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Couples With One ADHD Partner

ADD Spouse lying and manipulative

I have been married for four years to my spouse who has ADD.

He lies and manipulates all the time. His logic is he doesn’t want to hurt me. I understand that and can accept that on some level. He also has depression which is linked to his ADD. He is on a variety of medication, welbutrin for depression, addarell for adhd.

He speakes about having a hole inside him, always craving new things. Very recently he started an emotional affair/possibly sexual where he has an ego boost by the constancy or new affections from another woman who is not me.

I am not leaving my husband, I don’t think he is trying to harm me. I want to understand him. Does anyone out there have experience with the issues that I just discussed if so, how did you approach counseling? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Your case is similar with mine. My ADD husband had an affair which I just found out. I was in a dilemma of leaving him because I’m still not convinced that that infidelity was already over even if he said so that it was over. He didn’t do it just once. He had several affairs even before this,which I just also knew. He lied so casually, frequently & expertly. He apologized but still he does it again. He hardly feel how I feel, hurt. I even came to a point that I considered him of being a narcissist. Find it out if yours is one. They have similar characteristics as ADD. Can anyone enlighten us regarding ADD & being a Narc?

Posted by guyB on Jul 02, 2014 at 11:01pm

Well…there are Narcissists (and just like in the general population, some of them will have ADHD & some will not).  How to differentiate between them—I’ll have to think on that & hopefully come up with a decent answer.

Posted by BC on Jul 02, 2014 at 11:08pm

The need for novelty and adrenaline that is common to ADD due to insufficient neurochemicals can feel like a ‘hole’. Adrenaline was my drug of choice for self medicating. And fine if done in healthful ways such as exercise and thrill seeking activities within your abilities. If exercise and exciting entertainment are not options for any reason, having a temper tantrum, generating other soap opera or bad behavior isn’t a great way to cope with the boredom and craving to fill that hole. I found ways to usually avoid the worst ways to self medicate and Adderall has helped the need for self medication and the exercise and excitement is now more truly for health and entertainment than addiction.
What better way to get excitement, novelty and adrenaline rushes than illicit sex and then lying about it? Even feeling guilty is a way to get a rush. He found an effective way to self medicate.
I heard a story years ago about not hurting others. A hungry vampire was pleading to suck a man’s blood. The man drew back in horror. The vampire moaned in pain, Please if you don’t let me suck your blood I will die in agony! Oh it hurts! The man refused to be sucked dry and the vampire left moaning and wailing.
Moral of the story, selfish behavior to ease your own pain sucks others dry.
Your husband has lied about his behavior. Do you think he’s being truthful that he did so to prevent hurting you? And in the off chance that it is true, does it matter?
Untreated ADD’s hole isn’t going to fill on its own. Medication can help that hole and coping skills help further. If he’s using both and still has a hole, is sucking your heart and soul dry an acceptable way to fill it?
And that is assuming that his ‘hole’ is due to ADD. Testosterone toxicity and ethical deficiency seem more likely as the number of politicians and religious leaders caught in sex scandals surely outnumbers the percent who have ADD. 
If he’s untreated and willing to get meds and ADD coaching and you both are willing to get marriage counseling, the two of you might be able to build a good relationship.
If it is due to ADD and he won’t try anything, he’s no different than an untreated bipolar or diabetic. They don’t get better on their own.
More than anything this seems like a really lame excuse for getting caught and trying to lie his way out of it.

Posted by Gadfly on Jul 03, 2014 at 3:01am

You may be able to believe that his “intent” is not to harm you, but lying and manipulating his way out of trouble (and managing to get you to believe he only does is not to hurt you) is a very sick & cruel psychological game.  It is emotional abuse in my book. 

What type of person is a really easy target for emotional abuse & cruelty from a spouse (regardless of having ADHD or not)?  Answer: For starters, someone who confidently asserts “I am not leaving my husband”...because I believe his excuses (needs an adrenaline rush even though he is being treated with medication and on two different drugs FOR ADHD—Adderall & Wellbutrin)...I just “want to understand him”...ETC. 

It doesn’t matter if he is JUST selfish & irresponsible (and has “testosterone toxicity”—love it—I thought I had coined that phrase, jj) or if he’s really & truly a certifiable narcissist with the full-blown personality disorder.  He is clearly (as per his own wife) a liar & a manipulator (and he has found the Liar/Manipulator’s Dream Come True)—someone who just might have such low self-respect/self-esteem that they are willing to buy into emotional affairs (at the very least) as being part & parcel of MEDICALLY TREATED ADHD. 

Selfish liar/manipulators & narcissists (hard to tell the difference between the two because there’s only a very fine line that separates them, IMO) will both search out easy targets—someone with low enough self-esteem & self-respect that they are willing to get walked over repeatedly.

He sounds like the kind of creep who did some research on ADHD, knows what ADHD might lead to (affairs), takes meds to “treat it,” but decided that also entitles him to just have “affairs”—and convince his “loving wife” that he has a neurobiological disorder he cannot possibly be expected to control (rather than a primary problem with controlling his penis). 

But that is just my most pessimistic view based on the fact that the OP gave absolutely no information which would make him sound like he has any other redeeming qualities at all.  If there’s more “to him” than meets the eye (based on your post), please let us know what that might be.  From what I can tell there is no logical reason to stay married to him despite his many “foibles”—lying, CHEATING, and manipulating (all of which are things I define as deal-breakers).  So staying married to him would make it seem that the OP (wife) is a paragon of virtue for doing so (something that appeals to the “Martyr-types” of personality disordered individuals, which I believe might be a “sub-type” of Narcissistic Personality Disorder…because for them Suffering In Silence makes them a “good” person of exceptionally high virtue).

Posted by BC on Jul 03, 2014 at 3:49am

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