Seeking advice RE: long distance AS/NT relationship

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versedvixen
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Age: 27
Gender: Female
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15 Sep 2016, 4:59 am

Hi everyone!

I joined this forum because I was hoping to get some advice and/or insight for my difficult relationship situation. I am NT and I met my AS partner two years ago while studying abroad. He told me about a month in to our relationship that he had Asperger's Syndrome, but I honestly never gave it any thought-- for better or for worse. I fell in love with him for who he was, and that diagnosis was never part of the equation. 99% of the time, I forgot he wasn't NT. Before I met him, he worked extremely hard to overcome his AS challenges and "fit in" better; if he hadn't told me about his diagnosis, I probably never would have known. From what I have read so far on this forum, he doesn't outwardly display a lot of the symptoms you all have described, which is probably why it was so easy for me to misunderstand so many of our challenges in our relationship.

There are many simultaneous difficulties in our relationship:

1. Long distance. He is from France, and I am from the US. He was raised in the US, though, so there is no language barrier. In fact, he feels more comfortable in the US and plans on moving back to the US. We met when I studied abroad in Paris, and I ended up staying in Paris for two years to be with him. In that time, we lived together for one year.

2. Timing. In order to advance in my career, I need a masters degree. My specialization doesn't exist outside of the US, so I need to be here to get my degree. Meanwhile, he's already committed to his current school (which is both very unique, and free) and has at least two years left before he graduates.

3. Visa restrictions. Long story short, in order for me to live and work in France with him, we would have to be married. The same is likely true for him, in order to live and work in the US with me. Work visas are extremely hard to get for either country.

4. Student loans. Even if I were somehow able to get a proper visa to go to France, thanks to my student loan agreement, I need to be working for a US company for at least the next 5 years anyway. This pretty much plants me in the US for the foreseeable future.


So the very, very condensed down version of all of this goes like this: we were very happy and very in love for the entire time I was in Paris. This is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, and he would tell me the same thing. Everything was fine, until I left to go to grad school in the US. All of the sudden, we started having major communication issues. Now, when I was feeling anxious or insecure, he was completely unable to comfort me and would even ignore me, even when I explicitly told him I needed him to reassure me. When we were living together, we would talk every single day-- and even before we lived together, when we were living in the same city we would talk every single day. Now, I would go multiple days without a single word from him-- and this is when I needed to hear from him the most! I would talk to my friends who were in long distance relationships and they would tell me about the sweet things their significant others were doing for them, and it just made my heart hurt even more. I was giving everything to this relationship to try to make it easier for him, but he wasn't giving anything back to me. I desperately wanted him to do something nice for me, so I even sent him a gift certificate to buy me flowers, but he never used it. When we did talk, he would still tell me he loved me, but I didn't feel very cared for anymore.

Before I left Paris, I surprised him and left him with 30 presents and personalized letters to open for different times he might miss me. When I left, he didn't give me anything at all.

About a week before I started my graduate program, he called me out of the blue at 4 in the morning and broke up with me. Essentially, it was because I wanted to marry him someday but he wasn't ready to be in his "terminal relationship". He told me that he didn't want to be with anyone else, but he felt like he should have other experiences. This came up because I had been having a lot of anxiety about when we would be able to live together again because I really missed living with him.

It completely caught me off guard, and totally broke my heart. Up until that phone call, he had told me that I was the only one for him and that we would get old together. That was about a month ago, and I'm still not sure how to process the whole thing. About a week ago, I was going to try to talk to him about maybe trying an open relationship, but before I even brought up that subject I decided to ask him how he felt about me now. He told me this:

"I have no simple answers. I care about you very much, but I have sealed off anything heavier than that for my own health. If I allowed myself to look into it, I don't know what I would find. Even saying this violates my inner rules and safeguards. I do not feel ready/the need/will to move on to something else, but neither do I feel attached/restrained by the past. I am effectively forcibly living in the present."

After reading this, I broke down and literally cried for five hours. Can someone please explain to me how you can go from being in love with someone for two years to not "attached/restrained by the past"?!?! Is this an AS thing? I really don't understand, and it was extremely hurtful to hear.

I am going to be very clear: like I said before, he masked himself so well as being NT for so much of our relationship that even though I've always known he was AS, there was never a single time in our relationship that I thought of him that way. It wasn't until I started trying to understand what went wrong that I finally realized how much his being AS had to do with my frustrations.

Honestly, it leaves me with mixed emotions. It makes me feel validated knowing I am not the only one to have gone through these struggles. It makes me feel foolish for not recognizing it sooner. It makes me feel sad for not supporting him more, and recognizing the many ways he has overcome his challenges to be who I needed him to be even when that wasn't natural for him. It makes me hurt to know that so much of what hurt me will probably never change. It makes me angry at myself for blaming him and calling him selfish for behaviors that are largely not his fault.

But mostly, it makes me love him all the same. And it makes me want to understand.

Please, I need help! From one mistaken, sorry NT-- what can I do to support my AS? In spite of all of this, and in spite of all the horror stories I've read online while looking for advice, I still believe this AS man is the love of my life but I don't know what to do. I know that there are a ton of other obstacles that, even if we get past this communication issue, we will still have to face, but I really think I'm up for the challenge.



tanq
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
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15 Sep 2016, 11:09 am

As an AS man, I imagine the prospect of being in a long-distance relationship with the probability of having to wait years before spending any appreciable amount of time together became overwhelming. In the past, when faced with overwhelming emotions I tended to shift into a logical, pragmatic frame of mind. This reduced the painful impact of the emotions.

When my first significant relationship ended, I was devastated. It took me months to stop feeling empty. What I am most grateful for is that he remained my friend.

You made some wonderful romantic gestures but he didn't reciprocate. As an AS man, such gestures don't come naturally to me. I have to make an effort to remember that loving things like this are important in a relationship. Still, I often don't understand why they are necessary.

It sounds like your partner is coping with an extremely difficult emotional situation by finding a pragmatic solution. If he still thinks breaking up is the best thing, I would accept it and do my best to be understanding. Above all, I would remain his friend and try to stay in touch.



TomS
Deinonychus
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15 Sep 2016, 4:30 pm

Long distance relationships were common in the military even before the internet. The term 'Dear John Letter' originated there. Our conventional wisdom was not to end it just because it was long distance, but instead make the most of it while you can, but the the odds were overwhelmingly against them working out long term. The saying was 'Long Distance Relationships rarely last'.

Lives separated by distance go separate ways.



Bridgette77
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15 Sep 2016, 8:03 pm

Unfortunately, these relationships can be tough when two people are close by each other, never mine long distance. This just adds complications on top of an already complicated situation, where communication can be already difficult. I really wish I could give you advice that is happy, cheerful, optimistic, and magical to make it all better, but there's no easy answer, when his mind is firmly made up. If you try to push him into changing it, it may only push him away. You can try to stand by him, be his friend, and still be there for him, if it doesn't hurt too badly, and see if it brings him back to you, but it won't be easy. It's like the old saying says, what ever is meant to be, will be, and if someone walks away, let them go. If they are meant for you, they will come back to you. If they are not meant for you, they will not come back. Everything has it's proper time and place, and even through all of my pain and tears, I have learned this time and time again. Hang in there Hun. It will come out right in the end.