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

By 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.

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EmpowHER Guest

Hi, I have been married to someone with Aspergers for 18 years now. Our marriage has been rough. I didn't know he had Aspergers until about 7 years ago. At first, I made excuses for him and tried to understand. Now at this stage of my life, I just don't want to deal. He is like a child. He is obsessed with series' on TV and plays free cell for hours at a time on his phone. He checks out too often into his escape world while I'm living in the real one. It gets lonely for me. He would be okay to live his entire life checking out of reality. I care about him and want our marriage to work but its just not working for me. The sad part is that he doesn't have an issue and sees the issue as mine, and no matter how much I attempt to explain myself, he is unreasonable, gets defensive, and escapes into his own world even more. He hasn't been formally diagnosed but he has every single symptom of Aspergers, including the neurological ones. And I've read that it is not easy to diagnose and there is no treatment for it.

I don't know why I'm writing except that I would love someone who understands my perspective.

August 25, 2016 - 11:35am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Dear Anonymous,

I am a young man with Asperger's syndrome and I have been dating a neurotypical woman for the past 3 months. Your comment treads water with how the relationship between me and my woman is going. I began to understand how my Asperger's worked in the past few years and I have done my best to understand how a neurotypical mind works so I can interact better.

For one, if you think a man with Asperger's is an a-hole for wanting to go into his own world, maybe for a neurotypical hive mind (meaning a group of neurotypical people with one person with Asperger's), it is. But for a person with Asperger's, we like it in that world. It welcomes us like a busty wet nurse welcomes a hungry baby. It gives us a chance to recharge so that way we can go back into the neurotypical one, and try to fit in once again. But why would some of us want to go back into that world when all it does is hate ours and make us feel bad for something we didn't choose to be born with?

Almost once a week, my girlfriend sends me on a guilt trip, claiming the whole relationship is about what I want and it's never what she wants. I disagree but I can't tell her that because that's what an A-hole would do. I simply take it and do my best to make her feel better, because I know how I can be to a neurotypical person. I spend lots of time with her, I spend time with her 3 kids, and I need my space. but it seems every free second (Meaning pretty much every waking second when we're both NOT working) she wants to spend time with me...every second of free time...when sometimes I just want to be by myself because I've spent hour after hour ignoring my Aspie side and trying to fit in with the neurotypical world. And it's like torture to an aspie who wants to be normal. that's right, I said normal. You're obviously the normal people. We're not. I'm almost to the point where I'd much rather break up so she doesn't suffer with me anymore. She would hate that. She's 8 years older than me, overweight, with 3 kids. Her best friends are never alone, her co-workers are all married or dating and she would be the only one who was single. And I would feel guilty for doing so....so I'm not going to.

Here's the thing - From my personal experience, someone with aspergers sees a relationship between a man and a woman as a business partnership. just with kissing, touching, and pretty much doing everything with the other. Their love lies in whatever Asperger's interest takes them, and that could be anything. An object, a TV show, a video game, A business corporation...and even people. I had the worst time of my life when I was obsessed with Lynda Carter because I felt like I was a stalker and I knew pretty much all that I could about her without any discretion. Ricardo Lopez probably had Asperger's and was obsessed with pop singer Bjork. Actually, obsessed is only scratching the surface. but he had so many traits pertaining to Asperger's syndrome that I believe his obsession with Bjork came solely from that. He even claimed "I loved Bjork so much, I couldn't even sleep with her. that's how much I loved her." and personally, I kinda felt the same way about Lynda. It's scary to think about, really.

Personally, I think God put people with Asperger's on the earth for one reason - for technological advancement. One of the largest traits for someone with Asperger's is their obsession with one particular subject, which sometimes benefits society. Alexander Graham Bell probably had Asperger's, which is why he invented the telephone, he had to have been obsessed with the idea of talking with people without seeing face to face. Albert Einstein had Asperger's. Satoshi Tajiri was obsessed with collecting bugs and he wanted to share that joy with a video game. That's how we got Pokémon.

Personally, I think people with Asperger's should at least have flings to keep their morale up (and from killing themselves) but there's a good chance they'll never truly change for a long-term relationship. We can only try as hard as we can. But you've gotta let us have that free time so we can recharge.

Good luck!

September 22, 2016 - 10:15am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Question is, if you all are still together, did she know you have Aspergers? Because it can be beneficial for her to know so she can educate herself, unless she's just a diva. I am seriously in love with someone with Aspergers and personally for me its easier because I need a lot of alone time and can't have someone up my ass 24/7 I need be able to say " ya know what, I love you, but I can't talk to you or be around you or any one right now for (insert amount of time here)" without them getting offended. I need someone who can tell it like it is without caring if I get offended. Thats the thing, people shouldn't be in relationships because they force other people to meet their needs, they should be together because they are attracted to each other. No one is on this planet to serve another person (I.guess unless they are your children.) I find so many people on the planet just use each other and lie to each other in order to feel acceptable and have self worth, which I think is bullshit. People should be together cause they like to, cause it makes them feel good, not cause they feel expected to or pressured because if they dont, their significant other will act like a diva or entitled to their expectations. The way human kind functions isnt right in my opinion thats why I hate when people say oh neurotypical people are "normal" and everyone should be trained on how to please them to be accepted when in reality or how I see it people with Aspergers are some of the only people i've met on the planet who know how to meet their own needs and dont subconsciously use and manipulate other people to get self validation. So actually the neurotypical world needs to be more like that so we don't continue to form co-dependant relationships with each other. Anyway thats my opinion. This man who I love is a force of nature ill tell you that, but it just really hurts me knowing how hard his life was and still is and what he went through especially in school. I just wanna understand him more. Anyway.,,.

