At first, I thought I was going crazy… until my ex told me he was diagnosed with ADHD. Suddenly, all the feelings of neglect and frustration made sense. Sadly, he had no desire to do anything to manage his condition and not only did this spell the end of our relationship, it was also toxic for my self-esteem.
He never listened to anything I said. Every time we sat down to have a conversation, his mind was always somewhere else. At dinner, he was always looking over my shoulder. Rather than responding to my thoughts, he’d quickly change the subject to something he wanted to talk about. Sometimes, he would just talk over me completely when he was bored with what I was saying. Before I understood the challenges of dating someone with ADHD, I assumed he was just completely disinterested in my thoughts or feelings.
He never kept me in the loop about anything. I was never up to speed on the changes in his life. Sometimes he would disappear for days on end, only for me to find out he was on vacation on a different continent. Other times I would learn about a completely new business venture weeks after the fact. It made me feel like he didn’t take me seriously as a partner, but the truth is, people with ADHD often make lots of impulsive decisions and don’t always remember to tell the people who are important to them.
He never answered my texts. This one was just straight-up frustrating and inconvenient. He would disappear on me for days on end or in the middle of making plans. Not only is this an incredibly time consuming and ineffective way to communicate, but it also left me with the feeling that I was never a priority.
He had no patience. Even though he would often get distracted in the middle of making plans and stop answering, if he wanted to talk or see me but I was busy, he had no patience. I would look at my phone after work and have a bunch of messages or he would cancel plans if I took more than three minutes to answer. This put me seriously on edge. I ended up being one of those people obsessed with their phone since I knew that if I wanted to see him, I had a very thin window to respond and there was no telling when I would hear from him again. Eventually, I started to feel like I was held captive by this dynamic.
I became the authority figure in the relationship. People with ADHD often have a rebellious attitude, which is actually something I loved about him… until he started to see me as just another authority figure to rebel against. My reminders of important events, plans, or emotional needs, just sounded like nagging to him. It’s pretty hard to feel sexy when your partner is acting like you’re their second grade teacher.
I labored to keep his attention. Since he was so easily bored, normal conversations were usually out of the question. If I tried to talk to him about the news or my feelings, he would end up talking over me or changing the subject. If I really needed his attention, only threats, demands, and drama could keep him focused. Let me tell you, that’s a pretty draining way to communicate. If I had anything I needed to say to him, I had to express it in 15 seconds or less because after that, his eyes would glaze over. I always thought to myself, “God, am I really this boring?”
He forgot my birthday. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Despite a year of being together, he couldn’t remember my birthday, which is pretty sad since my birthday is on a national holiday with parades, political speeches, and every store closed for the day.
He was way too blunt. Brutal honesty is something I tend to appreciate, but I could have done without the comments about my body. Those with ADHD often speak before thinking, but when talking about your partner’s body, a filter is needed. And that filter should tell you, “Shut the hell up, dude. She doesn’t care what you think about her body and you’re lucky to have her in the first place.”
His words didn’t match his actions. If I blew up on him only then would he actually sit down and listen to how his actions made me feel. He’d assure me about how much he cared, but eventually, his words just weren’t enough to justify dealing with the daily frustrations of his untreated condition.
He cheated on me. Yep, turns out cheating is a common problem in relationships with untreated ADHD. Despite doing sexual backflips to keep him interested, he still cheated. If I had known more about ADHD beforehand, maybe I wouldn’t have taken finding used condoms in his bed so personally.
I walked away. Eventually, his ADHD was just too exhausting to deal with and I ended up walking away from our relationship. I didn’t break up with him because he had ADHD, I broke up with him because he wasn’t managing it. Despite knowing how much his condition was affecting me and his own life, he didn’t respect either of us enough to get the treatment he needed. I don’t doubt at all that I could have a meaningful relationship with someone with ADHD, but I can’t have a healthy adult relationship with someone who won’t take responsibility for their actions and mental health.
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