Didn't tell long term partner I'm on the spectrum

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Newjackcitypost
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13 Sep 2021, 12:34 pm

Hey everybody! I've got kind of a weird issue, that would almost be comical if it didn't have negative implications for my relationship.

I'm 32 now. When I was 9 I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Through social skills therapy and a fair amount of trial and error, I'm pretty high functioning. I have a career with a lot of responsibility, and can maintain relationships both platonic and romantic. No one who I encounter in my day to day life knows about my diagnosis unless they already knew about it. I don't publicize my diagnosis, mainly for social and professional reasons. That has led to a weird situation with my partner though.

We have been together for 4 years and actually just got engaged! Here's the problem: I have never told her about my diagnosis and now I worry that its "too late" to do so. I've avoided telling her in the past because, although I am pretty high functioning, I can point to several quirks in my own behavior which are probably "signs" of Asperger's. That makes me nervous that I'll tell her about my diagnosis and then suddenly everything I do will be viewed through the lens of dealing with someone who is not neurotypical, and I worry what that might do to our relationship.

At the same time if she knows about my diagnosis it would give her greater insight into what makes me "tick" so to speak. I also think there is intrinsic value in being open and honest with my partner about every facet of my life.

So does anyone have any insight into a situation like this? Has anyone sort of, "come out" as non-neurotypical after having a close relationship with someone for a long time? How did it go? What do you see as pros and cons of "coming out"? Did you get any unexpected reactions? Any advice as to how to word it? Any insight y'all have would be a huge, huge help.

Thanks!



kraftiekortie
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13 Sep 2021, 12:55 pm

I wouldn't put it in the form of a "confession." There's nothing to confess to.

I guess I would, one day, in a discussion about my childhood, say that I was diagnosed with Aspergers when I was 9. That's it.

People, too often, make like Aspergers is like leprosy or something. Like there's a Scarlett Letter attached to the diagnosis. Like you're "tainted" or something.

It's almost a moot point that you were diagnosed with something. These days, at least 1/4 of people in "western countries" are diagnosed with something--like autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety disorder, whatever. Who knows? Maybe your Significant Other was diagnosed with something, and she hasn't told you yet.

It's not purely a "genetic" disorder, either. Many neurotypical/neurotypical matchups end up with children with Aspergers. Many autistic/autistic matchups end up with neurotypical children. You having Aspergers doesn't guarantee that your child with have Aspergers. You not having Aspergers will not guarantee that the child will not have Aspergers.

It's not like you have the HIV virus, and are hiding that fact from her.

You've been together four years. If she breaks up with you solely because you are diagnosed with Aspergers, she's not worth the heartache. I would feel the same as what I would feel should my wife divorce me because she became a Black Nationalist, and I am white.



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13 Sep 2021, 9:36 pm

Horray, another fellow Aspie my age diagnosed in childhood like me!

I have been in a relationship with my NT boyfriend for 7 years, got engaged 5 years ago, and he doesn't know about my diagnosis because I feel too embarrassed to talk about it. I've always been ashamed of having an ASD and I hate the thought of people seeing me through the Asperger's lens. I tell my boyfriend everything, but I just cannot bring myself tell him that I have this label that tells me I'm not normal. And I don't think he's ever dealt with autistic people (his family all seem to be neurotypicals), so I don't think he has much knowledge about it and probably sees autism as a low-functioning, nonverbal male locked in his own world and needing 24-hour care. I don't think he's ever heard of Asperger's, so it would be a bit of an awkward conversation to have if I did tell him, but I don't want to have to provide him with a load of written information about Asperger's. I like to just live my (offline) life pretending I don't have Asperger's and just sweep it under the rug. Lucky for me my Asperger's doesn't affect our relationship anyway, I don't find it difficult to show love and affection, I love being touched, I can express my feelings well, make eye contact, communicate, and all those other social skills required for a healthy relationship. I tell him that I have anxiety, and he knows that.


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The_Face_of_Boo
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14 Sep 2021, 12:20 am

Keep it secret, and close your account in this forum.

Forget about it.


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DW_a_mom
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14 Sep 2021, 1:58 am

I'm honestly surprised by how many members think this is something you can withhold from your partner well, forever. If you are going to have kids, it WILL eventually come up, because the kids are likely to inherit at least part of it, and the diagnosis process includes extensive family history questioning. If it was something you had "forgotten" about because it was so long ago and has so little affect now, I wouldn't worry about it. But it sounds to me like this is something that has been on your mind through most of your relationship and you are intentionally withholding it because, basically, you don't trust your partner to not view you differently as the result of one word.

If one word can do that much damage to a relationship, the relationship isn't solid to begin with. Relationships require TRUST. Your fear suggests you hesitate to completely trust her, and by acting on that fear you are giving her reasons not to trust you.

Being afraid of any disclosure is natural. And, of course, the longer one waits the more difficult the disclosure becomes. But partners eventually sense it when their partners have been withholding something, and that sense will drive a wedge. Honestly, I'm more worried about the effects intentionally withholding something will have on the relationship than how the one word might affect the relationship. As you said, there is intrinsic value in being open and honest with your partner about every facet of your life.

My ASD son has always been open about his ASD and, like with you, people don't notice it and most wouldn't guess. None of that changes when he lets people know there is a label out there for some of his "quirks."

How to frame the conversation after 4 years is the challenge. Perhaps you start with how important this relationship has been for you, and how there has been one thing you've found yourself afraid to share out of worry it would change how she views you, and the longer you waited, the harder it got. Then mention of a few of the ASD related quirks she probably has noticed. Maybe remind her of some funny situations you have experienced together because of the quirks. Then you can ask a question you plan to answer for her: has she ever wondered why you have these quirks? With that, you can tell her you were diagnosed with ASD as a child, received services, learned to adapt, and don't feel it has any material effect on your life as an adult. Tell her that if she ever worries about how it affects your relationship, you want her to talk to you about it.

If you are worried about the conversation, or uncomfortable with how to direct it, schedule the topic into some pre-marital counseling. Many couples do pre-marital counseling in order to make sure they've vetted all the uncomfortable topics people tend to avoid while dating. My husband and I did ours through our church at the time, and there were definitely a few things we had not covered that were important to have talked about before marriage. It made us stronger.

Use this situation to become stronger as a couple, not weaker.


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Last edited by DW_a_mom on 14 Sep 2021, 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

kuze
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14 Sep 2021, 2:00 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
You've been together four years. If she breaks up with you solely because you are diagnosed with Aspergers, she's not worth the heartache.



Just dont make a big deal out of it, I like kraftiekortie's idea of including it in a conversation about your respective childhoods; 'When I was 9, I was diagnosed with ASD' This would make it easier to drop in. Some NT's may respond with 'are you cured now?' However, there is a lot to learn about autism so we cant expect all NT's to immediately know the facts. The concept of 'masking' may be a good way to explain why your partner has not noticed any signs of what they perceive as autism.

I masked my autism (unbeknown to me) for 12 years with my partner then she found out I was ASD at the same time as I did. My point is that since my partner found out I was autistic it has made things easier. She now understands why I have social anxiety and why I do and say unorthodox things. I would say it has brought us even closer than before and I think it has the potential to bring you closer to your respective partners.

Do something that scares you everyday, isn't that what they say?

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14 Sep 2021, 5:08 am

The_Face_of_Boo wrote:
Keep it secret, and close your account in this forum.

Forget about it.


Was this aimed at me or the OP?


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14 Sep 2021, 5:16 am

Joe90 wrote:
Horray, another fellow Aspie my age diagnosed in childhood like me!

I have been in a relationship with my NT boyfriend for 7 years, got engaged 5 years ago, and he doesn't know about my diagnosis because I feel too embarrassed to talk about it. I've always been ashamed of having an ASD and I hate the thought of people seeing me through the Asperger's lens. I tell my boyfriend everything, but I just cannot bring myself tell him that I have this label that tells me I'm not normal. And I don't think he's ever dealt with autistic people (his family all seem to be neurotypicals), so I don't think he has much knowledge about it and probably sees autism as a low-functioning, nonverbal male locked in his own world and needing 24-hour care. I don't think he's ever heard of Asperger's, so it would be a bit of an awkward conversation to have if I did tell him, but I don't want to have to provide him with a load of written information about Asperger's. I like to just live my (offline) life pretending I don't have Asperger's and just sweep it under the rug. Lucky for me my Asperger's doesn't affect our relationship anyway, I don't find it difficult to show love and affection, I love being touched, I can express my feelings well, make eye contact, communicate, and all those other social skills required for a healthy relationship. I tell him that I have anxiety, and he knows that.

WTF, you bring hating being diagnosed so often, for the reason it's wasn't up to you to disclose it, that all family and friends know about it now, how the hell your boyfriend doesn't know?



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14 Sep 2021, 5:20 am

badRobot wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
Horray, another fellow Aspie my age diagnosed in childhood like me!

I have been in a relationship with my NT boyfriend for 7 years, got engaged 5 years ago, and he doesn't know about my diagnosis because I feel too embarrassed to talk about it. I've always been ashamed of having an ASD and I hate the thought of people seeing me through the Asperger's lens. I tell my boyfriend everything, but I just cannot bring myself tell him that I have this label that tells me I'm not normal. And I don't think he's ever dealt with autistic people (his family all seem to be neurotypicals), so I don't think he has much knowledge about it and probably sees autism as a low-functioning, nonverbal male locked in his own world and needing 24-hour care. I don't think he's ever heard of Asperger's, so it would be a bit of an awkward conversation to have if I did tell him, but I don't want to have to provide him with a load of written information about Asperger's. I like to just live my (offline) life pretending I don't have Asperger's and just sweep it under the rug. Lucky for me my Asperger's doesn't affect our relationship anyway, I don't find it difficult to show love and affection, I love being touched, I can express my feelings well, make eye contact, communicate, and all those other social skills required for a healthy relationship. I tell him that I have anxiety, and he knows that.

WTF, you bring hating being diagnosed so often, for the reason it's wasn't up to you to disclose it, that all family and friends know about it now, how the hell your boyfriend doesn't know?


Because most of my family don't bring it up in front of him but I do live in the fear that it might get revealed beyond my control one day.


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badRobot
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14 Sep 2021, 5:21 am

This is tricky situation, but I believe disclosing it before you got married and have kids if you are planning on it, would be the right thing to do. I wouldn't make a big deal out of it though, wouldn't make it a "we need to talk" kind of thing.



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14 Sep 2021, 5:22 am

Joe90 wrote:
The_Face_of_Boo wrote:
Keep it secret, and close your account in this forum.

Forget about it.


Was this aimed at me or the OP?


To the OP, who's new here.


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14 Sep 2021, 5:24 am

Joe90 wrote:
badRobot wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
Horray, another fellow Aspie my age diagnosed in childhood like me!

I have been in a relationship with my NT boyfriend for 7 years, got engaged 5 years ago, and he doesn't know about my diagnosis because I feel too embarrassed to talk about it. I've always been ashamed of having an ASD and I hate the thought of people seeing me through the Asperger's lens. I tell my boyfriend everything, but I just cannot bring myself tell him that I have this label that tells me I'm not normal. And I don't think he's ever dealt with autistic people (his family all seem to be neurotypicals), so I don't think he has much knowledge about it and probably sees autism as a low-functioning, nonverbal male locked in his own world and needing 24-hour care. I don't think he's ever heard of Asperger's, so it would be a bit of an awkward conversation to have if I did tell him, but I don't want to have to provide him with a load of written information about Asperger's. I like to just live my (offline) life pretending I don't have Asperger's and just sweep it under the rug. Lucky for me my Asperger's doesn't affect our relationship anyway, I don't find it difficult to show love and affection, I love being touched, I can express my feelings well, make eye contact, communicate, and all those other social skills required for a healthy relationship. I tell him that I have anxiety, and he knows that.

WTF, you bring hating being diagnosed so often, for the reason it's wasn't up to you to disclose it, that all family and friends know about it now, how the hell your boyfriend doesn't know?


Because most of my family don't bring it up in front of him but I do live in the fear that it might get revealed beyond my control one day.

Not might get revealed. It will 100% get revealed sooner or later unless you would be put into witness protection program or something before it happens.



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14 Sep 2021, 8:56 am

Quote:
Not might get revealed. It will 100% get revealed sooner or later unless you would be put into witness protection program or something before it happens.


And this is why I wish that I didn't get diagnosed so early in life, because as an adult I still don't have much control over who knows. I am so f*****g jealous of everyone here who never got a diagnosis in childhood - especially those of my age and younger. I never read their threads that say "I am 20 years old and I think I may have autism, I am awaiting a diagnosis".

I f*****g hate having no control over things. I f*****g hate my f*****g life.

I'm going to track down the c**t that forced me to go to all these assessments to get this f*****g embarrassing diagnosis and I will tell him or her how they have ruined my life. If I wasn't diagnosed in the beginning like 99% of other women on the spectrum then I wouldn't have anything to have to hide, would I?


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14 Sep 2021, 9:16 am

Joe90 wrote:

And this is why I wish that I didn't get diagnosed so early in life, because as an adult I still don't have much control over who knows. I am so f*****g jealous of everyone here who never got a diagnosis in childhood - especially those of my age and younger. I never read their threads that say "I am 20 years old and I think I may have autism, I am awaiting a diagnosis".

I f*****g hate having no control over things. I f*****g hate my f*****g life.

I'm going to track down the c**t that forced me to go to all these assessments to get this f*****g embarrassing diagnosis and I will tell him or her how they have ruined my life. If I wasn't diagnosed in the beginning like 99% of other women on the spectrum then I wouldn't have anything to have to hide, would I?


I don't understand you at all. I have no formal diagnosis, but I just see being on the spectrum as part of who I am, like my ethnic background, my age, my gender, my personality traits. Definitely not something to be ashamed of. This is one of the first things I tell about myself when context is appropriate.

If someone can't accept my race - f**k them. If someone can't accept that I'm on the spectrum - f**k them as well.



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14 Sep 2021, 2:57 pm

It's not necessarily what other people think, it's how I feel. Since getting diagnosed I have always been uncomfortable in my own skin and I prefer to identify as neurotypical. You know, just like females uncomfortable in their own skin prefer to identify as males or non-binary (and vice-versa). I totally understand how people who were born as the wrong gender feel. I was born with the wrong f*****g brain and I hate it. Why should I have to let it define me for? I'm Joe90, not Asperger's Syndrome. Not my fault I was forced to be labelled as a small child.


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14 Sep 2021, 3:09 pm

I always felt the purpose of being in an intimate relationship is being able to share everything about myself that I don't share with the rest of the world.

I certainly understand the emotions involved with wanting to keep it keep it a secret, but it could come at an personal, emotional price. Keeping such a secret can be very stressful.


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