12 years ago, I met the woman of my life. She was one of the first people that I had developed a relationship with where I was able to be, exactly who I am. My authentic, true self.
A couple of years before, I had just gotten out of a horrifyingly abusive relationship with a woman who had never understood, and had chosen to not to even try to understand who I was. Who abused me because I was too ignorant of who I was, and so lost in my untreated ADHD that I didn’t really believe I deserved anything else.
After our divorce, I wandered. I was homeless; I was bouncing from relationship to relationship, rebounding, over and over again. I couldn’t maintain the relationships because I did what so many of us do, masking who I was. I was terrified of being seen as the broken thing I was.
But then, I decided to make a change. I still didn’t know that I had ADHD, but I did recognize that I was different. I also recognized that, you know what? That was ok. I still struggled, I still had problems, but I was going to do whatever it took to own who I was, and work to accept me for who I was, regardless of what that meant, flaws and all.
But back to my soon-to-be wife.
I didn’t meet her by accident. I figured out what realistic boundaries and expectations I needed for my next partner. I put that in my dating app profile. I didn’t waste time with people who weren’t able to or willing to pay the price of admission. I learned to take the no for what it was, and to wish those who said it the best and move on. I made friends with some of them I still have today. I learned to say no to those who showed me they weren’t a good fit for me instead of settling. I wasn’t looking for someone who was my The One. I was looking for someone who was like .70-.80 to be my One. (Thank you Dan Savage) The important thing was would they be willing to grow with me.
Examples of my boundaries and expectations of my next partner, they had to:
Understand the importance of mental/physical health (Remember, I didn’t know I had ADHD then.)
Understand the importance of communication
Willing to be honest and upfront about things
Able to support themselves and enjoy their own independence, I wanted a partner, not a dependent.
Ready to settle down
They needed to be open to an evolving relationship (I understood myself enough to know that after 6-8 months the relationship would have to evolve because of my Hyper-focusing nature changing after a while, and them not getting the attention that they experienced from me at first.)
I was firm on these boundaries.
This doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun waiting around for someone who could meet all of these. I still went out and had fun with those I thought were interesting. That’s how I discovered those I eventually became friends with. I simply took my time and really came to learn and understand them, and get past the façade that most of us put up when we are putting ourselves out there in the dating world.
I put up actual pictures of myself, (I mean they looked good, but no filters, no lies) I walked away from women who put up pictures that didn’t represent themselves (not necessarily catfishing, but y’all know what I mean.) Remember, one of my hard boundaries was honesty and trust. I wouldn’t meet a woman, long distance, that wouldn’t video chat with me.
I am not meaning this to sound like I had an objectifying nature. It was more for the importance of them representing who they really were, because if they will lie about that when they know it’s going to be found out in person, then they were going to have more issues and baggage than I was ever going to be ready to take on.
I know that this isn’t that easy for everyone, but knowing yourself, and your needs and fair expectations goes a long way in finding someone who you can really mesh with. I don’t mean to allow our Imposter Syndrome to hold us back, but to be realistic in what your reality is.
What I mean is: If you enjoy video games and doing nerd things, then you want to make sure that you are up-front about that. Your happiness should be honored and respected. If you don’t like fishing, then someone who is a nutcase about fishing & wants a fishing buddy may not be for you. If you get irritated by ignorance or stupidity, then don’t date someone vapid. If you’re just looking for FWB, don’t go for someone who’s looking for the long-term and vice versa.
My wife and I built our relationship from day one, being honest with each other, how to make each other feel safe enough to talk about anything together. We learned our expectations, and she helped me understand the importance of communication.
She learned how my ADHD affected me and we worked out ways that we could work around some issues I dealt with without making her into a surrogate mother.
We learned each other’s love languages and how we could speak them to each other in different ways.
We have been together ever since, and she has helped me heal so much. She is my rock, and my love, and an amazing woman who deserves everything I can give her for the rest of my life. She respects me; he honors me, and she loves me for who I am.
I pray you can find the same for yourself, and if you’re in a relationship that doesn’t give you the happiness that you deserve and the love and support you must have. Well, we will discuss that at another time.
If you're trying to figure out your love life and want to discover how ADHD affects it, schedule a Free Discovery Session today to find out how I can help you.