To the ADHD Partner: When you need to be liked

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    • #70047

      To the ADHD Partner,

      While I get that the need to be liked is driven by the ADHD, I wish you could see how it really hurts you, the relationship, and me.

      The need to be liked leaves you vulnerable and left without any boundaries. It leaves you feeling like you have to do all this extra stuff so family/friends/co-workers will like you. You sometimes end up using the last of your resources to help others which hurts you in the present, and in the future.

      It hurts me because:
      1) I don’t like seeing the person I love being taken advantage of.
      2) when you’re too busy trying to get others to you like you, you end up neglecting me. It hurts when you try to get others to like you, but forget to add me to that list. It makes me feel disregarded and not important to you.
      3) I end up having to fill up those resources so you can live.
      4) And, it especially hurts when I try to point it out, we end up in an argument.

      With love,
      The Non-ADHD Partner

      • This topic was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by adesperategf.
    • #70421

      Dear the Non-ADHD Partner,
      I know I make you my rock for the feeling of acceptance & for recharging me when I am spent. I heavily lean on you to fill in the gaps in our relationship & family responsibilities. It’s not fair, and though I might not have it in the forefront of my mind, I do acknowledge that it’s too much to put all on one person.

      I know that I am hypersensitive around these things when you try to talk to me about it. My perception is often so different from yours but it doesn’t mean with a calm & neutral approach that I won’t be open to seeing things from yours. Although with your built-up frustration with situations, especially ones mentioned above that seem like an endless circle that continually repeat, I can also empathize how hard it must be to address these issues in a calm & neutral way. It’s not fun nor is it easy for either of us.

      I need to spend time upfront asking what I really get out of something before jumping into things with both feet. Do I really need that person’s approval? What do you & our family get out of me doing this? If it is important & benecial, is there another way to achieve the same outcome in a different way that utilizes less of my attention, resources, focus, money &/or time? Maybe these are things we can discuss and collaborate on as a team. I do value you & your perspectives & insights.

      Although I have trouble prioritizing things at times, know that you are my #1 priority & I need to show it more. Let’s add routine to our relationship, like every other Fridays could be our date night – no excuses. We can make the last Sunday at end of the month, our time to list our relationship/financial/family goals for the coming month to ensure I’m staying focused on the right things. I don’t have all the answers but let’s work together to find out what works for us.

      And though I might not admit it or speak the brutal truth, I would be lost without you. I need you, love you & need to put myself into showing you as much or more than I do when chasing others praise. My need to be liked & to please others is exhausting & worse drains my self esteem when I fail.

      Hang in there, I’m aware & I’m working on it. If I’m not, let’s grab a drink & talk. Giving me more personal time for myself, may seem counterintuitive, but if I use that time to invest in broadening my support & social network, it will help ease the burden on you.

      With love,
      Your Partner first, & ADHD symptoms second

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by tristanzta.
      • #70846

        Thank you tristanzta! All the suggestions you made are exactly what the Non-ADHD partner needs to hear and see!

    • #70429

      The Non-ADHD Partner,

      This sounds like myself and my wife. We have had many arguments and it almost destroyed our marriage.

      Wish the 2 of you the best of luck.

      • #70599

        In full disclosure, I do not know the person who wrote the initial “letter” to the ADHD partner.
        I read it & just had to answer it because it resonated with me as I was diagnosed with ADHD about a year & a half after my divorce. Knowing what I know now, I see my past relationship in a new light. There were several similarities between this person’s letter & things my ex used to say. In writing a response, my hope is that it starts discussions in a new way for couples dealing with this. Maybe it will be able to help save a marriage or get a struggling couple to see they need counselling with a professional who really know what they are doing & a few tips that have worked for me in my new relationship that they could start now until they get the help they need 🙂

      • #70847

        patrolshark, I’m hoping what I wrote provides some insight to help couples/marriages stay together and work things through. Please keep me updated!

    • #70455

      I almost cried reading this post–it so mirrors the dynamics in my marriage, which after nearly a decade, I sadly had to end as I felt my mental and physical health were seriously at risk from being the 24/7 “rock” and by that time, we had a young daughter (who now exhibits these same ADD symptoms) who was also being neglected. yes, there was extreme frustration and i resorted to nagging which made things worse, but even when requests were calm and collected, no positive results ever came about. At the time, there were promises of next time and “my bad” etc in the best of times, but mostly denial of any issues, and even projection onto me of the very things I was attempting to address in his behavior. I begged for therapy, counseling, even going to church, but to no avail.

      I always felt if Jesus were at the center of our relationship, we could have made it work, or would have had a way better chance. It would have never been perfect, but there was still love there. I gave my life to Christ, but my husband had no interest whatsoever, even to save our marriage. He was relying on his own understanding, which was limited to what he needed to believe to protect his sensitive ego. Even after years apart, we still have love for each other, but it has taken all this time for me to recover emotionally (and financially) from the brink of complete destruction. I have witnessed miracles when God is given first place in relationships. If you have God in your life and can share worship and prayer together, you would have a much better chance of making it work, as our human abilities are frail and our personal reserves dry up. God can fill you and lift you up even in the toughest times. May God guide you and bless your marriage.

      • #70602

        Faith is good. Working through these kind of issues requires a healthcare professional with training and experience in this field. Unfortunately religious institutions do not require any formal training in couples counseling nor in ADHD. Using someone with good intentions and spiritual guidance is good, particularly for the nonADHD partner to vent frustrations and pray for more patients lol! However it could backfire if using them for couples counseling for this because they won’t have the depth nor breath of understanding of ADHD symptoms to actually provide the help required. Instead it can turn into a “ganging up” situation as the religious leader starts to hold the ADHD partner more accountable & lay blame on the partner not knowing these are ADHD symptoms & not a lack of caring or reasoning by the ADHD partner. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s hard & confusing and frustrating and maddening that there isn’t more that we know or can do or have common knowledge of management tools for ADHD partner relationships.