February 4, 2017 - 12:02am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Well, I would like to reply by saying,your girlfriend seems very needy,not normal.In a mature relationship each person should take some space to themselves.Its a healthy thing to do.Understanding that you may need a little more, re your Aspergers is a loving gesture.
Sounds like you are very stressed by her demands,that's not good.Needy people can be draining,hope you can sort it somehow.Just though Id say,because I have some experience with Aspergers and friendships,hope it helps.

December 6, 2016 - 4:36am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

thank you for this

October 29, 2016 - 9:30am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I am living the same life, 23 years now. Reading this was as if I'd wrote it myself.

August 29, 2016 - 7:09am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Guys will get lost in minute of sports all the time. If he has nothing else to do but play the game he will play the game. What looks like something boring and tedious he can see as a building progression.

If he is not complaining, then the issue *is* yours. You can't just assert that it's not right so it is his issue.

You don't mention if he is taking care of things with income or if he is just sitting around all day. If he isn't bringing food to the table, then that's different.

I'd suggest telling him what you need him to do. If you want to go out on Friday night, just say, " i'd like you to take me out to eat on Friday night". Try to be specific. It gives him a goal to meet, like in Freecell. Whatever you do, dont try to drop hints or expect him to "know what you want if he really loved you".

August 26, 2016 - 8:09am
(reply to Anonymous)

I get it!!! I do! My dad has it, and my ex has it, I lived with him 5 years and I'm over the top over it. It is just like having a grown up child only they never really mature much. It is stressful!!! At times I thought I was going crazy. I've studied the spectrum for 26 years, I have family members and taught. This article is barely if at all usedful. You can tell them if it upsets you all day long and for weeks. It doesn't mean they will change it. I could go on and on about this, but I won't. You can join us on facebook where there is a group and you'll find lots of people that get it!. <3

August 26, 2016 - 7:03am
EmpowHER Guest

I have been in a relationship for almost a year with a man that I figured out has Asperger's after I noticed he could easily tell me he loved me over the phone and say sweet things in text but never in person. He travels for months at a time for his job but visits frequently. When we were first together I thought he was just shy but now I've realized that he is unable to give me what I need emotionally. He's very into his own agenda....will sit and watch shows or movies on his laptop for 12 hours day after day. Will cook for himself and then when I ask if he cooked me any, he says oh, I didn't think you wanted any. I have a 14 year old son who he has not made effort to bond with and blames it on my son for being aloof. He has showered me with gifts, expensive dinners, flowers etc. but he's very cold and distant in person. Its like he shows his love by spending money on me. I explained to him that if he can tell me he loves me in person a few times it will get easier. He now says it but like only before bed and when we're getting off the phone. I don't feel the warmth and connection with him and I've tried so hard to put a spark into it. One time I took him to this place after dinner that overlooks the whole city. Its romantic and beautiful with all the lights etc., he just stood there and looked. Didn't bother to hold me, kiss me, say something romantic....nothing. It's so frustrating! It just seems really superficial and I'm finally getting sick of it. He hardly ever initiates intimacy (but doesn't turn it down when I do) and never gives compliments, even when I have made an effort to look really nice when we go out. It hurts and I end up having an attitude and giving him the cold shoulder. He probably doesn't mind at all when I'm ignoring him. I've told him that its strange to me that he never says anything sweet or nice and he says he'll work on it but it still doesn't happen. If we're laying down watching TV he will cuddle me if I lay next to him but its almost like he's afraid to touch me. I just don't think I can live like this. I have tried explaining to him many times what a relationship needs to be healthy and he seems to understand but just cant bring himself to act that way? Yet, he doesn't want to end the relationship. He has been divorced and in two other relationships where the women just up and left him with no explanation. The funny thing is, he doesn't seem to think those relationships failed because of his emotional absence! Any advice?

August 21, 2016 - 9:05am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

My advice is to get out now! I've been married to an AS for 12 years & together 15. I only realized there was really something missing in him after he got out of the Navy. You see, all the years prior to 2010 he was out to sea 7 months at a time. Gone a lot so I wasn't living with him 100% of the time. He would email me very sweet letters, but they were always kind of choppy & stilted. I just thought he was a bad writer! Well it's been 6 years of him being home &I'm so unfulfilled as a woman. Compliments ? Romance ? Empathy ? Completely nonexistent! He thinks paying the majority of the bills & buying me what I need/want shows love ! He's argumentative & just emotionally unavailable. He says he's told me things when he hasn't. I'll tell him something & he gets angry denying I've said anything. I've started texting him everything important so I can refer him to it. This is a miserable life. He's socially awkward & never wants to go anywhere or do anything.

He has NO friends, plays video games incessantly & has no concept of intimacy. He doesn't like to be touched & I'm a very affectionate person. He can't even stand to hold hands !! I'm not sure how much longer I can exist like this. On top of it he's a complete slob & cant see why his sloppy habits are completely frustrating & thoughtless ! Please don't subject yourself to this life. I'm the most lonely married woman on earth!! Good luck !

October 15, 2016 - 9:33pm
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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.