Guest Blogs

“Can Two ADHD Adults Make a Relationship Work?”

Maybe two people with attention deficit disorder could help each other. There is always hope.

The Boyfriend, aka Mr. Sensitive, thinks that I am hysterical (“You are funny and say the funniest things” he laughs), and that the piles that I acquire are cute. Is it too good to be true? True love, I am told, is when someone loves you exactly the way you are, and tells you to don’t go changing, like the Billy Joel song.

I often think that The Boyfriend is a figment of my imagination, or is an E.T.-like gift that will soon enough return to outer space, so I fear getting too attached. I place my heart in a glass box where it sits soundly so I won’t get hurt. I’ve had my heart and confidence stomped on by enough false starts in jobs and love. At a time when many women my age have walked up the wedding aisle not once, but twice, and are onto their second babies, I feel like a late bloomer, overall. Other days, I fear I will never bloom. Will I ever experience the feeling of having someone get down on one knee and ask me to marry him, and will I ever know what it feels like to be a mother? Is the late bloomer reality an effect of ADHD or is it my fate, and written on my palms?

The Boyfriend elicits these fears and these questions. Is it possible that someone would really like the “spaz” in me? I loathe that side of myself.

I am tempted to tell The Boyfriend about the ADHD medication, about spending much of my teens and 20s struggling to make sense of the disarray and disappointment, which now has a diagnosis.

The ADHD diagnosis came with self consciousness and self doubt. Prior to that, being laid off by an employer, dumped by a boyfriend, abandoned by friends seemed like their fault. Now I find myself repeating “sorry” and “I apologize” as if life were a daily trip to Catholic confessional booth.

This past weekend, The Boyfriend returned again to visit me in Gotham, and then we planned to jet off and take a little weekend escape to a nearby Island. He is so excited when he sees me, there is a spark in his eyes, and he loves to kiss me and have “bed ins” (a tribute to John and Yoko), and time seems suspended and all other worries fizzle.

I sometimes think of falling in love like being drawn to a painting. From afar, the painting — which could be “The Milk Maid” — seems perfect, and then you walk closer and see the fissures and the cracks within the paint, and start to wonder, “Could I really hang this up?”

I’ve noticed that The Boyfriend is almost as forgetful as I am. There was the jacket left behind, and then the litany of hats, cell phones, and umbrellas, which translate to grand plans of weekend getaways or promises to visit friends and family, or attend certain events, which never seem to materialize. The Boyfriend has similar tendencies towards half-drunk cans of soda, which create a landmine of cans in the apartment, and he, too, loses track of time.

There was a time when we talked on the phone for hours until close to the wee hours of dawn. I love talking to him, but wondered if he’d forgotten that these were official “school nights.” His apartment looks like a tornado from The Wizard of Oz blew over leaving behind a mess of papers, clothes and “stuff.” I called up my girlfriends in panic, but the girlfriends tsk tsk me and say, “Jane, most guys are messier than women, and their places just aren’t that clean.” I’ve spent most of my life being yelled at for having too many piles, so I am sensitive to this like a canine that sniffs out cocaine.

I asked the Father the other day if he thought two people with ADHD could have a relationship and make it work. “Yes, I think so, and money can solve a lot of problems,” the Father said. “You can always outsource things, including getting someone to come clean the house.” Briefly, just briefly, what the Father said seemed to offer a glimmer of hope. Maybe two people with a disorder could help each other. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but there are always exceptions to the rule. There is always hope.

See related: