Reply To: Was it just Hyperfocus in dating?

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Hi Luke,

I cannot tell you if you were the victim of ‘hyperfocus dating’ or not.

It’s not because I don’t want to tell you a difficult, hard, or unfortunate truth, either. There’s not a single way that you, I, or anyone else in this world but her, could tell. Only she could try to relate to you what’s rattling through her head. If any two people could see into each-other’s heads that way, although some seem to get close, we’d be living a utopia. Communication isn’t always effortless, but.

Here’s the thing though. You said it all yourself, she’s going through a lot right now. She’s holding a full plate. That’s clear to see, I’m glad you see it too. It’s clear to see that you care.

I know that, when there’s far too much going on in my world, that sometimes I pull inwards and lose touch with others. When I’m spinning so many plates that it feels like I can’t even string two social words together. Sometimes, when they hang on anyway because they mean well and want to help, I nudge them away. I don’t mean to hurt them. I need a little more cognitive space in those times, and my ancient lizard-brain knows they’re using a lot of mine. I reclaim it.

Commitments and communication are two tricky, complicated beasts. I could spend an eternity chatting with people. Helping people. Laughing with people. From dawn til dusk, and further still. When times are good, I glide through soaring winds with the breeze at my back.

Start throwing some big stressors in, though, and it can be a struggle. If I haven’t slept, or have worked myself too hard, am starving, if I feel more ache than person… It’s effort. I have to kick the brain to engage. Often I can look at a message for an hour, fighting myself. I know what I want to say… but how? Overthinking. Frustration. Knowing they’ve seen my ‘seen’. Feeling their nonexistent judgement burn through me. Even for those I’d die twice for. Those I’d burn the world down for, without a second thought. And nothing comes.

It’s not only an ADHD thing, either. You’ve likely already realised this. You’ve likely experienced the same spectra of stress and ranges of emotions involved. This mightn’t sound new and alien to you, because it’s the human condition. Those of us with ADHD are capable. Though we can’t spin as many plates without over-extending, or we can’t sit still long enough to hold on. Then the houses-of-cards that are our lives come tumbling down again. The threshold is a little lower, and it’s frustrating. Management helps us to leverage a bit more capacity within those spheres, is all. In the stimulant sense, through dopaminergic-pathway amplification to counteract prefrontal dopamine deficiencies. Deficiencies that hinder our capacity to apply the higher-order executive functions of thought. At least, reducing our ability as compared to the average everyperson. Otherwise, we’re you.

Did she tell you not to talk to her anymore? Or that she doesn’t want to be in a relationship anymore at the moment?

If she isn’t angry at you, and hasn’t mentioned wanting you gone, it sounds she’s a tad overwhelmed right now is all. It happens to the best of us. Life is big, and often challenging. Everything that ever has lived, breathed, or walked this world could relate.

Her feelings were most likely genuine. Yes, we’re liable to be somewhat more impulsive than some. Hell – I’m here writing this gargantuan mess for a stranger, who might not actually ever come back to see it. I’m supposed to be shopping for tomorrow’s dinner. We can be emotionally-short-sighted too, like anyone else, for the sake of inattentivity. Spread too thin to catch the nuance of other’s responses, at times. But it sounds she enjoyed spending time with you, like you did with her, and that’s special.

So here’s what you do.

If she doesn’t mind staying in contact, and if you care for her, be her friend for now. Be gentle, trying to solve her problems for her isn’t likely to go over well. Be there to show her what she’s capable of. Remind her, when she’s having a rough time, of what she has achieved before. And of how strong she is in that moment – for herself and her child – for holding up against the storm.

Be a sounding board for her ideas, her thoughts and plans and frustrations and her successes. Her wins and her losses. Remind her to take care of herself too. It’s easy to do so much for others that you forget to stick to your normal routines of nutrition, sleep, and exercise. Be kind to her, like I know you will, and let her know that she’s got an emotional outlet in you when she needs it. A problem shared is a problem halved and burden lightened, even if you can’t provide a path to a solution.

You can be these people for each-other. Caring, considerate, thoughtful. A support, someone you can lean on, someone you make a great team with, who can keep a good head when yours scrambles. A brilliant, meaningful, enjoyable connection – something you can preserve here. A partnership with a healthy mutual respect and a special history. Something you’ll both be proud to have for a long, long time. That you’ll both be better for, and is worth the world on it’s own. And if she does have feelings for you, you two can work that out when the storm passes, and the waters are calmer. At a time you’re both ready.

If she told you to back it off a bit, keep yourself out of the picture for a little while. Let her weather the storm her way, to captain her own ship. She’s managed it so far. Wait until she’s through it a fair bit more, and starts to find her feet again. When it feels respectful and appropriate, put some casual feelers back out there. Grab lunch or something, see where it takes you. She sounds like she enjoyed her time, but needs space so she can become her best self again.

Either way, in the meantime, it’s a big, wide, sunny world. Shape your day, frame it well. Be mindful of the tunes you play in the car or at home. You might reach for the sad or romantic soundtracks, but these keep you down after a while. You forget how the sky looks without the clouds. Reminding yourself to carve a lighter soundscape is healthy. Eat well, exercise as normal, keep your place well-lit, and look after yourself in all other ways also. We all bleed the same red, and we all need to cover the same basic needs to be strong of body as well as of mind. These keep us alive. Live this as a side-story in your life, or you risk instead dwelling in the illusion that it’s the only story.

Congrats if you made it this far. Stand tall. Life is full of infinitely-uncountable possibilities. I hope you enjoy the boundless joy and wonder that this world has ready for you to experience. Get in touch if you feel the urge to chat. You’ve got my word that it won’t be as overarching and monolithic as this. All the best.

– Menelaus