First Dates with ADHD: When Signs Complicate Relationships
First dates are an absolute minefield for anyone, but as a man with combined ADHD who’s still fresh on the scene at my 30, they’re a bloody nightmare.
I’ve been on a few dates lately, dipped my toe in the water, and often came out feeling like I’d just swum 100 miles. Do not get me wrong. The women I met were all very nice and it’s nice to meet new people, but as you get older, older people’s expectations change. Dates feel more like job interviews than I swear they used to.
As we’ve all learned the hard way, traits of ADHD like impulsiveness, excessive sharing, and interest-driven instincts make dates and relationships both exciting and sometimes frustrating. Here’s what my first dates revealed about some of my toughest ADHD symptoms:
1. Speak too fast and jump in
After a recent breakup, I went out with a Brazilian psychiatrist who was beautiful and kind. But after 5 hours of telling me to slow down my speech, it became difficult to communicate. She said she only understood half of what I was saying, and then we had coffee.
The impulse to finish people’s sentences is really hard to control at times, especially when it kicks in as I connect and immerse myself more in what they are saying. It sounds like this: “Oh! Me too! Here is my story about the interruption sympathizing with yours! Let me tell you so quickly that you don’t realize you have finished your sentence! … Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. “
For the record, I’d also like to mention that she was a practicing psychiatrist who didn’t see I had ADHD and who shared that she recently told her father that he thought she had ADHD traits that were “not good at all , “So that was embarrassing!
2. Maintain concentration
I literally have a headache from the effort of maintaining eye contact for more than 2 hours in a busy restaurant, which makes me look stressed, uncomfortable, and / or bored (and I’m often at least 2 of those 3). I was annoyed countless times for having to “check out” other people as they passed the table. Why do they always notice when my attention wanders to the hot waitress and not to the other 34 people and two dogs and 23 bar mats and a slightly crooked picture and a really skinny man who drinks soda from his straw for 3 hours continuously? Protocol?! After 5 hours I was on the train home and just died.
3. Resist the urge to fill the silence
It’s a social nightmare when the other person has nothing more to share than “going to work and watching TV,” but then you remember that you’re in a pandemic and that’s pretty much all you do did. So the conversation is delayed and that makes my ADHD turn. Plus, I’ve just broken up with a great person, so all of my stories over the past two years are about her and our adventures together. Instead of awkwardly sharing these, my brain decides to boot up – time show! But when the other person isn’t laughing at your jokes or just giving one-word answers, it feels like I’m trying to squeeze out of a parking lot while eating overpriced chicken in a posh restaurant.
Even an embarrassing joke or a poorly worded story of mine and it’s game over. Why do you think of bad stories in such situations ?! I literally saved a man from suffocating in a Snickers bar on the beach last year, but I can’t stop talking about how I once attacked a student (whom I loved – 6 years later and me) for misconduct still?) call them together “my children”).
4. The RSD after a shitty date
Just because someone likes your profile picture and they look nice doesn’t mean they are “the right person”. Online dating is a numbers game. Statistically, I could agree with 1 in 10 of the people I find attractive. If you look for that 1 in a million you can see how much miracle it is to actually find the person that you perfectly and reciprocally click with. Adults with ADHD are an intense bunch, so take that into account too.
While I know all of this, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still feel crappy and get a little down when I get that polite hug and a “Thaaanks, I had a super fun time!” Hell, I shaved for this, brushed my teeth before going out, and raised my hopes because your texting game was strong. Then you obviously weren’t impressed. What should I not like about myself?
The answer is simple: people with ADHD make delicious steak sandwiches, but not everyone loves steak sandwiches (there are pagans and vegans among us).
It’s not just us; they are too. People are complicated and, as far as you know, they’re still in love with someone else, or they just don’t think you’re the right person, or they just don’t love the way you blink and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean that you are a failure or a bad blinker, it just means that they are not 100% for you and it would never work. By saying they aren’t interested, they’ve saved you money and time because there’s nothing more embarrassing than a strange second date when you’re hanging out with someone else or laughing at the experience with a friend.
5. Address my ADHD
I am neither proud nor ashamed to have ADHD. It’s just part of how I’m right-handed or broad-shouldered or 5’10 and three-quarters of an inch. It doesn’t make it onto my dating profile (the ¾ part doesn’t work on most apps, so I put in 5’11 and disappoint those with weirdly specific altitude fetishes) but there’s nothing to hide if they’re brave enough afterward to ask it either.
Like all of these other things, it’s something that I grew up with and grew into. Basically, it is something that I think you should talk about as an experience if you are comfortable with sharing that part of yourself, because discovering and living it is an experience and nothing more or less. Just don’t throw a pity party when describing your ADHD; Remember, we are not defined by the condition or its negatives. You’re there to have fun and you are likely interested in which makes dating more interesting than staying home in front of the TV anyway. Plus, your date probably got dressed up to impress you too. They may even have “taken the big shave” or picked out a special dress, and that takes hours. Don’t be mad that it just didn’t work out.
But when you can find someone who giggles at your quirks and understands (or better yet shares) your experience – someone you can trust enough to eventually open up and who opens up to you, then you can face your challenges with the knowledge share that he does be there for you. This is really all that each of us wants: someone who thinks we’re great even if we screw it up, someone who is trustworthy and trustworthy, but also brave and confident enough to give us a second chance without our mistakes to reserve; someone who just wants to spend their free time with us, and who in particular wants a hug from us (I would elaborate on that but my mom reads this) just because he can.
Not much to ask, but hard to find.
First Dates With ADHD: The Next Steps
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Updated June 7, 2021
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