View Full Version : Dating someone with ADD

03-17-14, 11:08 PM
Hey there,

So Ive recently been dating a girl with ADD, it has been an interesting experience to say the least. I was hoping for maybe some advice, tips or pointers.

I met her through an online site, on our first date she mentioned that she has ADD while digging through her purse to find her medication. I didnt at the time think too much into it, as the average person assumes...ADD...the thing where people cant focus? (From what Ive learned so far, theres a serious need of awareness to the public imo)

As we have dated on and off the past few weeks, things have been very...random. Days at a time she wont really want to communicate, beyond the ADD shes a very busy person so I try to keep from bugging her and try to let her communicate when shes ready. She explained to me that she goes into those modes with her family as well.

Recently things got a little bit more intimate and made me realize how I feel for the girl. With those feelings came alot of confusion, at times the common thought would be shes disinterested, but when shes around she seems quite interested. I decided to look into her diagnosis and try to see if this ADD thing is the cause of this interesting predicament.

At this point Ive decided that I want to learn more, and understand. I told her that I want to be patient and understand her. I dont want her to worry about commitments or anything like that, I want to take things slow and to keep her feeling comfortable at all times.

Im just not the type of guy whose going to see a "red flag" and run for the hills. If I care about someone, or have feelings for them...I want to educate myself, understand, and accept her for exactly who she is.

With allll of that rant...what should I look out for? My gameplan so to speak, is to let her initiate things and run the pace. I think she would feel a little more comfortable with me if I could convey that, Im open minded and understanding, and that she doesnt need to explain herself if she says or does something that could upset me.

03-18-14, 12:06 AM
Hello, and welcome to the forum.

The best thing you can do, for your own comfort and hers, is to (quietly) learn what you can about ADHD. (the latest books usually have the H in there, often older ones don't, but it's all officially considered part of the same thing now.)

The first thing to learn is, we're not all the same - not even close. There's a lot of variation from one person with ADHD to the next.
- it doesn't make us stupid
- (sadly, it doesn't make us smart either)
- it's not mostly about attention - other things are just about always more important

I'd recommend heading to Youtube and searching for the three words Russell Barkley ADHD. He's a leading ADHD researcher who "tells it like it is". He also has a book called Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, which would give you a clear over-all idea of what's going on. (Some of Barkley's videos are just about specific little topics.)

Further along in a relationship, you might want to look at the website and/or book of Gina Pera (a simple search will find her). She has a great way of focusing on ADHD in relationships, how to live together happily, etc.

03-18-14, 12:20 AM
Thanks for the input. I did notice through my research that everyones experiences are so varied. I had actually ran across a russel barkley video today when I was looking into this all and it was very insightful.

03-18-14, 10:08 AM
I cant express enough how glad I am that this sub forum exists.

I guess one of my biggest fears is that if I fall for this girl and Im not able to maintain resolve.

Dating someone with this is so different from anything Ive ever known, but its not a bad thing. If Ive noted anything from other threadsIve read on here, its that it takes a special kind of non ADHD partner to be patient and understanding with this. Having to put our neediness on the back burner haha.

It helps too that I can be so understanding with this kind of disorder, I had a severe anxiety/panic disorder for years...and it would have helped alot if I knew someone who took time to try and really understand what was going on in my head.

03-18-14, 12:28 PM
Hi, Pawlpwal--

Welcome to the Forums. I'm glad you are finding this resource helpful. To me, it has been a real life-saver in many ways. I methodically read through every single post on this board from the very beginning when I first got here. That's a lot of information! Maybe too much for someone else, but I do encourage you to click around and read some older posts, as the same topics come up repeatedly.

The other thing I would say is don't be too worried or discouraged if you see some disturbing issues raised. People often come here for help when they have a real problem, so happy days and good times are less often represented than crises and frustrations. Like everything, there are ups and downs.

I think it's great that you are trying to read more about ADHD, and your plan of taking things slow sounds like a great idea for both of you. Good luck with everything, and keep us posted on how it all goes--

03-18-14, 03:34 PM
One other thing Ive been kinda wondering/worrying about is how do I talk to her about ADHD initially?

