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Is it abuse(ive)? Or does his condition mean it's not? Or is it not anyway?

(40 Posts)
SurfacingTrunk Sun 28-May-17 07:19:08

My DP has Aspergers. It was undiagnosed until recently. I've read lots about it, he's read bits - so he sort of gets how impacts him and us, but not fully and doesn't seem interested in a)finding out or b) finding out how my brain works. Before I go on, I'm not saying everybody with Aspergers is like his or that this issue below is because of the Aspergers, I just don't know what to think so I'm including that he has Aspergers, because it MAY be a factor.

So I'm realising now how he doesn't listen to me. We have conversations, reach an agreement on things and then at some point in the future (days, weeks, months) he'll deny saying whatever he did. Deny even having the conversation. This can be for practical issues like him going on a work trip or not, or smaller family issues, or emotional things. There are times when I'm talking, say about a plan for the weekend, and two minutes later he asks me what we're doing at the weekend. The denial isn't usually of any benefit to him. He genuinely can't remember.

Recently his mother was here. She's nice, we get on. He had some very big (very bad) news to tell her that involves me and didn't want to do it. I offered to do it and was told no way. Fine, she's his mother. But then I had 10 days of essentially lying to her, because she doesn't know. After she left, I told him how uncomfortable it made me, how I really hated doing that (in clear, unemotional language). Four days later he's suggesting that we go to stay with his DSis and DBIL when his parents are visiting them! He's still not planning on telling any of them this news either before or during that visit. Like being on my own territory with one relative wasn't bad enough, he wants us to go and stay with them all and have me (and him) lie by omission to them all.

This is one example and it's so big that it's made me think. Sometimes I'm feeling like I'm being gaslighted (and I grew up in a gaslighting household), sometimes downright ignored. I felt like I was going crazy for ages. But he's not manipulative, he doesn't think like that and I've never seen him, ever be manipulative (he's usually too honest if anything - apart from in this situation where he's very afraid of telling them, which is what makes me think).

What is going on?! I'm at a total loss.

TheSparrowhawk Sun 28-May-17 07:23:39

It sounds like that's how he is. He's unlikely to change if he doesn't see the problem. But you don't have to put up with it. You can leave.

SurfacingTrunk Sun 28-May-17 07:38:32

Thanks. I know. I'm just trying to understand what's happening.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sun 28-May-17 07:47:57

I get it Surfacing. I recognise everything you describe. One thing I've learned the hard way is to demarcate what I can control/manage and what I can't. It's not easy when you can see clearly what 'should' happen and it doesn't. You say that he's not manipulative and in all likelihood, he isn't. It can take people with AS quite some time to process stuff. His fear of telling his family may well have frozen his thinking.
It's frustrating for you and it can feel very much like gas lighting been there, got the franchise particularly if you are sensitised to it by your upbringing.
FWIW, I would perhaps say to him that his mother needs to know. Then let it be. ............ The AS mind is labyrinthine and things can surface hours, days, months later. I've learned to place the thought/idea and walk away from it. Me constantly reminding seemed to cause some kind of buffering and prevent the whole thinking process to stall. It can be so very frustrating to be on the receiving end, but know that you aren't imagining or exaggerating what you have/are experiencing. You are dealing with a way of thinking that can be very subtle and often not noticeable even to close friends and family.
I'm wondering if the lying by omission, is maybe more to do with your need to be open and share your news and perhaps get the support/reassurance that you don't get from your DP, rather than the morality of it? You're carry something big with nowhere to put it down?

whitehandledkitchenknife Sun 28-May-17 07:49:59


picklemepopcorn Sun 28-May-17 07:55:10

Surfacing, you've had a name change fail, I think. If you report your comment MNHQ will change it for you.

Have you tried pointing out to him that you think this is difficult for him because of his ASD, and that it is not acceptable for you if he continues to avoid the issue?

Or that actually, this is about you so you will tell whoever you want. If he wants to be the one telling then he needs to hurry up.

My DH avoids emotional situations. That leaves me feeling very isolated. It isn't intended abusively, but it may as well be. I am now so self sufficient, that there doesn't seem much point to our relationship.

picklemepopcorn Sun 28-May-17 07:56:52

With DH I find I have to be very calm, rational and not give him any choices. His choices will favour what he wants, not what I need, by definition. So if it's important to me, he doesn't get a choice.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sun 28-May-17 07:59:19

Good points pickle. flowers

picklemepopcorn Sun 28-May-17 08:21:25

White, you too. Sounds like you have a DP with ASD, too? It makes relationships interesting!

Hermonie2016 Sun 28-May-17 08:39:10

Just wondering if the news was about you why didn't you tell mil? I suspect he's won't ever be comfortable if it's about emotions and he just won't understand the impact on you.
There are other conditions such as auditory processing disorder which are often co-morbid with ASD and could be the cause of the listening challenges.

If your H ihas AS then you will have to learn to be emotionally self reliant and if APD you will have to find different strategies to communicate.Its exhausting and finding ways to protect your well being is important.

SurfacingTrunk Sun 28-May-17 08:39:16

Thanks Pickle.

You're right about the choices. If he gets a choice he'll accept them, say he needs some time and then do the one that requires ZERO action.

I will have to put my foot down about this trip to his relatives. If not I'm going to feel like the biggest shit to them and my self-esteem isn't exactly buoyed by anything he does, so it'll be a ba-a-ad situation for me! Unless he decides to beak the news first.

I've been totally isolated for a long time now. I've started telling people what's been going on (my friends who we generally don't socialise with as a couple) and it helps a lot. But, it's kind of "dangerous" too because some see it as straightforward abuse and I find the implications of our dynamic (AS & non-AS) impossible but I struggle to call it abuse because there's no manipulation. Then if i voice that they think I'm sticking up for my abuser, so there's nothing I can say!

sheepashwap Sun 28-May-17 08:49:34

White you're spot on about the frozen thinking. And about not going on about things. I leave a lot alone, but then there are important things and on the inside I'm dying to ask, to know, but I have to just pretend to not care.

And it's exhausting. And as we have kids, this situation isn't going to go away.

The news won't bring me support from them. In fact, a lot of his relatives have (I'm pretty certain now i recognise the signs - and he agrees) AS. They're definitely not where I'd go for emotional support - as lovely as they are. smile

sheepashwap Sun 28-May-17 08:49:59

Oh bugger iPads and name changing! I give up!

Isetan Sun 28-May-17 09:09:11

Does it really matter that much that maybe there isn't intent?

You are going to need to stand up for yourself or unintentionally or not, he will walk all over you. Start by telling him that he tells his family whatever is going on with you or you or you will. Just because avoidance is his way of dealing with things, doesn't make it yours. You're in a partnership and that means it's not all about him and his needs.

Why is it that you are expected to accommodate his ASD but he appears disinterested in understanding it so he can accommodate you.

You've done a really good impression that he's the relationship MVP and your needs are accommodated only when they coincide with his. Relationship dynamics are the responsibility of both parties, no one.

HerOtherHalf Sun 28-May-17 09:11:40

What you appear to be implying is that you might be prepared to accept a lifetime of abuse if there is a medical reason for it. Surely you can see how crazy that is?

YorkshireTree Sun 28-May-17 09:14:05

Is the news something they will find out eventually anyway? If not I suspect he will want them never to find out. If so they will be hurt that it was kept from them. Both shit options for you.

PartOstrich Sun 28-May-17 09:14:11

Hi OP (whatever your name is!) I can't vouch for this counsellor because I came across her when searching for something else. But I suspected it was a bit of info that would come in handy one day for someone else! According to her website she specialises in relationships between AS and non AS adults. Have a look at her website - Some of the info on her site might clarify what is and isn't part of his AS regarding the problems you're having - hope it will help.

SurfacingTrunk Sun 28-May-17 09:54:45

I can't namecheck cos on phone now. Will try to reply to points as I remember them.

The thing with abuse is, I think, that there's an element of manipulation in it. He's not manipulating me. It's like someone else said that he can't see my point of view and it's only heard if it coincides with his. To be manipulative he needs to be able to think a step further than he can. It's more straightforward. But hasn't been less painful.

Maxine Easton I know of - know her site back to front. Read her book too. She makes a lot of sense. Thanks for thinking of her though. If I'd not visited her site it would indeed have been helpful.

The news will definitely have to be broken - he can't hide it or hide from it indefinitely.

SurfacingTrunk Sun 28-May-17 10:01:31

Why is it that you are expected to accommodate his ASD but he appears disinterested in understanding it so he can accommodate you.

He can't see the problems. Literally can't see them. He doesn't understand emotions so any problem I have is merely theoretical.

You've done a really good impression that he's the relationship MVP and your needs are accommodated only when they coincide with his. Relationship dynamics are the responsibility of both parties, no one

Not sure what MVP is. But yes. That's how it goes.

And both of these are a big problem going forward.

alreadytaken Sun 28-May-17 10:02:10

it doesn't sound abusive because it seems there is no intent - but that doesnt mean things can continue as they are. You need to be assertive. Tell him that you need .... and stick to it. In this case you need to disclose information and he does not have a veto on that. You've considered his point of view but this time you dont accept it.

When you stop being a doormat he'll have more incentive to work at the relationship - or not and you then decide whether you need to leave.

SurfacingTrunk Sun 28-May-17 10:02:27

Didn't show as quotes - sorry.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 28-May-17 10:05:29

What would happen if you said to him: this is my news to tell and I am telling your family because I do not want to lie to them. This is non-negotiable.

sheepashwap Sun 28-May-17 10:19:18

Because it's not my news to tell. It's ours jointly.

If it were purely mine he wouldn't care. I could tell them or not.

alreadytaken Sun 28-May-17 11:10:31

doesnt matter if it jointly yours - his needs are being given priority over yours and you clearly feel strongly that the news should come out sooner rather than later. MVP is "most valuable player".

So - set a date and if he hasnt told them by then you do so.

Shoxfordian Sun 28-May-17 11:43:04

It's the result of his behaviour not the cause of it that's relevant.

Having ASD doesn't mean you can act like a twat and expect everyone else to fall in line.

I don't think you should worry about why he's like this; I think you should consider whether you want to be with someone who behaves that way in the long term.

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