View Full Version : What's going on with my BF here?


Greengrasshoppe
02-12-15, 10:38 AM
My boyfriend and I usually instant message on weekdays and see each other on weekends. But the last couple of days he hasn't been very chatty. I texted him this morning and he replied briefly, but that was it. He didn't ask how I was doing or anything. Sometimes I feel like he could ignore me for days if I didn't initiate contact. He's gone through periods like this since early on in our relationship. But I don't know why and it bothers me. Could it be his ADHD? In theory, it sounds like it. But I wondered what you guys thought.

Fuzzy12
02-12-15, 12:02 PM
With every single person I know, I can go for days without initiating contact with them. If they should ever stop contacting me, we run the risk of never talking to each other again... :(

Flory
02-12-15, 01:12 PM
Sometimes people do need space and I especially don't do well with particularly lengthy messages it's really easy for me to look and think tldr or start replying and lose momentum and text something back like "k sounds good" almost on autopilot, some people with adhd deal better with different kinds of conversation/communication.

willow129
02-12-15, 06:14 PM
Honestly it sounds very ADHD to me! Even with some of the most important people in my life I seem to have a reputation of being on/off with communication.

Greengrasshoppe
02-12-15, 09:49 PM
With every single person I know, I can go for days without initiating contact with them. If they should ever stop contacting me, we run the risk of never talking to each other again... :(

Seriously? You wouldn't ever contact them again? You never initiate contact with friends, loved ones?

ToneTone
02-12-15, 11:08 PM
It's certainly true that ADHDers can shut down emotionally, especially when we have a lot going or are feeling overwhelmed. There are times, as others describe here, when I've simply been on "another channel" and can't switch to the "intimacy channel."

But I'm going to contradict all of the above and also say that most of the time when I didn't consistently communicate with a romantic partner, it was because I wasn't that into the romantic partner. Now, here's the catch: I think my ADHD got in the way of me knowing I wasn't into my partner that much ...

It was only when I dated someone I was REALLY into that I was more than willing to return calls quickly. Had never happened before in relationship with me ... and I've dated some wonderful people. Looking back, I just wasn't into previous partners as much as "I wanted to be into them" or thought "I should be into them."

I was lacking what seems like a basic emotional awareness (not knowing how much you want to be with someone!) ... and over time, I've learned that that is not uncommon for people with ADHD. Being aware of what you're feeling and aware of the "vibe" and "energy" with another person requires the ability to read subtle cues that ADHDers really have trouble with because our minds are focused elsewhere. You not only have to read the subtle cues, but also respond to them in kind to keep a relationship going.

I feel like I've had to seriously reprogram my brain in recent years to learn how to positively respond to people. Basic stuff I'm sure for other folks but not for me .. .

I'm sure not all ADHDers are as I describe here. But I certainly was ...

All of the above is one reason I don't think it matters why someone is treating you in a way you don't like. Nor do I think it a good idea to give a pass to someone with a "condition." If previous partners had given me a pass, they would have ended up miserable.

Good luck.

Tone

Greengrasshoppe
02-13-15, 03:00 PM
That's my concern. But we've been together 3 years. You'd think he's figured his feelings out by now.

It's certainly true that ADHDers can shut down emotionally, especially when we have a lot going or are feeling overwhelmed. There are times, as others describe here, when I've simply been on "another channel" and can't switch to the "intimacy channel."

But I'm going to contradict all of the above and also say that most of the time when I didn't consistently communicate with a romantic partner, it was because I wasn't that into the romantic partner. Now, here's the catch: I think my ADHD got in the way of me knowing I wasn't into my partner that much ...

It was only when I dated someone I was REALLY into that I was more than willing to return calls quickly. Had never happened before in relationship with me ... and I've dated some wonderful people. Looking back, I just wasn't into previous partners as much as "I wanted to be into them" or thought "I should be into them."

I was lacking what seems like a basic emotional awareness (not knowing how much you want to be with someone!) ... and over time, I've learned that that is not uncommon for people with ADHD. Being aware of what you're feeling and aware of the "vibe" and "energy" with another person requires the ability to read subtle cues that ADHDers really have trouble with because our minds are focused elsewhere. You not only have to read the subtle cues, but also respond to them in kind to keep a relationship going.

I feel like I've had to seriously reprogram my brain in recent years to learn how to positively respond to people. Basic stuff I'm sure for other folks but not for me .. .

I'm sure not all ADHDers are as I describe here. But I certainly was ...

All of the above is one reason I don't think it matters why someone is treating you in a way you don't like. Nor do I think it a good idea to give a pass to someone with a "condition." If previous partners had given me a pass, they would have ended up miserable.

Good luck.

Tone

Fuzzy12
02-13-15, 03:23 PM
Seriously? You wouldn't ever contact them again? You never initiate contact with friends, loved ones?

Yes, there are friends who are dear to me who I haven't contacted in months and some of them not for years.

I love my parents and my brother to bits but I'd happily not talk to them for a few months, especially if I know that that they are fine.

