New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

Couples With One ADHD Partner

How do I get him to understand...

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 18 years old… I am now 20 and have recently started a new relationship with someone. The most difficult thing is that he does not understand how the mind of someone with ADHD works. He gets frustrated with me because I interrupt people, or ill say something inappropriate, or because i talk really loud. and also that fact that i’m very impulsive and have trouble filtering things through my mind before I say them. I dont like to blame the fact that I have ADHD but I do. and I dont think that he really gets it. or understands that if i could change these things with the snap of a finger i would. I do not know how to educate him about this, or how to make him understand…. Its really difficult and its causing a lot of tension in our relationship.
If anyone else has experienced this and found ways to overcome it. I would appreciate the advise. Thank You


First, try, without letting others push you over all the time, try to avoid interrupting people, saying insensitive things, or being too loud. Sure, as ADHD people, we can’t always help it, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t try to be courteous.

On the other hand, we are so hyperactive or sdistracted that many things such as common courtesy are new things to us because either our family used to tolerate us or because we were to distracted to learn it.

I only learned to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ because my mom used to take us to a lady’s home where we were always reminded and conditioned to do it, but it always felt like a burden because I didn’t do that at home.

I interrupted people until my manager at one job told me very seriously to stop ending her sentences, saying things for her, and interrupting conversations in general.

Like that, I learned many of those things late in life. Not too long ago, a new administrative assistant at my workplace used to speak really loud. She was 45 years old and she had always talked that loud, but she eventually managed to lower her voice to an acceptable level.

I know, it is going to be a constant battle, but we can be nice to people.

Posted by najn on Mar 17, 2014 at 8:04pm

Several questions come to mind when reading your post, and trust me, I understand!...

Do you take any medication for ADHD?  If so, these things you mention, like interrupting, and speaking before thinking…can be better controlled or managed with medication.  Medication can be very helpful, but even with it, some of these things still exist.

I firmly believe, as I have been a victim and still am myself, that we don’t want to be rude, or whatever it is that is a symptom of ADD or ADHD…but, it is a neurological problem that can be helped with meds and/or a combination of other interventions.  Just like wearing prescription eye glasses can help you see better, or insulin to control diabetes, there are tools to assist you.

Certainly self control, practice, being aware you are doing something wrong..and all that are good…. and surely we all try, but sometimes that isn’t enough! 

Counseling can also be of assistance…  That is another topic.

I think often that many people don’t understand ADHD, as they do not have it themselves…or aren’t interested, and/or don’t believe it exists and…so on! 

To be truthful, it is difficult to understand something, unless you experience it yourself.  Think about something you experienced, and afterwards had a different view of others having that experience!

When someone asks you, “HOW ARE YOU?”  Well, the majority of people do that out of common courtesy, as it is expected to show some sort of norm in social situations and expectations… BUT in REALITY the Majority of people who ask or say HOW ARE YOU?  Well, they really don’t CARE!  ADHD or not, most people don’t really care!  Many assume you say, FINE or GOOD or whatever, and some people even enjoy hearing you say, NOT SO GOOD! 

So, while some things are considered socially acceptable and, “RIGHT,” it is just a social/cultural/regional norm!

And just as najn just posted back, often times it is helpful if someone tells us that something isn’t OK, or too loud, or whatever!  However, getting corrected all of the time, can be very wearing as well!

Also, family members may have tolerated some behaviors, which may make it that you didn’t know what you are doing is not acceptable…but, then we could go on and on about families as well.

I believe that people who truly love us or care about us of for us, should love us just the way we are!  True love loves the person, not the condition. 

For example, a 3 year old purposely or accidently makes a big mess of something you told them often not to do or touch…  Well, you hate the mess, but don’t hate the child.  It is the behavior and lack of listening to your directions that you do not like.

Good luck!

