ADHD in College

College Boyfriends — Who Needs ‘Em?

As a college student with ADHD, I sometimes find that dating requires more time and energy than I can spare.

Girlfriend with ADHD covering ears with hands ignoring boyfriend pointing finger at her at cafe
Girlfriend with ADHD covering ears with hands ignoring boyfriend pointing finger at her at cafe

I’m often asked what dating is like for college students with ADHD. I hate to admit this in print, because it diminishes my sense of grandeur — but the truth is that I’m not dating anyone right now, and haven’t been for some time.

It’s got nothing to do with pain avoidance or personality flaws — I’m just not “in the mood” for a boyfriend at the moment. Dating requires too much time and maintenance for a lazy, oblivious, and forgetful person like me. At this point in my life, I think I would be too much for any guy to handle.

Having guys as friends is a better fit for me than having a boyfriend. Guy friends don’t get mad if they can’t reach me or if I’m out with other friends. They don’t keep my photo in their wallets or correct me when I’m telling stories. They don’t say, “So… who’s that?” when I’m on the phone.

They don’t expect me to spend all my time with them, and they don’t get mad if I want time alone. I can wear whatever I want; I don’t have to change out of my sweats to go out if I don’t feel like it. They don’t care if I have a bad hair day. I don’t have to call them every day to reassure them that, no, I’m not mad at them. Our phone conversations are short and sweet. They never criticize my friends. I can laugh at them without any repercussions. They never ask to meet my parents, or try to set up a date to introduce me to theirs. I could go on, as you can probably tell, but I think I’ve made my point.

Instead, I have pets. Pets are warm, cuddly, funny, endearing, and, only indirectly, demanding. And of course, pets love unconditionally, which is a distinct advantage over the decidedly conditional love a boyfriend gives. But I have to admit that pets bring certain problems of their own.

Lately, I’ve been dealing with what I call “boundary issues.” You see, my housemate, Danielle, has a puppy, Penny, who won’t stop chasing my beloved cat, Snowball. Penny just wants to play, and seems not to notice that Snowball isn’t interested. Snowball eats, sleeps, and surveys his domain. He does not play. And it’s a full-time job trying to keep Snowball from escaping through Penny’s doggie door.

One morning I discovered that Snowball was gone, and I searched the neighborhood frantically, sobbing uncontrollably. Although an apparent nervous breakdown is not the best condition in which to meet the neighbors, one helpfully suggested that I look under the house. I peered into the darkness with a flashlight and saw cat eyes staring back at me from a far corner. An hour later — after learning that firemen don’t really save cats from trees, let alone lure them from under houses — Snowball finally walked into my open arms.

Caring for Snowball is teaching me important lessons, about being there for someone else and about being careful with other people’s feelings, that don’t always come naturally to people with ADHD.

Maybe someday I’ll be attached to something without fur. For now at least, I’ll stick with pets. At least you can train them.