May 19, 2019 at 8:48 pm #116891
Hello! My boyfriend is super intelligent and never mean, but he often asks me to make allowances for his “mental illness.” He has never named the illness, so I could never inform myself and learn how to cope.
After 2 years of living together and much solo research, I am 99% sure he has ADHD. I told him about it and suggested he do his own research. Since he was forced to take Ritalin as a child, he seems reluctant to know anything about ADHD. He is trying to find counseling or other help but is looking in other directions (e.g., depression, chronic pain).
For my part, I realize that I’ve been dealing with things in destructive ways: accusing him of dishonesty or laziness, etc., etc. Our relationship has suffered a lot, and I left him recently. I came back because he said he loved me and missed me, and we had a good talk.
In this post I’ll try to stick to a single problem.
My boyfriend is more sociable and active than I am, and sometimes I turn down his invitations to go out. When I do make an effort, he might suddenly decide he doesn’t feel like going. Or he’ll go out without inviting me, later insisting that he did invite me or that he “probably tried to” invite me. Activities that I suggest can also go wrong, and he has even accused me of setting “traps” for him.
Eventually we both stopped trying to do things together, which was sad. We talked about this recently, and I thought we were going to try to resolve it. He said I was “always welcome to come along” whenever he went out.
Yesterday evening there was a potluck dinner and party; I decided to go because he was going, and I thought it would help our relationship. Perhaps wrongly, I considered it a date and thought we would go together. I spent all afternoon cooking. I’m recovering from an injury so I needed to drive to the dinner, and I was counting on his helping me carry the food to and from the car.
At the last minute he told me he was going to the party on foot with a couple of neighbors. I drove and carried the food over, ate dinner, and talked to a few people, but he didn’t show up so I came home. He was still home when I got home, but left within minutes. When he came home from the party he said hi like everything was fine. But I’d spent all those hours alone and upset.
The neighbors he went with are very attractive women he is quite friendly with. I don’t suspect him of cheating, but I wonder why he doesn’t just form a relationship with one of them instead of wanting me back in his life.
I don’t know if I should try to talk to him about our inability to go out together, or how to talk about it. Should I just be satisfied with whatever we can share at home (such as great conversations and holding hands)? Or should I give up on the relationship altogether?
This incident might seem trivial, but it’s tied in with all the other problems we have—some of which are harder to address. The things I read about ADHD relationships seem so chillingly familiar and hopeless, the same stories over and over. But some say there is hope, the ADHD person really does care, etc. Any thoughts? Thank you.
- This topic was modified 3 months ago by LoriR.
May 20, 2019 at 8:50 am #116905
The most important thing for you to do is define what you want from a relationship (any romantic relationship, not just this partner). Define your boundaries, what you’re willing to compromise on, and what you are not willing to compromise on. Use this as your guide in relationships.
What you described is not trivial, and it’s certainly not trivial to you. You were basically ditched and that’s never ok.
It sounds like you’ve convinced yourself that things can get better — that he can get better as a partner. But you can’t hang your hat on that. He has to see a problem and want to do better. It doesn’t sound like he’s in that place. So, is this relationship measuring up to those standards that you have defined for yourself? That answer should provide the answer on staying or breaking up.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
May 20, 2019 at 11:53 am #116922
Thank you, Penny.
I have a list of what I need in a partner. This relationship has been an adventure in compromise (which I’m not very good at).
I’m also no good at telling people what I need from moment to moment, especially when it seems “obvious” to me. And I believe in freedom, so if he wants to walk to the party with other people I figure that’s up to him.
Our sex life is also in tatters, although we are very affectionate outside the bedroom. Trying to revive that seems like too huge a project if we can’t even go to a party together.
We have an extra bedroom, where I’ve been spending most nights for several months. (Not his fault; I just prefer to sleep alone, even when I have a sexual partner. Also, it was more convenient to sleep alone after my injury.)
I guess all that remains is to cut out the affectionate gestures and consider this a roommate situation.
I’ll discuss this with him, but I’m not hopeful. Your response has certainly helped me think things through.
May 21, 2019 at 2:55 pm #117010
Update: We talked about this. He said that I was ready to go to the dinner on time and he still wasn’t ready. He knows I hate being late, so he thought he should let me go ahead and he’d catch up later.
