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Why Your Asperger's Husband or Partner Refuses to Change

“My husband has many positive qualities, but his ability to interact properly with family and friends is missing. It’s a rare occasion that he doesn’t say or do something that raises a few eyebrows whenever we are out in public. When I try to point out to him what he said that was perceived as inappropriate – and why – he just gets defensive and throws it back in my face. Why is he so resistant too simply work on some conversation skills? It’s embarrassing, so much so that I purposely avoid certain outings, especially large family gatherings.”

Adults with Asperger’s need to decide for themselves when they will work on their poor people skills. It can be tough for the neurotypical wife or partner to sit back and watch their “Aspie” man struggle in the social arena, but they should try to let things play out on their own time. To charge-in and assert to the man that he “needs to work harder on developing some social skills” will only add to his low self-worth and sense of being “a bit quirky.”

Oftentimes, adults with Asperger’s are not in a frame of mind where they are ready to make changes based on their partners requests (but as they age, many of them start to feel differently).

Here are some reasons why Asperger’s husbands/partners may not be up for addressing their social skills deficits: 

1. Men on the spectrum may be particularly unenthusiastic about the idea of accepting help or criticism from their partner. Also, if they view their partner as someone who is parental, authoritarian, or “impossible-to-please,” they will be even less likely to welcome “assistance” (well-intentioned assistance usually downloads in the Aspie brain as criticism).

2. These men may fully believe the messages that their insecurities are telling them, and they may not think there is any hope of improving. Their self-talk may go something like this: “I'm just not good with people” …  “You either have it or you don't” … or “There's no way I can just chit chat with people – it’s too mundane.”

3. They simply may not view themselves as awkward – just “different.” On those occasions when they are accused of being “inappropriate” by their partner, they may not see anything wrong with their behavior (usually due to the “mind-blindness” issue, which is an Asperger’s trait).

4. They may realize they have some things they need to work on, but don’t feel those things are a priority at the moment. Plus, “trying to change” would be too much work.

5. They may recognize they have some social problems, but are ashamed of them. Some would rather try to hide their social skills deficits and save face – even if that means losing out in the present.

6. Some men on autism spectrum feel superior from an intellectual standpoint, and may have the attitude that their wife doesn’t really know what she is talking about – especially when it comes to their social life. They may think their wife simply doesn't understand what they are going through. Even when other people agree with the wife regarding the Aspie man’s inappropriateness in certain situations, he may still think his wife is clueless.

7. Due to “theory of mind” issues, many adults on the spectrum are somewhat unaware of the fact that they have social challenges. They may know on some level, but for the most part, they are very content with their current attitude and behavior.

8. Most men, with or without Asperger’s, don't like to think that they fail to measure-up in their partner’s eyes. Even if they see no problem with their poor social skills, they may still feel like they are disappointing their partner and be reluctant to bring the topic into the open or accept their partner’s help.

9. In some cases, the lack of social skills may not have cost these men enough (yet). For example, the man who feels like he is being constantly berated by an unhappy wife may simply choose to spend most of his free time avoiding her by being on the computer excessively. As a result, he is not losing much by being in a discontented marriage – especially since he is not that interested in socializing anyway.

10. In most cases, it’s not that people with Asperger’s experience social anxiety. Most can easily hold a conversation with relatives, friends, or even complete strangers – as long as it has something to do with their areas of special interest! Small talk is meaningless and boring to them. As a result, they tend to tune people out, which can be perceived as indifference, rude and unfriendly, or simply “odd.”

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Positive Traits of Asperger’s Men as Reported by Their Partners/Spouses

We polled 35 women who are in relationships with Asperger’s men. The question was: "What would be the #1 thing that your Asperger's partner or spouse does/says that you find helpful to the relationship?" Here are their responses:

  1. Every month he remembers my cell phone needs a new straight talk card, he buys and puts the refill on my phone, I never have to worry I won't have a phone.
  2. Hard worker--110% into supporting us--and into loving our family. Loves, understands and cares for animals. Takes care of our cars. Takes kids fishing and to museums so I can recharge; also supports my women tribe relationships, acknowledging I really need them. Cares in that child-like, unconditional way.
  3. He does his best for our family. (It may not be *The* best, but it's always *His* best!)
  4. He found out things I liked (such as backrubs) and used every opportunity to give me one, even if we were just hugging. Oh, and he was ALWAYS there for me when I needed to vent about something or needed help with a project. And he supported me in my hobby by going to jewelry making classes or bead shows with me on occasion.
  5. He is always honest and he has a very strong work ethic both at work and when I need help at home.
  6. He is always honest, he would never hurt me on purpose, he has a huge heart and always tries to help with logical explanation, he wants fairness for everyone.
  7. He is completely genuine. He never has an ulterior motive, I am never guessing why he is doing something. He doesn't play games with anyone and is never intentionally mean to anyone. People he doesn't care for he just avoids. He is always sincere in what he says and does.
  8. He is loyal and is very helpful in fixing our cars and fixing things around the house.
  9. He is stable, faithful, and predictable.
  10. He is the most honest person I know. I never have to guess what he is feeling, thinking, wants, or needs. He does not play games or have a secret hidden agenda. I find this incredibly refreshing.
  11. He is very devoted!
  12. He makes sure my car is always safe for me. From keeping up with oil changes to tire pressure, I never have to worry that I'm in an unsafe vehicle.
  13. He tries. Never had a man that has actively tried to make me so happy.
  14. He went back to his ex after they ended things and asked her to tell it to him straight. She gave him a lot of good tips and he is a great partner now. I thank her for that.
  15. He will do house chores and help me with taking the girls out so I can have stress free alone time.
  16. He works so hard to keep me happy and let me know I'm loved.
  17. He's always willing to help if I ask him. He has a great sense of humour.
  18. He's honest, loyal and he makes me laugh with his silliness. He has a lovely innocence to him which makes him so refreshing and when he 'shows' me love I know it's because he wants to and not because he feels he has too. Means so much more x
  19. He's loyal and always tries to give me what I need emotionally whenever I ask. He wants our kid’s childhoods to be better than his was.
  20. His good intentions, if he knows the right thing to do he will do it, very high principles
  21. I'm an Asperger Female Married to an Aspie Male.  I think he's my half. He's the most altruistic and kind person and I he doesn't harbor ulterior motives like most people do. The most patient, sensitive, loyal man I've ever met. He thinks I'm Paradox the same ways I do. 
  22. Loyal and gentle 
  23. Loyal, has good intentions, stable, good provider
  24. Loyalty
  25. My husband is very good at problem-solving and finding things.
  26. My husband is very very funny, and super fun to talk to because he is super intelligent. He reads a lot especially on internet. He is a good person and means well, BUT HAS NO IDEA how his behavior affects others, which is where the problems lie.
  27. Once he understands what's needed he does it to the nth degree, but it can take years (literally) for him to get it e.g. Turfing the garden.
  28. Predictable, good work ethic and excellent provider, loves his kids and is always gentle with them, never raises his voice.
  29. Problem solving and being a font of knowledge!
  30. Stable, loyal, predictable.
  31. Successful career so I only have to work part time. Financial stability.
  32. The most helpful thing he does for the relationship is everything, Thing is the operative word there. He is a great task doer! Loyal Laborer!
  33. Very clever. Strong man who has always provided for us well. Very practical. What he doesn't understand, he will teach himself and then do it to perfection. He has a deep love for our dogs. He adores them. .and shows it!!! He can't do that with humans so it's nice to see how much they mean to him.
  34. What really attracted me to him was he was THE smartest guy in the class or anywhere, still is. I love nerds; always wanted to marry the smartest guy I could find, and I did.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Asperger's Traits That Contribute to Relationship Difficulties in Adulthood

We took a poll of 86 women who are in relationships with men on the autism spectrum (i.e., Asperger’s). The question was: “What is the #1 trait that your Asperger's partner or spouse exhibits that seems to be the most problematic to the relationship?” Here are their responses:

  1. A sing-song "ohhhHHHhhh" is all I get and that's ONLY because in marital counseling she told him he needs to acknowledge when I'm speaking even if he won't look up from what he's doing. I get the same response for "I like this song on the radio" as I do for "my dad took his life eight weeks ago and I am absolutely distraught."  😢
  2. Although him and I are not married he is the same way. Not with the lack of touch, but in his mind if he has already told me he cares or how he feels (which is never upfront, he beats around the bush and I have to figure it out) he feels like he shouldn't have to say it anymore. Once it’s said, it’s done and time to move on.
  3. Always the same face expression, no emotions, no need for body contact, no sex, extremely stressed when something unplanned happens, he comes first and he always think that everyone works and think like him everyone else are idiots. No friends and always in conflicts without seeing he made something wrong.
  4. Before kids I would have probably answered inflexibility. Once he sees or does things a certain way it is a real struggle to get him to change it. After having two children it is definitely him not automatically putting his children's needs over his own. Parenting is full of self-sacrifice, and he doesn't really have any of that.
  5. Black and white thinking
  6. blaming, he's never wrong, no empathy
  7. Bottling up his emotions until he erupts. His "meltdowns" include irrational thinking, self-sabotage, and verbal insults. They affect the entire family.
  8. Communication
  9. communication and others …also having to be careful what I say (walking on eggshells) in case it's misinterpreted and causes an argument as he's on such a short fuse most of the time.
  10. Communication and special interests!
  11. Communication by far, it goes hand in hand with not expressing any emotions.
  12. Communication issues as well: if he is right, he is right and he will talk my ear off until I agree
  13. Communication, moods, lack of coping skills, lack of empathy, inconsiderate. Sorry that's more than 1!
  14. Completely self-absorbed. I am at the point where I do not know if I can commit to being his "seeing eye dog" anymore. This is unbearable.
  15. Communication and his inability. To respond to urgent important issues.
  16. Constant struggle with depression but refusal to discuss meds.... he’s always right...
  17. Definitely the focus problem. If he's interested in something, it's to the exclusion of EVERYTHING else -- doctor's appointment, bills, promises ... Everything.
  18. denying that I said things to him. So hard to get him to register anything!
  19. Does he always appear rude? Mine does and when I tell him he is being rude he denies it.
  20. Emotional distance and celibacy is going to definitely be my chief concern. It's taking its toll and my fear is that this will be what kills my love for him someday soon. I have always been absolutely, madly in love with this man… But I feel it's slipping away and I am less and less interested every day. As I begin to learn to cope without him, I'm beginning to appreciate the time without him more than with him.
  21. Empathy, lack of support
  22. Foreign communication skills. It's like we speak different languages when we communicate. We truly do not understand each other.
  23. Grumpy/moody!
  24. He doesn't want me to go, and I don't want to. It's just unfolding in front of me. The longer I am ignored and pushed away, the less I find I want to be in a place where I feel ignored and pushed.
  25. he has done so much damage with the things he’s said. things I would never say or type just too vile to repeat. the threat, he’s never touched me but I don't know honestly if that would always remain that way. he pulled a knife on his mother at age 10… 
  26. He is most recently spending hours on coin collection. Hours. Lonely
  27. Hiding and lying.
  28. His defensiveness about everything I say and always needing to be right, so fragile
  29. His lack of desire to socialize. He never wants to go out anywhere. Part of it I think is because it doesn't interest him and it's a point of anxiety also I think. It can be very frustrating. Also, communication!
  30. His not acknowledging or caring about others' emotional needs (or at least not showing that he cares whatsoever).
  31. His reactions on the outside not matching the inside & not matching the situation. Ambivalence. Nothing is certain. Nothing is for sure. I'm so busy being baffled not able to process his words or behaviour or being in shock by it that there's no time for life.
  32. I agree about the lack of communication which leads to a myriad of other problems. I finally gave up.
  33. I dunno is the response to everything… and " I forgot!".
  34. I feel totally unloved, not cherished and so unimportant in his life. Not anywhere on his priority list which is a very different thing from the first 2 years together. Pulled me in, fell in love married had kids now lives like a hermit. Totally shut me out!
  35. I get 'yep' and 'ok'. That's about it. Usually punctuating my sentence after every word. Every. Single. Word.
  36. I have a rule now. 2 comments and it is over. The constant comments are defeating for everyone.
  37. I have that rule as well in texting. We also won't text each other in arguments. (Or try to but we are long distance) Doesn't help when we are in person, I’m a sucker for just shutting down and giving in. It's okay to agree to disagree but he sees conflicts as needing to be solved now!
  38. I make more money than him so financially he’s a joke he spends everything he makes
  39. I think loneliness is a major common issue for all of us. Right?
  40. I totally get this. He has used me as a scapegoat for the last few years and had almost ruined my relationship with my mum and his parents because he was so good at hiding/pretending. 
  41. I would say irritability/mood swings tied with unsaid expectations I'm supposed to follow
  42. I wrote a letter to my mum recently explaining everything and she now gets it. Such a relief! I'm at the point where I need to decide, knowing that it's not going to change unless he acknowledges stuff, whether I can stay, or if I need more. Take care x
  43. I'm just so done and I only suspect that this is the problem. But he has almost all of the traits.
  44. in the midst of nastiness toward me, he can turn to a child and speak kindly so I KNOW he has a choice in how he speaks.
  45. Inability to accept the situation if he thinks it should be a certain way, stays fixated and festering it which I call spiraling which leads to inappropriate behavior towards me such as name calling, sulking, anger outbursts, silence, melt downs etc.
  46. Inability to communicate on even a basic level about anything.
  47. Increased (now daily) alcohol use and mixing with his other medications leading to constant "forgetfulness", spending 99% of free time with his buddies in our attic or backyard and neglecting the kids (and me too). No affection/ no or little sex.
  48. Inflexibility, there is only his way of doing things, I can say "there is more than one way to skin a deer" but it's his way or the highway. Also obsessed focus he becomes so involved with something and everything else is neglected.
  49. Irritability
  50. Lack of affection, communication.
  51. Lack of affection, empathy, motivation, sex and the fact that I come last all the time.... yep he is definitely aspie  :(
  52. Lack of cognitive empathy, but lots of affective empathy, so I get no validation and don't see myself reflected back accurately, but others think he's really helpful and lovely!
  53. lack of communication specifically when he gets so frustrated in an argument that he resorts to verbal attacks such as name-calling (b*tch c*nt stupid ignorant mentally unstable) and threatening (ill have someone cut you, I’ll have your mother deported (she’s been a citizen for 40 years). and it’s not just attacking me it’s my close family members.
  54. Lack of emotion, empathy, communication.
  55. Lack of emotional support, communication
  56. Lack of empathy and real remorse. He repeats the issues then apologizes (does not excuses himself any longer)) but then redoes it in a few days. I have tried making lists and put them on the fridge, we signed agreements in point form and made handshakes, but nothing has worked. Now he just says "I am sorry, I don't know what is wrong with me". Since he has found out he has Asperger he uses it as an excuse to be like a kid, but not in a funny kid way.
  57. Lack of empathy for emotional hurts
  58. Lack of physical intimacy and meltdowns.
  59. Lack of proper communication.
  60. Lack of touch/not realizing that I need to hear he loves me. He says that he married me so obviously he loves me, he shouldn't have to remind me he loves me.
  61. lack of uninitiated loving touch, "shoulding" me all the time and lack of ability to have appropriate, inoffensive social interaction with friends and family
  62. Loads! The one the one that drives me insane. How he can make ANYTHING turn around and to be my fault. Then totally believe it’s all me.
  63. Mine irritated me earlier. He is away working and called to talk to the kids. Youngest is almost 2. She kept saying "daddy" over and over again. He kept asking what and then told her " talk to me". Uhh she IS! That's appropriate for HER age however his response was very inappropriate for HIS age.
  64. Mine is so child-like at times. I long for a true adult relationship.
  65. Mine is the opposite of a lot of women on here I feel.... his unhealthy obsession with sex and seeing me as an object. Not supporting my emotional needs either and inability to hold conversation when it is regarding me and my interests
  66. Name calling is SO hurtful to me too.  😥 The threat to "cut you" worries me. Does he mean "cut you off" financially or have someone physically stab or sever off part of your body?
  67. No need for relationships or emotional connection
  68. No reciprocity so I don't receive stimulation the way I would in order to regulate myself when having regular reciprocated conversation.
  69. Not taking responsibility/blaming equally with not understanding (believing) me about my emotions and also just not getting or reading me and not listening and failing to live up to previous agreements and and and
  70. Oh geez! Your reference to "shoulding" made me smile a knowing smile. I tell my husband all the time "stop shoulding me!" He has stopped using that word but still says "you need to do xyz" and thinks it is not a should!
  71. Oh man, mine changes moods like he changes clothes. We will be having a great convo an hour before we get home. And as soon as we get home it turns into "don’t touch me, I don’t want to be bothered"
  72. Oooohhhh fun, a poll!! I would answer these all day for you if it means we might get you to do a workshop real soon!! Mine is the inability to feel loved through physical validation - holding me in public, caressing me like he feels it instead of it being on his check off list, genuine and sincere touch that is loving and not just a hand on your back sitting there. With this of course is my husband’s asexuality. Thanks for this!
  73. Parenting. Treating a child's inability to cope in a situation where attachment and support is called for as deliberate misbehaviour and handing out punishments.
  74. Playing the victim
  75. Refusing to acknowledge mood instability esp when depression sets in. He sleeps 16 to 20hrs a day and is very hurtful or neglectful when awake.
  76. Right this moment experiencing a meltdown he is refusing to stop and take the medication that helps him to at least stop spiraling  😟
  77. Same here. Why even say sorry when you repeat the same thing over & over again. I can see if the first time you don't understand but when we take time to explain it & you are logical then the next time seems intentional even if it isn't. Agreements just like on Big Bang Theory.
  78. Selfish, inflexible, always others fault, keeps on talking about topics of his interest and not able to understand others not interested in or Listening just for being polite, gets in conflict all the time with others and do not understand his role, communication problems and problems in understanding simple instructions or messages (but you would think he understood until you see he did the opposite of what you said or meant), not being able to understand how you feel or think, fails affection in the relation, quite boring, not being able to hold on schedules, ruining finances, not keeping promises, prioritizing problems (less important more than important), focusing on unimportant than important (Even if you point it), not understanding others body language or understanding things wrongly and wouldn’t get convinced if you try to explain him ( keeps on believing what he himself thinks, kind of paranoid)
  79. Several: 1. Inability to decipher tone in the intended and expressed way. Always assumes I'm being mean or hurtful which leads to shut down and his very hurtful explicit outbursts to hurt me. 2. Attachment to electronic devices. Can't go a second of the day without some device in his hand - which leads to isolation and lack of conversation. 3. Unhealthy addiction to sex and pornographic materials. He said that it’s his means of distraction. I get that - but there are so many other options (read a book, watch tv, talk to me)
  80. so very rigid takes an act of congress to get the slightest change, and he's always right, while I am apparently an emotional troublemaker who is so hard to read. I am by nature on the shy side and pretty much wear my heart on my sleeve
  81. Special interests/collecting/hoarding
  82. Task management difficulties. I worry about how this burden might fall unequally on me as we progress in the relationship.
  83. The inability to communicate.
  84. Tone of voice.
  85. Tough one...lack of communication I guess but there are so many! 😭
  86. Unwilling to take responsibility for behavior

==> Help for Couples Affected by Asperger Syndrome


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… A good read. I despise that I relate to the men in this so much, but I'm glad I'm able to recognise and hopefully adapt/improve.
•    Anonymous said… About 30 percent the issues is nothing to do with aspergers but due to the partner having other issues besides aspergers causing them to act like am ass hat. With the other 70 percent about 45 percent it's actually the person complaining that has the issue often being they thought they could change the partner to not have aspergers but with the remaining 25 percent its actually the aspergers being so bad no relationship will survive. So for 75% it's nothing to do with aspergers!
•    Anonymous said… As a Aspergers woman who is in a long term relationship(4yrs) with a NT woman, this sums up our problems pretty nicely..
•    Anonymous said… Ask for problem, gets entirely negative responses. I fail to see the problem here.
•    Anonymous said… For whatever it's worth, I dated plenty of guys when I was single who did these same things. Kind of doubting every guy I ever went on a date with is on the spectrum.
•    Anonymous said… I have aspergers and I'm perfectly happy with this article. It says women on relationships with male aspies. That includes aspie women in relationships with aspie men.
I only read the first dozen or so points but it summed up the relationship with my exhusband 100%. Maybe it's not all male aspies but I've definitely met a few who had comorbid npd including my ex and the article describes them perfectly.
•    Anonymous said… I have no idea why anyone would ever, ever go into relationship with a man like that. Can someone please explain that to me? It sounds horrible, unbearable, and like the worst and biggest mistake anyone could ever make! How on earth did those guys get into relationships with those women??
•    Anonymous said… I just want people to be aware though it's not automatically just purely autism to blame - it's a lot of factors including gender. And that writers need to start acknowledging AS/AS relationships where one partner (nearly always the woman) is emotionally more like an NT than their partner. AS women are far more like NT women than AS men.
•    Anonymous said… I think both partners have to be committed to working on the relationship. It is a frustrating situation to love someone and to be stuck in the same patterns of behavior. With behaviors attributed to a diagnosis of some kind, it's even more challenging. I can understand how awful it would feel to be judged based on your perceived shortcomings or clinical diagnosis, it certainly doesn't feel loving. The question is how do you meet the needs of both people in such a relationship? I think this page tries to help. I also think that most people don't know how to love another person just because they breathe, we always seem to want more.
•    Anonymous said… I think that the majority of these criticisms you would find with neurotypicals as well. This is essentially a fishing trip for what is the worst trait. Even in the happiest of relationships there is always something to criticise. If you asked the same people what were the best traits, they'd say some wonderful things. I don't think this is about autism so much as this is about the nature of the question.
•    Anonymous said… I would love to see this poll reversed. Ask Aspie men the same question about their spouse/partner.
•    Anonymous said… Like in every relationship it takes both partners for it to work and 99.9 percent of the time both partners have their own issues. I'd like to see a story about a relationship working out I know there's some. I've been with my non spectrum wife for 4 years and we have a child and we fight but always make up.
•    Anonymous said… Many of my "let-downs" dating autistic people have been due to my own preconceptions of what men are and because of my own autistic narcissistic traits
•    Anonymous said… Most of this did not apply to my husband of 10 years. He has his issues but he works *very* hard on them and is a great partner and parent to 2 small kids. A happy relationship is very possible!
•    Anonymous said… My son has Aspergers. After reading your comments, why would anyone marry someone with Aspergers?
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like these people hate their autistic partners, and autistic people in general. But alrighty.
•    Anonymous said… There's no research to back whether women or men with Aspergers are more likely to show NT traits than the other.
•    Anonymous said… They lie or mislead or don't explain who they are because they don't understand themselves . That's how we end up in those relationships.
•    Anonymous said… This makes me so sad for my son with high-functioning autism (Asperger's is no longer a diagnosis in the DSM V). It makes me think he can never have a happy relationship.  🙁
•    Anonymous said… This was a confusing article for me as an aspie woman in a relationship with a man with cerebral palsey and on the spectrum. We both struggle on our own and with each other, but we have enough empathy to love each other deeply despite our difficulties. And the sex is great.
•    Anonymous said… When their focus is on you, the relationship is very different. When something in the relationship changes, the focus changes. It's not hard to figure out. These men are good men, with a neurological difference. It's not easy for either partner.
•    Anonymous said… Thing I've noticed is a lot of woman who complain about their aspie partners are emotionally needy. They need constant reassurance they are loved and supported. Take number 52 she actually said she struggles because her husband is not a reflection of herself wtf. So this is just as much about the woman who married the men having issues as the men.

