Autistic Functioning Level & Dating Success

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Muse933277
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24 Apr 2022, 7:33 pm

I have three theories when it comes to how successful autistic people will do in the dating world, and why some people with autism will go on to have a relatively normal dating life, while others remain romantically and sexually inexperienced for a long time. Here are my three theories.

1. Your overall functioning level has an impact on how romantically successful you will be. The greater support you need, the greater chance of you being romantically unsuccessful.

2. Regardless of your functioning level, if people perceive you as autistic or special needs, you are less likely to be romantically successful compared to someone who appears neurotypical

3. Lower functioning autistic people are more likely to be romantically successful if they pursue others within their own league


I have known at least 40+ people with autism in my lifetime and unfortunately, many of these individuals are fairly romantically and sexually inexperienced despite wanting to have a dating life. When you look at the people with autism who struggle you tend to notice some similarities. They tend to come off to others as special needs, are either on SSI or work a part time low paying job despite being 25+, and are physically not very attractive. From a romantic standpoint, these people are being excluded from the dating market mainly because of the reasons stated above.

However, the people with autism who manage to have a relatively normal dating life tend to do so for the following two reasons. The first reason is that they are fairly attractive (or at least average) and come off as relatively normal and neurotypical. They don't come off as special needs and their autistic traits simply come off as being quirky. An example would be a young 22 year old woman with autism, who's fairly smart, outgoing, and in a college sorority, and as a result, doesn't struggle with dating at all.

The second reason is they stick to their league and pursue partners they have a realistic shot with. For instance, an overweight unattractive autistic man on SSI might be romantically successful if he were to pursue similarly overweight unattractive women. So by going after women he has a realistic shot with, he might be able to find love easier compared to someone else in his shoes who exclusively goes after young attractive neurotypical women.



Joe90
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25 Apr 2022, 5:32 pm

Hmm, I don't like the way you used "unattractive" as a factor of being unable to date, as this could hurt some people's self-esteem here. Nobody likes being told they're unattractive even if they think so themselves.

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However, the people with autism who manage to have a relatively normal dating life tend to do so for the following two reasons. The first reason is that they are fairly attractive (or at least average) and come off as relatively normal and neurotypical. They don't come off as special needs and their autistic traits simply come off as being quirky. An example would be a young 22 year old woman with autism, who's fairly smart, outgoing, and in a college sorority, and as a result, doesn't struggle with dating at all.


But this is true, for me anyway. I've never really struggled in the dating world. Despite not being that attractive I still have attracted neurotypical men in the past and I am in a serious relationship with a neurotypical man now. My autistic traits aren't the stereotypical autistic traits you'd expect and I am rather skilled in expressing myself and empathising. If I am really attracted to a man I can become obsessed which offers me the skill of being good at flirting to get his attention. I can also tell if they like me back or if they come on to me first. I was 24 when I met the love of my life.
You may think I sound neurotypical but I do struggle with making friends with females and I can feel friendless and isolated at times, so I'm not as socially skilled as I sound. It's just love and dating that seems easy for me. Maybe guys are just easier to please.

I never attracted boys at school, but I think that was because boys only went for the really popular girls who wore a lot of make-up and were very confident, which is understandable when you're 14.

Also I do see a pattern here. I've noticed that more females here are in relationships than males here, and there seems to be more lonely males posting in the love and dating section while the social skills and making friends section seems more of lonely females posting about failed friendships (even if the female is in a relationship).


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kraftiekortie
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25 Apr 2022, 5:52 pm

I don't stick to no "league!"

I never did.....even before I was married.



Ettina
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30 Apr 2022, 8:54 am

Muse933277 wrote:
2. Regardless of your functioning level, if people perceive you as autistic or special needs, you are less likely to be romantically successful compared to someone who appears neurotypical


I disagree with this point. People who perceive you as an NT who is failing at stuff NTs should be succeeding at are far less likely to date you than people who perceive you as an autistic person who is doing well for an autistic person.



Muse933277
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09 May 2022, 12:53 am

I agree



orbweaver
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19 Jun 2022, 12:35 pm

If you pass as NT but have invisible disability related problems (being underemployed, etc) then someone may choose not to date you because of social class or success related reasons, especially in middle class/aspirationalist culture. Whether it's because you don't seem like someone they can introduce to their coworkers (the cultures of full time corporate workers and professionals really can be this rigid even now and nobody ever talks about this) - which is possible for non-ND people too, or because you don't have Successful Professional optics. With assortative mating and changes to the American economy this is beginning to affect women, not just men.

