Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

The Forums Forums For The Non-ADD Relationships why can't people communicate?

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  • sar316

    For me communication is the most important aspect of my close personal relationships regardless of how long and uncomfortable it maybe. For me if I have a problem with someone or vice versa I need there to be a conversation about it. In a ‘if we don’t talk about this our relationship gets downgraded and there is no moving forward until you choose to talk to me’ sort of way. I will again stress I really only hold this expectation of those who are closest to me (which are few and that probably isn’t a surprise).

    I should also probably explain that if there is an issue in my close relationships that doesn’t get resolved I mentally cannot move forward. I cannot understand how people are ok with sweeping issues under the rug and pretending as all is fine.

    I can’t do this. To me this issue festers, it makes me not trust said person and I am forever walking on eggshells because with out the conversation I have no idea what I have done wrong. Or if I have confronted them with a problem/conflict and they brush it off it drives me bananas that they refuse to take my concerns seriously. To me it’s like they don’t value our relationship enough to suck it up through a difficult conversation to better/strengthen our relationship after said conversation. For me I NEED to figure out through communication what was the real issue (the argument is often a symptom of some larger problem) and once I understand what the real problem is it can be addressed and we can move on.

    It also drives me mad how people are ok with not addressing the issue and then revisiting the EXACT same problem in a week just to loop around, brush it under the rug and do it all over again. I much rather spend the energy fixing the problem so that there is no problem to have again than to endlessly run on the wheel of avoiding talking and repeating the conflict.

    I should also note this need for communication is for the large relationship changing issues/arguments not so much for the little annoyances or disagreements, but I still like to talk about them although its not completely necessary.

    I try to explain this to people and they seem to not get it. This leads me to believe that my need for communication is unique. So I am wondering if I am asking too much of people to communicate with me? Why is it so difficult for people to say when they are angry, annoyed, frustrated. Why are so many people offended when you inform them that there is an issue and that you would like to talk about it. How do people continue on their day as though everything is normal after such altercations? How are people ok not understanding what lead to the argument so that the root of the issue is understood and treated/resolved?

    I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I really don’t understand.



    I have no idea what the answer to your question is because the same thing has puzzled me my whole life. It drives me crazy too. So you are not alone. And now I know I’m not either. 🙂



    Wow! I can also relate.  Unfortunately I have no answer to your question either.  I would like to add communication issues I find confusing is 1) the person who won’t communicate an issue they have but just leaves the friendship and I have no idea the issue so we can fix it or to part amicably.  2) the person who I asked a question to clarify an issue and they claim I have hurt their feelings and never speak to me again.   And these aren’t one time occurrences, so I know I have a part to own but I can’t figure out what it is.



    I don’t know why communication is so difficult. It just is. I am probably the last person that should be answering that question. But, here goes anyway. Here is what it means to me.

    I think discussing issues is VERY uncomfortable, even for an NT. It is double difficult, when you throw in ADD. Each person has different expectations. Words have different meanings. Things get lost in translation. Assumptions are are different. For me, am concentrating on so much, I miss the nuances of conversation, and end up not understanding the majority of the conversation.

    I have had many conversations where someone has said, “I want to talk about this issue.”

    “Not now.” I say.

    Two very simple sentences with a whole world full of potential misunderstandings.  By the time I have fully analyzed the potentials, the moment has passed. The subject is dropped and I have moved on to something else. That is my world. Bringing emotions into the mix… way too revealing… way too personal… that could even cause me to have a melt down. I have no idea how an NT communicates on that level.

    I have very few connections to the world. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of people that are close to me. Close enough that if there is a misunderstanding it would cause an argument. If someone starts an argument with me, I usually withdraw with a “what ever”, a grunt, or a head tilt and blank stare focusing into the floor.

    I don’t like arguments and I tend to avoid the people who start them. I have written off many people like that. Once it happens they are pretty much on the level of animated furniture.

    People who are close take so much energy and concentration to connect and maintain that connection. Especially if we get into an argument. It is also very intrusive and revealing to me and I don’t like revealing myself to others. So I find myself walking a fine line of making the connection while keeping people far enough away so I don’t reveal too much.

    Short answer? I will repeat what I have been told (repeatedly). Patience. (both) Explain why it is important to you to discuss. Patience. (both) Explain as best you can about how you are feeling. Patience. (both)  Explain as best you can what the issue is.  Rinse and repeat.

    It has never worked for me, but it might work for you.


    Patience and explanation is good. But the problem is that people won’t allow you to take that step. Like sar316 said, if your try to have a serious conversation about the issue, people just don’t want to talk to you. They avoid, sweep it under the carpet, or lie and say nothing is wrong.

    That last one is the most frustrating for me with friends. When I ask if I did/said something wrong I want a real answer. It is so annoying when people will not tell you.

    For example, there is another site I use to socialize on a regular basis. When I first joined everyone welcomed me with open arms and I had lots of friends and I was really happy and excited to belong to the group.

    But after awhile I noticed that no one talked to me unless I initiated the conversation. So I decided to stop sending messages for awhile to see what would happen. The result was that I got very, very lonely. Eventually I caved and sent out a few messages again because I missed my “friends”. And I got very polite and friendly responses, that all sounded extremely hollow and superficial, followed by polite brush offs, then silence.

    At this point in time I have 2 people left there that I can actually call friends, and I’m not sure about one of them. And I have no idea why. But if I ask why, I’ll get something like “Oh no dear, you didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve just been so busy lately….”


    Uh, yeah .  .  .  what shutterbug said.



    I think I have figured it out. I have spent a lot of time over the past two days trying to figure out why relationships are such a huge energy suck and why it is easer for me to downgrade a relationship than it is to not have communication.

    I want to point out this is my mind blowing break though and has really relieved any and all anxiety that I feel with people and relationship that I have felt my entire life. I also want to point out that I really don’t want to offend anyone, but this is how the world makes sense to me. Also for sake of making this easier to type out, I am going use the term ‘normal’ people to describe those who don’t share my thought pattern and I have had conflict with my entire life.

    A friend has recently pointed out that I am a problem solver, which is probably my greatest strength, but also my greatest weakness. When I say problem solver I don’t just mean i am good at logic based assignments. I mean my entire life revolves around every aspect of it being approached in a problem solving way and I am relentless at not letting go of a problem until it is solved. This is because I can’t. The world doesn’t make sense to me with out understanding it in its entirety and this is because most of the ‘normal’ world isn’t logical, reasonable and black and white. My world and reality is. So I have to communicate with the ‘normals’ to understand how/why they do/think the way they do because with out it I will never understand because it’s not logical.

    I have very recently realized that I live on an entirely different planet than most people. Most people have a small argument or disagreement and then can move on. We are going to call these relatively small bumps in relationships leaves. Sick with me here.

    Now leaves are small and annoying but compared to the rest of the day they are not even on the radar for most people. Compared to their feelings to each other these leaves aren’t worth the uncomfortable conversation.

    I have realized that normal people only ever see leaves. I am a problem solver. I very much understand that big leaves or commonly occurring leaves are attached to a twig, that twig is attached to a branch, which is attached to a bigger branch and that branch is attached to a huge freaking tree.

    Now the ‘tree’ is what the real problem is. I very much understand that most larger arguments or recurring smaller ones don’t just happen. They are symptoms of something much larger. And this much larger something is something that most people are completely unaware is present. In their reality, only leaves exist.

    For most people long uncomfortable conversations aren’t worth it to simply not be brushed by a leaf any more. But for me I didn’t understand this. I didn’t understand that people don’t look for, recognize and then tend to the tree. For me in a large conflict I’m am very seldom bothered by the actual surface issue or emotions and this is because I understand that the surface emotions are only a sign/symptom of a much deeper problem.

    I am a problem solver. My life up until this point would get hung up on a problem and I would be physically, mentally and emotionally tied up to remedy the problem. Seriously, I could do nothing but to fixate on the problem because by not understanding the problem I don’t understand the world around me.

    Relationships were hard for me because it never occurred to me that people don’t recognize there is an entire tree to be dealt with. People are ok day by day week by week brushing off leaves. I see this as annoying, repetitive and a useless waste of my time and energy because if we would just find and fix the tree, people would stop sucking my energy on the useless tiffs in a day. I need conversation. I need others perspectives to get me thinking in other ways. I need to talk through the leaves, twigs and branches so that I can tend to the tree and shape it as my own instead of having the tree shape my landscape how ever it happens to. Me VS problem, not a problem. I will not let up until that sucker is solved and I can move on. PROBLEM: Me——Person——-Problem. Relationships are hard because people get in the way of me finding the real problem, understanding it and then fixing it.

