Can't seem to be a good partner


The last five days have been rough.

Seven days ago, I got an unexpected and very welcome raise at work. My performance review was far better than I anticipated, and for 2 days I was feeling like I must have got this ADHD thing beat. A lil Adderall and a positive attitude was all it took :smiley:

F***ing wrong.

I managed to upset my SO Friday night. She finally unloaded a series of grievances that have been bothering her for a while, and at every single point I could see very plainly how I had f***ed up. I’ve been aware of the tension for several weeks. But, instead of doing what I logically know I should have done and draw it out of her, I “ignored” it because either a) I was too afraid of the possible rejection to voluntarily go into that conversation, or b) my scatter-brain was on some other topic and blissfully ignorant of the whole situation.

So she explained how some of my behaviors have had a negative impact on her. When she draws my attention to them, it seems so painfully obvious that that’s not something you do to people you care about. My favorite example is getting defensive and talking over her when she tries to point out something I forgot to do. If I saw someone else do that, I would call them out for being a disrespectful little shit. I do it, and best case is I realize it a year later when the memory randomly pops into my head when I really need to be falling asleep right now.

I can’t stop asking what the hell is wrong with me. How am I the biggest piece of shit human I know, despite all my efforts to be otherwise? I try to remind myself, this is RSD and emotional dysregulation, you’re hyperfocusing on the negative, fucking stop doing that, you know better. It’s not helping -_-

wat do. I feel like I’m incapable of being a good partner. It bleeds into everything else. “You probably didn’t deserve that raise, either.” I kinda want to drink myself into a hole for a while, but I can’t justify spending the money on alcohol, so I don’t even get that unhealthy outlet :sob: ffffffffffffffffffffffffff


Damn. I can relate to a lot of that. I feel like I’m getting paid too much at my job because I’m a shitty employee, but no one has told me that, and they wouldn’t be paying me that much if I was.

My brain’s default is to focus on the negative, and it usually tells me things that are NOT TRUE! It takes practice to see things as they really are, and I usually have to run them by someone first. I don’t trust my brain that much.

Maybe your SO was having a bad day when all of that happened. They obviously like you as an employee or else they wouldn’t have given you that raise. Take it as a learning experience, and use the painful emotions your going through as motivation to do better! :grinning: Oh, and drinking won’t fix anything, but I’m sure you already know that​:blush:

I wish you well! :smile:


I appreciate the support.

Ngl, I’m truly worried this is the beginning of the end for a years-long relationship. I don’t feel like I can give her what her neurotypical brain needs and I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t change my brain; best I can do is try to at least practice better communication, but talking about what’s wrong isn’t the same as fixing what’s wrong (or so I fear).

I hope I just need to get over this hump of negativity in order to see the clear-if-not-easy solution… :crossed_fingers:


From my experience, if the relationship is worth keeping – if she cares about you as much as you care about her, then you BOTH can work to make your relationship better.
Yes, you need to find solutions to problems you know you have (How-to-ADHD has helped me tremendously, or lots of reputable sources/ideas online, or best yet, counseling). Don’t just give up and say “i’m a terrible person.” You, like every other living, breathing person, has problems they need to work on. (On a forum like this, it’s easy to say “fix them” when I know it’s just not that simple. But since I’m not a counselor and this isn’t a counseling forum, it’s the best I have for that part.)
My point is, yes, you need to do some soul-seeking and problem-solving, BUT SHE ALSO needs to work WITH you on this! She can’t just complain and expect you to fix everything - if that’s what she did. She needs to be understanding and forgiving. Maybe she could help you do some research. She needs to be involved, too.


My other half deserves a medal for a lot of what I put her through.

BUT I have asked her what she gets out this relationship and her answer floored me. The good things I bring are apparently:
Energy (wtf? Until I got an adhd coach I never got out of bed first… On the other hand, once I finally get started on a task I can keep going for hours without a break)
Snapping out of being cross really quickly
Trying again (and again, and again)
Always having something to say

So yes it is really hard dealing with a partner who says they’ll deal with the home admin and then suddenly it’s three years later and it still hasn’t happened.
Or agreed to do the dishes and then completely forgot.
And is constantly almost late, and often actually late.

But my point is that our adhd brings positives as well as negatives.

I agree that dealing with stuff comes from both sides. I would recommend that any counselling or therapy etc which you get is from an adhd specialist.

