Episode 68. ADHD & Relationships: Impulsivity & the Grass is Greener Where You Water It

We are wrapping up the month of love with another great episode with ADHD relationship expert Melissa Orlov, diving into everything from the power of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, post-retirement ADHD symptom concerns, the ADHD Power Couple – Impulsivity and Distractibility and the importance of sleep hygiene in supporting ADHD-impacted couples. 

Tune in now to learn more about ADHD and impulsivity from Melissa Orlov!

Affected by the stimulant medication shortage? #AdderallShortage us too! Melissa’s latest post Adderall Shortage Hacks for Adults with ADHD offers up ideas on how to deal with the dysregulation, tips for dealing with the pharmacy and even has non-medicinal ways to help alleivate some of the side effects. Check it out now!


  • What is rejection-sensitive dysphoria? 
  • Emotional dysregulation in the ADHD partner
  • Parent-child dynamic in ADHD-impacted relationships
  • People pleasing and over-committing 
  • Addressing ADHD, shame, and rejection 
  • Establishing routines with ADHD 
  • Sleep hygiene and disorder 
  • Impulsivity and distractibility in ADHD
  • Handling finances in ADHD-impacted relationships 
  • How the non-ADHD partner can help nurture the ADHD-impacted relationship

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Lindsay Guentzel (00:03):

Support for Refocused comes from the team at ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans, including medication management and teletherapy. Available right now over on ADHDonline.com, Michelle Seitzer dives right into it with, What I’ve Learned as the Spouse of Someone with ADHD, offering eight tips for all of our neurotypical partners out there. Check out Michelle’s wisdom through the link in our bio.


Welcome back to Refocused. My name is Lindsay Guentzel. And throughout the month of February, we’ve been talking all about ADHD and relationships with Melissa Orlov, the brain behind ADHDmarriage.com. Melissa’s expertise is such a gift to this community, and to have her share it here so graciously with us has been just incredible. We’ve covered so much over the first three episodes. In episode 65, simply called ADHD and Relationships with Melissa Orlov, how’s that one for a title, we jumped right in by learning about Melissa and what led to her becoming one of the most respected voices, tackling the incredibly complex world that is ADHD impacted relationships. From there, it was a whirlwind of talking couple dynamics, the prevalence of parent-child relationship patterns, even how technology, to be more specific, how those pesky little smartphones we love so much can keep us from really connecting with our partners. Then in the aptly titled ADHD and Relationships: Melissa Orlov on Dating and Divorce, where we talked, you guessed it, dating and divorce, as well as hyper-focused courtship and all of the lovely extra pressure women with ADHD get to deal with when juggling traditional roles.


And then last week on episode 67, Emotions and Having a Ferrari Brain with Bicycle Breaks, Melissa took us on a lovely trip through the depths of shame, guilt, and of course, anger. And she reminded us about the real cost of all those little white lies we’ve been telling. Spoiler, if you haven’t listened yet, we’re all going broke, now today on ADHD and Relationships: Impulsivity and The Grass is Always Greener Where You Water It, we’re wrapping up our four part conversation with Melissa Orlov, running through everything from the ADHD power couple, that’s impulsivity and distractibility, to the power our sleep hygiene holds when it comes to keeping the spark alive. But we get episode 68 started by diving into rejection sensitive dysphoria, and the work that Dr. William Dotson is doing to explore the connection between RSD and ADHD. And you might be asking why we are starting with that. Well simply put, it’s ADHD.


It feels very fitting that on our fourth and final episode with Melissa Orlov, I have to backtrack and admit that I had an ADHD moment in episode three, which I hope you’ve listened to, because the stuff we’ve touched on in these first three episodes throughout the month of February were incredible. But in episode three, I said I was going to talk about RSD, rejection sensitive dysphoria, and we never even got to it, because there was so much great stuff to get to. And now we’re going to dive into it. Yes, this is Refocused. My name is Lindsay Guentzel and I am joined by the incredible Melissa Orlov. She is the founder of ADHD marriage.com. She’s a marriage consultant and the author of two award-winning books on how ADHD impacts couples.


And I want to start off by talking about RSD, because if I don’t go to it right away, I will forget. And so in the last episode, we talked about all of the different emotions that can be stuff that couples deal with. RSD, rejection sensitive dysphoria, was something that I learned about after I was diagnosed and I went, “Oh my goodness, there’s a name for walking into a room of people and feeling like you don’t belong and no one wants you there.” And manifesting all of those, I say it’s the stories that I tell myself. And before I get off course, let’s just touch on that, Melissa.