Posted by Unconventional on Mar 17, 2014 at 8:47pm

I totally understand from both sides and understand the struggle it can be.  I am the non-ADD/ADHD person in the relationship and have been with my fiancé over 6 years now, and he was diagnosed as a young child in about 1st grade.  I honestly say I love him with all my heart and I sometimes I have to remind myself the great guy he shows me he really is on the inside to get thru some days, because unlike him I think everything thru before I open my mouth and it just irritates me so much some days.  As advice from the other side as to what helps me be able to deal with these behaviors even though they are not behaviors I would do or necessarily stand behind… It always helps me when he apologizes, says sorry, or just acknowledges he didn’t mean for it to sound like that or to say what he said.  And I don’t mean apologize in a way as if he is wrong, because I do understand / but I also need to understand that even though he may say some things or act certain ways he didn’t mean it and he knows it wasn’t right, or appropriate, or hurt me, or whatever.  We will spend a long lifetime together of him doing and saying somethings that are outrageous from time to time, but I don’t want to have to be the one to apologize for him or explain why, because like you say it’s not an excuse but it is a fact.  So just admit when you aren’t who you want to be at the moment, what you said isn’t what you intended, and if you have a partner that truly loves you that will be enough to make them happy.  I have always told my fiancé, there were some rough times, especially in the beginning when meds weren’t regular and he didn’t want to admit having ADHD did affect his life, but I never left because through it all he was trying.  Some progress was bigger jumps then others, and have made our relationship even stronger I think, but as long as he is putting in the work I will too.  Everyone should understand it’s a 2-way street - so be understanding, forgiving, and most of all loving on both sides.  Good luck!!

Posted by FightForLove on Mar 17, 2014 at 11:03pm

How do you get over it when they deliberately say to you the thing they know has hurt you over and over all your life?  You have told them that it is like being stabbed in the chest.  They know that. Yet, while in a particularly good mood, they do the same thing to you.  No friend or family member has ever been so hurtful.  I have never been able to forget it when people did it to me and I can’t forget it now.  I don’t know what to do about it. I want to “forgive and forget” but this time it’s beyond me apparently.  He knew about my inability to get over this particular hurt so I don’t believe that he really cares about me.  It’s just the last, and biggest, insult from him to swallow.  I’d be interested in receiving some advice.

Posted by Maree on Mar 18, 2014 at 1:36am

To Maree - Oh how I understand that hurt, and question is does the love outweigh the pain that can be caused?  If it is strong enough it is worth fighting for, and both partners have to be totally committed to it.  When my fiance and I first got together he was the drinking party boy, he was also 21, but that’s beside the point because just because you are that age doesn’t mean you need to drink each night and weekend to have fun.  I would go out on a limb to say I hate drinking, my father drinks and there was never abuse or anything like that but I just grew up knowing I didn’t want that for myself or anyone I would be with - so it just really got under my skin.  I tried to explain to him repeatedly that it wasn’t just his drinking but the deeper meaning it had for me that every time he took that drink it hurt.  I had to explain myself over and over, so many different way, so many different times, sometimes with him understanding but many times just ending in huge fights and feeling hopeless.  I can tell you now 6 years later he hardly touches a drink and watches when he does it, obviously date night wouldn’t be the preferred time, but I am also understanding and give him his time to have a drink when he wants and he doesn’t abuse it and push it to the limit like he used to.  Now, for as you were saying about using it - he has gotten much better but if in a mood he will still for not reason say “i’m gonna get drunk” just to push my buttons, absolutely for not other reason then to push them.  He has no intentions of doing it and we can be at the park where there is not alcohol, but it is just to get that rise.  I would say when bored ADD/ADHD people try to get a rise out of people to make life more exciting, and the more they love you the more they poke at you because you will forgive and be more understanding then a stranger I suppose.  It’s not right, and at the time it can rip your heart out, and every time it happens I ask why and pray it won’t happen again - but fewer times with much more time in between it happening is all I can ask for I’m afraid.  I would just say to make sure and be clear what hurt you, how, relate it to them somehow, and give them time to understand it, be ready to explain it over and over, and it won’t be overnight, but over time they will get better.  And you know, I am a very understanding, patient, loving person - and I forgive A LOT - and my fiance would be the first to tell you all of this too - but I don’t forget, so I won’t say you need to concentrate on that part of it.  Don’t live in the past and harp on it, but you don’t have to forget it either.  When talking with my fiance one time I learned something very interesting - which I don’t know if it is a ADD/ADHD thing or just his own coping thing - be he would forget, literally block out and forget when some bad things would happen - things that were still stressing me out months or years later that I couldn’t forget, he literally didn’t remember happening.  He told me if it wasn’t happy or how he would have wanted it he blocked it out, I should do the same… I tried to explain it didn’t quite work that way in my brain but he didn’t understand, just move one and forget about it… so something else to think about - he may not take it as seriously but not in a mean way just in a coping kind of way.  I hope this helps - I don’t know exactly what your “thing” is compared to mine, but I hope the same things can help you smile

Posted by FightForLove on Mar 18, 2014 at 2:22am

Thanks for that.  Yes, I think he does block things out as you say. He always seemed to be exasperated if I didn’t get over things immediately and used to say “How long is this going to last?” if I didn’t recover instantly. He probably doesn’t know just what he has done and its effect.  I might wait for the right opportunity and tell him. I don’t know what he can say that will stop me from crying.

Posted by Maree on Mar 18, 2014 at 3:40am

Quoting you:

“...because I interrupt people, or ill say something inappropriate, or because i talk really loud. and also that fact that i’m very impulsive and have trouble filtering things through my mind before I say them.”

ADHD does not make these things OK.  Getting an ADHD diagnosis allows us to understand and therefore begin to address these foibles.  It is not an excuse or a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card.

Some things to consider:  1)  Your condition is no one else’  business.  The reality is that ADHD negatively affects every part of our lives.  There is no ‘Ferrari Brain’  There is no ‘Thinking Outside The Box’...  ADHD is one of, if not the, most studied conditions in psychology.  There is not one repeatable, controlled experiment that shows any benefit from this thing.  NOTHING, NADA… ZIP.    I quote Doc Barkley:

““...Interviewer:  Does the impairment confer any special gift based on your clinical research or from work with your own patient population?

Dr. Barkley:  No.  Thousands of studies of people with ADHD have never documented that such people have experienced any benefits, gifts or other positive effects from across more than a hundred (!) measures of psychological traits…”

You mention above:

“... I do not know how to educate him about this, or how to make him understand…. “

It’s quite possible you have educated him and he does understand.  He may not accept it at this moment and that is his right.  He may also have more of an understanding than you give him credit for.  This is a life-long affliction and one that can be past on to your children.  He may not like those prospects. 

Some people just don’t want to deal with it.  This can include lovers, friends, family, and employers.  It’s their right - and even when it isn’t, as in the case of employers, they can easily find a way around those rights if they so desire.

I tell no one - even after dating for extended periods.  If I choose to re-marry - then I have an obligation to relay I have this thing.  Up until that time….  It’s no one’s business. 

So, how do I deal…?  First and foremost I keep my zap shut.  I never pass up the opportunity to SHUT UP.  And I never regret doing so.  After learning about this thing, I became (and am becoming) more and more effective at knowing when I am about to spout stupidity…when I feel those signs, I simply clam up.    Second,  I have a good Psychiatrist who keeps my on a medically sound path.  Third, I have chosen to be alone a lot.  I find I like it better.  I have a few choice friends/acquaintances who I keep at arm’s distance. I can depend on them in a pinch and them on me.  We pal around but not to excess.  Forth,  I live, literally, on a tropical island in the pacific.  Lots of folks don’t speak English.  There are fewer opportunities for me to “say something inappropriate, or ...  talk really loud.”  And when I do… It’s among people who are usually more inappropriate than I am - such people are easy to find here.  The women I date here speak english as a second language…  As a result, when stupidity sneaks through, they sometimes don’t even know it.  I simply don’t get the chance to sound like an idiot. 

Lastly, I read here a lot.  You will find plenty of world class, professionally approved ‘stuff’ to assist you in addressing your affliction.  From the most cutting edge alternate treatments, to tried and true medications.  These are reviewed and commented on by both highly trained professionals and Ja-mokes like you and me.  People post articles, ask questions, and provide advice and insight and they do so honestly and forthrightly (for the most part).  This is really a great place.

Good luck to you.  Hang tough.  And if this guy walks.. well lovers walk in and out of people’s lives all the time.  You will have learned for the next one.  And, should things go south with this guy, there will be a next one.

Best to you.

Posted by LakeLife on Mar 19, 2014 at 4:36pm

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions