two steps forward, one step back

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CherryBombH
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04 Nov 2010, 11:06 am

Hi -
Onto a new topic. I am wondering if part of my problem with my relationship is a classic "pullback." I've heard that Aspies tend to get quite close, but then feel the need to pull back emotionally. True? And then what happens next?

I have been getting closer and closer to my Aspie man. Especially lately. I KNOW in my heart he and I care for each other as more than friends. Just by things he says, etc. that you don't say to friends, etc. And it heated up in the last two weeks. And then .... the meltdown yesterday. Among other things, he accused me of wanting certain types of more closeness - things HE wanted to do that I was going along with.... Accusing me of calling when he didn't want me to call -calls in question, call 1) I specifically asked him twice if I should call that night and he just responded with a joke that I didn't think as a "no." Because this isn't a typical NT relationship, I am always trying to be clear to him and get clear answers from him. Things just don't "flow" the way I'm used to... and call 2) checking to see if he got a package. Isn't that a normal call?

As part of his rant, he wanted to know what we "were." I asked him what he thought we were. He played coy and then said/asked we aren't lovers? I was quiet... And then he asked right? And I had to say right. I guess. That term means to me that love has been spoken and possibly sex has occurred. He wasn't in the mood for me to fight for that word - lovers - I don't think. Plus he never has acknowledged what we were.

Now, when he calls next week, as I said in another thread, I need an apology from him due to his nastiness, but I want to repair the relationship. I'm not the kind of person who jumps ship at the first signs of trouble. I've done that in the past and regretted it. But I'm also not cream puff who is willing to take crap.

I want to point blank tell him how I feel and what I'm looking for in my relationship with him - which I think he could live with. Two calls a week, a few short emails back and forth. And if/when we meet, the relationship could become physical. This would be enough for me. And then I want to ask him how he feels and what he's looking for. I'm incredibly anxious about his answer, but I think it's time.... What do you think? Re: timing and my expectations? I'm not looking for a commitment or a "partner" - I'm just looking for a person to be emotionally close to and maybe get occasionally physical with. Is that too much for an Aspie?

Here goes - let the replies begin.....



couriergrrrrl
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04 Nov 2010, 1:00 pm

I don't know if I'll be any help, but I'm going to try...

I don't know about other Apsies, but I personally hate few things more than talking on the phone. I am no good at the small talk I feel obligated to make when someone calls me. It is very uncomfortable for me and that discomfort often comes across as irritation or even anger. To be honest, just the sound of a phone ringing is sometimes enough to set me off.

When he asked "what you were" he was probably hoping for some kind of validation. Remember, talking about emotions is often one of the most difficult things an Aspie has to do. I doubt, in his mind, he was "playing coy". He was probably freaking out inside.

When he calls next week, you need to tell him exactly what you wrote here. That you need an apology and you want to repair the relationship. Aspies don't usually pick up on the subtle cues that neuronormals do. He won't necessarily understand things based on the tone of your voice, or the expression on your face, etc. You need to be very straightforward with him. If you want an answer from him about his feelings for you, it might be wise to give him the option of writing it in a letter or email. For myself, it is much easier for me to write my feelings down as opposed to speaking them. Some Aspies, including me, go mute when pressed for answers about an emotional issue. It is not that I am unwilling to answer, I am literally unable.

Just remember to be patient, and understand that when he says something that is hurtful to you, he may genuinely not understand what he has done (unless he's just a jerk, which is a whole other problem all together). You will have to explain things that you are not used to explaining. I hope everything works out for you. If he's the right guy, he will be worth the extra effort.



CherryBombH
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04 Nov 2010, 1:25 pm

Thanks for your thoughts.

He hates email even more than the phone (remember, this is a long-distance relationship so what the heck am I supposed to do). But I can offer that he write down his feelings. When he does write, he can be quite eloquent. He hates the phone too - the ringing - the interruption. When he called with his meltdown was the same time when I was going to ask him for regular phone calls (which I obviously couldn't get to due to the meltdown). But I thought regular phone calls would help so they would be scheduled and part of his routine rather than me calling him out of the blue. But it was too late.

I told him several times in the call yesterday, and plan to to next week, to tell him that he needs to tell me no or disagree, etc. right away before he feels the need to explode. I think he is so worried about pleasing me that he ignores his own needs until they get too much for him.

The whole mute thing is interesting. We've talked about his past relationships. Whenever we get to the part where the woman dumped him (which always happened except in the last very short relationship), I have asked him what happened. He goes mute. He doesn't know. I found that very interesting. He's an honest soul so I really think he doesn't know.

So you think the whole question about "what were we" was his way of getting me to declare myself? I took it as meaning my actions weren't matching what we were, i.e., just friends.... Hmmm

During the call, I was quiet quite a bit - I was just stunned by this sweet man being so cruel. I cried finally and told him that I felt like I let him in too close, that I let myself care too much for him, just to get hurt. He was totally quiet. He started to try to talk about how I could call or email him if I wanted. I said no. I said he has to take the initiative now. I wasn't going to let him try to be nice when he obviously needed time alone. Plus I didn't need to do something to just get slapped on the hand for later.

