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Does Your New Boyfriend Have Asperger’s?

You’ve met this guy that seems a bit quirky. The idea that he may have Asperger’s has entered your mind (because you did a bit of research online, and he appears to have many of the traits of the disorder). So, how might you know whether or not your new boyfriend has Asperger’s? 

Well…

If he seems cut off from his feelings…

If he seems to focus only on reasoning and intellect...

If he comes off as self-centered or insensitive...

If he seems to have difficulty reading body language and facial expressions...

If he has trouble picking up the rules of conversation...

If he rarely looks you in the eyes...

If he has difficulty participating in general conversations, including ‘small talk’...

If he has difficulty comprehending or communicating his feelings...

If he has trouble distinguishing feelings from thoughts...

If he asks very few questions about you and you get the sense he's not listening when you do talk about your life...

If he appears cold or unresponsive to your text messages...

If he has difficulty seeing and understanding your point of view...

If he has difficulty empathizing with you or understanding your emotions...

If he isn't interested in creating a bond with you – and is more interested in having fun and leaving the mushy stuff out of it...

If he only seems to liven up when there's a possibility of sex on the table...

If he’s not genuinely emotionally invested in what goes on in your life...

If he always seems too busy to spend time with you...

If he has an intense interest in one or two narrow topics, bordering on obsession (e.g., stamp collecting, song lyrics, computer games, collecting and organizing facts, etc.)…

If he seems very smart, yet has little “social intelligence”…

If he never wants to discuss "where is this relationship going" questions...

If he appears to focus on his own personal interests, without seeing your needs and wishes...

If he seems to “need” to spend A LOT of time alone...

If he appears to have quite a few sensory sensitivities (e.g., sounds, smells, bright lights, the sensation of clothing against his skin, etc.)...

If he tends to become stressed when his routines are altered...

If he appears very detail-oriented, often missing the overall picture (applying the same level of detail to every situation whether appropriate or not)...

If your gut is telling you this guy isn't in it for the right reasons...

… then he might have Asperger’s.


==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Why Some Asperger's Men Fall Out of Love - Seemingly Overnight

"Out of the clear blue, my boyfriend with Aspergers stated he's not in love with me anymore, but doesn't want to break up. We haven't gone on a date for several weeks. He stopped being intimate with me last week. And now ...well, I don't know what to think. Is this common for men with Aspergers? He swears he hasn't found another woman, and I believe him because he's not the type to cheat like that. (Plus I've peeked on his cell phone and FB page and see nothing suspicious.) How can someone just fall out of love like that - seemingly overnight. ~  Hurt and confused!"

I wouldn't say "falling out of love overnight" is common for these men, but it does happen. As a counselor who has worked with many couples affected by Asperger's, what I see most often has to do with the fact that most men on the high functioning end of autism are very "task-oriented." The scenario often plays out something like this:

In the beginning, a new girlfriend is the "Aspie's" new task. He works on getting her to like him, to go on dates, to have sex, and so on. Also, in the beginning, he may try very hard to appear "typical" (i.e., tries to avoid exhibiting any traits that may reveal his disorder). Once he feels that he has "won her over," he begins to feel more comfortable around her. And it is during this time that he lets his guard down and begins to exhibit some symptoms of the disorder that his girlfriend picks up on (although she may simply view his behavior as "odd"). 

Once he has achieved his objectives -- mission accomplished! In other words, he has completed the task of getting her to be with him. Unfortunately, due to (a) mind-blindness issues and (b) problems with empathy, the Aspie does not understand that the "relationship task" is never-ending. As most of us know, couples need to work on the relationship throughout its entirety, providing ongoing nurturing, love and support.

This doesn't make sense to some men with Asperger's. They think they have officially "arrived" and that there is no need to continue to "work" on the relationship. Think of it like this: 

You live in California and drive to a vacation destination in New York. That's a long hard drive! Once you arrive at your hotel in New York, you wouldn't continue to drive in circles in the parking lot, because you have already arrived at your destination. As odd as it sounds, this is analogous to romantic relationships in the Asperger's mind (e.g., "I'm here - the work is done").

Another issue that results from "mind-blindness" and "lack of empathy" (two traits of the disorder) has to do with the Asperger's partner confusing love with obsession. I've talked to many men on the spectrum who thought that they were in love, only to find out that it was just an obsession or a "special interest" in the romantic phase of the relationship (i.e., the first three months or so when everything is noncommittal, fun, and interesting). 

Once the romantic phase is over with, the real work begins. For example, he has to have conversations about things that may not be so "fun" (e.g., has to listen to your past troubles, trials, and tribulations; listens to you sharing your past, which is what most people do in order to build trust and a bond). He may have to go with you to family gatherings (socializing is NOT a strong point of people with Asperger's). He has to work on conflict resolution (another skill that is typically lacking). He has to deal with the anxiety that goes with moving to the next level of the relationship, such as a proposal and marriage. Now, in the mind of some Asperger's men, the relationship is getting too messy and complicated. Thus, they rethink their commitment level.

This may or may not be the case in your situation, but I can tell you from experience, the scenario described above is very typical of the Asperger's man that - as you say - seemingly falls out of love over night.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples