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Old 04-18-13, 11:34 AM
Blender Blender is offline
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I just need to talk about it...

Hey everybody,
This is my first post. I don't have a question or a specific issue, just a lot of things I need to get out and maybe seek understanding from people with ADHD and the people who love them. I just need some discussion.

I am a 23yo male, full-time professional ballet dancer in a midsize city, in my first serious relationship (And by serious I mean the only one that's lasted longer than three weeks heheh). I am instantly automatically empathetic to almost all people and situations, I would say to a fault because I get caught in these awful destructive thought cycles and that's no good for anybody. I'm not very good with people (although I acknowledge that I'm probably better than I let myself think), I have a lot of anxiety and fairly low self-esteem, high neuroticism etc, due to lots of different factors but ballet definitely doesn't help with any of that, apparently I'm somewhat of a masochist as well.

My boyfriend is 32, an advertising sales rep for a newspaper, very well-connected, always fun and happy to see me, energetic and lively and outgoing - of which I am not, but he's so much fun and exciting that it makes me want to be, something I've never felt before and one of the many many things I love about him. He is so kind (generally nicer than me but there are moments...) and enthusiastic and truly genuinely loves life and people. We are both sensation-seekers. We have been together for 1 year and 5 months, and it's been the best (if chaotic and unusual) year and a half of my life. We've lived together for about a year, which was too soon for me but I relented.

We haven't really talked about his ADHD (once about three months in he told me had ADD and that he used to take medicine for it, but it was mentioned in passing and presented like no big deal. So I don't really know what kind it is exactly, although looking at Wikipedia (I know, I'm sorry! I don't know enough or anything technical about it) I think it's the predominantly inattentive type. I'm sorry if that's stupid or not real or offensive, I'm just completely ignorant of this and kind of trying to piece together some sort of understanding.

I'm really struggling with relating to him. I know I'll never be able to completely understand or put myself in his shoes because my brain just inherently doesn't work like that. My problem is that I've been trained since childhood to focus on ten million different things at once, and that the only way to be successful at any given task is to do them all perfectly at the same time. Sounds strange, just go with it and let me explain.

In ballet, while performing on stage, at any moment you have to think of:
what specific piece of marked tape on the floor you're supposed to be standing on near or in relation to to maintain formation, where everyone else is on stage so you don't run into them, the complex and usually rather lengthy series of steps and choreography, holding your core and maintaining and constantly adjusting balance and weight distribution, which direction your head is facing, how pointed your toes are, if your knees are straight or bent, what angle your arms are making, not running into the set, finding the light, smiling (or not, depending on the ballet), musicality and artistry, etc etc etc, the list goes on and on, and honestly I haven't even mentioned the actual technique of ballet movements. And if you do any of those things wrong ever at any given time, it was just wrong. You messed up. You did it wrong. Because ballet is so defined esoteric and snobby, literally the only way to do it right is to do everything perfectly. Hence my anxiety.

Because I've been doing ballet my whole life and because it's so engrossed in its own subculture, everyone involved thinks that ballet is the end-all be-all important defining value of self-worth. If you're not good at ballet, you're not good at being a person. Yes, I know it's sick now, but when you're 14 and everyone's laughing at you because you fell out of a turn or didn't know some famous Estonian ballerina's name, you start to believe that it's very important as well. So anyway, my partner has been my release from that, the first time in my life I've started to realize that ballet is not what defines my value and that if I can squeeze just one more pirouette in there, it does not make me a better person. He has never been in the dance world and just completely doesn't get it (which sounds like a bad thing but is another one of the things that I just absolutely freaking love about him). With such a high-stress discouraging job he's always been there with a smile and something funny and exciting to talk about. He ALWAYS makes me feel better.

I love him very much, more than anyone I've ever known, and posting this feels like an act of betrayal.

Recently things have been tense. As I'm sure you probably have guessed, I don't do very well with inattentiveness. For several reasons, but the main ones are that I am hyperaware and attentive at all times, I can't help it, I just know everything that's going on around me. And also because the inattentiveness comes across as disinterest to me.

