NT qn for Aspies: can you define love?

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BlueSwimmers
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26 Jun 2012, 6:04 pm

If this has already been covered elsewhere, I'm happy to be directed to earlier threads, but so far I haven't found anything to enlighten me. (And for those who will say "Ask your Aspie partner" - I have, but he has trouble explaining himself in a way I can understand - which may just be my particular NT-ness clashing with his particular AS view of the world.)

My husband and I are still in the midst of a very rough patch, where neither of us is connecting very well with the other. I am interstate at the moment, attending to family issues, so we are trying to talk through some of our issues over the phone, and I think this is adding to our problems.

A couple of days ago he said to me that he loves me - and then he said, "I love what you represent; what you symbolise to me."

This made me feel that he doesn't actually love "me".... the individual... and that really, I could be anybody. I know he is missing me (he's told me so) because he has very few friends, so he likes my company, enjoys our sex life, appreciates my emotional support when he is anxious etc.

Is it possible (likely) that he means that one woman is as good as the next (within reason) - that any woman who is empathetic, supportive and good company would meet his needs and therefore be an adequate partner?

I'm sure many of us - NT and Aspie alike - have trouble defining love. But if you are (or have been) in a loving relationship, do you love the person for who they are; for their unique qualities? Do you feel that you "know" them, in a meaningful, emotionally-connected way? Or would almost anyone do, as long as you find them attractive and supportive in a way that meets your needs?



AScomposer13413
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26 Jun 2012, 6:43 pm

BlueSwimmers wrote:
A couple of days ago he said to me that he loves me - and then he said, "I love what you represent; what you symbolise to me."

This made me feel that he doesn't actually love "me".... the individual... and that really, I could be anybody. I know he is missing me (he's told me so) because he has very few friends, so he likes my company, enjoys our sex life, appreciates my emotional support when he is anxious etc.


Personally, I don't interpret him saying he loves you and saying he loves what you symbolize as two separate things. If anything, I see what you symbolize to him as his way of telling you how much of you as an individual he loves. This could be an AS/NT thing, but I'm not sure.

BlueSwimmers wrote:
Is it possible (likely) that he means that one woman is as good as the next (within reason) - that any woman who is empathetic, supportive and good company would meet his needs and therefore be an adequate partner?


That would depend on what he told you. I'd say it's a slight possibility, but unless he really went in depth with the traits in your case or the traits reappear when he's talking to another woman, it would be very unlikely this is the case.

BlueSwimmers wrote:
I'm sure many of us - NT and Aspie alike - have trouble defining love. But if you are (or have been) in a loving relationship, do you love the person for who they are; for their unique qualities? Do you feel that you "know" them, in a meaningful, emotionally-connected way? Or would almost anyone do, as long as you find them attractive and supportive in a way that meets your needs?


Expect a PM (personal message) from me on this part of the post. Otherwise, I hope you get more of the advice you're looking for.

Edit: Most of the users posted what I would have covered.



Last edited by AScomposer13413 on 27 Jun 2012, 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cathylynn
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26 Jun 2012, 7:29 pm

i have AS and my husband doesn't. i define love as a strong desire to spend time with someone along with wanting the best for them. i have been in love several times, so i don't think there is one and only one soul mate. i appreciate my husband for who he is and enjoy being with him immensely. if anything happenned to him, i would be grief-stricken. after some time, though, there might be another special someone.

you might ask your husband what you symbolize for him. it could be as simple as normalcy. you seem to be taking his words in the worst possible interpretation.

if you're the same poster who said he said some horrible things to you, he definitely needs lessons in how to fight fair (assertiveness).



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26 Jun 2012, 7:53 pm

BlueSwimmers wrote:
A couple of days ago he said to me that he loves me - and then he said, "I love what you represent; what you symbolise to me."


I would take that statement as sure proof that he loves you more than he can express well, and he values you more than most things. It is a huge complement. If I had a significant other right now who told me that I would be figuratively dancing on clouds for a week or two (it would be a big deal of happiness). I would not take that statement to mean that another women could fill your shoes so to speak.

