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Men With Asperger's: What Potential Partners Need To Know

Should you date a guy with Asperger syndrome?

In no way am I suggesting that one should avoid having a relationship with an Asperger's man. However, if you are in the early stages of a relationship with one (or are contemplating getting into one), then you need to know a few things ahead of time.

Unconventional people have always existed, but Asperger's isn't always recognized as a possible cause of odd behavior in adults. Even though Asperger's is on the high end of the autism spectrum, it can be mild (causing only somewhat curious behavior) or severe (causing almost complete inability to function in society without some assistance). 

Adult "Aspies" (similar to children with the disorder) have trouble deciphering the normal rules of society, which impacts their home, work and social lives. They often have high intellectual functioning – but diminished social abilities (e.g., they may use peculiar speech and language, seem egocentric, lack the ability to read non-verbal cues, lack social skills, have limited or unusual interests, follow repetitive routines, appear clumsy, etc.).

Some of the things you can expect to see from a man with Asperger's may include the following:

1. He usually prefers a structured life with well-defined routines. He may become agitated or upset when these routines are broken. For example, if he normally eats breakfast at 8 a.m., he may become agitated when asked to eat at an earlier time. However, unlike a person with classic autism, the Aspie will probably be able to keep his frustration in check. 

2. The Asperger's individual may be reluctant to initiate conversation and require prodding to talk to you at all, especially if he is already engaged in a favored activity when you try to initiate conversation. 

3. Because a man with Asperger's typically struggles to understand emotions in others, he misses subtle cues (e.g., facial expression, eye contact, body language, etc.). As a result, he may appear aloof, selfish or uncaring. He may simply lack the social or empathetic skills to effectively manage romantic relationships. 

4. Because he tends to be a literal thinker, the Aspie may have trouble understanding social metaphors, teasing or irony. 

5. He may be unable to think in abstract ways. He may be inflexible in his thinking, unable to imagine a different outcome to a given situation than the one he perceives. This rigid thinking pattern makes predicting outcomes of situations difficult. He may develop strict lifestyle routines - and experience anxiety and distress if that routine is disrupted. To avoid such disruption, he may keep extensive written to-do lists or keep a mental checklist of his plans.

6. The Aspie may have difficulty interacting in social groups (e.g.,  he may choose inappropriate topics to discuss in a group setting or find making small talk difficult or even annoying).

7. The individual may demonstrate unusual non-verbal communication (e.g., lack of eye contact, limited facial expressions, awkward body posturing, etc.). He may speak in a voice that is monotonous or flat, and may engage in one-sided conversations without regard to whether anyone is actually listening. 

8. He may have obsessive tendencies that manifest in many different ways (e.g., insisting all of his books be lined up in a certain order on the shelf, or that the clothes in his closet are categorized by color, style or season). Obsession with categories and patterns is a common symptom of the disorder.

9. The man's focus on just one or two areas of special interest often leads to a lack of interest in alternate topics and the unwillingness to listen when his partner is speaking. Such poor communication skills can lead to problems in relationships. The Aspie may talk incessantly about topics that others have no interest in. His thought patterns may be scattered and difficult to follow and never come to a point. Speech patterns may have a strange cadence or lack the proper inflections. And, he may have difficulty understanding humor and may take what's said too literally.

10. Unlike an adult with classic autism, a person with Asperger's wants to fit in with others. However, social and work-related difficulties can cause anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and depression. He may feel disconnected and distant from the rest of the world.

11. While an Asperger's man often has above-average intelligence, he may process information more slowly than normal, making it difficult to participate in discussions or activities that require quick thinking. He may have trouble with organization and seeing the "big picture," often focusing on one aspect of a project or task. Also, he may be rigid and inflexible, making transitions of any type highly difficult.

12. Other symptoms of Asperger's include:
  • outstanding memory
  • inability to understand other perspectives
  • inability to empathize
  • highly focused in specific fields of interest often to the exclusion of other pursuits
  • great musical ability
  • follows strict routines
  • difficulty regulating emotions
  • difficulty managing appropriate social conduct
  • black and white thinking
  • appears overly concerned with his own agenda
  • a tendency to be "in his own little world"

Again, this is not an attempt to discourage anyone from developing a relationship with an Asperger's man. And it should be noted that, while this article focuses on the areas of potential problems for man-woman relationships, there are many more positives associated with the disorder than negative. Below are just a few examples.