Lunacie
02-13-15, 07:01 PM
Yes, there are friends who are dear to me who I haven't contacted in months and some of them not for years.

I love my parents and my brother to bits but I'd happily not talk to them for a few months, especially if I know that that they are fine.

Sounds a lot like me. :umm1:

daveddd
02-13-15, 07:33 PM
sounds like he's not into having a romantic partner

VeryTired
02-13-15, 08:51 PM
Hi, Greengrasshoppe--

You wrote: "That's my concern. But we've been together 3 years. You'd think he's figured his feelings out by now. "

But I think what ToneTone was trying to tell you, and what's implied by what others here have said, is that it doesn't work this way. It sounds to me as though you aren't quite getting how the ADHD stops your boyfriend from doing what you expect. I'd be concerned, too, if I were you. But, I think we are here to learn that sometimes a person with ADHD really can not, does not, will not behave as we expect him to do.

And that definitely can include knowing how he feels about us, being consistent in expression of those feelings, and being mindful of our feelings. It seems to me that the point here is that what you find surprising in your boyfriend's behavior is not at all surprising. If I'm right about that, then the question shifts to whether or not you are OK with this, and how you want to proceed given that it's true.

Greengrasshoppe
02-13-15, 10:04 PM
^^^True. I don't know what I'm going to do...

dvdnvwls
02-14-15, 01:38 AM
Greengrasshoppe: How you "spin" this incident to yourself (I mean that word in the way politicians use it) makes a huge difference. If you choose to put a positive spin on it, for example that he is an introvert and needed some time alone and wasn't able to articulate that to you, then really everything is fine.

I was very afraid of being rejected by my ex. (It's obvious how that fear turned out to be true in the end, but anyway...) One of the major effects of that was that I ended up never telling her anything that I thought she might view as bad news. I knew, for example, that if I said "I'm feeling a little down lately, and I don't want to talk to anyone for a while, not even you" I would get "the third degree" from her. So I just withdrew and said nothing. I felt safer that way.

Greengrasshoppe
02-14-15, 10:23 AM
Interesting...hmmm thank you.

ToneTone
02-14-15, 03:39 PM
DVD, I love your view here ... And I'm going to add a complementary view. I used to shut down when I wasn't feeling well. I would keep people out, especially when I was depressed and most needed people to help me.

I didn't allow people to be close to me during these times because I felt ashamed that I was feeling down. So I couldn't call a partner and say, "I'm not feeling good. Can you come over and hang with me for a while?" Instead, what I was thinking was along the lines of, "God, I'm so depressed. I don't want people to see me this way. I need time alone to recover so I can be a better partner."

So much of our social life starts with how we talk to ourselves. If we secretly or not so secretly believe that we're defective or we secretly or not so secretly believe that we "shouldn't" be stressed, then that negative self-directed energy blocks us from wanting to let others in. And even if we did allow others in at this point, that negative energy is likely to make the other person uncomfortable. It's really hard to be with someone who is feeling bad and ashamed and/or determined to hide that they are feeling bad.

Which all leads to the reality that ADHDers need to accept ourselves, our moods, our weaknesses, our missed deadlines, and everything ... even as we try to improve our functioning. To really accept ourselves, we have to find and celebrate our strengths and build a life around those strengths.

ADHDers really benefit from choosing partners who accept us and our struggles. We are wise to avoid dating people who focus on our weaknesses and are trying to improve us, but this is impossible if we really believe we are defective.

On the other hand people dating or thinking of marrying ADHDers would be really wise to honestly ask themselves whether our weaknesses are too much for them. If accepting us requires a daily, exhausting inner-battle, then I would say partners should move on ... and do so without the slightest bit of guilt or sense of failure.

Tone

dvdnvwls
02-14-15, 09:24 PM
ToneTone - I think the majority of what you said also applies to me.

One of the things I've found very important for me is finally knowing someone who is proven "safe" to bring bad news to - someone who doesn't just pay lip service to "You can tell me anything, dear" - someone who truly accepts, on my terms those times when I do bring bad news.

VeryTired
02-14-15, 09:31 PM
I am so, so, so impressed with what Tone wrote here. It's rare that anyone is able to show this much insight into self as well as to other. To be not just this fair but also this compassionate to both parties is still more exceptional. I think Tone is offering valuable wisdom to so many of us here, in so many different situations. There's universality to the idea of accepting oneself first, as a basis for forming a strong and healthy relationship. That's good advice for anyone, not only those with ADHD.

TLCisaQT
02-16-15, 12:30 PM
I didn't allow people to be close to me during these times because I felt ashamed that I was feeling down. So I couldn't call a partner and say, "I'm not feeling good. Can you come over and hang with me for a while?" Instead, what I was thinking was along the lines of, "God, I'm so depressed. I don't want people to see me this way. I need time alone to recover so I can be a better partner."

On the other hand people dating or thinking of marrying ADHDers would be really wise to honestly ask themselves whether our weaknesses are too much for them. If accepting us requires a daily, exhausting inner-battle, then I would say partners should move on ... and do so without the slightest bit of guilt or sense of failure.