To define love, I use it primarily as a verb, an action that is shown in what I do. It is an emotion, but sometimes you are mad and frustrated and do not "feel loving", but you still "love" the other person (or you should, if not work on this). Love is not getting angry at them when they do the really annoying things (like for me disrupting my routine), love is forgiving them before they ask and even if they do not deserve it, love is respecting them and their ideas, love does not get envious of the good things that happen to them, love is completely honest not telling lies and not keeping secrets. Love does not insist on getting my way, but works to help the other to get their way (even if it is opposite of my way), love does not bring up past wrong deeds, but constantly brings up past good deeds as complements. love is not arrogant when you are right and they were wrong. Love also means that you do not wait for them to show proper love, but that you start it first.

BlueSwimmers wrote:

I'm sure many of us - NT and Aspie alike - have trouble defining love. But if you are (or have been) in a loving relationship, do you love the person for who they are; for their unique qualities? Do you feel that you "know" them, in a meaningful, emotionally-connected way? Or would almost anyone do, as long as you find them attractive and supportive in a way that meets your needs?


I do love a person for their unique qualities, and that I know them more than anyone else, they are not replaceable. Sure when you meet at first it is about attraction and the way each other meets the needs of the other, but that should only be early on. Early on they may be replaced by someone with similar qualities, but not after you get to know each other, and definitely not by the time you marry.

I hope that your relationship works out, you might consider relationship counseling as a way to improve the communication between ya'll. I do not know your husband or what he is like, but I like it when some one tells me in a very direct manner the fears and or worries that someone has about me or the relationship between us so that those can be addressed in a direct manner, instead of fruitless worry or dancing around the issue.

Best of luck.


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26 Jun 2012, 8:23 pm

It is obvious that you are special to him and a large part of his life; he just has a different way of expressing love by his words. Sometimes they may be words that don't fully describe what he means; sometimes they're completely off and can come across like you don't matter as much as you do. I think you're looking at what he said in the wrong way.

I HIGHLY doubt he would be with you if that were the case. He wants to be with you, otherwise, why would he have married you in the first place? If he really were just looking around for random women to fill the void, he wouldn't be married to you.

I have a very difficult time describing love, but I know what it feels like to me. It feels soft, tender, and accepting. I love the person as a whole. I know the person in a way beyond meaningful and affectionate; it's very personal and something indescribably wonderful. I couldn't be with just anyone. I wouldn't feel connected with just anyone. I need that special connection with the person, physically (as in affectionately), mentally, and spiritually, in order to form a bond. Attraction is just a bonus to the connection.



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26 Jun 2012, 8:46 pm

You need to give him some leeway in how you interpret him. I have a lot of difficulty not only expressing emotion, but also defining how I feel and putting those feelings into words. That doesn't mean I don't feel emotion.... I feel plenty of emotion. I have come to accept this as an asperger trait.



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26 Jun 2012, 9:22 pm

Valid points have already been made; I therefore defer to Robert Heinlein, who defined love as "that state in which the happiness of another is intrinsic to your own."

Note that this is not only love between sexual partners; it also adequately describes familial love, as distinct from other forms of familial bond, such as obligation. (I do favors for my mother because I owe her more than can ever be repaid; I do her favors also because I wish her to be happy, as it helps make me happy as well.) It can also apply to agape, or "brotherly love", that one might feel for a friend to whom one is not sexually attracted.

I've found over the years that as a working definition, it - well, it works.


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27 Jun 2012, 1:16 am

To me, love IS: being able to stand being with a person more then a few days a week, still having things to talk about, understanding the other person weather because they explained when asked or you know them well enough to understand on your own, CARING what they have to say and what they do without being overbearing and understanding when they do things that annoy you, trying to be better for them and to make life easier on them, actually *feeling* empathy for a person rather then just knowing they have feelings (as, for me at least, the more you care about and understand someone, the more impact they have on you.), fumbling to find the right words and still trying even if they come out all wrong many times over which stresses you out immensely, being able to share things that are very important or personal to you without fear of how they will be reacted to, appreciating *every* aspect of someone because you realize that without that part they aren't who you love, knowing that life would not be as bright without them.

