Breakup advice & support – really confused

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    • #105387

      Hi everyone,
      I just wanted to ask for some advice, thoughts, support…I don’t even know really.
      Last week my fairly newish partner broke up with me. He has long suspected that he has undiagnosed ADHD.

      He said that he needs to be single and can’t commit to a relationship, which I do understand, however he did not completely shut the door on the possibility of a relationship in the future.
      He said that he “needed a break” and that he still cares about me and didn’t really want to break up with me, he just felt like it was the right thing to do.

      I’m confused because he has been talking about getting treatment for ADHD since we got together in October 2018 but it’s now December and it still hasn’t happened because he keeps forgetting appointments, losing referrals, being too tired because he doesn’t sleep well, other things have gotten in the way…I know this is a typical presentation of ADHD symptoms but I am wondering if it’s worth bothering to hope or try to salvage the relationship later if the treatment path just isn’t going to happen.

      I’m also confused because he said that he loves me and cares about me but doesn’t respond to my text messages, hardly asks how I am any more, we only had sex once in the month and a half we were together….he just doesn’t seem all that interested in me, despite what he says. I know this can also be an ADHD thing and I was willing to stick it out once he got treatment and see how things go, but he didn’t want to.

      I just am swinging between hoping that things will improve once he gets treatment and having zero hope of salvaging anything from this. And if we DO decide that things are salvageable, is it reasonable for me to tell him that it is conditional on his seeking and maintaining ADHD treatment and also couple’s therapy?

      I know it might seem really soon to be considering that but I just….don’t know what to do. I just don’t know.

      I hope all this rambling makes sense. I’m quite distressed at the moment.

      Anna, AKA – I don’t know.

    • #105441


      Thanks for your courage in posting. I’m the ADD partner, diagnosed 16 yrs ago at age 35 – married now 25 years. What you describe sounds very familiar to me. While you and your SO have only been together a short time, these things do impact every facet and period of relationships. First thing, if he says he loves you, take him at his word. Expressing these things are difficult for us. This also leads me to his pushing you away. Two of the ‘evil partners’ that come with ADD are overwhelming shame and poor self-esteem. For me it was easier to shut down/push away than face the perceived eventuality of losing my partner (my amazing wife) anyway – so why not do it before the pain comes? We feel like you’ll just figure it out how overwhelming loving us is on your own and leave anyway. From my vantage point it sounds like that might be happening a little here.

      That being said, he needs to be diagnosed and in treatment. Sadly, that has to come from him, or it won’t work. But when you legitimately forget (actually, our unbalanced executive functioning loses track of the info) to call it can be overwhelming to even start. All you can do is support as best you can – believe me, that can mean more than you know.

      It sounds like he does care for you. It just gets so hard for us to bear when we miss some opportunity every day to show that we do care. I’ve told those close to me thatnit feels like this – that it’s overwhelming waking up every day with the realization that you’re going to forget something important today (returning texts, rmembering special occasions, losing track of errands, etc.) in relation to your partner – we just don’t know what it is until it happens. We want to be good partners; but to do that we also need outside support. I thought meds were all I needed. I now know that I need therapeutic support – I’ve had a great therapist for almost 2 years now, and things are progressing (after almost separating 2 yrs ago).

      The last piece is you. You need to do what’s best regarding your own self-care. Whatever that means (therapy, time for yourself, etc.), don’t relinquish that. Loving someone with ADD takes a lot; so caring for yourself is essential if you’re sticking it out. I like to think we’re worth it.

      I hope this helps. I wish you well on whichever path you choose to travel in this relationship. I’ll check back with an attitude of hopefulness – when I don’t forget! 😉


    • #105534

      Hi Chris,
      Thank you so much for your considered and open and honest response. I really appreciate the time and care you’ve taken. It means a lot right now.
      I’m a pretty methodical person (can you tell I’m not the ADD partner?) so I will respond to the bits that stood out to me the most from your response:

      Re: taking him at his word…
      Right now that is really difficult for me. It seems like for the first few weeks we were dating he was super into me, and then for the rest of the time…I didn’t feel like he had much time or attention for me. And it is really hard to just believe him when he says one thing but there is no tangible action to back it up…plus not really feeling wanted or loved by him… That’s why I’m in two minds about it. I would like to believe him 100% but I am finding it very hard to trust him, and will probably find it hard in the future as well (if there is a future for us, that is, I still don’t know).