I want to let her know that I have a better understanding of her diagnosis and am okay with it, without making her feel like I think differently of her, or that shes not normal.

That was what I always dreaded about my condition in the past, people who didnt understand either thought I was less than human or not normal.

03-18-14, 07:56 PM
I guess I'm going to differ with DVD. I don't think it's your job at all to learn about ADHD. I think it's her job to tell you about it and how it affects her.

Your job, as I see it, is to be honest and direct in what you're feeling. If her behavior bothers you, you want to speak to her much as you would speak to someone who does not have ADHD but whose behavior bothers you. In fact, her behavior that bothers you (speaking hypothetically) may or not be related to ADHD.

If you decide you are and can be happy with this person, then you may want to investigate ADHD, just to get a few tips. Don't put understanding ADHD ahead of dealing with how you are feeling. In fact, I think it's much better to be specific about the behavior you don't like (without any mention of a condition). Then if she want to justify or explain her behavior based on a condition, her her tell you that … Even so, her telling you such doesn't mean that you should stay i the relationship. Lots of folks have "reasons" for their behavior.

So my bottom line is that at this point, especially, your job is not to at all figure out what's "wrong" with her or what's "going on with her" or the "causes" of her behavior. Your task is to figure out if you like her and want to continue dating her. If you like her and find that her behavior is fine, then continue dating her. If not, then move on and let her pair up with someone who can better deal with her behavior/style.

I just don't think when it comes to relationships and deciding to get involved with someone with ADHD that the challenge is any different than that of dealing with someone who is too close to her mother, a wild spender, stingy, unfriendly to waiters, a workaholic, forgetful and spacey (without ADHD) or anything else. I think focusing on a condition so early on can be really dangerous because you can easily find yourself putting up with behavior you don't like all the while justifying it to yourself on account of a condition.

Good luck.


03-19-14, 10:14 AM
We had talked a bit lastnight and I think Im best suited to play kind of a middle ground between DVD and Tones advice.

Shes been open with how her ADD affects her but I dont know if she fully knows what others see. I can see a stark difference between when shes on and off her medication (she lost her meds for over a week).

All in all taking things slow, understanding her feelings, and conveying mine are what would push this in the best possible direction. which like you said Tone, is really how any relationship with another person is. All of us are different, we all have our quirks or problems that both parties need to be okay with.

03-19-14, 08:35 PM
I originally came back to this thread to say I think Tone is basically right and that I was kind of missing the point. Now I see that an in-between approach sounds sensible. Glad something helps, anyway. :)

03-19-14, 09:09 PM
pawlpawl you sound so nice! I hope it goes well between you and the girl :)

03-20-14, 12:44 AM
Hi! Hope things are still going well for you.

From my perspective:

Let her know what it is that you see. I had NO idea how much my ADHD was impacting people around me until my partner told me. I thought that the problems just messed with me, with my life, and as she and I grew closer that was simply not the case.

That being said, let her know it in a way that indicates support, not as an accusation. There is a large difference (to me at least) between someone saying 'wow, you are always so disorganized and never on time, everyone can see it' and 'hey, I don't know if you are aware, but I have noticed that when your meds wear off you seem to get significantly more disorganized and lose track of time.' Comments like the second one open the door for her to teach you about ADHD and for you to find out ways that maybe you can help her.

Sometimes knowing what other people can see will also help you to find out ways it was affecting your life that you didn't even know were there.

03-20-14, 06:21 AM
It sounds like she is self aware, diagnosed, open to talking, and in treatment. So the only thing you have to do is get to know this woman. And see if you're compatible. Like you would with anyone you would date.