Melissa Orlov (04:33):

All right. Well, so I have to laugh at you’re bringing it up right now. This is something that is relatively new on the scene, something that Dr. Dodson has been pushing and actually is currently researching to verify that it’s a thing, but so many people respond to it that I’m pretty competent that it’s a thing. And what it is, it is such a sensitivity to rejection in all of its forms that you actually sort of put your life around it.


When you talk about walking into a room and having all of these emotions, you’re also responding to that room in a certain way. And people organize their lives around not getting rejected, not moving into the shame that we talked about last week. And so you might organize your life to be a pleaser, for example, so that there’s nothing to reject. Or you might rage so that nobody can get close enough to you to reject you. Or you might be a perfectionist so that, again, there’s nothing to reject. But some of these behaviors come up and it’s a very almost physiological, like your body feels this rejection, so it’s very intense. And I have been amazed at how many people say, “Oh yes, this totally fits me to a T,” because I’ve seen sensitivity to rejection in literally everybody I’ve ever worked with ADHD for reasons we talked about last week. But I’ve been amazed at just how many people think of it as this extreme. So that’s really what it is.

Lindsay Guentzel (05:59):

Yeah, it’s crazy sometimes to think back, again, once you understand what it is. And I can look back at life and go, “Oh yes, there’s that, and there’s that.” And I think the one thing that I have had a hard time explaining to people is how detrimental it has been in life. I mean, lost friendships, lost job opportunities, relationships, all of those things, because of as I said, the stories that I was telling myself,

Melissa Orlov (06:26):

Yeah, and I think one of the things that’s really important to communicate to people is yes, you do have these stories that we tell ourselves, and they’re typically not very positive, if you’ve had all of this rejection and stuff going on. Part of the work that Dodson has been doing is, “What do you do about this?” And there is a different set of medications that address this severe type of rejection sensitivity that you can look it up online, but they’re different. The stimulant medications can affect and improve emotional dysregulation for some people, but these are like alpha agonists and other kinds of things that aren’t typically associated with ADHD. So it’s important that people know that.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:05):

You’ve mentioned a few times now the percentage of adults who are undiagnosed who actually have ADHD. It’s what like 80% of adults [inaudible 00:07:13]-

Melissa Orlov (07:13):

About, that’s the estimate.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:14):

… estimation. With that many people out there walking around who have undiagnosed ADHD. What are some of the things that couples should be aware of, that they might be looking for or might see? And one of the things that I want to bring up is we touched a little bit on retirement. And there’s this idea of men, and I will use my father as an example, although we’ll never know if he was actually ADHD or not. He had a great job and he went to work and he had a secretary who kept the train on the tracks. And then he came home and he had a very organized wife who kept the house in order and did all of the things that needed to happen. And then when he retired and the secretary was gone and he had all of these free time, it was like, “What do I do? There’s no one operating day-to-day life.” And I’m always curious about those moments that stand out for a couple as, oh, maybe it is ADHD. And so what are you hearing?

Melissa Orlov (08:15):

Well, it’s interesting. That’s a confusing factor for a lot of couples. It’s not typically one that highlights ADHD. It sort of does the opposite actually. The person who’s really successful at work, because they have the structure and they’re bright and they maybe are great idea people or whatever they’re doing, they’re day traders, whatever it is, they have a structure. They come home, they’re unstructured, it’s boring. They don’t do very well. They have emotional dysregulation. Things sort of go south in the relationship. The tendency is for that person to say, “I do really well at work. It must be you, the other partner, that’s the problem, not me, because look how successful I am.” And actually some number of professionals buy into that story as well. [inaudible 00:08:56] they don’t recognize is that those two environments are so amazingly different. And so learning how to create external structures to compensate for the fact that you’re not naturally organized.


So I don’t have ADHD. I look at something and the way to do the project is almost instantaneous for me. I mean, it’s just there sort of magically I’m this managerial type person and that just is not the way it works for somebody who’s got ADHD. It’s this big blob. I was talking to somebody yesterday who said, “And I read a page now and it’s a bunch of words. I can’t even stay with it long enough, stay focused enough, long enough to read something. I used to be able to do this and now as I have aged, my ADHD has gotten worse.” This is a woman, and now it’s just overwhelming. And there are a lot of those kinds of examples.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:46):

Well, it’s not even just reading. I get annoyed if I’m watching instructional videos and they don’t get to it fast enough. I don’t want your introduction. I want you to tell me how to do this thing.

Melissa Orlov (09:58):

Did you consider doing just two minute podcasts? I’m just saying.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:02):

No, because I like to talk too much. I mean that’s what … And we’re going back to talk about undiagnosed childhood ADHD. I mean, come on, I’m getting out all of the years of being critiqued for talking too much. No. No, but it is, and it’s again, going back to then the emotions. Then you get frustrated and it’s very interesting how that happens. What stands out for you as the one thing, somebody who is undiagnosed with ADHD might be missing when it comes to their relationship? Is there something that stands out or a red flag in the corner that is there and they’re just kind of pretending it’s not?

Melissa Orlov (10:36):

Well, I’m not sure. So you’re going to have to clarify that for me a little bit because I’m not sure what you mean by missing.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:41):

As far as a cue, as far as a push in the direction to ask a question like, life could be better.

Melissa Orlov (10:48):

Yeah, that’s hard to answer. So I think that if the relationship is just really struggling and the couple says, “We ought to be able to do a lot better than this and we have no idea why we can’t,” that’s a clue. And also if things are very repetitive, like a partner tries to do something, really wants to do something, and then repeatedly has trouble executing that thing, that’s a clue. If you have a kid with ADHD, that’s definitely a clue. And if there’s a lot of emotional ups and downs and the relationship has gotten much more volatile emotionally than it used to be, because this tends to be a build, the frustration builds because the symptoms aren’t getting managed better, and the responses are getting worse, and the combination is not a good combination. So all of those things would be clues.


And then there’s the typical sort of ADHD type things. You leave your car keys in the refrigerator. You have all sorts of things that are quite disorganized. You have trouble staying attentive to something, including your partner for very long. Maybe there’s white lies going on that we talked about before. All of those would be typical kinds of clues. But I think from a relationship standpoint, there’s a sort of a course that these relationships take when the ADHD is not known to be there, which goes harder and harder typically.

Lindsay Guentzel (12:09):

Some of the stuff you touched on is kind of this idea of what I refer to as adulting. I didn’t learn how to adult. I didn’t get the adulting course in high school or college. I took AP calculus, but no one taught me anything about taxes or health insurance or minor car care stuff. I remember the first time, oh God, first time my car seized up because there was no oil in it. And it was this idea that I was just supposed to know it. And again, you go back to the shame of you made a mistake because you didn’t know. And that snowballs. And I’m wondering how you address the issue.


So let’s say we’ve got a couple that comes together and we can say it’s me. I come to the table with bad spending habits, and an inability to save, and a lack of understanding about how basic things in the world work like taxes. How does that affect a couple where one of the people in the partnership has a good understanding of that, and then probably starts to feel a little resentment because they’re the ones constantly picking up these adulting things that we’re supposed to know, but no one ever really tells us?

Melissa Orlov (13:19):

Yeah, so what you described when you talked about spending and planning and stuff like that, you described impulsivity. And when you-

Lindsay Guentzel (13:30):

I’m going to write that down.

Melissa Orlov (13:30):

And when you … What was the other? The third one that you described was another, it was distractibility, not learning those things because you were sort of off doing your thing, whatever came in front of you. And it, in your case, didn’t happen to be changing the oil in the car. So that’s distractibility. So you’re actually describing the impact of the symptoms on you as you’re growing up. That came through my mind as you were saying like, “Huh, that’s interesting, symptoms.”


So in terms of how that shows up though for couples, the other partner does tend to take things on and they do that at first as sort of a gesture of goodwill and capability like, “Oh, I can do that. It’s easy for me. It’s hard for you, so I’ll just do it.” And sometimes couples go on for a long time. And that works just fine for them, because the ADHD partner is doing some things that work, and the non-ADHD partners doing other things at work, and everything is fine. And then they add kids and everything falls apart, because then the pressure is so much greater, the sleep is so much less. I mean, we talked about some of this before and then it becomes much, much harder. So that then it becomes a real problem and you move into this, as I call it, parent child dynamic. And that’s a real issue.