Many men with Asperger's also demonstrate the following characteristics:
  • work hard
  • will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong
  • talented 
  • smart
  • respect authority 
  • prefer talking about significant things that will enhance their knowledge-base rather than “shooting the bullshit”
  • perfectly capable of entertaining themselves
  • notice fine details that others miss
  • not inclined to steal
  • not bullies, con artists, or social manipulators
  • honest
  • have no interest in harming others
  • gentle and somewhat passive
  • exceptional memories
  • enjoy their own company and can spend time alone
  • don’t take advantage of other’s weaknesses
  • don’t play head games
  • don’t discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, age, etc.
  • child-like innocence 
  • amazingly loyal friends 
  • adhere unvaryingly to routines
  • accepting of others
  • able forgive others

Unfortunately, in counseling couples affected by Asperger's, I've discovered that in some cases, all the positive traits in the world do not make up for the Asperger's man's (a) difficulty in understanding his lady's emotions and (b) lack of displayed affection. If those two things are missing, it's usually a huge disappointment (and sometimes a deal-breaker) for his lady, regardless of all the assets associated with the disorder.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Deal with Me: An Aspergers Man’s Note to His New Girlfriend

I understand that you are frustrated with me right now, and that I can ‘drive you crazy’ (as you say).  But I’m not a bad guy who is intentionally trying to be an asshole. Below are 10 things I would like for you to know about me. Maybe this will help you understand that I really am not a selfish or insensitive person.

1. Please don’t assume that I’m uninterested just because I’m not telling you on a daily basis that ‘I like you’ or ‘find you attractive’. Decide what you think of me and let me know. After I become aware of your attraction and am not confused about your nonverbal gestures and flirtation, it will be easier for me to decide if I feel the same way.

2. It would be helpful if you would ease me into large social situations (e.g., parties or group outings). Please understand if I am overwhelmed or decide not to go with you. There will be times when I prefer being alone or with less people.

3. If I talk in a confusing manner (e.g., use complex vocabulary or don’t answer your questions directly), please ask me for more clarification.

4. If I appear to have certain quirks (e.g., not wanting to talk on the phone), please understand that it is related to the disorder. But do feel free to confront me about any issues that bother you, and explain why it bothers you. I will try to understand.

5. Because my brain is wired differently, I have difficulty initiating interactions, maintaining eye contact, reading the non-verbal cues of others, responding to the initiations of others, sharing enjoyment, and taking another person’s perspective. These are the social skills that come naturally to most people. Not me. But feel free to help me in these areas. I consider myself to be a life-long learner and will always need to keep pushing myself to new levels.

6. It would be great if you would learn what my interests are, and try to engage in a few activities that focus on those interests. If we could go on a few dates where social interaction isn’t necessarily the focus, that will help me be more engaged and conversational.

7. You can always tell me how you are feeling, especially if you are angry, and why. I may not understand your emotions and why you are reacting a certain way, but I promise I will listen.

8. The long-held notion that people with Aspergers lack an interest in social interactions is inaccurate. I do indeed desire social involvement, But I lack some of the skills to interact effectively. This lack of “know-how” often leads to feelings of social anxiety for me. Social situations can evoke a great deal of stress, and I may need to take a time-out from whatever we are doing at the time to collect myself. When I do, please do not perceive it as me being antisocial.

9. As juvenile as it may sound, romance can be puzzling to me sometimes, but again, you will probably see improvement after explaining the meaning behind it, why it’s necessary, and that it makes you feel good.

10. Lastly, please don’t use riddles or sarcasm in the same way you would with someone who doesn’t have Aspergers. If you do, ask me if I understood and then explain what you meant. Otherwise, I may just be confused.

Like everyone on planet earth, we are people with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. I am different – but not defective. The world needs all different kinds of minds – including the Aspergers mind. The way I think should be regarded as a positive attribute, not a shortcoming. I speak for all people with Aspergers when I say this: When our differences are embraced, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Wife's Account of the Ups and Downs of an Asperger's Marriage

I'm a 'neurotypical' (as they say) wife of a man, David, with Asperger syndrome. We've been together for over 18 years. And I've learned a lot about him in that time period. Fortunately, we knew he had the disorder from the start. So, there were no shocking surprises along the way (although there was a steep learning curve for me). I think that for those who have already been diagnosed, they have a better chance at making the relationship work.

Life is like a complex puzzle for David. With time however, I was be able to see why his behavior (that often seems inappropriate to me) is the only right way for him to react.

Once we got married, the true traits of his disorder become more noticeable. His constant need to be reminded of things and the way he lost track of time was cute when we were dating, but not so much now. Sometimes I still get angry as I wonder why - after so many years of being together - he still can't understand what I am saying or understand my feelings.

At times David appears egotistical, selfish, and uncaring, but I've learned that this is not truly the case. He has a 'neurological' condition in which he is often unable to understand the emotions of others. He just has difficulty interpreting other people's feelings adequately or figuring out the sarcasm in their speech. And sometimes he is surprised and a bit embarrassed when he finds out his actions were perceived as rude and hurtful.

While it was nice to have David's unwavering attention when we were dating, a married couple needs the socialization of others. I am often surprised how unsociable he can be. But I understand he is not intentionally trying to frustrate me. And he is not trying to ignore me when he gets so wrapped up in his hobbies. 

David has certain rituals and routines. He hates surprises and not being able to handle changes. He has a hard time remembering 'the little things', and is easily distracted. All of these traits, though, are not meant to hurt anyone.

Accepting the differences that come with the disorder is crucial. No relationship is perfect, and neither is one with an Asperger's husband. Having a better understanding of Asperger's has been the 'saving point' in our marriage. I'd like to say thanks to Mark Hutten and his book on Living with an Aspergers Partner here. Things would have been much more difficult without his advice.

Together, couples can work out a better understanding of one another and learn how to better communicate and to send clearer messages to each other. For a successful relationship, knowing that their spouse with Asperger's really does care (just shows it differently) makes all the difference.

David is a very reliable and responsible person. He works hard and is a good provider for our family. He doesn't try to meet the obligations society has for men in general. For example, he is quite happy to help clean and cook. Most of the time when asked, he is more than willing to help out with whatever task is needed …all I have to do is ask.

Love you David. For now and forever!

Your wife,

Margaret

What I Do to Cope with Asperger's: My Personal Story

My name is Cal. I'm 52 and have been asked to share some of the things I do that help me with day-to-day functioning.  Each person with Asperger’s is unique, so what works for me may not necessarily work for you. I think that interventions definitely need to be individualized. Most of the Aspies I know come to this awareness at different ages and stages of their lives, which can influence the approaches they choose. 

Anyway, while there is nothing particularly profound about what I do, here are a few things that have helped me cope with life in general:

 About three years ago, I worked with a Job Coach (you can find them online) that really did help me with goal direction and employment-related skills. If you have a hard time sticking with a job for any length of time, you may want to enlist the help of one of these professionals.

I try to teach others about the "disorder." I don't provide a lot of detail though. I try to disclose strategically, only sharing the information that is required for that time and place. I mostly say that it's "just a different way of thinking." For example, I'll tell them that "typical" people can read facial cues and pretty much know exactly what the other person means when he or she is being purposely vague. But, I can't. So, I ask them to be direct with me in their statements.

I used to be very good at blaming other people for my issues. But, I discovered that "blaming others" is a trait of the disorder. SO, I've tried to stop the blame game. Blaming yourself or others is common -- but not helpful.

I've learned that sensory and social demands of daily life make more "down-time" indispensable for me. If I start to get overwhelmed, I remove a few things from my schedule for that day. I call it my mental health day. Basically, I just slow down, maybe allow myself to take a nap, do deep breathing, drink lots of water, and try to keep it simple.

I know my weaknesses, and work on those things (e.g., impatience in long lines). Also, I know my strengths and build on them. For example, I know a lot about how to lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass, and share that knowledge often. There's always somebody that asks me how I stay in such great shape for my age. So, I give them some good tips on what they can do in this regard. Honestly, I should be a trainer, because I'm running into people all the time at the gym that ask my advice.

While I do need some down-time to recuperate, I don't allow myself to isolation for lengthy periods of time. Each day, I make sure I'm out with people for a portion of the day, even if it's just a short casual conversation with someone at the grocery store. 

To reduce my stress, I hire people to do the things I'm not good at, such as housework (when my wife is out of town on business), organization, and bookkeeping.

Sensory sensitivities make some environments unpleasant for me. So when I can, I change the lighting (dimmer), decrease the noise as much as possible (even wearing earplugs in some cases), and I always wear comfortable clothing (unless it's something formal, like a wedding or funeral). Also, a slower-paced environment is usually more tolerable and allows for a greater sense of comfort and competence.

Lastly, Mark Hutten's ebook "Living With An Asperger's Partner" has helped me relate better to my wife. She has learned some things from the book that have helped her as well. Good read.

I hope something I said here can help you have a better quality of life.

Have a great day,

Cal

Understanding Your Asperger's Boyfriend: 12 Tips for Neurotypical Girlfriends

"I have a boyfriend with Asperger's and I don't understand him, so it's driving me crazy? I know it doesn't have to be this way. What advice do you have that can help us have a very rewarding relationship? Thanks in advance!"

I get variations of this question quite frequently. So, here are my "best of" tips (based on some of the most common traits of Asperger's) that may help you relate well to your "Aspie" boyfriend:

1. When your boyfriend looks away during a conversation, see it for what it is: reducing visual stimulus to be able to better process what is being heard, or to more clearly determine what he wants to say. Shifty eyes do not necessarily mean he's not listening.

2. Your boyfriend may listen to each word that you speak, and interpret your meaning based on his understanding of the definition of the words you use. You, as a neurotypical, are no doubt able to generalize a little better when someone says something like, "Put a pile of mashed potatoes on my plate -- I'm starving." Say this to your boyfriend, and you might get a blank look. When the message is in words, it pays to be as specific as possible. Doing so can save time in the long run, preventing repeat requests or lengthy explanations, when a more precise word or phrase is all that is really needed for your boyfriend to get your meaning.

