So I actually first discovered this board about six months ago as I went through a particularly traumatic breakup. I posted then and got some kind replies, but I wanted to post again now that I have some perspective.
I'm very interested in other people's experiences in relationships. Alot of the ADD literature focuses on how relationships are negatively affected by disorganization, lack of focus, etc. All of which is important, but seems to really focus on how logistical problems cause frustration.
I am more interested in how other people feel ADD has affected the kinds of relationships they find themselves in. I've read other people talk about getting bored and leaving too soon. For me I think its the opposite - I tend to be very very loyal and hang on way too long.
Just curious about others. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Hi Sodawater !
That's a good question you raise-- I also wonder about this often. As I've tried to "fathom" it (how does ADD affect relationships), one thing strikes me: that relationships in this sense at least seem to be most affected by, let's say, "negatively reinforcing interactions". An interaction is like an incident, or a talk or discussion, or maybe outburst? as in acting out [a bit]? or getting really frustrated about an ADD-something, or whatever. But a relationship is a broader thing, made of multiple/many interactions, usually over time--certainly, family/spouse/kids/parents/sibs and lover[s], among the main ones. The recurring nature of particularly ADD-like side-effects of re: interactions keeps drawing my attention.
For me, a really illustrative example is typical interactions with another ADD person-- we both really like each other [moths drawn to each others "fire"??]) but got really frustrated with each other before we got somewhat enlightened about the recurring 'symptom' that was most negatively affecting our relationship, which affected our communication, mostly verbal. Basically, when my thoughts race around and I'm trying to follow a thread of my thinking while talking, especially about something personal and/or 'deep' or at least deep-feeling, I can take a while to get it out, often repeating myself (kind of like re-reading a paragraph until you can get to the end, having been distracted several times, perhaps by yourself!); anyway, this irritates/frustrates the other person, especially one with ADD, because their mind is racing around, also getting distracted, and so on. Then if they respond, it might be by interrupting/blurting e.g. "argh! can you get to the point??" And then my feelings get hurt, and maybe I get mad, and then they get their feelings hurt and maybe we just abruptly terminate the conversation. But then we typically out of friendship or love or our incessant recurrent having-to-recover-from-these-kinds-of-interactions and trying to improve our 'performance' during them, well, we're right back at the next day or even after a couple of hours or a walk in the park, salving our smarting egos/feelings, getting de-frustrated.
Once I learned about ADD and how this works in general and in me, I told my friend both that I thought this explained alot about me and especially our interactions and that I thought maybe my friend is like this, too. And, sure enough, my friend checked it out, and IS! So now, it's like the not-still-blind leading the not-so-blind and it's alot better. Not that the internal cause is suddenly eliminated or even lessened by this awareness or by meds or certainly by itself or divine intervention. Just that the extra awareness, mutual understanding, just that bit more of tolerance and willingness to just whoa!-slow down-wait-a-sec!! until your friend gets his thought combobulated!!! See, isn't that better and a better feeling that you did??
Well, this is just one kind of characteristic interaction, but one that recurs and has particular effects. It operates in the long run fer sher, but also in the short run-- I KNOW that some people have not warmed to me, so to speak, because they perceive this characteristic and I'm sure think that 'phht! no way I'm going to endure a relationship like this!! " And then they don't open up, give you tolerance, or they close up or poof! they're outahere.
I know you know what I'm sayin'! Well, it's a pi**ser, ain't it?? It kindof reminds me of an oft-used example of an oxymoron: e.g. "military 'intelligence'"-- yeah: ADD 'relationships'-- NOT!
Funny, you should post this question because I was just researching this subject after having constant relationship problems with my significant others. The thought of salvaging a relationship with my fiancee is very important to me and at this point, I am considering medication so I can maintain relationships. This has been a major problem for me in most of my 35 years of life.
I did not truly realize that I have ADD until my 5 year old daughter started to display symptoms. I then resourced every book I can find on ADD in adults and children and intoxicated my brain with the information. I've always been a very functional (well maybe just with my career) ADD adult person--I mean I bought my own house in a very affluent neighborhood and am a happily divorced single mother who is a stay at home (I really can't stand staying at home!) mom and going to grad school. I miss my high energy job that allowed me to multi-task every single minute. I was able to change my environments constantly and I flourished in that career. Hence, my success because of my talents of multi-tasking. I figured that because I had a succesful career, I must be "normal". I couldn't have ADD or something like that. Yeah, my disorganzation and messy home was contributed to my laziness. Yeah, I'm full of energy and have this upbeat personality. Yeah, I get mad a lot and can't let it go. Yeah, I seem to constantly bicker. Is this normal? I use to think so, but guess what? NOT!