We can't talk about ballet. Which, I know, it's sick and weird, but it's something I'm intensely passionate about, I've given up sixteen years of my life to this, and the moment I bring it up, he starts sighing and looking around and will eventually burst out and interrupt me with something totally different and fly off on a tangent about it until I've completely "forgotten" that I was trying to have a conversation about my day. This makes me feel like he doesn't care about what I care about. I put so much effort into actively listening and engaging with him, but the second it's about something else, he shuts off and just waits for me to stop talking so he can start talking about something else. So I just drop it and listen to what he wants to talk about.

I have been living out of a suitcase in his apartment for about a year because he rents a house that allows dogs (he has two boxers) and my place is a converted loft downtown so no pets. He doesn't want to stay at my place because he doesn't want to leave the dogs alone at night, or even for a few hours I guess because we've never even gone there for like dinner or anything. I LOVE to cook, rented my apartment specifically because the kitchen is awesome. His kitchen is tiny, no dishwasher and horrible water pressure, but we have to be there every night. He hasn't done the dishes in months, it is always my responsibility since I cook a lot. It's also inherently my responsibility since he pays all the rent at his place, and since I'm staying there and not paying, I should do the dishes and clean up and do both mine and his laundry etc etc, all while I'm still paying the rent (which is MORE) at my place. Yes, I understand I shouldn't complain about that because it's my choice to be at his place since I have another place to live, but he helped me move my stuff in and then never went back. All of my cheap Ikea furniture is still in pieces leaning up against the walls of my apartment, but he's just not that interested in helping since if we put my bed together, I have a legitimate place to stay elsewhere. And even the mere suggestion of me staying at my place and him staying at his place means that obviously I'm horribly angry with him and ready to break up. There are no extra dressers or room or space to move any of my stuff into his place because all the extra bedrooms are packed with random stuff he doesn't even use or know about. So that makes me feel like he values his garbage more than the few foundational things that are important to me to have around. Like I don't even have a dresser, my clothes are in stacks on the wood floor next to the bed that I have to step on over around just to freaking get out of bed in the morning. So I'm stuck living out of a suitcase for a year.

Something is wrong with his car, and has been for the past three months. I have no idea what's wrong with it, since I know nothing about cars, and when I ask him what's wrong all he tells me is that it beeps a lot and the gauges move and he doesn't know what's wrong with it either *shrug*. So he's been driving my car every day for three months, dropping me off way early at work so he can get to his work on time, picking me up during my lunch break, picking me up after work, etc etc. It doesn't sound that bad, and it's really not, I feel like I'm overreacting about all of this, but three months is enough time to get a damn car fixed. I also pay for most of the gas that goes in it, since hey it's my car and I'm not paying rent to live at his place!

He spends most of his time on his phone. This has been a point of contention for us for a while. I know he doesn't realize it (based on observation and flat-out telling him) but he is on it for about 70% of the time we are together. Wouldn't bother me so much except for the fact that he admits he can't do two things at once. So when he's on his phone, I can't talk to him because I'm distracting him and he just needs to finish this text, hold on. But then after he's done with that text, he starts another one, and another one, and then the first person responded so he has to respond to that, and then he'll answer my question. Wait, what did I ask? Oh, let's watch TV. How am I not supposed to feel like he just doesn't care? He is obviously much more invested and interested in what anyone else elsewhere has to say, but he can't even give me the time of day to answer a freaking question, despite the fact that I'm right in front of him. I don't understand how someone can't pause halfway through a text, look at me and give a one or two or three word response, then go back to the text and reread the first half to continue the second. Ok fine, I'll wait until he's done with that text. So I do and then in the middle of me re-asking the question once I've finally got his attention, he interrupts me with something completely off-topic or whatever the textee had replied with, despite the fact that I know absolutely nothing that he's talking about. So then I just let my question go and sit there and listen to whatever he wants to talk about. Again. ALL THE TIME.

Then he gets offended and angry at me for being angry at the phone thing, and it's just always my fault for being impatient and rude and interrupting him! He's very good at unintentionally making me feel bad about being irritated at his behavior. So then i go into some deep thought cycle about how I'm careless and thoughtless and rude and why am I even here? and I just feel like less of a person. I'm just so exhausted.

I'm so sorry this is so long, I've been struggling with this for a really long time and I don't have anyone to talk to safely about it. I really hope I don't come across as horrible, I really really do love him and I've been willing to look past everything but it's getting harder every day to be ignored and devalued. I know that's not what he's doing (which is why I still love him, if he was just a dick to be a dick, I wouldn't even be here) but with our combination of issues it's really starting to wear on me. I'm sorry, I don't even know what type of response I'm looking for, I just needed a place to vent and maybe make sure that it really isn't me, or him, just the ADHD.

Thank you for reading this, and for any replies. I'm anxious to hear from anyone.
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  #2  
Old 04-18-13, 12:55 PM
amberwillow amberwillow is offline
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

Hi there, firstly I wanted to reply so that you could feel heard and secondly I wanted to welcome you to the forum.

I did ten years of Royal Academy of Dance training here in Australia, ending at 17 when I was injured playing sport at high school, so I relate to your 'setting'...

I also fell for a fun, spontaneous and oblivious man with ADHD, so I relate there as well. He knew nothing about dance at all and was a little threatened I think (in hindsight) by the difference in our beliefs and life experience.

I think that you might find reading a lot on this very helpful and illuminating. A lot of the issues you mention sound familiar.

I'm glad you found us, hopefully you'll find us helpful.
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  #3  
Old 04-18-13, 01:20 PM
Mac181 Mac181 is offline
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

Break up. I was sympathetic to him until I read the part where he gets offended if you try to get his attention from the phone.

Or, if you want to give him a chance, just sit him down and say "Listen, we need to be more equitable. I love you [do you?], but there are two issues really wearing on me that we need to discuss seriously. Firstly, I feel undervalued when we spend time together. I don't doubt you have important things to discuss on your phone, but you say yourself you have trouble focusing on multiple things at once. I'm happy to give you necessary space, but when we're together, I wish we'd really be together. I love talking to you, and want more of it rather than the fragmented conversations we often have. Secondly, I need some sense of stability, I can't keep living out of my suitcase. Either I need some dresser space here, or I need some storage space back at my apartment. If your space here is tight I totally understand that, but don't feel offended if I set up some things in my other apartment. Its not about distance, it's about stability. Now, how do you feel about what I've just said?"
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Old 04-18-13, 02:31 PM
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

From your post it sounds like there's more than ADD going on.

There's not much shared space.... and conversely you also seem to believe that being apart and having your own space, be it physical, mental or spiritual is "wrong" in a relationship.

The post would seem to say that the only special thing that you find wonderful about the relationship is that it has gone on for a reasonable length of time..... which might indicate that you feel measured and validated as a human by your ability to maintain a longstanding relationship..... which is likely to push you into attempting to maintain relationships long after their sell by date.... and making many unfortunate compromises along the way.

As you read these pages you will find the following reiterated many times
1) If the person with ADD doesn't show any desire to attend to their self destructive behaviours it's probably not worth considering the relationship as long term.... you can be a supportive friend.... and maybe way in the future a more intimate relationship can be re-established on new firmer foundations.

2) Don't sacrifice yourself to rescue another

3) Be aware of your boundaries and maintain them

Adding ADD into the mix doesn't alter the basic rules of the relationship game....

kilted
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  #5  
Old 04-18-13, 04:01 PM
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

Some of what you mention sounds related to ADD and other stuff doesn't. I watched the move "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" the other week, have you seen it? I just bring it up because of one line about how you fall in love with the person you feel like you deserve. You deserve better. You don't sound like you know that. Believe it. You deserve someone who is going to pay attention to you.

Express how you feel to him. Set ground rules. Especially about the phone thing. It is NOT OKAY for him to be preoccupied with his phone instead of spending time with you. I've had issues with my wife doing that - she doesn't have ADD (I have ADHD). She is an alcoholic (a struggling/recovering alcoholic), and our issues around the phone have typically been when she was drinking. She phases into this selfish world where her friends are more "fun" and "interesting" than I am.