    It would take so much energy from me to live with the tree in every relationship that I would get frustrated that the other person never seemed to care to match the energy that I was putting into the relationship. It would be very easy for me then to down grade the relationship (love aside, I would always still love the person), but I would no longer hold any expectation to them in any capacity and they just would become another person instead of being in my ‘inner circle’.

    Here is where I really don’t mean to offend any one as I understand that this is not going to sound nice, but I have no way of understanding people otherwise. I have a new freedom in seeing most people as emotional toddlers compared to me. AGAIN I know that sounds horrible, but let me explain. Toddlers are people you are with and need to show affection. Toddlers also cannot be reasoned with and they cannot understand the world as you see it through adult eyes. Most normal people won’t be reasoned into thinking there is a tree and most normal people who are  going into and out of arguments don’t understand there is this unexplainable tree.

    I now find a lot of freedom in understanding that to most people there is not tree to see. There are only day to day leaves that mean nothing to them and just happen because they happen. They accept it as no more than a knot in the cables behind the TV, small, insignificant and minor.

    I now no longer expect people to fix what they don’t see exists. I feel really bad that I held this unrealistic expectation to people before now because I never realized they didn’t see the tree or are unequipped to deal with it. For me just talking is so logical and worth it to up root trees, but I now understand why normal people don’t want to put in the energy to up root a tree when all they have to do is brush a leaf off their shoulder.

    Sorry this was a long one and I hope it makes some sort of sense I am in kind of a rush, but i felt that I really need to get this out there. I have very recently realized this and it has opened my world to relationships and toleration for people where other wise anxiety, stress, frustration and lack of understanding would be.

    Shadow Nexus

    I’v posted about this before. We are out of sync with rest of the people, we think differently than anyone else.  When we talk to other ADHD people, there is no problem. I can’t find the message to refer to.





    I have only recently come to the same conclusion. I started thinking a few years ago that other people must just be different from me. I didn’t know why at the time.

    And to be honest, I saw a lot of it as a lack of intelligence on their part in many cases. I just can’t understand why people don’t want to examine things more deeply and understand them more fully. The majority of people seem to be happy to go through life knowing only the minimum amount that they need to know to get by.

    I am not the smartest person myself and am lacking in knowledge in a lot of areas. But this is due to an inability to learn, not unwilllingness. I just spend so much time and energy on getting through my day that I don’t have any left to read and study things that I don’t need to know. But when something comes up and I need to learn about it in a hurry, I get Googling. Like when I needed to learn more about ADHD. 🙂


    Good topic @sar316

    The need for communication is not unique. I bet you know this deep down, but your need for a particular kind may be. And that’s okay 🙂 We ADDes just think different.

    In a single word the reason a lot of us struggle is fear. Often fear is a result of our amazing imagination, in which I’m grateful for (the imagination). Usually a fear is (false evidence appearing real) or at least the intensity of the fear is based on my magnifying mind… And unresolved conflicts from previous relationships.

    This is my long answer to why a lot of us avoid the all terrifying act of communication. It’s scary cuz I have struggled like crazy with communication. And I’m an ADDer so I can really really chat you guys!. I’m an expert at “beating around the bush”. Especially when the “bush” reminds me of some other long ass story… n so-on.

    Now I’m gonna read the rest of the replies n finish my post. N try to keep it short.

    I don’t know why communication is so difficult

    MmHmm, me too @shutterbug55 . It still scares me, but it soooo pays off when I just walk right into n through that fear. And it’s been a painful and long learning process, I’m far from done with. I can relate to a lot of what ya say.

    I have realized that normal people only ever see leaves. I am a problem solver. I very much understand that big leaves or commonly occurring leaves are attached to a twig, that twig is attached to a branch, which is attached to a bigger branch and that branch is attached to a huge freaking tree.

    @sar316 Wow!, what a totally ADDers way to see things. We see the tree, the linear thinkers see just a leaf. Cool analogy. (or parable mebby? I’m no English major) I can really relate to a lot of your stuff too. Sometimes folks just need someone to listen, but I sometimes jump in n say “here I come to say the daaaay” (I say this to myself as I pretend to change into my suit with the big S ) But it just frustrates some folks. ADD or Linear. Because they just need a pair of compassionate eyes, a closed mouth, n both ears really listening. And even more difficult is to be able to repeat back small parts of what they’re saying to help them when they pause, n start to forget (like us) and it also shows em we’re  truly listening.

    I think maybe sometimes this is a control issue. But DGMS.

