If you, as a neurotypical wife or girlfriend, have ever felt like you are in a relationship with a computerized robot, or Mister Spock from Star Trek, then this post is for you…
Dealing with Aspergers (high functioning autism) men can be frustrating and difficult for neurotypical (i.e., non-Aspergers) partners, especially if you are involved in a love relationship. Aspergers men who present themselves as “Mr. Logical” tend to be afraid of being controlled by others and "losing" who they are inside of a relationship. In some cases, they may reject emotional attachment as a way of protecting themselves.
Learn how to deal with your “Mr. Logical” by following these 12 tips:
1. In most cases, Mr. Logical has trust issues that come from things that happened to him in the past. For example, some of these men may have developed a tough and distant exterior due to having been bullied throughout childhood due to their nerd-like behavior. In this case, it might take some time for your Aspergers man to develop trust and break down barriers with you. If you truly care about the relationship, you need to be patient and allow him time to really feel comfortable and secure with you.
2. If you are trying to get Mr. Logical to feel comfortable talking with you, avoid starting conversations with sentences like "We really need to talk" or "This is important." These kinds of lead-ins can trigger a “clam-up” response. He might feel cornered or pressured by the "serious tone” of the conversation. When dealing with Mr. Logical, the goal is to get to a point where he does not fear things (e.g., commitment) and to not make him feel nervous and pressured.
3. Consider the social norms that ALL men – Aspergers or not – are supposed to follow when it comes to emotions and sharing those emotions. Men are historically supposed to be the non-emotional providers for their family. This does not reflect on their ability to communicate as a husband, but it will help you to understand why he is hesitant to show emotion around anyone.
4. If necessary, you may need to establish some distance (even if it's just temporary) between yourself and Mr. Logical. If you get the impression he can’t offer you what it is that you want, or even if he straight-out told you that, spend some time apart. Hang out with your friends, throw yourself into your career, or begin a new hobby. Mr. Logical will attempt to reestablish a connection with you when he is ready to open himself up to you emotionally. In the meantime, take care of yourself.
5. Expect Mr. Logical’s emotions to be displayed as actions rather than words. While a woman can fully articulate what she is feeling, an Aspergers man is more likely to try and find a solution to the problem and work on it. In fact, when a woman constantly asks "What are you thinking?" to her man who has gone quiet, she usually assumes he's angry. But this is not necessarily true. More likely, he has gone quiet as he thinks about how to solve the relationship problem.
6. Give your Aspergers man a platform to vent frustrations. You may see some expression of emotion from him if you are able to disguise it as a session where he is able to vent out what he is feeling, manifested as frustration or anger. Most men view frustration and anger as more masculine emotions. Even if your man is feeling sad or depressed, you might find that you will see his feelings come through as a hotter emotion.
7. Look for the causes of emotional distance. You and your “Aspie” might be dealing with a relationship crisis, and withdrawal is his way of handling the situation. Physical separation can create emotional distance as he deals with the pain associated with interpersonal conflict. Past experiences can also cause him to shut himself off so he doesn't get hurt again.
8. Look for non-verbal cues that reveal your Aspergers man’s true emotions. Perhaps he will not tell you when he is stressed or nervous, but he always chews his nails when he is stressed about work. By watching for these cues, you can better understand how he is feeling by comparing the things he is experiencing with his physical reactions to the emotions he is feeling.
9. Aspergers men's emotions are confusing – and sometimes contradict each other. Oftentimes, they do not even understand their own emotions. Depression often goes undiagnosed because it is difficult for male “Aspies” to explain what they are feeling or that they feel ashamed for not subscribing to the society "norm" of a tough, well-adjusted, providing man. Encourage your “Aspie” to show his emotions by being supportive and understanding that his feelings are often much more complicated than he lets on.
10. Notice what works and what doesn't with Mr. Logical. Focus on topics that get a conversation going before moving on to those that may bring the wall back up. Emotional distance is not created overnight, and neither are the solutions for it. It often takes several attempts to get a constructive conversation going.
11. Realize that Aspergers men often have a difficult time communicating their feelings. He does NOT want to tell you that he is sad or depressed. Instead of becoming angry that he does not want to share his feelings with you, simply let him know that you are ready when he is. Leave yourself open for that conversation. Do not force the issue.
12. When attempting to problem-solve with Mr. Logical, use rationality rather than emotionality when you speak (as much as possible anyway). When you are talking to a “logical” man, it is vital to talk to him in a manner that he can comprehend. To express yourself to this type of male brain, realize that he might not think in "emotions" in the same way that you do. His brain might operate in a more rational, non-emotional fashion instead. If you utilize logic, he may find talking and opening up to you more comfortable.
Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples