Mr. Impossible: Is It Narcissism or ADHD?


Mr. Impossible: Is It Narcissism or ADHD?
What if your ex isn't a narcissist, a compulsive liar or a sociopath? What if he's just got ADHD?

Guess what? Many people with ADHD have difficulty saying "I'm sorry" or accepting responsibility for their actions, not because they're sociopaths, but because their distractability and underfocusing has left them clueless about their mistakes. They don't read social cues as well, and honestly may not realize they have offended someone. To make matters worse, hypersensitivity is a common an ADHD trait, causing many people with the disorder to avoid difficult conversations, like ones that involve apologizing.

Evidence: He was so charming and larger than life--a total narcissist.



Maybe when you first started dating he was charming and charismatic, which is how a sociopath will win over the love and affection of his target.

Guess what? Hyperfocus courtship is a trait of many ADHD relationships. Their brain circuitry fires like crazy when they are in the liminal phase of a relationship, when everything is about the bubble-fizz of new love. You've never been romanced until you've been romanced by someone with ADHD--we're talking gorgeous flowers, sweet notes, exotic vacations, adventurous sex. For the ADHD brain, romantic cathexis (or falling in love) acts as a natural "medication," much like an SSRI or a stimulant medication. But whereas non-ADHD couples start to cool off after an initial period of romantic excitement, the ADHD folks just go completely cold when their brain chemicals stopped working to "medicate" them. This leaves many partners feeling unloved, unwanted and angry. And neither partner understands why any of it has happened.


Evidence: He needed constant praise for his accomplisments--a huge narcissist.

Maybe he needed constant reassurance, approval and praise from everyone around him and could be set off by the slightest criticism he receives.

Guess what? His huge need for approval might be due to the psychological wounding he suffered from years of being told he was  "underperforming" or "not meeting expectations" as a child and young adult. This constant emotional battery leads many with ADHD to develop low self-esteem. Combine this low self-esteem with a little impulsivity and some good old-fashioned conflict-seeking, and you've got someone who very much resembles a garden-variety narcissist or sociopath.

What To Do If You Think Your Ex Has Adult ADHD


It can be difficult to tell the difference between someone with adult ADHD and a sociopath or narcissist. A narcissist needs to be validated by others, just like the person with undiagnosed ADHD. A sociopath will exploit others because he finds it amusing, and someone with ADHD may make you feel exploited after all his explosive and demanding emotional displays. But what might help you when dealing with a narcissist might hurt you when dealing with an ADHD ex.

For example, if you're dealing with a narcissist, don't feed his ego. But if you're dealing with ADHD, a little ego-boost can go a long way toward getting you what you want.
Here are some other pointers for dealing with ADHD in an ex you still have to communicate or negotiate with:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Hadley Earabino

Life Coach

Hadley Earabino, Certified Life Coach & Sex Therapist
TheLoveLifeCoach | |

Location: Decatur, GA
Credentials: BA, CLC
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