We haven’t had counselling or therapy together as a couple, but we have gone ti several of my adhd/ocpd therapy sessions together (about once every 3 months, so about 3 sessions. In between I go roughly twice a month). This was sometimes suggested by my therapist and sometimes by me. The purpose is to have us all on the same page, so that my therapist is not wasting her time and mine, but the enormous added bonus is that my wife’s expectations are becoming more realistic. And she has somehow managed to avoid getting mad if I create a delay in going somewhere, which does help me to not be later still because of the stress.

Of course, it helps that my behaviour is changing too, in a good way :slight_smile:


Stop saying hurtful things th yourself. You do care you just find things that work for you to remind you to do things you’re forgetting to do visuals help me. Setting alarms with reminders kinda help finding your flow routines on how you do things helps me. And for crying out loud, stop interrupting her and getting defensive. Listen and hear what she’s saying stop beating yourself up. Because of your adhd you will struggle more than others with some stuff accepting yourself knowing what you’re good and what you struggle with and and communicating with each other regularly. You’re a team so play fair respect each other Love each other for exactly for who they are. There was something else I wanted to say but I forgot oh yeah. People like to feel they are heard and seen. I could go on forever but i’ll End with keep trying and your efforts will show. I hope I said something that helps you :heart:


Those of us Brains that are fortunate enough to be in a relationship with a Heart will often screw something up that can be traced back to our ADHD. The important thing to remember is that we bring good things to the relationship too.

I’ve been trying to help myself in this area by focusing only on the present day that I am currently living. Often times I feel the regret of all the times I’ve messed up my relationship in the past simultaneously with the pressure to not screw up again in the future. I end up so focused on the past and future that I completely space out of the present and that does lead to a screw up.

I’ve found that the days where I intentionally shut out the regret and ignore the potential disasters of the future, and just do the best I can with what is directly in front of me today I tend to get a lot more things right. Of course, that’s much easier to type than it is to do, but it is possible.

Don’t make the mistake of running to a temporary fix for a relationship problem. Alcohol will only let you procrastinate on the negative emotions and the actual work that might fix the issues. We are at a much higher risk for addictive behaviors since our executive functions are out of whack. I would stay far away from anything that might rope you into a destructive cycle, especially if you think it might make you feel good for a while. That short-term rewarding feeling will not be worth the pain it will cause later.


All relationships take lots of work and compromise. If it really wasn’t working or if she didn’t want it to work she would just dump you and move on. She’s telling you the problems so you can try to do better. We often think we’ve messed stuff up too bad to fix which makes us actually do that. Own your past but learn from it and leave it there. Keep trying to do better and if it’s meant to work out it will.

This message brought to you from the person who got it in her head 6 months ago that messed up a few times and thought she was going to get fired, 4months later I figured out my boss was just an ass who didn’t know how to manage people, by the time I figured that out my work had declined bad from the stress of thiking that and loss of motivation to impress that ass. I got fired last week LOL Mindset is a powerful thing.


Wow, that was… more replies than I expected. Thanks, everyone!

I’m coming to accept that I’m pretty much shite at communicating*, and a big part of my hang-up is that I can’t get five words out without losing hold of my emotions, and that when I’m emotional I can’t form a complete thought that I don’t immediately think can’t be said because it doesn’t make sense or is somehow invalid.

So, I’m gonna try writing notes for her. I honestly feel kinda dumb, like a middle schooler leaving stupid little love notes on a crush’s desk :stuck_out_tongue: But, better than never expressing anything, I guess?

I’m also thinking this recent raise might be a good excuse to get back into counseling. I had been going for other reasons pre-diagnosis, but a move to a different state and a higher cost of living put an end to that for the last year+. Better insurance, now, should also help :crossed_fingers: .

I need some inspiration on reminders, though. I do use 4 different reminder apps at the moment (ahem), but it’s pretty much only work stuff or chores/other tasks. Forgetting to do the little things was one of her complaints, and she even cited that I have reminders but I just “don’t use them.” I do use them, just apparently not in a way that’s effective for our relationship. I guess I need to be setting reminders for things like “randomly pick up flowers” or “find an extra chore and do it”? Jeez it feels bad to need reminders to just be a half-decent romantic partner :weary:

Confirmed. A family member was diagnosed with ASD recently, so I spent my evening taking various self-evaluations for Autism because it’s obviously the most important thing I could possibly be doing :sweat_smile: . Anyway, a consistent pattern emerged: overall negative for ASD, but always above the diagnostic threshold for social skills. As if I needed a semi-objective measurement to kill my social confidence ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I love the reminder idea! I totally get that it feels weird to need them, but the person in the receiving end will still appreciate the flowers etc.

