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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Newly diagnosed..How to talk about with non adhd partner

I was just diagnosed in Sept this year. I am taking medication and self educating everyday. I have been working on making changes to my symptoms. I am making some progress and still struggling to find balance in my life. I have a partner whom I have been with for 5 years. We have had a rocky on again off again relationship. My undiagnosed adhd has contributed to many of our relationship issues.
We were off when I started taking the medication and realized that adhd was causing the turmoil. I tried to make a mend’s and to move forward with the relationship. We agreed on low expectations and no pressure. We spend a lot of time together and texting on the phone daily.
I talk about some of my symptoms when we are together and he listens. I have also sent him some links about adhd to help make him aware. I told him we could talk about things when he was ready. I am afraid to bring the topic directly up due to our original agreement. There have been a few incidents recently where my symptoms have affected us. When we try and talk it out I feel like he is not understanding and can’t see where I am coming from. We just argue until I give in and give up trying to be heard. Or I just tell him I’ll stop talking now cause I always seem to say the wrong things and make it worse. We don’t go back and try and talk again. He seems to be satisfied with ending these situations this way. However I am not ok with that. I also feel like the bad is out weighing the good and that my progress isn’t enough assurance things will get better.
I want to be heard and for him to not take it personal as my intentions are never to upset or hurt him. I let him know I can see where he is coming from and appreciate his efforts to help diffuse situations with others when my actions get ugly.
So does anyone have any advice about how to approach the situation without pushing to hard. I know he is scared and hurt from the history of the relationship. So I don’t want to force any pressure on him. I would really love for him to become more educated and open to see the explanations for my actions. I am by no means making excuses for bad behaviour! I am making progress in managing my symptoms and have come a long way in the last month’s. I am doing this all on my own, and feel alone. That is why I would like for him to start opening up and actively learning with me. Am I asking to much??


It sounds like you are doing just about what you can do to help him become aware of what ADD is and how it affects you and thus your relationship.

But, and I don’t mean to sound harsh by being frank, it is none of your business whether and how he leaves things or how he is reacting to this new development in your relationship.  And that goes for all people, not just ADD people I mean.  None of us gets a say on how other people react to things.

And you do have to try not to meddle in his process.  This is big news, I tell ya.  I am the non-ADD partner in my marriage.  And it is a big, big thing for us too.  As much as the diagnosis affects you, it affects your non-ADD partner as much or more.  You go through stages.  Elation, phew we have a name for what is wrong!  Then you think, OK if there are symptoms then there must be a solution.  Then you think, my partner has a disorder, then what does that make me?  Then you feel frustration because you may know what the ADD partner needs to do to manage their symptoms but they just WON’T do it! And they seem oblivious to the affect it is having on you!  Then anger, they are just as asshole, they know what they have to do to manage, they know their triggers and yet they still do it!  (I know for me I enter this stage when my husband orders the largest Starbucks, knowing full well that that amount of caffeine and sugar totally obliterates the affect of his meds!)  And you feel hopeless because no matter how much you care, no matter how much you change your behavior, no matter how much you accommodate for your ADD partner’s symptoms they STILL think you don’t understand them, they STILL act like you are the enemy, they are STILL overly touchy, they STILL flee from interactions in a wildly ineffective attempt to avoid conflict (or whatever your particular symptoms are) so you still have all this chaos and turmoil in your life which you can’t change.  You feel hopeless because the state of the relationship hangs on whether or not your ADD partner decides to manage their symptoms well or not. And it can be switching from one to the other at random, by month, by week, by day, even by the hour.  And this will be for the life of the relationship - there is no way to stop this crazy chaos unless the relationship stops.

So that is probably about what your partner is dealing with right now.  So let him come to his decision.  You don’t want to convince someone to be with you who can’t handle it.  You don’t want someone to be with you who is not willing to be with you DESPITE all of your symptoms.  You don’t want to make promises you can’t keep just to keep him and I would venture to guess you would do that (or may already have) in a desperate attempt to not lose him.  I know my husband has made promises he hasn’t kept in regards to his symptoms, and we both would have been much better off if he had just been realistic, honest and willing to talk about things.

