Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ADHD and Sex: No Shame, No Blame

"Gina, sex is difficult for people with ADHD; it's tough to stay focused!" says a female Facebook friend, responding to my query on this topic.
     What, you say, ADHD affects sex? Who knew? Yes, it's one of those areas, like sleep, where we often fail to connect the dots to ADHD symptoms.  In fact, I open the chapter on sex in my book, Is It You, Me, or  Adult A.D.D.?. with this quote:

Who knew so many women were begging their male partners for sex? It must be the world's best-kept secret. -- Rory

Later in the chapter, I write:

When ADHD does create significant sexual problems, it usually falls into two categories: The ADHD partner initiates sex all the time or almost never. Again, it seems, we encounter these pesky ADHD-related challenges in self-regulation and summoning motivation.

The truth is, ignorance about this critically important connection between ADHD and intimacy creates so much unnecessary hurt. Left with no other rational explanation for sexual difficulties, partners sometimes blame themselves—or each other. In a blog post on Sex and ADHD at Jeff's ADD Mind, the author first considers it as the “problem with no name” and finally “the problem that carries a lot of shame.”
Consider these comments I've collected over the years:
  • “My wife is so easily distracted that boom, in the middle of a romantic interlude, she's suddenly talking about the cat! Talk about a mood killer."
  • "Both my brother and I have ADHD, and what we've concluded is that thinking about sex is pretty exciting. But the reality? More often than not, boring. That's a hard thing for a guy to admit."
  • “My husband, who was just diagnosed with ADHD, has always said I had to have sex with him twice daily in order for him to know that I love him. But we’re married 20 years now. I’m getting tired! In fact, I don’t it's about love at all. I think it's about self-medicating."
  • "Our sex life is great! If only everything else in our life together was so easy."
  • "If ADHD presents known challenges to 'self-regulation,' it makes sense that some of us could have a problem with regulation of intensity here along with everything else in life? My wife and I both have ADHD and are living proof of opposite ends of the ADHD spectrum when it comes to sex."
These quotes speak to just a few of the ways that ADHD might affect sexual intimacy. For the record, though, almost one in five ADHD Partner Survey respondents report having a great sex life. Moreover, many of them are in long-term partnerships that are challenging enough to send them scurrying to a support group. In fact, almost half say their ADHD partner is a skilled and considerate lover. I offer these findings not as scientific evidence but as a reminder that, as with most things ADHD, "your mileage may vary."
     For those whose sex lives aren’t so sexy or lively, though, it might help to know that brain function can affect sexual expression. Though not in itself a solution, knowledge can at least relieve psychological pressures, hurt feelings, and unnecessary blame and shame on both sides. Moreover, knowledge paves the way to realistic problem solving.
     Briefly, let's consider how these ADHD-related traits might pave a bumpy path to bliss:

Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness
People with a high degree of hyperactivity or impulsiveness might rush to start—either the relationship or sexual engagement—and quickly grow bored.

Distractability and Inattention
These two traits can generate challenges in getting the party started, paying attention to details, avoiding distractions (air-conditioning hum, scratchy sheets, dog barking, menacing thoughts of uncompleted chores) and maintaining interest through to, um, completion.

Low initiation and motivation
“My wife is always willing to have sex with me and seems to always enjoy it,” says Alex. “Yet, she never initiates. I’m sure this isn’t social or gender conditioning. She simply initiates very little in life and tends to respond to what's in front of her.”

Hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation
If you find a shirt label irritating, imagine how foreplay involving delicate areas might feel unnerving, if not downright irritating. It's called sensory integration disorder (also tactile defensiveness). Consider it a “filtering” problem within the nervous system.

Difficulties in cooperating and taking turns
Lovemaking is sometimes described as a dance that depends on following subtle back-and-forth cues. But what if you have trouble "transitioning" from one activity to the next or "sequencing" steps (that is, first comes this and then comes that, not vice versa)? This can create obstacles not only in your work life or at four-way stops but also in romantic pursuits.

The boredom factor
"Sex is boring," Bryan Hutchinson announces on his blog, AdderWorld. "We’d rather be doing something else while in the act of having sex, something more exciting, like, well, fantasizing about sex, putting together a good story about our sex life, and while we do that we miss out on something important: the reality of sex."

If any of these points resonate for you, know that there are strategies for overcoming their adverse impact on your relationship. For starters:

Adults with ADHD:
Learn about how ADHD symptoms might be affecting your experience of sexual intimacy. That way, you can avoid
  • trying to hide the fact that your attention is wandering
  • unfairly blaming your partner for your attention wandering
  • deciding that you are an inept lover
  • avoiding sex entirely without ever explaining why (but still feeling a certain amount of shame about it)
Next, be forthcoming with your partner about what's going on in your head. Otherwise, your behavior can lead your partner to feel sexual rejection, and that can be extremely destructive to a person's self-esteem, not to mention the relationship. It helps to be tactful, though. For example:

Don't say this: "For some reason, I just find debugging software code in my head (or, thinking about the half-yearly Nordstrom sale coming up, etc.) so much more compelling than having sex with you."

Say something like this:
"Honey, you know I love being with you and want to please you, but I don't know what to do about this darn distractability. It hits when I least expect it—or want it. Will you work with me on finding some solutions that work for both of us?"

Partners of Adults with ADHD:
Don't make a difficult situation worse by translating your partner's ADHD-related bedroom issues into "You don't love me!" That line of thinking simply doesn't end well.

Both Partners:
1. Set aside time for intimacy
Consider this both a logistical strategy (schedule romantic weekends away or a weekly date night) and a mental one (leave your unfinished to-do list at the bedroom door).

2. Turn off the distractions
Robbie complains that her ex-husband was so distractible and hyperactive that he simply couldn't stay in bed long enough to have sex: “He was constantly jumping up to turn off distracting things—the lamp, the clock radio, the heater, and, eventually, me! I was very turned off!” Anticipate these ambient noises being a problem before getting started and counter them.

3.  Learn all you can about evidence-based strategies for treating ADHD, including specialized therapy and medication.
Consider this closing paragraph from the chapter on Sex and ADHD in Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?:

ADHD Partner Survey respondents who reported an improved sex life after their ADHD partners started taking stimulant medication attributed the uptick to a better domestic life in general--co-parenting, employment, driving, managing finances, and the like. In other words, increased good will and cooperation outside the bedroom often translates into better intimacy -- and vice-versa.

Please share your strategies, experiences, and "a-ha" moments on this topic. Reader comments to the previous blog on sleep and ADHD were so helpful to other readers. Thank you!



  1. Talk with the therapist or physician who monitors your ADHD meds about the possibility of taking a dose of short-acting medication (e.g., short-acting methylphenidate) at least a half hour before you'd like to be sexually intimate. For lots of couples, sex happens at night, after the kids have been put to bed and after the ADHD partner's daytime meds have worn off. As the non-ADHD spouse of an ADHD man, I can tell you that this has worked for us. :-)

    1. It is important to never underestimate the power of a simple date. how to rekindle a intimacy partner

  2. Gina,

    This is a wonderful and most helpful post. I wanted to write something way before I finished, then I read: "Don't make a difficult situation worse by translating your partner's ADHD-related bedroom issues into "You don't love me!" That line of thinking simply doesn't end well." Few things truer have ever been written. You hit the nail on the head, because, in too many relationships partner's take personal offense to natural ADHD characteristics, when no offense is meant. The most important thing anyone can do with ADHD is realize that there is NO shame, be open and honest, it’s surprising what that reveals.

    Gina, we were talking about eBooks, please, please consider making this post an eBook and that way it will be easy for us to share via email and post on our websites etc...

    You go girl!

    Bryan Hutchinson
    Author of: “One Boy’s Struggle: A Memoir – Surviving Life with Undiagnosed ADD”

  3. Wow. I don't think this post could have come at a more apropos time. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD at age 16 and is usually on meds (except when his body "needs a break"). Typically his breaks last a couple weeks and life moves along well enough. This time he's been off for at least a month and...well...things are getting interesting.

    I bought your book about a month ago and, while reading the chapter on ADD and intimacy thought "Lucky me! I'm in the half of the group that has a good sex life." WRONG. At least when the meds are taken out of the picture.

    We just got back from what should have been a romantic weekend getaway to celebrate our first anniversary. Four days (and nights) at a secluded little cabin in a beautiful setting that was also, apparently, a sex free zone. Actually, it was a completely intimacy-free zone. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING happened. I have never felt so alone and so sad.

    It doesn't seem to help that I am aware of the ADHD/sex connection; I still can't connect my intellectual awareness to my emotional sensitivity. (Suggestions, anyone - PLEASE???) This weekend was painful enough for me that I've called my husband's psychiatrist to set up an appointment, I've arranged to meet with a therapist, AND I am searching for the nearest CHADD support group so I can get some help ASAP.

    While I'm sorry for venting, this article really couldn't have come at a more appropriate time, at least for me. I'll take any and all suggestions, ideas, tips, advice, etc. anyone here has to offer, with many thanks in advance.

  4. I am a female with inattentive type ADD and my problem is this. When a relationship starts all I want to do is have sex. its very exciting and I have a rich fantasy life. about 2yrs of that and I lose intrest because life kicks in. Sex becomes boring, been there done that. Having a baby doesn't help the situation. I still can enjoy it if he puts alot of effort into arousing me but inisially I'd rather sleep. Granted a baby probubly effects this more than ADD. Feelings of physical freedom do wonders for a sex life. I had no sex drive for years until I got a divorse from my 1st husband then look out. I'm feeling the same bordom this time around but the difference is I like my husband and I still want to please him. So I do everything I can to do that wether I feel like it or not. The more I learn about my own ADD the more I realize that everything doesn't have to be super intense to be pleasurable. I can have fun like a normal person and be kind to my husbands needs regardless of my own. After all a loving relationship is more important than a thrill ride of a sex life.

  5. Loved your blog. Came across it by accident. I have ADHD combined and severe. Aged 51. OMG I just had a major aha moment coming across this blog. Keep writing... and as soon as I figure out how to subscribe to your blog, I will. LOL
    ps my blog is www.lifewithahearingdog.blogspot.com/

  6. I had to LOL about the guy jumping out of the bed to turn of the lamp, the fan etc., etc. that's me to a tee! DH might initiate with the TV on (not a chance) but the silence was equally distracting as it brought all other sounds to the foreground. The solution for us has been the ambient (new age?) music channel on our digital tv...it's the "white noise" I need to drown out barking dogs and lawn mowers without the invasiveness of television and it can be kind of sexy to boot!

    1. My poor spouse jumps up and takes care of the annoying distractions for me so I can stay somewhat in the mood. This can be any source of direct light, the dog walking up the hallway, various neighborhood sounds, the radio going to commercial... *sigh*

      I like your idea of creating white noise and will find a collection of music for this purpose. The audio of a porn does great for me, but our walls aren't quite thick enough to have one playing while the kids are home.

    2. Ah ha moment... The shower. I'd say at least half of our sexual activity is in the shower. That is totally white noise. Clearing out the bedroom of distractions STAT and creating white-noise. Thanks!

  7. As the wife always begging, I am beginning to understand that unfortunately, men aren't always the sex crazed ones. Sadly, video games seem to hold more attention for my 23 yr old husband.

    This is a good post, one I have been waiting to read to reinterate what I have been feeling! Thanks!

    1. Anonymous- after readiing all the negative and hopeless effects that this disorder has and the huge emotional toll it takes on the partner w/o ADD - you just have the urgency to get out of the relationship while you still have your self-esteem . My partner is obnoxiously jealous and insecure of me being unfaithful and yet does nothing to prove he has a shread of interest in me. It is so messed up and confusing . I feel like I am lying to myself and him that we have a bond or that those natural "loving feelings" are there. Does anyone else out there feel like their partner is one of the most selfish people they ever met?

    2. Omg, YES. It makes me feel like he isn't even attracted to me. He'd rather play video games than play with me. If he does initiate sex, it feels rushed and he doesn't attend to my needs. We do talk about it but, it's always a sensitive topic. I have ADD also and we are both medicated but, at opposite ends of the sex spectrum. I would initiate it more but, how do you initiate sex with someone when you don't feel desired by them to begin with? I know I'm an attractive person but, it's so hard not to internalize it when there is such a lack of intimacy. Even kissing and cuddling are absent and it makes me feel extremely lonely.

    3. YES. I just started dealing with this issue and it feels like he doesn't give a shit. He hooked me into being his girlfriend and now I've been abandoned in hell. It took him two weeks to get bored of sex with me; I guess I'm not as attractive as he pretended I was to get me into bed. What a fool I am, to think anyone could love me. But he still wants to have a monogamous relationship (wouldn't that imply some kind of sex life?). I'm sad all the time and he doesn't respond to anything I say or do till I get angry... then he treats me like I'm crazy for being angry. I'm beginning to hate him. It started out as something beautiful but now I just want to hurt him back for wasting my time. The last straw was when he was leaving for ten days and preferred making sure his toilet was clean to paying me any attention. He can't even seem to understand how this can hurt me. I'm just being mean by drawing attention to it. I don't even feel anything for him anymore.

    4. OMG I totally feel all you guys here. My partner is exactly the same. Swept me off my feet initially..pursued me hard and romanced me off my feet. i was in heaven! Sex nearly every day, he made an effort as well to please me. I thought Id found my dream man. It shouldve raised alarm bells that hed only had two relationships and they lasted about a year. Well at the year mark he started messaging women on dating sites..facebook talking dirty. Sex was still happening but not as much. he would always message me through the day with beautiful texts, after work always so excited to see me...same as in the morning he wouod always spend 10 minutes hugging and saying bye....always writing me little notes for when id wake up. We hit a few issues regarding people in my family...this hit us hard. He knew i was a parent and grandparent from start but suddenly now it had become an issue. he started saying about our age difference. Sex was geting less...his messaging got worse to other girls, and his porn use got much more frequent. He began mastubating rather than coming to me. He tried getting action with a girl on facebook, but she messaged me sending me all their chat. I confronted him by this time I was very tired of the situation. Affection, caring sex and his time were fast becoming non existant. I kept forcing him to reply. He told me sex didnt feel good with me anymore. He constantly watches porn with teens. Perves on attractive young ones in public. ow has a snapchat account with a password on his phone as Ive snooped before. Ive discussed with him this whole issue so many times yet nothing changes for long. Its like he cant help himself. I feel hes bored but he denies that. I feel he just wants me here for a house keeper and company. Not to mention he probably couldnt afford living on his own. Affection is now hugs and quick kisses. He pulls away if i touch his privates or just gets ucomfortable, which then makes me uncomfortable. He says we have an old people kind of relationship. I feel very alone...depressed and my self esteem is non existant. I know I should leave but its hard. And he and my 6 yr old are very bonded. So So hard...but I can see now Im not alone in all this thank God

    5. I feel you, im pretty much in the same boat. Really sux ....

  8. WOW! I had no idea that ADHD was affecting my spouse in the bedroom! But the line about being bored with sex could have come straight out of our conversations - and arguments! It is amazingly freeing to me to know that this an ADHD issue rather than an issue of me being boring. I would like to know too how ADHD fits together with sexual addiction (porn, specifically).

    1. It's a mine field. He has ADHD, had had a method addictions that intensifies sex, and a sex addiction to port and females. Omg it's an insanity ride. There isn't much difference now that he's sober because he didn't want to see the problem was him. Basically now there can be no porn, no images, no flirting, no looking, cold turkey approach. One slip and the whole cycle starts again and ADHD is there to justify everything.

      I'm exhausted and feeling very unwanted. We are struggling to get through this.

  9. I'm curious to know if any of the medications are causing adults with ADD thoughts or actions of sexual promiscuity. I find myself thinking irrationally about about having sex with people other than my partner of 12 years.

  10. Hmm, interesting how this might play into my life. The occasional flings (impulsive and exciting), the boredom in my marriage, and finally a lover who has figured out how to keep me interested--but how long will that last?
    Much to be said about adding a verbal narrative to the foreplay. Having a shared story going keeps the brain and body connected.

  11. I'm 53 years old and have never been married. I've come to believe that it is connected to my ADD. Whenever, I first get into a relationship it is very exciting and interesting getting to know someone new. But soon after the start, I find myself bored with my new girl friend and looking for other ways to spend my time.

  12. The role of dopamine in the sexual response cycle is crucial - it starts the engine! (see Helen Fisher's book, Why We Love, Henry Holt, 2006.) Sex drive in folks with AD/HD can vary from virtually non-existent to a means of regular self-medication, with the predictable costs to the health of the relationship. Some women experience the first orgasms of their lives after starting medication for AD/HD. Successful sex ending in orgasm releases oxytocin, the "bonding" hormone, the same hormone that binds mothers to their babies when they breastfeed. It's hard for an AD/HD couple to get "there" with so many obstacles in the way. If a regular innoculation with oxytocin helps strengthen the marital bond, could this be part of the explanation why so many AD/HD marriages founder? Research into this phenomenon is really needed and sexuality should be directly addressed in treatment. Thanks for focusing attention on this important issue. Lots of people are going to benefit from the discussion.

  13. Wow, a lot of people are reading this post. I am glad to see that this is widespread - in the "I don't feel isolated anymore!" sense. Until I read this I just didn't realize this was symptomatic of my ADHD. Mine is severe in two areas, inattentiveness and memory recall and combined with a mild to severe hyperactivity.

    There are times when I just don't feel like sex and other times when I can't get it out of my mind. When its my main focus the thing that finally relieves that tension is usually something pretty wild and kinky. Then I don't think about it and even not interested for a while - sometimes weeks. I learned a long time ago that I need to be "All-In" for it to be really meaningful. Its hard to maintain that level of connection shortly after a long term relationship is started. Then I find myself more distracted yet going ahead with the sex even when I don't feel that into it. This leads to less intensity from me which my partner will respond with the same lack of intensity - and we are just going through the motions - literally, physically. I know also that if a partner takes the time to get me in the mood that my focus will slowly narrow until I am "All-In" - if that makes sense.

    You usually here about women having a headache, sending the man away for some other day. I actually can totally understand that. If you don't feel like it then the sex is meaningless because you don't really want to be there doing that. On the other hand I don't understand how women I've been with allow themselves to brood, speculate, question their abilities, their attractiveness, and even get angry when I say, "Honey I am just not into this, I have distractions, and my intuition tells me I won't be a good lover right now."

    Example: I am working on a computer hard drive, I do data recovery from broken and crashed hard drives. This is not a science its a trial and error, I use trouble shooting techniques and decide the best strategy. This will not work sometimes, it can be more difficult than usual, so, my mind is wrapped in this.

    Please stay with me here I know this stuff is easy to let your eyes glaze over but its really important that you get this.

    In order to work on these HDDs I have to think like a hard drive - which is very complicated BTW. The platter spins on a motor, there are cylinders, heads, sectors, file allocation sizes, some are CHS, others are LBA. Eventually I leave it alone for awhile and step away but my mind is still inside that hard drive, all the frustration, the puzzle, etc. I am trying to comprehend the particular HDD issue and allow my mind to settle. It could be hours and days later that my lover approaches me for a good time and I say what I said above.

    Now at this point if my partner begins to help me get to the bottom of my current feelings and we talk about what things are on my mind I can usually feel better, less distracted, especially if I can see a solution to the issue or, if she helps me realize that I can let it go, how to let it go etc. I can usually come to some realization, sometimes its comical that I would be so intense over such a thing, then laugh it off - boom I am seeing the light for sex and as we begin I get very focused on us and we have a great session.

    On the other hand the brooding, as I call it, self questioning, bringing about worries that are completely groundless and have no bearing on my feelings or my stressing issue, as I said I don't understand. No I don't love you less, Yes your boobs are great and your ass is beautiful. You don't need to worry that I am seeing someone else, or that I have a internet porn addiction,...I am not closeted gay either.

    What I am is distracted and stressed about things going on in my life and you need to understand that is as serious to me as all the things you worry about in your life. Your wrinkles, the clothes, Aunt Betty's stomach surgery, the boss at work, or Oprah's new book. Of course I am ready to listen to issues you may be having. I am a good listener.

  14. Just to clarify if I am not "All-in" I am very distracted with environment stuff, TV, dog, then maybe I start to lose my erection. I start thinking about other sexual encounters or fantasies to maintain then I get guilty that my thoughts aren't on my lover and it snowballs from there. I often can't finish or climax which leads to more insecurity. My lover will loose self esteem believing it must be her. Many times it does not matter how many ways I try to explain it they just can't get it.

    The distractions aren't gonna suddenly stop they are here to stay. Sometimes I have what I call "weirds" Just a strange feeling like a craving for something but you don't know what it is -only this is not that either. Its like having feelings for some unknown thing - it unknown because I can't pin the feeling to anything so I am in a state of weird limbo until my mind sorts it out. Talking to someone helps in that case because you can unwind it, pick apart other things and, if I lucky, will suddenly have a realization of feelings origin or what its about. Otherwise sex is not going to be good because I am distracted with this feeling.

  15. This is definitely an issue that doesn't get much "attention" but is very serious. For many years my husband didn't seem that present during intimacy, and often blamed me. I always kept thinking that he was not paying attention, was not focused, easily distracted and that something must be wrong with me, I was not keeping him interested. This was before we realized he probably has ADHD. By then however, the damage was done and now there is not much left between us other than our family. Thanks for writing about this, maybe others can benefit.

  16. I almost cried when I read this article. It is all so true! Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone in this!

  17. Currently in a place relationship-wise where I feel more lonely with each passing day and intimacy barren night. Calmly and kindly suggested to DH that it is my perception he tunes out just when things start to click for me. Also mentioned tactile defensiveness on his part, and the negative effect of not yet being able to get to bed together. The sleep issues discussed in your last blog affect the sexual issues for us. It's virtually impossible for anything to happen if we aren't physically in the same place at the same time, rested, and willing/able to focus on the pleasure that is truely possible.

  18. Brilliant! We were planning to have - uhm, plans - for tonight. What perfect timing for me to read this. Oh, I'm the squirrel, distracted by the wind. Actually, the wind. :-)

    Thanks very much,

  19. Flirting with me, or stimulating conversation with me, making me laugh, these are things that narrow my focus - bring me "all in". Which is where I too need to be in order to tune out all the other stuff I feel I need to do, or which I'm distracted by.
    When I am "all-in" the sex can be very good.
    When I am not "all-in", it feels inauthentic, and that feels like a betrayal of myself.
    Some of it is the OCD need to "get things done", some the distractibility, some the need for novelty, some the high anxiety level which is relieved by laughter, being seduced, flirting, "talking things out", but a lot of it is also I think an OCD difficulty with transitioning.
    I don't transition quickly, and it takes me time to unwind from whatever I'm hyperfocusing on.
    If I am not already "in the mood" then it takes awhile for me even to unwind, much less turn on. And when I am involved in a project, then I can go a long time without being in the Mood at all.
    At other times, like in the Spring, I literally come alive, and get turned on by people I see on the street.
    I think the lovers of ADDers have to be so patient, and so resiiient, and so able not to take things personally.
    I am so GLAD to be reading these posts!!
    Thank you everyone!!

    1. Hi. I just had 3 days and nights of fantastic sex with a man with ADHD. I read your words and I understand completely what he was going through. You describe it so perfectly that I even suspect you ARE him! When we were out, he was focused on his friends and on what we were talking about, ignoring my seduction completely, banning it from his view. But as soon as we left to reach our hotel, he would, in a few minutes, turn incredibly passionate, kiss me in the street, making me feel like nobody has before. I had the best time of my life and I just hope he had the same fulfilling experience - it seems so. Only, I understand that it will not carry on. For me, this is difficult to accept. I wish he could give me some of his ADHD so I could cope. Thank you.

  20. Need help with embarrassing question... after 6 years of marriage, I'm not the one that is bored and yet I'm the one with ADHD. I don't know how to bring up the fact that I perceive that unless he gets to you know, well then we can still do other things. (he's got herpies that show up now and then) He told me on our honeymoon that he had never, well you know, unless he was having intercourse. Since then, when ever I do that for him, it's like ok, he's done and we're done. I am multi orgasmic, so I'd like to have at least one that I don't have to take care of by myself. But it hasn't happened in years. In fact because of his schedule, it's more like we have sex, not make love and it's only 2x a year! He's accused me of being crude, yet not being forward enough. Kind of a like a win lose situation since if I start something, he's all ready to go, but I'm in first gear and never get off the starting block. Just keep spinning my wheels and never get a chance to take off... I'm afraid to hurt his feelings by teling him he's a really lousy lover because I perceive him to be so selfish. But that's how I feel, honestly. I hate being ADHD sometimes, just don't know what not to say most of the time so end up saying nothing and being misrable and feeling very ugly. I even lost 30 lbs and am smaller than I was when we got married, he didn't even notice...I've never been bigger than a size 14, and at 5'9" I can carry it well. But now I'm a size 9, but still have my full rack. Isn't that what guys like? I'm so totally lost here... I'm only 45 and we've been married for only 6 years. The honeymoon seemed to end after the first 3 months, on his end that is. It's not because he can't it's more like it's because he's not interested. Maybe I scared him off? or I"m trying too much to be sexy? I'm at a total loss here since I"m supposed to be the one that gets bored... thanks for any help I can get...

  21. Linda,

    You said in your comment on August 6th: "Some women experience the first orgasms of their lives after starting medication for AD/HD. Successful sex ending in orgasm releases oxytocin, the "bonding" hormone, the same hormone that binds mothers to their babies when they breastfeed."

    Wow...I never knew that! I'm glad I decided to lurk on this blog today and read the comments, because I learned something new. I am still reticent when it comes to posting on a public forum about my personal experiences with ADD and how it affects my sexual responses, but I will eventually.

    I did however post my first-ever blog and blog entry shortly before I linked to this blog. It's about growing up with undiagnosed and untreated ADD--an old story for so many of us. You might like to take a look at it.

    Hang in there everyone!
    Raksha (another Linda)

  22. I am relieved to find that I'm not the only one who's having challenges with an intimate relationship. My husband and I are in our 30's with 3 kids. Two of them have been diagnosed with ADHD and the youngest will likely be as well. While researching the topic and searching for answers, I found that "the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree". I was also recently diagnosed with ADD and my husband remains in denial as he has not subjected himself to any formal evaluation, but knows at heart that he's in the same boat as the rest of us. We are now able to joke about our distractibilty, lack of organization and follow through, after learning some of our behaviors are the side effects of our ADD/ADHD. With regard to intimate relations and distractibility, I had found it very difficult to focus on the task at hand. I am easily distracted by the sound of the washing machine/dryer cycle ending, or a child coughing, or the neighbor's dog barking, or the sound of the car that just drove down the street. I have found that the white noise/nature sounds machines that we use in our kids' rooms to help them fall asleep by drowning out distracting noises is also helpful for doing the same for the adults in our house, both for sleeping and focusing on eachother when we want to stay awake in bed. It's also helpful in drowning out any sounds/converstaions that may emerge from our room. Additionally, I have a very sensitive sense of smell and can be easily distracted/even uninterested by the smell of his breath. I have found that lighting a scented candle on the nightstand allows me to focus on a more pleasing smell and not be distracted by the garlic bread he had eaten with dinner. The flickering light of the candle can also be a helpful distraction when I start to lose focus and need something to focus on without letting my mind wander away from the moment. I have also found that applying perfume/scented body lotion helps to keep my nose from distracting my brain in these moments. When we were first married there was more primping and setting the mood. However, 10+ years and 3 kids later when you're too worn out at the end of the day to put on scented body lotion, or when candles have become a fire hazard and the mathces are out sight, reach, and mind of both the children and the adults and when you don't put on the music to set the mood anymore because if the kids wake up, they'll know you're awake and bang on the door until you answer, that's when we've realized how our ADD/ADHD has affected our intimate relations. Thankfully, we can laugh about it together and work together to get it back to the way it was before we had so many new distractions!

  23. Nothing here about the nonADHD spouse finding it hard to be intimate when they are still angry at the constant blame and criticism heaped on them by the unmedicated but diagnosed spouse. But now I at least know why it takes him longer to have an orgasm than me.

  24. I'm a nonADHD spouse who is trying to get some insight into what is going on in my husband's brain. When we were first together, our sex life was intense and frequent. After almost 2 years, it came to a screeching halt (it only picks up when on vacation and then not always). These days, I can't get him interested and, when I try to tell him what I want physically, he accuses me of criticizing and complaining--NO MATTER HOW I APPROACH THE TOPIC. He accuses me of being angry and uptight! It's like he has a set routine for how sex is to go and it doesn't work for me. This absolutely rigid approach is a complete turn off. I feel like I have pretty much lost my desire (being blamed frequently is not sexy) and I think he has reached a place where online porn does it for him. No real interaction necessary. This is such an lonely place to be.

  25. I'm dating an ADHD guy and we've run into problems in this area multiple times. My problem is he's very self aware-a few times he's lost his erection and has told me that it's not me, it's that he starts stressing about performing, pleasing me, etc and then it snowballs and he loses it-but he doesn't seem to want to try to find ways to make it better and then we both end up frustrated. Even though I know it's more than likely not me, I still can't help but think that it might be and then I end up with my feelings hurt. Maybe I'm not broaching the subject in the right way? Any tips?

  26. Thanks for your comments, everyone!

    I am collecting your questions and hope to develop some answers for you in the near future -- by talking to experts, researching these topics, etc..


  27. reaching the all in state is key. but not just during sex. its key to have had the all in state during the day, at work, in your hobbies etc... having the all in state as a regular part of your life gives you confidence... and confidence is sexy...

    I am a 36 yr old single male w/ ADD diag when I was 15... and I can tell you I have had great sex, and horrible sex. it all depends of my level of confidence, my sense that I am on the proper path in life.. not just on a macro level, but daily, did i get things done at work today... did i close a deal? am i on my way.. am I cool today... sounds crazy, but this kind of thing, "having it together" having your life seemly under control is directly related to whether I will have a good time in the sack or not... and i can tell you since i stopped taking ritalin it does fluctuate heavily. I stopped taking it for medical reasons and now am trying to reach all-in organically... its very very hard. very inconsitent.

  28. The hard part is saying it's ok for my husband to treat me poorly because he has a disease. It's not ok. It's not a healthy way to live. At some point he has to be accountable for the nasty way he treats me. ADD is a reason, but it also can become an excuse. When do the non ADD partner's feelings get to be recognized and validated? When does the ADD person have to be responsible for the harm he is doing? Living in a self absorbed bubble is a luxury most of us cant afford. And being told I'M not normal is a frequent occurence here. Normal for him is different than for me, I do get that. But his refusal to even acknowledge he might need to do some work at meeting me partway is really destructive. As far as sex, it's all there in this blog. Our sex life is disappointing. I will be buying the book and continue to reach for help. One person cant do it by herself, but maybe I'll find some way to at least not feel so torn up by the way it is.

    1. I absolutely agree with you. I am so sick and tired of ADHD being his excuse for my understanding. I bought all the books and read all the blogs neccessary for me to understand him, but what about ME? Why can't he put the same level of effort and focus on learning how this is affecting me? It's amazing how he can focus all his effort to learn about a new video game or just plain give his focus only to the things he is interested in. How about giving some back to me for a change? We are engaged to be married and I am seriously asking myself if this is something I can live with for the rest of my life.

    2. I try to write clear words but i am comming from holland. 18 years ago i met my ex friend. He was nice, but our sexlife wasn't long. He was distractred by anything, we were not living together then. I loved him and many years go on and on, with sometimes sex, usually only on vacation but not all the vacantions. Once he read a book and i want to have sex, but hy refuses because he was distracted by the book in his mind! I feel hurt. After 8 years we were living together, but in the 10 1/2 years we lived in our house we never had sex! I feel very lonely and think i am not sexy etc. I found porn on his computer and he had a hidden telephone i found a few times wich he called hookers. I was angry but i loved him the years go on and on. I thought already many years ago that he had ADD. In june this year his mother died in a short time. When we were home he became another person. He go away after his work at night, tell me lies, want ot be alone but was not alone. In august i couldn't stand it anymore and told hime to leave, so he gets his rest he wanted! Now after 18 1/2 years we are separated. And I feel so lonely, people don't understand what its happened all this years. No sex is not normal the told me. It was a secret for me. My ex is going on with his life, bought a new car, and have a girlfried, but he denies this.
      I blame meself that I had al the 18 years hope that our relationship will becom better but it didn't. I can barely life with this.

  29. Thank you...........for all the comments that made me see that I am not crazy for feeling as I do. As a partner of a man with mild Asperger's and inattentive ADD.....intimacy is not anything like regular people's.

  30. Wow... that's all I have to say. I don't feel so alone, so rejected, so unattractive, so boring, and so lost anymore. "Begging for sex" is exactly the way I've been feeling for months now. When I first got together with my ADHD boyfriend we had sex sometimes 5 times a day! It was wonderful and lasted for months. But, as the months progressed it's continually dropped off and now a year and a half later I find myself wondering if he's just not attracted to me. He insists that he is, but this blog entry just made me realize who the real culprit is... this stuff is tough. I hope we make it through...

  31. I am worried, I am a man who is kind hearted, tries not to hurt people, not fat but suck at sex and have ADHD. My question is does ADHD medication make your sex life better or not???

  32. For the first time in 5 years I feel like there is hope. I was recently diagnosed with adult ADHD, although I have known for quite some time that this is what was wrong with me. Sadly, I felt more than a little shame admitting this and did not seek treatment. I am a wife and mother. I am suppose to keep everything together and running well. Sadly, my life kept falling apart and I knew that my "secret" was no long that. I have sex with my husband only when I know it has been awhile and then force myself to try to stay in the moment. I cannot have an orgasim..I just never get to that point, and I am starting to fear that my husband thinks that it is him! It is most certainly NOT! I just can't keep my mind on sex long enough to enjoy it. With my recent diagnosis, and some internet research, I am beginning to see that my lack of desire in the bedroom is most likely connected to my ADHD... who knew? Thank you for the article.

  33. To respond to the last few questions, folks, yes, medication has helped many people with ADHD to have a more satisfying sex life.

    In the article above, read all the "bumpy points on the road to bliss." These are all key ADHD symptoms, and medication typically helps with all of these.

    Does this mean that medication will transform you into World's Greatest Lover? That part is uncertain. ;-)

    But medication can with those symptoms. So insofar as ADHD symptoms interfere with your intimacy, it's worth looking into treatment options.

  34. Hello, I am recently diagnosed with ADHD, and my wife has left me (with my 2 kids) ...this article is important for everyone to read. For the person who said the add spouse has to own up to their actions etc...My wife calls me from her parents house, and says how come I made the mistakes I made...how come I didnt change when she wanted me to change.....sexually, I felt a ton of pressure to perform and please her.....and instead I ended up losing my errection during sex, instead of enjoying it. She has mentioned that I pushed and pushed away...and now she doesnt even want to try and come back.
    Its really hard to digest, but I know I made mistakes, I know I was a bad lover, but I am working on things, but seem to not be allowed to continue (at least with her)...that breaks my heart.
    I am on meds, I am going to counseling, but she thinks adhd is not a disorder, its more of an excuse....I look at adhd as a new vision, or direction I can take to make strong changes in my life.

    Sexually, I want my wife back...romatically I want my wife back, but overall only if she wants to come back. That is the hard part.

  35. I just started seeing a guy who admitted last night that he has ADHD...and it makes so many things make sense! All his distraction and losing interest while 'fooling around', his talking about himself but not necessarily listening to things I would say about myself -- I took all of these things personally.
    Now I know that they're not necessarily things he can control.
    Thanks for the info!

  36. There is no way the two of you can get back together as long as she does not except that this is like a diseas.

    But as a wife of a ADD'er.I do understand the stress she has had before you were diagnosed. If we had not found out 4 weaks ago that my husband has ADD,I would have divorced him this year. I love him to death,but my body can't handel the stress.

    She will need time to deal with this,just like you. If your meds and training lessens most of your problems and she stil loves you
    she wil come back.

    I wish you luck! Linda from Holland

  37. Hello all, well I am glad to know I am not alone, because I have felt that way for a while now. I am married to a man with ADHD he was diagnosed in college and I guess I never really thought about it much as pertaining to our relationship or sex life until now. I love him very much but I have had a hard time understanding his lack of desire for touch, cuddling and sex. I never really thought ADHD affected our sex life because while we were dating things were so intimate and wonderful between us... and now I realize I just had his full attention. I was a challenge always working and on the go things were exciting and now I honestly think I just bore him. I look back on our non-sex life and it all adds up now. We did not even have sex on our wedding night. Now I look back I am embarrassed that we did not even consummate the marriage for 2 yrs. I had a rough pregnancy as well as post partum depression, he did not want more children, and I could not take birth control, we were tired and there was just excuse after excuse for the lack of sex... it was very complicated. We have just recently started to have sex again, at my desire for it and drive for it to save our marriage as well as frustration on my part and thoughts that maybe he was cheating on me? I have felt like there was something wrong with me for a long time and it has been wearing on my self-esteem. I keep telling myself that I am pretty and attractive, a tall blonde, busty and loveable... at least I thought I was, but now I just feel un-loved and seeking answers before it is too late. The few times lately we have been intimate are when my daughter is at the sitter. There is no distraction, and we have gone out on the town and had the chance to spend one on one time together. It feels like I need to flirt and pursue him for hours before he finally gets in the mood. Wish I had a sitter every weekend ;). I just recently noticed he has been on porn sites and it really pissed him off to say the least that i had uncovered his secret. I know men have needs and most do visit porn sites I am open and OK with this and told him so, but somehow I just feel hurt and deceived. He is on the computer or absorbed in his other hobbies for hours in the evenings up until 3 a.m. sometimes. All the while I am left to care for our daughter get her ready for bed and basically left alone watching tv or just keeping myself busy feeling rejected and ignored to say the least. Just venting over here so I am glad I found this site. Please wish me well on staying patient with the husband and better communicating with him. I love him and want to stay together and work things through please if there are any suggestions for me, feel free to comment. Sarah

  38. I have Inattentive ADD and I have no troubles with sex--yeah of course we get distracted, us ADDers.... but usually that leads to a new position, licking somewhere else, etc... if you are literally BORED by sex, you have a problem with your relationship. Sure you can blame it on the ADD when you're talking, but inside, deep down, you know whether it is an ADD issue or not: If you are bored during sex, change positions, role play, add toys, whatever, but if the thought of your partner having sex with you isn't exciting, you need to get a new partner.

    PS: most women spend a lot of time convincing themselves they've had orgasms. If there's a doubt in your mind AT ALL, you haven't had one. Faking it causes boredom too.

  39. My heart goes out to all of you who have found this site, for the obvious reason of searching for some answers. I have been married for 30 years, 20 of them sexless, and it has been deeply painful and confusing and corrosive in subtle ways. It's not a question of physical capability, but one of zero interest on the part of my beloved husband.

    It is too painful for me to write about it, even anonymously. I wrote a long post just now and then deleted it.

    I had so many ways of couping: comparing myself to single older friends who aren't getting any affection, let alone sex; comparing myself to how many people on this planet are sexually frustrated for so many reasons; comparing myself to others less fortunate, like the 65-year-old woman down the street whose husband fell off a roof and became paralyzed at the age of 32; there are always examples to find. And I used to amuse myself with the image of knocking on every door in town with the question: "so have you two figured sex out to your mutual satisfaction?"

    (I was actually shocked one day when a friend mentioned that she and her husband had always had a very satisfactory, naturally easy sex life!)

    An incident happened recently that brought all my years of pain to the surface, and I wept openly, not in anger at my husband, but just for the sadness of my own situation.

    My husband truly heard me, and saw the pain I was in, and instead of just feeling worse about himself (his normal ADD response) his heart opened in compassion.

    That's compassion, not passion :) But suddenly, he opened to me, and instead of preventing our embraces from becoming sensual (I'm not even talking sexual, just sensual), he has kept himself in an open state for the past week since this has happened.

    It has been incredible, just to be able to hold each other without fear of where it might lead. He is willing to explore my desires without protecting himself from where they might lead. And we have had some tender time in bed together, though without heat. It may be that I have waited far too many years, and it could also be that he will be open for a little while and then close down again. I don't know. But I am no longer being silent about my need and desires, am an no longer willing to deny them.

    His love for me is deep and I have always known that whatever he has been able to access of himself he has shared with me. That is probably the thing that has kept me going. Also, the fact that he is an amazing human being and I feel fortunate every day of my life to have found him.

    I have searched online this past month for more information and have been both relieved and concerned at the connection between ADD and sexual desire that I've read about. He's never been interested in porn -- thank God!--that would have been a deal breaker for me.

    I've actually been a bit reluctant to show him some of the sites I've found, as I don't want to him to just think it's the ADD and that there's nothing more to be done... :)

    I keep wanting to delete what I've written, but your comments have meant so much to me, and perhaps mine will resonate and help someone else find their own truth.

  40. Thank you for posting, Anonymous. I'm absolutely sure your words and sentiments will resonate for others.


  41. Wow! This sit has really opened my eyes and answered some questions for me.
    I've been dating an ADHD girl for 6 months now and still haven't gotten any action. I get a nice big wet kiss - sometimes and maybe a little feel now and then.But the hardest thing for me to deal with is the lack of intimacy. There just simply does not seem to be any desire on her part. I've tried hard to explane that I need hugging, touching, squeezing - just cuddling and she tells me she understands, but still I get very little, if any at all.
    In her defence she is going to see her doctor to get set-up on birth control and promises me some action when she is all set-up, but my concern is that action without emotion is dry and tastless. I need for her to really be into it.
    I did suspect that the ADHD had something to do with it before I found this sit, but now I'm sure of it.
    Reading all of these comments here has , at least, helped me to be a little more sympothetic, understanding, and patient...but it is still hard.
    I am sure that she loves me, and I do love her deeply. I am just hoping the feelings kick in after we start doing it.
    She is also a 26 year old virgin who has never been in any real intimate relationships before so I'm fighting an up hill battle here, but she is worth it all.
    Thanks for your comments everyone and thanks for letting me vent here.

  42. This site has explained so much for me and I can't thank the people who have posted enough. I've been with my ADD husband for years now but only recently married. There is no longer any companionship, no intimacy, no laughter, not even eating at the dinner table together due to his focus on long working hours and computer games.

    This has left me feeling totally empty inside and confused. However, now I've seen this site and read the book I am starting to understand why life is as it is and how we can move forward.

    So much water has passed under the bridge that whether ultimately we end up together is still uncertain. I have already been to see a divorce lawyer but have not taken things any further. We are now in counselling but he has yet to visit his doctor for meds.

    I have reached the stage where I can't remember why we got together in the first place, which is not good. With the relationship counselling and hopefully his medication initiation, as well as my improved understanding of how his brain works we may just make it.

    Thanks everyone!

  43. love the way you have presented the post with us.

  44. I've been married 32 years to the same wonderful man. He's loved me despite my obesity and ADD, although I just self-diagnosed 1.5 years ago and have only been getting medication for the last 4 months.

    Our sex life was active for the first 10 years of our marriage, but I usually didn't orgasm and sex was just an accommodation to him. Marital, parenting and life stresses hindered intimacy for the next 15 years and frequency of sex dwindled to 1-2 times a month. Then, for several years, he had ED due to his chronic pain meds and sex became a quarterly event - much to my dissatisfaction. I thought about having an affair, but I loved my husband too much to hurt him and I wouldn't have been able to look at myself in the mirror because of the guilt. So, I accepted that my sex life was over at age 50 and I honored my marriage vows: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, through sickness and in health, till death do we part. Then, he got a new doctor who recommended testerone shots, which increased his sex drive and helped him a lot.

    When I first started learning about ADHD, I read that some ADDers were self-medicating with marijuana. So, I obtained some medical marijuana (legal in California) and tried it. I found it increased my ability to focus on body sensations, decreased my distractability, and suddenly I became multi-orgasmic. Now, we're having the best sex of our lives - after 32 years!!!

    It's been a real strange situation, but we're both enjoying the novelty and growing closer as a couple.

    Recognizing my ADD at this late-stage in life has been a blessing in many ways to me, my husband and our daughter. It's also opened up new and better relations with my sister (diagnosed with ADHD a year after me) and my mom (a closet ADDer who won't admit it).

    Don't get me wrong - there are a lot of behavior challenges I've yet to overcome, and I have yet to come to terms with the huge toll on my self-esteem caused by my past life and behaviors - but I'm willing to work at it and become the best me I can be. Having a family and psychiatrist who believe in me, and using the inexpensive "Thrive with ADD" self-coaching workshop, has given me hope and reassurance that I can find success and happiness at last.

    I encourage all you ADDers (and your families) to not give up hope and to work hard at making your lives better - because YOU'RE WORTH IT!

  45. Anonymous has to ask if their AD/HD husband is finished within four to six in and out's. It takes my husbands less then a minute to finish, and finish I mean. He does not worry if I want more or not, he is done. He never thinks of my needs at all. He can go weeks and weeks without any sex then once is enough to please himself. I have reached the stage where I can't remember why we got together in the first place, sex was great before we got married. Then it all slipped down the drain, day by day passed, week by week and now month and months. I have needs and would like them meet, but the one time every two or three months if I am luckly, that we have sex hurts so bad that I could not enjoy it if I wanted to, then the next time comes a round and the same thing. He does no forplay the hardest thing for me to deal with is the lack of intimacy.
    What books are you gals/guys reading to understand about the sex.

  46. I have just been diagnosed with inattentive adhd and have never been married. I'm beginning to realize that when things get really good in a relationship, I bail. Is this typical behavior for people with this disorder?

  47. I think it might be, I'm 44 and have also just been diagnosed with ADHD, mixed with lots of both. I am quite ill though just now so its all worse. I've never had a relationship longer than 18 months! I always felt that most guys were pretty dumb or 2 dimensional, read boring. Guys my own age can be very blokey and unimaginative. Younger/ wilder types can be fun but abusive/using. So I shouldn't be surprised to be now on my own. What would happen if you got married and then the next day changed your mind. Better to be free then you don't have the stress/pressure of someone else's pain on top of your own. My Dad,(sadly no longer on the planet), dad's can often be the template, I think had ADHD. He was dynamic, exciting, wild and scary at times. Big shoes to fill. I just don't think I will find anyone to either keep my interest or let me trust them, that's if they aren't scared off to start with. I am resigned to it.
    I like these moaning Minnies who don't have ADHD going on about how crap it is being with someone with ADHD eh! At least they can leave, try having it, then where you going to go. Maybe they could start a dating website with each other and my goodness, even beyond all imaginings, consider that they may ACTUALLY be really boring themselves. Picture living at top speed dragging a great boulder behind you, that keeps suggesting you do this /that to make things better for them because being with you is so hard!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. I am over 40 and married for almost 20 years and just been awarded a diagnoses of AD/HD.
    Having a difficult marriage with a pretty bad sex life.
    Maintaining for more than a short time is difficult (PE I think).
    Is PE a symptom of AD/HD?
    Also when I started Vyvanse it makes me less interested and makes me lose my erection much easier.

  49. Hi Anonymous -- congratulations on your "award."

    Would it help you to feel better if I told you I meet people diagnosed in their 80s? Nah, I didn't think so. ;-)

    I had to go searching on Google for the meaning of PE, and I found "premature ejaculation." These days, it is called "early ejaculation." I guess that's supposed to sound more user friendly.

    Unfortunately, no research has been done in this area. But my informal research, among hundreds of partners of adults with ADHD, indicates that early ejaculation might be an issue. It seems to relate to the central challenge of ADHD: self-regulation.

    Anecdotally, some people are helped with this issue by an SSRI (anti-depressant class, such as Zoloft or Luvox). Too high of a dosage, though, can inhibit orgasm completely.

    But you're saying that the Vyvanse makes you less interested and you lose your erection more easily. I HAVE heard that, and don't have an explanation for it. Some people have much better sexual experiences on the stimulants; some don't.

    The essential trouble, as I see it: ADHD is a complex condition that is made further complex by the co-existing conditions that are so common among late-diagnosis adults.

    What's more, sometimes the stimulant helps the late-diagnosis person to "focus" on all that they have been doing "wrong" for so long and feel overwhelmed that they can ever make things right. Some even stop the stimulants for that reason: so they can go back to the fog.

    If you haven't received psychotherapy that is geared specifically for ADHD, perhaps that would be helpful. To help you to adjust with new coping strategies and to deal with any grief reaction.

    Also, I would ask your physician about the Vyvanse. Perhaps it is at too high a dosage. Or perhaps another stimulant would work better for you.

    I hope this helps.


  50. Great site. Thanks, Gina.

    My wife of 23 years has ADHD. She's tried a few meds and didn't like the side effects. So, she's given them up.

    The physical and emotional intimacy is pretty much gone from our marriage. I can't have a conversation with her that isn't one-sided. She stays up until 3:00 in the morning so physical intimacy is non-existent. For that matter, I'm not really interested because there just isn't an emotional 'connection' any more.

    I have thought about divorce but just can't bring myself to pursue it. We have 2 boys 11 and 14 that I love so, so much. I grew up without a dad so I just can't break up our marriage. For that matter, we had so many good years that I don't want to throw it all away.

    So, I've been trying hard to avoid feeling sorry for myself. I've been hoping that something will just magically improve but that doesn't seem to be in the cards. I ran across Gina's book on Amazon and hope that it will be beneficial.

    Anyway, thanks to Gina and the previous posters. Good luck to all.


  51. Anon, so sorry to hear of your situation. It was by hearing too many stories such as yours that I decided, in 2000, that I had to write a book.

    Too many people were suffering in ignorance. Therapists didn't "get it" (though many more do now). Too many physicians were careless in their prescribing, resulting in unnecessary side effects. And the people with ADHD often received no help in adjusting to the medication after years of developing negative coping skills, etc.

    I really hope you find my book helpful and that it helps your wife and your children, too.


  52. At first i didn't had a problem with his ADHD , when he told me that he has it i was courius and i found your Book, it was very Informativ and helped me a lot. Now the Sex issue is a big problem in our relatinship , i can't belive my self that i am the one who is complaining about it , but i do. And it hurts me to see him suffer because of that.We had a good sexlife at first but the sonest we moved in together it got worse and now, nothing. I don't want that Sex is controling our life ....

  53. Gina, thank you, for writing with humour about this incredibly tragic assault on the relationships of people with ADD / ADHD.
    I started off reading with glee that I was not alone, that it wasn't something wrong with me and that my husband - the ADHDer was telling the truth. He does love me and find me appealing and sexy despite acting most of the time as if I'm invisible.
    I read all the comments and just sobbed with grief at how many of us have suffered and suffer still with loving someone that we can only occasionally get close to.
    Thank you to the ADHD people in particular that have written - hearing from you helps us non ADHD to understand your world a bit more.
    It doesn't stop us from hurting but I love my husband for who he is not what he can give me. How? Because I know God loves him and I ask God to heal me and give me strength. Bless you all.

  54. Thanks for your comments, folks. I'm sure your words will help break the isolation for others.

    This is an important topic, and one too-little talked about.

  55. "Loving someone you can only occasionally get close to" Thank you for that comment. I am not alone. That is what I have been living for the past year. I didn't understand, now I do.

    Recently, after months of confusion over why this relationship should be so difficult, I found she had left her computer on. She had told me that she sufferred from ADD, and I was prepared for some distractions and surprises, but not the full out effort to engage other men on dating sites that I found...drama ensued, and I found it was just the tip of the iceberg...she had guys sending drooling text messages, and leaving voicemails that "I just got home, I had a wonderful time", or another, "I hope you had great weekend, it was wonderful" Not knowing I knew so much, she told me cold blooded lies that she just flirted and never met anyone, she loved me but had to be sure I was the one....

    Meanwhile I checked her credit report. 7 civil actions and 27 actions for collection, lots of bad debt written off. My first clue that something was wrong was a guys name and phone number written on an envelope that stuck to my foot when I got out of her bed. It also contained a past due bill...from months before.

    I have had it. And with the blame and anxiety focused towards me as well. But with a little more compassion, thanks to these posts here.

    1. it must be an ADD thing because my partner does exactly the same. I nearly feel like killing him. Ive had to snopp to find out a lot of the things he does and boy he gets mad when I confront him! He just keeps doing it sadly, and its really killing me. So I can totally empathise with you

  56. I see a lot of posts about no sex. My partner is hyper-sexual and that's not working so well for me. He has a hard time reaching climax and now I realize that it's because of his distractions. So many of the things said here are the flipside of my issue; however, I believe this constant focus on sex is a form of self-medication. Does anyone have the chemical side of this figured out?


  57. Yes, L. Hypersexuality (including masturbation) is definitely a common issue and often seen as a "self-medicating" habit. I cover that in the book (to some degree).

    If it is due to untreated ADHD, it makes sense that medical treatment can help in some cases, along with finding other ways to relieve stress, deal with emotions, etc.