Post your comment below…

Lack of "Displays of Affection" in Adults with Asperger's

“I have a question that may be somewhat ridiculous – or even insulting, so please don’t get me wrong here. But can my husband with Asperger’s even understand the concept of true affection? I’m asking because sometimes I have my genuine doubts.”

Lets’ make sure we all understand what affection is first of all. It’s a physical way (emphasis on “physical” here) of showing just how much we love someone. It’s an attachment that consumes us, wanting to kiss, hug, or hold the person we love. Receiving constant affection from your partner or spouse is a great reminder of how much he or she cares for you.

A lot of emotional concepts are challenging for adults on the autism spectrum. Affection is probably one of the most complicated emotions of all. The lack of empathy, sensory sensitivities (in this case, perhaps touch), and inflexibility that many people on the spectrum live with makes understanding the concept of affection difficult (but not impossible).

It’s very difficult to separate the idea of an “Aspie” loving someone from the true source of struggle, which is the concept of “theory of mind.” He feels a full range of emotions (e.g., anger, sadness, joy, and yes, affection), but the issue lies in connecting these emotions to the emotions of his significant other. Theory of mind is understanding that his spouse’s thoughts and feelings are her own and how they can coincide with his, even though they are not reliant on what he is feeling.

The possibilities are there for your husband. Affection is an emotion that he can come to understand fully. The process of developing theory of mind is ongoing in people on the spectrum. Affection is only a small part of this very multifaceted equation.

While affection may be a tricky emotional concept for your husband, the basic idea of affection is very real. Balancing affection within a marriage is what will bring on a variety of experiences, both negative and positive. With straightforward discussion about emotions, your husband should be able to understand the concept affection, and be successful at it. He probably already does understand this concept at some level, but doesn’t show it as frequently as you may like.

Unless it feels artificial to you, there’s nothing wrong with asking your husband to show you some affection when you need it (e.g., “kiss me” … “hold me” … “give me a hug” … etc.). Some women feel that if they have to ask, the affection is simply fake, which is certainly understandable. Unfortunately, these women may never receive displays of affection. Even though “asking for affection” seems like settling for second best, it may be better than nothing.

We all should feel comfortable with asking for what we need. If we don't, then we have no room to complain. And, using the excuse "Well, if I have to ask, then forget it ...I'll do without" sets us up for feelings of resentment in the long run. So ask. If after asking, we still do not get our needs met... well, that's a completely different story - and the topic for another article on how we need to begin the process of taking care of ourselves by getting our needs met elsewhere!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples
 

COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Affection doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary unfortunately. I would so love a proper hug from him or an unprompted I love you. Even a Wow you look lovely  :( x
•    Anonymous said… Based on my experience.... rarely if ever....
•    Anonymous said… For crying out loud, it's called communication. How about when some NT guy grabs you without permission and acts entitled to your personal space? I've heard a lot of women complain about having their space violated by some creep. It's not a bad idea when you're dating someone to just ease into various PDAs. You cozy up and sometimes move their arm where you want it, so they feel comfortable holding you or whatnot. If they initiate, a lot of social anxiety comes up around doing something wrong, and they will hesitate. A lot of folks on the spectrum whom I know are best when folks bother to ask at first, and build up that trust. It's good for all kinds of folks.
•    Anonymous said… How come there's is never any focus on partners of aspie women? It's all partners of aspie men. I understand love and affection but dislike touch beyond my children and grandchildren hugging me and cuddling and so on.
•    Anonymous said… I am an aspie and I have no problem understanding the concept of affection. Most of the time, I enjoy displaying my affection to the people I love through kisses, hugs and such gestures. However, when my sensory hypersensitivity is at its worst and/or when I feel overwhelmed, I experience intense feelings of claustrophobia and any form of physical contact becomes almost unbearable. That might (partly) explain your husband's attitude. I hope this is useful.
•    Anonymous said… I can feel affection but do not want to touch them or have them touch me.
•    Anonymous said… I have asked for a hug to be given everyday. Usually, one of us remembers to do it and when it happens it feels wonderful! It feels genuine and affectionate and he seems to enjoy it as much as I do.
•    Anonymous said… I think you have hit the nail on the head. We are expected to confirm. It's incredibly stressful as an aspie woman. There is little or no awareness out there I believe !!!
•    Anonymous said… I understand the concept of affection but don't like being touched. Could this be your husband's issue? If so then maybe talk to him about how you both can show affection without the overwhelming-ness of physical contact. Like telling you how he feels for you, or giving small handmade gifts, what ever suits you both.
•    Anonymous said… I'm an Aspie Romantic I guess.But I have so many ASD friends who I've tried to help understand what it is their spouses want and need. Only one I think is hopeless.Please don't quit trying!!!! Because when they DO start to show you, you'll be swimming in the depth of their love and devotion and everyone will ask you why you're always smiling!
•    Anonymous said… Interested in the bit about it feeling fake if you have to ask, as this is something I've always felt. Do I just have to look for the ways he does care (i.e. endless "tasks") or when he does respond when I ask, is this "real" or just a mechanical response to a request for affection.
•    Anonymous said… Mine thrives on affection. He is one with a very outgoing personality. His love languages are attention, affection and affirmation
•    Anonymous said… My bf doesn't seem to like public affection. But he is very affectionate, depending on his mood, but "big bear hugs" don't ever happen from his initiative. And if i "squeeze" too long, he doesn't like it.
•    Anonymous said… Of course we feel effection we just can't show it the same way as NT people many of the ways NT's the truth is most aspies and autistics feel affection far more deeply than NT's we just show it differently as we don't know how to show it the same way as typical people. Your having doubts because he can't show it the same way as a typical person. Most typical people believe you show love and affection by compromising and giving into what the other person wants or with body language or expressions we can't do those things so we show affection in otherwise usually by doing something often going out of our way to do something or putting a lot of thought into something and I found with my own partner and other partners of autistic and aspies that they don't recognise this as an attempt to show affection often disregarding it upsetting us. We also like to be able to see people we have affection for so just hang around them and follow them around if he stays with you a lot just being their that's a sign of affection aswell as changing or stopping what he is doing is another sign as he is trying to make you comfortable.
•    Anonymous said… That is a pretty loaded question. If you mean "understand true affection in the way you do and want to receive it", perhaps not. But many neurotypicals don't understand that either. Read the Five Love Languages yourself first (if you haven't) in order to fully understand what you mean by "true affection". Then read it with him and let him know what *you* need to feel loved. You might also want to work with him on finding out what makes him feel loved and what he believes he does do that he thinks is loving behaviour. You might not realize what his displays of love actually are. That is because the 5LL is written from a lot of NT assumptions. For example, for me, giving my loved one lots of space and time alone is an act of love.
•    Anonymous said… They don't feel ur POV, like u feel theirs. NTs believe that love brings out loving/compromising behaviors. Empathy is rarely demonstrated.
•    Anonymous said… Unfortunately the problem is fewer women are diagnosed and even fewer share their diagnosis. We suffer the same fate as NT women - we're expected to conform. Men can be open about having aspergers but women are expected to act like the good wifey.  It's even worse having been in an AS/AS relationship - hearing aspergers put down by NT women while having AS men put you down because apparently dating an AS man somehow means you must be NT and therefore "the enemy".
•    Anonymous said… We feel affection like anyone else. PDAs & the like are difficult for me. We're a little more inhibited with those things.
•    Anonymous said… You should make a group and have everyone that follows this page join the group. Then it's closed instead of being public and more could help and be comfortable commenting. Just an idea.

Post your comment below…

Why Adults with Asperger’s Are Prone to "Meltdowns"

“I’m in a relationship with a man who has Asperger syndrome. I’m familiar with the disorder and have worked hard at changing my expectations for the relationship. The one thing however that I still struggle with is his anger issues. I guess people refer to it as a meltdown. So, my question is how can I tell whether he is simply coping with his symptoms versus just plain ol’ being pissed off?”

First of all, a meltdown is not the same thing as “acting-out in anger” (having an adult version of a temper tantrum). Meltdowns are more complicated than that. An adult with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) is prone to meltdowns when he finds himself trapped in circumstances that are difficult to deal with, especially those which involve frustration, sensory overload, and confusion.

Meltdowns tend to happen more frequently for those who experience sensory integration dysfunctions, rigid or inflexible thinking, resistance to change, low-frustration tolerance, hypersensitivity to sensory input, executive functioning disruption, difficulty with social comprehension, difficulty understanding cause-and-effect, difficulty identifying and controlling emotions, and communication challenges.

Think of a meltdown as an “escape mechanism.” If adults on the autism spectrum have the means to get themselves out of stressful situations before they become overwhelming, cognitive and emotional pressures recede. Without these means of escape, anxiety will escalate, and these individuals may begin to panic, setting them on a course towards neurological meltdown.

Escape routes that are difficult for the “Aspie” to utilize include the ability to prevent or remove himself from uncomfortable situations, understanding others and making himself understood, the ability to act on decisions, and being able to soothe himself under stress.

The typical individual without Asperger’s has a functional set of escape routes. For example, he understands that most people don't deliberately try to hurt him, knows what it feels like when he is getting upset, has the freedom to leave when a stressful situation becomes too much to handle, can regulate the extra sensory input, can communicate his needs and emotions, and can calm himself down relatively quickly in most cases. In other words, he has coping strategies that allow emotional and cognitive stress to decrease - or disappear entirely. But, this is not the case for the individual on the spectrum. When he finds himself in a stressful situation from which he can’t easily escape, his brain becomes flooded with emotional, sensory or cognitive input, which jams the circuits and initiates a “fight-or-flight” response.

During a meltdown, executive functions (e.g., memory, planning, reasoning, decision-making) start to short-circuit, which makes it even more difficult for the Aspie to find a way out of the distressing circumstance. Eventually, neurological pressure builds to the point where it is released externally as a surge of physical energy (e.g., yelling profanities). Although the volatile reaction resembles a tantrum and seems to come from nowhere, it's part of the “meltdown cycle.”

Meltdowns and anger-control problems often look the same on the outside, but that’s where the resemblance ends. “Going off” on someone is a voluntary “battle of wills” to try and gain control over a situation. Anger is designed to draw attention for the sole purpose of satisfying a want, or avoiding something that is unwanted, So, once that goal has been met, the eruption quickly resolves itself.

On the other hand, meltdowns are the complete opposite. They are involuntary physical and emotional reactions to being placed in an overwhelming situation from which there is no quick escape. The Aspie isn’t in control or trying to get attention, in fact he may be unaware of things happening around him.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples
 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… As an Asperger's person myself, i really understand anger and I have melted down more than I would wish to. But no matter where upu are, in spectrum or off, you dont jave a "get out of jail free" card that entitles you to be nasty to people around you and then blame Asperger's for it and then do it again... or just let yourself be an asshat... so sit him down and talk about this amd about techniques for dealing with it. Meditation works very well but takes practice. A good book on how to do this esoecially for anger is "don't bite the hook" by pema chodron. Meditation is a good practice for both of you, especially gratitude and acceptance, i would recommend reading various writers, although Thich Nhat Hahn has a kot if very simple effective practices for daily life. Ps, this has nothing to do with religious belief, its retraining one's neurological responses to be better under one's control and management.
•    Anonymous said… As someone on the spectrum, I would suggest that a melt-down arises from being overwhelmed by too much information and sensory input to effectively process, but anger arises from either disappointed expectations or an awareness of injustice.
•    Anonymous said… As to your question how to tell an temper tantrum from a meltdown if someone angry it can last for days and usually won't feel guilty for their behaviour as they feel it was provoked where as with a meltdown it's a spontanious release of stress built up due to triggers which during it we can't control and often feel guilty and ashamed after likely not even remebering what we did. This of course can be avoided if you learn to calm this stress or more ideally release it before it builds up to the level of a meltdown. Unfortunately we are not always aware we are building up to a meltdown and we need to learn to spot it building in ourselves and fine a safe way to release this stress or remove ourselves from what ever is causing it. With me I either find a game or something to take my aggression out on or runaway for the day if it's seriously stressing me to get away from it to calm down. Your partner needs help in spotting when his triggers are causing a meltdown to build up inside him and help finding another way to deal with besides an explosive outburst!
•    Anonymous said… Best advice I can give is do not have any expectations in the relationship. You have to go with the flow. Yes at first it is hard but in the end its worth it.
•    Anonymous said… Either way the best advice I can give is when you notice he's upset give him space, don't try to talk to him about it just give him time to cool off.
•    Anonymous said… I don't understand why you don't just ask your husband. He would be able to explain it best.
•    Anonymous said… I'm NT my partner is an Aspie too. Same issues here love, we are going on 4yrs together and he learns very slow but he has learned. Meltdowns used to bee twice a week. Big humdingers! On occasion I rang police to come talk to him & on one occasion they put him in hospital 2 nights. Long story short, he's not had a major meltdown since early December. I don't react much anymore as this can spike his reactions. I've learned he's learned & he's a genius who has gotten better and who does try hard daily. His struggles with his gut, sounds, smells and loudness is hard on him. I make an environment that suits him to the best I can as well as having an environment I accept too.
•    Anonymous said… In my 20 year marriage to my aspie husband, this is the single toughest issue. The anger is embarrassing and devastating in the moment, and it ruins relationships with family members.
•    Anonymous said… My wife saying "you're having a meltdown" is all it takes to get me to take a break. But it took two years to get to this point. Wish my ex had understood though.
•    Anonymous said… No, as an aspie, sometimes it's hard for us to explain our selfs the way we want to or need to and as a outcome, we become very angered
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like my partner!
•    Anonymous said… They also never do anything wrong in their mind and never apologise for anything that they do that is wrong. In the end I didn't know who or what I was to him but all I felt was that I was only there when needed  🙁. I kind of feel like I was an experiment to him to find out whether being in a relationship was for him. They have trouble doing anything that most people can.
•    Anonymous said… With me it is one big smash it is like I'm watching myself do these things but have no control to stop them. I have learned control over the last 4 or 5 years and have only had a few.
•    Anonymous said… yep my ex partner was exactly like that and when she had her meltdown im still to blame, why cant i understand how she was feeling, those memories have sure scared deep in me
•    Interesting. My aspergers ex wasn't bothered with bright light, in fact he went through a phase of lighting my house up like a Christmas tree with party lights. Crowds didn't bother him and he always wanted to be the centre of attention. He got angry if there was background noise while he was talking though. He also went into melt down if I expressed emotions. He basically had a melt down every time something didn't go his way or as he planned.

