Confused! NT woman dated Aspergers man

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Soniagreenleaf
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21 Jan 2017, 3:04 pm

Dear All,

Just wondered whether anyone could help me work out if the man I was dating possibly has aspergers, and if this may be the reason that I was given very mixed messages?

Both of us are in our forties and have had a lot of serious health problems in the past few years since we met at a mutual friend's wedding five years ago.

When I first met 'Tom' at this wedding I thought what a lovely man, I'd really like to have someone like him in my life instead of the arrogant extroverts that I usually seem to end up dating. We got to know each other over the next few years when we bumped into each other on the same train ride to work occasionally. He worked in computing.

The overriding impression I got was that he was kind, gentle, and friendly, plus very intelligent. He always paid attention to me, making sure that I was comfortable or listening to any problems I had. I felt like I was taking advantage of his good nature, but he insisted it was fine, and said he liked to help people. He had a slightly strange way of greeting me, and others. I thought that maybe he was a buddhist.

Fast forward to two years ago, and both of us had to have hospital treatment for serious physical illnesses. We met up again about a year ago on the train and just let each other know what we had been going through. We arranged to meet up for a drink sometime, but nothing definite. Fast forward to six months ago, and he asked me out for a drink near where we both work. It was nice, but I didn't take it as anything other than a friendly meeting.

He is an unusual man, or seemed so to me, almost eccentric, but I come from a background where the unconventional is embraced, so it didn't seem problematic to me in any way. I genuinely liked him, and found his conversations interesting, although sometimes I struggled to understand him as he could speak very quietly, and as I said is very bright. I'm pretty bright too, but he talks about scientific issues more, which isn't really my background.

For the next month we met a few times for coffee, usually at his instigation. Again I thought he was just being friendly. Then one day, I just thought, actually maybe he likes me in more of a dating than friendship way. So I asked him if he'd like to do something one evening like go to a comedy show or something. He was enthusiastic and suggested that we meet again for coffee and plan what to do. We did, we went for dinner. Both of us seemed a bit shy, but after a few drinks we both felt more at ease and revealed 'too much' I suspect about our past relationships.

His relationships seemed to involve mainly getting together with women for sexual intimacy, rather than planning lives together. He hadn't lived with a woman for a very long time, since his first serious girlfriend had cheated on him many times before leaving him. He told me that he hadn't liked his last girlfriend, who was younger than him, but he felt he couldn't easily break off the relationship although he should have.

I thought that was a bit of an odd thing to say, but let it pass. He also told me that the girlfriend that he had been with when he was ill had left him and then returned when he was better. I told him that I thought that wasn't nice, but he didn't seem too affected by it, or by the girlfriend who had cheated on him.

Anyway, things progressed between us much too quickly into a relationship. I think my health issues made me feel more impulsive than I have been in the past. I wanted to enjoy and live life and not wait. Plus I couldn't believe my luck, this man who I had wanted in my life, now really was. I had just assumed that I wasn't his type, or he had a girlfriend. It actually seems that he must have had girlfriends during those five years, but he never mentioned anyone. I liked him a great deal, we had good conversations, although he thought I was a bit too lively and argumentative, especially in the evening when he liked to drink beer and watch a film, or science fiction series. He was sexually very active, and seemed to want to be experimental, always placing an emphasis on trying to discover what I liked, although he admitted that this enabled him to feel turned on. He did surprise me however when he told me that he had been studying books on technique. He seemed impressed that I knew a lot about art. We both have very creative friends, but I'd say that mine are perhaps more political than his who tend to be more New Age.

So we dated for a six weeks. I stayed over at his house mainly as I live with a flatmate. One evening when we were apart, I felt a bit 'rattled' that he hadn't texted me good night, so I sent a text saying that I'd like it if he did as it made me feel like he wasn't interested. I apologized for being 'needy' as he had already told me that he liked a lot of space to concentrate on his work and found texts and social media 'trivial'. This also extended to talking on the phone.

He seemed ok when he answered my text, but when I sent another trying to explain why I had felt the need to ask for him to text me more often, he sent a text back the following morning asking me to come to his house as it was an issue that was upsetting me so we needed to work it out. I arrived at his house expecting a conversation, but I seemed to just get a monologue about how there was a problem between our communication styles and that he felt he would lose respect for me. He suggested that we only meet at weekends, or one evening a week, or possibly return to being friends and seeing what happened.

I think I was shocked so reacted to this by saying that I didn't think any of his ideas were good. I couldn't see why this 'problem' had suddenly developed and why this meant seeing each other less. A few days later in a text he said that he had just been suggesting lesser contact for a couple of busy work weeks, but my response had made him no longer want to see me at all!. Anyway, our 'discussion' lasted for five hours, and to be honest I can't remember much of what was said. He seemed like a very different person, very serious, not much facial expression etc. He eventually asked me to leave. I felt that he wouldn't listen to me anyway. It was like talking to a brick wall.

I tried to contact him to talk about what had happened and why he felt that he would lose respect for me, but he just refused,saying that he had explained everything to me, and that he had decided that the relationship wouldn't work. The evening that I was asked to leave, he went to a friend's party. A friend that he told me that he had fancied, but had decided was unsuitable. Again, an odd thing to tell me, during the first week of our relationship, when he said that he would be going to this party but wouldn't invite me in case of any confrontation between me an her, as we were both quite outspoken apparently. I thought this was a bit ridiculous and made flippant comments at the time, I also found it a little hurtful that he didn't want me to meet his friends, but I was trying not to be possessive, so didn't object, plus I had my own friends to see that night at a music event.

In one of his first e-mails to me a few days later, he suggested meeting occasionally as friends, however I said that I still wanted to discuss and understand why the relationship ended so abruptly. His response was angry, telling me that friendship was now out of the question and not to contact him ever again.

Any ideas about this? It really does seem very odd still, even a few months on. I genuinely liked him, yet overnight he seemed to go from this gentle and intelligent character, although more extrovert in the bedroom, to this unemotional and cold person. But I know I didn't imagine the original 'courtship', sweet texts and so on, plus comments about having liked and fancied me for years, and being afraid that nothing would ever develop. he'd also given me a set of keys to his house a week into the relationship and told people that I was his girlfriend, as well as wanting to hold my hand in public where his colleagues, and mine could see. I found this a little odd.

In 'his' break-up discussion that day, he did mention that I was physically strong, and sometimes made him feel physically 'trapped' and took over his place on his sofa, plus I had disrupted his eating habits, plus his morning workday routine etc., and giving me his keys was to actually encourage me to stay in bed and leave after him so as to not disturb his routine! I had no idea that he had felt this way as he kept saying he just wanted me to be happy and do whatever I liked. True, he had quietly asked a couple of times if I didn't have things to do in my own flat, but when I asked him if he wanted me to go, he always said no.

I'd be grateful if anyone could shed light on any this. I really am very confused, and sad about the way that this relationship turned out. I thought that maybe he has aspergers as I told this story to a friend who's son has aspergers and she mentioned that some of the traits seemed very similar. I suppose what seems odd to me are the extremes of really liking me and planning ahead etc., and then seeming completely indifferent and angry. I don't date often, and am still recovering from illness so maybe I'm just unused to the behaviour of some men, or perhaps he felt overwhelmed, who knows. I miss my friend though, or at least the person I thought he was.



Luhluhluh
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21 Jan 2017, 6:53 pm

First let me say I'm sorry this has happened to you, because it must be difficult. Especially trying to recover from an illness and then having difficulty with someone you obviously care about.

Okay, so, that being said ... what I got out of this was that you knew he was standoffish, he told you he liked a lot of space and did not really like texting, and phone calls and so forth because he found them "trivial." His previous relationships were relatively shortlived and mostly sexual in nature. You got (by your own admission) needy and wanted more from him, and when he suggested a compromise, you did not agree to it, and he got cold. And then later when he offered a peace offering to continue as just friends, you wanted to rehash it again!