  58. I wish we had come across all of this information while we could still communicate. 28 years of my ADHD symptoms caused catastrophic results to each of us. I started as a hypersexual (I could only seem to orgasm through masturbation after what seemed like hours of intercourse)which was good for her. She actually complained of my wearing her out. Guys we all know that is a BIG ego boost. But since we were both virgins when we got married neither one of us realized that something was wrong. Add into the mix my inability to succeed in the workplace, and the guilt that I was not holding up my end of the partnership and then add in ED from my diabetes diagnosis and you see where my self esteem just curled up into a little ball.
    So between the ED, poor financial control on my part, and poor performance in the bedroom I began to self medicate using online porn. She would discover it each time, she would patiently tell me why it upset her and for a few weeks I would "grow up." Then I would backslide and we would be in the same place again.
    It wasn't until after the divorce last year that I received a diagnosis for my ADHD. A little too late to be useful. Therapy is helping, and curiously the meds have caused the opposite of the hypersexuality so now I worry that I still will not be able to perform if the opportunity arises.
    Okay I am rambling and I know it! Anyway what I am trying to say is if you KNOW you have ADHD and do nothing about it then do not expect to be happy and content within your body or with your life. It will not be possible. You must take on the responsibility to make yourself happy and not rely on others to make you only feel happy. And unless you love yourself you will miss out on all the love others are waiting to share with you. And that might just be your spouse!
    Good luck to all because it ain't gonna be easy!

  59. Hi Drew,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so sorry to hear that the diagnosis came after so much fall-out, and I appreciate your trying to help others.

    As for your current medication side effect, this is something that you should talk about with your physician (or do some research on your own). Sometimes this can be remedied with a different medication -- or even a different dosage or timing of the dosage.


  60. I'm female, 30ish, ADHD (Primarily Inattentive), undiagnosed till recently. I was married to my soulmate for ten years. We had a wonderful sex life -- but no orgasm for me. There was some mismatch in how often we wanted sex; he was happy with once every couple weeks, but I would've preferred every day. More than once. ;)

    We separated earlier this year. I was strongly attracted to a co-worker, and although I never acted on it in any way, I felt horribly guilty. I couldn't have sex with my husband with this other man crossing my mind. I thought I was in love, even though I knew the co-worker was a hopeless case. I felt like, well, I just have to live the rest of my life alone... I can't live with guilt of dividing my heart up. I couldn't control my thoughts about this other person, so I thought breaking up was the only way to be ethical.

    I started taking 300 mg of Wellbutrin after I was diagnosed with ADHD a couple months ago. The very first night after starting my medication, I had the most vivid, wonderful dream. (I hadn't remembered my dreams for years, so this in itself was unusual.) My husband and I were making love. It was very intense and pleasurable. And, for the first time in my life, I had an orgasm. The pleasure had been building during sex, and then it peaked, and I could actually feel my body shake. It finally felt like a "perfect ending" to intercourse, instead of having a little disappointment that there wasn't more to come. Now I know what all the fuss is about. :)

    It only took a day before my mental confusion cleared up. My feelings about this other man ebbed to nothing sexual or romantic. I work with him pretty much every day, and have everyday normal responses. No interference from my libido. My feelings for my husband are still in full force, except that they feel more naturally affectionate.

    Over a few days after starting the Wellbutrin, I felt a growing connection to my body. I was paying attention to the tastes and textures of my food, to my balance as I walked up the stairs, in a way I couldn't before. My past memories now have a physical, sensory component. I don't just think of "the time we went to the beach" and the associated images; I remember what the sand felt like, and how the water smelled.

    Somehow, I feel like the neurotransmitters that got tweaked from the Wellbutrin have let my mind and body be more connected.

    I'm still close friends with my "ex"-husband. I want to get back together, but I also know I have to take thing slow. My undiagnosed ADHD had really taken its toll on our relationship in other ways, but I think in very understandable and forgivable ways -- no moral lapse or betrayal of trust. I haven't told him about my wonderful dream, or my anticipation that our sex life will be even better than before.

    Thank you for posting this article. I was very glad to hear that others saw a connection between their ADHD and their sexuality. It helps me understand what's going on. I feel a lot better knowing that there's cause-and-effect behind it, and I'm not just a lonely, hypersexual, non-orgasmic freak. *g*

  61. Thanks fpr your sharing... 9 years with my guy... he was diagnosed late... it made alot of sense to him for his past behaviour of acting out with other women and poor abiltiy to committ...i spent so long going crazy wondering why he treated me the way he did..you have all explianed so well.. of the behavours... him i wonder why he treats me the way he does.. etc.. i detached and got some sanity...now i feel i can be a better support for him... but he doesnt tell me much about his ADHD..its hard to get a long enough phone call..! or spend time with him to figure out really whats going on for him,he seems ok,he's not on meds.. not sure why.. but this forum,is alightbulb for me... it has given me hope and to respond differently to his needs... thanks

  62. To Anonymous ("female, 30ish, ADHD (Primarily Inattentive), undiagnosed till recently."): Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've heard several variations on it over the years.

    To the other Anonymous ("9 years with my guy"): Thanks for your comment. He might not tell you much because he's just not focusing on it. Sad but truly possible.

  63. Do any partners of those with ADHD ever feel "out of the mood" do to needless and endless conflict? My partner often sees "problems" in our relationship, that drag on for hours. Sometimes they are legitiment, but could be easlily resolved, but with his ADHD are DRAGGED on, inflated, or I get criticized to death.

    A half-hour later, my ADHD partner got his stimulation fix and has forgotten how I was treated, or drug through the mud. I literally feel like an exhausted puppy kicked after many conflicts (ones I have no idea where they came from), to have my partner wanting sex a little bit later. After all that crap, the last hing I want to d is have sex with him. It's frustrating because I love sex, but I don't love fighting. I also love my partner, and when the ADHD is at bay, our realtionship is wonderful.

    I don't know what to do...

  64. Oh yes, dear. In fact, your situation is closely paraphrased in my book. All too common -- though NOT universal. Nothing involving ADHD is universal. There are only common patterns that might or might not be true for any individual affected by ADHD.

    You say you don't know what to do. One thing is not to feed into the conflict; simply don't give your partner the "fix" he is subconsciously seeking, by provoking an argument.

    Another thing is to encourage him to seek treatment. If he is receiving his stimulation in more healthful ways (exercise or even the "stimulant" medication, for example), he won't need to get it from provoking arguments.

    It's important to understand that he is probably not aware of his behavior. He's not "connecting the dots." It's probably an old pattern. This can sometimes be addressed with an astute therapist who understands ADHD. But sometimes medication will be the final key to resolving this pattern.

    good luck!

  65. Consider yourself lucky that you understand that it is about the ADHD and not your spouse. Speaking for myself, he truly does not even comprehend the effect on you, and thinks that the problem does reside in you.
    I went undiagnosed for my entire married life of 28 years. The end result was ADHD coupled with ED from my Diabetes caused a desire to simply be left alone sexually by my wife.
    She rationalized it be that I was a closet homosexual. I simply could not even attempt to have sex because of the overwhelming FEAR of failure. There is NOTHING more traumatic for a husband I can assure you. I withdrew completely and we eventually lost all levels of intimacy, not just sexually. She gave up on me last year and it has been hell to have finally learned the truth, but too late.

    Find a way!! You know the pain ADHD causes, but he is probably in a fog about everything you tell him. Ignorance is bliss, and a curse!

    Hoping you all I missed,

  66. Thank you, Andrew, for reaching out to help others. Nothing speaks like the voice of experience.

  67. I have ADHD primaraly inatintive and other LD dx at seven years old was on ritilon for some time as a child i am now 35 and have a wife of 13 year she is very beutiful and I am still very attracted to her and think at times I am hypersexual because even if I am very attracted to her I still find myself looking at other women and even at porn even when I know i shouldn't do you think this may be the adhd or am is just having other problems

  68. HI there,

    I could not say if this pattern you describe is part of how you experience ADHD. Some experts might say it's an addiction.

    But I can say that respondents to the ADHD Partner Survey (these are the partners of adults with ADHD) seemed about split in reporting their relationship's sexual challenges.

    While about half said they had a great sex life, the other half was about evenly split between having NO sex or their ADHD partner wanting sex ALL THE TIME.

    We do know that people with untreated ADHD are more vulnerable to addictions of all types -- spending, gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or ingesting other illicit substances, viewing porn, and, yes, having sex, too.

    It's all about boosting the "reward" and each individual's choice of reward will vary.

    After a while, the behavior can create its own challenges around addiction.

    The bottom line is, if you're not already pursuing medical treatment for your ADHD, it's worth thinking about. The stimulant medication might decrease your need to seek "stimulation" through porn. But if it's a long-engrained habit, you might also need some therapeutic help in breaking the pattern.

    I hope this helps.

  69. My lack of "connection" with my wife stemmed in part from a life long addiction to porn. It wasn't as much of a problem until the internet era. Then it was like my ADHD brain took over looking for that rush. That rush was not coming from sex with my wife. Neither one of us had a clue and her therapist, I believe, basically told her that she had to take of herself, physically, mentally and if that meant leaving me on my own so be it. These were the free therapists who volunteer their services. Mine kept trying to get me to talk with my wife, but was not giving me any tools to acheive that goal.
    Long story short, get a therapist who can identify ADHD in all of it's manifestations.
    You sound like me some 15 years ago, and if I had only known about ADHD perhaps things might have turned out differently.
    I rationalized it to myself that how could one have an addiction to porn? That's just stupid. Look at those folks who play video games all day, now that's an addiction. But I was grossly inaccurate in my perceptions.
    Start checking around in your city, or even better inquire at a nearby university with a med program.
    Best of luck buddy,

  70. Thanks for writing that, Drew. It's such an important message.

    Some therapists are militantly "sex-positive" -- meaning, whatever you do is okay, that nothing involving sexual expression can be dysfunctional. But they fail to see the impact of some activities on the brain (or the brain conditions that exacerbate or create a vulnerability to addictions) and the rest of a person's life.

    When I started researching my book, I heard MANY stories about porn addiction from the partners of adults with ADHD (along with videogame addiction). I interviewed researcher Martin Kafka, whose studies had found a link between paraphilias and ADHD. When I asked some ADHD "experts" about this, I was basically scolded for being "negative" and creating false rumors. (This was before I learned who the legitimate experts were and who were simply marketing themselves as such). Some said, "You're confusing ADHD with bi-polar."

    When I contacted the national sex therapist association, they didn't have a clue, either. Neither a well-known sex therapist in the Bay Area.

    In short, I was "gaslighted" everywhere I turned. It was confusing for me, an observer and writer. So, I can't imagine what it is like for people dealing with these issues first-hand and seeking help.

    Good thing I'm stubborn, because this is a huge topic that cannot be swept under the rug. It destroys too many people's lives and leaves them desperate for answers.

    Fortunately, in the last few years this topic has become better understood. I hope my book had some small role in increasing awareness.

    Thanks, Drew, for contributing first-person understanding. That is key.

  71. Gina,

    I have almost finished your book and I must tell you that I will have a copy ready to hand to any woman I become seriously involved with in the future. If I can ever let that happen again. Folks at work are always asking me what I am reading and I tell them what it is all about. Some look at me like I am selling swamp land while others are honestly curious and want more information. I have passed your book around to several people who after conversations I felt shoulg look at it and perhaps seek a screening for themselves. It is their decision, but I want them to at least have some sound info on the subject to assist with making up their minds.
    If there was ever a handbook for couples dealing with ADHD your's is the one!
    Thanks again from someone who has learned and continues to learn about myself. It isn't always pretty but it has to be done in order to thrive.

  72. Awww, thanks so much, Drew. I can't tell you what it means to me, every time someone truly understands my intention with the book, not to be "negative" about ADHD but to be honest so that real solutions can be found.

    Throughout my life, I've always endeavored to confront challenges by going through them, not around them. I hoped that the book's readers might feel the same way. Many have, and for that I'm immensely grateful.

    I will say, though, that it takes a person of strong strength of character to get through that book not only without flinching but also coming out stronger on the other side. So, kudos to you. And wishing you many years of thriving ahead!


  73. Thank you, Gina for creating this forum and everyone else for sharing.

    I'm female and my male partner has ADHD, diagnosed at age 7, and treated pretty much all of his life. We are both 45 and have been together a little over a year (not counting when we dated as teenagers :)

    About six months ago he mentioned that his ADHD (inattentive?) was a big source of our non-sexual relationship problems and pleaded with me to understand. I decided to educate myself and found Gina's book, which has been a big help. We still have a rough road ahead of us, and lots of relationship issues, but at least I have somewhere to start.

    Today I found this site.

    Reading these posts has been helpful, especially what Drew posted on October 18, 2010 about him being "hypersexual (I could only seem to orgasm through masturbation after what seemed like hours of intercourse) which was good for her. She actually complained of my wearing her out. Guys we all know that is a BIG ego boost."

    Thank you Drew. This is us to a tee. I am multi-orgasmic and generally have a minimum of two or three orgasms per sesh, usually more, rarely fewer. And I have two or three different types of orgasms. I often explain this, so my partner knows he's great in the sack. But I get WORN OUT! He rarely has an ejaculation until after I can't take anymore and then either he masturbates or I "help" him finish up. He says the sex is fantastic, he even has occasional orgasms without the ejaculation, but I still do feel like I'm not satisfying him. I used to feel awful about it. At least now I feel better learning that this is likely a symptom of his ADHD and not me. I bring toys in to the mix, sexy clothes, different positions, etc. but still he is hyper sexual.

    He seems to have the meds under control. He's been experimenting with time, dosage, etc. and it seems like we finally have it right. (There had been other issues.) Any suggestions?

    Thanks again, and sorry if this too long a post.


  74. HI M,

    I"m so glad you've found this information helpful. It can be so easy to downspiral when the neurological foundation of these issues is unknown. So easy to misattribute intention and thereby creating hurt feelings on both parts.

    I'm glad to hear that your partner is now better managing the meds and that you "finally have it right." But I'm not sure what you mean when you ask for any suggestions. What are the remaining issues? (Not that I'm a Sexpert but perhaps I can hazard a guess or others here can weigh in.)


  75. Oct 14, 2009 Comment: "I'm dating an ADHD guy and we've run into problems in this area multiple times. My problem is he's very self aware-a few times he's lost his erection and has told me that it's not me, it's that he starts stressing about performing, pleasing me, etc and then it snowballs and he loses it-but he doesn't seem to want to try to find ways to make it better and then we both end up frustrated. Even though I know it's more than likely not me, I still can't help but think that it might be and then I end up with my feelings hurt. Maybe I'm not broaching the subject in the right way? Any tips?"

    besides my distraction and lack of desire, this is exactly my problem. I am the ADHD partner, and an too self-aware. i take stimulants and have long days. by the time night comes, im wiped out from the long day and even more so the medication. as a result, when we do get intimate, i tend to fail miserably. the erection goes away, and then its all downhill from there. as anonymous said, it snowballs. it is an absolutely horrible feeling, and i do not want my partner to think it is because of her. i explain that it isn't her, but how much of that can she really take? its gotten to the point that i'm afraid to have sex with her because it will almost certainly result in disappointment.

    i'm not sure what to do. it feels like an endless, downward freefall.

  76. Hi John,

    I'm glad that, through another person's comment, you've learned you're not alone. Feeling isolated in this experience can only add stress, I would think.

    As I've mentioned before, I'm no "sexpert," but I would just ask a few questions:

    1. Is it possible to be intimate with your partner BEFORE your stimulant medication has worn off? Why wait until the very end of the day? Maybe some days this is necessary, but other days it would be possible to make intimacy a focus earlier in the evening, at least before the medication wears off.

    2. Why are your days so long? Some people with ADHD aren't so efficient on the job and so their days drag on past when co-workers have left for the evening. Or they might go to happy hour with friends. Or hope on the computer as soon as they get home. Some simply associate "sextime" with "bedtime" and "bedtime" when you're too tired to do anything else. With predictable results for sextime. ;-)

    Maybe you have other reasons for your long days. My point is that when sexual intimacy is left for the end of the day, after everything else is done, well, what you sometimes get is is leftovers. And not very good ones.

    Also, when I hear people talk about being "wiped out" from medication, I see that as a red flag that they're either on the wrong type of medication or taking too much (or even taking a stimulant alone when perhaps a combo with a serotonin-targeting medication might be called for). So, maybe you could re-visit your medication strategy. Some people with ADHD even sleep better on a low dosage of stimulant.

    All in all, I think that waiting until the very end of the day, when you're dragged out and medication is out of your system, isn't the most effective way of showing your partner that you care about this aspect of your relationship. Aim for earlier in the day, re-assess your medication, eliminate the caffeine (which also lead to an energy drop at the end of the day), and try to get more exercise to increase your stamina and energy level.
    good luck!

  77. John plus one,
    I don't know if you have read all of the info in the previous comments, but 2 pieces come to mind. First don't personalize lack of performance. You both know that you love and care deeply for each other. Secondly, a low dose of fast acting, short term med may do just enough to help keep your focus. An alternative is something I found on another site, the practice of bonding behaviors. Basically these are intimacies exchanged without the goal of an orgasm. No expectation just embraces, massages,giggles, kisses, the sounds we make when we are content and secure in our intimacies. The erection can wax and wane. Use it as well as your hands, fingers, lips, and eyes. Oh yes try to just hold that eye contact while simply and effortlessly being in that moment. Orgasms serve limited purpose and bring more hormonal baggage than "Aunt Flo," as you are discovering! From what I have read the resultant dopamine infusion followed by the "crash" play havoc with couples over time. I understand, now, that being out of sync sexually is frustrating and seemingly avoidable. Bonding behaviors are like unlimited orgasms. They can last until both cuddle and sleep with the peace of mind that both of you are happy. I am just one of the many searching for the knowledge that will make me happy and content if another chance ever comes along in my life. You see I spent 28 years in a marriage where we slowly and effectively personalized our most intimate fears and projected blame upon each other for our unhappiness. I wish that someone had diagnosed me in childhood, but that is the past. Don't give up on each other and for goodness sakes keep communicating!!! You both will be in my prayers this Christmas season.

  78. That's a really good point you bring up.

    I actually investigated the topic of non-orgasmic sex many years ago, after I started understanding the dopamine-orgasm phenomenon and hearing about the various ADHD-related sexual challenges. I read a book or two and pursued an extended e-mail conversation with an author who has expertise in this area.

    I think this "sex without orgasm" philosophy is worth investigating for some people, especially those for whom sex is a type of "self-medication," of racing to the goal with little mindfulness or slow buildup of bonding hormones such as oxytocin, etc.

    Where this author and I parted ways was when she insisted there was no such thing as ADHD, that the behavior was caused by orgasmic sex.

    When I tried to point out that children and even celibate people have ADHD, that it has nothing to do with orgasmic sex except that the quick dopamine release might exacerbate ADHD symptoms and inhibit intimacy, she essentially accused me of being a pharma shill yada yada yada.

    The moral of this story: I'd say it's worth looking into the practice but don't expect it will "cure" ADHD. It might not even ultimately be how you decide to live out your sexual life. But you might pick up useful info in the process.

  79. Thanks for your blog! For the last year my non-ADHD husband of 20 years has been refusing sex "until we can communicate better". Which means NEVER.

    I've never been diagnosed with ADHD (seems too pricey to find a doctor these days!) but I'm pretty sure I have it. He thinks it's something "worse" than ADHD. Unfortunately without sex my libido seems almost out of control.

    What I don't understand is how my ADHD has suddenly become a problem for him (well, his depression has done a number).

    I feel I may leave him for the first guy who is willing to have sex with me.

    1. I'll have sex with you, sight unseen. My wife and I have been fighting increasingly over the last few years and culminating with no sex in the last six months. It was over frequency of sex on my part. Never enough. I am not talking monkey in the zoo sex, but like 3-4 times a week, or maybe a little extra. Obviously the no sex has pushed me over the edge, and a fight errupted. She said I needed help and diagnosed me with ADHD. I of course fought back, being a high spirit, high energy fella, and accussed her of fixing every problem with the therapy hammer. The thing is we have a son with anxiety issues, OCD, borderline ADHD, sensory integration issues and is now medicated. She became highly educated on this subject to figure out what was wrong with him. I couldn't sit still to read the book. It was all blah, blah, blah to me. Well divorce was tossed around seriously last night, and I am afraid I may lose everything. I read up on ADHD, and I need to go chase that down for myself. Sometimes, I have crystal clear clarity and can see with laser like precision and solve a problem. Other times, I am so bored at work in meetings I barely focus and wonder why I am there. I vasilate between being highly successfully and a desparate failure. I could never figure out what could be my fatal flaw. I didn't drink enough to be a serious problem, only a slight one, I wasn't angry enough to have an anger problem, only a slight one, and the list goes on. I can be funny and then it turns mean. I can tease the kids playfully and get them all riled up laughing hysterically and then they are crying. I am like a giant cup of coffee sometimes, but I don't seem to notice the pain it has on others. If I don't figure this out, and things don't workout with my wife, the offer still stands. I need to be useful to somebody.

  80. Non-ADDer from Arizona here; My last 'experience,' I couldn't put a finger on what the issue was. I just knew something was different. I would silently say, 'hmmm?' ADDer easily bored, one-way take (not give)...miss social cues, antisocial, lived behind the camera (professional photographer) and computer, impulsive, fast talker, hyper. ADDer admitted having 'relating issues' and relationships only last 2 years. I couldn't even hold hands or hug without criticism (must be 'needie') - eventually after a couple months I became very uncomfortable calling or being in ADDer presence. Words and actions, to me, seemed they lacked interest in me. I could have 'worked with it' if they were aware of their ADD. Luckily I watched a TV show a couple months ago about Adult ADD, when the host stated most ADDers run away from home - had another 'ah-ha' moment. There was something especially different and highly creative I hadn't experienced before however some things said on their part cut deep and lead me to spiral with doubt; my 'thinking' and speaking is to affirm the direction you're going. Being loyal and enjoying intimacy, I knew in my gut and heart the attraction wouldn't last.

  81. Great information.

  82. Even though I am very familiar with ADD and ADHD (my son has ADHD and was diagnosed early thankfully for both of us early treatment has been key) my relationship with my husband whom also had ADD continues to be particularly painful. I can understand what he is going through and how it is affecting his life. However, his lack of inability to own up to his diagnosis and feelings of how he doesn’t need any help I think is what is causing me the most pain. Like any typical relationship with an ADD partner he does not help out around the house, has problems holding a or finding a good job, in glues to his video games, is stuck on porn, leaves me begging for sex, and cannot handle my son (this is not his father). But it hurts because everything is left on me from bills, to the house, to my son, to handling my business. There comes a time when “I love you” really starts to mean nothing at all anymore. Again I am sympathetic to his problem but he doesn’t even see it as one, or merely uses it as an excuse or crutch. I also really see this as negatively impacting me my feelings of self-worth are declining and I find myself sad or mad more than ever before. I also deal daily with my own issues of borderline personality disorder, two jobs, and a graduate program. I guess what I am really asking is there a way to get through to him or are something’s better to walk away from if they are really starting to negatively affect you?

  83. I have been dating a man with ADHD (VERY hyperactive, non-stop moving and talking) for a year and a half and spent most of that time feeling hopelessly confused and overwhelmed by the lack of intimacy and growth in our relationship. It felt like we reached a certain point very early on and everything stopped there with no more development of closeness or passion. I'd never been with someone like this and immediately blamed myself, thinking I had somehow become unattractive and unloveable...the hours I spent agonizing over his actions, his lack of caring, his coldness during sex (which lasts only a couple of minutes where he looks away from me the entire time as if he's disgusted with what we're doing). I've told him I feel like a prostitute and he says that he is attracted to me and loves me and that he'll try harder. There's no kissing, touching, caressing. He can only stand to hold hands for a minute or two while we walk and then yanks his hand away like it's on fire. He's had two failed marriages and has confessed that he began having sex at 9 years old and was obsessed with it for many years (having it up to 7 times a day); then he went through a phase where he was worried about performing and constantly lost his erection with his second wife. Now he says he can't understand why he has very little interest at all any more. My first reaction was, "because you're not attracted to me," but I am beginning to realize that he is so focused on maintaining an erection that our sexual act (I can't call it lovemaking) is something he has to work at to accomplish - he can't relax and enjoy. He is so hyperactive that he is constantly moving, jumping off the bed, kicking his legs around, and talking, talking, talking. I start to say something and he just starts talking away like I haven't said a word. He's blurted out horrible things to me as if he can't control his thoughts and his temper tantrums flare up so suddenly that I'm left reeling in shock and emotional pain. I've thought of leaving dozens of times and yet I love this man with all my heart. Despite his unusual and quirky personality (or perhaps because of) I am drawn to his enormous energy and magnetism. I see other people's reactions when they first meet him - he's just so overwhelming when he talks to someone for the first time that they tend to back away in confusion and I can tell they can see something's different there that they can't put their finger on. I know he was diagnosed with ADDH as a child (he was so hyped up that his mother would wake up to find him in the kitchen throwing things off the counter) and they tried Ritlin which had no affect on his condition. He has not tried any other medications since then. I am so thankful to find your site and all of these messages from others who are struggling every day to deal with this - I had no idea you were all out there, having the same experiences I have been suffering through and wondering what I was doing wrong, how I could change enough to adapt to the immense challenge of his life. It's all there - the gambling, alcohol & drug addiction, inability to be responsible with money, constantly complaining and obsessing about his health and hectic, crazy lifestyle. He fits the entire pattern of everything listed in these pages, but most of all, the emotional detachment that leaves me aching inside and craving warmth and intimacy. I'm not sure I can continue the rest of my life like this, and yet I can't imagine letting him go.

  84. I am a 49 year old male from the Netherlands who has been diagnosed ADHD a year ago. Ritalin helps me to get my mind at ease. I just finished my third marriage, so I at the moment I have both the time and the reason to reflect on my past.

    During my relationships, I might have suffered from a lack of mental intimacy, caused by the repeating conclusion that my mind works different than that of the people around me; as if I were an alien. I find it hard to understand people close to me as they find it hard to understand me. It has made me feel lonely over the years. Now that I live alone, the loneliness has turned into aloneness; a situation that I can very well cope with. Feeling different is not so harmful when there is no one around you to make you feel different. So you could say that currently, I find it easy to live with myself.

    My libido is high and stable: I masturbate about three times a day and I am a passionate lover who gladly shares his sexuality and focusses on the pleasure of his partner. There has never been a ADHD-related sign of distraction in my sexual activities; I enjoy them deeply and feel very close to my partner when having sex. So far there is no problem.

    The problems start when I am not having it. Sex, that is. Because of my feeling of mental distance towards the people around me, sex is for me the only way to feel intimacy. My latest partner had a low sex drive and needed a long list of activities (movie, dinner, sauna, massage) in order to get her aroused, which I understand is only quite so common amongst women. But because my feelings of intimacy become weaker when I don't have sex, it was hard for me to respond to her needs. I'd rather go to the movies AFTER sex than before, because only then I feel strongly bonded to my partner.

    In order to feel intimate with someone, just for the sake of intimacy, I started to have sexual relations with other women during my marriage. The thrill that I found in having short sexual relationships made me very happy: I was able to feel close to someone, even if it was only for a while. And there was always someone new to meet around the corner, so it never became boring or unsatisfying. Although this constellation worked for me, it is obvious that this is one of the reasons that my marriage has ended.

    Since that time I have had a few pleasant experiences with women. But the weird thing is that recently, I feel more at ease with people in general, so I can feel close to them without having the fear that they see me as an alien. I can even feel close to them without having sex, which allows me to have male friends too. This new state of being is probably caused by Ritalin, by me living alone, psychotherapy and a lot of thinking. My libido remains unchanged and I still get exited by the idea of having sex with different women. The urge to put this idea into practice however, has diminished. I can distinct fact from fiction now, although I still enjoy the moments when my fantasies turn into reality.

    I think it is best for me to stay alone for a long time. From this independent position I can embrace the world and the people who live in it, without having the constant urge to go to bed with half the population and I can safely get into a certain level of mental intimacy with lots of people, just because I no longer depend on the love and acceptance of just one person. So I still seek intimate relationships, but they are no longer uniquely based on sex.

    I like to share that with the forum.

  85. This comment has been removed by the author.

  86. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your story and sharing it so eloquently, our Netherlands friend.

    You make it easier to understand how sex can provide the often-missing feeling of connection among some people with ADHD. When you are just talking to a person, it's so easy to be distracted by external and internal phenomenon and thus experience only a fleeting connection. But if you are highly focused during sex, you gain that feeling of connection that seemingly eluded you in other parts of your life.

    You help us to understand why "shaming" someone about this issues isn't often helpful because it misses the core motivation: connection.

    It's sort of like shaming someone with untreated ADHD for smoking cigarettes (which can seem to help focus and anxiety), drinking alcohol (again, can seem to alleviate anxiety and quiet the "brain noise"), and so forth without understanding the WHY. Without the WHY, we remain stuck as to better solutions.

    Thanks so much.

  87. I'm so glad I found this blog today. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 20 (I'm 29 now) although I've almost certainly had it since early childhood, and every post I've read so far has really resonated with me.

    I've been hesitant to discuss the disorder's effects on my sexual life. I am actually still a virgin for other (still ADHD-related) reasons, but I have never been able to successfully get myself to orgasm, in part because of the distractability (my mind wanders away to anything BUT what I'm doing, often to unpleasant and disturbing images!) but also because I'm pretty sure I have some significant sensory integration problems. I have to take the tags out of all of my clothing and I can't sleep with socks on. I've often frantically removed my shoes and socks in a near panic because I suddenly can't take the feeling of them on my feet and Must Remove Them Now.

    Considering that, I suppose that it's no surprise that the sensations just... suddenly stop being pleasant and I have to stop. I fear the day I'm in an actual relationship and I end up physically recoiling from foreplay because it's just Too Much.

    The article only touched on the subject and didn't offer anything in the way of a solution, and it hasn't really been discussed much in the comments. Does anyone have experience with sensory integration disorder and sex? How do you deal with it?

  88. THIS IS TO ALL THE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO ARE DATING SOMEONE WITH ADHD: turn the other way and run like hell!!!! Do it before things get serious!!!
    There were redflags as we were dating, but i thought nothing of it, he is my first love, my first everything. At that time, i had no idea what ADHD was. I just figured it was due to stress caused by school and work and i was so in-love. He would lose things, $, overdraft, forgot where he parked the car, being late on dates, lost wallet, he even forgot to take his backpack to school!!!!!
    and i would always pull him off these situations. By the second year, I was getting tired of it, and thats when the screaming matches started. I made it clear these things get into nerves and things needed to change.
    NOw, been with him for 8 years and i am tired of everything and i just feel hopeless. sex is lousy...its always about him. I find myself ALWAYS cuing him but never seems to get it right. its no longer something that i am interested in, but he still is.
    On our 6th year, I gave him the ultimatum! got see a doctor or i am out. I packed my things and was ready to leave. He promised he would see a councelor or someone that could help me. Of course this was one more broken promise, i constantly reminded him about it and he would just snap at me telling me to leave him alone, that he barely has time for a shower, let alone to see doctor.
    Later, he went online and diagnosed himself with adhd. That's when his mother (who clearly had ADHD too and its on denial)said that as a kid, he was very hyper, and put him on Ritalin but took him off it after a month because he would just stare at the ceiling looking blank! THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL TO KNOW MANY YEARS AGO!!!!
    Last year (7th year) he finally went to the doctor and was formally diagnosed with ADHD and got medication for it. He promised me looking at my eyes that he will change and wants us to have a future. Well this was shortlived, after 3 months he ran out of meds, and just this year decided to get more. THe problem is that he constantly forgets to take!!!!!
    All these years, i have felt like a maid, like i am his mother,like i have a child to care for. I am his partner, not his babysitter!
    I have been feeling neglected for many years and the worse part is that I STILL LOVE HIM and i know he loves me, he tells me all the time.
    All i want is man that will be there to catch me when i fall, to have my back..like a team. BUt it only seems to be on way.
    At work, he goes above and beyond to finish his task. Always gets excellent review. Hes been promoted several times and is always getting job offer.
    Even as a student right now, he brings in a paycheck bigger than mine. He is a hard worker a great guy, with great personality, his boss adores him and co-workers enjoy being around him. I always get compliments on how lucky I am to have such talented guy. But at home its the total opposite!
    Well...now it sounds like i am ungrateful...I love this guy...
    I just wish there was someone out there that understands me....please someone tell me that this can get better...I dont want to cry anymore!

  89. HI there,

    I'm sorry to hear of your very distressing situation.

    It can be so difficult to wrap one's head around the phenomenon of the partner with ADHD doing so well at work and the opposite at home. In fact, it can be crazy-making because what evidence do you have that the problems at home are not entirely your fault? Nothing. At least nothing that the average person or even average therapist would understand.

    There are many people who understand you. Please consider joining our online support group for the partners of adults with ADHD. It is a Yahoogroup. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/ADHD_Partner/

    take care,

  90. I am 37 and I've been dating an ADHD guy for about 4 months. Our sex life is very frustrating, and he almost never initiates. If I can get him to do it, it's always fairly "vanilla" and he seems distracted or looks away (even if I'm giving him oral sex). He has an addiction to strip clubs which he is extremely ashamed of, and which led him to stand me up all night long once, which is really his only offense so far in the relationship. He does all kinds of sweet things for me and is very attentive to me otherwise, but I just feel so unattractive now! This has never been a problem with me before. I've tried to talk to him about sex, tried to explain that I'm open to anything, that I'll try anything, but he never wants to talk about it. Advice?

  91. HI there,

    Whether it's sex or a household task, people with ADHD often need a very high degree of stimulation in order to be aroused.

    My advice would be that you learn more about ADHD so you know why this happens. It's a complex condition, with many potential manifestations.


  92. I am so happy to have found this post. It has helped me through a lonely night or two. I have a fairly healthy sexual appetite, and for the first few years of marriage, my (undiagnosed) ADD husband did too.

    Several years, kids, and finally him earning a college degree later (an ADD story all its own), sex is sadly not something that happens much anymore. He hardly ever initiates, and when I try to, about half the time I am rejected. Always the excuse is being "too tired."

    I think the situation is exaggerated by his sleep apnea... there is a machine by his bed he almost never uses. He quickly gets defensive if I ask him to please use it. So I leave that subject alone. Though I suspect there could be a link between the severity of his ADD symptoms and tiredness due to apnea.

    It is interesting that he says he is tired, he knows his sex drive is love, but there is a solution that he won't pursue. He just sort of takes things as they come, and isn't proactive in working on certain things. He has all the intentions in the world (he makes wonderful goals fairly often), but fails miserably at execution. As if he is juggling too many things, and this one other important thing (sex) is too much.

    He is a wonderful and attentive husband and father (aside from the lack of intimacy), and he is a wonderful and successful employee. He is just an all around wonderful, happy person that everyone loves. He tries so hard, and consciously takes care of all my needs (other than sexual). So you can imagine my confusion as to why he doesn't seem interested in sex. For a while I thought there was something wrong with my behavior toward him or my appearance, and then I found this post and it all makes perfect sense.

    When we do have relations, it is always very, very enjoyable. But I have noticed that more often than not, he seems to take a long time to get there. Typically I'll have reached my point long before he does.

    I crave intimacy with him, but there just seems to be a wall that keeps me out, and him from knocking in down.

    Thank you to the ADD people who shared their comments. I am now seeing the "why" of it all. He takes a long time to unwind after work, I think because he's so hyperfocused there (he is really good at what he does). And there are particular things that help get him in the mood that are much like other people mentioned. What an interesting and important topic to explore.

  93. I'm glad you found us, too. :-)

  94. At last. I am on month three in my relationship and am on the edge of breaking it off. I am the one with ADD and I am just tired of feeling like I am hurting my boyfriend all the time. He hasn't complained, but I'm tired of explaining myself.