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Anger-Control Problems in Adults on the Autism Spectrum

“My Asperger’s boyfriend has a lot of anger issues. I don’t know too much about how he was brought up or how his parents treated him. I’m guessing this is something that came from childhood. Or maybe anger is prevalent among people with Asperger’s in general. I don’t know. But he is very sensitive about certain things and I never know for sure what is going to set him off. He’s never violent with me or anything close to that, just his bad mood, gets frustrated easily, etc. Ideas?”

Many adults with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) will admit that they have an anger-control problem. It’s not uncommon for them to experience an array of negative emotions (e.g., anger, anxiety, depression). There are many possible causes for this. It may be due to genetics, environmental issues, childhood-related issues, personal choice, low-frustration tolerance – and of course, due to the disorder itself. Most likely, negative emotions are the result of a combination of these factors.

Here are some examples of things that may contribute to anger-control problems in the adult on the autism spectrum:

1. “Aspies” can be extremely sensitive to loud noise, strong smells, bright lights, and other troubling environmental stimuli. This can be a challenge in relationships, because they may be limited in where they can go, how well they can tolerate the environment, and how receptive they are to interpersonal interactions.

2. Frustration and anger is prevalent in Aspies when rituals can't get accomplished or when their need for order and symmetry can't be met. Aggravation (usually over little things that don't bother others) may lead to a “meltdown” – and even physical violence on rare occasion.

3. Many adults on the spectrum were physically and socially awkward during adolescence, which made them the frequent target of school bullies. Low self-esteem caused by being rejected and teased by their friends and classmates often made them susceptible to anger, depression, and anxiety –  and they may carry the scars of that past abuse into adulthood.

4. Most adults on the spectrum develop a special interest that may be unusual in focus or intensity. They may become so obsessed with their particular area of interest that they may get upset and angry when something or someone interrupts their activity.

5. Poor “adaptability-skills” is yet another issue. When structure and consistency are disrupted in the Aspie’s life, the world becomes confusing and overwhelming – thus launching him into a less than optimal response. The disruption of structure can be obvious (e.g., having to get up at an unusual hour, not being able to engage in a favorite activity, being made to go a different way to work due to a traffic jam, etc.) …or it may be hidden (e.g., sensory sensitivities, subtle changes in the environment which the person is used to, etc.). Many of these “triggers” may be out of the control of the Aspie. Thus, it’s important to remember that low-frustration tolerance and similar behaviors are not cases of “rude behavior” necessarily, rather they may simply be natural reactions to various unwanted stimuli.

6. Most of these adults suffer from “mindblindness,” which means they have difficulty understanding the emotions others are trying to convey through facial expressions and body language. The problem isn’t that they can’t feel emotions, but that they have trouble expressing their emotions, as well as understanding the emotions of others. “Mindblindness” often gives their partner or spouse the impression that they are insensitive, selfish or uncaring.

7. Part of the problem stems from a conflict between longings for social contact and an inability to be social in ways that attract friendships and romantic relationships. Many Aspie men, for example, have a desire to date and procure a steady girlfriend, but their “odd” attitudes and behaviors prevent them from doing so. This, of course, is both frustrating and disheartening for the Aspie such that he often stops trying to establish romantic relationships in order to avoid disappointment.

8. Social conventions are a confusing maze for adults on the spectrum. They may take jokes and exaggerations literally, struggle to interpret figures of speech and tones of voice that “typical” people naturally pick up on, or have difficulty engaging in a two-way conversation. As a result, they may end up fixating on their own interests and ignoring the interests and opinions of others.

9. Some adults on the spectrum have what is referred to as “low-frustration tolerance.” In other words, they have a short fuse, are easily irritated, and do not tolerate even the most minor frustrations well. When the frustrating event occurs, they may have a thought or some belief that increases their frustration level (e.g., "This is too much" …  "Things must go my way, and I can’t stand it when they don't" … "My partner/spouse should stop doing things that annoy me" … "It shouldn't be this way" … "It shouldn't be this difficult" … "I can't wait that long" … "I can't take this" … "I can't stand being frustrated, so I must avoid it at all costs").

10. The typical Aspie tends to rely on routine to provide a sense of control and predictability in his life. When there is an unwanted change to his routine, he may become anxious and upset.

Some adults with Asperger’s have been misunderstood and/or mistreated to one degree or another throughout their life. The mistreatment started as bullying in school, and continued in the workplace. So, their anger is understandable (but doesn’t give them license to be abusive to others in return).

Anger is triggered by people, events, or circumstances that make the Aspie feel vulnerable in some way. He may lash out in anger to prevent others from becoming aware of his vulnerabilities. But, once his anger has run its course and he returns to his rational state of mind, he is left to deal with the repercussions of whatever situation triggered his anger. In the world of Asperger’s, sometimes these repercussions are grim and life-changing (e.g., job loss, separation, divorce, jail, etc.).

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Why “Neurotypical” Wives Are Unhappy in Their Marriage

“Why does it seem that so many women in relationships with men who have Asperger syndrome harbor a lot resentment and anger about the relationship?”

Some spouses who are married to men with Asperger’s do indeed experience a significant amount of dissatisfaction in their marriage. Not everyone reacts similarly, nor do all couples experience the full range of potential problems.

Being in a marriage to a spouse on the autism spectrum affects the relationship in a number of ways, most notably in the areas of emotional “give-and-take” and communication. Incorrect assumptions (due to the mind-blindness phenomenon) made by the “Aspie” often lead to self-protective strategies that include distancing himself entirely – and then not responding at all to his spouse. An emphasis by the so-called “neurotypical” (i.e., non-autistic) spouse on expressing feelings is likely to lead to frustration and disappointment.

In the beginning stages of the marriage, the neurotypical spouse may be O.K. with doing most of the “emotional work” of the relationship. But, once children arrive, further problems may come about as the Asperger’s father has difficulty effectively engaging and empathizing with his children.  If the wife expresses frustration at this lack of affection and intimacy, her Asperger’s husband is often puzzled by the complaint. Thus, arguments and discontent may result.

Asperger’s is a lifelong developmental disorder, and usually manifests in the inability to successfully relate emotionally to others during everyday interactions. A lack of awareness in interpreting social cues manifests itself. Given that inability, it can be very problematic for the wife of a person with Asperger’s to cope with many of the behavior patterns typically exhibited.

If the husband exhibits many – or most – of the traits associated with Asperger’s, but is undiagnosed, it can be particularly frustrating and demoralizing for his wife. She may even blame herself for the decline in the relationship (e.g., “I’m not attractive to him anymore”). Once an effective diagnosis is made, at least there is some understanding for the wife as to why her husband behaves the way that he does.

When a spouse is diagnosed with Asperger’s as a result of the child within the family being diagnosed, it can come as a "double whammy" to the wife. This is particularly the case when the father and child are diagnosed at the same time, because the woman is now in the position of dealing with two family members affected by an autism spectrum disorder.

