not a priority and he seems totally bored with me.  He doesn't ask me any questions.   I am not the type of person who likes talking about myself, so people need to engage me.  When I do mention things about me (my job, friends, family) he just looks at me blankly and doesn't respond.   It is so incredibly hurtful.   He is in a tough place at work now and I have to hear endless stories about his job frustrations and I get nothing in return. I see my happily married friends who have a partner and best friend and I am very jealous.

I know there is no magic pill, but at least he is willing to try something now.  That was not the case 6 months ago.  I think this doctor may do talk therapy too, which would be helpful with his depression issues.  

Have many people on this forum had the help of a psychiatrist?  I know I can't continue in a relationship where I am making all of the effort, but I am not ready to walk away yet either.  I am hopeful!   I am a very giving person and I think I have become the enabler.  I take care of everything from household chores to making social plans to picking what to eat for dinner every night.  It gets exhausting to try to please someone who is so hard to please.

We have large communication issues partly because I am a conflict "avoider" and he never brings anything up.  When I do say something is bothering me there is no response, I think I kind of gave up.  I feel like it isn't fair to him for me to continue to be unhappy about things I don't always address with him.   Although I tried the approach someone mentioned about writing instead.  Last year when I took a vacation I left him a 4 page letter describing my feelings about our relationship and how sad I was that I am not going to have kids (just passed that window of opportunity)  He never responded to the letter or brought it up.  I just blew it off and we went back to "normal". 

After reading people's posts I think part of our communication issues center around the ADD (and my reaction to it!).  Please let me know if you have any advice or if you think there is hope by getting help.

Thanks!

fuzzylogic72's picture

listening

 

You're right. People's reactions to other people's communication styles/methods is usually the heart of discontent. I will try to offer my perspective on a couple things, that might give you insight into how he might be looking at it. If you have questions about solutions for specific issues, there is the "IDEAS that WORK" forum topic you might want to post in.

*warning: I am replying in a way that gives voice to how many adhd men would regard the situation you described. If it sounds defensive, or one sided, consider it role-playing; I'm trying to illustrate how he might be feeling underneath the surface of the actions you find hurtful. This would just be one possible half of the equation, and will probably seem to match the intensity of your side of the frustration, which, is fair I think.

"When I do mention things about me (my job, friends, family) he just looks at me blankly and doesn't respond. It is so incredibly hurtful. "

-This is a common reaction, although not necessarily about the not responding to your talking about things. With me it's my not calling on the hour being taken as 'hurtful'. As for the looking at you blankly and not responding... what part of that is incredibly hurtful? Is he walking away from you, back turned, watching tv, rolling his eyes? Or is it that he is not giving you the responses that you need/expect him to give? It sounds like he is listening, but not replying. If so, then the decision to interpret that as an incredibly hurtful action is... well, I don't get it personally. If you want feedback about what you have said to him, then ask direct questions about it; if all you ever get for a response to those direct questions is "I don't care", then that's hurtful, otherwise it sounds like he's just simply listening, imho. 

Why isn't he responding? Well, I know that in conversations there have been times when I have, as you said, "had to listen to endless stories" from my partner, and I would always eagerly get involved. I'd offer suggestions, ask for more background, suggest other ways of looking at the issue, etc. Apparently that wasn't an acceptable thing to do when listening, because I was told, "sometimes I just want you to listen and not say anything, you don't always have to throw your two cents in etc.." So now what do I do? I listen (maybe it looks like i'm 'staring blankly', I don't know. I know I'm listening, but I'm not planning on speaking if it's not appreciated. A lot of guys adhd or not feel that way; maybe he's no different. You said you HAVE to listen to ENDLESS stories about his stresses because he is in a rough spot at work; it sounds like that is a chore that you resent having to do... do you also ask him questions (as you are upset he doesn't ask you questions)?  A basic amongst many men, especially adhd, is that if we have something to gripe about, we don't usually hesitate (hence you having to tolerate his work stories). If we have a question, or want feedback, we ask. If someone wants our feedback, we assume they will ask for it as well.

A lot of us have no problem talking to anyone about superficial things, but when it comes to frustrations at work, or anything that might involve a deficiency/weakness, it's very hard to face it, let alone talk to someone about it. So if he's coming to you with that stuff, then he is showing you that YOU ARE A PRIORITY, and you're NOT an 'afterthought'. If he knew that you regarded listening to his 'endless stories' as a monotonous chore or personal sacrifice, rather than appreciated that you are his number one, go-to person because he trusts you and values your understanding, then I'm betting you wouldn't have to worry about having to tolerate any more stories. I would completely turtle if I thought my partner regarded our exchanges that way. Oh crap...maybe she does...

Also, if he has recently acknowledged adhd, and has taken steps (counseling etc.), then that also shows that you are a priority and not an afterthought, because he's doing it to become a better person for you, and he will become a better person for you because of that very important, and difficult decision and process.

Try to be patient. Give the treatment time to have an effect. Acknowledge that BOTH people are trying in their own ways, and at different paces. Try to feel each other's side.

I hope you two work, it sounds like it's salvageable!!

Take care. (of each other)