    First of all, I have reputation for being wild in bed. This is because a)I am a storyteller and make it sound that way and b)I used to drink A LOT and I don't mind being crazy when I'm drunk. Also helps that I feel more numb physically.

    But I don't drink much with my boyfriend so I'm going into bed feeling everything. He loves to kiss for a long time. I hate it. I get bored and sometimes feel a physical urge to get up and leave. He likes to kiss me all over or stroke me and I have told him that I also can't stand that. Not only is it boring, but again it makes me crawl out of my skin.

    I like my sex to be, not harder or rougher but I can't find the right word, more direct. Butterfly kisses hurt me, but grabbing my wrists does not. Firmness I guess is the word I'm looking for. Not S&M, just straight forward.

    He also loves oral sex (on me, not him) which makes other women go, "ooh, you are so lucky" but again I like it for a short amount of time. Just get me juiced, get on top, do the deed and get off. I am very orgasmic with just the missionary for a short amount of time with no bells and whistles.

    But my partner is very sensitive, he says he wants to "make love" not f*ck, but for me stroking and kissing is not making love because I don't love it!

    He's the same out of bed too, always wants to kiss or stroke me and sometimes I physically flinch. I love his company. Time flies when we are together and talking and I like to snuggle for a bit when we go to sleep. Again though, not all night. I can not sleep attached to another person. I get hot and I feel like I can't move. I feel trapped.

    I don't know what the solution is. He has changed his style over and over for me. The problem is, I feel like a jerk. I want what I want, but it makes me sad to see him subjugating his needs for me. I need him to stand up for himself more.

    Maybe we are just not meant to be lovers. It's sad because we've been best friends for years and I love being in a relationship with him most of the time, but I would rather be alone and masturbate than have sex most of the time.

  95. Hi there,

    Thanks for detailing your experience. I have no doubt it will speak to others' experiences, too, and leave them saying, "You mean others feel like this, too?"

    Sounds like a tricky situation. You love being in a relationship with this guy but when it comes to sex, you're on completely different channels.

    I guess he could try changing his style a bit. But have you thought about a trial of stimulant medication during intimacy? It might be a useful experiment for you, to see how much of your sexual style is personal preference and how much is ADHD symptoms getting in the way. Then you could decide from there how to proceed.

    Good luck sorting this out.

  96. I had no idea how pervasive the symptoms are and that it would affect your sex life. Your picture made me laugh out loud.

  97. HI Clara,

    Glad to hear you enjoy my attempt at humor. ;-)

    Several people want to know where to buy the "Twister" sheets, but I have no idea. I just liked the image!


  98. I have felt some comfort reading other people's stories. I realize I am not so alone. When I was diagnosed with ADD a couple years ago it was like someone turned a light on that was dark for my whole life. Then when I realized how it affected my relationships, another light turned on. I struggled with my marriage, which lead to a divorce, thinking it was my depression but it was also my ADD. I just was not interested any more in the intimacy like I was before when the goal was to get married and have a child. Once I achieved those goals I started seeking another relationship.
    That next relationship also failed due to our poor communication. It was always a misunderstanding where I would state my needs and he would get defensive and blame me for his weeknesses. He totally stopped speaking to me and I attempted to tell him about the ADD and even sent him an article about it. He never said anything about it.
    Now I have problems with seeing another man for the past couple years who will barley communicate with me. Our first date was nice and the attraction was there. Then, our second date came 6 months later and he left in the middle of it. While I was following him, he pulled off the road (I did not see him at first)and whatched me drive back and forth looking for him. On our 3rd date a few months later I brought it up and instead of explaining he said "I'm here now" and we had an intimate encounter instead of discussing what really happened that night. Then he didnt return a call for 6 months. When we did talk he said I wasn't doing anything wrong. I told him that I thought he did not like me anymore since he wouldn't communicate. He said he had to tell me what was going on in person and I told him I was afraid to meet him(I was scared he would leave again) but he abruptly said "Well then don't come." I left him message after message which I am sure were all misunderstood. All I wanted was to see him again and have the comfort level that the relationship was growing. I have been here confused and feeling the burden of having the ADD. Recently I did tell him that I have ADD and that I am also taking medication for it hoping that he may treat me better if he knew that this was a real disorder not an excuse. I think he may have it too and is self-medicating. I'm gently trying to turn that light on for him too. I keep asking myself what is wrong with me when I know he is attracted to me. I can't understand why I have to beg him for intimacy now.
    So now with this strained relationship, I have been considering a reconciliation with my ex-husband partly because he wants to be intimate with me and I dont have to beg him to be there. I realize what my mistakes were in our marriage. With my ADD counceling, I have learned I have to be "all-in" the relationship for it to work and I also have to remember to validate my partner before I start bringing up the concerns. I dont have all the answers, but I hope my story can help someone else feel less alone in their issues with ADD and relationships.

  99. I have severe ADHD as does my fiancee. We are in middle years and have complete awareness of our adult ADHD and managed to harness it's power but there are always unique twists. I didn't recognize it's presence in the bedroom until he commented that I seemed to dislike foreplay ... I don't actually dislike it but realiace I get incredibly bored and unable to remain in the moment ... And I agree that complusive sex among ADHD sufferers is a form of self-medication, the positive endorphines reduce the anxiety we usually feel.

  100. Requesting, inviting, and pleading for intimacy is so incredibly difficult, and my beautiful and wife (who has ADD) tells me that it is an unattractive behavior. Yet our physical and emotional connection was so very strong prior to and in the early days of our 4-year marriage (not the first for either of us). Her withdrawal from closeness began in our first year of marriage, becoming complete in the last six months, and her laundry list of explanations is far from comforting: "I don't know why, it's me not you, I don't understand it, I'm menopausal, I'm so distracted, you know I struggle with depression, I'm not feeling well, I have so much on my mind, I'm coming to bed soon (fulfilled hours later), I'm so tired, I don't feel good about myself, I don't want to be pressured, just be patient with me (during 4 years of declining attention?), I guess I took my Ambien too soon, I hate getting old," and on and on. I love this woman as much as the day I married her, but I thought she genuinely wanted to share her life with me. Now I feel like a thoroughly unvalued distraction; less important by far than her work, her computer, her sports car, and our dog. Your book and this blog entry have been very helpful, but my confidence has been deeply eroded by my loving, exciting, treasured (and, for clarity, very sexually experienced) wife's steady evaporation into a daily reminder of what she no longer wants from me. She readily admits to having ADD and disclosed this from the start, yet she seems not to take steps to moderate its impact on our relationship, or even to monitor the effectiveness of her ADD & other meds. In response, I'm experiencing greater and greater levels of frustration, even including suspicion that in so casually brushing off my attention, a woman of such strong desires and beauty must be finding intimacy elsewhere. I don't know how to help her or to help us, and our marriage counseling (which she endorses) seems to miss the point of ADD's undermining impact. Sheesh, I can't even concentrate at work anymore - - maybe ADD is contagious! Are counseling or support resources or mind-altering drugs available that might help me cope as the non-ADD partner, or to help her take greater responsibility for dealing with her ADD?

  101. Hi there,

    I hear your distress. It is known to other partners of adults with ADHD. Though not by any means a story universal to ADHD, it is common enough.

    Sometimes problems with intimacy mean there are problems elsewhere, too, so it's sometimes a larger treatment issue.

    One red flag...if your wife is taking Ambien to sleep, that might indicate that she could use a better strategy to deal with ADHD-related sleep issues. Or, as you suggest, her entire approach to treatment might need revisiting.

    I have to say, one of the most hurtful things about ADHD can be the person's lack of interest in seeking treatment. It can be so hard to fathom.

    If you feel that more support would help you (it often helps to have one's perceptions validated), you are welcome to join the online discussion group for the partners of adults with ADHD: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/ADHD_Partner/

    It sounds like the "marriage counseling" isn't doing much good when it comes to ADHD. But maybe your wife likes it precisely for that reason. I've heard that one before, too. Unfortunately.

    Good luck,

  102. Thanks Gina, I'm looking forward to the discussion group. I'll try to bring up ADHD in an upcoming counseling session and see where that takes us.

  103. I'm reading all these stories and I am just shaking my head. ADHD Partners reject sex? I so have the opposite problem. My guy wants sex constantly, three times a day if I would do it. I am just so flippin exhausted.

    We are in our middle fifties and married for 10 years. The sex was awesome the first 5 years, he could have sex all the time and I was into it most of the time. But you know relationships evolve and I wouldn't have gotten married if I wanted that new relationship high forever. When do you get to bond and be friends, comforting lovers, content. Then it was just, I don't know, it began with a few quickies and then it was quickies all the time. Endless 5 minute quickies. He was satisfied and I felt like a blow-up doll. Honestly, even the great sex was fast sex. I have become less and less interested and he has become more and more demanding. We are at a complete brick wall.

    I thought it was menopause with me at first, so I have been on hormone replacement. That isn't it. We are self employed and the economy dived, the frustration and anger he experiences just spills over on me - even now that the economy has improved and we are doing fine with the business. I have my own business as well as the marketing and office work for his business. I have two jobs here and I can't get a moment's peace to work my own business because he constantly comes into the office to kiss me or see if I'm talking on Facebook (oh jealously is a big deal with him too), sex seems like a medication he needs to settle down, be validated, mark me as his property like a cat.

    It extends to his "natural frustration with everything" so I can't walk across a room without getting directions on how to do that; turn off the light, come sit by me, get me a soda...endless instructions.

    When it comes to my work (I'm a code jockey) he rushes me to finish, tells me when to take a break, doesn't like how much time or concentration I need. Thinks I like the computer more than him...The phone rings and without a doubt he is upstairs in the office denying he heard the phone ring.

    My God, I have several projects on the burner and I can't finish anything because he is always under my feet, in my space and interrupting my flow. My credibility is on the line and he knows it and can't stop himself.

    He was diagnosed ADHD and I get it. I always thought the beer he would drink was self medicating and now that he has stopped that I can say he is more present, but it hasn't changed the constant sexual pursuit. The energy he has is great, he is extremely friendly and funny. He is smart, but has trouble reading (he is also a bit dyslexic and English is his second language - but for 35 years he has been speaking English...Jeez!!) But he also uses his ADHD and dyslexia to behave as though he is helpless which puts more and more pressure on me to take the responsibility to read the fine print, organize the paperwork, handle the banking...he just constantly spins and I am losing myself in his spinning. I cannot move fast enough physically or emotionally to keep up with him.

  104. Part 2

    Half the time I think he has envy that I am laid back and can concentrate on complex code problems to the point I am not even aware of my surroundings. I need that concentration and he does everything to break it. I mean everything. And he constantly talks about sex, complains about not having enough sex, jokes about sex, gropes at me, has sex with me even if I am clearly not in the mood.

    I am just at my wits end, rambling, venting, crying for help. I am so flippin depressed, so sad, so angry myself. I am seriously considering running away and just being alone for awhile so I can work and live in peace. There is only so much Xanax a person can take and I don't want to live in that fog either.

    I love him and want to keep him, but marriage counseling didn't help. He went alone last time and told her everything was fine now. What??? He has magical thinking that he hears the problem and like Captain Picard determines not to say or do something and makes it so...immediately. Which lasts at most 2 weeks.

    He is breaking me and making me an old cranky woman. I need some help.

  105. I believe you. You need some help.

    I think you also need some information.

    It's true that some people with ADHD "self-medicate" with sex. (I write more about this in my book's chapter devoted to sex.)

    So far, it sounds like he's done nothing to address his ADHD symptoms? Your taking Xanax or hormones probably won't solve the problem -- and can actually create new ones.

    I know that some people believe in being "sex positive" and claiming that everything is okay. But, personally, I find it hard to accept that it's good for a person to be so focused after so many years on multiple daily rounds of "quick sex."

    From all that I've read about the cascading hormones/neurotransmitters around sex, it's simply not good for the brain and can create an addiction as with any other substance.

    I hope you continue to learn more about ADHD and the options available to you and your husband.


    1. I have adhd and I am in my second marriage I cant seem to hold that one together either. At first sex was great then as all the other people said my mind wanders and also my partner starts to wear on me cuz he want together time and all I want is to anything else. I am in therapy now and trying meds but the therapist and meds arnt helping am just getting more an more depressed. I can see the second husband slowly drifting away too. help

    2. Hi there.

      What kind of therapy are you receiving? Is the therapist ADHD-savvy? That's important.

      In my book, I explain the evidence-based model for ADHD therapy with help from Dr. Russell Ramsay. He contributed a guest post to this blog here:


    3. P.S. Same with medication. It's not enough to "try" it. There should be a method to it. Unfortunately, many physicians do not use a method.

      I detail the medication protocol recommended by a top international ADHD expert, Dr. Margaret Weiss, in my book, too.

      Good luck!

  106. Hi there,

    My husband has pretty much lost his desire for me completely. Im 26, hes 32, and we haven't had sex in about 2 months. When we do have sex, which usually only happens once a month, its like wham bam thank u mam...no foreplay...it just sucks. When we first dated, he was soo into me, he made me feel wanted and beautiful (iwe didnt have sex until marriage) which was only 6 months after we met. We've been married now for 6 years. Sex was never a big part in our relationship...but now its non-existent. I so badly desire to have a baby, but how is that going to happen when we barely have sex?! I've tried dressing up and getting sexy, and it only ends up with me crying...if hes not in the mood, there no getting him in it. Hes so darn difficult. I love him, and i know he loves me, but i need solutions! hes going to the doctor to get medicine, but will that really help with his sex drive and desire for me?
    feeling down .......any thoughts?

    1. Hello,

      I think many humans have challenges in their sex lives. But if ADHD is present and not recognized, that might be a helpful place to start. (And really the same is true for depression and anxiety.)

      I devote an entire chapter to this topic in my book. It might help for you to read it.

      The many ways in which ADHD can affect intimacy are complex and vary among individuals. But you might find some information that can help you and your husband to find better strategies.

  107. Hello,
    It was a blessing finding your Blog. As an adult with ADHD its been a challenge. Probably the most interesting thing is that I realized, “I am not alone” Over the many years at the age of 51, I learned to develop many ways to cope with it and self evaluated some of ADD drowning traits I have to endure.
    I never connected the dots to see it spill over into to my sex life. I know Sex begins in the Mind and finding or creating a sexual experience in my Mind is enjoyable to me and yes, sometimes it may lead to a masturbation session. I always thought I was just overly horny In the bedroom whether I was alone or not. Oddly, I was never a bed hoppereven at age 51 I been with only four women… One married for 18yrs.. two drunken one night stands.. and now one who feels to be my soul mate! We been dating for close to a year now and My sexual performance has less than I expected and its really bothering me more than her!

    I consider the fact that my Divorce and being along for close to nine years were to blame and an mild addition to porn… self-masturbation and a annoying cannabis drug use. I can’t seem to focus sometime especially if I’m writing or creating music or engrossed into a good novel or to relax.. No, I’m not proud of that.. Years a go I use to drink and smoke and gave it all up.
    I trying find a new direction to go in. I was taking Welbutrin and like one of you reader said I been doing the on off thing been off for over a year. I had went back to college and finally went for adult treatment.

    The think I have met this special lady and I want to clean my act up.. The porn desire had subsided by our 3rd month of dating… I get extremely aroused just thinking about making love to her and that self-masturbation is still happing from time to time but a lot less. My biggest issues are getting aroused and keeping my composure and focus . When I’m a alone everything is fine.. when I with her I have to struggle to clear my head of things I have to do. .thoughts of my performance outcome and “what to do and how to do”… “ Am I doing it right? and before you know it I’m like a lost puppy.. and placid I’m embarrassed, annoyed, depressed and just want to be alone by now!

    She really loves me and I hate to put all this on her. And just be alone . I feel I do need to tell her what She is getting into and don’t know how Any ideas?


    1. Hi Tony,

      I'm happy that you have found a new love. And how great for the both of you that you are seeking to find answers to some old questions.

      So, you're not taking any medication for your ADHD now? Some people find that the stimulant medication can really help with pacing, "reciprocity" and, as you say, "clearing your head of all you have to do."

      It's important that your partner know that ADHD symptoms can be playing a role here, so they aren't taken personally and so you can work on joint solutions.

      I devote a chapter in my book to this topic, but each couple will need to find their own way.

  108. I am a man and newcomer to an ADD relationship with my partner. I have no ADD, but she doesn't know she has ADD. All the symptoms meet the disorder. I have been trying several times to take her smoothly to the doctor. Just to be diagnosed. Once, I almost get it but from then it has become impossible. She jumps like a rabbit when I delicately and sweetly suggest the issue. It is completely necessary. She usually produces me profound tension and anger but is incapable to catch she is the reason, her ADD.
    Even she blames me for my bad mood. It is as she would nothing to do with my -humane- reaction. Sometimes, we are talking about serious things but she suddenly jumps to speak about a nephew.
    I think the non ADD partners also NEED HELP, much help. It is a difficult quesion living with an ADD partner whom you really love.
    Now I am lastly feeling that all these continuous tension episodes ADD creates within the couple has taken me to lose great interest in sexual relationships. To be frank, it is a derivative of ADD disorder. I never felt this way before.

    Why ADD people seem not to take into account the problems they constantly generate around them?. Are they deaf or blind? Why aren't able to correct their behavior?. It's hard...

  109. Yes, indeed. Losing sexual attraction for someone who remains unaware of the interpersonal impact of their ADHD symptoms....common enough.

    You ask why people with ADHD don't take into account the problems they generate? Are they deaf or blind? Why aren't they able to correct their behavior?

    You ask good questions. But they reveal a lack of knowledge about ADHD. I suggest you keep reading this blog and others, and look for my book. It should answer all your questions and then some.

