View Full Version : helping him stick to something


grinningsoul
10-25-16, 10:27 PM
I'm looking for some advice on helping my boyfriend cope with ADD.
For this post I'll ask about goal setting issues.
He mainly has trouble with sticking to things. He's doing fine with general life skills and holding a job, but in terms of finding a passion he is struggling. He has cycled through tons of hobbies. Guitar, writing, photography, to name a few. He tells me that he is motivated by curiosity, but once he knows how to do something, he looses interest and gets distracted. The cycle repeats over and over. He feels like he cant get satisfaction from small success so has no positive reinforcement to keep going. Fear of failure, and low self esteem weigh him down. Time is also an issue. He's afraid of wasting time, and he doesn't have much to begin with thanks to his job. Commuting to work eats up lots of his time. Gets up around 530am gets home around 7pm. He has tried to set a "learning plan" before but he gets overwhelmed with setting time management goals. It's hard for him to relax and go slow. If he can't get it done in a year why do it at all. I'm an artist myself, and he keeps saying things like, " i wish i could be like that," when I talk about working on stuff. It's hard to tell someone "you can" without sounding like you are undermining their illness.
Lately he's been playing video games alot, and i'm wondering if taking a break from online activities would help. To much stimulation from reading stuff online. Too much easy instant gratification from games. Please direct me to any info on this idea.

I want to know if it's really possible for someone with add to find a passion, (like art or music for example) and stay with it long enough to develop a skill. I believe he can, just slower than the average person, But I want proof.

Are there any people with ADD who have had success developing a skill?
What kinds of things helped you in this situation?
What can I do to help without pushing to hard?
How long do your cycles last before you drop a project? He usually tries for a week, then stops trying for months. Is that normal?

Any advice is greatly appreciated and questions are welcome.

New to this site btw

anonymouslyadd
10-25-16, 11:02 PM
Show him the information in this thread here (http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=100053).

dvdnvwls
10-26-16, 01:15 AM
If he stays just the way he is, is that OK with you?

If he told you "I love you, except you have some flaws I need you to fix", how would that affect your relationship?

stef
10-26-16, 02:17 AM
If he stays just the way he is, is that OK with you?

If he told you "I love you, except you have some flaws I need you to fix", how would that affect your relationship?

But it also sounds like he wants to work on this, himself.

namazu
10-26-16, 02:25 AM
Hi, and welcome!

A 5:30AM to 7:00PM work/commuting day sounds exhausting. People who have existing passions may find those passions to be a welcome outlet at the end of a long day. But a "learning plan" to develop new skills really sounds like more work unless the effort is rewarding in and of itself.

When he says "I wish I could be like that", what does he mean? Does he wish he were more artistic? More self-directed? More creative? More able to pick his own work hours? More in love with his job? It could be interpreted in a lot of ways.

The internet can be a double-edged sword for people with ADHD -- very stimulating, but also very distracting. If he's using it as a source of relaxation, and it's not interfering with his health or your relationship, then the distraction may just be a welcome way to wind down after a long day of work. If he is uncomfortable with his own internet use, there are ways to disconnect, including website blockers, days off, etc.

I want to know if it's really possible for someone with add to find a passion, (like art or music for example) and stay with it long enough to develop a skill. I believe he can, just slower than the average person, But I want proof.
Yes, it is possible for people with ADHD to be passionate about their pursuits, and to develop skills or achieve great things in a field of interest. There are people with ADHD on this site who are artists, musicians, gamers, academics, parents, teachers, athletes, and others who love what they do -- whether as a primary occupation or as a hobby.

That said, it is difficult to create a passion from scratch, just for the sake of having one.

It wasn't clear to me from your first post whether this desire to find a passion was coming from him or from you.

Is he happy satisfying his curiosity and moving on to the next thing?

If he's content to dabble, there's no need to change that. (...As long as he isn't spending money he doesn't have buying equipment for a hobby he quickly abandons, leave half-finished projects strewn around the house, etc. -- both of which I have been guilty of myself...)

If he's dissatisfied with his life outside of work, and doesn't have the drive/time-management ability to take up a new hobby that requires practice or skill, then maybe there are activities that would be enjoyable but don't require hours of dedicated practice -- attending musical events, hiking, etc. -- that he could enjoy (or you could enjoy together) without the pressure of having to work at it.

And if he has decided that he really wants to learn to play guitar, dammit, then some of the strategies in threads about time management or studying may be useful.

stef
10-26-16, 03:21 AM
Whoa i had missed the line about commuting! I am in exactly the same situation except I am up at 5:50 and home at 8:00 PM.
So, first of all it's important to keep in mind that
1) some down time, is essential and
2) there are simply not that many hours in the day. This has nothing to do with poor organisation (which I used to believe); the time, is simply not available.