To me, love is NOT: euphoria every time you think about them, an intense desire to spend every waking moment together, available at first sight, able to overcome everything, forgiveness where none is deserved, rationalizing bad behavior, obsessing about where they are/who they are with, jealousy, appreciating only certain aspects of a person.

Based on my interpretation of "love" I'd say he was giving you the best compliment he could find words for.


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biostructure
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27 Jun 2012, 2:32 am

BlueSwimmers wrote:
A couple of days ago he said to me that he loves me - and then he said, "I love what you represent; what you symbolise to me."

This made me feel that he doesn't actually love "me".... the individual... and that really, I could be anybody. I know he is missing me (he's told me so) because he has very few friends, so he likes my company, enjoys our sex life, appreciates my emotional support when he is anxious etc.

Is it possible (likely) that he means that one woman is as good as the next (within reason) - that any woman who is empathetic, supportive and good company would meet his needs and therefore be an adequate partner?


I totally get what you're saying, and I believe I may well have a problem with this. For me, there are two main ways I'm drawn to others: one is admiration--if someone can write good stories, create beautiful objects, be athletic, etc.--and the other is when people can be supportive or helpful, particularly in situations where I'm inadequate.

I recently browsed through a book written by a woman with two autistic sons, and she has a very descriptive writing style. She mentioned how one of her sons seems to feel like a star in his own production, with everyone else in the world playing minor roles. This meant that his own social awkwardness didn't even occur to him, as social norms didn't exist in his production. I think that most young children have this view of the world, but then typically developing kids soon become able to wrap their brain around the idea of being "co-stars" with the people around them, or even playing a supporting role in someone else's production.

Some aspies have major difficulties making this growth step, and some never do. This seems like more of a problem with autistic males, for reasons I'm still trying to figure out. When I've said before that I might have a problem with narcissism, this is what I mean--even though it's very different from the pathological-liar, spiteful personality normally associated with that term.

So yes, some of us aspies have a real problem grasping love in its truly interpersonal form, where the other is as much of a person as the self. That requires having strength without leading with the ego, and being in touch with the humanness in oneself as well as others. Even though I know it exists in theory, I'm not confident I can actually feel it.



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27 Jun 2012, 2:50 am

biostructure wrote:

So yes, some of us aspies have a real problem grasping love in its truly interpersonal form, where the other is as much of a person as the self. That requires having strength without leading with the ego, and being in touch with the humanness in oneself as well as others. Even though I know it exists in theory, I'm not confident I can actually feel it.


I tend to agree with this



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27 Jun 2012, 2:53 am

I don't understand "romantic" love at all. I don't even know what it is supposed to feel like.

I do comprehend basic familial affection, and I have this affection for friends as well. It involves a certain amount of anxiety for some reason. But I know of no "love" as I can differentiate into "romantic" vs. "platonic".

It doesn't help that I've never had any male friends IRL.

I don't know if it is a "thing" among aspies to be confused or confusing about love.

I would say the dude loves you in the way that he can.



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27 Jun 2012, 3:13 am

The thing is, there are different kinds of love. There is the love a parent has for a child, the platonic love that exists between good friends and romantic love. Most of them involve a choice to love that person as a purely emotional connection is likely to whither and die fairly quickly as no one is always lovable. Now romantic love involves a third component, that of physical attraction. Physical attraction can be broken down to logical components but the best kind is one in which there is an emotional attraction to the person as well. As far as defining love, that is all I have. I care deeply for people, probably more deeply than most people who are normal do. However, when it comes to romantic love I am at a complete loss as, although I have been attracted to people and cared for people, I lack the ability to find someone whom I am interested in that also feels the same for me, or to know what to do if I find myself in that situation (other than to follow my gut impulse to run from that which I want). Thus, I have been on less than 5 dates my entire life and I am 38.


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