dating NT's - advice needed :)

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theorema
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25 Nov 2023, 3:00 pm

Dating NT’s – advice and thoughts?

I’ve only been formally diagnosed with Autism (back then Asperger’s) 4 years ago. After the diagnosis and until recently I was convinced that I would only date autistic men and couldn’t imagine being in a relationship with an NT ever again. When I look back, it’s obvious that they were the relationships where communication was a constant struggle and I spent most of my trying to understand my NT partner and nevertheless often failed. Also, before my diagnosis I was constantly masking my autistic traits and it took me a long time and a lot of work to unmask and to consciously be aware when I fall into masking again.

I’ve dated a couple of guys on the spectrum since my diagnosis and it was a disaster both times; even though we clicked on an intellectual level in a way that’s not comparable to any connection I had to a NT man, emotionally it felt like I was dating 10 year old boys and this made it not possible to create a stable foundation of trust, reliability, emotional vulnerability and such. It took me quite some effort to become more aware of my emotional needs, to communicate them, also, to be vulnerable but I think I’ve managed that quite well.

Recently, I’ve connected with someone through a dating app and we had great chats for 2 weeks before we met for the first time. I am fairly certain he’s neurotypical, although not 100 percent sure and it might be possible that he’s masking a lot. I disclosed quite early on that I was autistic, without going into to much detail, though.

After our first date, which actually went great, I am now completely confused, overwhelmed and anxious like I haven’t been since my diagnosis. I think I was masking quite a lot; not to the extent where I wasn’t myself, but I was hiding a lot of my autistic traits and disregarded my sensory overload, which lead to getting into auto-pilot mode where I wasn’t able to actually feel anything anymore.
I am asking myself, if that’s a legitimate reason to give up on dating NT’s. Because I dont want to overexplain myself regarding my sensory sensitives and other autism related information that seems important to me, that my date knows. I think this is partially because of experience and fear of rejection. But; if I don’t do it, I will automatically mask much more. What are other auties’ experiences with disclosure of autistic traits and how it might affect a possible relationship in early stages? How much can I or should I expect from an NT person who is interested in me romantically, to read up on Autism by himself? Should I ask for it or is that strange? Right now I feel so overwhelmed and confused, I don’t even know if I like him – which is absurd because I remember feeling that I liked him, a lot. But as I was masking almost through the whole date, I feel I can’t really trust those emotions. And the masking plus auto pilot made me rather inattentive regarding him – I am usually very good at understanding other people and pay attention to all the details and I feel I wasn’t able to do that at all. Which made me, in my opinion, a bad date.
Any advice for how to proceed and what to do – and not to do? We agreed on seeing each other again, but not for another week, as he will be away visiting family. Thanks in advance! :)



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25 Nov 2023, 3:32 pm

I think you are overcomplicating things. If he is on the spectrum or not, all that matters is he and you have a con ectionand understand each other,and fall in love.

He may be the wrong one,but how do you know unless you date? One date usually gives an idea as to if the person is really the wrong type of person, but if you don't know, it may take a few dates to get to know the person, and then an absolute minimum of six months before you can say that you two have a chance. What I mean by this is it takes a good six months before you have a big dissagreement. (When "Cloud nine" demists). Then, after this, if you both then find you can't live without each other even though you have had a barmy, then you know that you two are something special together.
However if after the cloud nine mists evaporate and you have your first major dissagreement and one or the other thinks "No way!" then you know it is not going to work.
Dating like this avoids the serious comittment without any risks (If one avoids sex during this time). Therefore one finds ones deep inner feelings for each other and if there is still deep love between the two of you despite the flaws, then you will know you have found the special someome to settle down with (Hopefully!)
Regarding if the person is on the spectrum or not or somewhere in the middle. Does it matter? As though autism is a condition that often effects how one thinks, often an NT dating an ASD can work very well as each others strengths cover each others weaknesses to make it work.
It is generally easier for ladies on the spectrum in this way who marry NT men because NT men are more appreciative that the lady is not "The same" as other women, then NT women are to autistic men.
But do not think of it as is your pote tial date on the spectrum or not. Think of it as "Are you two compatible with each other or not?" (Remember that opposites work well BUT there must be a deep love middle point that connects both together. If that is not there than forget it!

Generally the worst that can happen?


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theorema
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25 Nov 2023, 4:41 pm

thanks for the advice.

I don't think I am over complicating things - thinking and getting cognitive feedback is how I process new information; it's how my brain works especially when it's challenged with intense, new or confusing emotions and that's fine for me because that's just how I am - because I am 2e, meaning neurodivergent and intellectually gifted.

your idea of dating isn't the same as mine; and I highly doubt there's a right or a wrong one and by doing it as you said things will work out (or not) the way you said. I've had relationships before. my questions were quite specific about autistic masking and its consequences - as you didn't touch this topic, I assume that you're not on the spectrum? as much as I appreciate your advice, my post concerned other topics. and yes, it is important to me a) to know if a potential partner is on the spectrum b) being aware of the differences between an autistic and an NT partner and the pros and cons c) the way I communicate and deal with my autism in a relationship with an NT. it might not be important to you, but that's not the point here, is it. no offense.



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25 Nov 2023, 9:21 pm

I think it's normal for people to try to hide their flaws in the early stages of dating. They gradually let their flaws show as they spend time together hoping a bond is developing that will make things work out with their partner. I don't think of that & hiding various autistic traits in the dating stages as masking. I think of it as not giving out too much info early on. I'm not aware of ever masking thou I do act a bit differently in different situations but I think of it as having multiple aspects of myself that try to meet the various situational demands. I'm probably too obviously autistic to perform masking & I don't date the way most people seem to. They treat dating like it's a poker game whereas I lay all my cards out face up & hope the other is willing to try & deal with it. Partly because of that I have only dated one NT who had dyslexia & ADD which I also have. My 2nd & 3rd(current) girlfriend are both on the spectrum & my current was also very forward with her flaws hoping I would accept her as is.

The little advice I have that if dating autistic guys & typical NT guys is not working out well for different reasons, perhaps you would have better luck dating NT guys who have disabilities other than autism like physical disabilities or other types of mental disabilities. A disabled guy might be more willing to give someone a chance who is upfront about her autism if she accepts him being upfront about his disabilities. He might be more willing to research autism if you research his conditions.


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25 Nov 2023, 9:39 pm

The whole point of dating is to be vulnerable with your potential partner

Which means you should disclose your disability early on

What happens if you wait until you are married to drop the "disability" bombshell?

Your husband or wife will feel betrayed that you hid this from them for SO LONG!

Then they will probably divorce you


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theorema
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26 Nov 2023, 12:39 am

thanks for the advice Mikurotoro. I am disclosing usually very early, meaning 1st date. It's just that I've hear a lot of people say that that's not the way one should do it - for all kinds of reasons. but for me, this doesn't seem the right approach. true, you might scare someone away, but then this person wasn't there to stay anyway. I also lack certain tactics like dropping hints etc. I find that manipulative and dishonest.



theorema
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26 Nov 2023, 12:42 am

thanks for your answer, nick007. yeah, I hear you. I usually do that to and I believe it's the right way. might have been that I was just kind of desperate for something that maybe would go somewhere for once - and fell back into old patterns.
we will see. hope dies last.



theorema
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26 Nov 2023, 1:05 am

except for nick007s post, I find the way people answered to my question frankly a bit bewildering. I recognize paternalistic tendencies, ableismsplaining (I know that's not a word), mansplaining, outright aggressive comments - I never said I would wait with disclosing my autism until marriage (if that's ever going to be something I have to worry about) and I was in no way implying to deceive a possible partner. please read the post carefully - and if you can't do that, because you're not actually interested in the topic, refrain from projecting your own experiences or negative feelings onto my post, in which I sincerely am asking for advice and am open and honestly quite vulnerable; even if this is an anonymous space. doesn't feel very safe, to be honest.
lastly: if I explicitly asked for advice from other autistic people, if you are neurotypical, please be so kind as to disclose that, will you?
this is a forum for neurodivergent people; whoever holds a grudge or negative feelings against neurodivergent people for whatever reasons, should open a separate thread in the forum; or better even, create you own website. wrong planet for you!
thanks and hello.



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26 Nov 2023, 12:31 pm

Everyone who has replied to your post, except me, has been diagnosed with autism. I am self diagnosed. If curious, please follow the link in my sig.

I will say that generalizing about relationships between autistic people and other autistic people, versus autistic people and NTs, is impossible. If you ask that question here, you'll most likely get questions back about your particular situation.

After reading your last comment though, my first piece of advice to you is to chill.


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26 Nov 2023, 2:42 pm

What did you do when you were dating until you were 35?

My advice is the same as others - don’t overthink it.

I am autistic.



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26 Nov 2023, 4:44 pm

MaxE wrote:
Everyone who has replied to your post, except me, has been diagnosed with autism. I am self diagnosed. If curious, please follow the link in my sig.
This may come as a surprise to the OP but my diagnosis is a gray area. My psychiatrists & docs I've had as an adult say & put in my report that I'm autistic. However when I was officially tested for autism at 20 the quack put in my report that I had Asperger's Personality due to having Schizoid Personality Disorder & I was not on the autism spectrum :huh: The therapist I saw for a bit did not think I had autism either; it's one reason why I've had much better luck with psych meds(after lots of trial & error) than I had with counseling. Basically I can not qualify for services specially related to autism due to not having an official autism diagnoses but my family, my girlfriend(one of her brother's has been diagnosed with autism since he was very little), her family including her autistic brother, my GP docs, & psychiatrist I saw a few years ago all think I'm autistic & treat me like I am.