Whether he has Aspergers or not and it sounds like he might, but that's only a guess. Or he could be just a guy who really likes his privacy and space, you do have to admit you sort of ignored him and his trying to clue you in ('don't you have things to do at your own flat?' - that's a dead giveaway right there).

This is definitely a problem that we women sometimes have - we want to move to insta-relationship wayyyyy too soon, spending all our spare time with our new partner and forgetting that we (and they) had a life before we met them and that the way things are moving are NOT what both parties had bargained for. I know it works in the movies but not so much in real life - especially when it comes to older people who are more set in their ways.

This friendship of yours may not be salvageable. I'd say let him come to you. And if he does, I'd suggest keeping it as friends only, no funny stuff, because it's obvious that that's all he wants.


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hurtloam
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22 Jan 2017, 5:41 am

I don't think his refusal to go over what went wrong is an aspie thing. It's a bloke thing. In his mind he thinks "we had a whole 5 hour conversation, why in the world would you want to talk about it more? Can we just move on from that?"

It seems that forcing a man to talk about something makes the man clam up. Not just this man, most men seem to not like rehashing things the way women do.

To be fair even as a woman I don't. I wasn't getting on with a roommate and she wanted to talk it over, so we talked for half an hour then she wanted to know what we were going to do about the situation. I just wanted to get on with life and just see if we could make the best of the situation, not talk about it more. We'd already talked enough in my opinion. I don't know what else she wanted from me. I started to get annoyed that she wanted to talk more, but I didn't know what she wanted me to say.

He maybe feels like that. "what do you want from me, I've tried to fix it and you've rejected my fix"

He's offered a way to move forward by meeting up. It's an action to move forward and see how it goes on his part, but he feels like you rejected that action by saying you need to talk instead.


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arielhawksquill
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22 Jan 2017, 10:30 am

It sounds like he communicated clear boundaries to you, and you broke them, and he simply reinforced them. He might not have Asperger's, just self-respect.



Soniagreenleaf
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22 Jan 2017, 2:37 pm

Hi all,

Thank you for your responses. I think the third response was a little harsh, and quite hurtful though. I guess that's the problem with not giving all details on a forum. I don't think that he did clearly communicated his boundaries at all. If I had been more aware of what he wanted, rather than having the focus constantly directed onto me and what I wanted, I would have taken affirmative action to give him more space and understand what he wanted a little more. I repeatedly asked him, but he just said "I want to be with you". He was the one who instigated my visits to his place. I always checked before visiting that he wasn't too busy with work etc., especially as he told me that his work took a lot of concentration so he needed to shut off from the World to do it. I also needed to respect my own health and work needs. I didn't have the energy to cross the city, and then return home if he didn't want me to be there. One evening he said he was seeing a friend, so I insisted that it was ok if I didn't come over, but he insisted. Even then, I timed my visit so that he saw his friend for a few hours without me.

He may well have 'self-respect', but he didn't have much for me the evening that we broke-up. I ended up on the street with my bags in the pouring rain (he just went off to the party of the woman who he told me that he had been attracted to), nice huh?!, as I said, I am still recovering from a serious illness. Before we started dating, I told him that I was a bit 'messy' emotionally, as another close family member also had a serious illness at the same time, plus my father had passed away a few months previously in horrible circumstances. He knew all of this, he also knew that I had been depressed. I didn't want to hide anything from him. I think given this, he could have behaved a lot better. If I had known that he was so unhappy with the relationship, I wouldn't have opened myself to the possibility of being in that vulnerable situation.

I do have relationship experience, and I have never encountered this kind of extreme changeability before. I have also never encountered this lack of communication. I honestly thought everything was fine. I had no idea that he had been resenting me. We would leave his house each morning together and he would want to hold my hand. He would ask to meet me for lunch most days. Maybe I was expecting too much, but he really was giving me very mixed messages. I just can't understand why he didn't just say, look I want more time and space to myself, let's see each other less often. Instead he said that he had really enjoyed having time to do his chores, play guitar, when I wasn't there. Most relationships take some work and discussion to reach a good compromise for both people. He could have just said that he wanted a relationship which wouldn't result in us living together and so on. I had already told him that I would be moving soon, but wouldn't expect him to live with me as we didn't know each other well enough. So, yes, I was 'needy' after illness and bereavement,but I hadn't lost my common sense. I have enough experience to know that there is a 'honeymoon' period in any relationship, obviously his lasted a lot less longer than mine! Although two days before he was still wanting to hold my hand in public, make up cute names to call me, and ask me to stay over. It was the text messaging that seemed to anger him. He asked if he "had done anything to make me think he didn't like me, so why expect a text?" Well, given that he dumped me, I suspect I had picked up on something, but not something I could understand given the mixed messages.

I needed to contact him over a physical intimacy issue, but can't as he has told me not to contact him for any reason. It just seems so extreme and unnecessary, so inflexible, and so out of character with the man that I had known previously. I wrote to this forum, as I wondered if it could have perhaps being a case of 'acting' as one kind of person, and then finding it too much? I have also been seeing a psychologist to deal with issues surrounding my illness, and he thinks that aspergers is a definite possibility. I have left out lots of details to protect 'Tom's' identity, but this abrupt 'cutting-off' of people includes very emotionally distant communications and relationships with his family members, and a strictly time-tabled way of interacting with them. I was shocked that his phone calls sometimes consisted of six words maximum with them. He said that he found phone calls stressful and trivial. He also finds very chatty people stressful, as he seems unable to end a conversation with them. Yet when he broke up with me, it was a stoney-faced monologue from him, not a discussion...

I am concerned that I acted in a way that broke this relationship, or even upset him, but the truth is. I don't think I did break the relationship. I think it would have happened sooner or later anyway. I think he is hiding the truth about his needs from me, or perhaps from himself, hence throwing all the blame and anger onto me. It makes me sad, for both of us. There is nothing wrong with my self-respect either, I have been in a very 'down' period, but I am clever, attractive, have good friends etc., but perhaps I was over-tolerant, and he in turn wasn't truthful, or perhaps realistic based on his own history? I guess I'll never know.



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22 Jan 2017, 3:40 pm

Look,

I think there are aspie men like this. **However**, I don't think it is necessarily part of Asperger's itself.

What I'm trying to say is, I've met men like this too. Extremely friendly, gentlemen-like, yet become highly intolerant, and it comes completely out of the blue. And they suddenly take every action you make and turn it against you, and blame you for every little "mistake" you make.

My guess is something other than AS, because I have known other men and women with AS, I am a woman with AS, and I very clearly communicate my needs, and so do they. It takes a lot more for us than petty little things to put us off people. And we don't go putting all our problems and blame onto other people, because we know full well that's selfish. Because we're smart, and because we do have empathy. There are still big communication boundaries, and sometimes it looks like we're being mean, but talk to us, and really listen to us, and the reasonable amongst us will explain everything for you.

You also need to get out of your head the idea of "arrogant extroverts". They're sometimes more open to communication than introverts, I have found. And yet some introverts are more open to communication. It takes all sorts. Don't rule out either. There's a bunch of aspies, who fit in like NTs, who are extroverts. Not all aspies are the quiet, nerdy type. Some are loud. Some aren't nerdy. Both are good. It depends what you and what they want. It depends how they communicate.

I'm weary of people who look at others in terms of good vs bad, like it sounds he might. You notice it by the way they talk about other people. Does he fall out with a lot of people? Is it always their fault, even if he appears to you in a good light? Does he have perfect morals that he follows, or does he reveal his (real, human) flaws without being bitter about it? Note the former regarding morals is a potential red flag i.e. he may use them against you and other people to big himself up as "the better person". Learn to pick up on black and white thinking, and how they deal with it. It was also a red flag when he described his previous relationships to you and how he dealt with them. He's unlikely to act differently for you.