    Oh yeah, on your last paragraph about feeling like you’re on/from another planet, me too. But I’m willing to believe we’re all from the same place, just way freaking different sometimes. Most of the people I consider friends are either diagnosed ADD/ADHD, or need one!. These friendships are so very valuable. I feel blessed.

    Some folks actually are toddlers emotionally. Heck partner, I used to my life in eternal toddlerhood. Fortunately I’m a fairly mature teen at 49 years. I think maybe a lil compassion and patience, and you can have some level of friendship with them. And I don’t think you sound horrible. Honesty, even if the brutal can’t be avoided is GOOD. Sometimes in hindsight we hear an eco of what we said and only after a lil more life experience do we see we could have been sorta wrong. Mebby. Or could have found a more gentle way to say what we needed to say.

    A long time ago some old wise person told me that all relationships get to a certain level. Some grow, some don’t. The point was to accept whatever level any given relationship gets to. If you’re married, it’s likely to be a 10. Some of the idiots we work with are 1’s n 2’s. Just accept it.

    I bet you will attract people who can communicate, and see life the same way, and on the same level. It’s been happening to me lately, and I’ve been alone, and very lonely for much of my life. Much less lately, and largely because of coming back and reading… tons and tons of reading here. And other places, like my Bible and plenty of other good books.
    N watching the videos if I can’t seem to be able to read some days. N just for fun. Rick is a real funny dude. They’ve got some excellent videos by psychologists, and if you’re real good at surfing TotallyADD, you’ll find webinars! (I think there’s a place to find all the old ones).
    Take it easy.



    I would also classify myself as a “fairly mature teen”. I might be getting into my early 20’s now. But then somedays I’m 41 going on 10.

    My brother and his wife were here yesterday and he found the box from my My Little Pony blind box figurine. I immediately fetched the pony that came in it and held her up high and exclaimed “I got glow-in-the-dark Derpy Hooves!”  Which, of course, was met with the usual criticism.

    Despite this though, I have always felt as though I was more mature than other people. It’s funny, but to me they seem to be the ones whose emotional growth is stunted.

    I think it’s partly due to what @sar316 said. Because other people seem so superficial. They don’t want to discuss things in detail. They seem to blow off serious issues like as if they are nothing and go back to talking about whichever reality TV show they are currently watching. And to me that comes off as immaturity.

    Plus, it seems like most of them never got out of high school. They still have their little social groups that outsiders aren’t allowed to join and they still bully people and make fun of them. And they have complete disregard for how the other person feels. Like it’s their fault for being different.  And I don’t do that stuff, which makes me different.

    They only see the leaves. We see the whole tree, right down to the roots. But when you look at a whole tree, it’s hard to see just how many leaves it has. So it’s easy to miss some. And maybe we are missing a few of the key ones that would help us to make sense of it all.

    But instead of shoving us aside because we missed that one leaf, the leaf watchers could point it out to us. After which we could then go on to point out the branch that it’s attached to. And eventually, working together, we might just reach the root.


    Yep yep, @blackdog I agree with the stuff about the Leaves we miss/don’t see, or mebby they just get lost in the fall. I’ve been pondering on this ‘Leaves on trees’ perspective. N it’s fun.

    I really like to hibernate this time of year. I wonder what colors I turn into before I fall off?, and in some magical way get reborn each year on the same tree I was snoozing under all winter… :0)

    I wonder if some folks get raked up and then ground up into some organic mulch or compost product they sell at nurseries?… lol. I don’t really understand this new part of the analogy I just came up with…, I’m just sitting here snickering, smiling n writing.




    I was thinking the same thing Robbo.  Leaves get raked up and burned every fall.  Your way is better, mix them up with manure and grass clippings then compost.  It makes for pretty flowers in the spring.


    I’ve just been thinking about George of the Jungle since I first read that people with ADHD see the forest but not the trees. Then with the talk about leaves and trees here, then Robbo’s Mighty Mouse reference….An image of George slamming face first into a tree just automatically came to mind.

    Leaping before he looks, rushing to get to where he wants to be, jumping in to a situation to save the day, without stopping to look for obstacles in his way or think about how he is going to get there….I can’t help but wonder if George had ADHD. 😉


    Patte Rosebank

    ADHD is the stuff that comedy and cartoons are made of.

    Inattention, over-the-top emotions, oddball way of looking at the world, all-or-nothing thinking…

    And the most beloved characters are the ones with huge hearts and a lot of innocence.

    I’ve always adored Laurel & Hardy. Now that I know I have ADHD, I know why I’ve always felt so at home in their world.

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