Basically you may be NT passing enough to experience your dating problems as classism rather than ableism.

This is something that American culture gaslit women about for the last 30 years, too, because pipe dreams and bootstrap ideology, are the stock and trade of American self-help publishing. Books like "Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others" didn't acknowledge that the case is usually of receptionists (or even legal secretaries, who had a good chance 30 years ago) trying to marry lawyers, now that there are more women lawyers in men's social circles.


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klanka
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19 Jun 2022, 3:14 pm

OP seems to be mostly correct from what I can gather.



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20 Jun 2022, 7:48 am

Muse933277 wrote:
1. Your overall functioning level has an impact on how romantically successful you will be. The greater support you need, the greater chance of you being romantically unsuccessful.

2. Regardless of your functioning level, if people perceive you as autistic or special needs, you are less likely to be romantically successful compared to someone who appears neurotypical

3. Lower functioning autistic people are more likely to be romantically successful if they pursue others within their own league
All 3 are true of me. However while all 3 girlfriends I've had were more in my own league, even most women in my own league did not see me as relationship potential :cry: I think that's common for disabled people in general. Guys are more expected to be providers whereas the women are more expected to be housewives, especially in areas with traditional gender roles like the deep south where I'm from.


Joe90 wrote:
Also I do see a pattern here. I've noticed that more females here are in relationships than males here, and there seems to be more lonely males posting in the love and dating section while the social skills and making friends section seems more of lonely females posting about failed friendships (even if the female is in a relationship).
Autism tends to affect men & women differently partly due to the typical gender roles in society. Autism is thought by some to be an extreme male brain so it makes sense to me that autistic women could relate to typical guys a lot more than autistic guys can relate to typical women. It's common for guys in general to have problems understanding women, it's a common theme in sitcoms & romance films. More than a few NT guys probably find autistic women refreshing cuz they are more direct & straightforward & less so-called "mind games" & hidden meanings to deal with. Most all the few posts I've seen on this forum by NT guys in relationships with autistic women were by guys who were wanting to learn about autism & were really trying to make their relationships better. Whereas more than a few posts by NT women in relationships with autistic guys were by women who were very frustrated, bitter, & at their breaking point about ending their relationship.


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orbweaver
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20 Jun 2022, 12:09 pm

nick007 wrote:
Autism tends to affect men & women differently partly due to the typical gender roles in society. Autism is thought by some to be an extreme male brain so it makes sense to me that autistic women could relate to typical guys a lot more than autistic guys can relate to typical women. It's common for guys in general to have problems understanding women, it's a common theme in sitcoms & romance films. More than a few NT guys probably find autistic women refreshing cuz they are more direct & straightforward & less so-called "mind games" & hidden meanings to deal with. Most all the few posts I've seen on this forum by NT guys in relationships with autistic women were by guys who were wanting to learn about autism & were really trying to make their relationships better. Whereas more than a few posts by NT women in relationships with autistic guys were by women who were very frustrated, bitter, & at their breaking point about ending their relationship.


As a bisexual woman who identified as (and thought I was) lesbian for a very long time (half of my life or more):

Being unable to interact well with other women in my own age group, was almost exclusively the way that I experienced my social deficits up to a certain point. Guys liked me and I didn't even know I was socially odd. The 80s were full of media narratives of the weird kid who goes from zero to hero and I really thought that being a "weird kid" was just something I was not going to carry around the rest of my life. I dropped out of high school early (stopped attending at 14) and there is a period where I have the optics of socially doing much better, in my teens, all the way up until 21. My social world never recovered after I moved away and began working full time.

But up to 21, I was in a social space that basically had 10 guys to every girl. I did not have to work that hard, socially. I was basically a unicorn in my social world (someone somewhat conventionally attractive *and* into nerdy stuff) and readily included in a lot of stuff simply because nerdy guys wanted to meet girls. My social deficits didn't stand out the way that the nerdy guys' did. My group largely put up with my social deficits while I was still a teenager.

