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Tips for Being in a Relationship With a Man Who Has Asperger's or Autism

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter

Being involved in a successful romantic relationship can be difficult for most people. Consider all the breakup self-help books available, the movies portraying cheating significant others, constant fighting and dramatic breakups, and your own relationship history.

Do you think these difficulties increase or decrease for someone with a mental disorder? Let’s just say that it’s not easy to have a relationship while trying to function “normally” in the world.

For people who have Asperger’s disorder or autistic disorder, social interaction is complicated. Although people with Asperger’s are thought to have high-functioning autism, they still have social problems. For example, people with Asperger’s don’t contribute as much socially and emotionally, and they don’t know how to use nonverbal behaviors as well, like eye contact, according to an abnormal psychology textbook.

Interaction and emotional reciprocity are important in relationships, so it’s no wonder that it would be a challenge for someone with Asperger’s or autism to be in a relationship. Although this doesn’t happen for everyone, it’s a stereotype that someone with these disorders will not share his or her emotions as frequently. For example, they might not say “I love you” or show affection as often, because they don’t understand and express emotions as well as the typical person.

If you decide to be in a relationship with someone who has Asperger’s or autism, it seems there are some things you have to consider to help the relationship work. Keep in mind, this may not apply to everyone who has Asperger’s or autism. There is the proposed autism spectrum disorder, which places autism and Asperger’s together. Basic symptoms will be the same, but specifics may differ.

This is what I have observed after being in a short relationship with someone who thought he had Asperger’s and through reading different articles:

1) Don’t assume the other person is uninterested, just because he isn’t telling you he likes you or finds you attractive. Decide what you think of him and let him know.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Add a Comment35 Comments

LadyAnonymous

I am very uncomfortable with forums, but I feel that this may be a good place to get other people's thoughts on this particular subject. I have been thinking about this seriously for months now and have sought advice from professionals as well as my parents who are both very well-educated in this field as they are mental health professionals who have worked with autistic individuals. I have been dating a man who is mildly autistic--he is high-functioning and has been incredibly fortunate to have parents who have been extremely attentive to his needs since he was born so he has been able to overcome many of the obstacles autistic individuals often face. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he suffered from mild autism when he told me because of how well he functioned with daily tasks and social situations. Especially with social cues and eye contact. As our time together progressed I started to see what he struggles with. For sake of preventing this to be too lengthy, I'll just say that what he struggles with I have learned how to handle and how to approach him about my needs, his needs, etc. It can be challenging at times, but in the end it only strengthens our connection as opposed to costing us emotionally. His parents are very approving of our relationship and so are mine. Which brings me to why I am writing this...intimacy. It took us a long time to develop in the physical aspect of our relationship and understandably so. We kiss, hold hands, and make-out. He becomes very nervous and struggles with confidence and that is partially a factor as to why we haven't actually had sex. However, I think in the end the reason it hasn't happened is because of me. I also think that because we haven't had sex yet is hurting his confidence. Him suffering from mild-autism keeps eating at me when it comes to sex because I don't want to feel like I am at all taking advantage or victimizing him in any way. I know I wouldn't be and he has expressed numerous times the desire to share it with me and that is he more than ready. I think it's just a mindset I've put myself in that I've struggled to get out of. We are deeply in love with each other and we have been together for a long time and I know we are both needing that intimacy--should I just stop thinking so much and let it happen finally? I'm worried the longer I wait I could upset my boyfriend and I don't want to--he understands, but still struggles grasping the full breadth of my concerns. I know the answer is yes we should just do it. I am dying to. I really just need support from a place that isn't my parents or close friend because I have talked their ears off so much with this subject. (I'm lucky my dad can handle the sex topic )Any thoughts would be appreciated, thank you.

