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Old 08-18-19, 10:31 PM
Jpark45 Jpark45 is offline
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Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

My SO and I have been together roughly 10 years and we're in our mid 30's. He was diagnosed with ADHD, OCD and GAD around 2 years ago and is medicated with an ssri and stimulant.

Since his diagnosis I've poured countless hours into researching the condition, making adjustments to our home and routines and just generally doing all that I can to understand and accommodate his mental health.

Our relationship has never been smooth sailing, primarily due to the toxic coping mechanisms of untreated ADHD for so many years, but we've made progress over time. Despite all of the hurdles he has always at least attempted to make adjustments for the better and I find that extremely admirable.

Here comes the "but" and it's a doozy. He refuses to have a life in the real world. What I mean by that is outside of going to work every day he doesn't leave the house or socialize. He doesn't initiate contact with family (we live about 20 min from his parents and siblings), doesn't have any in-person friends (only online acquaintances) and never wants to go anywhere or do anything with me. The man comes home from work every day, eats dinner and spends the evening on the computer until bedtime and repeats. Weekends are more of the same split between eating and sitting in a chair in a dark room. He doesn't have any hobbies that involve leaving the house or interacting with others, doesn't exercise or pursue interests. Once he's home at the end of the day that's it - he wouldn't even run to the store or go out to eat at a restaurant.

The worst part of all of this is that he's convinced himself this is normal. Despite evidence of the contrary he thinks coworkers and online buddies only go to work and come home to play games online. Even the nerdiest of his nerdy acquaintances have a social life and spend time outside living their lives. His extremely limited frame of reference seems to be twitch streamers who spend 18+ hours a day gaming and not much else. That, to him, is completely normal and ideal.

The lack of time spent with family has hurt them immensely and they've expressed this fact to me. He gets along well with them and there is no reason for his lack of consideration for them. He once went 6 months without visiting his parents even though they are short drive away. It's as if he forgets other people exist. He says he wishes he could treat people better but can't.

He's admitted to thinking he may have depression and/or asd and has addressed this with his dr. (I suspect a mood disorder such as bipolar or borderline) But so far no medication or traditional therapies have been able to combat the chronic apathy for life.

Would intensive behavioral therapy be a good option for someone clearly struggling with cognitive distortions and denial? Is this simply extreme 'task initiation' deficiency? How do I get through to him before he ends up completely alone?

Sorry for the lengthy post and thank you to anyone who took the time to read it.
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Old 09-03-19, 11:51 PM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

Sorry you haven't had any responses so far. Think maybe people just missed your post.

I think you've already tried to tell him and he isn't wanting to listen. I don't think there is any way to get through to him by reiterating the same thing just with different words.

Instead of trying with different words to convince him there is something wrong with him, what about trying to convey your own needs to him?

That you miss him and that you need to spend more time with him. That you can't continue this way because you are feeling lonely. If you can then make a compromise with him, it might work better. Is there any online game that you like that he likes too? Perhaps you can tell him you're willing to compromise with him and join him in the gaming world sometimes if he joins you in the real world sometimes? Not all the time cause I think he probably likes spending alone time with his buddies sometimes but maybe like on a Saturday and then he goes out somewhere with you on a Sunday. Then if that works, up the time after a while in baby steps.

If there isn't any online game you like, have you tried virtual reality? I'm probably going to sound like a VR addict again cause others here know I've posted about it many times now, but just think of it this way. I myself love gaming too (only VR gaming) and am accused of spending too much time in the "virtual world" instead of the real world (though not to the extreme your husband is). Which is why I'm making these suggestions to you as I do share some similarities with him.

I myself would love it if I had a partner who wanted to spend time in the virtual world with me. I would probably have more enthusiasm to spend time in the real world with them after that too. If your husband doesn't want to spend time with you in either the gaming world or the real world, well that is a real problem I'm not sure can be solved.

The reason why I suggest virtual reality if you don't like any online games is because it seems to attract both non-gamers and gamers a like (though try the online games first to see if you might like one cause he already likes those). So you have a much better chance of liking it.

It is the most successful thing I've ever tried for exercise because is both fun and easy as you never have to leave your home to do it. And you can communicate with relatives and friends who live far away without having to ever leave your own home. It feels as though you are really there with them though they will look like cartoons. You can watch movies in a theatre or play poker together. Virtual reality isn't just "gaming", it's experiences like watching movies together. Playing ping pong together, etc. It will feel like you are truly spending time with your husband though of course it won't feel as good as the real thing (which he can give you on Sunday as a start).

Like I said, it's much better if you find an online game he already likes that you like too but if you can't, I do suggest you try VR.

Just as a warning, a lot of flat screen gamers are anti-VR - until they try it themselves. Just buy the oculus quest (it's $400 as a warning to you) as a surprise gift to him if you like it but tell him if he doesn't like it, you guys can just return it (best buy allows for free returns). Let the first game he plays be vadar immortal (only $10) - his mind will be blown. For you, I'd try big screen first (the 3D movie trailers room) as it's free and not as much a shocker as vader immortal will feel (in vadar, you are suddenly in outer space flying in a space ship and confronting darth vadar in person- it's not really scary but it's shocking cause you feel like you are really there in that cartoon world, so shocking my mom screamed to take the headset off her immediately and when I told her ok but just close your eyes first she said she couldn't do it cause she was too scared). If you are impressed, then try beat saber - great for exercise if you jump or dance with the beats (go on reddit and learn how to install custom mods for it to get thousands of popular songs for free).

If he likes it and you are to play with him at the same time, he will need another headset. I suggest Rift S (a PCVR headset) for him if his computer can handle it though let him choose for himself of course. I suggest this cause a serious gamer will like to play more games than just those on the Quest (a stand-alone) which does not require a computer to run. Then you guys can play together at the same time. Course what I'm proposing costs $800 total (plus more if he has to upgrade his PC and for games) so if that's too much for you, just nevermind the VR idea. But if you can afford it and it helps, then maybe it's worth it?

As far as the relatives go, his relatives are his business. I'd focus on solving your own relationship problems first. Then if you have any success, maybe tell them how you achieved it so they might try the same methods themselves or come up with ideas of their own.

Last edited by acdc01; 09-04-19 at 12:15 AM..
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  #3  
Old 09-04-19, 01:00 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

Were these behaviors all of a sudden or there since you got together with him?
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Old 09-04-19, 01:30 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

Hey, I reread your post and his behavior does seem really extreme. Does he seem happy when he plays? Does he seem to play so much because he just wants to segregate himself from others in the real world and it's just something for him to do?

Does it seem like he's just addicted to gaming in a way where it's not that it brings him joy but that it's a fix he absolutely needs?

You mentioned mood disorders, why do you think that - does he have wild mood swings?

ADHDers often have many interests (though not all of us do). I don't think ADHD causes us to focus only on one interest for years on end unless something else is happening comorbid. That might not be true though, it's only based on what I've seen from the ADHDers I know including myself.
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Old 09-04-19, 07:53 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

I stopped playing computer video games when I found they were taking over my life. I began to see the games were manipulating me as much as I was manipulating the controls. I don't miss them at all.
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Old 09-04-19, 10:10 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

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Originally Posted by mrzyphl View Post
I stopped playing computer video games when I found they were taking over my life. I began to see the games were manipulating me as much as I was manipulating the controls. I don't miss them at all.
What made you realize they were taking over your life?
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Old 09-04-19, 10:46 PM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

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Originally Posted by acdc01 View Post
What made you realize they were taking over your life?
On second thought, taking over my life was a poor choice of words. I could
still put them aside and go out with friends. It's just that once I got into a
game I would play until 1 or 2am when I usually go to bed before 11pm.
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Old 09-05-19, 06:38 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

sounds to me like he needs professional help
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Old 09-09-19, 04:37 PM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

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Originally Posted by mrzyphl View Post
On second thought, taking over my life was a poor choice of words. I could
still put them aside and go out with friends. It's just that once I got into a
game I would play until 1 or 2am when I usually go to bed before 11pm.
You didn't sound addicted to me. I always thought addiction was when you can't just stop once you know you're hurting yourself.

Regardless, OPs SO is on a whole other level. He says he can't visit his relatives even when he knows he should.

OP, you might try an addiction forum if this forum doesn't help you out. A lot of ADHDers have addictions. The only thing specific to ADHD that could help him out that I know of is medication that works. Besides that, I think he needs the same kind of help as any other addict.

Also, he's an addict that refuses to give up his addiction. So you have 2 choices. 1. Leave him or 2. practice radical acceptance and compromise if he/you can (per my post earlier about VR).

Your SO doesn't sound like he's having difficulties with his career but he's not exercising, doesn't have friends, and isn't spending time with his family or you. He can get exercise with VR. He can get real friends with VR (you can see and speak to people in there as if it were real life - you just can't touch or smell them which I don't do much or at all anyway when it comes to friends. Some people actually meet up with their online friends irl). The only thing missing in his life is you and his family, both of which he could include if maybe you met him half way with my proposal earlier.


VR/AR is actually not gaming, it's a communications medium like the internet. And like the internet, almost everyone will spend time in it someday (I would be astonished if this didn't happen). Including you OP. Im just suggesting accelerating that for yourselves just if by chance it might help your relationship now.
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Old 09-17-19, 12:03 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

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Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
Were these behaviors all of a sudden or there since you got together with him?
Great question! Honestly many of these issues were present (but since he wasn't diagnosed I paid less attention/ didn't realize what was going on) and certain behaviors were either better or worse. The first few years we lived together I realized the full extent of his gaming addiction but he was still somewhat social and willing to leave the house. Now I feel that it has just become extreme
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Old 09-17-19, 12:22 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

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Originally Posted by acdc01 View Post
Hey, I reread your post and his behavior does seem really extreme. Does he seem happy when he plays? Does he seem to play so much because he just wants to segregate himself from others in the real world and it's just something for him to do?

Does it seem like he's just addicted to gaming in a way where it's not that it brings him joy but that it's a fix he absolutely needs?

You mentioned mood disorders, why do you think that - does he have wild mood swings?

ADHDers often have many interests (though not all of us do). I don't think ADHD causes us to focus only on one interest for years on end unless something else is happening comorbid. That might not be true though, it's only based on what I've seen from the ADHDers I know including myself.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful replies - he has struggled with legitimate gaming addiction for much of his adolescent and adult life. At one point his family had to step in and remove access to all computers so that he could finish school. I believe the dopamine reward from gaming was how he was medicating himself before he was able to receive a diagnosis later in life.

Once he was able to start proper treatment the hyperfixation/obsession with games remedied itself quite a bit for a while but that place in his life was never filled with anything else. During that period he would come home and simply lie around or sleep instead of playing. He refused any suggestion of productive use of that time.

I suspect a mood disorder because of the pervasive apathy and his limited response to stimulant medication. It almost seems to make his mental health worse and he's tried around 7 different kinds with little improvement.

I like your VR suggestion though I have to admit I'm hesitant to incorporate anything else that could potentially be used for escapism. However I will definitely mention it
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Old 09-17-19, 12:26 AM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

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sounds to me like he needs professional help
He sees a psychiatrist and a wonderful nurse practitioner who spends hours with him trying her best to help. So far all they've done is swap medications a dozen times or increase dosages. It's frustrating to say the least
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Old 09-18-19, 11:43 PM
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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

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Originally Posted by Jpark45 View Post
I suspect a mood disorder because of the pervasive apathy and his limited response to stimulant medication. It almost seems to make his mental health worse and he's tried around 7 different kinds with little improvement.
That does sound possible. Anxiety and mood disorders such as dysthymia/depression can make ADHD meds do more harm than good. I thought a lot of drs. found the right meds for the comorbid mood disorder first before they tried to tie down the ADHD med so that the comorbid would not affect the effectiveness of the ADHD med?

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I like your VR suggestion though I have to admit I'm hesitant to incorporate anything else that could potentially be used for escapism. However I will definitely mention it
I can totally understand your hesitation. It's not without risks. Maybe you could try out VR yourself first since you know your SO in order to gage the risk factor. You can always demo it at Best Buy like I mentioned earlier and also return it if you buy from a store that allows for free returns so you have nothing to lose.

I've known 2 addicts who were extremely successful in overcoming their addictions. By that I mean one of them had even lost everything as their addiction was so damaging and yet they ended up being able to stay clean for over 20 years now. I was astounded they were able to do that but then I found out how they did it. They had found a new addiction and/or they leaned more heavily on other old addictions. The difference this time was their addictions were more benign ones.

I think your SOs addictions and inability to overcome them are in large part due to biology. So unless his psychiatrist comes up with a miracle med combo for him, well you can't solve biology with therapy (though therapy can help if there is also a psychological component to it).

To be completely addition free, he will have to fight his nature for the rest of his life. As an ADHDer I know pretending to be someone you aren't for all your life is a tremendous effort. Just the idea feels almost insurmountable to me.

It's much easier to just accept who you are (an addict) - but just find a loop hole where you can be you and still meet all your needs.

That's where a benign addiction comes in, which VR may or may not be. I'm guessing my suggestion is unorthodox but it really did seem to work for my old friends. Their new addictions weren't completely benign but we all have bad habits and their new ones weren't nearly as destructive.

VR was just related to gaming so not too big a jump for your SO and if you enjoyed it as well, it could possibly both give him exercise as well as fulfill your needs for more time with him. Also, since he's already spending all his spare time gaming, couldn't see VR making it much worse unless he started skipping out on work too. Which, perhaps you could just get him to tell you in advance that he knows he has a problem if he started skipping work too for gaming. Some people have to hit rock bottom before they truly recover.

Anyway, those are my uneducated thoughts so take them with a grain of salt.

Good luck with your SO.


Edit: Has your SO gone to an addiction support group before or participated in an online forum for addicts? I think that might help too. Maybe you guys could come up with a post together describing his actions which you both agree upon and then post it on an addicts forum to see if they think he's addicted. Sometimes people won't listen to those close to them but they will hear it from others. And maybe reading other's ideas for themselves can help him figure out how to overcome his own problems. Anyway just some ideas that may or may not work.

If you go the VR route, could you post back your results? Feel free to PM me too if you have any questions or anything on VR. Or virtual reality forums on reddit are helpful too though there are a lot of biased fanboys over there.

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Re: Please help me explain to my ADHD partner that this lifestyle is not acceptable

Oh hey, I didn't mean to discourage therapy earlier. I think anything is worth a try.
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