Reply To: Feeling resentful about his ADHD

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Hi, OP.

I must confess I didn’t read all the replies, because they seemed to veer off on to other people’s issues instead of your question.

I have ADHD. So does my husband.

We are not assholes to each other. Neither of us go through our days and weeks constantly feeling disrespected, diminished, violated, burdened, or emotionally exhausted with each other. Of course we have occasional conflict as all married couples do, but it’s unusual, not the norm. We talk about it and resolve it relatively quickly.

ADHD is not an excuse to be an asshole to your partner. There is no rule that partners have to martyr themselves on an imaginary altar of being “the good one.”

If your boyfriend is treating you badly and you are miserable in the relationship, couples counseling may help. Or it may not. And you get to decide for yourself how long is too long to be unhappy.

I’d recommend the book “Boundaries” by Cloud & Townsend. It’s not about ADHD. It’s about deciding for yourself how you want to be treated, and how to get your emotional needs met in healthy ways.

People with ADHD have trouble setting and keeping boundaries for themselves. And we don’t respond well to other people telling us what we are “supposed” to do, or what we “have” to do.

But we do usually respond really well when people act on their own boundaries and we can choose how to adjust.

So don’t ask your boyfriend to give you space. Take the space and time you need, for yourself. He can adjust. Maybe that means having a separate room. Maybe that means leaving and going to a coffee shop. Maybe it means moving out. He may care about you, but he can’t be responsible for meeting your needs. You do what you need to do.

If he isn’t taking his meds or doing the other things he needs to do to function well and be a good partner? You are not required to take over that responsibility. If you want to help him in certain ways, you get to choose what you’re comfortable with. You don’t have to become his parent or caretaker. Honestly, that’s rarely good for a relationship anyway.

If your boyfriend thinks you should not be able to tell him “no” or take time for yourself on your own, or be in charge of your own space, your time, or your body?

That is not ADHD. That is being controlling, and potentially abusive.

You deserve to live a peaceful, happy life. There are no brownie points for putting up with a miserable living situation, and a diagnosis doesn’t change that.

I hope you find a way to work together that makes both of you happy. But in any case, wish you well!