How to respond when ASD partner is grumpy and stressed out

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NT_AFAIK
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27 Oct 2021, 1:21 am

TLDR: How would you like your NT partner to respond to you/behave around you when you're stressed out and you're being grumpy

So my guy (ASD) is under a lot of stress which started at least 3 weeks ago. He's been very busy with work and going on interviews at the same time. He says he feels he has 2 jobs right now and he's very tired. On the weekends since it started, I'd be spending the night but he'd pass out early from exhaustion or he'd be doing something else so it's not really quality time. We'd watch a movie but no cuddling, and I can't touch him. His way to de-stress is to do activities so on weekends during the day or some weekday nights when he finds time after work, we do activities (last weekend we went out of town). When we are doing those activities, we definitely have fun, but the logistics/process around that is very stressful. He's such a backseat driver, and a nagger, always rushing me. He's also been rude, like I would try to tell him a story about something that happened to me and he'd cut it short saying he's not interested in anything frivolous. Everything is my fault. He over ate? My fault because I picked an unhealthy place to eat at. We left late and thus driving late at night? My fault, even though I had to take late work calls. My phone ran out of battery and we can't use it for gps/flashlight/notes etc? My fault, even though he took my car's charging cable to charge HIS phone. He's nitpicking a lot and they're all my fault. I was very frustrated with him especially last weekend....... I call him on the weekdays because I miss him? He picks up and gives me an attitude.

How should I deal with his attitude? Is this a form of a meltdown? I can tell that he likes to spend time with me but his attitude is creating problems in our relationship. Also his way to de-stress, which is to do activities, is adding more stuff on his plate because we have to plan for them. This stresses him out even more, which he projects on me, and consequently stresses me out. I literally had to tell him at one point I should just go home and we prob shouldn't see each other for a week or two. But he took it as me trying to get rid of him or "wanting to experiment with not seeing each other". What I really wanted was some space from him til he calms down and we can talk about his attitude, because I do not know how to respond to him. But he doesn't want to talk about the issue either. I noticed that when I angrily explain the effect of his behavior on me, he would argue, but he would make efforts to manage his mood the next day. In SOME occasions, he would apologize. He knows this is a result of his stress, but it seems like he's not aware when it's happening. It seems like he thinks his behavior is within reason or maybe he just don't know how to cope.

I've been seeing him for a year now and in hindsight, this has happened several times but I didn't associate the grumpiness with him being stressed out/exhausted and having a lot on his plate. Also, in the past they were milder versions, perhaps because he was suppressing them since the relationship was relatively new.

Does anyone else experience this from his end? How do you cope? If I were your partner how would you want me to support you in a stressful time like this or respond to you?



kraftiekortie
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27 Oct 2021, 7:47 am

Sounds like rather a jerk. There's no excuse for somebody being a jerk, even if that somebody happens to have an ASD.

I guess he has some redeeming quality; that's probably why you're staying with him.

Basically, you have to stand your ground. You can't let him embarrass you in public or private. You can't let him put you down. If you do, this will continue. People frequently act like jerks because it makes them feel superior.

I would nip that crap in the bud.



IsabellaLinton
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27 Oct 2021, 7:54 am

NT_AFAIK wrote:
Everything is my fault. He over ate? My fault because I picked an unhealthy place to eat at. We left late and thus driving late at night? My fault, even though I had to take late work calls. My phone ran out of battery and we can't use it for gps/flashlight/notes etc? My fault, even though he took my car's charging cable to charge HIS phone. He's nitpicking a lot and they're all my fault. I was very frustrated with him especially last weekend....... I call him on the weekdays because I miss him? He picks up and gives me an attitude.


Does anyone else experience this from his end? How do you cope? If I were your partner how would you want me to support you in a stressful time like this or respond to you?


I'm sorry if this isn't what you want to hear, but based on what you said here ^^ , he's a gaslighter.

I don't experience this from my partner so I don't cope with it. Nor would I.

I would expect any partner to support me in the ways that actually support me, instead of being emotionally abusive.

Have you done much research on gaslighting? How long have you been with this person?



kraftiekortie
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27 Oct 2021, 7:57 am

Don't let the guy use his autism/Aspergers/whatever as an excuse to gaslight.

I would say Isabella is right; this could become a gaslighting sort of situation--if you don't nip this in the bud.

And if he starts to cry crocodile tears, just ignore it.



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27 Oct 2021, 8:08 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
... this could become a gaslighting sort of situation--if you don't nip this in the bud.



It already is a gaslighting situation, unfortunately.



kraftiekortie
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27 Oct 2021, 8:11 am

It's not to the point where she's inundated by the gaslighting----yet.

Are you financially dependent upon this person?



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27 Oct 2021, 8:15 am

I noticed she said they've been together for a year. She made excuses for his grumpiness in the past.

Sounds pretty inundated to me.

Gaslighting is insidious so I wouldn't be giving second chances or waiting around to see what happens in time.

It can be very disabling and traumatic to enable a gaslighter.



kraftiekortie
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27 Oct 2021, 8:21 am

OP: I think it's ultimatum time. Either the guy stops abusing you like this, or you fly the coop. You must keep up this determination. You have to be strong.

This is why I never believe finances should be intertwined within couples.



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27 Oct 2021, 8:46 am

My ... how judgmental we have all become ... after reading only one side of a totally subjective account.

Here is my take: The man seems to have worked out a way to deal with stress that works best for him, but only when no further stress is being imposed upon him.  Stress is easily imposed upon an aspie by changes in plans, disruptions in activities, interruptions at work, and criticizing his behavior (i.e., choices in diet, entertainment, wardrobe, et cetera).