03-20-14, 08:01 AM
To JavaJunkie and Red's point - both super important.
1) approach and empathy is really, really, important.
Throw any idea of 'normal' out the window. Not because you'll never have a 'normal' relationship, but because you'll just find a new, different normal for you guys. It's not better or worse, just different and what will work for you.
2) RHW hit it. Like any other relationship *everyone* has their 'thing'. ADD is her thing. Being neurotic and type A is mine. Is mine better than my ADD spouses? Heck no. Worse? I'd like to think not. Just different. It's can be tough, but also not treating your partner with kiddie gloves / underestimating then is important.
This lady is on medication, self aware, and not saying she is perfect and that there isn't room for improvement (I don't care who you are, there is always room for improvement and everyone should always strive to be the best them they can).
It takes a VERY strong person to deal with ADD. Stuff we take for granted they have to work and struggle with. Give her lots of credit for that and remember that strength. Support her, but don't become co-dependent. It's very easy to slip into the White Knight role, but a strong lady (or gent) doesn't need a white knight, they need a partner.
3) don't take things personal. If she forgets your birthday or anniversary (see below) it has nothing to do with you or her feelings for you. Separating 'you and her stuff' from ADD can be really tough sometimes, but it'll save you a world of inaccurate heart ache. My bf's ADD has had some dozie's, but it was the *ADD* that was the cause and nothing to do with his feelings, character or intentions. I hope that makes sense?

Also, cudo's for you for seeking out the forum and wanting to best support your partner / future partner. I think willingness, patience and empathy is half the battle.

There's a lot of amazing people here that can help you work through ADD specific stuff and offer a lot of invaluable words of wisdom.

Every relationship has its 'stuff', ADD is just different stuff. You have 'stuff' that will be yours and different, but if your stuff can gel with her stuff and vice versa, Bob's your uncle! :)

You sound very supportive and positive, and like I said that's very commendable to seek out the forums again.

One other thing i've found, and this is only my experience and opinion...
Try not to talk / don't be surprised if talking with friends that don't have a background understanding of ADD to not go well. ADD is a great masquerader in the sense intention *does not* = action.
To someone unknowing looking in, they could easily thing "what a wienie! Why are you with someone so thoughtless or selfish or lazy or whatever".
*Not* the case at all, but because of the nature of ADD actions are not equal too intentions. Someone without ADD can do x, and it blatantly means x, but someone with ADD does x, and it actually means banana.
My partner is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful man i've met. His actions have portrayed the direct opposite at times and I learned very quickly when I asked a friend for advice that others can be very wrongly judgemental, and it's very, very unfair and bad for everyone involved.
Not saying you shouldn't talk to anyone, I guess just choose who you do carefully.
"He didn't remember your birthday? What a jerk!"
Odds are, he/she didn't remember his own either. Nothing to do with you or lack of caring.
"Wow! They forgot their child at daycare!? What a bad parent!"
To the TOTAL contrary - when everything you see if priority 1, and you literally can't differentiate between picking up milk, and picking up your child, it's blatant that care has nothing to do with it, it's just plain physics of the situation. It has absolutely and utterly nothing to do with care or feelings or character.

Not sure if that makes sense, just took 2 random examples I could think of off the top of my head.

I am not an expert, and still learning as I go, but just some things i've found that have helped me along the way.

Take care and great luck with your lady! :)


03-20-14, 09:55 AM
Thank you all for the tips, I really appreciate it greatly.

Iv learned valuable info from this post as well as many others. It helps being able to understand whats going on in her head, especially if shes someone I want to be with. When it comes to me and her talking about her diagnosis, Im trying to keep the ADD related conversations few and far between cause I do think that, although shes very self aware, she might not be as aware of the effects on those around her. So I dont want to just blast her with stuff, and make her question herself. In my eyes, shes absolutely perfect the way she is.

Thinking about it in hindsight, the disorder I had is kinda paying off in a weird way. Its easy for me to understand and feel empathy when she has her moments. I cant nor want to be her white knight, shes a very strong independent girl, I simply want to be another piece to the big puzzle in her head.

Another thing mentioned above is why I came here. I really have no one to talk to about all this and this experience. Sadly disorders like this and many others are so alien to public knowledge. As I thought when I met her "A.D.D.? The paying attention problem?" Obviously it is far different from that, and average people dont truly understand/respect it.

When I walked in to this I feared that I was putting my feelings at serious risk dating tbis girl. After soul searching, researching, and taking time to read all of your own experiences, I see the situation as a win win.

At best, Il end up with an amazing girl that puts a smile on my face.

At worst, Il have a good friend and a much better understanding and love for people around me.

We all got our quirks, A.D.D. is hers.

