Reply To: Can my boyfriend get better or shall I leave him?

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Spouses & Loved Ones Can my boyfriend get better or shall I leave him? Reply To: Can my boyfriend get better or shall I leave him?


It can take years to find the right person. In my late teens and early 20’s I ended up with bad man after bad man because *I* was too needy for love and felt like I didn’t deserve it. That made me an easy target. A short marriage to an abusive man, and a child with him, made me step back. I couldn’t let my child be in danger because of my love life, so I stopped my love life cold turkey until I felt better. It was just about 10-years. After that, the next relationship wasn’t great either. The man wasn’t abusive towards me, but he had many problems of his own, and had not intention of changing the way he had learned to cope with them. So I had to realize, while I loved him, I had to let him go too.

I found my now husband almost by accident. We became friends online, in an entirely unromantic way, just through a shared interest. We were states away from each other, there was no reason to think we would ever even MEET in person, much less fall in love and marry. Yet, after many months of friendship, suddenly we realized we were confiding in each other more than any other person on earth. We felt SAFE with each-other. So then we decided to give a relationship a try. It wasn’t easy – there was the distance gap that had to somehow be overcome for one thing, but we made it. In some ways, because it WAS so difficult to make real, I think that helped. We had to REALLY want each other.

Life hasn’t been all sunshine since then. I’ve got psychological issues, which he’s known about from the start, but they are harder to live with than to know about. I’m also actively seeking treatment for my issues, not ignoring them. He’s also got a few of his own issues, and there are moments when he does do things that hurt my feelings. But he doesn’t STAY there, and it isn’t the abusive pattern of “do this now, say sorry later”. We’ve learned how to work THROUGH the situations. He’s learned how to get me back to something approaching sane when my anxiety turns me into a puddle of hyperventilation and worry. I’ve learned how to make him keep talking, without getting worked up myself, when his nastier moods come out so that we can actually get to the root of the problem and fix it, rather than ignoring it and letting him calm down on his own while the problem just festers. It isn’t always easy. It would be easier and actually less nasty for me to just let him go with a single comment to calm down, the more I push the nastier he gets for a while, but it’s like a boil. It always is lanced eventually in the conversation and then we can actually work through the situation. Like, we’ve learned that if he gets one night a week to hang out and play a game at the comic book store in town, then he feels less trapped in our small home town, and is less easily annoyed by small things. Just like he has learned that sometimes I just need him to hold my hand and listen to me say the same worry over and over, rather than trying to “fix” it, I have learned that some words are triggers for him, so I have to choose my vocabulary carefully, even when joking or teasing.

So, there are times that a relationship is not a walk in the park, but is still do-able and rewarding. It just doesn’t sound like your relationship is. He is treating you in ways that go far beyond ADHD, but isn’t getting the appropriate treatment for himself. He doesn’t seem willing to work with you to better the relationship, and seems stuck in “I hurt you” and then “I’m sorry” mode. That might be ok, as long as he isn’t hitting you, for a few months – but it’s not ok for YEARS. At some point he has to learn to not hurt you in the first place, and to get the help he needs to make better decisions. I think you deserve better than that. I know it’s scary to start over. I was scared to let my last relationship go too, since it had been SO long in coming. 10 years! How could I throw away the two-years I spent with him after 10 years of dating no one (and being celibate too!), it seemed impossible. But ultimately it was necessary, and if I hadn’t realized I deserved more than a man who would never be what I needed, I wouldn’t have my husband now.