Partner who I suspect is on the spectrum

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Frustrated2015
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10 Aug 2021, 2:48 pm

Looking for advice and similar stories. I have been with my partner for 7 years. He has highs and lows. He cannot communicate with me ( his own admission ) some social settings he struggles with. Is very robotic with emotions and finds them difficult to share. He is super critical of anything I do telling me how I should do it better. He hates talking to me and usually gives one word answers or wants to stop talking when I ask to talk about serious subjects. He loves facts and numbers. I’m really struggling - does this sound like a partner with autism?



kraftiekortie
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11 Aug 2021, 12:21 am

It’s almost impossible to tell, really.

I, for one, would have to meet him in person to even have a glimmer of an idea whether or not he is autistic.

It’s possible, I guess.

Have you discussed the possibility with him?



The_Face_of_Boo
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11 Aug 2021, 1:44 am

@Fnord, do tell her. Do your thing.


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julesiscools
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11 Aug 2021, 9:28 am

I have the same situation as you. It's so similar that for a second, I thought I had maybe wrote it. I haven't figured out how to deal with the steady stream of comments about how I should do this or that better. He can't really help himself, but it definitely gets irritating at times. He does it with the best intentions, but he's told me the same things so many times, that he's alerts me to them with frustration. Problem is, a lot of the things he's giving me "tips" on as he'd like to call it, are things I will forever struggle with. I happen to be ADHD, so what seems simple and obvious to him, are pretty difficult for me.



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11 Aug 2021, 11:48 am

7 years through that sort of behaviour is a very long time. I understand how frustrating it must be, ive had my share of dating spectrum people who were really unhealthy for me despite me being autistic myself. Truth is its not always meant to be and sometimes it does nobody any favor to go on with a toxic relationship were you are practically alone working on the issues. You deserve communication and to be listened to and spared heartache and criticism. You dont have to tolerate this.

I dont know what might work other than continuing to try to communicate with him about these issues, if he doesnt like talking, set up a serious talk where he can write. But from what you are saying, this hasnt worked, so theres not much change for this to work in the future, you have to find a different approach and a different plan and see what might work. Is there anyone you can ask about his behavior and how they deal with him, someone who knows him better? Although i doubt they would know him better than you because he doesnt talk to people about himself and the closer you are to him the more he reveals to you. Bottom line is, you cant know if he isnt opening.

Im not an advocate of living with an autistic person, especially one which is so rigid about change and things being done their way. Maybe moving out will help, or isolating from him as much as possible so youre not detectable. That would also mirror his behaviour likely which is a good tactic to go forth on in relationships.

However you do have needs that this person doesnt sound adept at fulfilling, and with that, i dont think theres much resolve. He's not on his nicest behavior with you, so i suppose your relationship deteriorated into him always being angry and overwhelmed with your behaviour, his tolerance levels decreasing a lot. You can minimize this by moving out, but that doesnt solve his frustrations or make him regain a good bond with you based on respect and restraint, calm, joy and tolerance. Thats where he needs to be, and for that a lot of good acts need to happen. That doesnt mean he would stop behaving badly or that he would be happy or in good moods.

I can tell after big events, going outside, I tend to be nastier and more stressed and tired, have less tolerance for some things that displease me.

I'm very positive that if you talk to a therapist about his behaviour youll have more tactics to tackle the issues between you and they usually have a lot of means and behaviours that actually are tested and proven to work, and they know what behaviour to fit where and what doesnt work, to patternize something specifical for you or help you come to a much more helpful decision and path. My therapist helped me see what i was doing that wasnt working when i was dating a spectrum girl, so it can help see behaviors that you might do that makes him react in certain ways that you dont realize and that are suggested and work with other people. Each individual is unique and things dont work the same with two different people. I really think that this can help you with the massive mount of frustration and needing to talk about it, also putting your mind at ease about having these needs because its normal to. Don't forget to make yourself feel happy ad plan for your own "stop the misery" campaign because you shouldnt live your life and spend your health lamenting over some guy whos constantly in bad moods.

Sending strength and joy to you for this situation and in your life. Life is great when its fun. Have fun!


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DW_a_mom
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11 Aug 2021, 1:45 pm

My adult son and husband are both on the spectrum, my son more strongly, and I might be as well. I've learned the most trying to help my son navigate.