The adulting idea is actually a really interesting one as you’re talking about how to identify ADHD. If you have a partner who seems to be sort of trapped in adolescence, and this is typically men that are this way, that may be an indication of ADHD. It might also just be a happy-go-lucky, very present moment focused person who just doesn’t have a point A to point B philosophy. And that’s fine too. The bumblebee method of getting around is great for a whole lot of things, including enjoying the journey. So it’s not a bad way to get around, it’s just a different way to get around. You know?

Lindsay Guentzel (15:14):

Right, and it goes to one of my favorite sayings that I’ve learned since I was diagnosed and you kind of come up with, is that this is not a one size fits all world, but sometimes it feels like a one size fits all world. And sometimes you just have to know that what you’re doing, like being a bumblebee, is what you enjoy and what you want out of life.

Melissa Orlov (15:31):

And I would say that we have a society which is biased towards efficiency and also towards the conceptualization of large amounts of information, rather than the digging into the details of that information. Part of the aspect of having ADHD is you say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Oh, I want to pursue that. Oh, let me try this.” And that’s sort of not what our world is geared towards. I mean, we have a lot of that, but in order to move forward efficiently, you have to be able to sort through in a hierarchy. That’s important and all this stuff is not. That’s not something the ADHD brain does all that well because it’s unfiltered and it gets a lot of input. The ADHD brain is typically very fast, a lot of stuff banging around in there, and not a huge sorting through system or hierarchy system or whatever. So it’s sort of undifferentiated information. And picking out this specific stuff, I mean, I don’t know if this is describing you well or not, but picking out the specific things you need right then can be hard.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:27):

One thing we haven’t touched on, and something you just said made me think about it, is kind of people pleasing and over-committing, and how that ties into efficiency, because you can’t be efficient when you’re over-committing. And a lot of times over-committing is tied to people pleasing.

Melissa Orlov (16:42):

Yeah, and sometimes to RSD.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:43):

Yes. Yeah.

Melissa Orlov (16:46):

And also conflict avoidance. Again, if you think about somebody who’s been critique for much of their life, for whom shame is a huge trigger or a big part of their lives, you want to avoid conflict because you want to avoid the critiquing. And so people pleasing is a way to say, “Yeah, okay, it’ll be fine.” And lots of times I actually hear from people things like, “Well, I knew when I committed, it was easier to commit to it than to be in my partner’s ire for a while, so I just figured I would get around to it. And if I didn’t, I would fix it up later and it would be okay.” You hear those kinds of approaches. So yes, you get a lot of people pleasing and a lot of saying yes, when the skillset might not be in place to actually execute on whatever that yes is. Ultimately it creates big problems for the relationship. And even if they know it’s going to create a big problem, that reward focused brain says, “Yeah, but this feels better in the moment, so I’m going to do this now.”

Lindsay Guentzel (17:41):

Routine is something that is hard for a lot of people with ADHD to get into, especially if they’re trying to establish it on their own and delayed sleep is something that a lot of people deal with. It’s something that I’ve dealt with for so long, feeling like the only time of day I get to myself at night is when everyone else is asleep. And then it creates really poor patterns. I’ll be honest. And it can be hard when you are in a partnership with somebody who’s very like, goes to bed at this time, gets up at this time. And I’m wondering how you talk to some of the people that you’re consulting with about that, because it can feel really overwhelming to feel like you have to change your life in order to make this relationship work. But it is kind of a give and take.

Melissa Orlov (18:22):

Yeah, it depends. So there’s sort of two basic approaches that I suggest. One is if you have somebody who’s effectively a night owl and doesn’t have to get up in the morning, therefore is getting enough sleep, and that happens for some couples, then the issue isn’t around the sleep hygiene schedule, whatever it is, as much as it is around having time together as a couple so that you can show how affectionate you are and stuff. And so there, I suggest that couples get ready for bed at the same time, that they both get into bed at the same time, that they read together or have sex, or whatever the thing is that they do that cements their coupledom. And then when the earlier to bed person goes to sleep, the other partner can get back out of bed and have that time and then come in later.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:05):

I love that.

Melissa Orlov (19:06):

Yeah, that’s one option. So it’s a win-win.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:08):


Melissa Orlov (19:08):

You’re always trying to look for a win-wins, right?