The difficulties in understanding the emotions of others and interpreting subtle communication skills (e.g., eye contact, facial expressions, body language, etc.) often leads to the wife’s perception that her husband is simply being rude, uncaring, cold and selfish. While this is understandable for her to feel this way, it is a false assumption. Asperger’s is a genetic, neurological condition that renders the affected person mentally unable to readily understand and interpret the emotional states of others.

Unfortunately, even when diagnosis occurs, some Asperger’s spouses refuse to go into therapy or accept available assistance, because they don’t believe that they have a problem. One woman that I counseled had a husband with the disorder and was relieved to finally discover the reason for his emotional aloofness, but was devastated when he refused to go to counseling. He simply asserted, "There's nothing wrong with me!"

So, one does not have to stretch his or her imagination very far to see why some women married to men on the spectrum are at their wits-end.

Are there any options for the neurotypical wife other than (a) staying in the relationship and accepting her partner for who he is, (b) staying in the relationship and continuing to try to “fix” her man, or (c) leaving the relationship?

Fortunately, couples counseling (preferably by a therapist who has some expertise in working with clients on the spectrum) can help. Also, there are many support groups – both online and off – where these women can go for advice and encouragement -- and to simply vent their hurt and anger over the situation.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… If you can't handle being in a relationship with an Aspie, that's on you. You knew what you were getting into even before you got married.
•    Anonymous said… Not always. It's now clear my dad is autistic but he would never seek a diagnosis. I didn't know I was till my daughter was diagnosed so my husband had no idea either.
Most adults are undiagnosed.
•    Anonymous said… Exactly, I didn't know the reasons behind my husband's behavior until my daughter was diagnosed and then he got the diagnosis. And no one knows what they're "getting into" with anyone (diagnosis or not), people have different experiences before and after living together.
•    Anonymous said… Past generations did not look for ASD kids. If u were diagnosed; you kept it a secret. It wasn't until the TV show "Big Bang Theory" & the acknowledgment of "nerd" intelligence, that ASD people came out of the shadows. Most people over 40 now, had no clue that they or their spouse are on the spectrum. The baby boomer generation was surprised by ASD.
•    Anonymous said… It's a very difficult path in a marriage....it's sad for everyone involved.
•    Anonymous said… No, often they have no idea!!
•    Anonymous said… I know two who kept it a secret.
•    Anonymous said… Wow such compassion. And no, many of us did not. And once children are born and lives entangled things aren't so black and white.
•    Anonymous said… Because Hollywood promised us a "happily ever after" But it turns out to be lots and lots of lonely work sometimes.
•    Anonymous said… Understanding, respect and acceptance is what matters, just like with a neurotipical spouse
•    Anonymous said… I did not know, and am still undiagnosed. But we think my wife is aspie, too.
•    Anonymous said… bad dressing, sincerity exacerbated, lack of social bullshit with her family, particular interesting and hobbies...
•    Anonymous said… Aspurbugers doesn't have to be genetic . I am an aspie. My son does not have it at all. Seems like this is only a problem in a marriage where the husband is the aspie. I don't have that issue. My husband is an RN very understand . Also has some ADHD himself so not completely Nero typical himself. In fact it insults him when I call him a Nero typical when I get made at him.
•    Anonymous said… Because they take too many little things personal. Your husband has a medical issue, much like epilepsy, he can't control some aspects. If you wouldn't get pissed off at an epileptic having a seizure, you shouldn't get upset by you significant other having an Aspi lapse. Learn more, pay attention more, love me.
•    Anonymous said… This is exactly what the past 19 years has looked like. We're both getting counciling, and it is helping us understand our differences. Yesterday we were able to talk through a huge misunderstanding without a meltdown. A couple light bulbs went off in his head. He didn't realize that celebrating our anniversary was a big deal compared to a date night. He also realized that starting out first thing in the morning acknowledging the milestone is huge for me. We celebrated 19 years yesterday! The day ended well with a lovely dinner after we communicated to each other how we saw the day (it wasn't an easy talk). We were able to enjoy the evening after that, and it kept us (mostly me) from being hurt further. He said 20 years is a big anniversary so he will be planning ahead.

Post your comment below…

What To Do When Your "Aspie" Man Fails To Empathize

“My boyfriend with aspergers seems to have no empathy for others and can be so callous at times. It's very hard to have a conversation with him if it's not something he agrees with. If I have a different view on the matter, it always turns into an argument. Don't get me wrong ... I'm happy to compromise, but it works both ways -- and I do admit when I'm wrong. When he is clearly in the wrong (because there are times when I produce evidence to prove it), I get no apology from him for being rude to me, or even an admission that I was right. What do you do with an Aspie man who simply fails to empathize on any level?"

The lack of displayed empathy is perhaps the most problematic characteristic of Asperger's. I use the term “displayed empathy” because it’s not that Aspergers men have no empathy. Instead, they often “give the impression” that they do not care about their partner/wife. This is partially due to “mind-blindness” (more on this topic can be found here) than with their inability or unwillingness to show compassion for others. Having said that, this trait does not give them license to be rude and unapologetic. Partners/wives need to stand up for themselves and call their man out whenever he is being unfair or disrespectful!

People with Asperger's experience difficulties in the basics of social interaction, which includes: difficulty developing close friendships, failure to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others, impaired nonverbal behaviors (e.g., eye contact, facial expression, posture, gesture, etc.), and lack of social or emotional reciprocity (i.e., the give-and-take of interpersonal relationships).

The cognitive ability of people with Asperger's allows them to articulate social norms in a "laboratory" context (i.e., they may be able to show a theoretical understanding of other’s emotions). But, they typically have problems acting on this knowledge in fluctuating, real-life situations.

It's not uncommon for men on the autism spectrum to over-analyze and distill their observation of social interaction into rigid behavioral guidelines, and apply these rules in odd ways, which often results in a demeanor that seems rigid and socially inept.

Regarding your question, "What do you do with an Aspie man who simply fails to empathize on any level?"

Bear in mind that (a) your boyfriend does empathize, just not in a clearly observable manner, and (b) this fact does NOT get him off the hook. That is, I'm not saying, "Boys will be boys, so just get used to it." As stated earlier, whenever he is "callous" or "rude," mindblindness is no excuse. Mindblindness is NOT his choice, but being disrespectful IS his choice -- and needs to be confronted in an assertive way by you. Having said that, there are ways to "fight fair" (so to speak).

More on this topic here ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… *YUP* Very frustrating (and feeling of alone) to be on that side for years on end.
•    Anonymous said… Being the ASD partner, I may be that way, but it isn't malicious or intentional. I wish someone could explain that to my NT partner and him believe it. I may not express emotions very well, but I still feel them.  👽
•    Anonymous said… Every time I tried to have a conversation with my partner about anything, he turned into an argument. I felt like nothing I could say or do was good enough to him 
•    Anonymous said… exactly me also i said to her will take a bit of break to deal with things and she went and got married to someone else in april this year, so not only am i scared but the emotional pain and the distress is unbelievalbel
•    Anonymous said… i feel for you have a husband and a grandson like that
•    Anonymous said… I just let things like this go over my head, you can either let it stress you or decide life's too short and you know what no one is perfect. My aspie man is very untidy, argumentative and not demonstrative but he has the kindest heart I've ever known, would do anything for me and the kids and he puts up with me!!
•    Anonymous said… I know about "presenting evidence," too. My husband will state a "fact" that I know is untrue, but he won't believe me, so I love when there is something specific I can look up to "show" him I was right! Like the time he INSISTED that tea had more caffeine than regular coffee. If course, he didn't apologize, he just stopped arguing.
•    Anonymous said… Maybe try finding another man if you can't handle an Aspie.
•    Anonymous said… Most Aspies can't empathize. CAN'T. Their brain connections just don't work that way. The more you understand about how they think and feel the easier it is to accept their perceived shortcomings. I equate Aspi to logical Spock from Star Trek, there is little room for emotion is their lives. Once you can accept an Aspi for who they are and how their brain works, and they accept that you think and feel different, you will have an amazing, loyal partner.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter is 21 and has Asperger's. She's very empathetic.
•    Anonymous said… My situation was different, mine was a aspergus female and it breaks my heart there was always imaginery issues that she dreamt up all the time, in the long term i had a emotinal breakdown, it was so sad cause it was only her view and nobody elses view
•    Anonymous said… My son is 28 and always argues with me. I often put the phone down telling him to sod off. In a few days he will apologise and come round to my way of thinking. He needs that time away from me to process. He thinks completely round and through a subject. His partner is very easy going and that is where the success lies. It's no good if the irresistible force meets the immovable object. On the other hand like Sheldon, he is most often right.
•    Anonymous said… NO matter how much I tell mine to be more affectionate ..he can't seem to get romantic or affectionate.
•    Anonymous said… Not empathetic? I find that there is empathy....just not expressed the way neurotypicals expect. Run you over with conversation....yes....short terms memory requires that the aspie get it all out before he forgets his/her train of thought. None of this is easy for mom, dad, friend, partner to navigate. It's a challenge that can wear you done if you let it. Yet, I always find validity is his/her thinking if I stop and truly listen.
•    Anonymous said… you just have to learn to deal with it or leave... you can't change him! i've lived with one like that for almost 49 years but didn't know what the problem was until about 7 years ago... it's not easy!
•    Anonymous said… You poor thing. I went through the same with my aspie man. I am going through an emotional breakdown now because he left leaving me feel like everything was my bad though everything had to be his way  :-(
•    Anonymous said… You really touched my heart when you mentioned "presenting evidence" to prove your point in a disagreement. That is so very typical of our lives. Frankly, when I have situations in which he is immovable concerning something important (and I know it doesn't involve huge anxiety or sensory issues that are severe), I often come back with refusing to do something he likes and clearly state that I won't "Move" until he does. It ususally works.
•    Anonymous said…..and sometimes a jerk is just a jerk, Aspie or not..

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Women in Relationships with Asperger's Men -- Our New Support "Closed Group" on Facebook



JOIN Women in Relationships with Asperger's Men

 Our Facebook Support Group (closed) specifically for women who are in relationships with men on the autism spectrum (i.e., Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism). 


The Hidden Curriculum: Tips for Dummies


People with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) have difficulty understanding the “hidden curriculum” (i.e., the set of routines, social rules, tasks, or actions that “neurotypical" people readily understand and use). Usually considered to be a matter of common sense, the hidden curriculum is rarely directly taught. Even so, it is an important facet of everyday life.

The hidden curriculum covers many areas. Thus, it is impossible to create a comprehensive list that applies to all "Aspies" in all situations. The following is a brief list of hidden curriculum examples:

1. When your boss is chastising another employee for some reason, it's not the best time to ask him for a raise.

2. What is acceptable at your house may not be acceptable at someone else's house (e.g., although you may put your feet up on the table at your home, your friend may be upset if you do that in his or her home).

3. College professors don't all have the same rules. One professor may allow snacks to be eaten in the classroom, while another may have a problem with that.

4. Speak to police officers in a pleasant tone of voice, because they will respond to you in a more positive manner. Also, never  argue with a cop – even if you are right.

5. People don't always want to know the honest truth when they ask you a question (e.g., your girlfriend does not want to hear that she looks fat in a new dress she just bought)

6. People are not always supposed to be saying what they are thinking.

7. It is rude to interrupt someone when he or she is talking. Wait until they finish before you chime-in with your comments.

8. Don't touch someone while you are talking to them (e.g., tap them on the arm).

9. Don't tell someone that their house is dirtier than it should be.

10. Don't tell someone that they have bad breath.

11. Don't sit in a chair that someone else was sitting in just a minute ago.

12. Don't correct someone's grammar when they are angry.

13. Don't ask to be invited to someone's party.

14. Acceptable slang that may be used with your friends may not be acceptable when interacting with a different group of people.

Due to the fact that the hidden curriculum is not understood instinctively in the mind of a person with Asperger's, partners and/or spouses of these individuals may need to provide direct instruction to facilitate skill acquisition. 

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Having a Positive Attitude with Asperger's


"I am 25 years old and have recently found out I have aspergers syndrome, although obviously I have felt different all my life. I was bullied incredibly badly at school, and there were times when I had to leave for a month or so. Besides the bullying, I had a very difficult upbringing with an alcoholic father who passed away when I was 19. Despite this, I have a good job as a teacher and have dreams and aspirations of becoming a psychologist. Aspies find life difficult, overwhelming and stressful, and my struggle with all the symptoms is daily, but that doesn't mean we can't live a long, happy, successful and fulfilling life, which I 100% plan to do."


A positive attitude is very refreshing. I wish more Aspies had a positive outlook on life. And there's no good reason they shouldn't due to the fact that there are significantly more "positives" associated with Asperger's than negatives.

Here are just a few examples:

1. They possess unique global insights. Their ability to find novel connections among multidisciplinary facts and ideas allows them to create new and coherent insight that "neurotypicals" probably would not have reached without them.

2. They have the ability to make logical decisions. Their skill at making rational decisions and sticking to their course of action without being swayed by impulse or emotional reactions allows them to navigate successfully through difficult circumstances without being pulled off course.

3. They possess an internal motivation rather than being swayed by social convention, other people's opinions, or social pressure. They can hold firm to their own purpose. And their unique ideas can flourish, despite the critics.

4. They are independent thinkers. Their willingness to consider unpopular or unusual possibilities generates new options and opportunities and can lead the way for others.

5. They can be highly focused. Their ability to concentrate on one objective over long periods of time without becoming distracted allows them to accomplish difficult tasks.

6. They have the ability to cut through the bullshit. Their ability to recognize and speak the truth that is being "conveniently" ignored by other people is crucial to the success of a project or endeavor.

7. They pay close attention to detail. Their ability to remember and process minute details without getting side-tracked or weighed down gives them a distinct advantage when solving complicated problems.

8. They tend to be 3-dimensional thinkers. Their ability to utilize 3-dimensional visioning gives them a unique perspective when creating solutions.

And this just scratches the surface. In addition to the positives listed above, people on the autism spectrum also have these attributes:
  • an ability to focus on tasks for a long period of time without needing supervision
  • are not tied to social expectations
  • excellent rote memory 
  • have terrific memories
  • higher fluid intelligence (i.e., the ability to find meaning in confusion and to draw inferences and understand the relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge) 
  • higher than average IQ in many cases
  • highly gifted in one or more areas (e.g., math, music, engineering)
  • less materialistic than the general population
  • passionate about their special interests
  • play fewer head games than most people
  • rarely judge others
  • tend to live in the moment
  • are very honest and loyal

People with Asperger's are unique individuals who carry a host of skills and attributes that have the potential to become powerful tools to self-empowerment. As with everyone of us, what they focus on will become their reality. So, if they focus on fixing their deficits, more deficits seem to show up in their life. If, on the other hand, they focus on their special skills, more of these skills begin to appear. This is why a positive attitude is so very important. A positive attitude literally drives your destiny!


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