December 11, 2012 - 4:24pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Hello all - I hope someone can share some wisdom on this subject: I have been involved with an Aspie man for almost seven years. We parted a few months ago but have recently been connecting more. When we separated we had no knowledge of Asperger's but given the knowledge I now have I truly want to reconcile. He is warm to me, not involved with anyone else but his obsessions :o), but it seems a decision has been made and he has expressed to friends that he is in transition, not being with me as much. He is more open to me than he has been in months and I am bursting to express my joy and love for him but hesitate for fear of overwhelming. I don't want to rush the universe! Yet, I understand that he may have no idea of where I am even though I feel it's evident. Any experience and hope would be greatly appreciated. Blessings.

October 26, 2012 - 8:44am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have tried to be friends with a man in my neighborhood who I think may have aspergers. We met briefly and exchanged hellos several tis. I texted him to ask if he wanted to walk our dogs together and he said no because he was trying to get back together with an old girlfriend. I told him I just wanted to be friends and he never responded back. A few months later I texted him to ask how he was doing and he still didn't respond. Should I text him again or what? I would rather approach him in person but not sure if he would respond to that. Help!!

September 10, 2012 - 4:38am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

My 15 year old daughter is dating a 17 year old boy who I suspect has Aspergers. I haven't yet met his parents--they've only been going out a little over a month--so there is no way to know for sure. He is very nice and polite but doesn't make eye contact at all, is extremely awkward socially, says random and sometimes inappropriate things, has odd gestures and posture and a strange walk, and I have heard him talking to himself on more than one occasion. He apparently makes straight A's in school but doesn't come across as all that intelligent. He is obsessed with playing a certain sport and was homeschooled for 3 years so he could focus on it. My daughter says even his texting is not that of a normal teen. When they are alone together they have fun and he is such a gentleman and loves to take my daughter out for dinner, movies, mini-golf, etc., and he is handsome and sweet. He does hug her and hold her hand but not constantly like the other boys she has dated. They were at a party over the weekend and she discovered he cannot dance--at all. He couldn't even attempt it. Not even slow dance by just swaying back and forth. He went home and got a dance lesson from his sister which was so sweet of him. My daughter is on the verge of breaking up with him--I think the comments of her friends and even some family members when they are in social situations are really getting to her and she doesn't know how to handle his oddness. I feel terrible for him because he really is such a nice boy and if he does have Asberger's, it is not something he can help, and I don't want him to be hurt. But at the same time my daughter is only 15 and maybe this relationship is just too stressful for her. Any comments?

September 3, 2012 - 8:05am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

When I was 15 I met a lovely boy with aspergers, yet the situation was quite the opposite. He was quite popular (because of his confidence supplied by drugs) but I wasn't very attractive so his obsession with me baffled us both, but other peoples opinions didn't matter to either of us. I fell hard and fast and we lost our virginitys together then a couple of months later he was occupied with something else. I wouldn't wish this on any 15 year old girl, it wasn't his fault so I could only blame myself whilst subconsciously feeling very used. Oddly enough a few years later I have a partner with aspergers (didn't know until we had fallen in love stupidly) And This time it's even more heart breaking, the gorgeous, loving, funny man I am in love with shows me barely any attention unless it's us two in my flat without a computer. But then I'm the luckiest girl in the world. Every time I try to break up with him he sobs his heart out for hours, it's torture!

December 4, 2012 - 4:46pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Don't pressure your daughter to stay in a relationship with him, no matter how terrible you feel for him and how much you don't want him to be hurt! No one deserves to be trapped in a romantic and/or sexual relationship that she or he doesn't want to be in.

*If* you pressure your daughter to not break up with him, *then* you're sending her the message that she doesn't have a right to say no to romantic and/or sexual contact that she doesn't want to have. You don't want to send her that message, do you?