I was comparatively presentable, more quiet (until someone actually got me talking), and polite, next to the nerdy men I was around. In fact, I was asked *constantly* by adults why I was friends with this or that autistic guy, because they saw the guy as immature, a lazy bum, or space cadet (the autistic guys in my group weren't STEM hyperachievers, they tended to be kind of wistful and dreamy, and into tabletop games and fantasy, and more emotional than me). While anyone close to me saw those same traits in me - somehow it wasn't made as much of. Adults saw me as having more potential than those guys did. Meanwhile I saw myself as no different from those guys. I, too, am lazy and dreamy. I just somehow looked better to other people, and it wasn't all masking. I had the same social problems as those guys, I could just get dates (with NTs) and they couldn't, so I had a full social calendar and they didn't. I usually had one only woman friend, and then all these male gamers and nerds I hung out with.

It's only when you put me next to girls my age that suddenly the massive gap in maturity and social skills became obvious, and my differences became obvious. (And I *hugely* relate to my autism as a maturity delay, though this isn't a popular model for autism at this moment. Basically, I was socially, developmentally, and emotionally behind my peers.)

But later:

Once past about 21, I found it increasingly difficult to navigate dating. Doubly so once I was in any kind of professional world, because professionally minded people (men and women alike) didn't really want to date me, they wanted someone with much more mature optics, who wasn't struggling at their jobs or in school (or... ahem... with much of anything, it seemed.)

What's more is that I started to think I was a lesbian for part of this, but found it next to impossible to navigate dating and relationships with women. I had thought I would be able to do this, because after all, usually I had one woman friend, right? (Usually straight. Usually ND. Usually "not like the other girls," like me.) Did other women REALLY hang out in groups of women, like I saw on TV? Women's lives in real life didn't really look like the lives of popular girls at school or women on TV so I didn't really think I was that abnormal.

Yeah, about that...

I thought I was far less socially behind than I actually was, until I tried dating women, and it's not long after I started dating women that I ended up in the autism diagnosis pipeline. Because I went from feeling relatively normal, to being an absolute incel, practically overnight, and it never changed.

There is nothing I could do, no amount of psychology I could study, that could make it better. They were looking for some kind of "energy" or some kind of way I experienced my emotions, that I just didn't feel. They were looking for some kind of signals I didn't give. If I didn't approach, they got no sign I was interested, and they didn't approach either (Lesbian Sheep Syndrome). But nobody I ever actually expressed interest in, was ever interested. We'd be going along fine for a date or two but getting better at getting dates, just seemed to be kicking the can down the road; getting told by someone that you thought you were hitting it off with, that you offended them (it happened every time), didn't feel like progress over just getting snubbed right off. All "getting better at getting along with women" or even masking really seemed to do for me was make it easier for me to be friends with women that had rejected me, because I was getting better at heavily masking my emotions.

I never got better at it, after nearly two decades of trying. I got better at having allistic women friends, but with dating, women never seemed to ever get past their first impression of me. They were summing me up, forever, within five minutes of meeting me, or throwing me away because I had embarrassed them (and the women I seem to get along with best, I didn't manage to find monogamous LGBTQ women among; I'm not polyamorous and that was a hard deal breaker for me with practically any woman interested). And I stopped begrudging them it, because I *should* have listened to my first impression about quite a few people in the past, but as I came to empathize more with women who rejected me, I stopped even valuing myself, and got into a shame spiral. What dates and attempted relationships I had were painful and awkward, and I ended up in an emotionally abusive situation involving female-pattern abuse with someone autistic-identified that I am still reeling from 14+ years later.

The irony is that I saw plenty of women with various mental health issues who were far more decompensated than me, who had woman after woman. I feel like half the lesbians I knew at any point were decompensated BPD.

Though in retrospect I see a lot of autists too, but much more female-presenting/high-masking. Which, for most of that time, I wasn't. Not to the same degree of later.


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20 Jun 2022, 12:30 pm

^ damn
20 years of trying

I think a lot of straight asd men have the same experience you had.

Yes, autism seems to be the worst, it is people with other mental issues like narcissism that are never without a girlfriend for long.



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20 Jun 2022, 12:35 pm

klanka wrote:
^ damn
20 years of trying

I think a lot of straight asd men have the same experience you had.

Yes, autism seems to be the worst, it is people with other mental issues like narcissism that are never without a girlfriend for long.


I am probably a good case study for this because I'm an autist who "doesn't seem autistic," who "looks normal," who people perceived as well-liked (until they don't like me), who nobody ever believes has social problems (until they actually have social problems with me). My social life is absolutely not the hellhole that other autistic women are describing nor do I have tremendous problems with being bullied as an adult... as long as I stay out of female-dominated spaces.

But I don't do well with women romantically, and lots of things that men overlooked, are deal breakers to women.

Also, with the ASD/ADHD combo, I'm bad at "the little things" that are a love language to most women but many men could care less about. When I got with my partner and we celebrated his birthday together for the first time, I was incredibly anxious and freaking out because of the pressure to get birthdays just right with my previous partner and with women friends and had no idea how chill he'd be about it.

I should back this up because I actually get along well with trans women in ways that I don't with NT cis women (the opportunity to date any just never showed up), or even my autistic ex (a trans man, but not identifying as/living as that during most of our relationship; the only person I managed to date during my years in queer culture).

And sometimes I found that ND women still expected things that NT women did.

So I wonder sometimes if it's some early childhood conformity pressure thing because I feel like a lot of issues I had with other girls, were hitting me as early as age 4.


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klanka
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20 Jun 2022, 1:01 pm

It's so universal and appears at such an early age, that it just seems innate.

I would agree about making a good case study :)



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20 Jun 2022, 10:20 pm

If you've watched Love On The Spectrum US Edition, there is this short fat male that who you can tell is on the lower end of the spectrum. They set him up on a blind date with a woman who is equally unattractive and low functioning as he is and from what I can tell, they had a good time together.

Now why did they set him up with an equally low functioning woman? Because the producers KNOW that as a short, unattractive, low functioning man, he has very little shot with a good looking, high value, neurotypical girl. Nobody is going to tell him this, nobody is going to say it to his face, but that's the truth.

Which goes along with my point, the more you come off as special needs, the more likely you are to struggle with dating. Women get a little more leeway, especially if they're somewhat cute. It's the reason why Dani and Abbey (the two women on the show) were able to date as teenagers despite having autistic symptoms.



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20 Jun 2022, 10:34 pm

Muse933277 wrote:
Which goes along with my point, the more you come off as special needs, the more likely you are to struggle with dating. Women get a little more leeway, especially if they're somewhat cute. It's the reason why Dani and Abbey (the two women on the show) were able to date as teenagers despite having autistic symptoms.


I feel like I have known a few autistic women who dated/had sex earlier, especially in my generation, and my aunts (below average IQ/learning disabled, speech impediment, etc) always had boyfriends (some were really creepy though) and had multiple children. One of them was married for a long time. This is leaving aside my mom and myself (very NT-appearing Asperger's presentation). Sex, birth control, sexual customs, sexology in general, became a special interest as a virgin teenager and I feel like I've known a number of Aspie/probably-Aspie women who were into this. I also feel like I've known some who were really sexually experimental or kinky. Perhaps this is a generational thing. I think my generation was less protected and less hidden away. But I feel like a lot of ND women I've known find sex easy to get, but relationships with stable people, harder to get. The guy in the movies never MARRIES the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.


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Muse933277
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20 Jun 2022, 10:50 pm

orbweaver wrote:

I feel like I have known a few autistic women who dated/had sex earlier, especially in my generation, and my aunts (below average IQ/learning disabled, speech impediment, etc) always had boyfriends (some were really creepy though) and had multiple children. One of them was married for a long time. This is leaving aside my mom and myself (very NT-appearing Asperger's presentation). Sex, birth control, sexual customs, sexology in general, became a special interest as a virgin teenager and I feel like I've known a number of Aspie/probably-Aspie women who were into this. I also feel like I've known some who were really sexually experimental or kinky. Perhaps this is a generational thing. I think my generation was less protected and less hidden away. But I feel like a lot of ND women I've known find sex easy to get, but relationships with stable people, harder to get. The guy in the movies never MARRIES the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.




Which goes with my point in that finding romantic partners is easier for autistic women than it is for autistic men.

Autistic women get some leeway that autistic men don't. For one thing, women can get away with shyness and introversion much more than men can. Why? Because it's the man's job to do the initiating so if a man never initiates, he probably stays single. Women on the other hand? They can let men do the initiating for them, so shyness/introversion isn't as big of a handicap.

Women are also judged more for their looks and if a woman looks good, it's easier to get away with poor social skills.

Women may be able to mask better than men do, so they come off as less autistic, which would definitely help when it comes to dating.

Men in general, are less picky than women are. We are willing to date/sleep with a much wider range of people, compared to women who are oftentimes more picky and selective. There are biological reasons for that.



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20 Jun 2022, 11:00 pm

I swear this website is becoming a bigger haven for misogyny and incels every day.