I would say the key to a successful relationship is to be specific about needs and wants, and never infer, but if he can't communicate, that could be difficult. Still, I think it is important to try and to set plain communication as a foundation. Personally, I doubt that he actually hates talking to you, but that maybe conversation has become a minefield for him. The issue could be the topics you like (it is difficult for ASD individuals stay attentive to areas that don't interest them), the timing of when you want to talk, paying attention due to sensory distractions, feeling you need a certain response that he doesn't know how to give, etc. Perhaps one of the first conversations can be him trying to be specific about why conversation is hard for him, but in order for it to be productive you have to be able to take some negative comments without being hurt.

As for the constant criticism, I think it is best to discuss it out of the situation, and then agree to a signal or phrase you can use to signal to him in the moment that you just don't have mental space for the comment (reasons not important). He doesn't want to irritate you. He may want to be helpful, or it may be something he is OCD about. If you learn the things he is OCD about, for example, perhaps they can become tasks that automatically fall to him. Remember that, most likely, he isn't trying to hurt you or be critical, being blunt is simply how he is. Signals are a way of being unemotionally blunt back.


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14 Aug 2021, 3:04 am

Dump him. It's not worth it. Why do you want to live with someone who is constantly criticising you and who won't talk to you.

I live alone and it's awesome. I have pets who don't talk to me, but they're nice.



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14 Aug 2021, 9:49 am

hurtloam wrote:
Dump him. It's not worth it. Why do you want to live with someone who is constantly criticising you and who won't talk to you.

I live alone and it's awesome. I have pets who don't talk to me, but they're nice.

It's great that you can enjoy living alone.

But I really don't think our first reaction to someone's description of a relationship problem should be to advise breaking it up (except in cases of severe abuse, of course). Communication difficulties may (or may not) be fixable -- we don't immediately know whether they can be fixed or not, or whether they can be worked around even if they are not fully fixable.

It seems to me that break-up advice has become way too faddish in modern Western culture. I think it's better to ask lots of questions to clarify the situation first.


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 14 Aug 2021, 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mona Pereth
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14 Aug 2021, 11:03 am

Frustrated2015 wrote:
Looking for advice and similar stories. I have been with my partner for 7 years. He has highs and lows. He cannot communicate with me ( his own admission ) some social settings he struggles with. Is very robotic with emotions and finds them difficult to share.

Some autistic people are indeed like this. Many (not all) autistic people have alexithymia (difficulty naming feelings) to one degree or another. But not all alexithymic people are autistic. See articles about alexithymia here, here, and here.

Frustrated2015 wrote:
He is super critical of anything I do telling me how I should do it better. He hates talking to me and usually gives one word answers or wants to stop talking when I ask to talk about serious subjects. He loves facts and numbers. I’m really struggling - does this sound like a partner with autism?

Might be, although we're in no position to diagnose.

Anyhow, does he at least recognize that his communication difficulties are a problem? Would he willing to work on improving his communication abilities?

If possible, and if your partner is willing, it might be a good idea for the two of you to get couples counseling. Try to find a psychotherapist who is knowledgeable about both adult autism and alexithymia. (Such therapists will likely be hard to find, alas.)

Also, I think it's best not to put the onus all on him, but to work on improving your own communication abilities as well. (On my website I have lists of links to various tutorials on assertiveness and active listening, which perhaps you might find helpful.)


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kuze
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14 Sep 2021, 2:45 am

Frustrated2015 wrote:
Looking for advice and similar stories. I have been with my partner for 7 years. He has highs and lows. He cannot communicate with me ( his own admission ) some social settings he struggles with. Is very robotic with emotions and finds them difficult to share. He is super critical of anything I do telling me how I should do it better. He hates talking to me and usually gives one word answers or wants to stop talking when I ask to talk about serious subjects. He loves facts and numbers. I’m really struggling - does this sound like a partner with autism?


Yes it sounds like autism. I struggle in social settings, I have low empathy, I have been overly critical about how my partner does things, me wanting to show her a better way, I love facts and numbers, I have been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As a mature adult I have now learned to be less critical and more loving. My conversation skills in relationships are better nowadays too.

However, it wouldn't be right to to say to your partner that you think they 'are' autistic or suffer from any other disorder; thats a psychologists job. Perhaps you could start by finding out the positive aspects of autism such as honesty, passionate about subjects, good memory skills, less materialistic, reliable, creative problem solving and high integrity for example. It may be useful to also ask him to do some online tests. This way you avoid having to base your conversation solely on the negative aspects. The next step would be finding out the benefits of a potential diagnosis, such as what support or benefits could be available thereafter. The doctor is a good starting point.

It wont be easy but it is likely to make you both stronger for the future.

kuze


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