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10 Ways to Save Your Relationship

All you need is love, right? Wrong. If you or your partner has ADHD, follow these rules to foster communication, build trust, and reciprocate support.

22 Comments: 10 Ways to Save Your Relationship

  1. I am medicated and I do have professional help. My husband is laughter therapy personified as he innately defaults to humour to defuse a situation. So I’m so very fortunate. For the fist 9 years of our 10 year marriage, we weren’t aware of my ADHD, as is common with women. But now I understand why I was so volatile (intermittent explosive disorder, rejection dysphoria) until I was medicated. So the main point I want to share, is that for us, the biggest contributing factor to being happy together is that divorce and separation never comes close to being an option. For me being religious is what stops my mind from going there as, before I converted when I was agnostic, I knew I did not have the capacity to commit. Of course, there are atheists who have wonderful life-long relationships, but it took a higher principle rather than personal outlook in my case. The idea that divorce is not an idea then compels you to work through problems regardless of the effort. It brings you closer, and saves you the heartache of very possibly reliving the same problems one failed relationship after another.

  2. This is a question for Mr. Halverstadt…
    In your book “ADD and Romance” you mentioned what seems like a switch that gets flipped after spending time in a relationship, and once that happens you lose interest. My question is, have you ever found any kind of solution for that? I have ADHD and a traumatic brain injury(primary damage to right frontal lobe(craniotomy)), and have experienced this type of problem for a very long time. I’ve even lost a fiance’ to suicide, because she thought the problem was her(per the note that she left). Honestly, I cannot recall a relationship where this switch being flipped hasn’t happened. The time from the beginning of the relationship to the time when the switch flips can vary from a couple months to a year. I have tried various medications geared to ADHD, and am currently on Adderall, but find none help at all with this problem. I welcome any suggestions.

    Thank you.

  3. Since something like a year or so my brain decided to not love my boyfriend anymore. We hit the 3 years mark and then boom, suddenly I dont feel connected to him anymore. He is the sweetest person you can imagine. He is thoughtful, caring and everything that you wish in a man. And sometimes I dont have that for weeks, but suddenly there is a voice inside my head that tells me “Wouldnt it be nice to live alone? Or you could go on random dates alone? Or just not involve him in any of your future plans?”
    Im surprised at how well I’m conceiling these phases (which go on for weeks as well), because 3 Month ago he planned a surprise proposal. Its a long story, but in the end I finally got the courage to tell him how I feel , or better, how I sometimes dont feel, and he canceld the proposal.

    I dont know what to do. Oh yeah I have ADHD which is probably obvious. Yes I am on medication (which is working well for me), do Sports 3-5 times a week and sleep well. I also dont want to gaslight me too much, maybe I just have a gut feeling that hes not the right for me and I am not the right for him. But then again: Am I just understimulated? What should I do then?

  4. Hi there, I am the non ADD partner and I read all the tips you have and I resent the fact of how you betray us as naggers and not able to be understanding at all. I am so not like that and would never be such a horrible person to my partner but yet this is all you can come up on how to deal with ADD when you’re not the one with it? There has to be more people like me who are looking for solutions on to do continually deal with the symptoms of this disorder. Please stop calling us names and labeling us as difficult to live with when we are the one’s who are not. I look forward to hearing some as I am sinking

    1. Hi Jane, Can you explain what you mean by contacting “greatmutaba”? You do not say who they are and what this will achieve. I am reluctant to contact an email address unless I know more about it. Please enlarge on your comment. It may be of help to a lot of people on here. I was intrigued to go back into this forum now and re-read all my comments of a year ago, and the replies. I did, indeed, make huge changes in my life. I saw a shop for sale shortly after making these comments in September 2017 and bought it this May.(Arts and Crafts by the seaside) and I opened it 2 days ago. It has helped to get my own life back on track, but I still wonder and worry about this man I wrote at great length about a year ago. It seems that when some-one has crossed our path in life it is not that easy to just leave them behind and not wonder how they are doing. Many thanks. L.

  5. I’m in relationship with a man who I believe has ADD/ADHD. The biggest issue is anger and neglect. I have to tiptoe around any subject I want to discuss because his emotional trigger is so sensitive. On the other hand, I listen to him get giddy and excited about his male hangout buddies. If I want to communicate something I think we should work on it ends in a verbal war 8 out of 10 times because he gets defensive. I’m really at my wits’ end because nothing is constructive; his go-to argument is: “you’re always diminishing me” or “look at what you just said.” Even an attempt to discuss how angry he gets (arms folded, cursing, calling names) ends in a battle. I don’t know how to reach him.