Last edited by smudge on 22 Jan 2017, 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BTDT
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22 Jan 2017, 3:47 pm

Aspergers is part of a very broad spectrum, so that even a confirmed diagnosis may not provide much guidance as to deal with your partner's issues.



Soniagreenleaf
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22 Jan 2017, 4:09 pm

Thanks both.

Smudge, I think you're right, not good to pigeonhole anyone or make any generalized assumptions about behaviour and people. Wise words about how he might lookat the world in terms of good and bad. He has some long-term friends but has also fallen out very badly with former work colleagues and others. He blames his family for their poor relationships with him.

Another thing I forgot to add, was his insistence about us "having different communication styles". This was very evident when I made comments for dramatic effect, but he took it very literally. He didn't seem to realize that I was being playful and ironic. He was quite judgemental of me in this I think,telling me that I often said something a bit mean,but then straight afterwards would say that "I can't believe I just said that", so he wasn't sure which was the real opinion! This concerned and shocked me a little, as I can have strong opinions, as do many of my friends, but we tend to be nice people, and I thought maybe I'd gone too far, but actually I knew I was just 'showing-off' in front of himby trying to be interesting/outrageous. He later told me that he might agree with some of the more 'outspoken' things that I said, but I shouldn't say them where I could be overheard...I found this odd, I am quite socially adept and don't make bad faux pas, also I say a lot of things for effect, and even if the things I say did match my real opinions, what's wrong with that? I don't believe in censorship, but I don't encourage confrontation either. He asked me whether I had ever got into a fight because of being 'outspoken'?! He said this 'outspokeness' had attracted him to me, but I couldn't expect him to defend me if ever I got into a confrontation. Again, I found this odd, just as I had when he had discussed going to the party that he didn't want me to go to. I am not a person who gets into fights! I argue, yes, but I don't wish to hurt anyone. Plus I am well-behaved in my job position, am a bit inhibited, and so on.

Your comment about "morals" definitely seems to match him. When he asked me to leave his house he told me that "it should be obvious to you that our futures are about the loves, friendships, and experiences that we will have". It felt very condescending to be told this, having just survived a near-death health situation myself! Plus I like to think that I am loving and value friendships. I'm not the world's biggest risk taker, but still I have done some very interesting things in my lifetime too, and often against a lot of challenges. I don't give up.

As I said, he is really intelligent on many levels and we had some really interesting and thoughtful conversations, so when he told me that there was a 'power imbalance' between us, it really hurt, as I tended to think highly of his opinions on most issues. We held some similar views but he expressed them very logically and clearly. I tend to speak more from the heart at times. I thought our thinking patterns complemented each other well, as did our separate interests. I am quite intellectual too, so I thought we could learn from each other.

I really do think that he must be lying to himself, or not be able to accept that he has 'issues' of anger against people who he is in intimate relationships with.I read somewhere that people with asperger's often think that people are deliberately upsetting them by ignoring their wishes, when in fact to the other person the wish hasn't been clearly communicated or known. I think this made sense to me, as why would I have put my feet in his lap for instance, if I'd known that it made him feel uncomfortable. Also he liked me to massage his feet. Very confusing!



Bridgette77
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24 Jan 2017, 3:26 am

To me, he souns more like a Narcisist than anything else. Whether he was an Aspie or not, is erelivant to his harsh behavior. As many have stated out here many times, both Neurotipicals and Aspies can have these kinds of behaviors. That been said, some Aspies do not like being pushed, and some do not like having their space invaded, schedules disrupted, or being questioned relentlessly, ETC. However, that doesn't give him the right to act like a jerk, shoving another woman in your face either. My advice to you? Let it go! In my opinion, he isn't worth it. Blunt yes, but there it is.