March 23, 2020 at 10:00 pm #165456davesarnParticipant
I’m new here so I apologize if this is a duplicate post. I have been dating a woman with ADHD for almost a year and we had known each other for a few years beforehand. Unfortunately, Alrhough I knew she was on meds, we didn’t expressly discusss her ADHD. My god I wish We had. It wouldn’t have changed my feelings for her one ounce. But it could have helped our communications recently.
Both in our late 30’s and each with previous relationship “baggage” we had very open and frank conversations as we became close. We both agreed not to rush and that we wanted to truly be best friends before we became intimate. It was the most comfortable and natural growth into a loving relationship that either of us have ever experienced. She (ADHD) and I (depression) both felt like we understood each other in ways that others never could. She is the most caring, honest, loving and compassionate person I’ve ever met in my life. I just naturally treated her like gold any time I could. I never felt like I had to. I just wanted to. Her goodness made me a better person.
She would tell her close friends and family that she couldn’t believe I was real. That she never thought someone could be so caring and thoughtful. Anything I did, down to the smallest act, seemed to genuinely move her. She never missed an opportunity to thank me or say how much better I was than anyone else.
Now, I know past boyfriends haven’t treated her well. I don’t know details but she mentioned it. And she definitely had her moments where she would get upset at me before I could even react. She would assume I was going to get mad, even when i wasn’t. She would later admit that she’s become programmed to getting defensive because of past relationships. This happened occasionally, but we always talked it out and it was never a an issue. We almost never had any serious fights.
A little Over a month ago we were both very stressed. Not knowing ADHD, I took her delayed text replies or forgotten plans as a sudden lack of care. My own insecurities and anxiety started kicking in and before I knew it, I was picking fights over text message that quickly ballooned. Not understanding why she missed half of what I was saying, it triggered me and I blew up at her. I said things I regret. The regret is compounded now that I know just how deeply a person with ADHD feels emotion. On top of that, it’s not in my nature to get angry and say bad things. Then she disconnected. My biggest trigger. I can’t deal with someone close not answering me. Now I know she needed space to calm down. But at the time, each unanswered text made me more and more frantic. Little did I know that each text was overwhelming her more and pushing her away. A vicious cycle.
When we finally talked in person, we each apologized and acknowledged what we had done wrong. But then she blindsided me by saying “well you can’t just expect things to go right back to the way they were”. It was as if I had cheated on her or done something abusive and she was “cautiously taking me back”. I couldn’t understand it. If arguments are on a scale of 1-10, this was a 5 at worst. And prior to it, we had no issues. We had even just had an amazing week away together. How could our relationship be so fragile that 1 argument causes weeks of distance and anguish? She then told me that she was overwhelmed and needed to focus on herself to get her life in order. She said she didn’t want to lose me but that we needed to stay friends “for now”. Again, hit me like a ton of bricks. If there was one thing I asked from day one is for her to communicate with me. I had been badly blindsided by my ex wife and I told her I couldn’t be in a relationship where we didn’t have an honest understanding of where we stood as a couple at any given point.
Needless to say I didn’t react well. I didn’t get mad or say anything bad, I just broke down and tried to make sense of it. This was someone who called every night to say I love you before bed. Someone who agreed with me that we could see marriage some day. I was crushed. As I left her, she was in tears and asked “can I talk to you when I’m ready?” I just walked away. How long would it take to be “ready?” I was too hurt to think.
My own depression spiraled me into a very dark place. I felt betrayed. I lost all perspective on life and couldn’t identify what was real and what wasn’t. I couldn’t think of a single reason, example or moment in the past year that would indicate she wasn’t anything but genuine. But then why would she just cut me out?
Unfortunately before i knew the true impact and extent of ADHD, I made the grave mistake of continually reaching out. Now I know she needed space. So she wouldn’t reply because she was overwhelmed and I’d become more frantic and depressed at the no contact. I eventually bottomed out at a near nervous breakdown. I couldn’t take it anymore. I called her because I was seriously scared that I was losing my mind and something bad would happen. She told me this was unhealthy for her and she couldn’t deal with it. Then she stopped answering. I am fortunate that I don’t have suicidal thoughts because that was almost as bad as if my mother had disowned me at my lowest point. My grief turned to resentment and anger and i sent her a series of messages accusing her of lying, using me and being a completely fake person.
Now in retrospect I’m horrified that I lost it that way and said things that would hit a normal person hard, let alone someone with ADHD. I won’t ever forgive myself for that. Sure, we could have discussed her condition more, but nothing excuses anger and insults.
