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Dating an Autistic man(54 Posts)
NC because it is early days and I don't want this to link to my recognisable name.
I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience. I recently began seeing someone who has shared with me that they have Autism. He is a wonderful, creative, talented and amazing person, and comes with various quirks which I find incredibly charming.
The only thing is, I have no knowledge of Autism. It hasn't changed the way I feel about him whatsoever, but I feel like I should know more about it and how it might affect him and what it means in terms of a potential relationship.
I run an online dating service for people with aspergers and autism. Everyone is different and Google is your best friend in terms of research. The main thing is ask him. He may be more resistant to change than other people, or be more adventurous, he may be very tactile and chatty or he may not.
The key thing is to be clear in terms of what you expect in terms of levels of communication and contact (messaging, when and where you want to see each other etc) not laying down the law, but if it comes up. And if it progresses further,what you want from a relationship and what he can expect from you.
If you have chemistry and you know that picking up on social cues and expectations is not his strong point then being clear avoids any disappointments or miscommunications.
Hello, I'm an autistic man with an NT girlfriend. (NT = neurotypical. That's what us lot call you lot). We do very well. Like you, she finds me quirky when I say or do things which to me seem perfectly sensible. Autistic people are all different so I won't say much because I can't assume he is anything like me. Our relationship works well -much better since she knows my condition and so realises I'm not trying to be difficult when there's a misunderstanding. Don't worry too much about his autism - just like an NT bf, you'll learn over time what makes him tick, and he you.
One tip - it's just a single example but one that seems to have plagued my life: When he asks a question, he isn't codedly expressing a wish, he's just seeking knowledge. e.g. "What time's dinner?" doesn't mean "I'm hungry and want to eat now". It means I'd like to know what time dinner is so I know what the evening will 'look like'. We don't do subtexts. It's language at face value. Problem is when you think there's a coded wish hidden in the question. Say I see a film in the TV guide that's about a topic I know you're interested in. So I say "do you want to watch this film later?". You're lovely and accommodating so you say "yes, sure", thinking I meant I want to watch it. So we both spend half the evening watching a film neither of us wanted to see!
Not sure if that'll help or not.
Enjoy him and talk to him, all will be great, that's all
Hello, I'm not a man but I do have Asperger's Syndrome/high functioning autism, my husband is neurotypical. When we met I was undiagnosed but had professional interventions for mental health problems and someone involved in my treatment suspected I was on the spectrum and I did a lot of research myself and it chimed with me and then a few years later finally got officially diagnosed. Right from the start he learned as much as possible about it all and was always super supportive.
Autism is a spectrum so we are all different. I would ask him what he thinks you may need to know about how he is affected by his diagnosis? As with each person this will be different. And just tell him you want to be well-informed to support him with any struggles he might have that are autism-specific. I recommend The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Attwood (Asperger's Syndrome and HFA are often used interchangeably now so I wouldn't be put off by the title even if your partner identifies only as autistic and not as having Asperger's Syndrome unless he has classical autism).
I'm autistic (was diagnosed in adulthood) and my DH has many traits too but is undiagnosed. Since I've realised about it (I realised I am and sought diagnosis) I've realised just how many people could be defined in that way, but the vast majority have no idea. It's much more than 1/100 IMO, in fact I recently saw an (NHS) psychiatrist who told me he sees it in 40-60% of people.
We're all different. I don't (think I) struggle with subtext as described above. The vastness of the autistic experience is only just starting to be glimpsed. So basically nobody can really help you understand your bf except himself, and he's not unusual (any more than anyone is unusual), IMO. My father and my DH both have very obvious autistic traits but no guidebook would fit both of them - they're as different as people can be.
My belief is that autism - at least as I experience it and as I see it in the autistic people I know - is a higher degree of sensitivity. And that's expressed in different ways, and it can lead us to develop the social issues associated with autism, as we are overwhelmed. Ie if you have stronger senses, then you could be overwhelmed and distracted in a large group setting (ie, school) which might inhibit you from being able to learn social clues etc in the way that less sensitive people can. And we're all impacted by that sensitivity in different ways and to different degrees. That's just my opinion from my own observations, and I might be wrong.
Autistic people * can * sometimes be very loyal, it's considered an autistic trait, so you could be onto a winner in terms of relationship material. Good luck in your relationship.
If that's my XP you're dating, run a mile. Loyalty was certainly not his thing.
Nevertheless, it wasn't the autism which was the problem in our relationship. We were together a long time.
Sorry all, I didn't think anyone had replied! Will read and reply now..
Polidori I love the way you worded the "coded message" part; I have an 11 year old who has ASD and have tried so many times to explain to people that he genuinely has no subtext, and so many times people have listened to him chat and assumed he secretly would love to do x, y or z when all he's done is mention something in passing. I'm saving that quote to show the MIL.
OP you might want to read up on the very real -
Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome (OTRS), AKA Cassandra Phenomenon (CP).
Polidori As someone who isn't a man and as ASD I recognise those kinds of misunderstandings as well. It was worse when I was a child/teenager at home with my parents as I was undiagnosed and they had no idea and constantly read subtexts into everything I said, which was very stressful and confusing for me!! DH is super informed about ASD though so we don't have so many of those occasions but it can still happen sometimes!
One thing that affects me a lot is my inability to be spontanteous. I like order and routine. This is something DH has really had to adapt to and still causes us difficulties sometimes. I need to know what we are going to be doing tomorrow and at what time etc. I can't wake up and he be like "oh it's nice and sunny, shall we go to the park later this afternoon?" ...NO! And what time is "this afternoon"?? Which park? Why didn't we decide this yesterday as in my head today was going to look different to that?! I'm not saying your partner will be the same, but it is a common trait amongst those of us on the spectrum. This can cause stress when e.g. DH and I have agreed we will leave the house to go somewhere at 11am. So at 11am I am in my shoes waiting by the door. But he is still getting dressed or something. It sounds silly but that causes very high stress levels for me!
