Reply To: New to dating a guy with ADHD – Need advice

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Hi I’m 26 and I met a guy with ADHD in December 2016. I’ve never felt this strongly and I’m struggling to make sense of what’s happened so I can move on (although I know sometimes we just don’t get answers!). We are opposite in personality in many ways (I’m quieter and more of a slow thinker type), but share the same broad worldviews and (ironically) agreed on how we would like to prioritise things in our lives. I have dated a couple of other guys for a month or two before and during all this, but I’ve never experienced anything serious. He only told me he had ADHD in April 2018, but I already strongly suspected it. He also told me that he’d lost his dad a few years ago. I should mention that to this day he has refused to sleep with me, which has been the source of a lot of my confusion.

He was really intense for the first two weeks (e.g. telling me he kept thinking about us having beautiful children etc.). Things were very hot and cold for the next 2 months until he told me he couldn’t see me anymore, but wanted to be with me later in life. He said he wasn’t ready, he didn’t deserve me as he was and that he didn’t want to mess up the chance to make it work long-term. I couldn’t understand how he felt, why he was willing to risk losing me if he felt how he claimed and why I couldn’t be with him and support him through his problems. He said he knew he’d want to give me all his time and that he couldn’t afford to do that at this point in his life. I know it might sound like I was doing all the caring, but at this point he had really taken the time to help me with my own struggles. To be honest, it felt like the sun had disappeared from the sky.

Since then, we apprehensively had a month last summer seeing each other again, but then he fell ill. I never met his mum, but she rang to ask if I would watch over him as she had to go away. I happily agreed to, but she ended up taking him to the hospital and cancelling her trip. He didn’t speak to me for a month after that until I saw him in a club and unfortunately let out a lot of pent up frustration and hurt on him. I felt like I had been there for him as much as I could, and that he had pretended that I didn’t exist. I tried to move on, but things reverted to a couple of phone calls each month or so and this Easter he said he still felt intensely that I was the one he should end up with (but still couldn’t be with). In May I finally told him that we should stop talking unless he wanted to meet up, because I couldn’t handle constantly wondering whether he was genuine or just wanted to know that someone wanted him.

Two months ago he suddenly appeared at my side in a sports bar and told me it was good we never had sex since he’d had an STI. I didn’t know what to say; it hurt to think that he’d rather sleep around than have something meaningful with someone who wants to understand and support him. At points in the past – when we were having frank chats, but weren’t together – he told me he was distracted by a girl in his class. But would also ring me right before a deadline, pouring his heart out about being afraid of losing people, apologising for his reaction to my patience and saying he wanted to become the man I deserve etc. It’s like there’s a switch that flicks between two totally different people.

I’ve laid out a lot of bad things, but as Agentinsure said, he’s really changed the way I look at the world and myself. Once, he gently called me a control freak and, although that was hurtful, I realised he was right in some sense and decided to work on letting go of things and not taking things so seriously.

Basically, I would like to know where along the spectrum he is in terms of genuinely struggling with ADHD and/or maybe other mental conditions, vs. just being selfish and unfair. I’m just curious if anyone has experienced a similar thing, rather than having trouble once in a relationship or being the one to call it quits on someone with ADHD.

I appreciate Anne HW’s post and recognise that he has treated me badly, but it’s very hard to tell how much to believe and try to work with in a constructive way, whether you decide that they could be your partner or not. I’m grateful for these forums and those who take the time to explain about living with ADHD. I imagine that things won’t work out between us, but he’s so special to me. I’m trying to learn about what he’s dealing with so I can answer my own questions and know how to support him or others in future as well as figure out where my own limits are.

Thanks very much for your help in advance, apologies for the long post!