I’ve since waited a few weeks and sent her a very honest apology. I didn’t claim to know her exact condition, but I made sure to validate her feelings and explain that I now understand why she felt certain ways and where I failed to properly handle her feelings.
I guess I’m just at a loss. Did she really love me? Was she afraid to fully break up with me or did she really need space to focus herself? Would she eventually come back and if so have I ruined any chance of that with my outburst?
March 24, 2020 at 5:13 am #165537phantasmParticipant
I am deeply sorry to hear your story. Nevertheless, if she doesn’t really love you, then it’s over and if she does, then LOVE will win out!
March 25, 2020 at 9:57 am #166007Penny WilliamsKeymaster
All you can do is reach out one last time and share with her what you shared here — that you realize the things you said were hurtful and you wish you hadn’t said them. Then let her process and work through it and she’ll respond at some point, if she’s able and willing.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
March 28, 2020 at 8:09 pm #166918leftie22Participant
I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through and how hurt you must feel. Of course we never intend to act out of character and say hurtful things, and I understand why you feel guilty and like you contributed to the breakup.
On the other hand, relationships are two-sided and have to be respectful on both sides. ADHD shouldn’t be an excuse for hurtful behaviour. In this day and age when it’s so easy to stay in touch, the fact that she wasn’t responding to messages is disrespectful and hurtful. Regardless of the reason, it would damage anybody’s sense of security. Your reaction to that rejection and disrespect is normal. You have the right to have needs in a relationship, and if she was unable or unwilling to meet those needs, for whatever reason, it’s not your fault.
There’s some good information out there about the cycle many people with ADHD go through of pushing their loved ones away, then pulling them in, over and over. Even though I understand it on an intellectual level, the actual experience of not knowing which side of your partner you’re going to see, the loving one or the distant one, is destructive and hurtful. I suspect it would have been the same for you, so my advice would be to get off the roller coaster now, reexamine your needs in a relationship and what you have to offer, and find someone who is able to meet your needs to stay in touch, follow up on plans and give you the feelings of security and love that you deserve. I hope you’re able to make peace with this situation and know that ADHD isn’t an excuse for jerking someone around.
March 28, 2020 at 8:32 pm #166925pepelepewParticipant
I posted on here, two posts away from you under the same sub (similar concern), and I want to say your post resonated with me. I know the situation is not comparable since you’ve been dating this woman for almost a year but the behavior is kind of the same. My guy “disappeared” (been over 3 weeks now), and that’s the second time that has happened. First time he was stressed out from losses he was going through. Second time, he’s going through some family problems. Like you, I was aware of his dx early on but I didn’t research so I took a lot of things personally (forgetting to respond to text/call, lack of follow through, sometimes his comments/jokes are out of line..etc). Some I kept to myself, some projected.
I have reached out to him 3 times in that span of time, and in one of them, I did say I wish I read about ADD as soon as he told me, and I apologized for projecting anxiety on him, and questioning his intentions. Last one was just yesterday saying I’ve been thinking about him and hoping he’s doing ok amidst the virus situation.
It was more friendly because I didn’t want him to feel pressured. No response, which I pretty much expected.
Getting kinda long, but bear with me. See, I have a problem with feeling overwhelmed myself and I do withdraw sometimes. I always thought I have ADHD because I have problems with short attention span but I never took it seriously.
I am not diagnosed but who knows maybe I do have ADHD and my tendency to feel overwhelmed like this from time to time is a symptom of it. IF you are interested in what’s going on in a disappearing person’s brain, read on…. I have a close friend that I didn’t speak with from Nov of last year to mid-Feb — when I finally reached out, she cried, said she felt abandoned, and she said she didn’t know if we’re ever going to speak again. Prior to me “disappearing”, which I don’t consider disappearing cuz I did say I was feeling overwhelmed, I texted her and expressed that. This is not the first time I’ve withdrawn but prior ones where only a matter of days, maybe a week, maybe I wouldn’t necessarily disappear but send terse replies to texts…. that by the months-long space I took, I assumed she understood what was going on with me. Long story short we’re fine again, catching up like normal talking about our lives. Yesterday though, we had this heated discussion that somehow triggered her to address my 3ish-month-long disappearance.. obviously she’s not over it. I was pissed off because I’m still not totally fine, especially with concerns associated with the stupid virus impacting things in my life and she chose this time to confront me about that. I thought we’ve moved on. Anyway, this is not the first time she’s done this as well and each time, it irritates me because I have to explain what happens to me when I’m feeling overwhelmed all over again. She complained about not being appreciated as a friend. Because of this, anytime she reaches out, texting me “hope you’re doing well” whatever, I doubt the sincerity of it. To me, it appears more like trying to coax me to respond. It’s very annoying and it pushes me away. It’s like I have stuff to deal with already, I’m feeling depleted, and I still have to deal with her emotions because she can’t understand me. After her blowing up on me a couple of times, it kind of makes her “thoughtful” texts questionable, annoying and consequently takes me longer to want to talk to her again.