It is terrible as I'm in band and I really want to practice a couple of evenings a week. If I work late (which is OFTEN recently) and/or, there is some train delay, it's just not possible.
Also my other hobby is crochet, but then there is also INTERNET, and the crochet is so relaxing it actually puts me to sleep. On a good night I do a row of this project then go back online and then do another row. While watching tv of course :)

It's not easy to choose the hobby and develop it under any conditions but with evenings like this it's really a challenge!

sarahsweets
10-26-16, 03:55 AM
Are there any people with ADD who have had success developing a skill?
What kinds of things helped you in this situation?
What can I do to help without pushing to hard?
How long do your cycles last before you drop a project? He usually tries for a week, then stops trying for months. Is that normal?

Any advice is greatly appreciated and questions are welcome.

New to this site btw

Does he want these things or you?

kilted_scotsman
10-26-16, 09:29 AM
The first thing I'd be doing would be reducing my working day..... up at 5:30 returning at 7 means there is no time for anything apart from basic life function, eating, washing, cleaning during the week.

Add in a chunk of time for your relationship and there's no time for anything else.

Being motivated by curiosity is great.... over time he may well find that each interest he has had begins to feed into current interests and he synthesises new stuff.

I would be interested in why he/you think he should have "a passion"??? what's that about??

I would also be wondering about his views on the meaning of his life..... someone who is working that hard without passion for the job is potentially storing up psychological trouble for the future.....unless he is personally invested in some "why" of working such long hours.

Little Missy
10-26-16, 10:18 AM
Maybe he's happy. :)

john2100
10-26-16, 10:51 AM
Does he want these things or you?
:goodpost:

20thcenturyfox
10-26-16, 07:32 PM
I'm looking for some advice on helping my boyfriend cope with ADD....

He tells me that he is motivated by curiosity, but once he knows how to do something, he looses interest and gets distracted. The cycle repeats over and over. He feels like he cant get satisfaction from small success so has no positive reinforcement to keep going. Fear of failure, and low self esteem weigh him down. Time is also an issue. He's afraid of wasting time, and he doesn't have much to begin with thanks to his job....

It's hard for him to relax and go slow. If he can't get it done in a year why do it at all. I'm an artist myself, and he keeps saying things like, " i wish i could be like that," when I talk about working on stuff. ....

Any advice is greatly appreciated and questions are welcome.

New to this site btw

but geez, people, does it really sound like this guy would be perfectly happy going on as he is...if his gf would just cut him some slack?

I'm going to say, as near as I can tell from her post, that I have been exactly like him, with plenty of talent, education, and luck, a good performer most of the time, but also frustrated at my own lack of persistence and ability to close in on longer term goals--and all too often my own worst enemy.

We knew nothing about ADHD years ago, or that it could possibly apply to me. But my greatest good fortune in life was to marry someone who, besides being my greatest fan, was as steady and reliable in his own temperament, habits, executive functioning and sociability, as I was variable. I made our life together fun and imaginative, and certainly was a big part of making our business a success. But he made it work, day in and day out, keeping track of my keys and my schedule, making sure we got out to walk the dog every day, doing the grocery shopping, etc. I had always used a budget, but following his example I got a lot better at using a daytimer and a secretary to juggle competing time demands. So I think the support and example of an organized and non-critical partner can greatly enrich our quality of life.

So I would say to the OP that it's fine to read up on ADHD, but since she has a partner who sounds pretty high-functioning and self-aware, to ask him what kind of support he thinks would be helpful, especially as to what changes in their environment, schedules, activities together and apart, would promote the self-regulatory changes he is most interested in working on. Don't try to become a therapist, but just explore together how you might arrange things to suit your particular strengths and weaknesses. Timers, white boards, little notebooks, smart phone apps are all things people here use to cope with our predictable weaknesses.

I might also suggest reading up on Goal Management Training. Though developed for traumatic brain injury survivors, it focuses on changing the way you think and talk to yourself about what you are doing now, and what you will do next. He would have to start with one particular task or function he wants to change, write out a recipe card to follow, and just practice until it gets easier. I've started using it, and it's too early to say how much difference it will make...but it just feels right.

grinningsoul
10-26-16, 09:28 PM
First let me clarify, this is 100% what he wants. Not me. Like I said he's doing ok at his job general life stuff. He does buy supplies for things that he abandons but not bad enough to cause an issue.

If he stays just the way he is, is that OK with you?
Yes. I don't care if he gets really good at a skill. My only concern is that he will give up on doing anything at all and get depressed and hide away in video game land forever. If he picks up things and drops them in loops forever i'm fine with that. As long as he is trying. Doesn't matter what it is or if it's always changing. As long as he can still care about something.

grinningsoul
10-26-16, 10:07 PM
When he says "I wish I could be like that", what does he mean?
He's referring to my ability to work through the frustrating bits of learning a skill.
For example: he tries to cook something new and it comes out edible, but not perfect. So he will say that he feels like he wasted the whole night. And i will try to help him reframe that thinking. I say "it's not a waste because you learned from it. It needed to happen and now you have it out of the way."

If he is uncomfortable with his own internet use, there are ways to disconnect, including website blockers, days off, etc.
I've been slowly nudging at this. But I don't think he wants to. He would do it if I asked him to, but I want him to come to that on his own. So, we shall see. I think he may have a mild mild video game issue. And i get why.