Lindsay Guentzel (19:10):


Melissa Orlov (19:10):

The other one is where the person is not getting enough sleep and they have a wake-up time in the morning. That means that they have to get up at 6:30 or whatever it is to help with children or to get off to work or whatever it is. There the objective is to get more sleep as well as time with your partner if you can do it. And so then you need to do the sort of standard improving sleep hygiene things and you can only move your bedtime earlier by five to 10 minutes a day, if that. So if you’re going to bed at 2:30 in the morning, it’s a long time before you get to 10:00 PM, of these little tiny increments. And you probably are going to need to set up some kind of a game or something to make this more interesting, as well as figure out what is it that’s keeping me up. Am I on a computer with a lot of blue light? Do I need to deal with that? To your point, am I more efficient then because the house is quiet?


Well, if that’s the case, then you need to replace that quiet time with a different quiet time or a different place or something. Maybe he has a couple you say, “Okay, you don’t have to be watching the kids between this hour and that hour.” The other person takes it on and you do your work in that time, in a closed office that’s easy to work in or whatever. So you craft something that works for you both so that you can get that much sleep. It’s critical that people get a certain amount of sleep, which for adults is about seven hours, somewhere in there. And if you have even half an hour less than that, your symptoms are a lot worse and your cognitive capabilities are the equivalent of being drunk. It’s horrible. So it’s a really critical issue.


Also, I do need to mention, mention this when you talk about sleep, a lot of people with ADHD have much higher likelihood of an actual sleep disorder. And for many, that’s sleep apnea. There are a lot of CPAP machines and things that you can get that aren’t particularly intrusive anymore, and they can be life-changing, the difference between having a foggy brain and being alert.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:06):

Oh gosh, foggy brain, that was something that really caught me off guard when I realized what that was and why I couldn’t make it till three o’clock in the afternoon without feeling like I needed a nap.

Melissa Orlov (21:16):

Yeah. Well, and a lot of time that’s sleep hygiene. It might also be celiac, which is completely different. Obviously that’s an issue with gluten, but weirdly, 15% of people with ADHD have celiac.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:31):

Oh. Okay, so it’s so crazy that you said that, because I cut out gluten well before I was diagnosed with ADHD, and it was a game changer.

Melissa Orlov (21:38):

In the population. It’s about 1%. So it’s a huge difference. And one of the symptoms of that can be this sort of fuzzy brain, and if you have celiac and you eat gluten by mistake, even a little bit of it, your brain just sort of goes, “Okay, I’m not going to really function right now.”

Lindsay Guentzel (21:53):

No, and it’s when you experience it. Mine was Cheez-Its and driving a car, and having this moment where I was like, “I should not be functioning this vehicle right now.” And I know it sounds crazy, but the gut brain connection, it is not something to take lightly.

Melissa Orlov (22:06):

No, it’s not. So that’s another possibility in that realm. I just had to bring it up, because it’s such an odd fact, but there you go. But it really, again, another life changer if you know about it. It’s another example of really getting into the details about ADHD and how life changing that can be.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:22):

Let’s touch quickly on finances, because shared finances is something I think a lot of people think automatically comes with being a couple. And I don’t know if it’s maybe because people are getting married later in life, or I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t feel like it happens as immediately as it used to. I feel like my generation is getting married and sometimes there aren’t joint checking accounts. But that can be a problem if one of the people that would be me, I’ll raise my hand right now, loves to impulsive spend.

Melissa Orlov (22:57):

So there’s different things that are embedded in how you just asked that. One is getting married or not getting married. Legally if you’re married, whether you have a joint checking account or not, the finances are typically the joint responsibility of both members of the couple. So one of the things to look out for actually, a history of debt. And we talked before about lying and coverups. And I have seen really a lot of examples of debt, significant impulsive spending, taking out credit cards when the partner didn’t know they were doing it, running up $75,000 worth of debt that then somebody’s parents have to pay off, and then doing it again. I mean, really horrible financial management. So it may actually be one factor in whether or not you choose to get married if there is a history of debt. So I just want to get that out there.


But when you’re talking about joint checking accounts or whatever, I think it is useful for a lot of couples not to have that. You have to then have a much more overt conversation about who’s paying what bills, how they’re getting paid, what accounts they’re coming out of, and I think that’s probably good if you have an impulsive spender. You also have to have the conversation about what money goes into those accounts and what proportions and why and et cetera. It can be a difficult conversation. You might need some sort of a mediator, a financial person or somebody else to help you with it.


One of the issues for people who have ADHD in finances is the emotion stuff. And not only impulsivity, but shame or this sort of hopeful thinking like, “Yeah, I had this problem in the past.” I listened to somebody the other day actually say, “Well, I totally ruined the household finances in the past, but I actually think one of my strengths is going to be investing the household money in the future.” And I’m just [inaudible 00:24:47] thinking to myself, “Oh, no, no, no, no, don’t do that.” And it wasn’t the main topic of the conversation, so I let it go, but it’s just no, learn from the past and figure out a different way to approach it.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:01):

The last thing I want to bring up, and it feels like a terrible thing to end these incredible conversations on, but it’s one that I’ve been hearing a lot and I’ve been hearing it a lot from women. And it’s because a lot of the people I’m talking to are women who are diagnosed later in life. And they’re getting this life-changing diagnosis. And then they’re making changes. And they’re working on themselves and they’re figuring out all of the things that were being controlled by their ADHD. And now they’re feeling like the sky is the limit. And I think for a lot of them, there’s a feeling of, this isn’t where I want to be in life and where they are in their relationship. I’m wondering how you approach that, because there is that impulsivity to it. It’s that impulsivity of getting in the convertible, top is down …

Melissa Orlov (25:47):

Music is playing.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:48):

Exactly, like the world is your oyster. There’s nothing holding you back. But that’s not the case for the majority of people.

Melissa Orlov (25:55):

Yeah. Are you hinting at divorce in between the lines? Or-

Lindsay Guentzel (25:58):

I think for some people that is something that comes up. It’s this feeling of I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I was capable of. I signed on to this thing. And obviously the other partner, the one being told this, is going to feel this sense of rejection, has really most of the time nothing to do with them. So [inaudible 00:26:17] okay, fine.

Melissa Orlov (26:19):

I’m not so sure about that. I mean, this is part of the learning.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:21):

Right, okay.

Melissa Orlov (26:23):

And non-ADHD partners assume they don’t have anything to do with it and they do. I mean, there is a role in terms of how your responses have played a role. When I talk with people, first of all, wonderful that people are figuring out who they are, getting a sense of agency, of strength, of wanting to go forward. Yeah, there is that impulsivity, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that your life is going to be better somewhere else. They say the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. I like to say the grass is greener where you water it. It’s not necessarily somewhere else. It might be exactly where you are, depending again, on how much both of you invest on trying to figure out what’s going on.


I’ve seen so many couples do better that my preference is to say, “Wonderful, you’re having this experience.” This is a game changer, because you’re totally involved in this now. We got to get your partner totally involved in it as well. I want you to both do the things that couples do in order to see whether they can make it. Don’t just abandon it. If you can keep the impulsivity at bay, don’t just abandon it. See if you can do something to really make this particular relationship that you picked for a reason, sing for you. And take the time to do that a year, whatever it is.


And then if you are contributing your best self to the relationship in a way that makes sense, if your partner is contributing their best self to this relationship, and then you decide, hey, this is really not the right relationship for me, at least you have given it a chance. Better than doing the escape thing, which is so much fun and particularly is a great coping strategy, or not a great one, but a common one for people. You don’t want to just abandon a relationship that you’ve been working on for so long necessarily, unless there’s significant cheating, there’s really financial issues that are really threatening to you. If there’s abuse, particularly physical abuse, all of those kinds of things, then yeah, maybe you want to abandon it, and you would have good reason to.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:20):

But a lot of the times I think it’s the grass is greener, and it’s hard to not look for the shiny thing.

Melissa Orlov (28:26):

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And looking for shiny things is an ADHD specialty.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:31):

We love it.

Melissa Orlov (28:31):

But lots of other people do it too. There is an awakening that comes sort of midlife, I only have a certain number of years left. What am I going to do with it? And if that happens to dovetail with a diagnosis of ADHD, there’s that aspect as well. So there’s a lot of things going on there, but I do try. I mean, this is partially my bias because I help couples do this work, but I do try to suggest that at least you give the relationship a chance with the new information, and with all of the strategies that are now known to help.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:03):

I love that you said too, you chose this relationship for a reason, and if it’s healthy, working to remember that is important.

Melissa Orlov (29:10):

Yeah, and one of the interesting things, and I’m not embarrassed to admit this. I mean, I have been doing this forever, and you could argue that I know as much about this as anything, but I cannot tell you when I start with a couple, which couples are going to make it and which couples are not going to make it. I mean, I have hints sometimes. If there’s one person who is not engaged, that’s a good indicator that the couple’s not going to make it. But if they’re both engaged, I can’t tell you. And the reason I can’t tell you is because for some couples, there is this core connection which is really strong, which has been completely covered up by all of this stuff that’s been going on in these bad habits, and these interactions, and not knowing about the ADHD and all that stuff. And when you clear that stuff away, that core connection shines through again. And it is hidden when you first start with a struggling couple.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:57):

I thought I was going to end this fourth episode on a very negative note, and look at you just bringing it around with sunshine and optimism, and I love that. There’s a reason you’re together. And there’s the core and it’s just been hidden. And you just have to kind of spend some time clearing that away.

Melissa Orlov (30:13):

Some people don’t have that core, but some do.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:16):


Melissa Orlov (30:16):

Just to bring it down a little bit.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:17):

Okay. Okay, fine. We can’t leave on too high of a note. No, I appreciate that. Melissa, I cannot thank you enough. This was incredible and so eye-opening, and many things that I need to take back to my own relationship, and share with the people in my life. And thank you so much for sharing your time and your expertise here on Refocus. It really means a lot.

Melissa Orlov (30:37):

It has been a great pleasure talking to you, a lot of fun.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:46):

The biggest of thanks to Melissa Orlov for enthusiastically accepting my four-hour interview invitation while I was in town in January, which of course was followed by lunch, because as you can tell, we had an absolutely terrible time together. I have loved working on these episodes and I hope that that was crystal clear as you listened. I just had the most wonderful time with Melissa. And one thing I do want to bring to your attention, if you are one of the many Americans affected by the stimulant medication shortage, which is trending way too often on social thanks to hashtag Adderall shortage, Melissa’s latest post over on her website, ADHDmarriage.com, talks about dealing with the dysregulation, offers up tips for dealing with the pharmacy, and shares non-medicinal ways to combat the symptoms. You can find the link to her post, Adderall Shortage Hacks for Adults with ADHD, in our show notes.


And here’s where I tell you, there’s actually a part five coming your way very soon. And it’s the surprise reunion because I forgot not one question, but two, during my time chatting with Melissa. I wondered if any of you noticed. If you did, I am very proud of you. Never fear, Melissa is coming back. To answer the second question I told you I was going to ask her, and then forgot to actually ask her. We’re talking what needs to be done to make sure therapy can support ADHD impacted relationships. That’s coming up on Refocus with Lindsay Guentzel.


Refocused is a collaboration between me, Lindsay Guentzel, and ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans, including medication management and teletherapy. A huge thanks to writer Sarah Galbard who did all of the research for my conversations with Melissa. You’re going to get to hear from Sarah coming up in that surprise part five reunion show. I’m really excited to hear what stood out to her as we sent her down the ADHD Relationships rabbit hole. I also want to give a shoutout to the dynamic duo who helped make our Instagram page come alive this week, Al Chaplin and Mason Nelly. These two made sure we had videos of all of the highlights from my time with Melissa to share with you guys. And it’s been awesome seeing Instagram’s ADHD community connect with them, like the absolute love our convo con hyper-focused courtship is getting right now. One of those moments where it feels really good to know that I am not alone in that one.


Major thanks to my accountability partners, Phil Rodman and Sarah Platinus, who help keep this train on its tracks and have been instrumental in helping me see the potential of this podcast. And I am so excited for what’s ahead you guys. I can’t wait for it to kind of all start falling into place. This couldn’t happen without my partners turned friends at ADHD Online. High fives to the ones I bug the most, Keith Boswell, Claudia Gotti, Melanie Mile, Suzanne Spuit, Tricia Merchandunny. And thanks to Bear Beat Productions for their work on today’s edit. And a big shoutout to the team at PS Creative in Phoenix for handling all of our production needs on site. Our show art is created by Sissy Ye of Berlin Gray, and our music was created by Louie English, a singer-songwriter from Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39. Links to all of the partners we work with are available in the show notes.


To connect with the show or with me, you can find us online at Refocus Pod, as well as at Lindsay Guentzel. And you can email the show directly at [email protected]. That’s [email protected]. And stay tuned for that very special part five reunion show where Melissa does me a major solid and comes back to answer the second question I forgot to ask her. Make sure you’re subscribed to Refocused wherever you get your podcast to make sure whenever there’s a new episode waiting for you. And as always, thank you guys so much for showing up week after week.

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