So, basically what I am saying is you need to do a little work of your own to try to understand HIM - don’t fall into that ADD partner trap where it is all about you.  You want him to want you, warts and all.  We all have warts, ADD people’s are just a little more overt! 

I know it’s hard but don’t resist whatever he decides.

Posted by YellaRyan on Nov 09, 2013 at 12:29am

Thank you, Yella Ryan. Wow, what a great post. It’s very important to get the perspective of the non-ADHD partner. Yes, this “disorder” may end up having more of an effect on you than it does on those of us with the ADHD. I always think that if she really understood, things would be fine. I was diagnosed with ADHD 5-6 years ago, at the age of 60+. Since then I’ve read lots of books, in an attempt to be more productive, more organized,  but only in the last 5-6 months have I come to realize how much this thing has affected my relationships, and, in the final analysis, has cost every important relationship I’ve ever had, with people who cared about me very much. AND, the most important thing in life is relationships. Good luck to you.

Posted by Tom K on Nov 09, 2013 at 9:10pm

I also am having trouble with add/adhd and my relationship. Early on in our marriage I was able to manage it with exercise, diet and a great group of friends. Life overwhelms those of us with add/adhd. and our partners take a lot of stress from us. the rollercoaster of emotions can be difficult for them to deal with and understand. open communication is important from each of you. After I lost my brother I lost the skills to deal with my add/adhd. it has put a real strain on my marriage. I am reteaching my self the skill that helped me manage it before. exercise is important. when I ride my bike or just go for a long walk, I find it helps with the emotions. I find also it has helped me think clearly and approach situations better. You might also go for a walk with your partner. its good to spend time and you will find they are willing to talk and listen better. Structure in your life helps also. Create a structure that works for you and your partner. other thing that work is do projects together. while my relationship with my wife is still a work in progress. we have made strides to improve our marriage. there will still be moments when thing still get out of hand. open communication and addressing the issue in a positive manner help both understand. don’t push the issue. keep it short and sweet to the point. if they don’t wanna talk give them the space and when they are ready they will. something that also helps is a good social network.
another thing I found the has helped is taking time to your self and relaxing in a way that benefits you. I love to play Frisbee, gardening, and working on Halloween decorations for next year. I call it my time. and I let my wife know that is what I am going to do. meditation also has helped me calm my mind. a form that has worked well for me is mindfull meditation. look it up. it has helped. another form of meditation that has shown results in my self is music. clearing your mind and listening to the music helps. ( I prefer electronic music because of the rhythm of the beat and the positive sound helps me relax and think clearly).  I hope this helps. dealing with this disorder is hard of both parties in a relationship. but with training of your self, your partner will be more willing to work with you. time and patients is key.