Is he happy satisfying his curiosity and moving on to the next thing?
No. He's not happy with it. But maybe the solution is learning to be ok with just being ok. Instead of getting really good at something.

And thank you. I'm looking into time management stuff for him.

dvdnvwls
10-26-16, 10:53 PM
But it also sounds like he wants to work on this, himself.
I really sincerely wanted to "work on" exactly the things my ex wanted me to "work on". Because I believed she must be right. Because I desperately wanted to please her. Because I wanted to "be a success".

The entire process was false - a great hoax that we were playing on each other. I could easily blame her for ruining my life, because she did her unwitting best to sabotage who I am and turn me into someone else. She could blame me for ruining her life too, wasting her time and energy on my empty promises and my wide-eyed adoption of plans that a little voice inside my mind told me didn't make any sense for me.



"We" need to "work on" your tree-climbing skills, said the cat to the fish.

acdc01
10-26-16, 11:24 PM
No. He's not happy with it. But maybe the solution is learning to be ok with just being ok. Instead of getting really good at something.

Yeah, this is what I wonder about him based on what you've posted. That he just expects too much of himself so even if he were able to do something for longer, he'd still not be happy cause he'd still not be good enough. If that's the case, that's what needs to be worked on first.

I'm like that - lose interest in a hobby the moment I learn how to do it. I'm perfectly happy to be that way and I can't imagine me being successful at ever changing.

I guess if he really wants to try changing, I'd pick a hobby that requires little or no skill. Also, maybe a hobby that involves other people too if he's social. A hobby with variation helps too - like biking can take you to many different places. High adrenaline hobbies are easier to stick to. Like snowboarding or skiing which do take skill. A sport in general is more high adrenaline.

dvdnvwls
10-26-16, 11:36 PM
First let me clarify, this is 100% what he wants. Not me. Like I said he's doing ok at his job general life stuff. He does buy supplies for things that he abandons but not bad enough to cause an issue.


Yes. I don't care if he gets really good at a skill. My only concern is that he will give up on doing anything at all and get depressed and hide away in video game land forever. If he picks up things and drops them in loops forever i'm fine with that. As long as he is trying. Doesn't matter what it is or if it's always changing. As long as he can still care about something.
What if this attitude of yours is exactly what depresses him? I'm not saying it is or isn't, but I am asking a serious question.

I may be taking this thread too personally, but what I think I see is a patronizing "Mother knows best" vibe coming from you. Maybe I'm just plain wrong - I hope I am.

If he doesn't even know what's best for him, why stay with him?

grinningsoul
10-27-16, 12:09 AM
I'm not sure what attitude you are asking about? I've been supportive and talked to him about this stuff and tried to be reassuring as much as possible. I'm on the side of " I know it's actually harder for you, but I believe you can accomplish things. It just takes you longer. And even if if you don't become an expert at something it's ok"
But maybe he thinks I'm just being nice and I'm really mad at him.

I'm thinking this is really a matter of self esteem. "If i'm actually good at something I won't hate myself"

We have talked about this stuff together. But it's difficult for him and hard to tell if he believes me when I say I'm not actually judging him.

I think I'm just going to ask him what he thinks I think of him next time.

As a person with Adhd, does anyone feel like there partners are unhappy with them? And what does your partner do or say to make you think this?

BellaVita
10-27-16, 12:10 AM
Could video-gaming become his passion? Or maybe it already is? Seems like he keeps coming back to it.

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 12:33 AM
I'm not sure what attitude you are asking about? I've been supportive and talked to him about this stuff and tried to be reassuring as much as possible. I'm on the side of " I know it's actually harder for you, but I believe you can accomplish things. It just takes you longer. And even if if you don't become an expert at something it's ok"
But maybe he thinks I'm just being nice and I'm really mad at him.

I'm thinking this is really a matter of self esteem. "If i'm actually good at something I won't hate myself"

We have talked about this stuff together. But it's difficult for him and hard to tell if he believes me when I say I'm not actually judging him.

I think I'm just going to ask him what he thinks I think of him next time.

As a person with Adhd, does anyone feel like there partners are unhappy with them? And what does your partner do or say to make you think this?
Who are you to say what's OK and what's not OK (such as becoming an expert or not)? Who are you to decide that it's a matter of self-esteem? You are judging, despite what you stated.

That was one of the things my ex used to do that showed me she was unhappy with me. Expecting me to live up to her ideas and ideals of what a husband should be even though that's not who I am (e.g. "I love you, now change") was another.

grinningsoul
10-27-16, 12:42 AM
I know it reads that way because you don't have all the info. Just didn't want to type a huge letter here.

I'm not making that judgement about his self esteem. He is. He has told me exactly, " I wish I was someone else. I hate myself."

grinningsoul
10-27-16, 12:57 AM
<hr style="color:#D1D1E1" size="1"> Could video-gaming become his passion? Or maybe it already is? Seems like he keeps coming back to it.

He is actually passionate about games. (although he can't finish them)
He told me he would like to work on them as a job, maybe writing for them or something. But he would need to move somewhere to actually work in the industry, and it's not very feasible right now. So he keeps waffling on it and pushing it aside.
Maybe it a year or 2 from now, when loans are paid off and he has more money saved.

grinningsoul
10-27-16, 01:06 AM
I may be taking this thread too personally, but what I think I see is a patronizing "Mother knows best" vibe coming from you. Maybe I'm just plain wrong - I hope I am.

If he doesn't even know what's best for him, why stay with him?

I'm not looking to leave him. I'm coming here to get insight from people with similar issues so I can communicate with him better. I can be pretty bad at communicating myself, and I want to work on that. It's easy to fall into a routine, and stop talking to your partner about stuff that matters. "I'm afraid of wasting my life and never accomplishing anything". <-- these are his words.

I think it reads as "mother knows best" because i'm paraphrasing stuff he has actually said, but not explaining that clearly.

grinningsoul
10-27-16, 01:18 AM
I really sincerely wanted to "work on" exactly the things my ex wanted me to "work on". Because I believed she must be right. Because I desperately wanted to please her. Because I wanted to "be a success".
The entire process was false - a great hoax that we were playing on each other.

Thank you for this.
This is exactly the kind of thing I'm afraid of. This idea of a false relationship. Doing things just to please me and not because he actually wants to.

BellaVita
10-27-16, 01:23 AM
<hr style="color:#D1D1E1" size="1">

He is actually passionate about games. (although he can't finish them)
He told me he would like to work on them as a job, maybe writing for them or something. But he would need to move somewhere to actually work in the industry, and it's not very feasible right now. So he keeps waffling on it and pushing it aside.
Maybe it a year or 2 from now, when loans are paid off and he has more money saved.

Cool. So it sounds like he does have a passion. Even if he is unable to finish the games.


I have a suggestion, it might sound crazy but maybe it'll help. Try telling him that maybe he should just allow himself to "be" without guilting himself or making himself feel bad that he doesn't have a passion/hobby that he completes. Tell him he is good already as he is.

Maybe he needs a "mind break" from thinking about trying to find a passion/hobby, maybe he just needs space to be.

Some ADHD'ers end up happier just going from acitvity to activity, never fully mastering one, because that's just how their brain works. Maybe he has internalized pressure from society to become good and master something over the years, and maybe he needs to let go of that internal guilt and shame.

He might end up finding out he is actually okay with skipping from thing to thing. Maybe that's how he keeps himself stimulated, dabbling a bit in different activities.

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 02:19 AM
Thank you for this.
This is exactly the kind of thing I'm afraid of. This idea of a false relationship. Doing things just to please me and not because he actually wants to.
This doesn't have to be what's happening, it's just what happened to me.

If it is... There's a big difference between you deciding to find a new way to solve this, and you realizing it was never yours to solve.

stef
10-27-16, 03:59 AM
I really sincerely wanted to "work on" exactly the things my ex wanted me to "work on". Because I believed she must be right. Because I desperately wanted to please her. Because I wanted to "be a success".

The entire process was false - a great hoax that we were playing on each other. I could easily blame her for ruining my life, because she did her unwitting best to sabotage who I am and turn me into someone else. She could blame me for ruining her life too, wasting her time and energy on my empty promises and my wide-eyed adoption of plans that a little voice inside my mind told me didn't make any sense for me.



"We" need to "work on" your tree-climbing skills, said the cat to the fish.

Sorry I wrote that quickly yesterday;
I really meant to say that what i read was that he, himself, is unhappy and frustrated with this aspect of his life, and he doesnt want to "improve" this to please his GF. (who is very supportive :) )
I dont like the words "work on" in the first place, acutally.

acdc01
10-27-16, 04:25 AM
I know it reads that way because you don't have all the info. Just didn't want to type a huge letter here.

I'm not making that judgement about his self esteem. He is. He has told me exactly, " I wish I was someone else. I hate myself."

Is he willing to go to a therapist? His problems seem to extend far beyond just hobbies. His dislike of not sticking to his hobbies seems only a manefestatiin of his dislike for himself.

kilted_scotsman
10-27-16, 05:05 AM
He has told me exactly, " I wish I was someone else. I hate myself."

It looks as if the "stick to something" issue is a symptom of a deeper problem.

In psychology there's a thing called "script" which operates on the micro and macro level. The basic premise is that we have a subconscious process that makes us repeat behavioural patterns that confirm our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

It's likely that your partner would benefit from some good counselling, probably CBT/ Transactional Analysis or similar.

Professional help makes it easier to bring the script processes into awareness however takes a lot of personal "work" to get to grips with "script" and change it.... they are deep seated and insidious.

It may help if.. instead of looking for his "passion" he invests his limited time in some therapy PLUS some "personal work".... something that complements the therapy.. eg yoga, dance, meditation workshops.

Pilgrim
10-27-16, 08:10 AM
I agree with above.

I commend your wish to not let him become depressed.

Don't bust his balls, I'm saying this for you. Pick one thing that's important and propel him into it ie work.

