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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. After he is aware of your attraction and isn’t confused about nonverbal gestures and flirtation, it might be easier for him to decide if he feels the same way.
2) Don’t be alarmed if your significant other is confused by romantic gestures, like hugging or kissing. Stop if needed, but also try explaining what the gestures mean, or suggest going to a psychologist together so you can work on your partner’s relationship skills.
3) Tell your partner how you are feeling, especially if you are angry, and why. Your partner may not understand your emotions and why you are reacting a certain way.
4) Learn what his interests are, and try to engage in activities focusing on those interests. Go on a few dates where social interaction isn’t necessarily the focus.
5) Ease him into large social situations, like parties or group outings. Understand if he is overwhelmed or decides not to go with you – he might prefer being alone or with less people.
6) Understand that some people with Asperger’s can be brutally honest, according to the book “Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships.” The book explains that when talking about reasons for marriage, a person with Asperger’s might say that there is an availability of sex as the main reason, while not including his love of his significant other. Romance can be puzzling to someone with Asperger’s, but again, you will probably see improvement after explaining the meaning behind it, why it’s necessary and that it makes you feel good.
7) If your partner talks in a confusing manner, like in riddles or using complex vocabulary, or doesn’t answer your questions directly, ask him for more clarification. Also, remember not to use riddles, jokes or sarcasm in the same way you would with someone who doesn’t have Asperger’s or autism. If you do, ask if they understood and then explain what you meant. Otherwise, they might be hurt by what you said or just be confused.
8) If your partner has certain quirks, like not wanting to talk on the phone, understand that it may be related to Asperger's. Confront them about the issue if it bothers you, and explain why.

Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach by David Barlow and V. Mark Durand

Add a Comment186 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I see all the advice points to communication, but what if he just refuses? I adore my bf, he is late diagnosed aspergers, I too have issues and could even be on the spectrum myself, we misread each others messages and misunderstand each other often,and cant seem to find resolve ever, so the same issues (mostly from me feeling like he doesnt want me), keep reading their ugly heads, I've tried explaining how rejected or hurt I feel sometimes and that all it would take is a kind word or reassurance if I ever tell him I'm low,but I never get that even when I ask, and sometimes he can be very hurtful, or misread a message then a row occurs and I'm accused of starting or attacking him, I know I am emotional and needy, I have deep issues I've tried getting help for, but if I could get resolve in my relationship situation somehow I'm sure things would improve all round, I just dont know how to communicate with him like first we did, things were so different, he was interested in listening or seemed to be then, now he takes no interest of finding a way for us to understand each other a bit, I've tried self help books for couples on the spectrum and audio books, most say about telling them how you feel and what you would like from them but he either gets mad at me or ignores me if I attempt that. I dont know what to do. I dont want to give up, but I cant constantly be in this stressed state and I know he gets stressed too which hurts me also, should I just throw in the towel and walk away? He says he loves me too and wants to be with me, but wint ever see that means we have to try to be considerate, he wont accept he could be doing anything that would necessitate that. Please any advice welcome.

October 31, 2019 - 8:50am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Reading your comment, I felt like I was literally hearing my own voice inside my own head. This is EXACTLY what is happening in my relationship. I dont even know where to start to try and figure it out and make it work, we both want to, we are both fully committed to each other, but we seem to be going round and round in this downward spiral where we dont seem to be able to find a solution to suit us both...I feel your pain on a very deep and personal level.

July 30, 2020 - 5:35am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

You just come out and say it.

"i need you to hold my hand when we go shopping'
'i need you to put your arm around me while we walk'
'i need you to meet me at the door when i get home.'
'i need you to ask me how my day was when i get home'

we all have our hangups ... things we wish our sig would just know.

expecting them to mind read is not going to work. I had one that would say 'I shouldnt have to give you a hint that I need a back rub...you should just know!'

recipe for failure, that is.

October 31, 2019 - 12:09pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am a female with Asperger's, and all you women sound like a bunch of clingy, needy warts. Those kinds of people repulse NTs, yet you expect someone with autism to enjoy it?? Get real.