      re: two evil partners
      Yes, from what I have been reading shame and low self worth/esteem are very common. Before we broke up, my partner said on a few occasions that he felt depressed and wanted to go to regular therapy. He does have a psychologist who he sees, but only once a month, sometimes less. I have recently started using for therapy and have found it useful and supportive for my own depression and anxiety (therapy and medication work best for me) and I recommended it to him. He said he would look into it but yeah…that hasn’t happened. Again because of….seemingly everything that could happen under the sun…has happened and as at the breakup, he hasn’t signed up.

      I know it isn’t entirely his fault and I can definitely see and understand that everything would quickly get too much to deal with (I mean, I don’t have first-hand understanding as I don’t have ADD/ADHD but I have some understanding from having anxiety). And yes, he also has very poor self esteem. And he was constantly saying that he didn’t want to upset me and berated himself for disappointing me. Even for little things that in the grand scheme of things…they don’t matter. Yes they might upset me in the moment, but breaking up with me hurt so so so SO SOOOO much more than anything else he could have forgotten, or lost or been late for. So yeah, like you said, it seems he didn’t think he was or is worth being….loved. But he is. If only he could see all his good qualities!

      re: getting treatment & being supportive
      Yes, I realised that no matter how many times I brought it up or reminded him….that he is going to keep putting off/forgetting going to the appointments to organise the diagnosis and treatment. And there’s nothing I could have or can do about that. I tried to be as supportive as possible but it really didn’t make any difference. I felt really powerless and helpless….and I still do.

      re: he does care, being a good partner
      I guess I KNOW that he does care…it just doesn’t really FEEL like it most of the time. And certainly now that we have broken up it definitely doesn’t feel like he cares.
      He knows he needs medication and therapy and he has expressed a wish to get them…but it’s the doing that is not happening. And it’s so frustrating because he is literally burning himself out because he has poor impulse control (leading to going on drinking benders and horrific hangovers), forgetfulness, can’t switch off at night, doesn’t sleep enough and so is perpetually in a state of exhaustion. I feel like even if he just started with medication which might help him switch off at night, getting a bit more sleep would also do him a world of good. At the very least he would have a bit more energy to do the things he needs to do during the day (whatever that might be at the time – maybe even do all the things).

      re: me
      I’ll admit that one good thing about not seeing him any longer is that I have more headspace for myself. Whilst I am still very sad that he is gone, and I don’t know if he is coming back, I am trying to take better care of myself. I cared a lot for my partner (and part of me still does) but I need to care for myself just as much. And if he does want to try again later, I can’t do as much for him as I did last time.

      Thanks again for your reply and for your well wishes, Chris.


      • #105960

        I have been in a 25 year marriage with undiagnosed ADHD and 3 years where the diagnosis was known. I unfortunately was diagnosed with a rare, serious disease a few years ago. I won’t list all of the problems and issues as it is a very long list. I will simply say – move on, and look elsewhere for a partner in life where there is no ADHD. Life in a partnership with ADHD might be liveable when you are strong yourself, but when you need support due to a health crisis or other serious issue – you realize your partnership is a very lonely place.

    • #105952


      I’m consoled that my response helped a bit. While I’m sorry things didn’t work out, I’m grateful that you’re able to take the care of yourself that you need and deserve. If he does return to your orbit, I hope he’s gotten the help he needs in order to have the structures in his life necessary to becoming the partner he hopes to be, and that both of you deserve. I wish you well…


    • #105965

      As a woman in a 25 year marriage with undiagnosed adhd spouse and 4 more years after diagnosis. I have too many troubling times to list. The marriage was ok (not great), until I was diagnosed with a rare, serious and progressive disease. Then the marriage was clearly a lonely place to be. My advice – respectfully, don’t do it, go find a non adhd partner. Save yourself a lot of work, frustration and time lost. Circumstances may be such that you really need someone to support you in the future and with an Adhd spouse everything is 10x harder.

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