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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 Comment87 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I am highly disturbed by the amount of hate and bigotry towards people with AS like myself in these comments. The tone of some of them are akin to saying that aspies are spawns of satan and that nobody should attempt to have a relationship with one, ever.

March 24, 2015 - 9:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

It's not hate and bigotry. It's people not wanting to get hurt badly by the real problems AS can bring to a relationship. Specifically, to the NT partner. Other people's not wanting to get hurt by you is not bigotry against you. And no, they don't have to line up to get hurt so that you can have a chance at romance; that's not fair either.

Much of the AS-perspective advice about relationships boils down to "if they love you, they'll just deal." The irony is that the AS partner really has no idea how much they're lightly suggesting the NT partner deal with, and deal with alone. Yes, it absolutely sucks. But you've got no call to criticize people who describe their own bad experiences with AS partners (and yes, it's very often because of the AS, not because the AS partner had some totally other source of trouble).

March 27, 2015 - 7:18am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I am in college and I had been dating my Aspie boyfriend for 5 months. He broke up with me a few days ago and explained that he did not feel the same way I did. But all the signs of his love were there. Everywhere I went he wanted to be with me, holding my hand, kissing me, making me laugh with his slightly annoying little quirks. Then all of a sudden this happens. I went into such a shock that I had to drive the 1.5 hour trip home and skip my classes. Once home I bawled until the point where I stared blankly into space for several hours, hardly responsive.
He told me that it was important to him that we both feel the same way about each other, and he told me that he didn't love me the way I loved him. But the thing is, he did. He didn't show his love the way I did but nonetheless his love was always there. I explained to him that with his Asperger's he is never going to completely understand love or feel it the same way that most people do. I told him it didn't matter because I loved him and he loved me, and I was not ever going to give up. He just kept repeating that he didn't think he loved me.
I know that the two of us have always been a perfect match, and everyone who knows us knows it too. One question I would ask is, is he really gone forever? Is there something I could do to fix us? Was there something I could have done to prevent this? Or was this inevitable...

February 4, 2015 - 8:25am
sophieDlog

Hi,
I have previously made a post here about a guy I met online.
He is 29 and I am 21. We have been seeing each other for about a month. We are not dating yet, we usually hang out in my room (watching videos) and he stays until next day. We have slept together a couple of times but we haven't had sex. Since the first day that we met and he told me that he has autism, I hadn't ask him any questions about that but I've been really wanting to (I just don't want to be rude). He is really attractive and very kind. But I worry about some things: first, the age difference and second, the fact that he has autism. I don't know what to do, I have tried to keep myself emotionally distant from him because I want to get to know him well before thinking about dating. When I look at him (his physical appearance) I would love to have children with him but then, when he exhibits ritualistic repetitive behavior (I feel like I freak out but I don't show it), I doubt about forming a family with him. He looks and acts almost normal except for the weird head movements and other facial expressions that he does once in a while. Also, I worry that I would fall in love and then he would just start showing lack of affection. As of right now, he says that he likes to hold me and kiss me (I told him that he can only kiss my cheek). He says that I am special to him and that he is happy with me. Every time that he comes to see me he massages my arms and feet. He says that he loves spending time with me and that he cares about me. He told me that he likes to have his arm around me and feel my body next to his. I am so confused right now. Should I trust that he really feels emotionally attached to me? I'm afraid that it will go away. And also (a second question) would you give me any suggestions about my reaction to his repetitive behavior (It's a little bit hard for me to get used to it)?

January 25, 2015 - 9:14pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to sophieDlog)

Hi sophieDlog

Thanks for your post.

In time, you will get used to the behavior. Keep doing what you are doing (ignoring it) and take things slow. You'll get used it them (they won't change so you will have to accept them). 

Far too early yet to to be thinking about having children with him - that should be years away. There is a pretty large age gap but nothing two mature adults can't overcome. 

In time, it's ok and appropriate to ask about his autism. You will need to know about this. Read up all you can but in time, you can ask him a few things like how it has affected him or how is life is different because of it. 

Since you have only become friends recently, take your time. You have a long way to go before getting serious. 

Time will tell whether you are compatible. 