From the posts I've read I'm gunna say something different. Maybe not passion, maybe something more intense , ' hyperfocus '. The way it was described to me was find a profession that just absorbs you, I've got to believe this is possible. Working at a job that you don't enjoy that takes all your mental energy sounds like hard work.

In regards to playing games I would not say this is a complete waste of time. I found them a great way to relax.

In regards to gaming this is not all it's cracked up to be, things that I found could be careers I looked at them very closely. Someone mentioned it before that changing from position to position, this can be normally done within a large organisation. Getting caught in the dead end menial labour market can be hard for people who have a mind that is geared to be curious. Goodluck

Pilgrim
10-27-16, 08:52 AM
I might say something else, when he ' wishes ' he was someone else. This is a self esteem issue that stems from lack of confidence, feeling like you can't achieve anything, feeling different to everyone else. This is very debilitating and it is purely ADD. This can destroy you. Medication helps the brain to sustain attention and focus, that's what it does, someone with ADD has a different reaction on ADD meds than let's say the average person, it calms you down. Agitation, anxiety and depression is common with ADD. Goodluck

sarahsweets
10-27-16, 01:28 PM
We have talked about this stuff together. But it's difficult for him and hard to tell if he believes me when I say I'm not actually judging him.

But if you think these things and are at the ready with suggestions, how could he not feel like you are judging him? If I say I am not judgemental yet am always giving out suggestions and ways to improve, and the person feels that I am judging them-then.....I am.

sarahsweets
10-27-16, 01:30 PM
I know it reads that way because you don't have all the info. Just didn't want to type a huge letter here.

I'm not making that judgement about his self esteem. He is. He has told me exactly, " I wish I was someone else. I hate myself."

But him saying it but knowing you see it that way too can make him feel judged.

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 01:56 PM
Thank you for this.
This is exactly the kind of thing I'm afraid of. This idea of a false relationship. Doing things just to please me and not because he actually wants to.
Saying he wants to change things, saying he hates the way he is now, feeling guilty for not doing better - all of those can come straight from trying to please you, and might have nothing to do with how he really feels.

A lot of us with ADHD have done intense life-long training in how to please others. It's an extremely difficult habit to get out of.

Please, take a long hard look at why you care about the topics that led you to ask your question in the first place. What's in it for you if he does or doesn't do those things?

If your response involves turning the question around and answering what's in it for him, then - respectfully - that's none of your business.

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 02:56 PM
grinningsoul, my next comment might seem pretty silly, but I assure you there's a point to it. I hope it helps.

What you've ended up doing is exactly like "mansplaining", except it's "normal-splaining". The assumptions behind what you're saying are not accurate because you don't know enough about what it's like to be him.

namazu
10-27-16, 04:12 PM
Saying he wants to change things, saying he hates the way he is now, feeling guilty for not doing better - all of those can come straight from trying to please you, and might have nothing to do with how he really feels.

A lot of us with ADHD have done intense life-long training in how to please others. It's an extremely difficult habit to get out of.
What dvdnvwls said is true. However, what you boyfriend has said could also represent exactly how he really feels. You won't know unless you ask him, and let him know that you love him the way he is.

It would be wise to consider whether there might be things you are doing or saying that are inadvertently contributing to the pressure he feels to "stick to things" or to "develop a passion". That said, I wouldn't automatically jump to the conclusion, as some posters apparently have, that it's your fault he has unreasonable or incongruent expectations of himself.

A lot of us with ADHD come by our frustrations naturally. Most of us do have aspirations and goals, big and small, which -- while certainly influenced by those around us -- are primarily our own. If we want to accomplish something, and our ADHD symptoms get in the way, it's dispiriting.

Sometimes a change of mindset can help -- accepting our quirks and limitations, casting off arbitrary and unhelpful societal expectations, and learning to be content with ourselves as we are. Sometimes, treatment and targeted strategies can allow us to accomplish things that once seemed beyond our grasp. A combination of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and new approaches can often go a long way towards improving self-efficacy (our feelings of competence, basically). Certainly, having a partner who is aware and accepting and supportive helps tremendously.

My experience with my own partner is very unlike dvdnvwls' experience with his verbally/emotionally abusive ex-wife. To me it sounds as though -- even if you may not understand his motives or feelings perfectly (and who can ever know the true contents of another's mind?) -- you are trying to learn and understand and be supportive, and that's great.

You can obviously only tell us what you see from your perspective, and what your boyfriend's told you. In my opinion, the accusation of "normal-splaining" isn't justified. Sure, you're interpreting the situation from your perspective (we all do), but you're not presuming that you know more about ADHD (or anything else) than people with ADHD. You're simply relating what you know of your own situation and your boyfriend's struggles, trying to make sense of it, and looking for advice -- and I commend you for that.

I didn't see any mention (unless I missed it) of whether or not your boyfriend's ADHD is being treated with medication and/or therapy. As you hinted, and as other posters have suggested, it also sounds as though he may be showing some symptoms of depression, which is coloring his view of himself. Depression can be a consequence of dealing with ADHD-related issues, and/or its own thing. Either way, treatment can help.

Is he currently seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist of any kind? Does he have insurance that would cover visits? If he's not already getting some kind of treatment, it could be worthwhile to pursue. (And you could also send him here -- if he's online already, we're a very accessible support group.)

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 04:27 PM
(On second thought, it seems to me that my comment about normal-splaining was - well, not wrong, but probably off topic.)

Cyllya
10-27-16, 04:44 PM
I'm projecting too, but I have a different kind of projection :p

I'm guessing he probably has initiation impairment (http://cyllyathoughts.blogspot.com/2016/10/initiation-motivation-procrastination.html) but does not even understand that problem himself. (This is a common problem for ADHD people, but research/resources/treatment have almost no acknowledgement of it.)

It's quite possible he already has one or more things he is just as passionate about as you are about your art, but due to his symptoms, it's very difficult for him to be diligent toward those goals. (There is a weird ADHD stereotype that says your disabilities magically disappear when you care about something enough, but it doesn't seem to be so.) The initial enthusiasm for starting a new hobby/project often causes enough urge to action to overcome the initiation impairment, but it's not sustainable long term. For normal folks, you can keep working on goals after the enthusiasm wears off, when the project is frustrating, etc. It may take some willpower, but not as much.

He could theoretically overcome initiation impairment through sheer force of will, but he's probably already doing that just to handle normal life responsibilities. So having to force himself to work on "optional stuff" is almost impossible, and if he does manage, he's going to feel miserable, and he'll probably feel pretty bad about the project/hobby he's making himself work on.

I'm pressed for time right now, but I'll see if I can write more later.

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 05:00 PM
My ex's behaviour was approved and even encouraged by multiple counsellors and/or therapists. And why wouldn't they? I was complicit in the whole charade. My own behaviours and my own beliefs were against my own best interests, because I had learned a lot of misinformation.

A person who says they are happy with their own situation, or who says that they believe a certain thing about themselves, can sometimes be objectively wrong in the way they make that assessment.


OR: Just because it's projection doesn't mean I'm wrong. Maybe it even makes me more likely to be right. Please judge what I said, not why you think I said it.

grinningsoul
10-27-16, 11:28 PM
Saying he wants to change things, saying he hates the way he is now, feeling guilty for not doing better - all of those can come straight from trying to please you, and might have nothing to do with how he really feels.

If I could be adding to the problem, that is one thing. But I'm really sure he had this problem before we started dating. Seriously dude. I'm being honest here. He has told me about his past and his depression. There's a possibility that he does things to please me, but not on the large scale you are thinking about.

What you've ended up doing is exactly like "mansplaining", except it's "normal-splaining". The assumptions behind what you're saying are not accurate because you don't know enough about what it's like to be him.

This makes sense. That's good feedback. If you have a specific example of how to talk about this stuff without normalsplaining it, I'd like to hear it.

dvdnvwls
10-28-16, 12:23 AM
If I could be adding to the problem, that is one thing. But I'm really sure he had this problem before we started dating. Seriously dude. I'm being honest here. He has told me about his past and his depression. There's a possibility that he does things to please me, but not on the large scale you are thinking about.

It's not just possible, it's pretty likely.

This makes sense. That's good feedback. If you have a specific example of how to talk about this stuff without normalsplaining it, I'd like to hear it.
I think this idea really was me drifting off topic. However, IMO it boils down to this:

There are certain things that you always know you can count on, because they're the same for everyone. Stop counting on those things. If necessary, pretend he's a friendly being from a far-away planet who has disguised himself as a human. Learn about what life is like for him.

Jeftheginger
10-28-16, 01:25 AM
If he stays just the way he is, is that OK with you?

If he told you "I love you, except you have some flaws I need you to fix", how would that affect your relationship?
:goodpost:
Wow
:thankyou:

ToneTone
10-28-16, 02:59 PM
You're in a difficult position.

You're asking, it seems to be, very good questions about how to help your partner who seems stuck in a lot of ways. You also seem quite compassionate to me.

Here's a point that others seem to be getting at. Sometimes it's actually better to break up with someone than to stay with them while feeling like they're stuck and not functioning well and all of that. Seriously, I learned the hard way that it often has more integrity--a lot more integrity--to say "I don't want to be in this relationship" and leave ... than it does to stay in the relationship with deeply serious criticism of your partner and discomfort with your partner.

By staying, the person picks up horribly confusing mixed messages, and mixed messages can be more tormenting than straight-up clean rejection. And frankly, you can hurt another person even when you don't vocalize your criticisms ... as long as it's clear that you feel that way ... and body language usually speaks louder than words. People can figure out we're disappointed in them, even when we say the opposite.

As a recovering rescuer (someone who has spent way too much time trying to help other people become better when I myself needed help!) I would flip the question here and ask, "What do you want out of YOUR life? And how does being with this partner help or hinder you from reaching your own goals?"

If he were to drop off the planet tomorrow, what would YOU want? Another way to ask this would be to say, What did you want before he came in the picture? What are the things you want to do, try, accomplish before you leave this planet? ... and then you can ask, does he help you achieve these goals or not?

Here's another approach ... Imagine that you were to stay with him for five more years and then HE decides he doesn't want to be with you. Would you feel deeply betrayed? Would you feel like, "I put up with all your stuff and now YOU dump me?" If so, that's an indication that you really aren't happy with the relationship. And by the way, I have been dumped by people I thought I was helping! Wanna talk about pain ... and about feeling foolish ... oh man!

These are the kinds of questions I have to ask myself because I'm not only from a family of people with ADHD and depression, but I'm from a family of delusional rescuers, white knights and saviors. The people in my family have this tendency to think we can and should help and date and marry people with the maximum number of problems. We really think we can solve other people's problems, even when they don't want to solve the problems themselves--even when they don't see the particular behaviors as problems in the first place!

Good luck.

Tone

dvdnvwls
10-28-16, 06:17 PM
Almost all of the discussions I've participated in over the past few days here have come around to ideas on responsibility and rescue. Maybe because those are on my mind, or maybe because they're frequent themes anyway.

I think there's more than one category of responsibility, and more than one kind of rescue.

One category - can I call it "inherent responsibility"? - is simply there as part of life, and the person has no valid options other than to accept it. Another category - "chosen responsibility"? - is something that a person has volunteered to take on. Just as they have voluntarily taken it, they can give it away, or can have it taken away from them. Chosen responsibility is transferable; inherent responsibility, on the other hand, stays with its owner regardless of anyone's will or effort.

Rescue can be from a particular environment. Rescue can also be from a responsibility.

If someone rescues me from my chosen responsibility, that can turn out just fine. For example, if I agree to cover for a sick coworker and then find out I can't handle the extra load, and then another coworker rescues me by taking over that extra instead, then all is well.

But if anyone tries to rescue me from something that is inherently my responsibility, they will inevitably fail - not because it's hard, but because it's impossible.

grinningsoul
10-28-16, 09:23 PM
I have a suggestion, it might sound crazy but maybe it'll help. Try telling him that maybe he should just allow himself to "be" without guilting himself or making himself feel bad that he doesn't have a passion/hobby that he completes. Tell him he is good already as he is.

Maybe he needs a "mind break" from thinking about trying to find a passion/hobby, maybe he just needs space to be.

Some ADHD'ers end up happier just going from acitvity to activity, never fully mastering one, because that's just how their brain works. Maybe he has internalized pressure from society to become good and master something over the years, and maybe he needs to let go of that internal guilt and shame.

He might end up finding out he is actually okay with skipping from thing to thing. Maybe that's how he keeps himself stimulated, dabbling a bit in different activities.

Yes. Couldn't agree more.

grinningsoul
10-28-16, 09:27 PM
This doesn't have to be what's happening, it's just what happened to me.

If it is... There's a big difference between you deciding to find a new way to solve this, and you realizing it was never yours to solve.

I'm not trying to solve a problem. I can't stress that enough.
I'm here looking for information on how to talk to him about this subject whenever it comes up, in a sensitive understanding way. That's all.

grinningsoul
10-28-16, 09:37 PM
Is he willing to go to a therapist? His problems seem to extend far beyond just hobbies. His dislike of not sticking to his hobbies seems only a manefestatiin of his dislike for himself.

He's mentioned that he probably needs therapy, but he doesn't feel like he has time for it with his work schedule.
He takes add medication when he needs it, and like i said, he's pretty high functioning so it's not a super urgent need. I'm sure he'd benefit from it though. Anyone would. But maybe sometime in the future, when he's ready.

Does anyone recommend any self help type things, in the meantime?
Maybe he would feel less bad about himself if he chatted with some of you guys here about this stuff. I saw a study saying meditation could help with focus. Anyone try it?
Any other suggestions?

ToneTone
10-28-16, 09:58 PM
I don't see coworkers stepping in occasionally to help other coworkers as rescuing. For one, the help is usually public and above board. In fact, when someone helps us at work, the recipient of the favor is delighted to thank the person who helped them "out of a jam." No resentment, I'm happy that X stepped in to help me when I had badly planned something.

In fact, in such a situation--helping a coworker out of a jam--it's usually understood that the helper can later go to the person who is helped to ask for a favor in return at some point. The other difference is helping people "out of a jam" is usually defined ("Jam at work on Thursday on Project X" and temporary.

Helping each other is a great thing. I just don't think "rescuing" and becoming invested in changing someone's entire life is a clean way of helping. And rescuing is usually not reciprocal.

Tone

grinningsoul
10-28-16, 10:06 PM
My experience with my own partner is very unlike dvdnvwls' experience with his verbally/emotionally abusive ex-wife. To me it sounds as though -- even if you may not understand his motives or feelings perfectly (and who can ever know the true contents of another's mind?) -- you are trying to learn and understand and be supportive, and that's great.

Thank you. Yes that's why I'm here.

what you boyfriend has said could also represent exactly how he really feels. You won't know unless you ask him, and let him know that you love him the way he is.