Tone

As usual Tone, very insightful and thoughtful comments, which are very useful an much appreciated. As for the first part, this is not unique to ADHD'ers. I struggle with this myself, not wanting to look weak, or having a hard time expressing myself when I am feeling down or depressed.

As to the last part. I totally agree!! especially if you have the chance or access to this information BEFORE lifelong commitment/marriage AND especially before children. If it is "tough" for you now, it is not likely going to change or "get better" I would say the opposite, espec if/when you introduce children, as that is what happened in my situation. These decisions only get more difficult and more complicated later on.

anonymouslyadd
02-17-15, 12:57 AM
That's my concern. But we've been together 3 years. You'd think he's figured his feelings out by now.
ADDers are usually a little behind.

dvdnvwls
02-17-15, 12:58 AM
ADDers are usually a little behind.

Or sometimes a lot behind, such as me.

Greengrasshoppe
02-17-15, 07:38 PM
I finally found out what was up, as some of you suggested. He was depressed and just retreated into a shell. He's job hunting and feeling frustrated. I don't know how to help him.

dvdnvwls
02-25-15, 03:02 AM
I finally found out what was up, as some of you suggested. He was depressed and just retreated into a shell. He's job hunting and feeling frustrated. I don't know how to help him.

It's often best to go against your instincts and actually trust his clumsy versions of signals. If he retreats and doesn't talk, assume he's done so for a good reason; your role in such a situation is to go about your own business as if he's not there, and not try to draw him out or help his process along. Every attempt you make at bridging his intentionally- and carefully-created space is going to be seen not as help or "reaching out" but as an intrusion, and unfortunately as a reason to trust you a little bit less next time.

In my experience with things like this, my retreat and silence can be context-dependent to some extent. For example, the job-hunting situation usually doesn't go on 24/7, and I think it's likely that he might be happy to be able to spend time with you sometimes, on the strict condition that you stay away from the whole employment topic, even eliminating it from small talk and ordinary conversation starters - don't ask him how it went today, don't offer help or give any kind of advice or tips, and especially don't ask him his plans (whether for tomorrow or beyond), because incompetent planning is one of the main ADHD problems - as soon as anyone asks me my plans, no matter what the situation, I become fearful and I immediately anticipate being ridiculed and having my tentative plans overruled by someone who I know won't be able to understand why I planned the way I did - partly because I'm barely even capable of explaining a plan in a way that a normal person would recognize.

The closest I can come to re-creating for "normals" the internal feelings of an ADHD man like me looking for work is something like this:

(I've written this assuming that the reader is a woman; the main character is you. And please imagine that this is a scene from a dream or something, because it definitely isn't realistic - it's about potentially identifying with how I feel, not about following a plausible storyline.)

Imagine that for some reason you've permanently moved to a country where you don't speak the language and none of them speak your language. You have just married one of the locals, who you love very much. He's a sweet man and kind to you, you truly enjoy each other's company, and you're happy to live with him even though he only knows a few words of English. You're taking a beginner course in his country's language, but you've barely started - the class handouts are showing you how to ask where the bathroom is and where to write your name on an immigration form.

Suddenly, one afternoon, there's an emergency; when you come home from the language class, your husband is distraught, and you can't understand why. After an agonizingly slow conversation with a lot of gestures and frequent use of a bilingual dictionary, you learn that some members of the local criminal organization are apparently plotting to kill him, and you along with him. Not only that, but the only way the two of you can be saved is for you to pass yourself off as a new member of the criminal group and learn their plans before they have a chance to carry them out; you can't get out of the country, the authorities are not going to be of any help since they're just as afraid of the crime bosses as everyone else is, and your husband would be recognized immediately if the criminals met him.

You don't know if the criminals would even accept new members; you don't know who to talk to to find out, and you're pretty sure that if you ask the wrong person or ask in the wrong way your hopes will end right there; you're a foreign woman with a funny accent and a steep language barrier trying to con a mostly-male gang into believing you're one of them; and you and the person you love are in imminent mortal danger, danger which can only be averted by your swift and complete success despite astronomical odds.

And now, every two hours, your husband is anxiously asking you what progress you're making, second-guessing all your decisions about where to go and what to do, telling you stories about the criminal organization's past exploits "to inspire you", and says "It can't be that bad, everyone goes through tough times and you're no different". :(

Greengrasshoppe
02-28-15, 08:32 PM
Thanks dvd. Good points. You're right. Thanks for those insights.

hypergirl96
03-04-15, 02:41 AM
***sorry, wrong thread***

rickymooston
03-07-15, 06:23 PM
Could it be his ADHD? In theory, it sounds like it. But I wondered what you guys thought.

Honest answer, if this behaviour is new, it could mean something.

His adhd has always been there so, it diidnt grow back. :confused:

If this behaviour is the same as you've experienced most of the time, it
could maybe be his adhd, although my adhd would be just as likely to flood you with messages