I told him this wasn’t like being late for work or for an appointment—that the whole point was for us to go somewhere together, and it didn’t matter what time we arrived.
Maybe I’ll just give up on going anywhere with him, unless it’s very low key, e.g., just us two, or a get-together with one or two other people. This is not ideal, because his social circle and social life will only grow, and I’ll be left further behind.
He even said something about having a game night (board games, etc.) in our home; I’ll plan to be absent that night. Not to be mean, but it would be too stressful for me. All those people he’s formed bonds with while he went everywhere without me, who are still strangers to me.
I still don’t know why it’s so hard for us two to go out together, while he manages to coordinate an outing or a departure time with several other people. Some kind of hive mind perhaps.
Our skill sets and some other characteristics complement each other, and I could never find a kinder or more intelligent person. I’ve never been big on “communication,” but I guess it helps sometimes.
June 11, 2019 at 10:15 pm #119507
I don’t like what you’ve described here Lori. Closely resembles to what I went through with my former boyfriend who has unmedicated ADHD. Please notice that I did a lot of research and discovered that he was also a narcissist. Maybe you’d be interested in the book titled the human magnet syndrome? It really describes on a scale how selfish a CO morbid ADHD person can also be. I think this could apply to you. It seems as though narcissism was reflected in his behavior on ditching you for this party as well as in other ways like how he is getting along with other women as well as sleeping alone and not considering your feelings about being injured on the amount of work you put in on that party day. I’m sure there are many more instances that do point to his narcissistic behavior. Look, this was a hard pill for me to swallow that I could be so caring and individual and that my partner be the opposite. You maybe in a little bit of denial in describing him as kind. This is just my opinion and I am not judging you as I was in the similar situation and it was such a challenge to overcome. I just realized that my partner’s mental illness was not something that a relationship could Prevail over. That I was indeed experiencing extreme selfish Ness at the hands of someone who I thought loved me but really didn’t when I began taking daily notes such as what you have done just by posting on this blog a few times. Lori please take a hard look at how different this relationship is from what you imagine you are capable of obtaining.
June 6, 2019 at 2:25 pm #118724
If I had these red flags before my husband and I were married I wouldn’t have kept seeing him and I actually WISH the red flags had been there, rather than none of this showing up until after the wedding. I don’t see any way around these problems getting worse. But maybe your man is more self-aware and dedicated to getting the help he needs to do the hard work he needs to do in order to treat you like you deserve. 😕
June 11, 2019 at 11:35 pm #119508
I have a very similar experience with my ADHD boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend. Let me give you some background. We had been on and off for 7.5 years. This last ’round,’ we reconnected July, 2018. When he reached out, I couldn’t wait to see him. I love this man and I hadn’t seen him in 3 years. We have fantastic chemistry and deep and stimulating conversations. We hung out as friends and our friendship grew until March, 2019. He had grown in many ways since we had last dated three years prior, but he said he was not ready to enter a relationship again. Although it wasn’t labeled a relationship, we really were in a relationship. We were going out on dates, being physical, and talking for hours daily.
March 2019 I needed more of a commitment because I felt that issues were coming up in our ‘friendship’ and I needed him to commit to working on our communication and making sure we move in a healthy direction this time. I told him I was done for good if he wasn’t able to commit to a relationship. I understood if he wasn’t ready, then we would need to part. I didn’t want to pressure him or give him an ultimatum in any way. I truly knew we wouldn’t make it as a couple unless we committed to working together.
He decided he was ‘in’ because he didn’t want to lose me. He was very emotional and described the many things he loves about me and us. I had never seen him that emotional before in regards to us. I clarified that we needed, in the least, one date-night a week as well as one time per week we talk about our relationship, improving communication, etc. He agreed with these parameters/boundaries.
Every Saturday date night was a big mess, a huge struggle. He would complain that he was tired. He hated the 15 minute commute to my house. Hated the parking situation (I live downtown in a condo building but it has free parking). He would suggest we go to the Film Festival and then once I got tickets would complain endlessly. It was a buzz-kill every date night. When I would go to his house for date night to run errands with him and help him with his house, he complained less. We had been in that trap years prior. I would go to his house for everything and there was less complaining on his part yet who wants to be in a one-sided relationship?
