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Adult Aspergers Subtypes: The “Loner”

There are 3 basic subtypes in adults with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism:
  1. The Actor: This individual desires inter-personal relationships with others and has learned enough social skills over time to pass as a “neurotypical” (i.e., he or she can “act” like someone who is not on the autism spectrum).
  2. The Outcast: This individual desires inter-personal relationships with others, but has difficulty finding and maintaining friendships due to a lack of social skills. This person really wants to “fit-in,” but usually gets ostracized from “the group” due to his or her “odd” behavior.
  3. The Loner: This individual does NOT desire inter-personal relationships (except with a very safe/close family member or friend) and could care less about “fitting-in” with “the group.”

In this article, we will look at the “Loner”…

The “Loner” displays a persistent pattern of detachment from social relationships as well as a restricted range of expression of emotions in inter-personal settings. He or she (a) almost always chooses solitary activities, (b) appears indifferent to praise or criticism from others, (c) has little interest in having sexual relations with a partner, (d) lacks close friends other than first-degree relatives, (e) neither desires nor enjoys inter-personal relationships (sometimes including being part of a family), (f) shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affect, and (g) takes pleasure in only one or two (solitary) activities.

“Loners” often engage in a rich, elaborate and exclusively internal fantasy world. They are frequently (but often unintentionally) standoffish, cold and unresponsive, which causes relationship problems. These individuals have trouble expressing their feelings in a meaningful way and may remain passive in the face of unfavorable circumstances. Because of their lack of meaningful and intimate communication with others, they are not able to develop accurate images of how well they get along with people. Such images are important for the individual’s self-awareness and ability to assess the impact of his or her own actions in social situations.

When the “Loner’s” personal space is violated, he feels suffocated and feels the need to free himself and be independent. He tends to be happiest when he is in a relationship in which his partner or spouse places few emotional or intimate demands on him. It is not “people” per say that he wants to keep away from, but emotions, intimacy, and self disclosure. As a result, the “Loner” tends to form relationships with others based solely on intellectual, occupational, or recreational activities (as long as these modes of relating do not require the need for emotional intimacy, which the “Loner” will reject).

“Loners” are sometimes sexually apathetic. Many of them have a healthy sex drive, but prefer to masturbate rather than deal with the social aspects of finding a sexual partner. Their preference to remain alone and detached may cause their need for sex to appear to be less than that of those Aspergers adults who do not have “loner tendencies.”


Unfortunately, the Aspergers adult with “loner tendencies” rarely seeks treatment, because her thoughts and behavior generally do not cause her distress. When treatment is pursued, psychotherapy is the form of treatment most often used. Treatment focuses on increasing general coping skills, improving social skills and interaction, communication, and self-esteem. Because trust is an important component of therapy, treatment can be challenging for the therapist, because Aspergers adults with “loner tendencies” have difficulty forming relationships with others – including a therapist!

Group therapy is another potentially effective form of treatment, but it generally is not a good initial treatment. Although the “Loner” may initially withdraw from the therapy group, he often grows participatory as the level of comfort is gradually established. Protected by the therapist (who must safeguard the “Loner” from criticism by other members in the group), the “Loner” has the chance to conquer fears of intimacy by making social contact in a supportive environment.

Medication might be prescribed, but usually only if the Aspergers individual also suffers from an associated psychological problem (e.g., anxiety, depression, OCD, etc.).

Social consequences (e.g., family disruption, damaged relationship with co-workers, loss of employment and housing, etc.) are sometimes disastrous for the “Loner.” Comprehensive treatment, including services existing beyond the formal treatment system, is vital to improve symptoms and assist in recovery. Self-help programs, family self-help, advocacy, and services for housing and vocational assistance supplement the formal treatment system.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


  1. I hope you are going to publish an article on "The Outcast". That is my daughter to a T!

  2. hi is there an article about the actor type please?

  3. Please publish an article on Aspergers and The Outcast. That appears to be the exactly what I am looking for.

  4. You don't have to be just one type, I'm 50 at high school I was the outcast, for the first 10 years of my working life I was the actor, now I'm married with kids and have my own business I'm now a mix of the loner and the actor.

  5. i don't know where i fit. i must be a loner but i never get lonely. i have no interest in sex. the most interest i had in sex was in middle school. in hs, social development of others kept me as an outcast. my mother probably had some serious mental problems and was abusive. my father had another woman/family the whole time and my whole siblings were not entirely normal either but they socialized and sought sexual activities, something i would never go out of my way for as i got older. i don't know where i fit. i tried to fit in only because my mother said i was not normal staying alone. things could go either way. i could form close bonds with a few friends and we'd make each other laugh so hard. other times i was completely weird like the dog in 'the thing' that got put in the cell and all the other dogs immediately knew it was different.

  6. I'm a loner type and now I'm getting old have lost all interest in life. Looking back at my life I feel cheated that and wish i'd never been born.

  7. Is it possible to be a part of two of those types or all three at once? I'm just curious.

  8. This is me 100%. I don't care what other people do as long as I can do what I want when I want. My cat shows me more pure affection than any human ever has. Humans are too needy. Can you run to the store? Can you pick up so and so? No I can't, and I won't. Relationships to me are like a second shift job. You get done making your money then you have to come home and answer more questions with no down time. As long as my anxiety/depression is under control I am snug and happy as a bug in a rug baby. You know what's nice about being alone and happy? I'm happy, and without all the external needs that most people need. I hope this helps other Loner Aspie's to relate.

  9. A healthy mix of Actor and Loner here. At times in my life I am sure I've been somewhat Outcast, but for the most part Actor/Loner. When in highly social work environs I lean towards the Actor out of necessity. Keeping a job in the guest services sector requires it, though constantly putting on the persona of someone else is taxing. I now stay away from guest services and am employed as a machinist with only a few people I interact with on a daily basis - it is lovely and perfect for the Loner side.
    As for personal relationships.. I have a mid-size list of people I am comfortable with/they are comfortable with me being me, and close friends I can count on one hand. I find them to be stunningly beautiful inner-beings and prefer to keep and develop these close ones as I can further learn and navigate through intimacy/emotions/inter-personal relationships/ boundaries etcetera. And sex sometimes. :)