Back to my guy, that incident kind of gave light to what is going on with me and him. It’s a different kind of relationship of course, since the other person is just a friend. Don’t get me wrong, I do care about my friend and I appreciate her. I’ve known her for a while and she’s been there for me in times of need. but anyway it kinda gave me a glimpse of what’s going on in his head. It’s like an epiphany! We have to trust that it is not about us, and if we really care we need to give them what they need. Give them the space and be supportive. I don’t know if that’s being codependent but I’m able to empathize, because I do experience getting overwhelmed (have similar coping mechanism) and it was only yesterday when I actually realized this. When I’m feeling anxious I forget about all that and my anxiety taking over makes me dwell on negative thoughts, and being suspicious.
As for your question, it’s difficult to answer and confirm that she did love you. I had that same question but reality is, internet strangers like me have not seen how you guys interact so we can’t really tell, only you can. I think that’s part of trust too though, you have to trust that the person loves you or likes you enough that she would not intentionally hurt you. When I’m having anxiety and I start to rewind what happened between me and him, start questioning things, then it makes me want to reach out because I’m angry. It’s only when I think of him as someone who struggles with coping that I’m able to give him a “supportive space”, eventually reach out with sincere messages of “I’m here if you need me”. Would she eventually come back? Maybe, maybe not. If she says she can only be friends with you because that’s all she can give, would you be supportive and give her what she needs without any expectations? I think that’s the question to ask. Setting boundaries is another thing. Caring for someone and being supportive doesn’t mean letting your own mental health suffer though. So you have to make a decision. You can wait if you think you’re able to manage but this will take a lot of patience on your part and a lot of understanding, being open to the possibility that it may still not work, or you can choose to move on, maybe be open to being friends in the future. Either way you have to keep your emotions in check because ultimately it’s going to hurt you and it’s just going to push her away…OR you can just move on and shut her out completely, that’s an option too
I’m not saying any of this is right or wrong, just sharing my experience
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by pepelepew.
April 1, 2020 at 12:00 am #167456bclaverParticipant
This is a witch’s brew for sure.
First, you laid out the line of gunpowder:
I took her delayed text replies or forgotten plans as a sudden lack of care. My own insecurities and anxiety started kicking in and before I knew it, I was picking fights over text message that quickly ballooned
Then you lit the wick:
“My biggest trigger… I can’t deal with someone close not answering me. Now I know she needed space to calm down. But at the time, each unanswered text made me more and more frantic. Little did I know that each text was overwhelming her more and pushing her away. A vicious cycle.”
Then the explosion:
‘ “well you can’t just expect things to go right back to the way they were”.’
You say she blindsided you? Sounds like you actually blindsided her with how you acted which caused all kinds of damage. She saw a side of you she had never seen or experienced before and although you think the fight was a 5, I’d bet she’d rate it a 10+ with red flags. Now, I’m not saying you are bipolar or manic depressive (I obviously do not know you and I am not a licensed anything), but the sudden switch from Prince Charming on white steed to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde act in her mind may have brought back some bad experiences in her former relationships. The switch from Prince to Mr. Hyde could be compared to someone who is charming as heck at first then turns possessive and controlling. Again, I’m not accusing you of being anywhere near that type of character, it’s just that she experienced a (new) side of you she had never experienced before that was out of character and may have decided to quit before things get worse or too intimate. All the follow-ups probably did not help either. It may have overwhelmed her. Perhaps you set off one of her triggers. She probably got scared. In my opinion however, it sounds as though you two had a tight connection and she really did love you.
None of us is perfect, we just pretend to be. Not her, not you, not anyone reading this. We’re all flawed in some way. The positive in all this is that both of you have shared with each other, your challenges. In my opinion, only time can mend this kind of damage. Give her the space she needs. Maybe checkin every once in awhile (“just texting to say I saw (or heard or read, etc. fill in the blank) and it reminded me of the time you/we…” Fall on your sword by telling her you understand what you did, apologize again, and be honest with her but most importantly, trust her should you be fortunate enough to get her back. You two sound like a tight fit for each other. Remember, Love’s most essential, valued, and delicate attribute is trust.
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