At the end of the conversation, he said "take care." I said "You don't care," and he said "I care." Then I said "Bye." That's the most I've ever gotten from him.



arondight
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04 Nov 2010, 11:12 pm

A somewhat similar thing happened to me while I was in a relationship (don't know what exactly to call it). Here's a quick overview: She and I were really progressing but it never got to the point where we officially said we are together and being the aspie that I am eventually got me thinking that she only liked me as a friend. One day I did something much similar to what your significant other did. During a conversation I said "Well we are together, aren't we?" She never confirmed it and it devastated me. I just left her alone after that. Thing is, she DID like me, a lot but I learnt later that she didn't confirm because we never made it official. During the time after that she tried to salvage what was left of our almost relationship but she would come to me close to tears and she laid the emotion on pretty thick. Surely enough I had a meltdown almost every time she tried to talk to me and she began to assume I hated her. Things never did work out between us and in retrospect I realised that I repeatedly assumed that she knew how I felt but I never really told her. This could be an Aspie thing but it could just be me. It may very well be that like me, your significant other may just assume that you know exactly how he feels and where you two stand with each other. Try to be as direct as possible, you have feelings and expectations, make them known and encourage him to do the same.


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CherryBombH
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05 Nov 2010, 10:55 am

@Arondight -
I will do this, but I want to do it without him freaking out or melting down. And since our conversation next week will be right after a meltdown am I beginning to think that I should wait til maybe the next time after that.... Any suggestions on script would be greatly appreciated.

I also am now wondering if his question was more a way to remind me that we aren't lovers. We are just friends. He and I are both so shy about talking about these things - it's really hard. Plus since he just went through a meltdown, I don't want to put him over the edge again. And... if he doesn't feel the same way, I really do still want to be his friend and don't want to mess that up.

Advice please. (Your advice so far was great - thanks!! ! and thanks for sharing).



HopeGrows
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05 Nov 2010, 3:54 pm

Hey OP, I'd just like to suggest caution on your part....and to remind you to take care of yourself in this situation.

You've seen a side of this man that is not pleasant - but it is real. I don't know if this meltdown was truly an aberration, or if its much more common than you think - and therefore indicative of deeper issues.

I'm somewhat uneasy...I'm not sure how you two maintain contact if he doesn't like to talk on the phone (not unusual for an Aspie), and shuns email (somewhat unusual for an Aspie, because they often have quite a talent for written communication, which often leads to a preference for it). I'm assuming he won't text either (can't see much difference between texting and email). So how do you two communicate? I guess I'm wondering how well you really know each other, just because it seems like your communication is limited.

As @arondight indicated, its not unusual for Aspies to assume that you know what's going on in their head - literally that you know what they know. That can be very challenging because, in my experience, I always focused on very clear, explicit communication (you'll see that advice over and over again in this forum). I even said, "Don't assume I know what you know." My goal was to encourage him to tell me what he wanted/needed, but in the end our relationship ended in a complete breakdown in communication. Could I have done something to alleviate whatever stress he felt? Sure - I would have done whatever he needed, but he didn't provide that information - due to a complete breakdown in communication.

Which kinda leads me to my next point: the people on this board who seem to be in successful mixed relationships understand that compromise is required. That means they acknowledge that they have to be as willing to accommodate their partner as their partner is to accommodate them. (Obviously, both partners have to have reasonable expectations of each unique Aspie's capabilities in order to make these accommodations work.) There is no relationship in which the saying, "it takes two," is more relevant than in an Aspie/NT relationship. Yes, you'll need to be comfortable taking the lead in the relationship in many respects - but he'll also have to be comfortable letting you lead. That can be difficult for men - even men who opine about not having "alpha male" instincts or qualities can still be very reluctant to follow their partners' lead.

But no relationship can succeed without compromise, regardless of neural status. That means this man has to be willing to meet you halfway (without the cruelty or the temper tantrums). And his willingness is definitely related to his character, his level of maturity, and his willingness to grow and learn.

I'm saying this plainly because I think you're head over heels for this guy (I can't think of another reason you'd be willing to go through so much for a guy who hasn't even bought you dinner). ;). But Asperger's is only one part of what makes him the person he is. If he balks at your need for an apology, or fails to take responsibility for his own actions, I'd be very concerned about what a future with this man would be like.


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CherryBombH
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06 Nov 2010, 5:28 pm

Thanks HopeGrows. I've been thinking about this whole situation and trying to make sure I'm taking care of myself too. I tend to be a nurturer of others, forgetting about myself.

He and I have communicated more than it appears in the thread. BUT, I totally agree - compromise has to happen or I'm going to be a doormat. He and I are both pretty strong, stubborn people and I've let him do what he wants with this relationship. I'm a pretty assertive person otherwise so it's interesting that I'm not being assertive in this. So some things will need to be discussed in the next conversation for sure.

Thanks again.