I didn't really discover that my brain had problems until my fiancee. Yeah, I always have had problems with boyfriends of the past. Even my divorce didn't alarm me. Not until, I was in a healthy relationship with a wonderful man that I discover that I (my brain)had a real problem. He pointed out things to me that I never seem to see or understand before. We have broken up a few times already and this may be the last chance for us. I am really scared that I may mess it up. "If I only can keep my big mouth shut!" Those are always my words after the argument or disagreement. It just seems that I either start it or I just can't seem to get the right words out when we argue and then my point is never made correctly. My point constantly gets muddled onto something else. Its not clear precise thinking. I can't seem to get my mind to think clearly like when you write a paper and you outline points. My brain can't seem to outline the actual points and the supported facts. It gets stuck. Then the emotions pour in and you're really screwed. Because you just get so upset and emotional and its the end of the world. You can't seem to shake it off. Do you guys know what I mean? Its so frustrating!! Why couldn't men think about all of the good things that seem from us and our ADDness?
My boyfriend and I are just seeing each other again (no "marraige" commitment yet). We are taking it slow because we both have been hurt from our last breakup. We have had our share of problems,but I realized that he is the one and I really want to salvage this relationship. He's a wonderful man. He really loves me and my daughter and I really want us to get married and be one big happy family. I am unsure whether this is ever possible for me, an adult ADD'r.
My question is to any person who has ADD or any parents of ADD teenagers or kids. I am curious if medication is effective in maintaining a relationship. I am curious of the "before and after" effects of medication.
Hi Green-- a couple of things strike me, off the top:
Think of 3 relationships: 1) you:your ADD, 2) you:your friend, 3) your ADD: your friend.
(1) You are doing things about this and that's great-- and what you're doing is great! but you probably already know that the behavioral-only Rx is relatively long term, so this is going to improve but probably not as fast as it might need relative to (2). Meds tend to be fairly rapid acting (couple-several weeks) and beneficial (when they're beneficial) but it typically takes time to find the right meds (one or more, probably) and dosage regimen; so, I think you should expect some not-so-short-term effects @ meds; rather, at least in my experience, there's a several month period of uncertainty about which meds and how much are the best mix.
(2) What I was saying about particular kinds of interactions is that they have negative side effects, esp. chronic (ongoing) and sometimes acute (bickering/spats/yelling/storming out of the room/house fuming), that affect in both the short and long term. When people develop a commitment to each other, they tend to 'stick it out' but it takes a toll usually. So...
(3) - work on helping your friend understand your ADD's symptoms as affect your relationship with him
- do you have access to an affinity group where there might be others like yourself or him who could talk about it, preferably interactively? If you don't know, it might be worthwhile to scour the bushes a bit and see if you can drum up something even a ways away from where you live once a week or something; sounds like you're very serious about trying to keep this relationship and even turn it into marriage!
- when these symptoms strike, see if you can catch them as they occur and ask him to help you re-start a bit so as to not get further into a frustrating situation. Also (no blame no shame ) encourage him
- to be on the lookout for them and clue you (no blame no shame!! ) -- it's not just a rationalization that sometimes you just don't see it, at least see it coming; or that you can't quite 'stop' yourself when one of these problem interaction is occurring. I mean, it IS disruptive and can be hurtful, so I say go after it with a fire extinguisher (well, a HOME fire extinguisher, maybe )
- maybe do some retrospectives with him, you know, go out for a walk to enjoy spring ... just relax .... review how y'all are doing re: this under unthreatening circumstances ... ... ...
- find out more about what bugs him the most about it and see if there's something you can use your commitment to the relationship and (whoa!) super-focus to work on. Not too many too much too fast, but a couple of key ones. Focus, focus, focus, you know-- that's your strongweak point in this regard...
Well, I think/hope you see where I'm going with this. Focus for me works better when I can "separate the beams", so to speak as they said in "Ghostbusters, remember? "Crossing the beams is BAAADDD!!" In this context, as you say, you get things mudded, so that's why it occured to me that especially because you're really subjectively involved in this, you should try to keep the 'beams (1-3)" separate.
Also, beware that mixing clinical and personal is another kind of mixing beams problem. Because you know something is good but as they say, a little knowledge can go a long way but also can be dangerous; and, because you're personally involved, you should be careful to keep those beams as clearly separate as you can.
And, I guess, last but by no means least, remember that ADD can strike at any time while your juggling these beams.
And then, everything will be like: YAY!! Well, hopefully better!! Godspeed...