ADHD and New Love (again…)

The frequent trajectory of an early relationship when you have ADHD?

Full tilt boogey for a while, and then one day, your interest/attraction in the other feels like it’s just … gone. You may doubt that it was ever real, and even doubt yourself.

Be assured that you’re not a fake, that your affection/love for someone was/is real. That there’s nothing insincere or manipulative in how you’ve been in this relationship – you haven’t been self-serving.

Because if a part of you thought that there may be something wrong with you, that you were insincere, manipulative, self serving, that your choice was wrong yet again, you might feel embarrassed or even some shame. You might blame yourself, rather than understand that ADHD has again thrown you a curve ball.

Because those shifts in your feelings and your private negative self talk (your Itty Bitty Shitty Committee) are so uncomfortable, distressing and possibly painful, you may want to end the relationship right then and there.

If there’s a sense of history repeating itself again (a sense of differentness, not fitting in, something’s wrong that I don’t understand, not good enough for this) shame may likely be triggered.   And the thing about shame is that it causes us to get mad at ourselves (the IBSC), withdraw from the situation, deny its significance, and/or get mad at and blame the other.

Sound familiar?

One of the things about learning to live and grow with your ADHD is being able to describe it to someone else without it being an excuse, an apology or a play for excessive support.  In order to be able to do this, one must understand the diverse characteristics of ADHD (see great resources below) and through life’s challenges and experiences, become familiar with how it uniquely plays out it your life.

The next step is to become proactive, both in developing strategies to help with life’s challenges made even more difficult because of your ADHD, and in communicating to important people in your life your own ADHD characteristics and struggles: “I’m the kind of guy who……”

Looking at how this may play out in an early relationship: I’m the kind of guy who’s into a LOT of stuff (work, surfing, biking, friends) and right now I’m ALL about you. But I know myself really well by now, and at some point, this all-ness will shift, and I’m going to need to re-engage with my other passions, as well as with you.

In the past I thought there might have been something wrong with me or the relationship when that shift happened, and I’d end the relationship. But I’ve come to understand that my passions, all of them, are what make me who I am. I’m looking for a woman who has her own passions and really GETS this need for a variety of sources of energy and infatuation.

Your “shift” can take many forms and vary in character from relationship to relationship, but what does not vary is its pattern of recurrence. Once your own unique pattern is identified, it can be distressing to look back through your life to see the shift waiting each time between you and all those that you have cared for, wearing many different masks but always speaking with the same voice.

But the path you’ve taken does not determine that path you’ll take, like finding a clearer map or taking the turn you always wished you had. Learning about your ADHD and seeking new strategies can be that new map, and provide your first steps out of shame, toward connection and sense of self that you deserve.

Great Resources:

  • adhd Experts, free podcasts by ADDitude magazine
  • ADD and Romance by John Halverstadt