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OrganicDorito 12-28-17 01:40 AM

First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
I have been lurking here awhile, and am finally coming out of the shadows.

I am going to try to be as succinct as possible, so if there are any blanks I need to fill in, let me know.

To make a very long, very involved "how we met" story very short, I am a 30 something gal dating a 30 something guy. He lived in my hometown working on a project for about nine months, during which time we grew very close and admitted our intense attraction to one another, but due to my own circumstances, we couldn't be together. He eventually moved back to where he had come from (800 miles away), which ended up breaking my heart, but also gave me the kick in the *** I needed to leave the screwed up relationship I was in, because at that point, I realized how much in love with this person I was.

Fast forward 1.5 years, and we are together at last. He is still 800 miles away, but thanks to the fact that we are both self-employed, we see each other as often as possible--usually about one week out of every month.

Now, when I was first getting to know him, I realized he was...quirky. He's incredibly intelligent, kind, marvelous at all the things I'm bad at (math, mechanical stuff, figuring out why something is broken and fixing it), and very passionate about very specific topics. He also would just leave social situations suddenly and without saying goodbye, not answer texts or calls for several days and have no good reason why, and had an awful lot of anxiety surrounding people's perceptions of him, to the point that I often found myself sort of his "port in the storm" at parties and other gatherings. And, he is a perfectionist to a fault when it comes to his own work. Nothing is ever as good as he wants it to be, even if everyone around him thinks it's absolutely magnificent.

Despite--or perhaps in part because of--these quirks, I loved him. I still love him. It's practically a miracle that we ended up together, and it's something I'm thankful for every single day.


I am 99.9999% certain he has ADD/ADHD combined with a heavy helping of anxiety disorder. Reading through these forums is like reading his autobiography. He has tried--with great frustration--to describe to me what it's like inside his head. He tells me sometimes he feels his brain is so full of noise, that he can't even figure out how to get up and put clothes in the dryer, much less get out the door and get to work on projects that are waiting for him. He gets so overwhelmed when presented with multiple options that he becomes visibly distraught. He fidgets when we watch movies or shows--his hands always have to be doing something. He must always have some form of auditory stimulation going if he is going to accomplish a task--even if he's just doing dishes or sweeping the floor.

The only time he ever gets annoyed or defensive with me is when I ask him what's wrong. He sputters and splutters and gets this wild look in his eye and can't tell me what's wrong. "If I knew what was wrong, I would tell you," he says.

He has definitely developed some coping skills that are beneficial to him. He makes lots of lists. He has notebooks everywhere, and he uses them to keep track of what he's doing, what he needs to do, etc. He has learned the benefit of having a strict routine--and when he sticks to that routine, he is able to get up, tidy the house, get showered and dressed, and get out the door to work. But it really has hit home to me how absolutely spent he is by the end of what would be, to me, a normal work day. As soon as he gets in the door, he has to go lie on the couch for half an hour or so to decompress. When he tries to explain how completely mentally drained he feels at the end of a day, he berates himself and calls himself lazy.

But I know he's not lazy. He is one of the least lazy people I know.

But here's why I'm posting:

The more I read about add/adhd (and it's association with anxiety), the more I want to approach him about this topic. He has lived much of his life trying to hide his struggles from his family and the rest of the world. His parents are very driven, "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of people, and I really think they don't understand that their son can't just "get over" his struggles. He feels an awful lot of shame around his symptoms and even around the way he has to get through each day. And there are days he simply can't leave the house. He's overwhelmed, anxious, and paralyzed. Those days are rare, fortunately, but they happen. And when they do, he beats himself up.

All of this has kind of come to a head in the past week or so. Ever since before we were even a couple, he has struggled with communication--as in phone calls/texts. I have learned by this point that occasionally, he will just drop off the face of the earth for a day or two. He won't return calls. He won't answer texts. He pops up a couple days later, ashamed that he had no good reason for why he couldn't just pick up the phone and call.

