Reply To: I need help supporting a partner with ADHD!!

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I have ADHD. I do have some faults as a person to live with: I am chronically disorganized and poor at noticing when, for example, there’s an acumulation of mold around the shower fan, crumbs are piling up under the toaster, I’ve forgotten to take my clothes off the bathroom floor, ect. That kinda shit is not fair for my roommate and here’s the thing: if they take care of it for me, I feel this huge, huge wave of guilt and shame. Hearing them doing chores makes me get up and do chores- which I believe is a trait most people with ADHD have. They really desire to do their share and be seen as responsible though our memory is like, really bad, our organizational abilities are a pretty disabled, and our ability to notice the environment is starting to look chaotic is not as good as everybody else’s.

But here’s the thing: when my roomate tells me “you left your clothes on the bathroom floor,” I happily clean that up. I will do literally any chore in the house with no complaint, not even a sigh of frustration. I would rather do that chore than not do it. I just really need help remembering and noticing and getting organized. My morals are if one person is working, then everybody else works just as hard. And this is a standard that applies to your boyfriend even with ADHD.

You would be saintly to understand with his ability to notice when things are messy, with his tendency to leave things lying around, to be disorganized, to forget important dates and times, for friends to show up when he’s not home, ect. Anyone with ADHD needs that much patience from their partners. However, we need to accept help when it’s offered in the form of reminders, and we need to help when we’re asked for help. Every human being has that responsibility. Without the understanding of my partners and my willingness to listen and help, I would get nowhere in life.

So yes- you have the right to get help with the house from your boyfriend. Caring from the house is not your responsibility alone. He shares in it equally. He has no right to be defensive or accuse you of “nagging” when you ask for help. I hate the word “nag,” anyway, it’s such a gendered word.

Be clear on your boundaries with your boyfriend. He needs to understand how his lack of willingness to help you is impacting your life and happiness in this relationship. He needs to care about that. If he doesn’t, it’s important to wonder if this is what you see in your future.