9 Guidelines For Dating With Asperger’s
I forget who said this, but if you’ve met one aspie, you’ve met one aspie. We’re all different. That’s the first thing to keep in mind. You shouldn’t hold yourself to neurotypical standards. But you shouldn’t define yourself by Asperger’s either. Especially not at first. If you’re calling yourself aspie89 on Tinder then you need to rethink your existence.
Don’t define yourself by Asperger’s. Because if you do, you’re going to be an empty freaking hole that no one wants to talk to. Ever.
People on the spectrum generally aren’t that approachable. It really differs for women and men though. I don’t have people chatting me up trying to be my friend. But I do get approached by guys. Which is a blessing and a curse. My boyfriend tells me that because guys hit on me I’ve had more social exposure and therefore more of an opportunity to develop social skills. I should feel lucky. I guess I do. But eventually my looks are going to fade and I’m going to have to get by in life based on something else.
If you’re a woman on the spectrum and you feel like that’s literally the ONLY REASON anybody talks to you, you might take that even harder than most women. You want a nice guy who’s going to like you for your other qualities too.
If you’re a man, then not only do you have to keep your partner around, but you have to get her (or him) hooked to begin with. A lot of the guys in my support group sit around bitching about how they can’t get women. They blame women for this. They hate women because women won’t have sex with them, and women won’t have sex with them because they don’t have anything to offer. You do not deserve sex for existing.
For both sexes: figure out what you have to offer in a relationship before thinking about what other people can do for you.
You might have to approach this more carefully than other people. If you’re a woman you have to keep your safety in mind. Frankly, if you’re a man you do too. Make sure she isn’t involved with some guy who’s going to kick your ass.
Also, try to figure out if the person you like is patient. Look for clues. You’ll find them in everything somebody says. I went out on a few dates with an orderly in a mental hospital. He talked about the patients like they were a joke. He didn’t seem to have thought about what it must be like to not be able to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Someone like that probably won’t have the patience to deal with you.
If she’s irritable, no. If he’s one of those people you can’t say anything to without worrying if you’ll piss him off, hell no. We don’t work well with touchy people. You can have a fling with whoever you want, but long term you’re going to have to date defensively.
I would say look for common interests. But it’s more complicated than that. When most people say that they mean look for someone in your psychology class. Find someone at a craft beer meetup. Those are good tips, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a relationship that way. A lot of the time the best person for you is someone you might not have that much in common with outwardly. If you feel comfortable with someone, that’s the most important thing. Go from there. My guy and I don’t have many similar interests. But we both have great taste in food. Which is a pretty big deal actually. Most people don’t. We try new restaurants all the time together. It’s a quiet and wonderful routine. Look for things you have in common once you’ve established a good rapport.
And watch your boundaries. I for one have always had problems with that. I’ve spent my whole life telling people too much too soon and it never fails to make them uncomfortable. The worst is when I meet some socially gifted person who just seems really open and accepting and they really seem to get me. I’m thrilled about it and I end up telling them everything. But whenever I do that, the relationship or friendship burns out.
Oversharing puts expectations on the other person that they’re probably not ready to fill. They don’t want to feel like they have to save you from yourself right away. They might feel like you expect them to reciprocate with their own information when they don’t want to yet. Laying yourself out like that also gives the other person all of the power. You don’t want to do that, do you?
I think people with Asperger’s are prone to falling madly in love immediately. That’s because 1.) someone is paying far more attention to us than we’re used to; and 2.) We’re kind of empty. When you have trouble with empathy it’s like you have this gaping emotional hole at your core. When someone fills that void (emotionally you pervs!) you get pretty obsessed.
It’s a tough balancing act, I know. I know how hard it is to open up to people. And I know that, in the long run, it’s the healthiest thing we can do. But hold back for a while okay?
Okay, so you’ve sufficiently proven yourself worthy, developed a rapport, and withheld your desperation efficiently enough to get a commitment. You’re going through the honeymoon period. Now you’re thinking more long-term. Now’s the time you need to set your own boundaries. You need to make sure you have your own space.You might want to see your partner every second at first. But eventually you’re probably going to need more time alone than most people because you have Asperger’s. You need more time to gather your thoughts. You might even end up wanting your own room if you have the money. It’s not as weird as you think. Neurotypicals do it too. What do you think a “study” or a “den” is?
And finally, don’t let your partner change you. For every stubborn aspie douchebag there’s probably two who are desperate enough to give up most things to keep someone. Don’t. If you’re a woman, a shady partner will try to isolate you from your friends before he does God knows what else. If you’re a man, she might do that too. Or she’ll try to make you play less videogames and read less Jabba the Hutt fanfic so you can “be a man.” Fuck that. Do what you want.
Compromise is tough for everybody. It’s even harder for us. Everything about a relationship is a balancing act and a lot of us are all-or-nothing people. Make sure you communicate well enough with your partner to address both of your needs. Explain to them why you’re withdrawing when you need time alone. Let them know that you might have some funny habits so they won’t be completely shocked later on.
I’m not sure when you’re supposed to tell them you’re on the spectrum. That’s different for everybody. But certainly don’t wait until after you’re married. Someone I heard about did that and it’s isn’t turning out well. It might not seem fair that the onus is on you to explain everything. But you don’t have to really. Once you say you have Asperger’s, your partner’s expectations should be a little bit different.
I’m not really the person to ask about that though. My partner has Asperger’s too. I haven’t gotten through more than a month with a non-autistic person because of my repetitive speech and behavior. And I know I can’t hold it back. I’d never want to have to live that way.
Again, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable around your partner. You don’t want to feel like a prisoner in your own house, trying to restrain your quirks at all times so that your partner can tolerate you. Accepting partners are out there. Asperger’s and neurotypical. They’ll fall in love with your wit and your brains and your candor. Those are the best traits for anyone to have.