When he has his routine, things are fine. He calls every day, right around the same time, and we chat for half an hour or so. It's something we both look forward to. But as soon as his routine is disrupted, I am one of the first things to go out the window, so to speak.

That brings us to Christmas. Christmas is already a hard time for him, due to family dynamics and obligatory functions and events he'd really rather not go to, but it's particularly awful this year because of a death in the family (which means a funeral, visitation with even more family, and time away from work), financial strain, and a huge project that HAS to be finished by the end of the month.

So, basically, he and I haven't talked in five days. He sent me a text on Christmas wishing me a merry Christmas and he sent a text today telling me he was sorry he hadn't returned any of my calls, but that he's dealing with a lot right now.

I am pretty sure he's just completely overwhelmed and in survival mode right now. His routine has been obliterated, he's being forced to see people he doesn't want to see, he needs to get back to work, he can't have his alone time that he so desperately needs, etc. I guess here's what I'm asking:

People keep saying crap to me like, "If he really loved you, he would make time to call you, no matter what." And I suppose that if he were a neurotypical person who was able to conform to normal societal convention, that would be true. I WANT to believe that he isn't just ignoring me because he decided I'm not worth the trouble anymore, but in a world that dictates, "Real men do _____" and "If a man loves you, he always ______," I get really confused sometimes as to how I'm supposed to feel or what I'm supposed to expect.

What it boils down to is that I love him dearly and I want this to work. I am trying to be as understanding as I possibly can. I haven't gotten mad at him or told him how depressed I was on Christmas when he didn't answer/return my phone calls. The fact of the matter though is that I WAS depressed. And anxious. And really worried that he might come out the other end of this and feel like his life is better without me in it.

I realize I have my own insecurities to work on, here, but this is uncharted territory for me. I know that if I were THERE or if he were HERE, things would be different. I could see his face and see his struggle and do what I always do when he's having a difficult time--make him a meal, let him veg out, give him a back rub or just sit quietly and read a book in the same room with him. But I'm not there. And we haven't talked. And I feel helpless.

It's really hard to be in an LDR anyway. It's, I think, 487x harder to be in an LDR with someone like him. I don't say this because I want to throw in the towel. Far from it. I guess I just want to know if what I'm going through right now is "normal" and if what he's doing is "normal" and how I should broach this topic of communication when the time comes to talk about it (which clearly can't happen until he gets through this crisis). Is there anything I can say to him that would be helpful, or should I just leave him be? I feel like I shouldn't ignore him completely. I certainly don't want to. But I also don't want to smother him and make him even more overwhelmed.

I am trying my hardest to remain calm and peaceful and not let all my insecurities and anxieties hang out right now. I am trying my hardest not to take his silence personally. I am trying my hardest to believe that at the end of this tunnel, we will pick up where we left off.'s hard. And that's why I'm here. Because I want to understand, but I also want to feel better.


sarahsweets 12-28-17 06:14 AM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
The whole time I was reading your post, it reminded me of friend of mine who has OCD. I am not armchair diagnosing your BF but the things you mentioned about the anxiety and routines and how when they are disrupted he has a hard time just reminded me. I am not saying adhd isnt possible because there are so many comorbid diagnosis's that go along with adhd. More like ,if I had to pick which thing could affect him more,then my vote is for OCD. OCD is usually rooted in extreme anxiety. WHere certain routines- and they dont have to be the kind of routines you would see in a goofy movie about OCD-help him cope and any deviations can cause a meltdown. You are a very awesome woman to be so willing to understand him. I dont know how well he would react to you bringing either of these things up. It could go either way. He could end up being really willing to get help, or defensive and dig his heels in more.