03-20-14, 07:07 PM
Like my wife says "you'll grow to love her/his quirks" even the annoying ones, it's part of who she is. All the best!

03-21-14, 05:05 AM
The only thing I can think of is
:please keep all arms and legs inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop"

03-22-14, 10:53 AM
Is it common for there to be regular distance?

Basically where we are at now.

Wev been dating, but because of her fear of commitment I told her were taking things slow and "going steady" or "making things official" is not an immediate need for me.

Shes expressed shes warming strongly to me, but because of her business with work and all that, I will be lucky if I can have a full real conversation with her once a week.

We try to send eachother at least 1 text a day, but its fairly regular for her to not do it and text the next day saying she forgot.

I will admit it sometimes feels like for 5 days at a time, she wants nothing to do with me, then she will open back up for 1-2 days and reaffirm shes still in this.

Sorry if Im sounding whiney lol. Im just trying to figure it all out

03-22-14, 09:55 PM
If you tell a woman to not expect any commitment from you in forseeable future, you can't expect her to become invested in you.

03-23-14, 12:00 AM
Man, as far as the fear of commitment thing goes … I was one of those commitment phones in my 20's, and frankly the women who were "patient" with me wasted a ton of time. The smartest and most confident of these women definitely figured out something was up with me and they moved on ….

If you want a relationship, I don't understand why you are patient with her … Why not date someone else more compatible? … Behind my commitment phobia were deep fears … nothing superficial about it … took more than a decade to work through the fear …

Good luck.


03-23-14, 01:25 AM
Well, hopefully you are into this "casual" dating and just having fun, because that may be the only place it goes. If you are...great... if eventually you want more from her than that, you can let her know, but she may not be able to give that.

if somebody only communicates with me for 1-2 days out of a week, then I'm thinking we are good friends, and if that's their version of "dating" it's not going to work for me. That would just let me know, if I want something more than that, it's okay, I just need to find something else :)

And then I'd be grateful I learned it now, than living on a hope and a prayer and an expectation of something different for 15 years .. HA (oh don't hate me... I'm working on my expectations, I'm not perfect hehe)

03-23-14, 09:13 AM
To my mind casual dating means there is no expectations, no promises, no requirements of talking or texting everyday. So chatting once or twice a week and seeing each other now and then would fit the bill. Especially if one person is busy with work or whatever.

More than that, and you're entering into relationship territory.

03-23-14, 11:21 AM
We talked about it more lastnight, it doesnt really look like its going to go beyond anything casual dating.

The more we talked I found out shes drastically unaware of her ADD beyond a doctor telling her she has it, and to take medicine for it.

I told her I like her alot and would like to be with her sooner rather than later. She fears shes not mature enough for a relationship cause her mind is juggling things constantly.

So I guess I have to decide, staying casual with her or moving on.

Sucky situation, really do like this girl and see so much potential and chemistry.

03-25-14, 09:26 PM
One other thing i've found, and this is only my experience and opinion...
Try not to talk / don't be surprised if talking with friends that don't have a background understanding of ADD to not go well. ADD is a great masquerader in the sense intention *does not* = action.
To someone unknowing looking in, they could easily thing "what a wienie! Why are you with someone so thoughtless or selfish or lazy or whatever".
*Not* the case at all, but because of the nature of ADD actions are not equal too intentions. Someone without ADD can do x, and it blatantly means x, but someone with ADD does x, and it actually means banana.
My partner is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful man i've met. His actions have portrayed the direct opposite at times and I learned very quickly when I asked a friend for advice that others can be very wrongly judgemental, and it's very, very unfair and bad for everyone involved.

That happened to me. Actually, two friends of mine ditched me because I didn't want to break up with my boyfriend. They thought I was being brain-washed and manipulated by my ADHD boyfriend and didn't want to deal with the outcome they had in mind. Basically, they thought it would be too tiring to help me mend my "future broken heart". They said he would abuse me, leave me, that I was a complete idiot... We have our small problems, sometimes bigger, but who doesn't? He's one of the best people I've ever met. He's my best friend, my rock.

03-25-14, 11:45 PM
Not dating,kind of gave up on the whole idea but NSA or FWBs might be an idea.