One problem with having ADD is that one's head is full of noise. That noise can make it really hard to pay attention to the person you're with. My wife has had problems with me because I'll go on & on about my day and never ask her about her day. I've told her I need her to tell me to be quiet and listen to her. If she makes me aware of what I'm doing, I can do that for her. I'm not sure that your BF can/will, but it sounds like there is enough love between you two to try.

The idea that you have less rights because you're staying at his place is B*LLSH*T. If your relationship continues, you'll have to find a place to live where you'll both be happy. It doesn't sound like you and/or him are ready to commit to a single residence at this point, but that doesn't make you his servant.

No more unspoken rules. Tell him that your impression is that because you're staying at his place you are required to cook for him, do the dishes, and work around his stuff and that you feel you have no claim on or right to the space. Make him put down his phone and talk to you about it. You should not have to do the dishes because you cook. He should do the dishes if you are cooking for him.

All his useless crap could be related to ADD. It can make us pack-rats. It can make it easy to buy stuff and hard to get rid of it. Ask him if he wants you to be there. It sounds like he does. If he does, you guys need to work out where your stuff goes.

My wife & I have almost always lived in a 2-bedroom place (we've been together over 17 years now). I get one room. Because we work different shifts, I can't get ready for work in the bedroom, so my clothes are in the other room. So is all my hobby-crap. She's complained before that I get my own room and she doesn't and I tell her the whole rest of the house is hers. Sure, I use it, but I try to keep my useless crap out of it. If my stuff starts piling up in the front room, she'll dump it on the craft table in my room.

You guys should be able to work out a limited space where his useless crap goes, and also stuff where your necessities go, and shared space that is kept relatively neat.

1-1/2 years is a good start, but it's also just a beginning if this is a lifelong relationship.

Learn more about ADD so that you can figure out what might be a part of his disorder that you'll both need to find coping methods for, and what is his personality (which you'll also both need to find coping methods for, or which might change). The first book I read to learn about ADD was "Driven to Distraction," but I've heard others recommend a book called something like "Is it you, me or ADHD?"

Relationships are hard. Everyone has their own quirks. Love is worth it.
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  #6  
Old 04-18-13, 07:16 PM
KylieF8 KylieF8 is offline
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

I think you need to think of this in terms of compatibility in general, not just the ADHD. It sounds to me like you two are maybe just not clicking together on enough levels? I say this because ADD is a huge factor in relationships if one or both people have it, and while some of what you describe is symptoms untreated, some of it also just general incompatible relationship stuff.

One that is repeated over and over on a different forum I read (not for ADD) is that even if you love someone with all your heart and soul and they love you back the same way, that does not necessarily mean you are going to have a good relationship together, and it does not necessarily mean you are compatible in all the ways most important (i.e., the things most important to you are perhaps not the most important to him).

I also think he may have a teeny tiny ADDICTION to his phone. !!
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Old 04-18-13, 10:27 PM
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

Hey everybody,
Thank you so much for all of your suggestions, I certainly have a lot to think about.

We talked about his ADD and he revealed that it is actually a lot worse than most people know, he's very good at controlling it outwardly. He explained that he had a very hard time with school and his mom helped him with his homework every day because his head was just buzzing all the time. It is obviously something very difficult that he deals with on a daily basis and I was heartbroken to see him so upset by it. He also explained why he doesn't like ballet, it's scary. There's so many precise techniques and terminology that it's overwhelming. We're going to start off slow.

After rereading my post and everyone's responses, I would like to say that I definitely focused on the negative side of things. I was a bit frustrated at the time, and I do want to make it very clear that he is an amazing, inspirational and incredibly caring man and he doesn't take advantage of me as much as I had made it sound. We both cook together most of the time, it's not only me slaving away in the kitchen while he lounges and drinks beer, cooking is definitely something we enjoy to do together. So I realize and apologize that I made it sound like I was a house slave, that's not true. But I do a lot, I think doing the dishes is hard for him because you can't focus on anything else and we wait a long time before doing them lol. I'll address splitting the chores, and maintaining order a little better along the way so it's not so bad once we get there.

