October 16, 2018 at 12:11 pm #101696
Good Morning All –
Several months ago I posted my struggles about dating a man with ADHD. The struggles weren’t verbal or physical abuse – but moreso the following: job transitions (which he has figured out now), an unwelcoming immediate family (actually only his mother, brother, and his brother’s wife), his excessive talking to the point I get exhausted and others around get tired – he doesn’t get the social cues to stop rambling which leaves me embarrassed and unwilling to invite him in many public outings with my circle of friends. There’s also the forgetfulness and me having to constantly remind him of things – which has actually left me scatterbrained. We broke up about five months ago now, he moved out, and we haven’t had a real “break” since. He finally tried counseling and Adderall – but both have been stopped. He got sick from the Adderall and stopped taking it – and stopped going to the counselor. So I really can’t help him there – that’s his decision what he does.
To try and find answers – because I’ve been so uncertain about what to do, I tried therapy (when we were dating) – which was helpful for a bit – but didn’t do much good. We were in a relationship for about one year and it was hard, fast, and we connected instantly. Mind you – I’m an empathetic soul and I get along with pretty much anybody and everybody. I’m in my late 20s and he’s in his early 30s – he’s seriously one of the NICEST humans you’d ever meet – he truly wishes well on others and is a kind person. I’ve personally never been with someone I meshed with so incredibly well. I’ve also NEVER dated someone who I’ve done SO much with in such a short span. We’ve gone on a couple of wonderful vacations and also have done several weekend getaways because we are both serious explorers/nature nerds. We still hang out quite a bit but I’ve told him I don’t want to jump back into a relationship anytime soon.
That’s the background. I guess I’m reaching back out to the group to get feedback. I have not sought out dating since I almost feel “guilty” doing so because I don’t want to hurt him. Yet, I’m not interested in looking for a partner right now. I was engaged several years ago to a man that I called a wedding off – it just wasn’t a good fit – and I don’t regret that decision. Since that broken engagement – I’ve dated several other guys – some total scum – others just didn’t connect with me. Then I met this man who got along with me SO well and we’ve shared a lot of adventures and wonderful times together. The issue is – I don’t want to get married and I doubt I’d want to marry him with the fears in the back of my head. I came from a troubled childhood so I’m much more skeptical of just accepting a situation as it is – which is both a godsend AND a burden. The other thing is this man is literally so patient with me and accepting of my flaws. I dealt with parents who were alcoholics/engaged in drugs/divorced all while I was young – I became a parent to my parents – I think a lot of that is why I am the way I am. I try to be responsible, am risk adverse, and just get nervous about settling in a relationship if I’m not completely content. Then I start over-analyzing if I’ll EVER be completely content. I know nobody is perfect and I’m not either – I guess it’s just been a matter of months where I’m chasing my tail.
Has ANYBODY ever been or known someone whose been in a similar situation and do they have any advice? Gosh – it’s not easy – and I can’t believe I’ve been battling this for so many months on what to do. I feel like I’m stuck in some mud – not wanting to commit – but yet – we are still hanging out together and traveling. It just seems like we’re coasting along. It truly is a bummer – I think if he didn’t have ADHD we’d be just fine – but it really tore us apart and nothing has truly changed. He is who he is and I accept him for that – but not as a ROMANTIC partner. I just think the parenting in the relationship will make me unwell. I fell into a major depression going back and forth last winter – it literally consumed me to the point I sought out a therapist – and it’s sad because it’s not like it’s his fault he is forgetful or clumsy or his family has been rude. I’m the type of person though that doesn’t want to give-in when I have such a great connection with someone.
Just curious if you all have some feedback or wisdom you could shine upon me during this difficult time of feeling like I’m going nowhere fast. Thank you.
October 16, 2018 at 11:31 pm #101773
Hey, I’m Kendall, I don’t mind helping you out a bit.
Although, let me start off by saying I haven’t been in a relationship, as I am only 19 years old. However, I do have ADHD & have had to live with it my whole life. I understand being with someone with ADHD is FAR FROM EASY. We’re MASSIVE headaches to deal with, and it can feel like a parent-child dynamic has developed in the relationship. I’ve been there (ironically with my own parents) and I know how tough it was/still is for them to deal with me sometimes. I drive them up the wall sometimes. I can sense that he does the same (or similar) for you at times, and I apologize for it, I really do.
As someone with ADHD, I would encourage you to help him out with some of his quirks & issues like talking too much & picking up on social cues (these tend to be HUGE issues for us in general). I’m not saying it shouldn’t be his responsibility to deal with it since he’s the person with ADHD. Not even saying that it’s wrong to feel embarrassed by his quirks. Just that instead of avoiding the issue by not bringing him around friends, maybe have a way in which you could signal to him whenever he’s going a bit too far & it’s making everyone awkward. We do tend to “zone out” & go off on tangents (it’s just our ADHD minds going 1000 miles a minute; Some people verbalize their thoughts, others don’t). The difference is a double-edged sword, those that DO verbalize their thoughts tend to talk too much without realizing it, which can make people uncomfortable (your former SO). Those that DON’T verbalize their thoughts tend to not say much AT ALL, which can also make people uncomfortable (ME).