The thing is, if he isnt willing to get help, can you live with that? If he never changes can you have a life with him? Do you have plans to live together? We can share all the info we want with our loved ones, but they are responsible for their own treatment. He may take it personal and do what you say he does; shaming himself and dropping off the planet. Or he could be interested and relieved. I just think you have to be prepared for him to not want to change. These coping mechanisms have held him together and its very scary to think about changing them even if he is miserable.

OrganicDorito 12-28-17 11:08 AM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
I totally understand why you would think about OCD in this situation, but I figured I'd go ahead and add some more indications that lead me to think he might have ADHD/ADD:

-Impulse control. It used to be much worse when he was younger, and, again he has developed strategies for controlling it. But it's still a struggle for him, and right now, he's dealing with the financial fallout of crushing credit card debt. This is something I am helping him with. When I suggested that we sit down and make a budget for him, he was very relieved and open to the idea. We did it, and it has helped him a lot.

-He gets very easily distracted by online gaming. He'll sit down to play for "Just five minutes" and gets sucked in for hours--ESPECIALLY if he's feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed. I think it's a way for him to zone out while still feeling stimulated. He has gotten way better about this, again, by teaching himself coping mechanisms, but for awhile, it was a real problem.

-He did very poorly in school despite being incredibly smart. He was bored and frequently got into trouble. This was back in the 90s, so instead of trying to figure out the root of the problem, they just piled on the punishments, which only backfired.

-He jumps from one thing to another until he finds something that excites him enough to hold his attention. His dining room table is covered with half-finished projects that need to be done, but, because they aren't urgent, might never get done. The other day, I left him alone to do a woodworking project and went into the next room. When I wandered back in an hour or so later, he was working on something completely different that, yes, needed to be done, but wasn't as urgent as the wood project.

-This jumping from one thing to another also applies to jobs. He has been employed in many different fields (an astonishing number!) by many different people, and has excelled at all of the work, but has NOT excelled or done well working for other people. Self employment suits him in that regard, but is also difficult for him, because he DOES need someone around to nudge him into action if he gets distracted. If he has someone working quietly next to him, he excels and can remain focused on his task for hours.

-If he has someone around him to be a "helper," he functions much better. Yes, we are planning on living together, and things are so much easier when we are in the same place. Like I said, the things he is less capable of doing are things I'm very good at, and vice versa. For instance--he is horrible at remembering to eat/drink water/move laundry to the dryer/pay bills on time/etc. But I love cooking--especially for him--and can get a meal on the table for him without it feeling like a burden. It's even better when he asks if I can show him what I'm doing and teach him some of the techniques. The same applies to getting laundry done and helping him remember to pay things or go to appointments. And if something breaks or needs maintenance like a car, electronic device, etc, he leaps into action to fix it. He loves doing things for me that he knows I can't or won't do for myself. I don't think we would have problems with him carrying his own weight when we live together.

-If he wants to learn how to do something, he can teach himself to do it and do it better than 99% of everyone else doing that thing. He is meticulous and a perfectionist when it comes to fixing a car or wiring a house or packing for a trip, but a complete trainwreck when it comes to mundane, day-to-day responsibilities like keeping gas in the car, mowing the lawn, or remembering his keys.

-This may or may not be directly related to whatever he could be diagnosed with, but he comes from a family that believes showing emotion and vulnerability is a sign of weakness. It's hard getting him to talk about feelings on the best of days. When he's really struggling (like right now), it's completely impossible. I used to think he simply didn't want to talk about his feelings, but I realize now that he CAN'T. It makes him extremely agitated. The only time we've really been able to get somewhere in terms of him being able to sort through some of his emotions is when we're working on a project and he starts talking. I think having his hands and logical brain engaged with something helps him to tap into his emotional brain with more ease.

I think all his focus on having and keeping his routine is more of a coping mechanism than it is a symptom of whatever is wrong. I think he is so fiercely protective of his routine because he knows what happens without it. The wheels fall off and it can take months for him to put everything back together. He uses the phrase "Well oiled machine" a lot to describe how he wishes his life and work could function. I'm sure right now he feels he has lost all control of his situation. He told me once, "I never want you to have to see me when I'm really, really having a tough time. I don't want you to know what that looks like for me."

But I want to know what it looks like so I can be there for him. If I weren't on a trip with my parents right now, I would go to him and be there for him to help him wade through this mire. But I can't, and communication sucks right now, and I just feel helpless.

Fuzzy12 12-28-17 12:56 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
Don't have time to reply now but just wanted to say that you sound absolutely lovely. By all means do talk to your boyfriend about ADHD. Maybe the next time he berates himself for screwing up you can raise the issue.imeahif he berates himself. encourage him to get to the bottom of his issues. To see a psychiatrist and get assessed. A lot of what he says about himself sounds like adhd and the fact that he already knows he needs coping strategies might mean that he won't be opposed to the idea.

Don't raise it now though when he's stressed and overwhelmed with other stuff.

SuperP 12-28-17 02:46 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
I dated a man once who had Aspergers and he would disappear every once in a while too. I tried my best to be understanding but it was very difficult, especially around the holidays when I wanted to be with him or at least hear from him. He also said he had issues with anxiety and depression and needed to be alone a lot. I really loved him and still care for him as my friend, but I needed more from a romantic relationship. IMO, some people cant "do" relationships...I think its really important to understand and be honest about your own needs. I thought I could handle being ignored, but, even though I knew it wasnt personal, it still hurt too much.

Pilgrim 12-28-17 03:07 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
I think you read this situation well. I have had to , bring ADD, to believe in myself more it’s vital.i admire how you see his struggles, keep believing.

ToneTone 12-28-17 03:53 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
Be careful: being in the presence of someone (you moving to be near him, for example) does not mean the emotional-distance problem or the sporadic-communication problem goes away.

People get married every day of the week thinking that Oh, once we live together, my partner has to be present, my partner has to make time for me, my partner has to ... fill in the blank.

I dated a woman who lived 15 minutes away from me, and she would put up all kinds of blocks to getting together. Later, she admitted that she wasn't that into me. I also was married to a woman who had a deeply anxious attachment style. I naively figured that if we got married and I was around her hours and hours each day, her insecurities would have to go away. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

So yes, you can mention the ADHD hypothesis you have, but really you want to do that ... with no expectations.

You don't ever want to assume that treatment will solve a relationship problem. Treatment obviously can help people be better partners, but they have do to A LOT OF WORK in making themselves good relationship partners in addition to getting treatment.

I worry about your anxiousness about him disappearing for Christmas. Instead of anxiousness, I would say you have a right to be furiously angry ... That's a more appropriate feeling, it seems to me ... more in line with the severity of not contacting someone you're dating over a holiday.

But instead of being angry, you are hiding your disappointment from him ... and investigating treatments for him. It's his job to investigate treatments for his own life. And the only way he'll do that (in most cases) is if he knows you're unhappy and he decides he wants to save the relationship. Ironically, your restraint and hiding your feelings means he's not getting crucial feedback.

Why would he take action on treatment (that he hasn't taken on his own) if there's no sign that his girlfriend is unhappy?


Fuzzy12 12-28-17 09:04 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer

Originally Posted by Fuzzy12 (Post 1980143)
Don't have time to reply now but just wanted to say that you sound absolutely lovely. By all means do talk to your boyfriend about ADHD. Maybe the next time he berates himself for screwing up you can raise the issue.imeahif he berates himself. encourage him to get to the bottom of his issues. To see a psychiatrist and get assessed. A lot of what he says about himself sounds like adhd and the fact that he already knows he needs coping strategies might mean that he won't be opposed to the idea.

Don't raise it now though when he's stressed and overwhelmed with other stuff.

Oh ignore me. What tonetone said makes a lot more sense!!