Posted by silverblade on Nov 09, 2013 at 10:09pm

Welcome TEAM ADHD;
The first thing I would like to state is the following information and advice is solely based on my own personal experience. I think only you truly will know what is needed to be done in this relationship. Unfortunatey, after being diagnosed we tend to spend endless hours surfing the web trying to find any source that backs up our life and our failures. Money, Work, Family and Relationships. I think that you already know how your partner really feels its just hard to admit someone doesn’t want you anymore. I realize that five years is quite an investment of time and emotion. I really don’t think that any person ever wants to admit that some relationships just are not meant to be worked out. Some we just simply outgrow. Your post tells me that you are sacrificing your own happiness and needs for a person that is not. It sounds like you already know its not working for either of you. Ask yourself this when you were diagnosed with ADHD did you cry? Why? what changed that day in your life, your not hurt or dying, you don’t need to have an operation and your medication is optional. What changed? Did the doctor who diagnosed you provide you with the answers you were seeking and go over your medication options. Were you started on a low dosage of medication and monitored weekly/bi-weekly by your psychiatrist and provided therapist to seek for regular sessions.Did you leave feeling any different than before that appointment. Yes you did, you were now given a reason for everything that has gone wrong for you. In addition by disclosing this confidential information you also gave others a reason to be critical of you and your actions, th, be controling, intrusive and more discriminating of your actions, scrutinizing your meds and dosage and they open humiliation of the stereotyping of ADD/ADHD. Keep in mind this was caused by your own omissions to the people who you turned to for support. You will find that the reason disabilities are protected under HIPPA act are because of these reasons. You were given a diagnosis to make you aware of why you have certain difficulties not disabilities. Did you feel like you were disable before. PROBABLY NOT. This will be very confusing for you to hear but, ADD/ADHD because the cause is this disorder is neurological and not physical or have a consistant factor in patients to discifer is cause tends to be quite   controversial. You will see a lot of support and a lot of people who think its all made up. You know what you go through so now you can better understand how to adjust daily activities to help you best. Do not expect a pill to be a Band-Aid to a relationship that has run its course. He is not the one for you. If he was he would be researching it and trying to find out what he could change on his end to adjust to you. If you don’t let him go, eventually you will resent him for being miserable.I know your saying I don’t know what Im talking about and you might stop reading but, I hope you do not. I am here just to help you see what the others refuse to write. If I had a piece of broccoli stuck in my teeth I would like it if somebody told me. There is nothing more embarrassing than discovering a green mass hours after you ate. Then you think of everybody you talked to in that time frame; why didn’t anyone tell me! I need to tell you, “You got a piece of broccoli stuck.” Some relationships just are “not meant to be” and he is sending all the signs. Please do yourself and your heart a favor and let him know that “You appreciate his efforts but, you need to just concentrate on yourself right now.”
Continue by saying you have become aware of what you expect from a partner and you can not cheat yourself any longer and just settle.” whatever you do know your worth and do not go back to nothing less than a loving, nurturing , happy relationship. A relationship is two people growing towards a common ground of equality. Not one fitting in, altering, defending your character, fighting, or being put down out of insecurity others. Is that what you want. Do you really want to continue to try so hard to keep him. Oh no, you lost yourself in the another failure factor. Here let me help you decide.. if the stress continues ADD/ADHD has the ability to manifest into TOURETTES. You are a very unique person because ADHD isn’t a disability, its a gift… Before a doctor put you on meds how was your life…let me take a wild guess…you walked to your own drum, you get a lot of ideas, sometimes you cant stop talking and tend to ramble on and on, you are blunt and say things most would never say, you are constantly going, going going. And are always misplacing things, time gets away, you are always rushing to work , your probably are clumsy or get hurt a lot, hows that sleeping or remembering what,who,why and the hows of things that you just learned. Is any of this right? And the only time you are criticized for any of these things are by relationships and family? Now that you have made it a public announcement to all those people to justify any past convictions and looking for some type of empathy. IF YOU TAKE ANY THING FROM THIS PLEASE LET IT BE THIS; do not be so quick to reveal anything to anyone. The stigma of how you will be treated and looked at is far more hurtful and embarrassing than blaming your ADHD publicly. Do you understand,  you will think its a good thing your doing and it will back fire and be very detrimental to the stress free life needed to best manage your symptoms. First, only you know what bothers you so why would you want to convince your partner that all your problems are because of you. That’s right! All you are doing is confirming that everything that was wrong in your relationship is because of your ADHD.
Here let me send you evidence that you can use against me after our break up. Yes, he is not going to change. Okay it doesn’t matter what you do. You have to decide if you are fighting for more lack of trying, criticism, loss of interest, worrying, crying, and never getting your needs met. HE IS NOT FOR YOU. I was you and for 18 years this man knew me, and a year ago I went and found him and pretty much let him know that he was everything I couldn’t live without. I was honest and open and he hurt me every chance he got. The more I tried to justify that he was scared, or he was afraid of losing me or he couldn’t express his feeling because he didn’t want to get hurt. I spent a year of my life crying more over being confused, hurt and emotionally damaged for one simple reason. I let him do it. The more I allowed his despicable behaviors the more frequent he did it. He felt that I was co dependant and needed him and all that crying and begging is a HUGE HUGE TURN OFF TO ANY RELATIONSHIP.No man really wants a weak woman who is always talking about what needs to be done and what to work on…NO they hear that and shut off. Men think of that as to much work for them. He if he already hasn’t is looking for his next relationship and hopes the more pressure he puts on his rules to follow eventually you will leave. Don’t you worry someday you will look back at this relationship and think wtf was I thinking…good luck and never settle for less….especially from yourself

Posted by meandmyadhd on Nov 10, 2013 at 1:57am

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