If you are an Aspergers adult – and you long to be in a relationship, then this article is for you.
It is often very stressful for an Aspie to date. If you find that you are unable to complete any of the tasks below, or if you become very distressed when attempting to complete these tasks, consider working with a psychotherapist. Counseling can offer you the much needed support as you go through the dating process.
First of all, let's talk about risk-taking and dating. There’s no way to avoid taking emotional risks when dating. Give yourself support, and seek out support from others as you do this. Be gentle with yourself. Get extra help if you need it, as you would for any other important area in your life. Good luck!
Steps in the dating process with extra help for Aspergers adults:
1. Ask those closest to you for their help. The individuals who know you well may be able to give you some valuable insight into what has been preventing you from taking the necessary steps toward enjoying a healthy romantic life. Though criticism isn't always the easiest thing to hear, what your loved ones have to say might be more valuable to you than you realize.
2. Before asking someone out on a date, sit down, do a relaxation exercise, and visualize how you would like the date to go. This should be a positive visualization, and you should create the visualization in such a way that you enjoy the experience. Doing this helps your mind prepare for the date.
3. Learning how to talk with others often requires a certain amount of confidence. If you are unhappy with your life, it may be too difficult to find ways to reach out. In many cases, Aspies are harder on themselves than need be, making too much of problems that many individuals share. It's important to remember that nobody's perfect and they shouldn't expect you to be either. At the same time, if you feel that certain changes would improve your life, with or without including the effect of such changes in the romance department, it may be time to take some proactive steps in your life.
4. Once you find someone that you have some connection with, follow up with phone calls or e-mails just to get to know the person. Be prepared for rejection (this is often the toughest part of dating). Remember you are building a connection with this person, and regular communication is essential.
5. Plan out dating as you would any other important area of your life. Commit yourself to taking the time and energy to finding individuals that are right for you to date. Be discriminating – and expect for it to be bumpy. Remember, dating is a numbers game. You may need to meet several (10-20) new individuals before finding someone that you really click with.
6. Practicing the best flirting lines or best pick up lines may seem a little silly in the bathroom mirror, but practice does often make perfect, and repetition may prevent you from jumbling your words when the time comes.
7. Preparing for a new outlook by making some changes to your life may help you to feel more confident. In some cases, a detail as seemingly small as buying a few new clothes may help. In other cases, perhaps it's time to make a career change. If you should come across anything in your life for which you believe altering would improve things greatly, consider making those improvements.
8. Pursue coed activities that interest you (e.g., biking, hiking, photography, self-help seminars, volunteer or charitable organizations, literature classes, etc.). Plan to participate in one or more of these activities one or two times a week - every single week of your life - until you are in a relationship. Once you are attending your activities on a regular basis, begin to ask individuals out - one after the other. Usually coffee or lunch dates work best for a first date. Start by chatting with the new person about the activity you are both participating in, and then casually ask if the person would like to get together some other time.
9. Taking note of how you appear to others (e.g., your facial expressions and body language) may help you to feel more confident about how you're coming across.
10. The internet presents a great place to practice talking with others without the pressure of face-to-face communication. When you chat online, you can choose your words more carefully, and even in the worst case scenarios, you can simply click and exit if need be. After practicing for some time, you may even find that talking with others, the very same individuals you may have found impossible to chat with in person, becomes easy and even relaxing. With the anonymity of online communities, you may also be able to ask certain romance or dating questions that may have previously given you trouble.
11. Though preparation may not have the same feeling to it as actually being in the presence of a person who you find attractive, there are many things that you can do to increase your chances for success. Brushing up on some good conversation topics can be very useful so that you do not have to struggle with ideas in the moment. Composing a list of 10 questions to ask your date, for example, may help you to stay focused and not panic.
12. To expect that you will become a boisterous, outgoing person who is forever free of hesitation when it comes to romance may be too much to expect. Many individuals find “Aspie-like” personalities positively charming – and you should not feel that it is necessary to rid yourself of these traits. Understanding the actions which you believe are setting you back, how you began acting them out, and how you can rid yourself of them does not mean that you should change who you are. Simply look at what negative aspects of being an Aspie are making your life feel incomplete, and learn how to separate yourself from those traits.
13. Understanding why you feel so compelled to hold back when those who you see in a romantic light are present may help solve your problem entirely. Often the fear of rejection and insecurity lie at the heart of such issues. Perhaps a past relationship caused you to feel reluctant to try a new relationship, or maybe you've just felt this way your entire life. However you came to feel this awkward around others, it's important that you get to the root of the problem so that you can begin to find ways to overcome it.
14. When heading out on a date, you may want to select your location more carefully because of the difficulty you experience. The best places to go on a date will often include those which are familiar to you and allow you to feel at ease. Adding in the tension of unfamiliar surroundings along with the stress of trying to impress someone will often create unnecessary problems. In your comfortable surroundings, it may be easier to focus on the date itself.
15. When you go out on a date, try to be curious about the other person, and use this curiosity to focus on whether or not you like the person. Ask questions and create conversation out of mutual interests - even if you do not know much about the subject at hand. Allow for some quiet, awkward moments during the date, it always happens.
Here are some ideas for meeting other single individuals:
- Volunteer Work: Food banks, Children's shelters, service clubs, etc.
- Sports: Soccer, volleyball, tennis, dancing, baseball, biking, rafting, roller-blading, canoeing, etc. If you do not know where to find the locale of a particular sports activity, find a local store that sells the equipment for that sport and ask the sales individuals.
- Online Dating: There are many online services to choose from. Proceed cautiously, if you agree to meet the person. Talk on the phone first then meet briefly in a public place. Do not give out any personal information such as your full name, address, place of work, etc. until you know the person first. If you are a teen tell your parents and a few close friends if you are planning to meet a stranger. Let the stranger know that you have done this.
- Communities: Many single individuals these days belong to a community of individuals with similar interests who like to participate together in a particular activity. These are often warm and friendly places to meet new individuals. Meditation, Sierra Club, biking, book groups, self-help activities such as 12 step programs, online communities.
- Classes: Cooking, photography, yoga, creative writing, dancing, etc. These classes can be found at community colleges, city recreation centers, adult education programs and many private organizations.
Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples