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Can You Offer Dating Advice to an Adult with Asperger Syndrome?

By March 21, 2008

I recently received this email, and not having Asperger Syndrome I can only suggest that the writer take a look at some of the books and forums dedicated to relationships and autism. Of course, I can also point to examples of adults on the spectrum with terrific relationships, as well as adults who are happily unpartnered.

I'm guessing, though, that many of you can offer much more useful advice based on personal experience.

Recently, I have accepted and loved myself unconditionally (a good thing), after being diagnosed with both Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity and Asperger's (a form of autism). I am interested in meeting others, and hopefully something will pan out and might become more than friendship down the road. Given that I will be new to the dating scene after going through what I have, what recommendations would people have for me? I have no desire to rush into a relationship. However, I am very content and happy being where I am in in my life. I am concerned I will be so content and happy that I'll overlook the possibility of wanting to be involved in a relationship and such. Is this normal? If it is not normal, how can I move forward to normalize things in my life?
What would you recommend to this writer? Thanks in advance for your help!
Comments
March 21, 2008 at 4:00 pm
(1) Val says:

It has to be a game to go along with play therapy.

It to Don’t rush just meet people.

Look for like minded people, charities you believe in, churches or dating groups for like minded people.

ok years of going but I met my husband in church. I have sensory motor condition. I was not in a rush just to date just anyone.

I read that famed special ed professor with autism Stephen M. Shore used social story to tell if someone of the opposite sex was interested.

Buying a lot of big gifts might turn a girl off as pressure but little gifts as a single flower, chocolates and poem, books and small games were good gifts for me. Then as my husband got me to know me he learned I liked cooking and fitness gadgets but not many woman find those things romantic to me they were because he really was thoughtful and thinking of me.

March 22, 2008 at 2:50 am
(2) Sharon says:

Tell her what you have-about your autism. Let her know you need help in figuring out about relationships. Her support in spite of your autism is what you need and should look for.Eventually she should read about it-but dating will be hard. It is hard for everyone, but harder for you.

Make sure she knows that you need alone time. Figure out if she is ok with you needing this time to yourself since it will probably always be a part of you. If she is not ok with it then she is not the partner for you.

Let her know if you have obsessions or passions that take a lot of your time.

Does she have any like interests? Guessing maybe computers?? Look for someone that has common interests that will sustain the relationship, and someone you really like as a person.

It wouldn’t hurt to read a book about dating -maybe one on the New York Times best seller list?

You both will have to work at it.

Good luck.

SH

You probably have been taking social skills classes for some time, but continue to look for education that deals with social topics.

March 23, 2008 at 9:45 pm
(3) SusanM. says:

I have AS; also an ADD/HD diagnosis. For starters; how old are you, and what do you do for a living? Also, I am assuming you are a guy, right?

March 24, 2008 at 7:55 am
(4) robyn Steward says:

Hello,

I have Asperger’s I am a specialist trainer to teachers and support workers etc and also a mentor to people with Asperger’s.
My advice would be not to worry about being normal or getting a relashonship the last few lines in the message seem to suggest that the writer was comming to terms with their diagnosis and where that puts them in the world, many people with ASD’s as your rightly point out are unhappy partnerned, so wheather it is normal or not should be of no concern, people with ASD’s often mean every little word .If however the reader feels that they would like to persue a relashonship then the best thing to do is to socialise possabilly centered around their intrest(s), and not to do this just beacuse they want a partner. I suppose what Im saying is if the writer feels they want to socialise great but if not then mayvbe having a partner can be sought some other way, a good website to look at would be http://www.wrongplanet.net there is also a publishing company called Jessica KIngsley publishing http://www.jkp.com who have some books on dating and ASD’s, which would help the reader follow all the rules that are unspoken in our world, the reader should expect to get things wring and to get hurt and be aware that most people do not end up long term with their first partner.
hope this is of use,
ps sorry about the spelling Im dyslexic

March 24, 2008 at 9:32 am
(5) Scott says:

Thanks for your comments so far everyone. For everyone’s information, I will be 41 next month. I live in southeast Tennessee. Been married/divorced once, no children. Employed full-time in the hardware distribution business working with both suppliers and contractors. I have a number of hobbies, including writing pen pal letters, knitting, meeting new people through MeetUp.com, nature, and so many more interests.

Hope this gives everyone better background information about me and my post to Ms. Rudy that she posted.