I have a weekly reminder to call my mother-in-law on the morning that she is alone in the house for 5 hours (she is housebound unless someone goes out with her). I also felt that I should think of doing this without an alarm, but in reality I would think of it several times but not actually get around to doing it on the right day.

So while the absolute best option might be to think of buying flowers completely spontaneously etc, this is apparently not a realistic thing to expect of yourself. So the more realistic thing to weigh up is:
A) set an alatm to do this kind of thing so that it actually happens every now and again, feel slightly bad that you needed an alarm but also quite good that the flowers were appreciated
B) hope to think of it yourself, forget, feel bad that you’ve let your partner feel unappreciated, with no real plus points to make up for all these negative feelibgs on both sides.

At least, that’s how I gave in and set the phone call alarms! And I don’t always phone when the alarm goes off because I can’t always fit it in, but I’ve managed more often than if i hadn’t set the alarms :slightly_smiling_face:


Dang. This is a great idea. I’m starting this now!


This is my experience too. My marriage ended in a way which was similar to what you describe. Vaguely aware that I was saying, or doing, or not doing things which might be interpreted in a certain way. But were definitely not meant in a negative way.

My ex was very thin on the meaningful communication front. I assumed (even though I knew better), that she would tell me if I’d done something wrong. But no.

She told me that she wanted a divorce, and spewed out all the reasons why. Even before the first sentence was out, I knew instantly why she felt that way, and what I had done, not done, said, not said. With crystal clarity.

But she cut off all communication with me, and that was that. No chance of appeal against the final verdict.

At least you got the full blast before it got that far, so there is definitely hope.

But as msygyver17 said, it takes two to tango.

Personally, I am getting tired of having to change, explain, adjust every little thing I do to fit in with everybody else’s world.

I mean, I really don’t mind being flexible to someone else’s needs… But what bugs me is that I can’t really recall a time when anybody has ever changed their ways to be flexible for me.

It gets tiring to have to constantly do the changing for two people, or often many more. Constantly trying to interpret what other people want, when nobody has ever tried to interpret what I want.

Maybe simplistic, biased, and clouded in negativity… But I’m tired of doing most, if not all of the work in any relationship, only to have it blown back in my face as the door shuts behind somebody who I’ve really, honestly tried to be a positive force with.

I’m sure you have already, but try asking your partner to see things from your perspective, and to try and appreciate the positive things you do, the hard work that you put in for love. Also to let you know about the negatives a little earlier than when it all comes out when the pressure relief valve blows off in anger.

We can be a little over sensitive to criticism sometimes, but I find that I definitely need it, especially if it is framed in a positive way that is not going to immediately raise my defenses.

It’s much easier to guess what somebody really wants out of you when they actually tell you.


wasawasa: I need some inspiration on reminders, though. I do use 4 different reminder apps at the moment ( ahem ), but it’s pretty much only work stuff or chores/other tasks.

Have you tried an awesome little app called Habitica? It installs on your phone and has 3 different categories for tasks that behave differently.

Habits: Things you would like to do or stop doing. Are not mandatory but rely on you being honest about your behavior. Reporting is voluntary and rewards coins and XP for success and removes health for failures. This would be a good category for “Do something unexpectedly nice for name

Dailies: Things you are supposed to do on a given day of the week. Rewards coins and XP for success but automatically removes health if not completed by the end of the day. “Empty dishwasher”, “Vacuum house”, “Feed the dog”, etc.

To-Dos: Large tasks that do not happen often but still need to be done in a timely manner. Rewards more coins and XP for success. Cannot be failed unless a deadline is set with the task. “Renew car insurance by date”, “Plan date for Valentine’s Day”, “Attend company picknic”, etc.

You level up your character with XP and can buy little trinkets like armor or weapons from the store with the coins.

There is also an app call Our Home which is like an interactive chore list that both you and your significant other can edit and check things off. I’ve not tried this one yet, but my spouse really wants me to.

Hope those resources help!