Dating. It sucks for everyone. I really feel that it's just something us single people do to feel proactive while passing time til we meet the person we'll end up
settling for with. And I've spent a lot of time dating. Ugh. Since I started my project writing about AD/HD a year ago, I've dated at least two people with the disorder. I chalk it up to the idea that you attract certain energies into your life by the vibes you're putting out. Hmmmm, maybe I should start a blog about handsome, wealthy single men who love women with strong urine streams and deficient attention spans. Why didn't I think of this earlier? Yes. Goodbye, everyone.
Okay, well maybe I'll finish this blog before I jump into another since that would really be very ADD of me. How embarrassingly cliche.
Anyway, when I started this project I met a girl involved in the Chicago improv scene. Her name is Lyndsay Hailey and she has ADD. She's brilliant and she's in exactly the right profession to use her ADD super powers to her advantage. When I met her she was dating my friend, Jon, who has classic ADHD traits. He's loud, funny, and totally can't sit still to save his life. We went to see a musical improv show of Lyndsay's and I immediately fell in love with her when she and another great Chicago improv actress, Tara Defrancisco, did a sketch that started out on the 'el.' Tara invoked the character of a man sitting behind Lyndsay, who tried to comfort Lynsdsay while she cried. As the train ride went on Defrancisco hit on Lyndsay, declaring over her wailing tears that he was a nice guy and he "wasn't psychic, but could tell she'd been hurt before." This was musical improv, so they both broke into a song, where Lyndsay blurted out that most men break up with her because she's too intense in the beginning. To which Defrancisco sang back, "Some of the funniest things in comedy are the truest!"
I almost died laughing that night and getting to know Lyndsay proved to be very cathartic and therapeutic. People with AD/HD are hard-wired to fall hard and fast for people they are attracted to. In general, the brain chemicals emitted when you like someone can tend to flip a switch on in the human brain, like a drug that is incredibly stimulating. When this happens to people with AD/HD watch the F out. AD/HD brains appear to be under-stimulated in neurological scans, so using external resources to stimulate them is a very common coping mechanism. Statistically, this may be why there is a high incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among AD/HD sufferers. But the love drug can be just as intense and addictive.
A relationship where one partner has AD/HD can be intense, but both? Holy hell. Look out. It's like catching lightening in a bottle. Then throwing that bottle into a bath tub with a couple of powered-up hair dryers. It's incredibly exciting and energetic! And I can guarantee that the sex is anything but boring. People with AD/HD can be the most flattering courtiers in the history of dating. They're typically fun, outgoing, impulsive, impassioned and very sincere. But will it last? Perhaps. There are many married couples who've made it work. The dangerous dynamic is the compulsively impulsive behavior that each partner may possess. Maintaining a relationship can be very difficult for someone with AD/HD, especially when the initial love buzz wears off.
It's happened that I've jumped into relationships without being able to deliver on what I promised, and the very same has happened to me on the other end. Dating, in general, can be dangerous, but with AD/HD it can be extra wild. Here are some tips I've come up with to help us cope, whether you are the one with AD/HD or you're dating someone with AD/HD... or you both have AD/HD... In which case let me know, and I'll pray for you.
1) Take it easy, man! (Said nasally, Jeff Bridges/Big Lebowski style). And by easy I mean SLOW DOWN! Once you've been burnt or have had to burn someone this will become easier, but it is important to remember. The truth is that you can project all you want onto someone in the beginning, but until you take the TIME to get to know them, you don't really know them.
2) Be true to yourself. Know what you're looking for and where you're at in life (wanting kids, not wanting kids, wanting to travel, wanting to be career-focused, etc). Sometimes when you meet someone you'll need to do a little negotiating about the things you want, but ultimately, you need to start out clear and focused. Be cognisant of the fact that the person you're dating has their own needs. They may want something very different than you, or they may be at a different point in their life, and you may need to move on.
3 ) Reflect and be realistic. It's easy to get caught up, so take a step back. If you're feeling anxious about things it's probably because the two of you are on different pages. Do your best to communicate what you want and be realistic with your expectations.
4) Don't push! Yourself or anyone else. If someone is pushing you to take your relationship to another level and you are caught up in their excitement, that's great! But only if you genuinely feel that way, too. Don't ignore the voice inside of you if it's telling you you're not ready or you don't feel the same. If something is making you uncomfortable, speak up!
5) Communicate. This is truly the hardest part for me. I like to barrel through things and not discuss the details. I don't want to discuss my feelings, especially if they're going to hurt or upset someone. I'd rather roll the dice and let it play out. Or run and hide. It's a selfish, arrogant, immature behavior and one that I am working on. Who do I think I am? God's gift to men? Most of the guys I've broken up with have been able to move on. (LOL, okay, just kidding. All of them have moved on. ALL OF THEM. Except one who keeps texting me, but even he has a girlfriend). So man up and speak your truth. I've always preferred writing my feelings, as it makes them much more clear. But don't forget to talk to people in person. So write your feelings first, memorize the points you need to make, and talk it out. You're an adult and you'll grow as a person as well as in your relationship, whether it's about to end or not.
6) Trust yourself. If you meet them on the el, at the grocery store, through a friend, or at a sleazy bar, you'll know when it's right. Why? Because it feels good. It feels exciting, but even more so it feels calm and safe and wonderful. Appreciate it and work hard to keep it.
And finally, laugh. You have to laugh or you'll lose your mind when dating. Here's a clip of the improv Olympic show I mentioned. I was lucky to watch it come to fruition live on stage, and I hope it translates here. I definitely recommend seeking out these two majorly talented Chicago improv performers. You can watch them be brilliant on stage, or take classes where they'll teach you improv. Either way, you'll laugh til it hurts.