And while the apartment thing is definitely a strain that I am willing to address and work toward a solution for, he has told me several times that he wants me to think of it as our home, not "his place", which I appreciate so much because I know he means it. It just doesn't feel like our home because none of my stuff is there. Is it a practical thing to find a single residence together so I can feel it is more "ours"? I feel that would help the situation immensely but I'm also a little nervous.

I agree emily848, about the extra stuff in the rooms. I know it's not intentional, and I know he knows that it's extra "stuff", but I'm also realizing how sorting through all those stacks of papers and bags of random party accessories and whatever else would be a very daunting task, for me as well, so it's got to be overwhelming to look in there and see all that and know that I'm upset about space. I believe I'm slowly gaining a different more understanding perspective of things like this.

I also agree, Kylie, that he's got an addiction to the phone. And thank you, Mac, I will definitely use your suggestions to talk to him about it, I was a little at a loss of what to say!

I just want to reiterate that we get along very very well, despite the frustration evident in my first post. He has opened me up to his world (he's lived in this city his whole life, I've only been here two years) and I see how his friends get along and how we all treat each other and I know that he's good people. We have fun all the time, (when he's not on the phone lol) and I can't imagine being around without him. He's my best friend, the best one I've ever had, and I don't have many but the ones I do are good. Quality vs quantity for sure. We both love each other very much and I know that he would never intentionally hurt me. It helps a lot, actually, to realize where all of these (previously-conceived-as) hurtful behaviors are rooted. Some things will have to change from him, some things will have to change from me, and some things we will work together on.

Thank you all so much, I will keep thinking. But not too hard haha.
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Old 04-19-13, 01:18 AM
dvdnvwls dvdnvwls is offline
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

Regarding the apartments: If you are going to start sharing a place, then it will have to be one where you are happy to be. For example, are you permanently OK with this being your only kitchen, even though it's not the best? (And whatever other things may be important about living arrangements - cooking, dogs, location, etc etc.) If you can't see this being your only apartment, then some kind of discussion about "if we decide to live together, where should we move", etc, would need to take place.
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Old 04-19-13, 01:52 AM
Mac181 Mac181 is offline
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

I'm actually going to disagree with the people who say you two should find a shared place. I think its way too soon. I see nothing wrong with using the apartment you're paying for and not using as a storage space and refuge. I've been with my partner for more than a year and a half now, and I have no intention of moving in together any time in the near future. I love my personal space, and I think the feeling is mutual. We stay at each other's place between 1 and 3 nights a week, but otherwise I think our space is good for our relationship. Moving in together builds up a lot of friction fast.
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Old 04-19-13, 02:22 AM
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

relax N maybe photo copy this post at least to here. you two are already living together so
you could even show this post to him let him read it or not all you would be showing him
is just how important him, you, the dogs, kitchen, everything is to you you've put effort N
worry into all this you've put it in a place where annonimity rreal you not likely to bump into anyone from the forum so its kinda private just a thaught I wihish you good health N good luck
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Old 04-19-13, 02:51 AM
dvdnvwls dvdnvwls is offline
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac181 View Post
I'm actually going to disagree with the people who say you two should find a shared place.
I can't find the place where anybody has said they should do that.

I did mention IF they do that - but didn't say it was or wasn't a good idea.
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Old 04-19-13, 08:44 AM
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Re: I just need to talk about it...

Is he getting any treatment for his ADHD, like meds or therapy? It might help if he could get evaluated again just in case there's something else going on. ADHD often comes with co-morbids.

I don't know much about ballet but please don't be apologetic about being passionate about it. I've heard that the culture in ballet is quite unhealthy but that's not your fault. I guess, there is nothing wrong with ballet as such and I can understand why you love it so much (I find it absolutely stunning, a feast to watch) it's just the people who make life difficult for the other dancers. It's great you've found something that you are good at and can be passionate about. I'm sorry about the problems that come with it.

Oh and welcome to the forum
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