September 3, 2012 - 3:13pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I absolutely agree!!! I should be an expert on being with an ASPIE for 12 years now. Pushing your daughter to be in a relationship with him will tell her she doesn't have the right to decide who she is attracted to , it will also send a message that his narcissistic behavior is acceptable for her to have to deal with... They can be adorable but they do have a strong tendency to be very very self absorbed.. and if you read up on it, you'll see that they also can change once the relationship comits more. They will drop the romantic efforts and find something else to focus on leaving the other person dumfounded as to what happened. Believe me.. it can be abusive ( not intentionally and very heart breaking for the NT person). Hindsight I wish I'd left a long long time ago when I realized he only wanted me , because he wanted me... then... and I was just a thing in his life... I can say it has been hell.. for sure... I've never been that important to him once we moved in together... and I never will. That is a hard thing to accept. Please don't push this on anyone. Friendship can be much more enjoyable for both than romance. If someone chooses it as an adult that is informed that is one thing... it's another to talk someone into it...

December 2, 2012 - 3:24pm
jtg3 (reply to Anonymous)

I so agree with what you have said here. I have been in a relationship with someone for a year, and I highly suspect that he has Aspergers. He said, after I asked him about my thoughts about this, that he sees no reason for people to have labels. He has said, though, that he has mild ocd.

He is very intelligent; has a Ph.D.

I have read a lot about Aspergers, and it seems that they are often attracted to those who are attracted to them, as often they have issues with socialization.

I have realized, over this year, that he never inquires about my feelings about anything. He doesn't ask about my past. I have gotten the feeling that I could be anyone. What I am seems to be unimportant - he is just happy with having someone to go places with. I feel he was sort of "casting" for a human being to be social with, and I have realized that I really prefer to be with those who want to be with me because they like me for specific reasons.

At first there was charm, and a romantic nature to him, and once he realized that I seemed "into" our relationship, this all slipped away. He is focused on other things now. It is like he went "shopping" for something, say, a lamp, found it, and, now can take care of pursueing the next item on the list. He was quick to ask if I wanted to commit to this relationship exclusively. He, I think, wishes for a kind person to be around, to keep loneliness at bay. He, I think, because we are getting older, doesn't want to face health issues by himself.

I have ADD, so, I have issues - which he needs to bring up all of the time (he seems to think that my having a label is just fine - as a matter-of-fact, he cites my situation as the reason that things go wrong, when they do, as he is without fault, nearly always).

I am thankful that I have noticed the things that I have mentioned, plus others, relatively early-on, as here, I have read comments from so many that have invested many years in relationships with those with similar issues.

I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone into entering a situation with anyone, not just those with Aspergers, just from what I might notice about the way things appear. I think only those involved in a relationship are truly "filled-in" with the scope of things. Shakespeare's words - "All the world is a stage . . ." Acting is easy to manage for a while. It likely gets tiring, after a while, to "act" charming.

I am not saying that my experience will be the case for everyone in a relationship with a person with similar traits. I have just appreciated the fact that others have taken the time to make mention of their situations. I, in turn, hope my thoughts will be of help for someone. We all know that everyone is different, and the saying about one bad apple.

March 29, 2013 - 5:57pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I was married with a man with asperger's syndrome and other problems. He was verbally abusive, yet charming and a great problem solver at times. Very smart in many ways but incapable of empathysing with other persons feelings. It was a nightmare. I think that everybody deserves love but if you see red flags you should take an educated decition. Otherwise you would be expecting things that are not going to happen and became resentful. I know that it would have been completely different if I knew back then that he had the syndrome.
It was a time were the kids were getting emotionally hurt and I had to leave him. Long after I found out about his diagnosis.
I loved him profoundly but since I didn't know, that wasn't enough to stay together. I started to have panic attacks and get very sick.
If you see anything out of the ordinary in your partner you should have a professional opinion so you can decide based on that knowledge and get support if nedded.
God bless you all.

August 28, 2012 - 9:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I agree and found the information insightful. My boyfriend is Asperger's and we have been together for 2years, and he is probably one of the most sweetest, genuine, sensitive, creatively smart and caring person i have ever been in a relationship with. At times I do find myself questioning his emotional view on our relationship cause he say things but his actions do not add up to what he say; I mean yea we have had our problems, but he let me know that I do mean the world to him and that made me happy. We are having a baby! And I am excited and concerned, but i feel that we both have enough love inside us to take care of her and be successful parents.

August 20, 2012 - 10:34am
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