I think my girlfried is ASD and I'm NT and need advice

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johnnyflowers
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06 Dec 2022, 2:21 pm

Hello. Just found this site so have no idea what to expect. I am NT and emotionally intelligent and am really struggling on a day to day basis with my girlfriend. We live together. There are many great times together but it's a daily challenge. Is this the place to get help and advice and support? Are there other NTs and ASD people here that I could ask questions to and vent my frustrations? I could really use some support. If so, I can get more into the specifics. Let me know. Thanks!



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06 Dec 2022, 2:43 pm

No doubt someone will reply soon. Would be difficult to reply myself as for the last few years I have been on the waiting list to be assessed.



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06 Dec 2022, 7:52 pm

I will like to add that if you have any specific questions that you ca think of, feel free to ask. We are a generally friendly people.



Mona Pereth
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07 Dec 2022, 12:42 am

johnnyflowers wrote:
I am NT and emotionally intelligent and am really struggling on a day to day basis with my girlfriend.

What specific kinds of issues are you and she struggling with?

The more specific you can be about this (without endangering your privacy, of course), the more likely someone here will be able to give you helpful advice.


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07 Dec 2022, 6:51 am

As a gross generalization, in an NT/ASD relationship the NT partner will complain they don't get the "vibes" they expect from their partner. In an ASD/ASD relationship, the partners find they can cohabit without much friction but may not form a strong emotional bond. NT/NT relationships don't have these problems but more often than not they end up fighting like cats anyway.


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johnnyflowers
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07 Dec 2022, 11:30 am

Thanks everyone for responding. Here are the things I am struggling with below. Any insight or advice?
For context we are in our late 40s, both divorced and we met 2 years ago. We live together and both work from home. I love her and don't want to be without her. But daily living is really challenging based on these things below. Her behavior sometimes comes off as manipulating. It's really hard.

Now this all started out much better in our relationship early on. She was more focused on me and less on these other things she does. But as she got more comfortable these things seem to become more of a problem. It's almost like she met MY level of needs at the beginning of our dating, and I got used to that, and then when she realized she has me, she began to meet only her level of needs which is way less than my levels. Now I feel like I get thrown crumbs throughout the day but rarely feel satisfied. An example is sex. We used to have sex daily and whenever I initiated it. Now she only wants to have sex every 3 or 4 days. And I have to just be good with that. Here are more issues:

-she has a lack of interest in sex. We used to have sex daily and now its once or twice a week. Is this normal? She just doesn't show any initiative and I always have to be the one to suggest it then I have to schedule it with her. It's never spontaneous.

-mind blindness. she often tells me obvious things like telling me how to drive, how to cook etc. It's insulting but I don't say anything because then she'll shut down and feel "criticized".

-daily lack of mental engagement. either talks and talks like you could be anyone (it's rarely personalized conversation), or is quiet and says nothing. It makes me feel like a zero. Like I don't exist.

-shuts down during conflict. total inability to comfort me emotionally or have an emotional conversation.

-often seems in her own world.

- i don't trust her based on some odd things she's said and done. Nothing I can prove and I don't think she is cheating on me but just some odd things. Like the other day she went and put on nice clothes and make up and lipstick to run to Walmart. Why? Weird. Many more weird things. It makes me not trust that what she is telling me she is doing is 100% true. just a gut feeling is all. i can't prove anything though. Just little things that make no sense.

-seems to have no needs (emotional, sexual, physical etc). Is self sufficient and rarely seems to need me for anything.

-most often seems to have more important things to do. We check in several times during the day and then she seems to be happy with me going off and doing my own thing. Almost like pushing me away. I want to engage mentally and she is more happy with being on her tablet, texting, doing research whatever. It's almost as if she is saying, hi nice to see you now go off and do something else, i'm busy doing more important things (looking on facebook, texting friends, researching on my tablet, doing household chores, reading articles etc etc). I rarely feel like she drops everything and wants to engage with me or needs MORE. It's always seems better for her if I stay away and do my own thing and let her be alone and get things done, however insignificant they are.

Now there are definitely good times and we do spend time in the evenings together. Some of that "quality" time together is great and some of it has the issues stated above like lack of engagement. I don't even seem to know what is normal anymore. I feel like a thirsty man who is always thinking about water.

I think the lack of mental engagement is the hardest.
What do I do?



Last edited by johnnyflowers on 07 Dec 2022, 11:55 am, edited 4 times in total.

kraftiekortie
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07 Dec 2022, 11:38 am

This is a hard one. I guess I would try to express to her what you expressed here. She might get it. She might not. I wish there was a magic solution.

Treating you like you're some stranger is what would get me. I can understand the irritation at not being seen as someone special.

It's "normal" for the sex to go down a bit after a great peak. 3-4 times a week isn't too bad. The pity is that she doesn't seem to be "into it."

it's freaky that she tries to teach you how to drive a car-----when she sees you drive a car every day.

I guess, in her "good moments," I would ask her if you are "special" to her. If she has great difficulty asking that, then I might think of ending the relationship.



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08 Dec 2022, 6:59 am

I reread this and can see that you aren't aware your gf has an "official" diagnosis.

I'm embarrassed to admit I see some of myself in her. TBH her behavior seems more like male autism than female autism. I would guess that she likes sharing a house and bed with somebody who is also a sex partner, but constantly engaging with that person on an emotional level doesn't come naturally to her. Please review my earlier response. You want something from her she can't easily give, and that's causing her to pull back.

The only advice I can offer is to give her more space so she no longer feels pressured to pay attention to you when she doesn't feel capable of paying attention. If it's not against your religion, you might propose an occasional meal with alcohol which will raise endorphin levels and may bring out any romantic feelings she has.

When you were first together, she may not have had sex for a while and so was eager for it on a frequent basis, however now she's accustomed to having a reliable sex partner she doesn't get the urge that often. I won't speculate as to whether she's having sex with other people but she still does it with you, so she hasn't rejected you sexually. I can understand why she'd prefer to schedule. You might want to ask her under what conditions she's most interested. Also if you can think of any way you can make sex more interesting then try it. Some people might not want to hear this, but it's my belief that people on the spectrum who aren't asexual don't make as strong a connection between sex and emotional feelings towards their partner as do NTs. She could probably enjoy sex with people other than you given the opportunity although doing so is probably contrary to her code of behavior.


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09 Dec 2022, 5:25 am

johnnyflowers wrote:
-she has a lack of interest in sex. We used to have sex daily and now its once or twice a week. Is this normal?

Not unusual at all. I just now Googled "couples frequency of sex" and found the articles here, here, here, here, and here. According to all these sources, the average American couple has sex about once per week, at least once they are past the initial honeymoon phase.

Also, it's probably rare for couples to have exactly the same amount of sex drive.

My guess is that she would probably want sex with you more if you weren't pressuring her. To that end, if possible, I would suggest that you just masturbate when you want sex but she doesn't. (Hopefully your living situation allows you enough privacy to make this possible?)

johnnyflowers wrote:
she often tells me obvious things like telling me how to drive, how to cook etc. It's insulting but I don't say anything because then she'll shut down and feel "criticized".

[...]

shuts down during conflict. total inability to comfort me emotionally or have an emotional conversation.

It sounds like you and she both are having difficulties communicating with each other. It sounds like you and she both could benefit by becoming better at the arts of (1) being assertive without being aggressive and (2) responding gracefully to criticism. I've amassed some collections of links to tutorials on these topics:

- Assertiveness
- Giving & receiving constructive criticism

It seems to me that your and her communication issues are your most urgent problem.

IMO, the most important thing two people need to agree on is how to handle disagreements. If they can't agree on that, then every disagreement turns into a fight over how to handle the disagreement, thereby blowing the original disagreement way out of proportion.

Perhaps the two of you should see a couples counselor, if you can afford one? Try to find a couples therapist who is knowledgeable about adult autism, if possible.

If you suggest to your partner the idea of seeing a couples counselor, try to suggest it in a way that doesn't come across as blaming her for everything. Instead, talk about the need to improve both her and your relationship skills. Hopefully that would be less likely to put her on the defensive.


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Quantum duck
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09 Dec 2022, 5:59 am

I do not have an official diagnosis.

However, about the “shutting down during conflict and inability to have an emotional conversation” - when my Dh is angry at me (or I perceive that he is angry due to a loud voice and his word choices) I become incapable of speech. I shut down and my protective walls go up - my face goes blank, or worse adopts a conciliatory smile. It is not that I am not feeling emotion - I am feeling very intensely, or that I have nothing to say, it is that I physically cannot say it.



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09 Dec 2022, 6:10 am

johnnyflowers wrote:
- i don't trust her based on some odd things she's said and done. Nothing I can prove and I don't think she is cheating on me but just some odd things.


This is probably the most serious thing that's a red flag, But you say you can't live without her. Looks like you have your work cut out for you.



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09 Dec 2022, 6:23 am

johnnyflowers wrote:
I don't think she is cheating on me but just some odd things. Like the other day she went and put on nice clothes and make up and lipstick to run to Walmart. Why? Weird.

While it's far from universal, I have developed the belief that autistic people are much more likely than NTs to harbor at least an interest in non-monogamous relationships, anywhere from just being very comfortable talking to exes to being absolutely unable to cope with anything less than total freedom to seek the attention of others while in a committed relationship.

Whether this is the case with your GF seems uncertain, but if you're getting signals that she's covertly seeking attention elsewhere, perhaps a non-confrontational conversation about the subject might be in order? If she starts to reveal that she's inclined to think that way, try HARD to not have a strong negative reaction, just treat it like any conversation, to reach a full understanding of where she stands on the subject. Better to REALLY understand her attitude and experience with swinging/poly, etc, before you can make an informed decision about whether you can cope with it, or just need to skedaddle.

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Mona Pereth
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09 Dec 2022, 6:45 pm

Some further thoughts, beyond what I wrote here:

johnnyflowers wrote:
-seems to have no needs (emotional, sexual, physical etc). Is self sufficient and rarely seems to need me for anything.

-most often seems to have more important things to do. We check in several times during the day and then she seems to be happy with me going off and doing my own thing. Almost like pushing me away. I want to engage mentally and she is more happy with being on her tablet, texting, doing research whatever. It's almost as if she is saying, hi nice to see you now go off and do something else, i'm busy doing more important things (looking on facebook, texting friends, researching on my tablet, doing household chores, reading articles etc etc). I rarely feel like she drops everything and wants to engage with me or needs MORE. It's always seems better for her if I stay away and do my own thing and let her be alone and get things done, however insignificant they are.

Now there are definitely good times and we do spend time in the evenings together. Some of that "quality" time together is great and some of it has the issues stated above like lack of engagement. I don't even seem to know what is normal anymore. I feel like a thirsty man who is always thinking about water.

I wonder whether there is any easily-identifiable extrinsic, situational reason why you seem to need/desire so much more attention from her than she needs/desires from you. For example, does she have more friends and/or closer friends than you do? Does she have hobbies that she's passionate about, but you don't? Does she have a more emotionally satisfying career than you do?

Up to a point at least, it's perfectly normal and healthy for people in a romantic relationship to need/desire some time and space to themselves, especially if they are together all day every day, as you and she are. (You mentioned that you and she live together and both work from home.) I just now Googled "couples personal space" and came across articles here, here, here, here, and here (the first 5 articles listed).

Also, it's perfectly normal for people to want to keep at least some of their old friends.

Your problem seems to be a mismatch between her emotional needs and yours. So my question is whether there is anything you can do to equalize things between you and her, perhaps by improving some other aspect of your life. For example, if she has more and better friends than you do, perhaps you could consider possible ways that you could make some good friends too?

It seems to me that if, instead of pining for more attention from her, you were to focus more on improving other aspects of your life (and/or on improving other aspects of both your and her lives together), then you would likely become more interesting to your girlfriend again.

Being needy, alas, tends to make a person less sexy, not more so. For that and other reasons, it is generally NOT a good idea to look to a romantic relationship to satisfy all of one's social and emotional needs.


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09 Dec 2022, 9:00 pm

I'm an autistic partner to an NT, but we don't live together.
It will be our three year anniversary on NYE.
I know from experience I can't live with other people because I need my space.
I love staying at his place, or having him here, but I won't cohabitate.

I'm not sure what I can add to the convo but it's interesting to read.
Maybe I'll ask my partner for his thoughts.



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10 Dec 2022, 9:33 am

GadgetGuru wrote:
While it's far from universal, I have developed the belief that autistic people are much more likely than NTs to harbor at least an interest in non-monogamous relationships, anywhere from just being very comfortable talking to exes to being absolutely unable to cope with anything less than total freedom to seek the attention of others while in a committed relationship.

I don't think autistic men are this way more than men in general. It's possible they are more open about it. I don't think that putting one's feelings for one's sex partner above one's physical desire for them comes naturally to men and most men probably hide that fact about themselves, at least in the early stages of a relationship.

Regarding women though — I must first point out that a large proportion of autistic women seem to be either asexual or queer in a way that makes them largely uninterested in sex with a man (by whatever definition). But as for those autistic women who aren't ace or queer, there does seem to be some validity to the claim that they are more likely to desire and seek sex for its own sake. Whether they do so does seem to depend on their self-confidence or fears of being used sexually. My two longest and most "serious" relationships were with people who I believe were on the AS and in retrospect I think the likelihood that either would at some point not have been satisfied with having just me as a sex partner for the rest of their lives would have eventually presented a problem down the road. Now admittedly that's just my personal experience but I've seen this presented as a stereotype in popular media (ironically not challenged to a large extent as I would think many advocates would find it offensive) so they\re may be something to it beyond my personal impression.


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Last edited by MaxE on 10 Dec 2022, 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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10 Dec 2022, 11:15 am

johnnyflowers wrote:
-she has a lack of interest in sex...

-mind blindness. she often tells me obvious things like telling me how to drive, how to cook etc. It's insulting but I don't say anything because then she'll shut down and feel "criticized".

-daily lack of mental engagement. either talks and talks like you could be anyone (it's rarely personalized conversation), or is quiet and says nothing. It makes me feel like a zero. Like I don't exist.

-shuts down during conflict. total inability to comfort me emotionally or have an emotional conversation.

-often seems in her own world.

- i don't trust her based on some odd things she's said and done. Nothing I can prove and I don't think she is cheating on me but just some odd things. Like the other day she went and put on nice clothes and make up and lipstick to run to Walmart. Why? Weird. Many more weird things. It makes me not trust that what she is telling me she is doing is 100% true. just a gut feeling is all. i can't prove anything though. Just little things that make no sense.

-seems to have no needs (emotional, sexual, physical etc). Is self sufficient and rarely seems to need me for anything.

-most often seems to have more important things to do...
What do I do?

Send her my way! She sounds like my dream wife/live-in girlfriend. From what I know, most wives treat their husbands like garbage, weaponize sex and their mutual children, and control them for a cheap thrill. Your girlfriend seems nothing like that. From the way you describe it, she actually respects you! In my life/marriage, I don't give a rat's ass about "love" :roll:, I want goddamn respect! As long as my wife doesn't abuse me and gives me freedom to socialize with people, I couldn't care less what she does. In fact, unless there's a fire, actual or proverbial, she better butt out of my life, and I'll do the same for her. I see a wife as a business partner in home maintenance and a ride home from the hospital when I have surgery, that's it. The rest, I'll handle myself, thank you very much.

My only gripes with her would be her acting in ways that provoke my suspicion of cheating (unless she's infertile, which means I won't have to raise a bastard), and her abusing me wife-style. In which case, as long as I don't marry that woman, if her actions get worse than I can tolerate, I can always kick her out of my life and act like I never met that piece of trash.

Disclaimer to mods: I'm talking about my HYPOTHETICAL WIFE, not women in general. No warnings, please and thank you.