Thanks, Scott

March 25, 2008 at 10:59 pm
(6) Suzan says:

Hi –

I landed here while looking for information on asperger/nt relationships. I don’t know how typical I am. I am a recovering alcoholic and come from an abandonment background – have been in much counseling and have not drank in nearly 4 years. I had not attempted a true relationship in 5 years when I met the man that I have been interested in and have come to love over the last 5 months. Ironic thing is that as I met him, my son was going through the final stages of diagnosis of Aspergers. I have learned a lot about Aspergers, and the diagnosis has been a relief as now I know it’s not my parenting or my child misbehaving. We work on routine and I interact accordingly. It is often hard to keep my cool – but I know I must or I will overwhelm my son and he will shut down.

Here is the reason the timing of meeting my guy and diagnosis is ironic. 4 months in to the relationship my guy starts going to counseling to process a huge family event that happened at the holidays. He was referred to this counselor by his marriage counselor that he saw before his divorce. Come to find out the counselor is an Aspergers specialist and that is what is being looked into with my guy.

We have problems communicating. This scares me. I am one who needs to discuss what I am feeling – mainly because I have gone through so much of my life being told not to feel, trust or talk. I like things open and up front. My guy takes things out of context – makes small things huge and seems to have a plan that I am not involved in planning. He also thinks I am accusatory. It seems to me I would know if I was accusing him of something. I’m not. So, reading this, I would say break it off. Thing is in the beginning he wasn’t like this. He was sweet and loving and seemed to be into “us.” Now he doesn’t seem to need to be in contact with me. I feel like I am just taken for granted at this point. He says he loves me as much. Much has changed, though. Way less communication.

My question to adults with Aspergers. Does the loving feeling come and go. I don’t want to just run from this. I’ve spent my life running from relationships. I do love him. I don’t want to put myself if harms way emotionally, though. I’ve done a lot of work to get healthy. Where my vices are concerned – I will always have to watch stress and drama levels in my life. Am I taking on too much? Will it always be trauma and drama. Can it just level out and be somewhat calm.

Thanks for any input.

Suzan

April 5, 2008 at 9:14 pm
(7) Michael says:

I have Asperger’s syndrome and I don’t have any advice to the letter writer when it comes to women and dating. I have little difficulty making friends, and when it comes to what you could call the social micro level of friendship I am quite likeable. The times I have tried to develop a relationship, which is the macro level of friendship, however, disaster has occurred. This isn’t to say the situation won’t change in the future, and different age groups may be more accepting. If it is merely friends that the writer wants, then he should just pursue that.

September 6, 2008 at 5:12 pm
(8) Lisa says:

I am a woman and, though technically undiagnosed as yet, I believe that I have Asperger´s Syndrome. Like you, I have finally come to accept myself and love myself unconditionally after all these years. I guess that´s the 1st step, probably one in a long line of many.
I wish I could give you advice on dating, but, unfortunately, I haven´t figured that out myself yet! All I know is that I feel very intimidated by the whole thing, as well as pressured to make a decision and “feel something” before I know what I feel….I wonder if it´s those 75% nonverbal signals that we´re not getting that enable other people to connect so quickly? Anyway, judging from your e-mail, it sounds like you want to take things slow, which is probably a good thing. The advice I would give to you would be to try to do what feels right to you, not worry about what you “should” do. Maybe just cultivate friendships for now, and then see where that takes you. (Actually, this is what I´d like to do too, unfortunately, I don´t know how to make friends with a man! Either they seem to want something physical, or they don´t want to have anything to do with me…) If anyone can give me any advice on that point, it would be appreciated!

July 19, 2011 at 8:29 pm
(9) Ryan Sellers says:

Hi, My name is Ryan,I’m 27,currentlky living in Clarkston,Michigan. So you believe you have A.S?

The first step should be to TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR, as well as a psycoloists. Hard as it is knowing,it’s better then not knowing at all.
I have a little story to tell, I once had a crush on a local and nono as girl (the assinent mangaer of my bank to be exact),even when I finally got the courage to ask her out, she had found someone else, the point besides, I told her FACE TO FACE that I had Autism.

Weither you’re dating/searching in public or on the web, ALWAYS TELL YOUR DATE IN PERSON that “I have Autism…”

November 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm
(10) Aussie says:

There is a group for Aspie Dating on Facebook

November 29, 2008 at 1:07 pm
(11) Lorraine Sarich says:

I also have Asperger’s Syndrome. When I was young I was diagnoised as “selectively mute,” due to trumatic early abuse. But later, was diagnoised with Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m high functioning in some area, but I really srtuggle with relationships and any kind of interpersonal communication. My oldest son also has Asperger’s Syndrome and my youngest son has Autism. (We had been told that it wasn’t genetic. But since both my boys have some form of it and they have different Dads, I now think that there many be some kind of genetic component to the autism spectrum.

I wish I knew how to overcome the interpersonal relationship piece of Asperger’s Syndrome, because it is loney and confusing.

http://www.myspace.com/1orraine

November 29, 2008 at 1:10 pm
(12) Lorraine Sarich says:

I also have Asperger’s Syndrome. When I was young I was diagnoised as “selectively mute,” due to trumatic early abuse. But later, was diagnoised with Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m high functioning in some area, but I really srtuggle with relationships and any kind of interpersonal communication. My oldest son also has Asperger’s Syndrome and my youngest son has Autism. (We had been told that it wasn’t genetic. But since both my boys have some form of it and they have different Dads, I now think that there many be some kind of genetic component to the autism spectrum.

I wish I knew how to overcome the interpersonal relationship piece of Asperger’s Syndrome, because it is lonely and confusing.

January 25, 2009 at 7:31 am
(13) Megan says:

Michael (response 7); does your post imply that you are gay? If so, I’d like to know about gay relationships and and how (if) they are approachable by people with Asperger’s. I’m under the impression that gay people cannot be engaged in gay relationships because such things are (only socially) wrong.

January 26, 2009 at 10:43 am
(14) Ted Toal says:

I’m on Asperger’s spectrum and in middle of breakup with partner, and am devastated and looking around for info on AS and dating. I saw what Lisa wrote above and feel compelled to comment:

“(Actually, this is what I´d like to do too, unfortunately, I don´t know how to make friends with a man! Either they seem to want something physical, or they don´t want to have anything to do with me…)”

Yes, this IS how a man, or at least, an AS man, would often respond. My advice for you would be to let the guy know, in a very straightforward manner, that you are not closed to a physical relationship, but don’t want to jump into one quickly, and would very much like to give the relationship some time to develop, leaving the issue of a physical relationship on the back burner for a while.
ttoal@sbcglobal.net

March 16, 2009 at 10:16 am
(15) Christie says:

There is so much to say to all of this.

I am a female with Asperger’s, A.D.D., and am extremely obsessive. Being socially retarded, and generally interactively ‘lazy’ (so I’ve been told), isn’t damning. My concern is that so many AS people want to be NT people. My colorful analogies, intelligence, creative ability, and core rooted feelings of connectedness and appreciation for others’ defines me. I represent a challenge to convention and I’m down with that!

Despite not being able to ‘show love,’ I’m no stranger to serious relationships. True, they don’t last forever. My longest stint was six years. I am smiling as I type, and am remembering my spouse and I having the series of confrontations leading up to our separation. He had been describing to me the deterioration of both his moral foundation and emotional well being through a series of ‘conversations.’ Each time one of these began, I would go out and tool around in the yard, and he chose to follow me around reexpressing his point of arguement over and over. I was unable to comprehend what he was telling me at the time. As the ‘conversations’ became increasingly heated, I took to mowing the grass every subsequent ‘conversation.’ When I took my breaks on the back porch, he would sit beside me and ask me if I understood or accepted what he was telling me. I remember sitting , staring at the siding on the house, blank faced, wishing I could muster the courage to ask him to get me a glass of water. I was terrified to get up to go get it myself. When he pressed for my response, I always asked “Will you get me a glass of water?” He would over analyze this question, screaming at me, enforcing that I was selfish and not listening.

The thing is, I was listening. I was listening so intently, that it was disabling for me. I could feel that he was in pain, and was suffering. His tears were not wasted. I watched his chest caving with his sobs. I felt completely useless. As it was during our entire relationship, his emotions broke me. He begged to be held and comforted. I’d concede and hold him. He would tell me I wasn’t being sincere, so I would stop, and shrug it off. This fueled his anger and resentment of me. When I tried going back over it with him, it turned into an even greater ‘conversation,’ leaving me feeling completely inadequate. Imagine a live mink hitched to a meat hook, having it’s fur sliced apart and stripped away… that’s how I felt.

I became a basket case. Eventually, I dissolved our marriage first by becoming an insane, retaliatory idiot, then by retaining a divorce attorney. I’ll spare you the proceding nightmare.

I’m responsible for these things:
I never told him I loved him enough. I rarely said it, even when making love. When I did say it, I felt pressed, even though I did truly love him. To me, the space and energy that we shared was more than necessary testament of my love for him. He bought me cards, I read them and either threw them away or shoved them in my top drawer and never said thank you. He wrote me elaborate letters which I took to mean that he was being juvenile and in them overexaggerating what I meant to him. When he suggested that I write to him, I doodled on notebook paper, until I didn’t have time to write anything. In our third year together, he had made such a great deal about me not reciprocating, that I took to calling him on his lunch breaks, and smoke breaks. I would start the conversation the same every time: “Hey baby, I love you. How’s work?” I felt like a complete moron. He knew it, too, so eventually we agreed that I wouldn’t call him at work anymore. I could not be comfortable sitting with him on the sofa to watch television. I do not like television, and so there was no compromise. He eventually moved a television out to the garage and stayed out there for most of his time at home. Gift giving was embarrasing. He’d give me gifts, I’d tell him to go buy whatever he wanted for himself. Once, for Christmas, I gave him a shower caddy, a few pairs of socks, and detailed his car (as a result, I put a tiny scratch on it, so his dad had to buff it out. I felt terrible, and never washed the car again).

I was an NPR fanatic, and it got in the way of our conversations. He’d be talking about our failing relationship, and I’d remark with whatever the top news story was on the air that day. He’d want to talk about it more, or there were times I ignored his wanting to have sex, and instead talked him into playing Scrabble and drinking coffee with me. When he would scream at me about how selfish I was being, I would stand there until he struck a chord with me, then I would scream back at him. Usually senseless ranting, other times, I higlighted that he was a needlessly starving emotional parasite. The times I called him a maladjusted misanthrope, or miscreant didn’t help, either. Sometimes he screamed at me until I became violent. Sometimes I left the house, only to come back to a weirder version of the situation I left. Towards the end, I was to blame for most of the drama. I had gone off the chi-zain. I had absolutely lost all sense of balance. Even mowing the grass seemed pointless and brought me no sense of peace.

This is going on longer than I expected. The point that I was wanting to make is that there is no great race to be like NT’s. It’s an illusion. Insanity is the result of trying to be someone you’re not. If what you are doing and the way that you are living is peaceful, then let it go. ‘Good things’ come and go. Enjoy them while they last.

March 16, 2009 at 11:35 am
(16) Christie says:

And to Suzan: Your being an alcoholic is an unfair situation for anyone, including yourself. In reading what you wrote, I get a sense that through this relationship, you are building up the next ‘reason’ for your ‘addiction’ to alcohol. You are enabling yourself by creating ‘stress and drama’ for yourself.

To answer your question, and this is from my experience, love is constant. All of the Disneyland expectations in your head are clouding reality for yourself and everyone around you. There will not be enough that any man(or person, because obviously you’ve blamed your son before, too) can do to convince you otherwise.

You are fascilitating the trauma and drama. Stop playing the victim. Stop finding a reason for your inadequacies in everyone around you. Take full responsibility for your actions. Be the giant, and kick self-loathing to the curb.

You wrote “I’ve spent my life running from relationships. I do love him. I don’t want to put myself if harms way emotionally, though. I’ve done a lot of work to get healthy. Where my vices are concerned – I will always have to watch stress and drama levels in my life. Am I taking on too much? Will it always be trauma and drama. Can it just level out and be somewhat calm.”

Verbatum from any day time soap opera…
“I’ve done a lot of work to get healthy.” Are you sure about that? What about doing some letting go?
“Am I taking on too much?” Designing the scapegoat… .
“Will it always be trauma and drama.” I don’t know Suzan, will it?
“Can it just level out and be somewhat calm.” You’re really asking yourself this question. This can only be answered by you. It was already calm somewhere, with someone else, until you came along and demanded more than they could give to you. It was already leveled, just not to your liking. Your fondness for perpetuating a perpetrator/ victim scenario in which you get to blame your partner for your emotional turmoil has to cease. Remember, this is not a judgement call, it is necessary. You are crying out here to be identified as the one who is suffering, and seeking resolve, so heed what I am writing. You are actually crying out as the perpetrator, only you don’t think anyone can see that. You are begging to be revealed. I see you Suzan, and unfortunately I don’t feel sorry for you. Welcome to tact.

You’re the one that stirred the waters. You’re going to have to find solace in mundanity.

March 20, 2009 at 1:51 am
(17) NH says:

How do I know if the man I am dating has Autism/Aspergers or if he is just being nasty and cynical or hiding something? Sometimes he says the most inappropriate things, while other times he’s so devoted to things that really don’t matter.

Most people just think he lacks social skills but I find he hurts my feelings time after time. He already told me he doesn’t do things to make people like him, and I guess that includes taking me out once in a while — he’s obsessed with money and too cheap to even buy me a beer! It’s very embarrassing.

April 4, 2009 at 5:43 am
(18) Jeff says:

I’m writing about my son Matthew. He is 23 years old and was diagnosed with asbergers when he was in 3rd grade. He is highley functional in that he holds a full time job. He still lives at home, but now that he has moved into adault years we feel lost. He wants indipendance and although he has been successful in many areas he is having troubles finding someone special to share his time with. He has posted ads on myspace and facebook and has gone on several dates. The problem is that he seems to have no selectivity in who he dates. The girls seem nice and all but as for being the type of girl that he is physically attracted to or socially and spiritually compatable with he has missed the boat. He seems to be un able to weed out the ones which would obviously be wrong for him in these areas. He just wants a relationship and we are worried that because he is such a sweet mannered young man and trusting in every way he may be taken advantage of. Any and all advice would be welcomed.

July 12, 2009 at 9:18 pm
(19) annie says:

Note for RW, would you say men with asperger’syndrome stalk women? I have had a stalker -ex boss who stalks me everywhere. I suspect he has ASD. It has being going on since 2000 and he has a lot to lose if he was reported. I find it stressful and have played him at his own game but its boring me. I do not believe I led him on in anyway- infact I undermined him Iam a aspie. I am also socially naive and am single- I find relationships stressful and topo demanding- I would like to cut the chase and move to the next level- I also find men (NT) also want to get engaged after only knowning for three months. I think I would prefer to date a non NT man in future- something in common- besides both parties will understand eachother’s requirements- or have really got it wrong??

Big Hello To Everyone
annie

February 1, 2010 at 5:31 am
(20) Kishan says:

In response to Megan (response 12). I have just come out of a gay relationship with my someone who has AS. We were in a relationship where we were both very happy and it all turned around when it became too public and my partner could not handle this, I did not know about AS until after and am trying to work out how to fix things and get his confidence back, as I know we do love each other.

July 2, 2010 at 9:29 pm
(21) Nate says:

What makes me high functioning is the fact that I’m aware that my normal thinking and impulsivenesss is noticeably different than those around me. Knowing that I have to sometimes see ques in peoples reactions to mine. Look for the ripples of your actions. Know that just because you didn’t get the reaction you wanted does not mean you weren’t noticed. Timing is so important in communications and we have to rely on visual versus auditory sensations. I MISS ALOT BECAUSE i’M SEEING AN OBJECT OF CONVERSATION VERSUS

July 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm
(22) Nate says:

When I see all of the comments regarding this subject it helps me to know I’m not having to do this alone. For me I picture things, how I think they should look versus how things really are. The so called normal looks and feels abnormal to me. I still very much need this internal feedback to adjust my reactions to just about every social situation. It is a developmental disorder which means it is an evolving disorder that can be corrected. The biggest advice I good give on this topic is that you have to accept responsibility for your relationship communication when you have this problem. It is like a doctors oath “to do no harm”. Even though we feel misunderstood doesn’t mean we should take it out on another person. That is where this author loses out in most of my social mis-steps.

November 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm
(23) Bernard says:

Kudos to Christie…..for her honesty. I lived with a AS woman much like her for 20 years. I needed to be told that I was loved…..not only in words, but in actions, in respect!!!! Which is hindsight just wasn’t in the cards!!! She couldn’t reciprocate. Which I didn’t know at the time!!
While I enjoyed her “rant,” I was someone put off by its self-righteous tone!!!! “He was needed……she needed to mow the lawn.” And that’s where the difference between NTs and ASs lies. NTs need love and respect from their spouses. Our identities depend on it!!! Such is human nature…..our identities have to be reinforced. Such is not the case for ASs. They love differently……it’s as if spouses are a commodity….like baked beans!! I once asked my spouse…..do you love me…..to which she replied…..I’m here aren’t I!!!! Not the stuff Harlequin romances are made!!!!!

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