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Relationship experiences with ADHD

19 replies

ADHDadvice · 31/03/2023 19:03

I hope you don't mind me posting here as a person without ADHD but I'm looking for some insight and thought this may be a good place if anyone is able and willing.

My DP and I are having some issues that have been going on for a while. He was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago and is now on daily medication.

He has stated today that he thinks all of the issues I've raised are attributable to his ADHD and while he is and will look into mitigations, I have to accept that these issues aren't necessarily a result of a choice he's making but rather a symptom of his neurodiversity.

I want to understand if others encounter these issues and a) whether there's any success stories on how we could handle them better and/or b) whether I'm being an ignorant bigot.

I've been considering leaving over these issues before today's announcement so it's quite high stakes.

Issue 1 - he never pulls his weight around the house. He cooks roughly 25% of the time but never cleans, puts a wash on or takes the bins out. He will start DIY projects with a lot of prompting but they never get finished (we have a half siliconed kitchen sink for example) When I've tried to speak to him about it before, he recognises that I do more but basically says that's my problem and he'd be happier with a messy house. I don't think I have particularly high cleaning standards but he has one bathroom that I refuse to clean and it hasnt been cleaned in over 4 months.

Issue 2 - he never plans to spend any time with me. That includes basic things like watching TV where I have to literally drag him away from his screen right up to me organising every single date we've ever gone on, every holiday. I find the nice thing to do, book the table or the tickets, get it in the diary, sort transport and never, ever receive anything back that takes any effort at all. I take this as him not wanting to do things with me which he gets upset by

Issue 3 - decisions tend to be on his terms. He has always eaten late and I eat early so now we eat late. If I make myself something earlier instead, theres a view that im being selfish. I'll ask him to do something with me at say 5 and he'll say no, but then want to do it at 7 when I'm doing something else. He then gets offended if I say no. This extends to sex but in a more 'if you don't want it now, we're not going to be able to have it' kinda way.

Issue 4 - if something boring needs doing, it's on me to do it because he either doesn't do it or half does it. I Sort our insurance quotes and submit meter readings and find a better price when our broadband package is up etc. I've tried not doing it but then it just doesn't happen - we've had a broken shower for 3 months now because we agreed he'd sort out a plumber.

If you have ADHD, or a partner with ADHD, do you recognise any of these issues? Are my expectations unreasonable?

I don't want to be a dick but I'm becoming increasingly resentful and I need to do something.

OP posts:

ADHDadvice · 31/03/2023 19:03

Sorry that was much longer than expected! Thanks if anyone gets to the bottom!

OP posts:

Mabelface · 31/03/2023 19:11

It's hard for us to say what is or isn't his adhd, as it affects each person differently. He could also just be a twat.


ADHDadvice · 31/03/2023 19:17

Thanks @Ma@Mabelface I guess thats what Im struggling with. I wouldnt want to be unknowingly having unachievable expectations but at the moment, I'm close to saying it doesn't matter what the cause is, I can't carry on.

But if it is truly out of his control, then maybe there are things we could do to mitigate or adjust.

I don't know a lot about ADHD although i did do some research when he was going through the diagnosis process.

OP posts:

ADHDadvice · 31/03/2023 23:52

Anyone had any experience?

OP posts:

BettyDavisThighs · 01/04/2023 02:39

My honest advice would be if you don't have children yet, consider your options. Do you think there is equal respect and give and take from both sides in this relationship?


r/ADHD_partners: This is a support group for those who share their lives with an ADHD partner. We aim to help validate, educate and encourage one …


BertieBotts · 01/04/2023 08:11

As others have said, it's complicated.

ADHD can make certain things hard, and he's probably right that if you're expecting him to just immediately change everything / medication to instantly fix everything, that isn't realistic. It can be pretty overwhelming if you have ADHD and know you're falling short in several areas to have someone else also be complaining about all the ways you're falling short.

OTOH it sounds more like he's saying that he's OK with where things are right now and he doesn't want to change, these issues are hard for him because of ADHD, now this might be because they are coping strategies. Many adults with ADHD who have been undiagnosed have come to rely on some really rigid coping strategies which can come across like stubbornness or refusal to change - it might be more of a defensive reaction because for example, he knows that he has tried to meet that expectation before and he has failed and that made him feel really terrible so he is protecting himself from that feeling, or he has tried to meet that expectation and managed it but at a cost in other areas which he feels to be too high.

Ultimately, you're both adults and you're allowed to walk away from a relationship for any reason. You don't owe him patience while he works on his issues. The right person at the wrong time is still the wrong person. Maybe he needs some time without the demands of a relationship to work out his diagnosis, adjusting to medication, adjusting coping mechanisms etc. Maybe you need somebody now who doesn't need to go through all those things. It is a long process - I started looking at diagnosis 10 years ago, it took me 2 years to get diagnosed, I'm about to start medication after another 8, I've been working on all kinds of coping strategies and understanding myself but it's been a process, and I kind of had to go through acceptance/understanding (which meant meeting myself where I was at) first before I could really start on anything that would effect change. It is likely to take him some time to accept the diagnosis, adjust to the medication, and decide which (if any) habits he wants to work on and change those. And he might never change some of them.

I think in general if you are assessing whether a relationship is right for you, you need to be OK with being with the person as they are right now, not some idealised version of who they could be in the future. If understanding ADHD helps you feel like "Oh, OK, he didn't forget my birthday because he doesn't care, but that's OK because I feel cared for in other ways" then great. But if understanding is not solving the issue because you still feel you are carrying more than your own weight for example, then maybe it's just not the ADHD and more the fact you are incompatible.

(I can do explanations of how each of the things you mentioned is impaired in ADHD if you think it would be useful, but in writing this out I think it probably isn't necessarily?)


ADHDadvice · 01/04/2023 11:05

Thank you everyone.

I'm struggling with distinguishing between personality and Unmanaged ADHD symptoms but I guess it may not matter.

I'm definitely not perfect and have my own list to work on but I'm feeling a little down and confused that I'm potentially expecting things of him that he can't do because of a condition.

It's all a mess

OP posts:

BertieBotts · 01/04/2023 12:22

Is it a disorder or is it personality - ultimately does it matter? It's who he is.

I'll go through your list with my thoughts.

  1. Domestic tasks are hard for people with ADHD. This is one of my big struggles too. Recurring things without a set deadline and never ending tasks are just hard in general. But it's interesting that he says this is a mess comfort level issue and basically says it doesn't matter because he's happy and you just have to lump it. To me this is not very compassionate or fair. I have a much higher mess threshold than DH and genuinely do not feel stressed or bothered by clutter and mess, but I know that DH does, so I try to keep on top of it because I love him and don't want to contribute to him feeling stressed and unhappy. This is something I've done better and worse at at various times, but I do actually try. Even though the result is our house is still a lot messier than most people's. Interestingly, the better we get at keeping things tidy, the more I realise it is actually so much easier to function in a tidy house. I wonder if my previous conviction that I don't care about mess and it doesn't bother me was a coping strategy that I made because I felt that maintaining a decent standard was impossible so I had better get used to the mess. I probably would leave a bathroom I perceive DH not to care about for longer than 4 months. I'm sure that our spare toilet has not been cleaned in longer than that. It just doesn't seem like a very high priority when there are other things to do. We are thinking of hiring a cleaner if we can fit it in budget wise.

2. This is probably because people with ADHD have trouble thinking ahead. It sounds like he likes and enjoys spending time with you, but he lives very much in the moment. Most screen devices are actively designed to be addictive and draw you in, calibrated at the average adult level. People with ADHD are much more susceptible to these advertising tactics so screen type activities often feel very addictive to us.

I'd say this one is easily fixable - designate different evenings as different things with a mixture of nights you spend time together and spend time doing your own thing. Have a set date night and take it in turns to organise things for it, so that he has a regular recurring deadline. You want him to be actively thinking of what to do all the time but that isn't a likely scenario with ADHD - we tend to get into patterns and fall back into a default of doing the exact same thing (and then think we are spontaneous because we don't like to plan 😂) Deadlines help because vague ideas of "I'll do more of that... One day" actually means never. But the ADHD brain seems very inured to understanding that.

3. Sounds like he's not very good at (willing to?) compromise. If he needs to eat late then that seems ok, but he shouldn't be getting annoyed that you want to eat at another time. I think you might need to figure out together whether eating together is more important to you or each eating at the time that suits you. The do it now or I won't be able to do it at all I recognise as a coping mechanism, but again, comes across as a bit controlling of him. When you say that he thinks it's selfish if you eat earlier, is that coming from him or you? If it's coming from him that would be a red flag to me for controlling behaviour. It doesn't seem good. I do think being able to discuss and problem solve issues where you both want a different outcome is important in a relationship. With neurodiversity it might be the case that the solution looks a bit weird to outsiders but that should not matter if it works for both of you. That's the key difference I think. You shouldn't try to force him to behave in a neurotypical way, but he also doesn't get complete decision making control either. You should each be able to express your needs and hopefully come up with a compromise.

4. He needs a deadline or reminders, this is the same as issue 2. He probably feels like it's on his radar because it was at one point, and he probably does fully have the intention to do it, but "I'll do that later" means never in practice. This is just a mental block that has to be circumvented. If he's in denial about that, then who knows how long that will take. But if you want this to improve immediately, try making requests like "Can you find a plumber by Friday because I want to get this booked in" or "the broadband contract ends in may, so we need a new one by April".

You might have to take stuff over in the short term and then when he gets upset about it, just explain factually "I needed it done by X date and it was not done so I've taken care of it." Don't apologise, because you're not in the wrong, don't blame and use accusatory language like "Well, if you'd done it like you said, I wouldn't need to!" Or "By the way, since you never got around to getting a quote, I had to do it". Just present it as a neutral thing. His reaction to that will probably tell you a lot TBH.

ADHDadvice · 02/04/2023 10:45

Thank you for taking the time to write all that out @BertieBotts it's really helpful.

I need to work out if I can deal with picking up the things that don't happen and be okay with it.

I think that's the bit I'm struggling with and while I'd never roll my eyes or use accusatory language, I do feel let down when things don't get done. I do feel unappreciated and busy. I work a lot more hours and I guess I'm looking to understand whether he can lighten the load a bit and maybe judging by this thread, he can't.

OP posts:

TuesdayJulyNever · 10/04/2023 16:37

I recognise a lot of myself in what you’ve described. I have no idea why it doesn’t drive my dh crazy, but mostly it doesn’t.

But then when there is something bugging him, I’m highly motivated to sort that thing.
It triggers my RSD, and that could easily tip over into an unhealthy or even abusive dynamic.

I couldn’t be with dh if he was as unhappy as you sound. I think I’d find it deeply damaging tbh because while I can focus on one or two problems, I can’t change fundamentally.

Now I suspect that gender plays a part here. For most of my life I’ve felt like I’m not a real adult, and definitely not measuring up as a woman because I can’t do all the things. I carry a lot of shame and work hard to hide, and to mitigate.

But men just aren’t socialised in the same way, and while under performing on the domestic front might cause relationship issues, it generally doesn’t trigger identity issues. I think it’s very telling that he sees these problems as yours (eg your standards are too high) first and foremost.

How much responsibility does he take for his adhd? Is he medicated? Is he using strategies and hacks?

I don’t think you have a moral obligation to be his support human. If the relationship isn’t working for you it’s ok to end it.

There’s very likely someone else out there for him, who would find these things minor irritations rather than major upsets.

I honestly have no idea why my dh puts up with me loves me but clearly the balance of wonderful vs maddening is tipped in my favour. It doesn’t sound to me like that’s the case for you. And I can’t imagine anything more soul destroying than being some kind of moral obligation to my partner.

(I know we’re only hearing the bad stuff and maybe there’s lots to tip the balance)


ADHDadvice · 10/04/2023 20:50

Thank you for sharing @TuesdayJulyNever and I hope you didn't take offence to my venting. Every relationship is different and we all need different things from our OHs.

I've been reflecting on it since I posted and I think it boils down to the fact that I feel like I put in more effort than he does, but actually, I'm not taking into account the extra effort it takes him to do the things he does do as a result of his ADHD. I'm not sure how I can better understand this.

He does take responsibility for his ADHD to a degree. He is medicated and he has been researching tactics etc. I was surprised by his reaction to our latest conversation though as outlined in the OP.

I'm still uncertain about a way forward. I don't feel like I'm able to give him everything he needs and for there to still be any energy left for me. I don't feel seen.

OP posts:

BertieBotts · 10/04/2023 21:08

Maybe it would be helpful to read the book by Edward Hallowell, Married To Distraction?

He's a leading expert in the ADHD world and it's supposed to be one of the best books for the non-ADHD spouse. He has other books for the ADHD person called Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction. This title always puts me off because it makes me think of religion, but apparently they are really good books - people rave about them being life changing.

I suppose the ideal would be relationship counselling with a counsellor that knows about ADHD, but I'm not even sure that's a thing.


BertieBotts · 10/04/2023 21:15

Actually sorry this one might be better:

I thought I remembered seeing some talk with Ned Hallowell all about his marriage book but that can't be right as the kindle sample describes it as not actually being a book about ADHD in marriage (though a lot of the comments say it could describe undiagnosed ADHD very well).

Well maybe look at both samples, look for talks by both authors and see which one seems more relateable?


ADHDadvice · 11/04/2023 11:38

Thank you for the recommendations @BertieBotts I will definitely take a look

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namechangealerttt · 12/04/2023 07:52

I have ADHD :)

I really struggle with cooking, everything from buying food, prepping food, I find it all a real struggle. I am divorced and have my kids 50/50. Since diagnosis this is one area I am having more compassion with myself, when my kids aren't around, I don't eat great and will just have a ready meal. I do socialise a lot so I also eat out. When I have my kids, I try and keep things to 3 basic e.g. a bag of preprepared salad, and something frozen in the air fryer, or a bag of prechopped stirfry veg a protein and noodles.

I also struggle to keep the house tidy and do housework. It was an issue in my marriage, as my ex struggled with me being like this.

I have seen things written about 'weaponised incompetence' and sometimes it makes me feel bad because I identify as the person not completing housework. But I genuinely struggle.

It is part of the reason I don't think I will ever live with a partner ever again. I don't want someone to resent me, and to be honest I met someone like myself we would be better off each living in our own mess. One of the contradictions of ADHD is I would feel so much better living somewhere orderly, but I can't maintain the order.

If you are unhappy, you are right, it doesn't matter whether his contribution to the household or lack thereof is attributable to his ADHD. You are possibly not compatible to be living with him. If you are not happy you can leave. If the good outweighs the bad, don't live hoping he will change because you will only be disappointed. If you want to stay work on accepting the situation as is. Outsource domestic help if you can afford it.


namechangealerttt · 12/04/2023 07:57

Sorry, I hadn't read your most recent replies...there goes the ADHD again.

I would definitely look into couples therapy and also therapy for yourself, to see if you can look at the situation from a different POV for yourself, see things through a different lens, so you can live with it, or whether you want to set standards of what is the minimum you will accept for yourself and be prepared to walk away to find happiness.


ADHDadvice · 12/04/2023 08:13

Thanks @namechangealerttt it's good to hear another person's view. I hope my vent didn't offend you, we all look for and need different things in a relationship.

I have my own issues and I'm 100% definitely not perfect. I guess with accepting it and agreeing that there will never be any changing though is also me accepting that I'm never going to have time to myself, I'm always going to be the one prodding him to want to do stuff with me and I'm always going to be running around washing his pants.

I posted this originally to try and understand it from his PoV but I'm not sure I can. I'm not trying to dismiss his efforts or challenges. But he knows I'm struggling to work more hours than him and run a household and never leaving the house unless I arrange stuff. And his answer to that isn't 'I'll help/ill make changes/I'll look into new techniques' it's basically I'm never going to be able to help with any of that.

Maybe I am a bad person to still be considering leaving when I recognise this isn't 100% in his control but I don't know what else to do

OP posts:

namechangealerttt · 13/04/2023 00:29

@ADHDadvice no offense taken at all, it is hard enough living with symptoms of ADHD as the person afflicted, it would be really difficult to live with as a partner. The person would need to be bringing something great to the table to want to accept the whole package.

I reread your 1st message again, because I don't think I read it properly the first time😂

They re not all ADHD issues:

  1. ADHD
  2. Selfish shit of a man raised under patriarchy and/or autistic traits
  3. Selfish shit of a man raised under patriarchy and/or autistic traits
  4. ADHD

My ex does not have ADHD, but since we split I have started to suspect he has autism. He used to do things similar to items 2 and 3.

Items 1 and 4 irritated him. Items 2 and 3 really affected my self esteem.

TuesdayJulyNever · 13/04/2023 22:56

Definitely no offence taken. But re reading my post I think I may have come across as quite critical of you which wasn’t the intention. What I was (mostly) getting at was the idea that we grow up in a culture that still encourages women to be a sort of helpmeet for men and it’s ok to say no to that.

The patriarchal Christian version of previous generations was more explicit but the same concept crops up for every generation in a new form - being kind, is the latest.

I wouldn’t date a man in the military because I don’t want that lifestyle - it wouldn’t be his fault if he were deployed, or we had to move around a lot.
But whether it’s by choice or under orders wouldn’t make a material difference to how hard I would find that life . I also made a conscious decision not to date men from notably patriarchal cultures. That’s a distinctly racist position (and I could easily tie myself up in knots about it) but one I’m entirely justified in choosing.

If you don’t want to carry the extra load you are not a bad person.

And at the risk of being flamed, the chances of having dc with adhd are increased and that brings another layer of challenges, workload and emotional labour . Obviously life doesn’t offer guarantees but it’s another thing to consider.

There are lots of other ways to be a good person

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