September 2, 2019 - 6:01pm

Well after reading many of these comments. I must say that I found myself junping through tons of hoops to be able to say what I would like haha. I am recently dating a boy with Asbergers. I must agree sometimes it is fustrating and I myself have felt as if though I was picking up the slack or giving more into our relationship than he was. However I have learned that that is not the case. As with my boyfriend everything you see at face value means more to him but in a different way. The hardest part for me was letting him know when i wad upset. Somebody else said here that it means that he assumes im always fine. A very true accurate statement. I came home once in tears and it shocked him so much he simply held me until I felt better. But it was VERY obvious. He does not assume much ive learned but if I talk to him and stay on the same page emotionally then we communicate quite well haha You kind of have to remove the intuitive guess work haha. He can also be very hot and cold sometimes like a switch but I just smile and give him a few mins to work through the information then he always comes back around. Also I do not try to push him. His mind works in an astronomically high rate haha he processes details like I could have never imagined. I think he should write a very detail oriented book about his interests (his obsession is cars) We make a point to plan mini events. he does not always want to do them but groans and joins me anyways haha We do this to make sure that there is some type of scheduled in us time so that we do have quality time. Our thing is movies lol its people free inside and easy to make time for. We also go out once a week to hear music wich sometimea is hard (I have social anxiety) for us both but we do it because we know its good for us hahaa. And once again it is scheduled and annual. We do this because I made a point to let him know it was important to me and therefore it is important to him. (It is his way of letting me know he loves me) And he has all week to dread and prep up to the task haha. So here I guess in the simplest form is my advise when dating somebody like my bf (Im not a fan of mental illness catagories or psychologics) To me he is simply oddly brilliant punny and needs a little more self esteem... As per "normal" none of us are that haha but at least we can be interesting and quirky instead.
-Know he loves you- He would not want to spend time with you if he didn't.
-Silent non communicative quiet time together is good. Gives him safe alone time feeling in the un-obtrusive presence of his favorite person. "Alone not alone time hah"
-Let him process his emotions if he cant get them straight. Sometimes feelings and words are hard for him to put into linear thoughts. If he cant do it that time and he gets mad at himself. I just tell my bf we have months and months and months for him to think about it haha. He'll get it right someday haha
-My bf has a hard time letting me know he loves me. Thats why we have scheduled (not as boring as it sounds) preplanned time. If he does not want to I tell him its important to me which in the end makes it important to him. (He does not grasp that unless I tell him)
-Schedule- always schedule even if its earlier that day for after dinner time. That way everybody knows whats expected later on haha.
-Lastly dont think of it as a bad thing I tell my bf he is oddly brilliant everyday (he is) and I just love him as he is. I have in every way a good full healthy happy relationship although im not going to lie quieter than I expected haha. We support eachother and even if I need a hug and have to tell him first sometimes he has always had my back. He never wants me upset and if he makes me upset I make a point to tell him exactly why lol that way there is absolutly no questions haha the only person more mad at him than me is ALWAYS himself.
I know I have rambled alot but I hope that this helps out people that need it. And maybe you will forge your own slightly off kilter well lit relationship too hahaha
And as I said I had to junp through alot of hoops to write this here haha so I hope it was worth it to even one person hahaha

July 6, 2018 - 6:23pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to jamieandrew7012)

So worth it, thank you for your story

July 26, 2018 - 2:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

Every aspie is different, and every NT comes with their own baggage too. I am NT and have been in and out of serious relationships with other NT's who have lied, cheated, or otherwise manipulated my emotions for what they see as their own benefit. It took me a couple months to understand that the man I am seeing now (aspie) did not have any ulterior motives, i.e., he wasn't playing head games when he didn't call or said he needed space. In other relationships, this would spell the beginning of the end, so I freaked out needlessly until I realized this was just who he is. He wasn't cheating on me, he hadn't lost interest, he really just needed alone time.

Once I understood that he never purposefully hurt my feelings (some men like knowing they have that kind of currency over you), our relationship became much smoother. That is not to say there aren't problems--there are frequencies of bonding that we won't ever be able to tune into together. Thankfully he isn't jealous (something else that confused me at first; I was always aware of men being jealous and I have to admit to using that jealousy to curry attention), so I am free to bond emotionally in the ways that I need with male and female friends.

Being with someone who doesn't seek to control me has been so freeing. I tend to be over-emotional, and his way of seeing things calms me. I have heard that some Aspies have sensory issues, but one of the reasons this relationship is working at the moment is that he's very physically demonstrative :) It's probably a little too obvious that I'm gaga over him and I might feel differently in another year, but for anyone who is wondering, it's not impossible if your NT quirks jive with his Aspie habits.

May 3, 2018 - 9:47pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

It's been a year. Are you two still together now?

June 13, 2019 - 5:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

Are you kidding me with this article? It is all about the woman working hard and the guy not getting it.That is exactly what your relationship will be - ONE SIDED. I have been married to a man with Aspergers for 17 years and it has been hell. Here's what you need to know. He will NEVER ask you how your are or even care? He will NEVER understand your perspective even if you explain a million times. And on and on. You might as well use your energy to get a PHD or become a millionaire because that is how much of your energy this relationship will require and in the end you will be left with one thing - LONELINESS IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY.

September 19, 2017 - 8:23am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Amen. I have been married to an Asperger's for 27 years. You are totally correct.
My advice to any woman thinking of marrying an Aspie. Don't do it.

August 14, 2019 - 9:10am
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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.