    1. I have a couple of suggestions that I hope might help. First, you might try writing a letter about whatever issue you currently need to discuss. Be careful not to accuse or imply a motive or intention, but stay objective about what happened and then state how that makes you feel. “When you (action), I feel (emotion). I would like it if you’d (state what action or response you want).”
      Second, when he starts to get loud, state what he is doing. “You’re yelling at me. Please stop yelling.” Stay calm and repeat in the same tone (which is hard when in the heat of the moment) until he hears you. If you’re sure he’s heard you and still yells, I would suggest you walk away and try another time and/or another tactic.
      It’s possible that he does it (maybe subconsciously) as a way to avoid bigger conflicts that he thinks will be damaging, or to avoid the blame he thinks is imminent. If he knows it will be about finding a solution, not finding fault, that may also help.
      Counseling, of course, could also be helpful. If not as a couple, you can go for yourself.
      Best wishes.

      1. I find that I often get very defensive when I feel like I am failing. My biggest fear as that people will discover I am a fraud. That I am not a good person and they have no reason to love me. I know this is irrational, but it’s there none the less.

        What works best for me is when people ask me questions about why I did what I did, what I was expecting to happen, how it could’ve been done differently. It lets me come to my own conclusions and then I become more open to asking how I can change. Then the door is open to be told something, because I wasn’t told I did something wrong but rather That I have an opportunity to improve.

        Most people with BPD can’t handle feelings, especially negative ones. So by looking at things as an opportunity to improve, it make things positive not negative and positive emotions are much easier to manage. It also lets us know that who we are is acceptable.

      2. Scorch, It was good to see your recent comment above. See my response to Jane’s comment also, and how I have moved on with my life. It is not easy to learn to love oneself, and it must be especially difficult when trying to cope with a huge disability such as ADHD or BPD. I hope you can come to terms with this and realize that you are indeed a valued member of society, with many, many qualities to offer the world. You have already reached out and benefitted many people by commenting on this forum, I am sure. I hope you will find some peace and joy in your life, as you get a better understanding of yourself and the fact that we are all different. One thing I have learnt is that there can be no change in your life unless you make changes. It sounds obvious but is not always understood. L.

    2. Verbatim, I can really, really relate to what you have said here. See my comments above, about my current situation. Why do we do it? Why do we stick around to be abused in this way? I cannot, honestly, understand it myself. It is like picking a scab. I guess it is because we are caring, giving, loving people who can actually see the whole picture, relate to and understand the other person, and want to try to help in some way. Most people would just walk away from it all. But, thank God there are caring, giving, loving people in the world, otherwise there would be NO help for all the fragile, wounded, vulnerable people out there. They need our help. I do NOT feel guilty about being caring and loving – I think it is a beautiful trait – but we just have to be sure that we take care of ourselves, too. For me – there are many, many times when he is sweet, caring, loving and a joy to be with – but then the “other” side of him comes out now and again (usually when he is stressed to the eyeballs) and he is a monster. Jekyll and Hyde. Then there is the booze, which he uses to cope with his anxiety. Like your man, his first comment after a row is usually “you always spoil things, we were having a nice time”. Why can they not SEE that it is they who spoil things? I guess it is a gut-reaction – a defensive reaction when they “project” their problem onto us – in order to get rid of it. Projection is a fascinating subject. If you do not already understand it, look it up. It is exactly that – in order to release themselves from the burden of guilt and anxiety – they will “project” – i.e. try to give or force – the problem onto the other person (like a film projecton camera), so that they can get rid of it and feel relief. My man is the same – he never wants to discuss it all. I guess it makes them very anxious and they can’t cope with that. Would it work for you if you wrote him a letter? Or maybe suggest that you go away for the week-end or a short holiday and try to discuss it then when he is more relaxed? Try to pick your moment. For me, there never seems to be a good time when we can sit down and discuss it sensibly. Of course – you will have to try to keep calm and not allow him to rile you. Not easy, I do know, as they are very good at that!! One thing that has helped me is the mantra – “QTIP” – meaning “Quit Taking it Personally”. Even though it feels like it – it is not usually personal, when they lash out at us. They have a problem. They just can’t handle their emotions. I wonder if going to the gym, running, cycling, martial arts, boxing or other energetic exercise would help him to “get it out” and calm him down? Can you get some counselling for yourself. Some advice as to what is the best course of action to help him? Would your doctor help? I am new to all this, as it has only recently occured to me that ADHD may be the problem here. We need some advice as to what we can do to help. Can anyone else on here point us in that direction, PLEASE? Otherwise, maybe the answer IS to just walk away, with love in your heart, for your sanity. Best of luck. And if you come up with a solution, please let us know!! Lorna