Susan

January 26, 2015 - 5:42am
prettytrainwreck

Hopefully someone can help me. I've been involved with a 30 year old man with aspergers for the last four months. We are somewhere between friendship and coupledom. I sleep at his place almost nightly and see him almost every day. Today something crazy happened and I have no idea what to make of it or what to do. He was supposed to help me film something so I went over to his place. I was a little angry with him for not inviting me out to something the night before. He knew it so was trying to me cute, kissing, wrestling on the bed and said he wouldn't help me if I didn't kiss him. I laughed but said no i was still mad, then (mostly to be a shit) I said fine, I have other friends who can help me. (we were supposed to go buy an ipad before filming) suddenly he gets up and sits in his chair. I said i was going to change and he said he wasn't going to help me anymore. We joke a lot so I changed and waited and he said seriously, I'm not going to help you...maybe you should leave. I laughed and said no, you promised. He gets up changes and I said "seriously, are you really not going to help me?" he said no, and i want you to leave. I looked at him perplexed and said, ok, what's up? is everything ok? He said he didn't owe me an explanation and to get the fuck out of his house. I sat there for a second still confused then he preceded to grab my things and set them outside, then grabbed me and pushed me out. He's my best friend and we're very close so I am in shock. I sent him a text saying that I apologized if i overstepped or offended him in any way as that wasn't my intention b/c I value him so much in my life. He responded later saying never to text him again, and that he was blocking me. I am now blocked on facebook and I'm assuming phone as well. This all just happened within the last 4 hours and I'm devastated and completely confused about what happened. I read that sometimes they can overreact and have intense anger/violent mood swings but we are so close so I never thought I would be the target. Is there anything I can do to salvage what's happened here? How should I proceed? Is it possible if I give him space he'll change his mind? Please any help would be greatly appreciated.

January 16, 2015 - 8:53pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to prettytrainwreck)

Hi. You don't need a guy like this. He's overreacting wildly to perceived rejection and a reminder that you have friends (I'm guessing he doesn't have so many).

The rule in this relationship will be "never remind him that you have things he can't or doesn't have, and never, ever reject him on any scale". That's a dangerous relationship. Be grateful for the early warning and don't go back.

March 27, 2015 - 7:22am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to prettytrainwreck)

Wow, Anon

That sounds really confusing and kind of scary at the same time. 

I don't care if he has Asperger's or not, he should not be pushing you or grabbing you. I know it was the heat of the moment but make darn sure he knows to never do that again. That's the kind of pushing that can easily lead to a slap. 

It's hard to know if this is due to Asperger's or just that he's moody. People do this kind of stuff all the time - get stroppy and then it's only one misunderstanding away from a big fight and name-calling. 

He seems to be over-reacting but I would definitely give him time to cool off.  You have already reached out to apologize and he rejected it and has blocked you. This may be temporary but the ball is his court. 

Anon, I think it's a good idea to be cognizant about his challenges as someone with Asperger's, as you are doing.   He may be socially awkward and not know how to react when a joke goes wrong - in fact, some may take a joke literally instead of metaphorically and then get confused when they're called out on it. Like when you joked that you had other friends who could help you, he may have felt rejected instead of realizing you were kidding, and is now rejecting you for punishment. These kinds of traits are difficult to deal with and you did nothing wrong. 

Give him time, Anon. You've done your part so now wait to see if he contacts you. I know waiting is hard but you have already reached out and it irritated him so don't do it a second time.  If he doesn't respond in the next week, reevaluate. 

Best,

Susan

January 19, 2015 - 4:29pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Hi Im not sure if anyone can help .
Im 38 female and have Autism and have become attracted to a man with autism.
I found out he is alot younger than me 22 and want to stop the emotion s Im feeling for him. I think he is attracted to me to and I wish he where older.
If no one can tell me how to stop my emotions then is there anyone who can explain how I tell him Im interested but concerned about age differance? MissieC

December 25, 2014 - 7:42pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hello, I hope what I have to tell you helps. There is no way to stop the emotions you are feeling, because after all you are human, and having strong feelings like this is completely natural. It is okay to feel nervous, anxious, or even afraid when you go through something like this, but in all reality you are not alone. If you feel the way you do toward this man then the best thing you can do is to tell him the truth, and tell him exactly how you feel about the age difference to see how he feels. Sometimes I find that it helps to rehearse what I am going to say before I have an important conversation with someone, or to write it down first and read it to myself. It is natural to feel the way you are feeling, just remember that you can never know what will be until you try. :)

December 25, 2014 - 10:28pm
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