This is good advice. I'm not the type, to say "i love you" lol so yeah maybe I should work on that. And to clear this up, I have asked him, "why do you feel like you need to be really good at something?" and the answer was about feeling like he is wasting his life, and the fear that he will die before he accomplishes anything. It has been an issue all his life.
His parents were very critical and not supportive. Worst combo for an add kid.
He's got add meds that he takes when needed. Used to be on antidepressants a few years back. Not anymore.
I commented on therapy in another post. He's not interested in doing it now because of time and work. Maybe in the future though.

grinningsoul
10-28-16, 10:17 PM
I don't see coworkers stepping in occasionally to help other coworkers as rescuing. For one, the help is usually public and above board. In fact, when someone helps us at work, the recipient of the favor is delighted to thank the person who helped them "out of a jam." No resentment, I'm happy that X stepped in to help me when I had badly planned something.

In fact, in such a situation--helping a coworker out of a jam--it's usually understood that the helper can later go to the person who is helped to ask for a favor in return at some point. The other difference is helping people "out of a jam" is usually defined ("Jam at work on Thursday on Project X" and temporary.

Helping each other is a great thing. I just don't think "rescuing" and becoming invested in changing someone's entire life is a clean way of helping. And rescuing is usually not reciprocal.

Yes! I'm not rescuing him because there's nothing to fix :)

dvdnvwls
10-28-16, 10:56 PM
Yes! I'm not rescuing him because there's nothing to fix :)
So... don't waste time trying to help him stick to anything - problem solved! :)

stef
10-29-16, 02:28 AM
Was he a very bright and gifted child? did people assume that he would go on to great things? and then he thought this too. plus if his parents weee critical, that makes everything twice as difficult
This is a terrible thing when as you get older you see that you lack elements ( organizing, following throuh, even starring) to accomplish the things that you truly beleived you were destined to do or become; in the meantime people around you become successful.

grinningsoul
10-29-16, 01:14 PM
Was he a very bright and gifted child? did people assume that he would go on to great things? and then he thought this too. plus if his parents weee critical, that makes everything twice as difficult
This is a terrible thing when as you get older you see that you lack elements ( organizing, following throuh, even starring) to accomplish the things that you truly beleived you were destined to do or become; in the meantime people around you become successful.

Yes. He was an A student until he hit high school. Then he just couldn't bring himself to do the "busy work" assignments and his grades dropped. His parents blamed him for it and no one realized something was wrong. He didn't get help/meds till college.

grinningsoul
10-29-16, 01:24 PM
Imagine that you were to stay with him for five more years and then HE decides he doesn't want to be with you. Would you feel deeply betrayed? Would you feel like, "I put up with all your stuff and now YOU dump me?" If so, that's an indication that you really aren't happy with the relationship. And by the way, I have been dumped by people I thought I was helping! Wanna talk about pain ... and about feeling foolish ... oh man!

This is really really good advice. Well said. I see this attitude happen in alot of relationships around me. The answer for me is no. I don't really see relationships as a time investment that gets wasted when it's over. We've got a good thing going. I can see how that's an easy trap to fall into though, and I'll keep this question in mind. thank you.

Cyllya
10-29-16, 03:40 PM
I'm not trying to solve a problem. I can't stress that enough.
I'm here looking for information on how to talk to him about this subject whenever it comes up, in a sensitive understanding way. That's all.

Hmm, if you just want a way to talk to him to make him feel better... It's worth keeping in mind that when someone complains about problems they are having, it's not necessarily a solicitation for advice or help. Sometimes they're just venting, looking for sympathy, making conversation, etc.

So when he complains about his time-wastefulness or lack of achievement, it may be best to say something like "I'm sorry you're going through this" plus a hug.

He takes add medication when he needs it, and like i said, he's pretty high functioning so it's not a super urgent need.

It doesn't sound like he's particularly high-functioning. If he actually has initiation impairment, medication can help with that. (For me, it only helps temporarily, but I'm not sure if other people have that problem.) It's not going to help when he's not taking it though.

How it tends to work with untreated initiation impairment:
Want to do something > mysteriously can't do it > feel bored from not doing anything > do something else that's easy and mildly amusing but useless and unfulfilling > feel unhappy about all this

Without initiation impairment, or when it's removed by treatment:
Want to do something > do it

Initiation impairment is the weirdest problem ever. It doesn't even feel like a mental health problem; it just feels like you need to try harder. But while trying super-hard is necessary, it's not going to work well as the only solution. It's like being "lazy," except normal laziness comes with the expectation of some kind of benefit. People who are lazy for normal reasons can stop being lazy when it suits them.

ADHD meds aren't really designed to be used on an "as needed" basis. Psychiatric meds in general tend to have withdrawal effects too, so if he's not taking the meds daily, it's quite possible he'll be depressed the day after taking one.

dvdnvwls
10-29-16, 05:23 PM
I agree with Cyllya about medication. For ADHD, "as needed" equals "if you're awake, you need it".

I guess I'm "high functioning" in terms of being intelligent etc. But my ability to really function day to day as normal people do is often extremely low. Lots of ADHDers are like that.