  6. Jonathon, Oh my goodness, your response could not have come at a better time – after all this time. Very strange!! My Angels watching over me? I just spent a couple of days last week-end with this man (it was meant to be five days). He had arranged a concert in the Church with his choir and I went to support him and stay with him. However, after a couple of days, he got really angry with me for something I said and threw me out. He and his crazy (female) neighbour, who he regularly gets drunk with, then rang me the next evening. She lambasted me and verbally laid into me saying I was a jealous woman and why did I upset him like that? I put the phone down, but they kept ringing and ringing me all evening. He rang me yesterday evening, but I could not take the call, and when I rang back shortly after, he ignored the call. I tried to ring just now this mornng, after a sleepless night wonderng what to do, but they have blocked my number on his phone and mobile. He has certainly come to a very critical point in his life now, it would seem. He drinks heavily, he has no money, and has taken out a loan. She controls him, but he seems to like that. He hangs on her every word, and goes to her for advice about me. Then, of course, she sets him against me, saying spiteful things and telling lies – both about me and also to me about him. He insists there is “nothing between them” – they are just “good friends”, but they spend lots of time together, he takes her to social functions with him, she borrows his car (and doesn’t put petrol in), they cook meals for each other and often shop together for the food. It seems to me that there is a “lot between them”. However, I know they do not sleep together, but how long will it be before they do? Certainly in the past, before I came on the scene, she would crash out on his bed, fully clothed, after a long boozing session, when they were both paralytic. She has an even crazier alcoholic sister who is at the moment in prison for stabbing her boyfriend. She used to come round regularly and drink with my man, and one Saturday evening he gave her his credit card to buy some food as she said she would cook for him on the Sunday. Of course, she did not buy the food or cook for him – she used the card to buy booze. It is crazy. He did want me to go to see him last week-end, calls me Sweetheart, said how nice it was being cuddled up in bed (no sex!), and we had a good time until the row. He just seems to blow his top at the least provocaton. He is certainly very stressed and depressed at the moment. He got stressed over organizing the concert. He also had a funeral the same day, two weddings the next day, Saturday, and 2 church services on the Sunday (he plays the organ in church). I noticed his playing after the weddings was very, very slow, but he didn’t realize that. I have tried to get him to see the doctor – to no avail. It just goes on and on. As you say “a merry dance” – but not so “merry”. He seems to be absolutely crazy. And where I thought it was only the booze before, I wonder now if there is something else underlying this. His father ended up having a mental health disorder – whether dementia or Alzhiemers I don’t know. Maybe the booze has destroyed part of his brain, or maybe he was always like this. Maybe it is ADHD, which was unheard of when we were young. Either way – he is in a really bad place, and I do not know what to do to help. I have begged him to let me help him, but he just cannot open up and talk. He is certianly “Bottled Up”, and that cannot be helping with the stress levels. He went to a boys boarding school, only has a brother, who he does not see now, has no other friends than this woman and her family and a domineerig mother, so I just think he does not know how to be with women. He is terrified of women – and this woman next door has completely taken over his life. He told me a little while ago that she “would not allow him to see me”. WHY? He also says she is an important part of his life, and any girlfriend would need to understand that. It worries me, because his mother is very wealthy and elderly, and I think this woman is just waiting until she dies and he inherits all her money and her beautiful house and furniture. They will, of course, just drink it all away. He is very, very vulnerable. He is hopeless with money – just does not understand it. He became bankrupt, borrowed client money he could not then pay back, and went to prison for it. He does not seem to understand people. he is too trusting and cannot see the bad in people. He is very caring, feels sorry for people, and will do anything for anyone – a “people pleaser” – therefore he gets taken advantage of – especially by this woman. He hates confrontation and will not stand up for himself. It just makes me feel so worried for him and so frustrated that I cannot do anything to help – because she has well and truly got her claws into him and poisoned him against me. Now I can’t even ring him, because she has blocked my phone number. What on earth can I do? I did send an email this morning, and of course, there is still the post. And maybe I should just go and see him. But it is a long-distance relationship and a 3 to 4 hour drive. Have you any thoughts? Has anyone else any thoughts? I hate to leave him to the mercy of this woman. I know his children would be horrified – but they are young (23 nd 25) and do not need to have the worry about their father. But should I contact them? Do they have a right to know what is going on? Should I contact his ex-wife and ask her advice and let her decide if the children get involved? They are a lovely, lovely family and are getting on with their lives. I don’t know what to do for the best. Of course, I could walk away – but to me that is the coward’s way out. And I read a quote “I would rather regret the things I DID do than regret the things I DID NOT do”. I don’t want to regret not doing all I could to help. And after all, I do love him. He usually gets worse in the winter when he sits on his own all day drinking and the weather is not good and the National Trust property he volunteers at is closed. By the way – I am going for counselling myself shortly, and have signed up to be trained as a telephone counsellor to help family and friends of alcoholics – so maybe out of bad there will come something good. I just feel like curling up in a ball at the moment, and howling. Will it ever end? I hope this is of help to others. Lorna