  110. Oh Gina!
    Please, believe me:
    No one can expect that someone may act 24 hours a day as a cold, logic and insensible ADD expert. Even a professional ADD expert, need to keep himself-herself far from ADD behaviours, just for his-her psicological good balance. Me, I can't.
    Please, touch and be aware of the issue regarding the help that someone in a similar position, a patient ADD spouse partner, under a mental pressure clearly produced by ADD can have human reactions.
    I know partners and family members in contact with Alzheimer's disorder, also need psicological rest and professional advice.
    Is it to difficult to understand that ADD partners need also help?
    By the way, I have your book. But do you think I am better than the best of ADD experts in the world?. Understand me. I love my partner, Gina, but also I need help. And support.

    1. Oh dear, I'm afraid you've misunderstood my point.

      In no way have I ever suggested that "understanding" ADHD is enough. Never!

      Understanding is just the first step in knowing what you both are up against and what it will take to create some progress.

      You ask, "is it too difficult to understand that ADD partners need also help." I am stumped there. You said you read my book. Oh wait, you actually said you "have" my book, but it sounds like you haven't actually read it! :-)

      With all due respect, no one needs to tell me that the "partners of" need support and help. In fact, I was the first person to make a major effort in this regard -- and I have been doing so for 12 years. At many points over the years, I've taken much flak for this. No matter. I continued.

      My book was an outgrowth of intensive advocacy in this area as well as in supporting the adults with ADHD themselves in pursuing evidence-based treatment strategies.

      If you have my book, you have a "support group in a book." But it won't help you if you don't read it and apply the advice in the book, especially in encouraging your partner to seek treatment for any problematic ADHD-related behaviors. Also in changing the way you react. It's not always about being "patient." It's about being pro-active in establishing boundaries.

      Also, it's important, of course, to honestly appraise your own role in the chaos.

      good luck,

  111. Just met someone who fits this profile. Confusing and fascinating at the same time . Repellent/attractive in equally huge doses. (well, truth be told, the ledger falls on the + side, otherwise I would not have spent the last few hours reading all of the above). I've never seen a reply list as emotionally honest, cogent and humane as this one. It has given me great cause/pause to reflect on what might be an appropriate level and form of relationship between she and I. It will be quite a challenge--if possible at all-- to find /discern that, to say nothing of maintaining it. Before knowing that ADHD was involved my general impression was that, lovely as she is, it seemed as if she existed behind thick plate glass which only needed to bs shattered by me to "free"' her. Much more humble/realistic in this regard thanks to all youse.(& Gina). Still, I cannot help being drawn to her.

    1. :-) I agree with you about the comments on this blog -- emotionally honest, cogent, and humane. Glad we could all help you view your relationship in different terms, through the ADHD lens.

      In fact, she might exist behind a metaphorical thick plate of glass. Left unrecognized, ADHD symptoms can trap people in dysfunctional patterns.

      She has so many good qualities, you might think to yourself, if only she'd stop/start [fill in the blank]. The mistake lies in thinking that you can tell her how to [fill in the blank].

      Paraphrasing Dr. Russell Barkley, ADHD isn't about not knowing what to do; it's about doing what you know.

      Good luck!

  112. What if, theoretically, one had the ability and willingness to give an ADHD'er what would give them the highest degree of contentment they where capable of a achieving?
    What would that entail/look like beyond the obvious enormous loving patience, no expectations, no judgements and determined yet sensitive honesty. Did I just amwer my own Q? Please think creatively to add to this arsenal.

    1. Well, that's a hard question to answer, because I don't believe that people with ADHD are all cut from the same mold.

      How could they be?

      ADHD is a highly variable syndrome, and it's only one part of personality.

      I prefer to view people as individuals.

  113. While there is understandable impulse to connect/form rationships with ADHD'ers, since they so often end up sad and frustrated as a result is there no thought given to maybe they are better off and happier outside of relationships. That may sound cold & unfeeling but wouldn't that jibe with The perspective of proud ADHD'ers who accept, even celebrate their going thru this life differently than others? I'm afraid of violating
    The physicians' oath (tho I'm not one) "premum non nocere" (First do no harm) by starting a rationship with such an individual.

    1. Good question, and I'm afraid none of us can answer it except for ourselves.

      First, though, many adults with ADHD and their partners are NOT sad and frustrated. They are happily paired.

      Second, many adults with ADHD are a whole lot happier once they are diagnosed and pursue treatment.

      re: your "first do no harm" idea, I'd say, "first why not help?" :-)

      That is, why not give them a chance to try treatment and see how they like it rather than depriving them of the choice altogether?

      It's a delicate balance, of course, and one must be humble. But it's easy to underestimate how much some people with undiagnosed ADHD truly understand about how much better their lives might be with treatment.

    2. Oops, I meant to say, it's easy to OVERESTIMATE how much some people with undiagnosed ADHD truly understand about how much better their lives might be with treatment.

  114. Putting generally accepted societal norms and moral qualms aside for the moment and given the sexual anomalies found in this population, might not multiple partners, either contemporaneous or sequential be more fulfilling for them? What do folks think (keeping in mind the initial premise, please).

    1. I don't know about others, but I can tell you what I think. ;-)

      I will use "you" and "your" because it's simpler to write.

      If your untreated or inadequately treated ADHD means there is hypersexuality, how do you want to deal with that? Do you want to make having sex all the time a top priority in your life, edging out other activities? Or do you want to seek more balance in life?

      I'd say it's a personal choice.

    2. Ms. Gina, its really very surprising to know that people who don't have A.D.H.D seem to speak as if they know everything about A.D.H.D, A.d.h.d has nothing to do with sexuality or low sex drive or a preference for sex. It's just the manner in which your sex hormones tend to act.

  115. That last couple you quoted in your post, the one about both partners having adhd and being at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to sex? That is my marriage to a T. We've been married for eight years and we're very much committed to making our marriage work and very much in love still. He and I both are adhd.

    The one big problem we keep coming back to time and time again is sex. He can't ever seem to get enough and I just have no interest, no matter how much I try to force myself. He wants sex all the time and gets very moody and difficult to live with when he doesn't feel he's getting it enough (although, even when I say yes much more often, it's still just not enough because it's like he insatiable). And I just plain old don't want it and don't care. It does almost nothing for me. I almost never am able to orgasm, and when I do it just feels like it's not worth the huge effort it takes us both to get me there. I am very distractable, especially during intimate moments it seems, and I just can't seem to ever just be fully in the moment.

    The only time I really enjoy sex is when I am awakened in the middle of the night and am still half asleep. The problem there is that leads him to often let me fall asleep and then try to wake me up by doing what he can to initiate sex in the hopes that I will wake up and be into it. Occasionally it works, but most of the time I get really upset at him for waking me up and for being so into the physical aspect of sex that he doesn't care if I'm awake or not, so long as I don't say no. I know, I know, this is a huge catch 22, but it is what it is. I have four young kids and I am always tired and don't take kindly to being awakened at night for any reason, usually. But, he still keeps on trying because very rarely it actually works and because with his adhd he deals with insomnia badly (my exhaustion makes this much less of an issue for me) and with his hypersexuality he gets restless and says he can't sleep because he has so much unreleased tension that I am just unwilling to help him with.

    Like I said, this has been a big problem for us for years, and we are both so very tired of having The Talk yet again. It happens too often and is always draining and often leaves us both feeling at least as unresolved as when we started. What can we do to help us find a compromise that leaves us both satisfied, when our needs and desires are so polar opposite all the time?

    1. Thanks for providing so many details. They not only speak for many others, I'm sure, but they paint a clearer picture of what you're dealing with.

      For one thing, sexual intimacy between two people is seldom enhanced by one partner's insistent hypersexuality that is seldom about connecting but is simply about "scratching an itch." (There are several examples of this in my book, as well as an explanation about why using sex to cope with emotions isn't always a great idea.)

      There IS such a thing as outsized demands for sex, and it's time to put behind us squishy notions about being "sex-positive" and face these issues as one more manifestation of poor self-regulation. Yes, these issues can be subjective, but there are reasonable limitations.

      It sounds like it's time for you two to cease attempting to solve this disparity with "The Talk" and seek some practical and perhaps medical solutions. You don't mention what type of medication either of you are taking for your ADHD. That might be what you could talk about next time.

      As for your Catch-22, perhaps being awakened in the middle of the night leaves you no chance to build up anxiety about being approached once again -- and at an inopportune time. Less anxiety might make the experience more satisfying and even provide a clue as to what might enhance waking-hour interludes (less anxiety on your part; fewer demands on your husband's part, so you're not stuck in a pattern of always fending him off). But acquiescing might reinforce this pattern of your husband awakening you -- using you, in essence, as a sleeping pill.

      To me, it sounds like he needs to face his ADHD-related sleep challenges in a more mature way.

  116. This post really speaks to me, in a way. I am a 29 year old woman with inattentive type ADD and what has turned out to be a low sex drive. I had always thought I had I normal sex drive, and remained a virgin by choice through many relationships because of my faith. My husband is the same age as me and waited as well. When I got married earlier this year, I was expecting to enjoy sex more than I am in reality. I feel very disconnected and distracted, like I am observing the activities from another vantage point. This kind of thinking is a strength for me in my career as a sociologist, but it seems to be a hindrance in the bedroom. My husband has known all about my ADD since we first started dating, and is very supportive of me and is always reading all of the books about ADD/ADHD to learn more about what I suffer with and to be understanding. By every standard our relationship is great, but I feel like I could be more initiative in the bedroom. He frequently initiates but I am rarely in the mood, and if I am it is hard to stay in the mood or not talk a lot during.I am hoping to find more information like this that may help me to cope with this issue and live with it successfully.Thank you :)

    1. Hi there,

      Good for you, that you are intellectually curious about the possibilities. I cover this topic as a chapter in my book. It might be helpful for you. I am also working on a short book devoted exclusively to ADHD and Sexual Intimacy.


  117. Finally, it makes sense! We were wondering why our roommate would always talk mid-way having sex with his girlfriend. It seems soooo funny. Durr he has ADHD.

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  119. Thank you for posting this useful article. My partner and I have recently broken up (her decision) and this has coincided with her discovery that she has ADHD. The sexual side of our relationship was always difficult, despite the fact that I adored and desired her intensely. Once the initial thrill of the relationship was over, she seemed to find sex a chore, it was never something she could relax into spontaneously. When she wanted to be she was a great lover, but I often felt like she saw it as an obligation on her "to do" list rather than an expression of love. And it was SO easy to get her out of the mood: the slightest comment or gesture in the wrong place could lead to an argument and complete romantic shut-down. It was hard to be with someone you loved and wanted so much but who couldn't truly enjoy the physical side of the relationship.

  120. Thank you for your comment, Grahwell. I'm sure you speak for many.


  121. I've been with my partner for about five months. From the onset I knew something was odd. Even joked that he had ADD as a child. Things just got real as the relationship progressed. From perfect partner to a halt and he insisted he cared about me. Sex was never a part of the relationship, this frustrated me as I ended up feeling unwanted and worse when he would reject my attempts or he would initiate and just when things got heated he would do something silly kike play with my lips or ear, have a good laugh and that's the end of what could have been. If it happens there's really not much foreplay. Broke up with him for two weeks and go back last week. Haven't had sex since July and it doesn't seem to bother him. He has all the symptoms above and I'm sure he's aware of the problem. He's a very smart man and he's doing well for himself. He's doing better on the relationship too even thou there's no sex at all and spends all his time working. I love him and I know he cares about me. I just don't know how to approach him about this seriously.

  122. Part two: I'm willing to go through this with him. He's such a good man and so much fun when he's less distracted.I just need to know if he's willing to get help and I'll be ther for him. We're both still young 27/31. I'm not going to leave him just because of this, as long as if he's willing to meet me halfway. I'm already less frustrated after reading all the posts on this blog. I get it. I just wanted to know if he was genuine about his feelings. Feel so much better now. Thank you for the post. I'm glad I got it early in the relationship.

    1. I'm so glad this post has helped you. Good luck!

  123. I to have adult adhd and lost my girlfriend cause i wanted sex as much as i could get it i tryed working and now i am on ssi and single and have been for the last 2 and a half years i am very maturnal non violent very giving and thought a girl would love it yet it seems when trying to get the guts to ask a girl out i lock up and start getting red cheeks and get scared i have had a hard life droped out of high school and i just wish i could find me and never want to let me go i was always told my adhd will not work for a women but i feel as tho there is a women that will love me even tho i have childish antics and make lil voices n noises when happy and content

  124. Gina,

    I was diagnosed 2 months ago with ADHD, I am 62. I have had pretty bad anxiety for years and put on SSRIs which really helped, but had work outburst with a customer which was bad. So my gf who works with ADHD,ADD and a host of other disabilities ata college got me to talk to my internist about ADHD and he in turn referred metro Neurologist. I'm now on 36mg Concerta,yes the world is a different place. Working with computers for 40+ yrs I am fortunate I can work solo ..how to you resolved the years that all the ADHD effected adversely, including failed college, failed marriage? Yes I have had a ton of counseling..


    1. Hi Scott,

      I'm so glad to hear that the world is a different place for you, now that you are apparently on the track to effective treatment for ADHD.

      Yours is a familiar hisstory, unfortunately.

      For many people with ADHD, "anxiety" is a complex issue. Sometimes borne of living with untreated ADHD symptoms. Sometimes equally neurogenetic as ADHD.

      For most people with ADHD, treating only with an SSRI might seem to resolve some anxiety but can actually create new problems in exacerbating ADHD symptoms.

      One little-publicized challenge with ADHD is emotional dysregulation (that is, temper and irritability). The stimulants can often help with that. Though some types of stimulants might exacerbate it, so one must try a few different types.

      As to your question...how do you resolve the past years' disappointments and failures. That is a big question.

      The first step, I would say, involves forgiving yourself and everyone else who missed all the "red flags" for ADHD. Many people still languish in ignorance, so maybe you can channel some of that regret into helping others learn about ADHD.

      The rest can involve a certain type of therapy, one specifically tailored to helping late-diagnosis adults with ADHD reframe their life experiences, let go of "emotional baggage," and address any "cognitive distortions" about your abilities and possibilities.

      I interviewed a leading expert in "CBT for ADHD": Russell Ramsay, Ph.D. The information on this type of therapy is included in my book. Also, Dr. Ramsay wrote a blog post on the topic. Search this blog for his name.

      Best wishes,

  125. I am so glad I just stumbled upon this blog. I have met the most wonderful man, we have been together almost a year, and we are so in love, and have a phenomenal relationship. But we are young 25/31, and my boyfriend never wants to have sex. He would never initiate, and when we would have sex he is distracted, barely touches me, doesn't look at me. I have tried to talk to him about it so many times and I am starting to feel hopeless. He has started initiating more, only because I have told him how hurt I feel, but I know he needs medical help. We are talking about marriage, and children, and I don't know how we will ever have children if he doesn't ever want to have sex and can't keep an erection when we do. I feel so lost and hopeless. I want to spend my life with this man, but I need intimacy.

    1. I know how that feels i am overly intimate i am the kind of guy that is very lovey and i wish i could find a girl that was close to my area to start a family and so on but my adhd holds me back i have been told i need a mother not a girlfriend but i know what i am looking for yet to find her i hope to find a girl that is like me but diffrent

  126. I am 50(F), late diagnosis (about 7 years ago), no treatment or meds. I've gone to doctors about my low sexuality and no one ever suggested that it was the ADD that was the problem!! I only thought to Google it when my teenage daughter did a paper on Ritalin!
    I've always had a feeling that pot would really help, but even when (as a young adult) I could have gotten my hands on some I never had the nerve to try. Yesterday I mentioned this revelation to my husband of 20 years, and he's reaction was "duh!" like he's known it's the ADD all along! that kind of hurt.
    I guess it's time to face the fact that I need a psychiatrist that is willing and able to address my issues, and start medication. I've been delaying for all these years for fear of realizing that i could have done so much more with my life, once i see how i function on meds. I'm still petrified.
    M.D.N. from Israel

  127. Hello i am a 33 year old guy still single and jobless ssi dont cover much but i get by i dont understand why so many in california oc dont want a guy with adhd and overly nice guy and non violent i gave up looking cause i have been hurt to bad and i take meds for my adhd yet still single shy as ever

  128. Wow! Talk about self-revelation. I am glad I joined this site-I now understand why I have pushed/turned others away. The meds have helped me tremedously. When I dont take adderall I see a drastic change in my mood/behavior-not pleasant. Thank you all for the awesome info.

  129. I am living in a dual ADD/ADHD household, recently diagnosed, taking meds, and we are having many of the problems others are reporting here. Our marriage has been sexless for years, and I have despaired of finding a way through this seemingly intractable problem. We both also suffer from major depression, and I also have anxiety disorder and chronic pain and insomnia and am going through menopause. We both have PTSD due to childhood experiences. What a mess! But we love each other and are committed to our marriage, and most of the time it's pleasant enough, but I miss intimacy and physical relations! I must confess that I have contemplated leaving him, but the thought of doing so makes my heart break. If I left him I feel like my life would be over. I have promised my close loved ones that I will *not* check out of this life by my own will. I feel trapped in a no-win situation. I have written a really long exposition of the details of our marriage, but it's probably too much for this lil comment page! The information shared here gives me hope, so thank you, Gina, and all who have shared your stories.

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  131. Wow, I was beginning to think I might be Asexual... but it could be ADD! I have moderate to severe Primary Inattentive subtype, I don't take medication (downright refuse to actually), and I have a lot of difficulty becoming intimate with someone, but not for lack of want. Most times I really want to have sex, but i get irrationally irritated when they touch my face or hold my hand, or get this odd sense of uneasy 'wrongness' while being touched. I usually end up breaking it off before it gets anywhere, and now I'm a frustrated, put-off, 27 year-old virgin and avoid relationships entirely. I thought I wasn't cut out for relationships, or was just plain crazy, but maybe it's my ADD. Does this sound like hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation due to ADHD, PI? I thought I was managing my ADD well on my own, but maybe I need to get some help... There may be other areas of my life affected by ADD that I'm not aware of.

    1. Most definitely it sounds worth looking into!

      If you have moderate to severe primarily inattentive ADHD, you are right: There are probably many areas of your life affected by ADHD but you've never known differently.

      Medication might be worth looking into. If you educate yourself first (I wrote my guide to be explicitly helpful in that area, because many MDs are not as savvy as they should be), you'll see that you can minimize any risk of adverse affects.

      Good luck!
      Gina Pera

  132. Hi.

    So much of this resonates. I have known for a while that my wife has ADHD (inattentive); a marriage counselor even called it out without me ever bringing it up in our sessions. After reading many of your posts-- I am pretty sure I have it too. I am bipolar (successfully being treated), and co-morbidity with that is frequent. I have an appointment to discuss medication options for me.

    But let me add my two cents to the impact on sex discussion.

    Like many of the above commenters, our love life has suffered. While I am not exactly sure if it is impacting things from my side, I know it does from her side.

    So much of her behavior could be seen as avoiding sex. She says she prefers it in the morning, but stays up until 2AM just about every night. She cannot stand to have her neck kissed, as it tickles too much. She does not like kissing, and won't tell me why. With apologies for giving too many details, she will not let me manually or orally stimulate her - it's been years.

    I cannot count how many times I have asked her to join me in the bedroom, and watched as right after she gets into bed, she has to go to the bathroom, and when coming back, she'll pick up our poodle and say "look at her", and then grab her phone to fire off a text, and so on. I have a hard time not interpreting it all as her not being in to me.

    Because of the severity of our sexual dysfunction and the fact that it is getting worse over time, I asked her to try sensate focus exercises, and we bought a book with a particular program that starts with self-exercises. Exercises that should only take a few times, have taken months. And once she got to the first one that involved stimulation for her, she pretty much stopped and has subsequently avoided doing them.

    Let me add a few questions, though.

    My wife is highly resistant to the idea that she has ADHD (and really, there is no question she has it). Further, due to heart issues, she's had a pacemaker since she was in her early 20s and she's convinced that she could never take ADHD stimulants. Maybe this is true, but she won't even discuss it with her doctor because she is hostile to the idea that she has ADHD--- even though both of our kids have been diagnosed and she accepts that.

    With that in mind, I have two questions to throw out.

    1) I have read that certain types of blood pressure medicines can help with ADHD. But would those possibly help with her sexual symptoms?

    2) Are ADHD stimulant medications really incompatible with a pacemaker? How about wellbutrin, which I saw mentioned above?

    3) How on earth can I get her to lower her denial and opposition?


    1. Oh, you ask some very good questions. I'm afraid it's impossible to answer them all here. But I will try.

      1) I have read that certain types of blood pressure medicines can help with ADHD. But would those possibly help with her sexual symptoms?

      I have no heard if the antihypertensives sometimes used for ADHD (often found most helpful when there is co-existing conduct disorder) affect the sexual response.

      I do know that the stimulants can help some people to focus on physical intimacy, which brings us to your next question.

      2) Are ADHD stimulant medications really incompatible with a pacemaker? How about wellbutrin, which I saw mentioned above?

      I would not think that Wellbutrin would be any less contraindicated than stimulants might be: Wellbutrin is not side effect free, and it can create anxiety and irritability.

      But can stimulants be used with a pacemaker? I've never heard a medical expert answer that question. In general, the guideline is that stimulants are okay for some people with cardiovascular issues as long as those issues are stabilized.

      The question might center on why was the pacemaker necessary? If it was for a slow heartbeat, the stimulants might actually help normalize the heartbeat. But of course the pacemaker would have to be monitored in that case.

      Asking a cardiologist about this might be tricky; in my experience, some are simply not aware of the brain's effect on the cardiovascular system. They seem to assume that stimulants are de facto bad for the heart, but yet I know people with ADHD whose high blood pressure has gone DOWN once they were on the stimulant (perhaps due to improved regulation afforded by enhanced dopamine transmission or perhaps due to experiencing less stress).

      A quick search of the literature turns up no blanket precautions regarding pacemakers and stimulants to treat ADHD.

      3) How on earth can I get her to lower her denial and opposition?

      My longstanding advice is to continue to learn about ADHD and to receive validations for your perceptions of how it might be interfering with a loved one's functioning in life. And to understand that "low insight" (also called "denial") can be common with ADHD and all the frontal-lobe conditions. The more you understand this, the less you will be tempted to argue with what is "plain as day" to you but not as plain to your partner. You will stop "locking horns" and find other ways to talk about these issues.

      I spent three chapters talking about "denial" in my book, so you might want to check it out.

      good luck!

  133. Thank you for writing on this subject! For nearly two decades Ive endured this issue with undiagnosed ADHD until very recently. I've just thought he was a jerk and was very near divorcing him.

    All was well for the first year of marriage. Then POOF, his interest started just slowly disappearing. We went from 5-7 times a week to him not responding to my touch and not maintaining his erections. This continued until the 14th year of marriage when he had an emotional affair with a co-worker. It was never sexual. Though I am somewhat surprised about that since Im certain that the 'new blood' stirred interest. I am sure there was no sex. And thats not what this post is about its just a part of who he has been for me to explain what Ive dealt with being married to a man who cant seem to focus on anything for very long. Even during that affair, he was still flirting with other women, so even she wasnt enough to keep his interest fully. But the reason I mention this at all is because that affair is when our sex life really took a plunge. That 14th year of marriage we went from once a week to every two weeks maybe a bit less and he was 'failing' often to respond to me. Making excuse after excuse for 'why'. I now know his interest lay with her at the time. Since then - nearly 4 yrs ago, our marriage has worked to get back on track. But he hasnt been himself at all. Though I gave him every out. At times put him out the door pretty much in the beginning, it has smoothed out and we got counseling and for the most part the marriage has recovered - except the sex. OH THE SEX. It continues to decline both in frequency and quality. As mentioned we are now at about 3 times in 6 mos and he will 'finish' in literally a minute. At other times, he simply cannot acheive an erection. He says NOW, that he cant stop all the things going on in his head. For example, a song or something aobut work or the lawnmower outside. Just anything. But often it isnt external noise, its internal.

    I have read alot that ADDers get easily bored sexually. But the irony is that he can really only get 'going' one way. so really he is the one who limits our fun in alot of ways. SO I guess the reality is what it really means is bored with the current partner. ..... Ouch after all we've been through.

    ON the last note- he cannot take stimulants. He has a heart condition that prevents that. How effective is therapy or is this my life?

    1. HI there,

      Yes, many of the "truisms" about ADHD and sexuality, proffered by self-described experts, aren't that .... true.

      My ADHD Partner Survey is the only systematic research into this. And I can assure you, what you describe is more common than people realize -- that it is the ADHD partners themselves who have "boring" routines around sex, with very little variety. Almost rote behaviors.

      1. I'd make sure that stimulants truly are contraindicated for his "heart condition." That's a very broad term. The top experts I've interviewed, for example, say that if the issue is high blood pressure, that can be treated first and then the stimulant added. (Though sometimes high blood pressure goes down with the stimulant, because the person is less agitated.)

      A good sex therapist might be able to help. But it's very hard to say.

      There are other medications that can address ADHD symptoms in some people, including the anti-hypertensive Tenex and Intuniv.

      Good luck!

  134. Hello,

    I'm a 23 year-old male attempting to re-enter college. I've been diagnosed with aspergers since grade school.

    Growing up I had medication that made school a breeze. But as I got into middle school I began to notice that I could not make any meaningful relationships with people. I was always super calm. I could hold intelligent conversation with any adult and even got into philosophical debates with my therapist at age 12.

    I began avoid taking my medicine and noticed an absolutely ridiculous change around 7th grade. I realized I had never even really noticed a female while on the medication. My sex drive rocketed, I became quick-witted and funny. I had fun and got girlfriends with an extremely active sex life. But my grades went from straight A's to B's. I stopped studying and because I was so smart I just aced exams and teachers had to pass me. I barely made it out of highschool and then flunked out of college. My anxiety increased stupidly, confidence dropped, and while I'm still great socially I have a hard time meeting cute girls' eyes and I get nervous in intimate situations even though the drive is there and much higher than I would prefer honestly. The last bit is fine if I just nut-up and power through the nervousness though.

    I'm trying to re-enter college this year and I know the importance of my focus medication now. But I'm afraid of the change that I know will happen.

    I got a trial of vyvanse from my doctor last week and day-1 scared the crap out of me. I was laser-focused! I got so much done in 1 day it was ridiculous. I had hadn't felt so productive since I was a kid. All of a sudden my life fell into place in my mind and I new what I had to do. But I could tell my sex drive was completely gone. When I was alone with the woman I'm seeing I was calm and collected, but I had no arousal, no starting blood flow, no nothing. I kissed her and nothing. I know I need medication to get me through these 2 years of school, but I'm afraid I'll lose this woman I love because of it.

    Any help or advice would be appreciated.

    1. Dear Shirubakaze,

      Wow, talk about tough choices!

      But, you know, maybe it doesn't have to be such a tough choice.

      Primarily, I'm wondering if your Vyvanse dosage is too high.

      Generally speaking, it's really a problem when people with ADHD use the stimulant medications as "performance enhancers". (And I don't mean THAT kind of performance, but the other kind: the cognitive kind.)

      They neglect the other "environmental strategies" that are helpful for people with ADHD (developing routines, writing down tasks in a planner, sleeping regular hours) and over-rely on the Rx as some kind of turbo-charger.

      I also have to wonder if you are dealing with some issues of "hypersexuality."

      You say when you went off medication in 7th grade, your "sex drive rocketed, I became quick-witted and funny. I had fun and got girlfriends with an extremely active sex life."

      All this in 7th grade?

      Adolescent boys can definitely become...preoccupied with their sex drive. But what you describe might be a little off the curve.

      I'm not a sex therapist, but I would suggest two things:

      1. View your ADHD medication as medication to treat symptoms, not as a wonder pill to make you super-productive. Look into other strategies that support the medication in helping you to accomplish what you'd like to accomplish.

      2. Consider the possibility that hypersexuality might be one of your ADHD-related challenges. If that's the case, then you might view hypersexuality as "normal". You might consider it a given that sexual urges should just come over you, unbidden.

      When the medication dampens that strong sex drive, you might have trouble summoning it in more typical ways—slowing down, paying attention to your body, etc.

      It could be that a good sex therapist could help you with this.

      I hope this helps.


  135. I can deffenitly agree with the very high sex drive i am 35 and people think i am a kid just part of being a super hyper guy i lost my girlfriend cause of my adhd and sex drive it is very hard for people with adhd to keep a realationship.....i could be worng tho i have been in 3 realationships and had my heart broken every time last girl cheated on me for haveing a very high sex drive its just a mater of finding the one

    1. Hi James,

      There's "high sex drive" and then there's "poorly managed ADHD symptoms."

      It's not always easy to know the difference. But when sex is used as an emotional coping strategy (that is, as an outlet for dealing with all emotions), that can be part of the problem.

      Also, medication can often help regulate the type of hypersexual behavior that interferes with the rest of your life, along with other ADHd symptoms. Might be worth looking into, if you feel that this is why you cannot maintain a relationship when you'd like to.

      Good luck,

  136. Wow, I was beginning to think I'm asexual... it could just be ADD! I have moderate to severe Primary Inattentive subtype, I don't take medication (downright refuse to actually), and I have a lot of difficulty becoming intimate with someone, but not for lack of want. More often then not, I really want to have sex, but I end up getting irrationally irritated when they touch my face or hold my hand, or get this odd sense of uneasy 'wrongness' while being touched. Usually, I end up breaking it off before it gets anywhere and now I'm a frustrated, put off, 27 year-old virgin and avoid relationships entirely. I thought I wasn't cut out for relationships or even just plain crazy, but maybe its my ADD. Does this sound like the Hypersensitivity to Sensory Stimulation as a result of my ADHD,PI? I thought I was managing my ADD very well, but maybe I should look into getting help...
    Health and beauty

  137. HI Adison,

    Do you realize you posted this same exact message almost a year ago? See above for my response.


  138. At first i didn't had a problem with his ADHD , when he told me that he has it i was courius and i found your Book, it was very Informativ and helped me a lot. Now the Sex issue is a big problem in our relatinship , i can't belive my self that i am the one who is complaining about it , but i do. And it hurts me to see him suffer because of that.We had a good sexlife at first but the sonest we moved in together it got worse and now, nothing. I don't want that Sex is controling our life

    Shifa e Ajwa Paste

  139. Are there any therapists who are truly competent in dealing with ADHD and PTSD from sexual abuse as children (both partners affected with both conditions in male/female relationship?)

    1. Hi there,

      I'm sorry that I'm only now seeing your comment. The notification function failed.

      The type of therapist you are seeking is probably very rare indeed.

      Most ADHD specialists don't know much about PTSD.

      Most PTSD specialists, in my experience, over-emphasize ADHD to the exclusion of recognizing what might actually be ADHD symptoms in the mix.

      And the same for sexual abuse specialists.

      I would focus on maximizing your ADHD treatment. Deal with that as much as you can. Optimize medication, sleep, and physical/practical strategies.

      THEN see what is left, and seek a specialist for that. Perhaps one specializing in DBT, if you think it's appropriate for your challenges.

      Good luck,

  140. I've been diagnosed ADD for 20 years now. With the help of Adderall, exercise, organization, routine, and mindfulness therapy I have kept my brain functioning well enough to graduate college with A B.S. in Biology 3.7 GPA. Over the years I've made many observations to fine tune my brain for college performance. I became aware of my impulsiveness, noticing days where medication and all of my above remedies had little effect on having reasonable control over my thoughts, attention, and behavior. The worst exacerbator of my ADD impulsiveness by far is orgasm or nocturnal emissions. Either two of those events happen, and I could guarantee that the next week would be difficult, more stressful, emotional, and unproductive. My memory recall will be so terrible that it was difficult to even carry on an interesting, civilized conversation. I even notice that my ADD symptoms are better when a storm is approaching, but worse after it passes. I can feel it, flushed skin when the pressure difference passes. I start to feel sluggish and fuzzy again. Spring time is a roller coaster living in the central US. Diphenhydramine and OTC sleep aids also make my ADHD symptoms worse, well into the next morning and afternoon. Feels like some parts of my brain will not wake up such as my impulse control (Prefrontal Cortex?). Oversleeping (over 7 hours) will have a similar but somewhat less severe effect. There are biological and environmental factors at play exacerbating ADHD symptoms. Please take my observations and experience with consideration in studying ADHD. I'm curious how many others have made similar observations with their ADHD.

    1. Very interesting self-observations.

      I would encourage you to look beyond Adderall, which could actually be exacerbating your symptoms. Here my a blog post on the topic (the most popular post, for years, on my other blog):


      ADHD-related sleep disorders also require careful sleuthing. It is a big topic of discussion at my Adult ADHD discussion group in Palo Alto. Public welcome. (Third Wednesday, 7:30 pm, 957 Colorado Street, Palo Alto.)

      Finally, I bet you will be VERY interested in this blog post, about post-orgasm irritability, fuzziness, etc.



  141. My husband loses his erection during sex. its like boredom sets in and he becomes less aroused. or, he then decides in the middle of, he has to go brush his teeth. he also claims he is out of shape, and develops a cramp in his hips, ending in loss of erection. he has a hard time getting back into the moment. I eventually give up. and yes he has a few of the other classic signs of ADD, cant focus on conversation, cant focus on like drives, constant needs of brain stimulation, procrastination, tardiness, during movies he will tend to wander or fall asleep, spends money frivolously and without thought.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It adds to the body of comments on this important topic and will probably resonate for many others.

      I encourage you both to study up on ADHD. You could begin with my first book, which I wrote as a "one stop shopping" guide to understanding ADHD symptoms, the "emotional baggage" when ADHD has gone unrecognized, the impact on loved ones, and the evidence-based treatment strategies.


      Good luck!
      Gina Pera

  142. I am a woman with inattentive-type ADD and WOW, this explains a lot! "Low initiation & motivation", "The boredom factor", and "Hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation" all resonate very strongly with me! I have often wondered what's wrong with me because I have sexual fantasies but when it comes to reality I never initiate and am bored by the act itself. On the rare occasions when things do heat up I get overstimulated and find intimate touches more jarring than pleasurable. Foreplay is pretty much out of the question. I can't stand to just sit there and cuddle, make out, etc - I get restless and constantly wonder how long is this going to take, what will we do after, what's on TV, is the house clean, etc. As soon as it becomes clear that sex is going to happen I'm rushing to just get it done, and therefore getting very little enjoyment out of it.

    1. Hi there,

      From what you describe, those are classic ADHD-fueled impediments to sexual intimacy. The good news? Treatment might help with all of these symptoms, if you're interested.
      Good luck!

  143. Premature ejaculation is a significant concern for men, even for their partners, because of the decreased physical pleasure and mental connection that healthy sex provides for both partners.

  144. I was married for 16 years to a loving mother and wife. We had 2 children together who are now 11 & 13. I reconnected with an old girlfriend from college on Facebook and we began an affair and I left my wife. The woman I had an affair with is a wonderful woman and I love her too and our kids had begun accepting the situation and my wife has kind of moved on, but not in love with the man she is seeing. I thought I fell out of love with my wife and I felt terrible about what I did to her - she is a good woman and I don't know what came over me. I decided to try and get her back and I was recommended to Lord Zakuza for help to get reunited with my wife and within 48 hours after I made contact with Lord Zakuza my wife decided to work things out with me and now we are back together with our children living as one happy family. I really don't know the words to use in appreciation of what Lord Zakuza did for me but I will say thank you sir for reuniting I and my family back. For those in trying times with their marriages or relationship can WhatsApp Lord Zakuza for help with this number +1 740 573 9483 or you can send him an email to Lordzakuza7@gmail.com


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