You do sound like a lovely person though. :)

kilted_scotsman 12-29-17 08:45 AM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
IF someone has an issue like this it's important that they take positive steps THEMSELVES to alleviate the pain they are in. Failing to do so indicates either denial, or a more complex psychological process requiring professional help.

Remember that in a healthy family someone with ADHD will be helped to know themselves, develop healthy coping strategies and also communicate their own needs and feelings clearly. IF this hasn't happened the ADDer is left at sea in a threatening world, often desperate for connection, but unable to navigate towards it. Friends and partners can shout advice from the shore, but the ADDer has to paddle their own raft toward solid ground.

ADDers frequently have difficult family backgrounds so times like Christmas are particularly fraught as the toxic family power games play out, increasing the severity of ADDery symptoms.

As an ADDer who successfully navigated a 5000mile LDR for 6 years I can say that it is possible but I needed professional support as well as an understanding partner. Without the professional support, (which wasn't specifically ADHD orientated), and my partners deep understanding of ADHD, my ADDery nature would have led to problems and I doubt the relationship could have survived.

I also think that the LDR part of the relationship gave me the space to explore my ADHD and discover more abut myself. I feel that if we had moved in together early in the relationship, before I'd got to grips with my ADHD, things wouldn't have had a positive outcome.

My advice is to turn this on it's head..... the LDR is a positive opportunity for you and particularly your partner to find out what's important for you in yourself... and also in your respective partners. out of this comes the idea that BOTH of you enter some form of personal exploration, be it therapy, or going to personal development type weekends & workshops.....developing a regular creative or physical "practice" such as yoga, art etc.

Taking this opportunity to both invest time and (some) money in self-development would give you both something to compare and also maintain appropriate boundaries both in the relationship and with families..... with is particularly important for ADDers.

All these things made a significant difference for me as an ADDer, don't require a formal diagnosis or insurance.... and are useful regardless of whether the relationship is successful.

sarahsweets 12-29-17 09:46 AM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
Tone-tone said it all! I should know better than to jump right to the armchair diagnosis, the OCD traits reminded me so much of my friend that I missed the usual red flags I would normally mention. LDR's are hard. Probably one of the toughest types of relationships to maintain in a healthy way. Once thing that popped into my head is when you do decide the time has come to live together- I urge you to move close to him but not live with him right away. You need to get used to seeing him on a daily basis without the pressure of living together. You need to be able to see what its like seeing each other regularly, waking up together-day-to-day stuff before you jump right to living with him. I say this because no matter how it is when you visit, its not the same thing as everyday. The last thing you want is to move in and get stuck, no matter how far fetched that seems. You will need a place to retreat to as he gets used to having you around all the time. And god knows what will happen if he suddenly begins to cling to you and the way you help him keep it together and then you might feel smothered. Has he ever visited you? I was thinking maybe he hasnt because of how routine oriented he is, or how uncomfortable he seems to get when he is out of his element. If he hasnt, that is a red flag. Regardless of what he says or needs, if he loves you and is able to love you in a healthy way, he should at the very least be curious about what Ms. Dorito's life is like on a daily basis. He should at the most, be aware of how you live and other parts of your life that are important to you- and I hope you do have other things important to you and not just him.

He does need to be an active participant in his own recovery. It doesnt matter how screwy the situation was with his parents, and how family stuff affects him- its not a healthy way to live. He needs to want to overcome these things himself. Does he see his situation in a negative or positive way? Is he comfortable with the retreat mentality? Does he like feeling this way? Is he so used to dealing with life this way that familiar is more important than healthy? Sometimes we get so used to dysfunction that "normal"is scary and we resist it.I had to learn that with my very early relationships when I picked the guys that treated me like crap because of the way I learned to be around men growing up. When I met my husband it felt so abnormal to be treated well that I was constantly picking fights and pushing him to see if he would split. It was like a test where i was always looking for the trap door. I needed therapy to realize that being treated well meant good, normal, healthy. And being treated like crap, property and a possession was bad-no matter how used to it I was.