    1. PS – He did ring me a couple of weeks ago and say that he thought he should leave the town where he lives and come and stay with me. But he said I did not understand how difficult it is to give up the drink. I said I did, but that he needs help. I said I would not hold my breath, as I have suggested that now for so long – but that my door would always be open. And I have said that again over the last few days, via email. I said he can even have his own apartment, if he wishes, as I have a large house, and live on my own. So maybe that is still an option. He is trying to cut down on the booze – so that is always a good sign. Lorna

  7. The most important thing is for you to focus on you and not the other person. You seem to already have some awareness that this is an unhealthy “dance” that the two of you do. It would seem to me that you might want to go learn some new “dance steps” and the best places I know to do that are in therapy and/or a 12-step group for people who struggle with relationship choices. There are several different 12-step programs out there to choose from and the most important thing is to find one that you feel comfortable attending. Go to several different meetings to shop for a group. Listen to the other members’ stories and see if there is anything there you can relate to and see what you might learn from listening to their strength, hope and experience. Codependents Anonymous might be a great place to start. Since your friend/partner seems to have struggles with alcohol, you might want to consider Al-Anon.

    If you continue to focus on your “friend” you will likely continue to be frustrated, confused and dazed. It is hard enough to change oneself and next to impossible to change anyone else.

    There was a book written several years ago called “One Way Ticket To Kansas” by author Ozzie Tinman. I don’t know if there is anything in that book that might help, but I thought it is when I read your post.

    Good luck and keep us posted. By sharing your experiences as you walk through this, you may be able to help others — just like you — who are seeking help.

    1. Jonathon, thank you for your suggestion that I get this book. I looked it up and find it is related to Borderline. Do you think my man may suffer from this rather than ADHD? I did think some while ago that it WAS Borderline he has, as he gets anxious about “being abandoned” and left on his own, but now I feel that the ADHD symptoms are more relevant. Do they cross-over or are co-morbid? I would be interested in your opinion. Lorna

      1. I have no idea if your man has ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder or anything else. Everyone deserves to take good care of themselves so that they can be reasonably happy in this lifetime. Each one of us are responsible for our own happiness. When we over-focus on someone and tie our happiness to them and how they behave, life just doesn’t seem to be so “happy.” Too often, rather than accepting someone the way they are and making decisions about relationships based on that reality-based information (i.e., I accept this person the way they are and either choose to be in relationship with them or choose to not be in relationship with them) we, as a culture tend to try to change the other person into what we want them to be. But that just doesn’t work. It is like the old adage, “You can’t teach a pig to sing; it doesn’t work and it just annoys the pig.” I wish for you peace and happiness.

      2. Thank you Jonathon for your response. I DID, however, find it rather blunt, rude and upsetting – so I hope that is your ADHD taking over, and you did not mean it that way. You did ask that I keep in touch for the sake of others on here. YOU suggested I read the book and I was simply asking if you were suggesting that it is Borderline that is the problem here, rather than ADHD. Or if they cross-over or are co-morbid – i.e. exist together. You didn’t answer that.
        Regarding trying to “change” someone. That is certainly NOT what I am intending to do. I am trying to understand what his problem is. I want desperately to HELP this man, who fnds coping with life and relationships so VERY difficult. I hoped that someone on this forum may be able to point me in the right direction. I am aware that we can only change ourselves, but with self-awareness it may be clear to him that change IS necessary. It is certainly possible to change oneself. The brain is plastic and changeable – if one is willing. I have changed MY way of thinking radically, in many ways, since I have known him, and continue to seek tollerance, awareness and change through understanding. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect him to see that self-awareness, tollerance and change is also required on his part – ADHD or not. Surely that is part of ANY loving relationship. Understanding, accepting, and accommodating the one you love, and endeavouring to change oneself where change is necessary – for the sake of the relationship. I wonder if I have hit a raw nerve with you?
        You said earlier to find some new “dance steps” – which I am trying to do. Yes, I fully agree, that after working on the relationship for a period of time, without the other person trying and without any perceivable results, it is probably time to walk away. For our own sanity. Particularly when ADHD is involved. I am beginning to realize that people with this condition are unable to see the others’ point of view, and have a very inflexible mind-set. So very sad. Lorna

