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  #31  
Old 10-27-16, 01:28 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by grinningsoul View Post
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.
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  #32  
Old 10-27-16, 01:30 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by grinningsoul View Post
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.
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  #33  
Old 10-27-16, 01:56 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by grinningsoul View Post
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.
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  #34  
Old 10-27-16, 02:56 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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.
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  #35  
Old 10-27-16, 04:12 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by dvdnvwls View Post
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.)
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  #36  
Old 10-27-16, 04:27 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

(On second thought, it seems to me that my comment about normal-splaining was - well, not wrong, but probably off topic.)
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  #37  
Old 10-27-16, 04:44 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

I'm projecting too, but I have a different kind of projection

I'm guessing he probably has initiation impairment 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.
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  #38  
Old 10-27-16, 05:00 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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.
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  #39  
Old 10-27-16, 11:28 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by dvdnvwls View Post
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.

Quote:
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.
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  #40  
Old 10-28-16, 12:23 AM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by grinningsoul View Post
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.

Quote:
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.
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  #41  
Old 10-28-16, 01:25 AM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by dvdnvwls View Post
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?

Wow
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  #42  
Old 10-28-16, 02:59 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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
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  #43  
Old 10-28-16, 06:17 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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.
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  #44  
Old 10-28-16, 09:23 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by BellaVita View Post
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.
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  #45  
Old 10-28-16, 09:27 PM
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Re: helping him stick to something

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Originally Posted by dvdnvwls View Post
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.
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