While we cannot change these things about us & our ADHD, we CAN manage them & minimize their effects on ourselves & our relationships. We just need help managing it because we’ll end up spinning our wheels trying to figure it out ourselves. Essentially my point is, instead of letting his ADHD hinder your relationship & tear it apart, let it bring you together by you both working on minimizing the issues that he runs into because of his ADHD. Yes, it is difficult & different strategies work for different people, but trust me it isn’t as bad as it seems right now. Also, about the forgetfulness, making a list of the things he has to do may help with that, as he’ll be able to refer back to it if he doesn’t remember something. I know I needed visual reminders to do certain things, & once they became habits, I didn’t need them anymore. However, I still need them for things such as class assignments due for next week, as those can vary on any given day.
While ADHD certainly has its negatives, it also has positives (the adventures & traveling that you mentioned is definitely buffered by his ADHD since we tend to be HIGHLY spontaneous, adventurous, & creative). That’s definitely something exciting!
I wouldn’t give up on you just yet, just maybe try to see his ADHD from a different perspective.
-Kendall Boults Jr.
October 18, 2018 at 3:09 pm #101955
Thanks so much for your insight. I really appreciate it! Yes – the positives of the spontaneous/adventurous side to him are what’s really hurting to let go of. I was quite fragile last night and had a tension headache all day. I obviously don’t take breaking connections off very well. I have stress in other areas of my life – like feeling stuck and unsure what I want to do career-wise – and I feel like that’s potentially spilling over into my love life right now. John is incredible – but the fact I’ve had these nagging pulls since LAST January really concerns me. I feel like if I’m truly listening to myself my body keeps giving me signs that MAYBE just MAYBE this isn’t the right life partner for me. What is awful is John and I connect in such an amazing way that I feel like he’s my best friend and would be an amazing companion – but I don’t think he’d be able to handle the stress of being a dad or I would be able to handle the stress of a lifetime of managing the ADHD. I think that’s why my soul has felt so conflicted for MONTHS – there’s so much good – so much good – but there’s also the two biggest stresses of dealing with ADHD consistently and the other downside is his immediate family (aside from his Dad) are unkind. I know the relationship shouldn’t revolve around them – but that’s kind of a nagging factor as well. I experienced family issues with others in the past and it terrified me to have that in my future.
Again, thanks so much for your advice and for listening. Does anybody else here have thoughts? Thank you!
November 23, 2018 at 5:43 pm #104236
You wrote ” I just think the parenting in the relationship will make me unwell. I fell into a major depression going back and forth last winter – it literally consumed me to the point I sought out a therapist – and it’s sad because it’s not like it’s his fault he is forgetful or clumsy or his family has been rude. I’m the type of person though that doesn’t want to give-in when I have such a great connection with someone.”
Listen to your gut instinct. It will never steer you wrong. Where we go wrong, is when we start to second guess ourselves and feel guilty about putting what WE need above what those around us need. Some people call that being an “empath”. It comes from a traumatic childhood. I know, I’ve been there myself and it feels like you want to help everyone around you. Make the world a better place. But in reality, the depression sets in the moment that you start putting other people’s needs ahead of your own, too often.
Our society still sees depression as a taboo topic, as if it’s a weakness. When in reality, depression is very similar to a headache. A headache is due to either dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, pain due to a physical blow, etc. Well, depression is actually a symptom due to things going on in your life that you are not happy with. We all have to deal with daily things we don’t like, but when the scale starts to tip too far, and you are spending a majority of your day focusing on other’s needs, or being around negative people, etc. Then the depression seeps in. A pill will help it. But it won’t make it go away until you realign how you spend your time.
You said you are in your 20’s. I envy you. I am in my 40’s and fell for a man that loved to go kayaking, camping, hiking, anything that I was interested in. Then I married him and once his hyperfocus ADHD subsided, he confided in me that he really didn’t like those things, but he did them because he wanted to make me happy. Nine years of marriage later and I can’t beg him to do anything I like. I feel duped and tricked into a marriage. If I had only listened to my gut. It was all right there in front of my face while I was dating him. But I made rational excuses for him in my head. I came from an abusive childhood so I was taught to not listen to my gut. Because as a child, your gut tells you to run from your abusive parents, but society tells you and the law says you can’t.
As a similar woman, 20+ years your senior, I can tell you this. The ONLY time I have ever needed to take an antidepressant or see a therapist was when I was in relationships with dysfunctional or abusive men(very typical when coming from an abusive childhood. I urge you to read up on it so you can avoid it. Here is one of the better books on it: The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap ). Any time I was alone or in a relationship with healthy minded people, I thrived and needed no antidepressants or therapy. But I thought I had met a nice, kind man who just had a few quirks. What I know now, is that I personally have a predisposition to depression due to my childhood. And that weakness of mine means that I cannot handle giving too much of myself to help someone else with more issues than my own. I look at it as my own shortcoming, I don’t blame them.
I hope this helps.
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