He may turn out to be so set in his ways, he doesnt want to change. He has coped with life this way for so long, it would seem too scary and out of control to change. That's why I mentioned OCD first. Many people with OCD cling to unhealthy habits or rigid coping skills because they have held it together this way for so long. The idea of letting it all go is more scary than living in pain and fear.

I got sober five years ago and what I heard over and over again from other people that got sober while I struggled to was "when the pain gets great enough you will change" When the pain turns out to be worse than living the way I was I would change.
Also consequences helped. I dont mean punitive, I mean(for me) missing out on important events and outings because I valued alcohol more than milestones in life. I think you should be upset about Christmas, thats a s**tty thing to do, no matter the reason. Having you say that to him and sharing your feelings would be a "consequence" for him. Not seeing him the next time would be like a "consequence". Your feelings are just as valid as him no matter how understanding of a person you are.

Fuzzy is right, you are lovely and kind, compassionate, full of empathy. But nobody said that compassion and empathy are the key to happiness.

wifeof 12-29-17 08:26 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
This could be completely off the wall, but take a look at Aspergers in addition to ADD. Actually, my autistic daughter is the only other person in my family who doesn't have ADD, but ADD is often part of autism-spectrum issues.

And, talk, talk talk to work on the issues, and decide what you can and can't live with if you are able to be together all the time. While I've been very happily married to a man with inattentive ADD (and TS) for over 30 years, there are many relationships that have not worked out well. And, yes, a lot of damage can be done to someone whose family doesn't understand any neurological issues they might have. I spent many years convincing my husband that he is a wonderful person who is worthy of being loved for who he is, not despite anything else.

And good luck, however it goes.

OrganicDorito 01-01-18 08:43 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
An update for you all:

He called yesterday morning. He sounded like his normal self, and clearly intended on just having a normal conversation as though nothing had happened. I asked him why he had gone AWOL. He said nothing. I asked him if I had done something wrong. He said, "I wasn't planning on having this conversation with you today." I told him to please try, because otherwise, it was going to hang over both our heads.

Basically he told me that he had so much anxiety when I was visiting that there were moments where he felt smothered by me. He told me that when he feels as anxious as he was, being touched only intensifies it. He told me he started feeling like there was no way we could ever live together if I was going to be as clingy as I was being.

But then he told me that the logical part of him knew it was his anxiety making him feel that way, and that if he were to try and say something to me about it in the moment, it would have been "very, very bad." He reminded himself that when he's not feeling so dark and anxious, he enjoys being touched, and that I wasn't really being clingy. I was just happy to see him after three longs months apart.

He told me that the phone call we were having was the earliest possible time he felt he could even try to talk to me--about this or anythings else--and that that's why he hadn't called or texted. Because he knew he would say something he would regret if he didn't wait and let his anxiety diminish somewhat.

We talked for a long, long time. He opened up to me about things he had never told me before, and tried to explain why he pushes people he loves away when he gets deep into his anxiety. He told me things about his family relationships and finances that are contributing to how he's feeling right now. At the end of the call, he told me he loves me--which is not something we say to each other all the time, and I was frankly surprised he said it after this talk.

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty anxious myself trying to navigate this thing, but I am cautiously optimistic that he chose to open up to me and talk through things with me instead of continuing to withdraw. Hopefully, this opens a door for further discussion and trust.

finallyfound10 01-01-18 11:15 PM

Re: First time poster seeking comfort/advice/whatever else you can offer
Hi OrganicDorito,

You've come to a great place for guidance! He sounds like a really great and interesting guy!! You received excellent feedback from the above posters.

You don't mention if he's gone the meds/therapy route ever so I don't believe that he has. Does he have any desire to change anything about his life in terms of taking meds/possibly going to therapy? Does he have the insight to consider that his life can be better and he doesn't have to live like this?

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