Reply To: Moving forward in ADHD / non ADHD relationship

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I’d be hesitant at the statement “it’s all ADHD related.” Behaviors, especially abusive ones, aren’t a result of ADHD. A person may be more vulnerable to certain things, more impulsive, and even struggle with social interactions, but ADHD is not a cause of abuse. That has to do with a person’s choices, character, and overall mental health. It’s important not to let him or the psychiatrist place the responsibility for those things onto the diagnosis. It’s important that you know he can be held accountable for his behavior. He doesn’t get a free pass just because he has ADHD.

Ultimately in moving forward in a relationship that is broken, it’s less about “forgive and forget” and more about, “Do I want a life with this person?” If you don’t, be honest about that. If you do, then you find ways to work on the future rather than trying to hash out parts of the past. You can give each other a fresh start to some extent, but you still take time to provide information to your partner on what hasn’t worked well in the past and what could be different. You do it without blame and from a perspective of change. But, you only do that if you want to maintain the relationship.

Living with and loving someone with a mental illness can be hard. It can be exhausting. It can be heartbreaking. Sometimes we can’t tolerate it or live through it. There’s a lot of weight placed on wedding vows (“through sickness and in health”) but sometimes love or promises can’t stand up to reality. And, if someone is abusive, you shouldn’t continue to be in a relationship that places you in harm’s way or makes you feel unsafe.

Bottom line, he’s still responsible for his own choices and behavior. And you have to decide if you still want to move forward. Reflect on it honestly and consider what life would be like with him if he gets better and if he doesn’t. There’s a chance he may get better and relapse, or a chance that he won’t get better for years. You need to know what your limits are and set that bottom line. Good luck whatever you do!