  8. Hi everyone, I’ve stumbled upon this website, and wonder if this is the “problem” with my man-friend (I hesitate to say “partner” because our relaionship has been up and down, on and off for almost five years, and I still dont know where I stand with him). I love him, but find it almost impossible to have what I would call a “proper” or “normal” relationship with him. I spend all my time worrying about him and reading stuff and crying – getting depressed about it all. I am obssessed with him, but worry so much about him, I do not want to give up on him. He seems unable to regulate his life on his own, without the alcohol. I am 68 and he is 64. We are long-distance and do not see much of each other – although we did used to communicate regularly, but not so much recently. That seems to suit him – although he did ask ages ago where we were going, and I said I could not have a drunk in my life. I asked him to do something about the booze, but it seems he is not able to – certainly without support, which he does not want. He seems to need it to cope with his depression and anxiety – but it makes him more depressed. I struggle to keep in touch with him. He insists he does want me in his life, but he gets angry with me and throws me out of his flat after being together for several days, blocks my texts and often does not answer phone calls or emails, or phone me when he says he will. I knew him for four years socially before we got together, and fancied him the moment I set eyes on him. He is otherwise a very sweet man, and will do anything for anyone – much too much sometimes, in my opinion. He doesn’t seem to understand the “rules” of society, and people take advantage of him. We fell very much in love after our first kiss – but things went down-hill from there!! He is most definitely “different”, but then I probably am, too, in other ways – and I liked his quirkyness. I do not conform with what is “expected” a lot of the time – I am a rebel and like being different. I used to love his difference, but now after almost five years it is getting worse and worse. Firstly, he has a huge drink problem, and smokes, which I think is made worse by me being in his life. Although he never drinks and smokes when I visit – which I find amazing. He gets very anxious, has OCD, gets angry very easily, cannot see my point of view, blames me for the upsets, gets paranoid and imagines things that are not true, but then calms down and DOES try very hard to “be nice” and make an effort to be “normal”, and treat me nice – til the next angry outburst!!. I think he may also be addicted to sex (or was in his youth) although he seems to have a hang-up about that now and cannot perform – and gets anxious about that – feels guilty, I think. I have struggled to understand him, read loads of stuff on alcoholism, but after reading these articles, it seems to me that I have found the missing jig-saw piece. Does he have ADHD? But, do I suggest this to him? He may go absolutely crazy at the suggestion. Will counselling improve things – it seems it might. He might be glad that I have unearthed something positive that he can work on and improve his life. Should I give up on him as a bad job? Certainly my friends are horrified that I am still wih him after all the emotional abuse I have suffered. What do others think? I would really appreciate some input here. V.

    1. Hi Lorna!

      I stumbled on this article and read “most” of your commment and the man you describe sounds very similar to myself, although I’ve learned to manage my addictions, mostly…

      I have comorbid ADHD and BPD which from what I have read is not uncommon. I have the intense emotions with ADHD and an inability to regulate them. Then I have an inability to cope with them from the BPD that results in very turbulent relationships and dangerous behaviors. My wife and I have been together for 12 years now and married for 5 and I would be lying if I didn’t tell you almost every day is a struggle for us. But she understands my issues and loves me anyway.

      I would love to connect with you and discuss this further. I would like to suggest however that you keep in mind many individuals with ADD/ADHD don’t have the attention span to read lengthy responses, or at least that is the case for me!

    2. Lorna, this doesn’t sound like anyone I know with ADHD. Including myself. I’m not a psychiatrist, so it’s certainly *possible* that ADHD is underlying the rest of his issues, but you really didn’t mention any symptoms that fit this.
      In my opinion, you could probably benefit from some good counseling regarding boundaries. You and this man you’re (in your own words) “obsessed” with are both waving some big red flags here.
      I hope you have moved forward since this was posted. Best wishes to you.

      1. “He gets very anxious, has OCD, gets angry very easily, cannot see my point of view, blames me for the upsets, gets paranoid and imagines things that are not true”
        I don’t know, it sounds to be a fair fit to me. He may love alcohol so dearly because of the lack of dopamine.

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