Facebook Pixel

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

By HERWriter
Rate This
Mental Health related image

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 Comment137 Comments

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)

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
(reply to Anonymous)

I've been through this so many times. If you read the book The Other Side of Asperger's it might be helpful. Missing the "intimacy" is a huge part of why I can't and won't do it again. With Aspie's they tend to project a lot in my expereience. He is aloof and blaming it on your son. As for me, giving gifts is nice and I love it! Only in conjunction with the emotional intimacy part, whey they can't do. As a NT I can't do without it, I tried. Playing video games for 12 hrs isn't a normal guy thing getting caught up in sports. That is an addiction and especially if he isn't connecting with anyone, it is an escape. My ex used to think he could eat up most of the food in the house and than act like he didn't know my daughter and I didn't need to eat... it was one excuse after another. If I'd listened to the therapists, which by the way I can sense them in this posting, I'd just kept ignoring my gut and doing without, or spending more of my money that is for bills for food b/c of his sense of entitlement of having more. I won't do it again. He was selfish, what part of others living in the house that are your family didn't he get? He later after we split up admitted he was just being selfish. Good thing about my ex, he will aventually say it like it is / was. Too many therapists or others feel we NT should just compromise our selves to working with someone on the spectrum, b/c they have this issue. No b/c we NT end up losing ourselves and ALWAYS ending up with the less.... and we compromise too much. The book explains this, and will just say it like it is, if your willing to give up on certain things ( cuz they won't ever happen) then you might work it out. I for one am a very emotional being, connection, emotional intimacy are " have to haves". I ended up being the one that got sick over compensating to the video addiction, food and carb, sugar addictions, and no intimacy. I advise women to cut the cord and find themselves again. The majority cannot substain a intimate relationship. <3

August 29, 2016 - 1:01pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

It sounds like he loves you but just can't express it in exactly the way you want him to. My 6 year old son who has ASD also hardly ever says "I love you". That does not mean that his feelings and emotions and love are any less deep than mine. If you stay with him, you will just have to remind yourself over and over, any time that you forget, that just because he can't express it in the way you would like him to does not mean that the depth of emotions is not there. He probably finds other ways to express it to you, such as his texts and phone calls to you. I think the important thing is to look for the positives and notice the things he does do, not the things he doesn't do. Also it may be really difficult for you to do and against your own nature, but you may need to explicitly spell out to him what you would like him to do or what you need him to do - ie. can you make enough dinner for me as well as for you.

August 28, 2016 - 11:55pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Instead of complaining to yourself that he is selfish for cooking food and not making you any... are you communicating with him?

Have you said ,"hey honey, when you make dinner, make some extra for me in case I might want some."?

If not, he might very well think "well, I want to eat, make enough for one, or else extras might go bad"

I used to have this same problem. My wife would stop by taco bell and buy food for her and the kids. Then she would buy food for me. And set it out. I HATE this.. because she doesn't call to ask if I want something and if so.. what is it? I would not normally care, but sometimes, that type of food isn't really good reheated hours later if I had just eaten.

But I learned eventually that she doesn't think with her head, so she does stuff like that which I consider stupid. To her, I *guess* it means she is being thoughtful.

That being said. I prefer a call like this.. "hey I'm at taco bell, do you want something?" To me.. this would be best. Food isn't wasted.. if I'm hungry I'm happy.. and she would be thoughtful and be happy.

Nope. She doesn't like that. I think it makes her feel more like a servant or something, rather than being purely thoughtful.

It beats me. I gave up trying to figure her out.. but I prefer wasting money on cold soggy burritos than never getting melons at night.....

So I just buy an extra burger at mcD. Even if I think it's dumb.

August 26, 2016 - 8:27am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

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.