Now here comes the straw the broke the camel’s back for me. There were three strikes and I left him. Strike 1) was complaining every date night. Strike 2) was we had registered to do a 50-mile gravel bike race together in a town 45 minutes away. He made excuses why we couldn’t drive there together, and later why we couldn’t ride together. So I am not sure I would even see him at the race and isn’t the point, to spend time together? Strike 3) We discussed Memorial Day weekend and that we would do a day trip together. I was delighted and ecstatic. He travels for work, travels to see friends, has 2 kids, remodels his house, and works long hours so I was feeling like I really needed some extended time to connect with him. Well, he scheduled over Memorial Day weekend with a visit from his parents from Chicago. He didn’t apologize to me and he didn’t try to reschedule the day trip. He actually yelled at me saying we didn’t have plans. (Maybe not plans set in stone but we discussed the day trip and also doing our date night that same weekend).
I decided there is no place for me to go. It shouldn’t be this difficult. If he doesn’t want to spend time with me, what is the point? He resisted the date nights, he did not allow time for us to communicate about our relationship. He told me a relationship is not one of his top priorities. It would NEED to be for us to be successful. We would have to work extremely hard on communication to be successful and I cannot do it alone.
Since there is a lot of other good parts of our relationship, for awhile I thought I could just put up with some of this crap because of all of the good parts. Then I decided I was worth much more than that. If he cannot see what an amazing woman I am and that I am worth the effort, then I don’t want to with a man like that. He should be elated that he gets to spend time with me. He should feel elated that I am willing to work to damn hard on our relationship. I feel that way about him, elated to spend time with him, (except when he complains).
I am heartbroken. I love him. But I cannot do this alone. As I read other stories on this forum, I realize I am probably very lucky to cut my losses now and move on.
Things like this and other red flags were happening 7 years ago. My advice to you Lori is move on, unless your boyfriend shows significant commitment to you and the relationship. I have researched if, in addition to ADHD, he has fear of intimacy, narcissism, personality disorder, or high functioning Autism. With him it seems we get really close and then he pushes me away or starts a fight to keep me at a distance. I am not sure what it is but it doesn’t really matter. He doesn’t have the capacity or the skills to work on this with me.
I should add that he is largely unmedicated. He takes Adderall when he chooses, not on a daily basis or on a regular schedule.
Best of luck, Lori!
June 19, 2019 at 12:12 am #120432
Many thanks to the three of you who replied recently.
Not a narcissist, he really is a kind and gentle person. He has learned to deal with some things a bit better since I’ve known him, especially since I stopped taking up the slack in some areas. Meanwhile, he finds his own behaviors and mental processes perplexing at times.
He is slowly coming around to the idea that he has ADHD. A friend of his is considering his own possible ADHD and maybe they can explore this together.
I left him again this month, mostly because of festering resentment around the incident I related in this thread (and similar things). I’m camping locally, enjoying solitude and nature, and having interesting conversations with many people–basically rediscovering myself.
I was more or less prepared to move on. However, I’m horrified by the rents I’m seeing. A small apartment in our area would cost about two thirds of my small income (if you can even find a place), whereas with him I was paying less than a quarter of it.
I’m thinking of moving back in with him and applying some principles I learned in Al-Anon, such as getting on with my own life and not expecting him to be something he’s not.
I think it would also be a good idea to have weekly check-ins so the misunderstandings between us don’t get out of hand. Also maybe a whiteboard and a few other suggestions I’ve seen for ADHD couples. And I need to learn to speak up instead of assuming that my needs and wants are obvious.
At the same time, I need to resist the temptation to try to fix him. And I told him that I don’t want to plan any dates with him because it’s just too heartbreaking when he forgets or whatever. However I do intend to pursue activities on my own and with my own friends. Not the ideal perhaps, but I think lots of couples live like this. And at my age, believe me,there aren’t a lot of men to choose from.
This time we had a couple of good talks (not just I love you). He says he’s been crying for 2 weeks. Such an intense but ineffectual love! He seemed wishful rather than hopeful. I broached the idea of my moving back in, and suggested that we both think about it for a while.
June 25, 2019 at 1:03 am #120983
How is it going Lori? Any updates? Are you still out there camping?
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