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26 Nov 2023, 4:54 pm

I read your post again. I think the answer to your question is, don't "mask" but don't say anything about autism. Most people misunderstand the concept, but try to do your share of making the next date enjoyable. I mean consider whether he's enjoying the date and whether you're contributing to his enjoyment. Of course he should reciprocate in that regard. If not, then I think you won't want another date after that. I guess the one advantage of a diagnosis is that it makes you aware of what you need to work on to succeed with people. Things that are instinctive for NTs must be learned by people on the spectrum. Doesn’t mean you can't learn them.


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26 Nov 2023, 5:48 pm

MaxE wrote:
I read your post again. I think the answer to your question is, don't "mask" but don't say anything about autism. Most people misunderstand the concept, but try to do your share of making the next date enjoyable. I mean consider whether he's enjoying the date and whether you're contributing to his enjoyment. Of course he should reciprocate in that regard. If not, then I think you won't want another date after that. I guess the one advantage of a diagnosis is that it makes you aware of what you need to work on to succeed with people. Things that are instinctive for NTs must be learned by people on the spectrum. Doesn’t mean you can't learn them.
I like this advice. Where I'm originally from even the so-called experts tend to think of autism as a less sever form of mental retardation. When mentioning autism online I've come across those assumptions a bit. However when mentioning autism on dating sites about the only women who messaged me had the opposite assumption & thought I might be a poorman Bill Gates who has a decent career in the tech industry. Mentioning autism in the beginning of a potential relationship can be good if your trying to find a fellow autistic but since the OP is understandably wary about dating other autistics due to bad experiences & would rather try dating NTs, I think it would be better not to mention autism for a while unless the potential partner mentions having some kinda experience with autism like an autistic relative, they're involved in some kinda social or other work related to autism, or studied a bit of psychology/psychiatry. The two best friends I've had offline(not counting my girlfriend here) accepted me & supported me the way I was & none of us ever mentioned autism & they were both NT. One was my best friend in high-school before I even knew what autism was & I doubt he woulda known either. I guess what I'm saying is that generally I think it's good to be yourself when it comes to seeking relationships but don't advertise having a label unless your interested in someone who has the same label. I don't exactly conform to any label thou.


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26 Nov 2023, 6:32 pm

Disclosing Autism or other disability to someone without disabilities can be a relationship-killer AND marriage-killer which might be why Anita said I may never get married!

Unless I date and marry a man with disabilities of course!


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theorema
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28 Nov 2023, 9:03 pm

I understand that many advice not to disclose (my) autism when dating. Not masking or very consciously masking and not mentioning autism seems like an acceptable advice, but I struggle with exactly that combination - because not disclosing it (to whomever) often goes hand in hand with feeling like I can't disclose it to myself. If that sounds insane for some people; i have only been diagnosed 4 years ago and I have been heavily(!) masking for a couple of decades at least and it has ruined pretty much every aspect of my life. I've been quite radical after my diagnosis regarding unmasking and I realize that I did not take into consideration the effect it might have when engaging in relationships with others on a deeper level. But - unmasking has made it possible to connect with myself on a level I never thought possible and it has saved my life, to be quite honest. So, for me, autism and getting the diagnosis autism (spectrum disorder) is nothing negative. I've been misdiagnosed for over 10 years, mostly with BPD (like so many other late diagnosed autistic women, which is a f*****g shame!) and I have always resisted this diagnosis, because I knew it wasn't right. And I've been told over and over that I was wrong, and I have over and over replied that I was not. So, I will not let a patriarchal, misogynist ableist society tell me I should rather not disclose my autism, because it'll minimize or eradicate my chances of being presumed "quirky but functional" or whatever, because the harm this will cause myself is not a price I am willing to pay anymore. Ever. I will not make the lack of double-empathy MY responsibility and I will certainly not accommodate people who only accept autistic people as long as they don't make them uncomfortable. f**k this internalized ableism, I don't want any part of it.
I recently got a 100% disability pension, with 39, and I know that this is not because of my autism, but because of how it is not safe to be autistic in the society I live in and I have to add; it's also not desired to be autistic, highly intelligent and a WOMAN in my society.
So, no, I don't have to learn things that are instinctive for NTs; they are not instinctive for me, because I am not NT. And to the question how did I date before my diagnosis? I didn't date, MY MASK did. Also, I am not good at chilling, but that's fine. I've found my ways to get rest. And I am sorry, but I don't think I overthink, I just need to understand things in their entirety and I am not self-censoring my way of thinking anymore, just because other people don't understand it.
I find this forum very weird and frankly have rarely gotten this kind of responses from other autistic people be it online or offline. Thanks anyway to everyone.