Non-Sexual Touch Questions from NT Boyfriend

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Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 30 Sep 2021
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Posts: 1
Location: United States

30 Sep 2021, 6:35 pm

Hello to all. Thank you in advance for your time reading this post. It’s a list of things my (F/32/Aspergers) boyfriend (M/68/NT) wants to but cannot understand, in his words. If you would please consider replying to any of them with your own experience or insight you would help me, and he, very much. Thank you.

• My girlfriend hates when I stare at her. She’s beautiful and I love her. She says, “It’s too much input to have the full force of your face on me when we aren’t speaking or interacting. I say, “I’m not staring, I’m gazing.” But she is so uncomfortable after even four seconds she turns where I can’t see her face. Why?

• My girlfriend can’t fall asleep if I’m holding her, and all I want in the world is to lie in bed holding her as we drift off at the end of the day. I have suggested compromises: let me link our feet together, let me put my head on your chest, etc but she 100% cannot relax physically and mentally in to sleep being touched. At all. Are all autistic women like this?

• She likes to hold hands while we walk down the street sometimes, but only like 35% of the time and I want to hold her hand 100%. It’s a big deal to me. How do you guys handle that?

Thank you all again for anything you choose to share to help him understand, and anything practical you can share with *me* to build solutions for this problem. It makes me feel so very very tired, and these are his only needs I haven’t found a way to meet.

Thank you


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Joined: 5 Jun 2020
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,406
Location: Derby, UK

30 Sep 2021, 7:16 pm

This is tricky, as I feel the questions really need to be answered by the individual involved (i.e. the OP) rather than all of us, but I will try my best.

1). It is nice that you like to look at me, but if you over-do it I start to feel like an exhibit in a museum, or a piece of meat on a butcher's counter. It's intrusive, and a pressure, as though you want me to break into a song and dance routine. A glance every so often is cute, staring is not. Also, close your mouth.

2). I am very sensitive to external stimuli - temperature, draughts, smells, noises. If my bed isn't "just so" I will not sleep. Labels in my clothes keep me awake, being fractionally too hot or too cold, the feel of the bedding, the hum of the fridge from 3 rooms away. I know that you hugging me is a sign of affection, but if I'm already overwhelmed with sensory issues it's the last straw. Three nights with no sleep and I WILL hate you, that's a natural reaction no matter how hard I try to override it.

3). I'm easily embarrassed. I'm also a bit awkward and I bounce as I walk. I need the space to be me. If you give me the room to be myself, you may be surprised to find I gravitate towards you out of choice. But if you demand to control my space and movement I will resent it. Just for what it is, nothing more. Doesn't mean I don't love you, I just do better loving you from a small distance sometimes. Also, why so insecure? Do you really think I need to be on a lead or something?

I am like a cat. I do not want to be wrapped around your feet the whole time like a dog, making a fool of myself. I love you, but I need my own space. Give me space, and I will very often choose to surrender it. Don't give me space, I will claw you and s**t in your slippers.


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Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,037

02 Oct 2021, 11:15 pm

I am F/50/Asperger and am one to stare myself. However, for intimate moments - I close my eyes a lot. If my partner's not looking, I will. If he's looking, I won't. I'd imagine that I'd prefer he had a warm gentle smile, but with my anxiety distorting my interpretations, I'd probably read it as mocking me. I try to keep in mind that he cares, but my thoughts usually run amuck.

Touch is like fireworks in my brain when I am agitated, which is near my entire life so far. When cuddling in bed, I will tolerate 5-10 min of him with his arm around me, or feet touching mine (I'll be wide awake) and then gently separate myself (so I can sleep). Maybe if we've spent an hour desensitizing me (massage or caresses) I could tolerate it for longer, but it still wouldn't be something I'd fall asleep with. When I wrap my feet around his to say "hey, I care about you", it's brief. He likes when I make a point of caressing him, but I don't often b/c I'm afraid it will encourage reciprocation and it's no fun to say "that's uncomfortable" all the time --- we need a code word, or more of what would make me comfortable. :roll: I have had times when I am more relaxed and I can tolerate touch better, but they are few and far, far in between. I do hope those times increase as I grow... wiser.

I really enjoy holding hands with my partner --- that said, my partner isn't a hand-holding person (or he's learned not to try) so our 90% holding hands may be a mere 20% of yours. I only hold hands when content or I need to him guide me during sensory overwhelm. I have been known to slap him away or throw his hand off when agitated (sigh). My ASD-like daughter does not like holding hands at all, but suffers it on occasion and I am just as awkward as her those times. My ND (not ASD) son is a big hand-holder, face squeezer, body climber etc. and I have to really keep my cool with him or ask/get space. My kids know that bumping me can (unfortunately) cause an unpleasant reaction, except when I am relaxed in which case it hardly bothers me at all ---- again, that is (unfortunately) a mere handful of times each year.

(And I won't even start on cycle related issues. I am sooooooo sensitive to hormonal changes.)

It's so frustrating to have big or unpleasant responses and know/want differently. I have not quite accepted or "figured" it out yet. I aspire to. There's at least one woman on WP who did. Personally I think the tincture of time: reduced life demands (and menopause) will do the (happy) trick for me.

Wishing you both well as you navigate your differences and needs. :heart: