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

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter
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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.

Add a Comment48 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

So relieved to read that the partners of AS have been through so much and yet have remained strong and supportive of the AS spouses/partners. Thanks for sharing.

August 8, 2014 - 10:09am
EmpowHER Guest

Pretty sad stories I just read here. I quit the relationship with a man I dearly love(d). I couldn't understand his distant behaviour. Very quickly he wanted to get married, but it was all too soon for me. I doubted a lot. How could say he loved me and wanting to get married, while he hardly knew me personally? He didn't ask about my past, my family, my thought, feelings or dreams. Heart to heart conversations were absent. Then what is it he loved about me? My taking care of him and being there for him? In the end of our relationship, he suddenly demanded certain things from me, things that he had read in the bible. He took them to an extreme, as his world view is black and white. Never in my life I felt as lonely, unwanted, unseen and uncherished as in my time with him. I almost ignored my feelings, out of love for him. But neither of us would have been happy together. Although it broke my heart, I left him. Of course he didn't understand and the sad thing is.... he never will. And I.... I left the love of my life behind, for my own sanity.

June 11, 2014 - 2:53pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

My love interest has never asked about my past, family, thoughts, feelings or dreams either. I continue to be interested, want to be his girlfriend in the worst way, even if it's to find out "the hard way." Maybe subconsciously I can't process rejection or need a challenge but what I'm conscious of is that he's the best catch I've ever had in my life (at 51) in terms of common background/interests/lifestyle, and that he has so much going for him in terms job/financial security, and that I'm incredibly attracted to him. I know he'd be faithful, nonviolent and smart with money. Argh!

June 11, 2014 - 3:04pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Well I hope this relationship is going to work for you. But from what you wrote, I am fearful. It seems to be a lot about him. So many women end up lonely, rejected and unloved. I found this website particularly helpful: http://aspergerwife.webs.com/

All the best to you!!

June 11, 2014 - 10:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

(I'm the one who started out her post saying i'm 50) - it's my reply above.

June 11, 2014 - 3:07pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

And only after the relationship I found the reason for his behaviour: Asperger's. At least, that is what I am convinced of. He is either a selfish jerk or he has Asperger's and I am sure he's not the first.

June 11, 2014 - 2:55pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

same here. My love interest isn't a selfish jerk either so that's why it just didn't compute.

June 11, 2014 - 2:59pm
EmpowHER Guest

First experience with this at 50. In Jan. 2013 I started communicating with a 54-yr-old guy on a dating site. He moved along to phone calls and then asked me to dinner. He had a lot going for him in terms of job/home/financial stability and we had an uncanny amount in common, both in background and interests. When our eyes met in the parking lot, I was incredibly physically atracted to him as well. His grooming was great and so was his style. Turned out his divorce from a 30 year marriage was just final a month before.

However, he was such a chatterbox when we sat down that I couldn't read the menu. I took it as nervous attraction so thought that was a good sign of mutual attraction, something that has rarely, if ever, happened in my life. At the end of the evening he laid a smooch kiss on me in the foyer of the restaurant in front of all the waiting patrons! But I was excited by it and happy to see his attraction for me. He smooched me again in gthe parking lot.

Well, he didn't initiate any further contact with me after that but, if
I initiated contact he would respond almost all of the time. So that kept me going. I asked him out for a 2nd date and he went (and kissed me good-bye with an "I'll be talkin' to ya") but continued not to initiate any contact after that.

A month later I texted him with a suggestion for a 3rd date and added that "maybe I've scared you off with my shameless flirting." He called me and said he really liked my idea but described several things on his plate. He added, "I'm just giving you all this detail because I want you to understand that I really want to do this but it just won't be this week. Then he added, "And you didn't scare me off with your aggressiveness. I like aggressive women...in bed...and you can take that any way you want to." I was caught so off guard and just said, "oookay." I figured I'd leave it up to him to get back with me and he never did.

Another month later I called him and he really vented about his family, mostly his heroin addicted grown son. At the end of the call I told him, if he couldn't work me in in person (something I assumed because of the issue with the son), I'd really love it if he would call me and catch up now and then. He sounded very sincere and said he would, even reiterated that he would just before we hung up.

Well story short, he never did and ended up being exclusive with someone else for 5 months. I then heard it ended so I contacted him and we met for drinks in December. This was our 3rd date, 9 months after our 2nd date. He was a chatterbox again and ran at the mouth, talking "at me" for 3 hrs. This time right in the restaurant bar he patted my butt! Then when we kissed good-night in the parking lot (more smooches, I suspected he's not into tongue), he grabbed my left butt cheek and said, "What do you think of that?" I said, "nice hand," smiled and walked to my car as he shouted exuberantly, "I'll be talkin' to ya real soon!" I hoped he would follow through but he didn't.

It just never made sense. Narcissistic? Attachment disorder? They didn't quite seem like a fit but something was going on. Then I stumbled on an article about Asperger's and thought he had a lot of the features (though has great eye contact and seems to like physical contact). Odd but it made me feel a lot better A) knowing there's a label for him, B) knowing I don't need to take the lack of reciprocity personally and C) (hate to admit) he's such a catch in so many ways - the best of my lifetime anyway - that I was glad to feel he would probably fail with anyone else and that I'd have more of a chance if I stay patient.

I last interacted with him via text in February and soon after that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am in chemo and lost my hair. I haven't told him about it but yesterday sent him a friendly self (in my attractive wig) and text. No response yet. He had prostate cancer 3 yrs ago and told me that on our 3rd date.

I REALLY like this guy and want him in my life in some capacity. I'm tempted to tell him about the cancer and ask him if he can be a friend to me through it since he's been there. I'm planning to call him tomorrow and leave a v-mail asking him to call me so we can catch up.

Informed and hopeful but maybe shouldn't be?

May 21, 2014 - 3:26pm
EmpowHER Guest

Asperger's Syndrom is not a mental disorder but a different hardware, the same thing applies to homosexuals. It is like saying a gazelle in a lions' cage has some kinda disfunction. ;)

May 16, 2014 - 7:38pm

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
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