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Now You’re Just Somebody That I Used to Know – ADD/ADHD and the Bedroom

He swept you off your feet. Part Prince Charming, part super hero, the ADD/ADHD man you fell in love with seemed like a dream come true at first. It wasn’t just his intense interest in you and the relationship (now known as hyper focus), but your love life was playful, explosive and fulfilling.

If this is a typical ADD/ADHD man, you may have found yourself thinking, I’ll take two!

But, as the saying goes, that was then. This is now.

For many women married to men with ADD/ADHD, intimacy is one of the most challenging aspects of the relationship. For one thing, a couple’s sex life is often a barometer of the relationship in general. Every couple experiences ups and downs, but a healthy, loving love life has the potential to create peace in the home that allows each partner to smooth over some of the rough patches.

The opposite is also true. A rancorous relationship outside the bedroom will eventually impact a couple’s ability to relate to each other lovingly physically as well. For various reasons, women tend to be more sensitive to the relationship barometer and its effect on intimacy than their husbands.

Adding an ADD/ADHD husband into the mix makes life even more complicated. In many instances, the ADD/ADHD husband’s inability to create a warm, affectionate and loving sex life with his wife represents the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It is almost as if all the negative effects of ADD/ADHD play themselves out in a concentrated form, leaving the wife struggling to find any escape from her already overloaded and overwhelmed daily life.

Often the wife of a man affected by ADD/ADHD is surprised to find out that the man she married – the same guy who could not get enough of her during their courtship – quickly loses interest. Actually, the husband often loses interest in a physical relationship with her and exchanges it for the quick high of watching pornography. This obviously adds to a wife’s sense of betrayal, loneliness and frustration when she finds out that her husband has plenty of interest in sex – just not in real sex with her.

As one frustrated wife of an ADD/ADHD man put it:

“For my part, Dear (ex) Hubby treated me like a blow-up doll – there completely for his own instant sexual gratification. It was like he had a whole misfire in his brain on the idea that intimacy is different from sex, which made our love life completely unenjoyable for me. It was as if I had to explain to him that I’m not one of the nameless girls from the porn sites you obsess about and I that I did not want to be treated the same way an alcoholic treats a bottle of booze.”- Janet M., Galveston, Texas

In other instances, the source of the problem is not necessarily an addiction to pornography. Instead, life in the bedroom is simply an extension of the husband’s existing symptoms from everyday life.

“There are times when we will be right in the middle of getting hot and heavy and will just stop and start talking about some random, trivial thing that has nothing to do with anything and I have to start all over again.” – Kirsten H., Southern California.

A similar complaint was voiced by Wendy H., of Upstate New York. She readily admits that her husband means well – but his ADD/ADHD symptoms even take control of his good intentions.

“My husband is 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 until his mind is so busy worrying about how to perform that he can’t perform.”

Another complicating factor is that many men with ADD/ADHD may not be motivated to change their behavior in this realm of life. When it comes to finding – or keeping – a job, it can be argued that the consequences of failing to change are more immediate. Getting fired is, after all, a pretty concrete thing. However, when it comes to a couple’s sex life, both partners may simply find ways to cope or put up with the situation for much longer periods of time. Whether consciously or unconsciously, many husbands with ADD/ADHD understand this dynamic, which allows them to justify their behavior or attitude toward sex and avoid making changes.

Bryan Hutchinson has ADD/ADHD. He is the author of the blog, adderworld.com, where he writes about the challenges of living with ADD/ADHD in a non-ADD/ADHD world. His thoughts on sex and the ADD/ADHD man may prove enlightening to wives whose husbands may not have the words to explain what goes on in their mind with regard to sex and physical intimacy:

“Sex is boring. We’d rather be doing something else while in the act of having sex, something more exciting, like, well, fantasizing about sex…Physical sex is unsatisfying because it can never seem to live up to our expectations…too many of us continue to create and build on a fantasy no one person can ever hope to fulfill. Porn will never fill the void…it’s like a like a chocolate craving, the last bite is never enough, because it isn’t quite as satisfying as one had hoped. And yet, the hunger for more chocolate continues.There is no last bite of chocolate.”

In essence, ADD/ADHD in the bedroom is a microcosm of the rest of life. Whatever symptoms a wife sees in her husband in the outside world are likely to be magnified and amplified in the bedroom.

Nevertheless, there is hope. For starters, looking for excuses and/or blaming each other won’t help. Rather, it is imperative that you both get on the same page. If, as the wife, you have to get things off your chest, do not vent at your husband. Instead, find a private place where you can get all of the frustrations out. Then, when you come back, communicate your needs in ways that seek your husband’s help, rather than blaming him for the problem (even if it is basically his fault). With regard to your husband, a productive strategy is to gently but firmly encourage him to state his problem and enlist your assistance in solving it.

In terms of practical tips, the following ideas may help you rekindle the spark:

1. Put it on the calendar. Sometimes adding a romantic interlude to a busy to-do list is just what the doctor ordered. Seeing sex on a list of so many other things to do in a given day may grab his interest by working with his ADD/ADHD symptoms. Your date winds up being a welcome distraction from all the other things on his mind, rather than the other way around.

2. Deal with distractions. This may take different forms for different people. In some cases, the husband with ADD/ADHD cannot deal with a quiet room – mostly because those rooms are never quiet. There is always something creaking, murmuring, or buzzing in the background. For men with ADD/ADHD, these distractions are sure-fire libido killers. In such a case, make sure all of these potential distractions have been dealt with beforehand. At the same time, some men with ADD/ADHD prefer some kind of “white noise” in the background, whether it’s a television or radio playing in a non-intrusive way.

3. Go for variety. Change the duration of your encounters. As the wife, you may want to distract him into interest by surprising him with a quick, sexy kiss or drop of an item of clothing exactly when he is doing something else. This applies to foreplay as well. Not every sexual encounter has to end with intercourse. Wives may want to adopt a playful “shock and awe” strategy for a while, in which their husbands never know what they’ll be hit with sexually.

4. Recapture respect. At the end of the day, sexual attraction is at least 50 percent in the mind. So, in addition to the husband’s lack of interest, many wives find themselves losing respect for their ADD/ADHD husbands as time goes by. This directly impacts the couple’s sex life. To help reverse this trend, begin to identify those things you admire about your husband and encourage him to do them more. For example, if you love the way he hangs pictures in the house – then turn hour hallways into art galleries! If you love the way he fixes your care, have him change the oil – frequently and in front of you! Respect for you husband is one of life’s greatest aphrodisiacs – make him get out there and earn it!

Post by David Ordan

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