Does he explicitly tell her that it is all her fault, or does he simply remind her that his behavior correlates with her own choices and behavior?  When two people are in a relationship, both sides can be at fault when things do not run smoothly.

I am married to an NT woman.  She is emotionally-centered, and I am intellectually-centered.  She reasons from feelings, and I reason from data.  She sometimes thinks I am cold and insensitive (when I am just being factual), and I sometimes think she is being irrational and overly sensitive (when she is just trying to express her feelings).  So, I have had to learn to listen to her express her feelings before drawing her close, telling her I love her and that I am sorry, and then suggesting solutions to prevent the problem from happening in the future.

NT_AFAIK did not say how long she and her "partner" have been together, but I would guess somewhat short of 5 years.  After over a quarter-century of being together, my wife and I are still ironing out the little details of our relationship.  One important factor is prioritizing our "grievances".  Is a missing charging cable as important as an unpaid utility bill?  Is overeating a worse crime than arguing about it all weekend?

In my opinion, NT_AFAIK would be better off to disengage with her partner when he is in a sour mood, and give him space and time to work it out for himself without pointing out the obvious fact that he is acting grumpy and stressed out (I am certain that he already knows).



Last edited by Fnord on 27 Oct 2021, 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

kraftiekortie
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27 Oct 2021, 9:17 am

Indeed, there is always "two sides to every story."

If what the OP wrote is true, the guy is certainly gaslighting him.

The guy, basically, puts the blame for all that goes wrong with him on HER. To an irrational degree. It's really pretty absurd, if you ask me.



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27 Oct 2021, 9:18 am

Grumpiness and bad moods are one thing, Fnord. I agree with you those can be managed.

The difference is that she’s noticed a pattern where he blames her for his problems and says they are her fault. She’s tried speaking up and setting boundaries to no avail.

She said she’s been with him a year. The honeymoon period seems to be over.

There might be hope and of course it’s up to her but based on what she’s describing this relationship doesn’t seem to be emotionally stable (for either of them really). She should at least start tracking red flags for gaslighting.



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27 Oct 2021, 9:47 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
... The difference is that she’s noticed a pattern where he blames her for his problems and says they are her fault. She’s tried speaking up and setting boundaries to no avail.
Well, that is her side of the story.  Somehow, I have my doubts that her "speaking up" is done in a supportive and diplomatic manner -- but maybe that is just me.
IsabellaLinton wrote:
She said she’s been with him a year. The honeymoon period seems to be over.
Ahh ... now I see it.  I wonder if this is the first adult relationship for the both of them, and if they both grew up in warm, nurturing, caring family environments -- were they loved as children?
IsabellaLinton wrote:
There might be hope and of course it’s up to her but based on what she’s describing this relationship doesn’t seem to be emotionally stable (for either of them really).
After only a year in the relationship, what else can she reasonably expect?  How long did they know each other before they committed to each other?
IsabellaLinton wrote:
She should at least start tracking red flags for gaslighting.
Yes ... let her keep a Record of Wrongs, and see just how much longer the relationship lasts.  Better yet, she could bail out of the relationship now and look for a better mate.



kraftiekortie
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27 Oct 2021, 10:03 am

Think about somebody blaming YOU for an upset stomach----because you did not prevent that somebody from eating something that upset that stomach.....and YOU weren't even there to attempt to prevent that somebody from eating that something.

This is what's called "finding blame in anything even peripherally related to something blameworthy." Classic gaslighting.

It doesn't matter if both people were nurtured well as children. It doesn't matter if it's a "first relationship" for the both of them.



kraftiekortie
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27 Oct 2021, 10:08 am

In other words....if the guy doesn't stop the crap, just dump him.



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27 Oct 2021, 10:31 am

Fnord,

I'm trying to find a tactful way to say that your words are actually gaslighting the OP, whether that's your intent or not.

You're suggesting it could be her fault and she might (lowkey) deserve it.

Yes both parties can make mistakes. Sometimes a gaslighting victim does make mistakes. Everyone is human. The difference is that an emotionally healthy partner should be able to discuss the issues and resolve conflict by setting their own boundaries and problem solving as a team with supportive dialogue. Even if 100% of everything was the OP's fault, her partner isn't behaving like an adult. He could break up with her. He could agree to taking space. He could communicate and explain that the relationship isn't working, or look for ways to improve their joint-communication. He could help her to understand his ASD needs without insulting her.

He's shutting her down and blaming her while continuing to date, without taking a break when she asks for one. He's refusing to talk or communicate in a reasonable way. She's telling us she needs strategies to "cope".


Those are red flags. They're crazy-making.



PunkShrink
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27 Oct 2021, 10:39 am

This is a tough situation to be. I would suggest being present, but setting boundaries and giving him some space when he is at his lowest points.

If your goal is to maintain a healthy relationship, attempts to interfere in these moments should be very careful. Being supportive when he is being rude might contribute to positive reinforcement of his negative behavior. Confrontation might push him to change his attitude, but at the same time negative reinforcement would create association between his negative feelings, discomfort from confrontations and your interference, increase probability of avoidance, push him away from you.

Talk to him when he is at a better place. Calmly explain that you understand that this is not his fault, that stressful work, having two jobs takes a toll, that you appreciate his efforts, but subjecting you to negativity and stress accumulated at his job, bringing this toxic waste into your relationship is bad for both of you, it is his responsibility to drain this negative energy to make time you spend together more fulfilling and happy. Make it clear that you see stress and negative attitude as entities separate from his otherwise good personality. You might suggest some straightforward ways for him to release stress. For example, he could go to a gym on his own and then you would meet to enjoy some entertaining activities when endorphin rush makes him less grumpy. It would feel like your company makes him feel less stressed instead of stressing him out even more.

I wish you to have enough patience and strength to resolve this difficult situation. Good luck!