Thank you all so much. Please know that I have read (the whole "subtext" thing is really striking a chord here) but must tell...
Shortly after my message he text asking to meet this evening. It's going very well, but I am yet to ask questions. I am rather nervous about asking him!
Need for dutch courage!
You might find reading the book "Loving Mr Spock" by Barbara Jacobs helpful.
I think DH & I both struggle with the subtext thing. He'll remember one random thing from one of my short-lived obsessions & decide that'll be a great thing for my birthday/Christmas. Meanwhile I'll have mentionitis about something completely different & think I'm being really clever dropping really obvious hints... Any obsession I may have had would've long over by the time gift-giving came around &, after nearly 12 years together, I genuinely can't think of a single time I've had the gift I wanted without explicitly saying "this is what I want"!
We're probably both on the spectrum, but me more obviously than him. He grew up with a brother who, as much as I hate to admit it, is similar to me in many ways so DH is quite used to dealing with some of my more difficult behaviour!
Definitely talk to him. He may find it difficult to express things he struggles with, unless it's an issue in that moment. I always go blank whenever someone asks me why I suspect I have ASD but when I'm struggling with something I can usually identify if it's something NT people would struggle with.
Remember that ASD is just a phrase used to describe a variety of behaviours/difficulties. Get to know him as a person & the ASD will just be part of who he is.
I have a 12yo with AsD so watching this with interest.
Pil that's really interesting about subtext. That's made me understand my ds more instantly as he does this all the time.
Sorry polidori (I'm on phone app so couldn't scroll back and check for name spelling.)
Well, I'm not autistic, but am often frustrated by people ascribing all sort of odd meanings to things said or not said, so I'm not sure that's a very good way of describing autism, because whether there are hidden meanings or not and which direction they go isn't neurological, its cultural. .. So my mother who was brought up in Ireland, thinks that when you say 'no thanks' to gravy, thinks you are really saying 'I desperately want loads of gravy but am too polite to say so on the first ask', and when my (southern) italian friends say 'are you finished' before you have finished your plate AREN'T saying 'hurry up and finish' or 'are you going to eat all that' as you might in the UK, they are saying 'please stop before your plate is empty because then we will have to give you more.
But I do know someone who went out with an autistic man, who would seriously record how long penetration went on for each time they DTD and then made it into a nice graph.
There are some really interesting examples. I worked with children diagnosed who would do the following:
'Pick up the phone' - to an NT person this is meant to mean could you answer it please, Child with ASD just picked it up.
Lots of sensory processing problems; scratchy jumpers could ruin a day out. Trouble with divided attention. Not being rude, just couldn't watch TV and be asked a question at the same time.
If NT person says 'I'm fine' after an accident, Child with ASD would think that is correct - he was fine.
I'm enjoying this thread - and glad to see people talking positively about their relationships. One thing I'd add - and it might not be universal - but be prepared for honest answers. Friend in pub: You've died your hair. Me: Yeah, what do you think? Friend: I prefered it when it was grey
Well this is weird! ..
In my house, we always said 'answer the phone' so pick up the phone would have been odd the first few times. Again I don't think that's really ASD as much as what language you are around. I can see a real danger here in that autistic diagnosis could be made simply when families have a different internal language to the dominant one in their school.
Also it strikes me that there is also some learning progression shortcuts being missed here. For example 'Sit down' in infant school meant 'sit on the floor where you are' but by secondary school meant 'go to where your chair is and sit on your chair'.
I remember when I was learning french in secondary school, because I had learnt more spoken french in lower school, when a supply teacher who could actually speak in french (unusual!) said 'asseyez vous' in the french class and I wasn't at my desk , I sat on the floor. Really frightened to think that now I might have been labelled autistic rather than simply using a younger learning behaviour.
(It was before James, but I was alternative, so sitting on the floor was also uber cool!)
I personally think it is weird to see people as a disorder, or type of normal first - maybe the world is getting to weird for me, but when I went to uni, there were loads of really interesting and cool people who all did things in all sorts of different ways and it was amazing, not two categories of 'normals' and 'not normal in different ways, defined by science or the mental health handbook'
Anyway, I think graphing your penetration record is much more 'autie' than treating someone who says 'yes I'd like a glass of water' as though they'd like water!
There's a book called something like Marriage and Loving Relationships by Eva Mendez. I would highly recommend reading it before getting in too deep. Not as a scare tactic, but because I think it's got some sound relationship advice if you're starting out. And it's good for both of you.
Sorty, meant to say it shows common examples of problems and how the NT person can understand. It also details how the NT partner should take care of themselves to avoid Cassandra symptoms..
This is a really great thread and I am shamelessly book marking as I have a son with ASD and these insights are really helpful.
Love the subtext explanation - I always knew this about ds but never found a good way of explaining it to others. Always refer to ds as a boy who "does what it says on the tin" type of kid. I actually find him far easier to communicate with sometimes than my NT preteen who is nothing but bloody subtext these days and frankly exhausts me!
I'm just reading this because a few people have said my sis might be on the spectrum.
I'm puzzled by some of the language examples too. I'm baffled that saying no to gravy might mean you want gravy...its gravy, not crack cocaine?
Also the scratchy jumper example, I couldn't tolerate that for ten minutes. I don't that's unusual for an NT person?
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