      • #70849

        askfrosky, the effects of ADHD on the non-ADHD partner is so overlooked that it leads to our own health and well being at risk. I’m not sure if you had a chance to read my first post, but in there I mentioned how there are very very few articles out there that would help the ADHD partner to understand what the non-adhd partner goes through. I feel like everything written is for the Non-ADHD partner to just “understand”, which really puts a lot of pressure on us. I’m hoping to change that by providing insight of what the non-adhd partners actually go through.

        I’m sorry you had to end your marriage because of this.

        I understand what you mean by having God in your relationship, it is very important to turn to faith first, and through that faith comes guidance. But because you put your faith first, you were able to be strong for your daughter!!

        I wish you the best of luck! And am proud of your strength!

    • #70461

      It breaks my heart to read letters from an ADHD perspective written to a non ADHD partner. I’m a partner to a man with ADHD, we live for the updates and emails from this site – it helps so much when my partner is struggling to put into words, how he is feeling. It also breaks my heart to know how little an ADHD partner thinks of themselves, low self esteem, self worth and constant doubt of themselves as an individual but as a partner as well. I try so hard to understand what my partner goes through, I’ll never totally get the measure of it, but reading these forums helps me (as well as him) understand and put into words the daily struggles he faces. What seems to be common place on these forums is the message that someone living with ADHD makes an awful partner. “Difficult to live with, difficult to pre-empt, difficult to love” if only non ADHD partners could make their loved ones see – every day you put yourself down, it breaks our hearts, all the things that you think make you “difficult” only make you, you! And you wouldn’t be you without all those characteristics. I’ve been with my partner for five years and yes we’ve had our ups and downs but I wouldn’t be without him, nor his quirky ways, that’s what makes me love him – he’s blunt, he’s realistic, hilariously funny, the ADHD symptoms aren’t as much of an obstacle to us as you think they are, they will always feel worse in your head than they do in ours. I will continue trying to learn as much as I can about ADHD and the life that comes with it, but it would be useful if, as someone living with ADHD – you can keep us in the loop. If there’s an article that you totally relate to – show us! Help us learn what you’re going through! Make us better at understanding but remember, this isn’t common ground for us, our brains don’t experience the same stuff you do so please be patient, and I hope I speak for all ADHD partners when I say: all we want to do is understand, help us do that, and it’ll make for as harmonious a relationship as possible with ADHD running through it. 🙂

      • #70603

        Love your post! In full disclosure, I don’t know the person who wrote the initial letter. But I do wish you & your partner the very best. You both are so far ahead of the curve as you both already know what it is – ADHD. Yes it’s a learning curve & it’s an ongoing process of trial and error and learning, but it sounds like you both are in it together and are open and willing to learn together and try.

      • #70851

        Elizabeth – it really does hurt us when our partner’s ADHD effects their self esteem which in turns effects everything else.

        I will try to post anything that I see that will help!

    • #70611

      My partner is 33 and just diagnosed last year with adhd and started Concerta. It does help but his impulsivity and poor executive functioning skills like organization and the ability to think back on previous experiences to make different choices moving forward has me in extreme frustration at times but at least now I know the reason. To be a partner if someone with adhd you need to learn the disorder inside and out and all that comes with it. Many people with adhd also have sensory processing issues and poor executive functioning skills. It is hard. My 8 year son also has adhd. And having 2 with adhd in the family is so hard. Luckily me and my youngest son do not have it although I have other mental illnesses so I get it to some extent. Lots of positive reinforcement whenever they are doing a behavior you want is critical. Dramatic praise lots of it. Positive reinforcement needs to be immediate and frequent. We are starting couples counseling as well. It’s not easy and I applaud all my adhd partners and non adhd partners that are trying to hold onto their relationship. You’re strong.

      • #70852

        Happy to hear that you’re starting counseling! Please keep me posted!

    • #70624

      Dear non-ADHD partner,
      You are right that I have an insatiable need to be liked. I’ve been going through therapy lately and have discovered that this is largely due to the severe emotional neglect I experienced as a child. Because this is not fair to you or our autistic son, I need to process these feelings, heal spiritually, and reconnect with you emotionally. I’m sorry I’ve been “checked out” and not giving you the support you need through these hard times. You have been my rock, and I know that’s a huge amount of pressure on you. Thank you for not giving up on our marriage. I will work hard to be the best version of me that I can be so that it will take some of the load off of you.
      Your ADHD partner

      • #70854

        Sullivan – you’re on the right track 🙂

    • #70883

      To the Non-ADHD partner from another Non-ADHD partner,

      You live in an emotional house-of-mirrors governed by ADHD. You can never know how your ADHD partner actually perceives things and what motivated them at a particular time. Your non-ADHD conception of reality does not match your ADHD partner’s conception of reality but you are still tasked with making everything work everyday in the real world. You can spend years researching ADHD and its symptoms but the person who is in charge of accepting and implementing an ADHD treatment plan has ADHD. Sometimes you may feel progress is being made in managing some symptoms of ADHD but the morphing specter of ADHD and co-morbid conditions is always there. Your ADHD partner may not acknowledge the various frantic things you do to ‘make everything work’ and may even scorn your attempts to make the problems visible to your ADHD partner.

      And also you may have children with ADHD.

      Do the best you can.

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