Unemployed ADD girlfriend

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    • #48856

      Hi! My girlfriend and I have been together for about two years, and living together for the past 8 months. She has, in her words, pretty severe ADD–needs Adderall to wake up in the morning, which is a 60-minute process typically. Her circadian rhythm tends toward the later side, so she’s in bed around 3am typically.

      She has been unemployed the entire time we’ve lived together. I know that she looks for work daily, but she steadfastly refuses to take certain types of jobs. She will not for instance do any sort of bar/restaurant work, won’t work retail, and won’t work at a coffee shop.

      Financially, I cover everything. I’m able to do this, but it’s wearing on me. She’s home by herself all day, doesn’t have a circle of friends or consistent social outlet, so she expects a lot of emotional support from me as well.

      This is beginning to take a toll and I’m less and less okay with providing total financial support for her. Which would effectively spell the end of the relationship; I’ve asked her to consider taking ANY job, just to give her something to do and supply a little income. She says that she can only do jobs that she finds interesting, and that I’m being insensitive to her condition by suggesting she just take “any job.”

      Am I being unreasonable in expecting her to try to contribute something? Or is ADD so debilitating that there’s no way she can support herself?

    • #48865

      She supported herself before you came into her life as a financial source. I believe you already have an idea of the answer. Do you have a legal obligation to support her? Are you concerned with reflections on you? Relationships between legal adults are negotiable. Either party can walk away at any time.

    • #48878

      I sense you are looking for less of a should I stay or should I go answer. It seems like you are asking two different questions but you are only looking for a response to the obvious question. Obviously an adult is able to attain work and help out financially in a relationship. I will admit the second question is a lot more complex. Why can’t she just take “any job”?

      I’m not an expert or anything but being someone who struggles with both focus and authority I get where your girlfriend is coming from. Working at an unsatisfactory job will just lead to resentment. The income she is bringing in will mean next to nothing to you personally while she is expected to stay unhappy for your personal gain. I’m not saying you shouldn’t expect her to contribute financially but just taking any job will not help either. Taking “any job” will lead to either her being let go or her quitting out of frustration.

      Instead of expecting her to go out and get “any job” maybe ask her to start contributing a certain amount of dollars towards household expenses by a reasonable date. You would be surprised how much a little bit of communication can help in any relationship.

      I highly recommend the commission sales industry. There is nothing more rewarding then making your own money.

      Hope this helps!

    • #48882

      that helps a lot, actually, and certainly helps me frame how I think about this. The issue is less a financial one, we’re living in Pittsburgh and I earn a good salary, so the cost of living isn’t as bad as it could be, and there are eventually going to be opportunities for her I would assume. I do understand that having ADHD can make uninteresting jobs completely unbearable.

    • #48887
      Penny Williams

      The ADHD brain is motivated by interest and urgency alone, not by importance, as is the neurotypical brain.

      Secrets of Your ADHD Brain

      For her to realize that she needs employment that is interesting to succeed is very self-aware and astute. She is looking for an environment where she can be successful, not just employed. Because your finances are solid, she’s able to take her time and wait for a suitable opportunity.

      The fact that she is actively seeking employment is another good sign. She’s not just “mooching.”

      Here are some job search and employment tips that she may find helpful too:

      Finding Joy on the Job

      Secrets of Job Success

      Finding a Career That Works For You

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #48984

        My non-adhd opinion is this is not all that related to working and income. It is what you a willing to give without getting much back. if this is her attitude now she has a long way to go. If you love her unconditionally, take her by the hand and explore the next bend and the millions beyond that. It can be exciting, but it already sounds as if you’re in for a rough ride. My experience and one mans opinion.

    • #49191

      ADHD is a strange beast, and it definitely has something to do with this story, but it may come about sideways. It is true that there are jobs which an ADHD person is having a hard time doing; however, those tend to be repetitive, stationary jobs with no job independence. The jobs listed are not necessarily ADHD-unfriendly, but they are a lot of work and low paid, and you generally don’t have a breather by yourself. As an introvert, I find these jobs unappealing; as a totally spacey and novelty-seeking ADD person, they are not too bad (and I did work retail in high school). So I would suspect her dislike of these jobs doesn’t stem from ADHD directly. But at the same time it is true that if you have ADHD and there is something you dislike for any reason, you’ll have a hard time doing it.

      If she is an introvert (and there are tests you both can take), she may actually not need a circle of friends, and an online social outlet can be enough. She might just be trying to reconnect emotionally with you at the end of the day. It’s worth checking out.

      Are there things that she enjoys doing? If money is not an issue, could she take some classes in the direction of her interests? Does she show signs of depression, or burnout from her previous job? You might also suggest alternative ways for her to “generate” money, such as doing projects for which you would pay otherwise (taxes, yard work?).

      And now to the ADHD-specific part of the equation, that may be at play here — there are three things that would trigger an ADHD person to start a project: strong interest, a challenge you can’t ignore, or sheer terror. It’s brain chemistry, sadly — sense doesn’t come into it, and neither does wanting. For more on this non-starter thing, see http://marlacummins.com/adhd-resources-and-support/ . She had a section specifically about initiating. An ADHD coach may also help her a lot.

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