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my boyfriend has ADD

topic posted Wed, February 16, 2005 - 4:50 PM by  Renelle
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we've been dating for 5 months now and things have been going great...like we havent had a "fight" just exchanged words lol. but it is really hard to read him sometimes like what his moods are and stuff i mean alot of the time i know what hes feeling but sometimes it difficult to understand where he is coming from.
posted by:
Renelle
New York
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  • My suggestion as someone who has ADD is to communicate clearly. Be almost blunt. Beating around the bush does not work with most ADDers. When he explains what is going on in his mind, don't read into it anything more than he says.

    Here is the main thing I have noticed in my relationship with people that don't have ADD:

    When a person without ADD speaks to me there is unpoken information (the stuff in between the lines) I only process the words. I simply do not see what is being suggested subtly.

    When I speak to a person who does not have ADD, I say what is on my mind. I do not have any information except for my words. There is no in between the lines. The non ADD person will read between the lines at something that does not exist.

    This is where the communication breaks down.

    You can read my post on external vs. internal reference to see why this happens.
    • I do not have ADD and am a blunt communicator. Sledghammer style sometimes, especially if I am in a hurry or unhappy. I hate reading between the lines and really scare people who take my very blunt communication and try to read ever further into it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I get along so well with my ADD partners.
      • Yes, you are probably slightly non-linear (ADD is the extreme of that) and internal referencing with the ability to understand external referenced societal norms. A truly gifted crosser of the divide :)

        You are clearly internal referent... that is for sure!

        I really only jive with the blunt speakers. I spent most of my young adulthood feeling unattractive because I thought no woman liked me (they did but linear women are typically VERY nuanced in their expression of attraction (ADD women can be too)) The first woman that came along and said "Cory, we are going to sleep together tonight" won my heart (broke it later but that is another story :) )
    • s
      s
      offline 1
      You seem to be very aware of ADD and how to explain it to others... I also read your other post re: external vs. internal... quick question is how would one know when it ADD and when its not... I've been dating this guy on and off for a long time (1yr) and when I found out he had ADD a lot of the confusion made so much sense... he says he cares but is always flaking on plans... or something comes up that catches him and he breaks plans or doesn't complete them so he can go do the more interesting thing... Which I am always cool with because I have others stuff I need to do or can go do and will see him another time...I've asked if he didn't want to spend time with me and he said that's not it but he right now just wants to hang with the guys...cool & straight forward (one of the many things I love about him is there is no guessing)So I am asking for an outside opinion here from you on when do you think it is ADD and when is it he's just not that interested... or am I just thinking way//// to much about this all...I tend to do that... I am curious of what you will have to say...thanks for your time...
      • i wish my partner had the same things with not keeping me guessing. my ex-partner (we are separated and seeking couples councelling) drive everyone around her completely nuts. her overbearing manner, forgetfulness, flaking, lateness (45+ minutes for meetings, leaving me waiting on the corner for 25 minutes for no reason than she got distracted), over-emotionality, secret keeping, total slovenliness, lack of cleaning up after her cats (litter left for weeks, cat puke half cleaned up), spilling coffee ALL OVER the kitchen and barely cleaning a tiny part of it up and saying "what?!? i cleaned", having a party and not cleaning up after herself and leaving it so her roomie had to do it cause tons of food was just left out all over the counters to rot. she also did lots of drugs during another huge dinner party and left her guests to wait and finally cook their own food, since she could not begin to concentrate on handling it herself, even though her roomie would come to her every 20 or 30 minutes to ask her to cook and finally help him and my roomate cook the meal for everyone else.

        she is a very compassionate person but she seems to completely lack any empathy for other people. she is not direct. she does not call to say she will be late, she cancels things at the last minute. she has been fired from a job for being late, and asked to leave a volunteer endeavor because of a full list of totally inconsiderate things she has done, like disempowering others with her overbearing nature, and flaking, being late, not following through on big projects, not meeting contracted expectations, shouting people down, insisting she is the most informed, going against group decisions, etc.

        she admits she may have ADD or ADHD, her dad has ADHD. she won't get a formal diagnosis though because she fears it will effect future jobs or insurance. this feels like so many of the other things she does, she says she will deal with it, but she won't do the most logical thing. she creates elaborate other things to do instead of just doing the logical thing. she even has a job with insurance right now.

        i have all my own issues with codependency and stuff that i am trying to work on. i love her but i feel like over and over again she does these things or doesn't do these things and hurts me and her not taking accountability or just appologizing over and over but then going and doing them again is so frustrating and means i do not trust her, at all anymore.

        is it worth trying to fix this?

        -robin

        btw - we split because she got involved with someone else and renegotiated their relationship into something i said i was uncomfortable with and so she didn't tell me. she admits she was a chickenshit, but she never even needed to lie to me, it may have been hard but she could have talked to me, especially since when we did talk about her other relationship i would constantly catch her in subtrefuge, and she was also at this same time on tribe and another site i go to asking questions and telling those folks about the new nature of her relationship but she wouldn't tell me even when i asked.
        • You are not alone. A lot of the feelings you're having I am or have felt. I can't offer any advice just some one who is there also. The lack of empathy is a part of the "internal vs external" that has been discussed, which by the way really helped put things in the light. It's a tough question and I go back and forth hourly. I think if they are diagnosed and are doing some kind of treatment it really helps. Mine admits to having it when pressed but acts as if it doesn't affect his relationship with me. Although he will admit to it affecting other relationship. I put it down as a defense.
          By the way ADD and ADHD are covered under the ADA(Americans with Disabilities Act) regarding it affecting her job. It also means that treatment is covered. which makes it even more frustration g for me because his excuse is no insurance. When I informed him he said he would look into it.
          • Unsu...
             
            Just a note about the ADD/ ADA stuff. my understanding of an employer's responsibility based on the ADA's recognition of ADD/ADHD is that the employer, when disclosed to by the employee, has to provide REASONABLE accomodation to the employee but it is up to the employee to make the request for accomodation. Also, the employer is allowed to refuse the request if it will cause a financial hardship on the employer (as might be the case in a very small company with a small operating budget.) Employers are not obligated to offer anything else... including treatment. Treatment has to be covered by insurance. Also, ADA recognition DOES NOT MEAN that your employer CAN'T fire you if you can't do the work required of you after reasonable accomodation has been made. This information was relayed to me in an ADD and Work Issues seminar by someone who is an expert on these things but i always recommend verifying this yourself.
            • This makes sense to me. I know that for disabilities the accomodation has to be reasonable. Not causing the employer unreasonable costs. The treatment I was refering it is the in Calif we have an insurance program for people that don't have insurance through thier employer. And yes they can fire you if after making the accomodation you still can't do the work. It goes back to a reasonable effort. They are not here to mother or take care of you but they do have to make some kind of effort(when requested, employers can't read minds). They can't assume to know you have a disibility. It has to come from the employee. But there is help out there if requested.
              • thanks to both of you Sonja and poodle. it is nice to hear that my frustrations are real and valid. i feel really bad that i feel so angry at my lover but i also am often at wits end. i used to do all kinds of things to mitigate her stuff, like doing her chores, cleaning her house (i would say to myself, "heck i have the time, she does all kinds of other things for me"), sometimes giving her cats water or food, putting up with it when she would pick me up to do something we had prearranged and then drive towards somewhere completely else and leave me to ask where we were going.

                the thing is that i know she loves me, i just do not know what to do. and it is also interesting to hear about this hyperfocus thing because it sounds sorta like what she also does sometimes that is different but equally baffling. i have come to describe it as her "i am gonna do whatever works for me. it works for me and that is all that matters". that is how it feels on the outside as someone who is around or interacting with her when she gets this way. i can shout at the top of my lungs that i am starving and she promised me we were going to food, and she will look at me a bit blankly, tell me i'm being unreasonable and then get out of the car and go into a store.
                it feels like dealing with an alien. i feel invisible. she will say she loves me and would never hurt me and then she will take me somewhere where there is no food in her car and do whatever it is that works for her, my hunger totally doesn't enter into her reality, or the fact that i cannot do anything about it. i have learned that i must have contingency plans at all times with her. i must have money to leave, even if that means a taxi in the middle of the night or i cannot go with her somewhere. it feels like i must be suspicious of her all the time because i can never imagine she would do the things she does because she is also a loving and generous and caring person who does things for others all the time.

                • robin she is. I feel the same about my guy. He will focus on something that maynot have anything to do with the real world. I just keep telling myself "he's internal, he's internal" I had to kinda laugh at the things you described because he might not do the same things but does the same type of things. Yes it means having money for a taxi, making sure I am fed. But JSin gave me some great advice about taking my life back. There does reach a point where you have too or I think I would have to break up with him. I think and don't quote me but if I can take my life back on some things I don't mind the other times. I think what he was trying to tell me was to take of myself first. It means when he's doing his talking marathon I tell him to be quiet. I need some quiet time. Or point out to him that he is voalizing every thought that comes into his head and to filter them. In conversations bringing him back to the point. I'm will to do this till he gets his structure in place. I found two books that we are trying. One is for me, it's about ADD and ADHD. It expains the traits, ways to handle them etc. The other is for him A checklist/techniques.
                • Unsu...
                   
                  Robin,

                  I guess now I'll add a few cents of my own on the dealing with your partner stuff.
                  I have ADD and so does my partner, however, we both have it in varying degrees. I have three children and have only moderate problems with things like house cleaning... mainly, it's keeping up with my kids messes. I, myself am fairly neat and definitely a clean freak when it comes to the kitchen. My partner has one child, a cat, a dog, piles of clothing, papers, clutter everywhere... it's always getting away from her and overwhelming her. Part of the difference is that I'm about 5 years ahead of her on the diagnosis and I've had the time to learn how to cope with these issues in myself. The other part of it is upbringing... she was raised in a house that was kept much like her own, and the same for me... my parents house was always neat and clean. I learned these skills as a child. So, here I am, with add myself and last year I left the relationship because I'd lost myself in it... i spent all my time and energy dealing with her "stuff" ... her "issues".. I didn't know who I was anymore.. and I was no longer doing many of the things that I wanted and needed to do for myself. Now, most of that has nothing to do with the ADD... it has to do with residual issues that crop up after someone lives a lifetime with add but not knowing they have it... it comes from past relationship issues... From everything you've said, it sounds like you really need a break from this partner... to find yourself, to take care of yourself, to remember who you are. You can't fix them, you can't make them want to change or take care of all their stuff... you'll only build resentments and lose yourself in the process.
                  ok.. [end of rant} (hope i wasn't being to preachy)
                  anyway, best of luck to you... and you sonja... with your situations.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Poodle Thank you for sharing. Since I've joined the two tribes I understand better. Before I didn't know what was going on and I feel frustrated all the time. I still do but I feel that I now have some insight into what's going on in his head. And hearing about the different stages, degrees, etc is very helpful. Your point about being at a different stage than your partner makes sense and gives hope that things do get better. I know it sounds like just bitching sometimes but it's frustration with dealing with something that we know nothing or very little about. Dealing with someone who is struggling with it is tough as struggling with it. And if I didn't care I would have thrown in the towel. This is my support group til I can find one in real life. I read the posts and get answers. And I know I'm not alone, which is a biggie :)
                    • Unsu...
                       
                      Sonja,
                      I'm glad you're able to get something from our often times rambling ADD posts and I'm glad we can all be here to support each other.
                      I've found from the moment I realized I had ADD that information was my salvation. I read everything I can and I never stop... it's a lifelong process. And.. yes, have hope... things can improve.. but it takes time so be patient. Your partner is lucky to have your love and support.
  • I also do not have ADD and am dating 2 people who do.

    One of them handed me a book very early on in the relationship on ADD/ADHD and told me to read it. He told me something like: it was the operating instructions to dating him. He explained that parts pertained to him and some did not. I can not remember which book it was because in the 2+ years since then I have read every book I can get my hands on about adult ADD/ADHD. I also ask him questions about ADD and how it impacts him. The information I have gotten from him, books, and web sites has given me a little glimpse in. I do not claim to that I understand what having ADD is like, but I understand the phenomina better. I am still amazed, flustered, and perplexed by this man frequently. However, instead of personalizing or making wrong assumptions as to the cause or motivation behind his words or actions, I now try to ask what's up. I have also learned that with his brand of ADD there are times when it is easier/harder for us to have those conversations and little old impatient me has to wait until the timing is better to get my answers or voice my reactions.

    My other partner also has ADD. By the time I met her I had already gathered much information. However, much of the stuff that pertains to my boyfriend does not pertain to her at all and vice versa. ADD seems to be a big umbrella of behaviors and processing styles and each person with ADD stands under in a different place.

    Spending time with both of them at the same time is a trip into a different world. I enjoy it. Conversations make sharp turns without a moments notice, time becomes vague, and energy bounces everwhere.

    I am greatful to have been given that first book. Without the informationt that I have about ADD I probably would have wrongly personalized something and felt rejected or belittled and ended one or both of my relationships. That would have been my loss. My boyfirend is amazing. He has become my roommate, partner, best friend, and rock. As I get to know the woman I am dating better, I keep finding out how nurturing, whitty, smart, and fun she is as well. My life is fuller, more colorful, and much more fun with these 2 people than it was before.

    Read, ask, investigate and know that sometimes you will not understand. But, if you know he loves &/or cares for you and you trust him - you may not need to understand where he is coming from inorder to appreciate and enjoy where he is.
    • Ken
      Ken
      offline 0
      I coach a lot of couples with ADD. Possibly more than anyone in the world does (But I'm not sure of this). A friend of mine who is a therapist and speaks on ADD a lot says that people with ADD usually couple with people who don't have ADD because the ADD partner needs the stability that the non-ADD has. Conversely, the non-ADD partner needs the excitement and spontanaity tghat someone with ADD can provide. I do see some validity to his argument. BUT

      My experience in coaching ADD couples is quite different. What I have found is that usually people with hyperactive ADD tend to couple with people with inatentive ADD. This provides the identical same benefits as with a non-ADD/ADD relationship but actually makes more sense.

      Think about Thom Hartman's theory...Hunters rarely couple with farmers. They're too different. Of course there are exceptiond to this but I have found this is most often the case. This is supported by a well documented theory called clustering which says that if you look back on an ADD persons life you'll find that most of thier friends also most likely had ADD also. The farmers (non-ADD people) often find us hard to take.

      I think this more simple than the clustering theory guys make it. I think we just like eachother. Hunters like to hang out with Hunters. We have fun together. So we date.

      What about the non-ADD/ADD couple? There are some of course. But most often what I see in this situation is a "non-Add" partner (usually, but not always a woman) doesn't realize that she has rather mild, inattentive ADD.

      I see that over and over.

      I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone has on this but I usually don't come here. I can be most easily reached through my website.

      Ken Zaretzky, MCC
      ADD Coach
      www.adhdcoach.com
      • Actually I have noticed another pattern that is even stronger. The ADD / NPD connection.

        www.contextualmind.org/wiki/index.php

        I do see the connection between structure and wanting someone to provide that but I think that many ADDers actually do quite well by themselves.

        I think in counseling it is very easy for the ADD person to get blamed on all of the problems in the relationship. I know I did.

        After understanding NPD in women (it shows very differently) I know that my communication issues with her were a problem but she would go into rages when I took care of myself.

        Her father was dx'd NPD.

        Anyway, I do know that the partners on here are probably not NPD.... but it is something to look for :)

        I agree with your view on the innattentive/hyperactive coupling...although I think those terms are misleading (I personally think they are personality types that are even common in non-ADD)

        Check out my site:
        www.contextualmind.org

        I am working on a book about this stuff.

        Not hunters...spreaders of fresh genes :) Yeah...we can hunt too
      • You are the first person who I feel I can go to to make sense of why I am involved with such a frustrating person. I think you really understand and can help explain and offer advice on how to deal with my b/f. Do we have a future or not, I dont want to give up and I know he loves me too but he doesnt take responsibility for his actions. Can you help? Can you even lead me to someone near me that could?
  • This post was deleted by Michele
    • Nope...they don't


      ADD = a smaller amouont of white matter in the frontal lobes and an increase in gray matter in certain parts of the temporal lobe.

      This leads to a a lessened ability to store abstraction and cultural assumptions...most guys do just fine with those things

      ADD is a misnomer...most guys are taught that women are not worth paying attention to...something that most ADD men would not agree with.

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