Guest Blogs

“My Boyfriend Couldn’t Stand My Symptoms, or The Story of My Valentine’s Day Breakup”

I wasn’t sure if I was into him. And turns out he was sure he wasn’t into me.

The last time I wrote about relationships and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on my blog was when I posed the question to you: “Is Mr.-Right-for-Everyone-Else Mr. Wrong for ADD Adults?” and you wrote very thoughtful answers.

But, it turns out, I was beaten to the punch. Two months ago, on Valentine’s Day, the pseudo-boyfriend opted out of a relationship with me. Since then, I’ve immersed myself in work, following in the footsteps of the equally scatterbrained boss whose home is the office. (Do you think she really loves working 24/7 or is this a case where she’s too disorganized to finish everything on time so she has to constantly be wired to her job?) This can be a fulfilling yet lonely route — but at least it’s better than a broken heart, and the reality is that the route to Mr. Right is not only unpaved but may not exist.

For me, being a workaholic is like a Bellini on a hot summer day; it dulls the reality of what I craved the most in my life — a good date, a soul mate, someone who is a romantic partner and a travel partner. When work isn’t satisfying enough to fill the void, I think about the good times with The Ex-Boyfriend — who, unlike the now ex-pseudo-boyfriend, when times were good between us was a guarantee of good company, good conversation, and good sex. Looking back on those times is like pouring salt on an open wound. And once I get in that state of mind, I’ll fixate on why there hasn’t been a filler boyfriend since then, someone who will chase after me and make me feel desirable. Is it the extra seven pounds that I’ve gained since moving to Asia for work (thanks to my family’s home cooking)?

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been far from being alone all these years. I’ve had too many dates and boyfriends — and too little traction — but not being alone is not the same as not being lonely. And I can’t help but want what most of my loved ones have — a stable relationship. Wouldn’t I feel more satisfied then?

In the two months since the boyfriend  has been out of my life, I’ve resisted the urge to reconnect with him simply for the sake of having someone around. It is on the holidays, the scraps of downtime in the evenings, and at the family dinners with the relatives that I sometimes regret not having invested more in this relationship.

“Maybe if I had shown more interest, if I had forced myself to give him more of a chance,” I said to a girlfriend.

“But you weren’t interested in him. You weren’t attracted to him,” she said.

“But maybe I pushed him away unconsciously. Maybe I don’t even know what I want,” I said.

“You called him a short man,” my friend reminded me.

True, but in the end, it wasn’t just his height. It was his personality and everything he represented that I wasn’t — well-organized, a real planner, a good executor, and self-confident.

And therein lies the real problem — it wasn’t about looks; it was about personality. He is the sort of person who staples papers on a marked spot and keeps his car keys in the same place. My constantly changing thoughts, my scattered conversations, and my, well … what some would call flakiness — all of these very real ADHD symptoms and challenges, which will be a part of me for life — annoyed him. When I feel tempted to call him, I remember how suffocated I felt when he wanted to schedule times to talk with me, the same time, the same day, and I felt suffocated by what I regarded as rigidity or maybe a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While the stability and certainty of a relationship is something I crave, the boyfriend couldn’t understand why I can be so unpredictable, why so often I would change my mind. And I never felt like I could tell him.

Besides, is it really possible for someone like me, someone with ADHD, to be with someone so stable? Does the condition keep me from getting tied down? Am I too inattentive and distracted to settle into a relationship, or am I simply commitment-phobic?

Since no guys in recent history have stuck around long enough to help me figure out the answer, it’s back to burying my head in my work. Satisfied or not, it’s all I’ve got right now.