3. The more comfortable your boyfriend is, the more likely he is to be relaxed in conversation and easier to communicate with, understand, and be understanding. Trust him when he demonstrates a wish to do something relaxing in the face of an important issue. Reduction of stress can be crucial in important situations, and should not be considered a "lack of understanding" about the urgency of the situation.

4. Stress increases behaviors you may find frustrating. Decrease the stressors, however small, and you will decrease behaviors that you find confusing or frustrating.

5. Put aside what you "think" you know. Communicating with your Asperger's boyfriend while holding on to what you think you know about how people on the autism spectrum relate to others can create unnecessary stress. Your boyfriend is an individual -- a person who thinks about things in a different way than you do.

6. Keep your eyes and ears open for signs that your boyfriend is trying to understand you. Communicating is not a one-way street, and the responsibility of connecting with information should not rest solely on your shoulders. Although it may seem like it sometimes, you may not be aware of what your boyfriend is doing to try to understand. You process information differently, so the things you would do to try to understand him may not be the same things he would do.

7. People with Asperger's don't respond well to criticism, threats, or manipulation the way "typical" people do. Even if you don't think you are being critical, if your interaction is perceived this way (even falsely), you are likely to get a defensive response.

8. Don't be afraid to ask questions. When your boyfriend's comment sounds confusing, it's perfectly fine to say, "What do you mean, exactly?" Aspies know that neurotypicals have a hard time understanding what they say. You are likely to raise more red flags if you DON'T ask questions about his meaning than if you DO.

9. Consider your verbal versus non-verbal communication. Most likely, your boyfriend either (a) relies more heavily on your words and less on body-language, or (b) he may rely more on body-language, which may result in a higher frequency of misinterpretation. Find out which method he uses predominantly. How? Listen. If you find that he is frequently misunderstanding you without stopping to consider that he is completely off base, he may be misinterpreting your body-language and otherwise non-verbal messages (e.g., expressions, tone of voice, conversational pauses, etc.). On the other hand, if he repeatedly asks questions about what you are saying, he is relying more heavily on your word usage.

10. Be aware of your boyfriend's personal space. He may have a space defined differently, spatially. If you see that he seems agitated or diverts gaze when you are within a certain distance, you will know that you are within his personal space.

11. Accept that you don't experience life the same way as your Asperger's boyfriend. So, his obstacles, interests, complaints, and frustrations are likely to seem illogical to you. There are many issues that contribute to the way he views the world -- communication issues, stigma, sensory, stereotypical interests, unique responses to social issues and stressors ...many more things than you may be able to imagine. If you look at it as if he is dodging paintballs all day long - every day (paintballs that are invisible to you), it may make a little more sense that he moves the way he does, talks the way he does, and makes the decisions he does.

12. When your boyfriend says or does something that seems hurtful, you can trust that it may not have been intended the way you thought, even if it seems very clear to you. When you say or do something that he takes offense at, you can trust that he is misunderstanding you honestly and not trying to be critical. If your family members or friends seem to be having a ''group opinion'' in the negative about your boyfriend, you can have the insight to be able to say, ''It may appear to be that way, but I think it's a big misunderstanding.''

This just scratches the surface, but these ideas should at least get you headed in the right direction with your relationship. Best of luck!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Why Adults with Asperger's May Seem Inflexible

Would you, as a neurotypical woman, say that your Asperger's partner or spouse (a) thinks in terms of extremes (i.e., all or nothing, black or white), (b) reacts emotionally when things don't go right, (c) over-monitors his decisions as right or wrong, good or bad, (d) looks for too much certainty in a world full of uncertainty, or (e) judges himself as strong or weak, bright or stupid?

If so, then your man may be experiencing a “false dilemma." In other words, he believes he's stuck in a dreadful situation, when in reality he's not. When a person falls victim to a false dilemma, he has incorrectly condensed an entire spectrum of possibilities down to the two most extreme options, each the exact opposite of the other - without any shades of grey in between. Oftentimes, those options are of the person's own creation, and he is trying to force the world to conform to his preconceptions about what it should look like.

A false dilemma means viewing the world only in terms of extremes. If things aren't " great," then they must be "atrocious." If the Asperger's man isn't "exceptional," then he thinks he must be "dumb." In real-life, situations are usually shades of gray – not black or white. Falling victim to a false dilemma tends to worsen anxiety, depression, OCD, and a host of other issues.

Under intense pressure, the Asperger's man may retreat to a primitive way of thinking (i.e., a backsliding from age-appropriate thinking to a more immature way). He is most prone to regressing when he is having a hard time and feels besieged by his own negative emotions. For that one moment, when he starts relying on the words "never"  or "always," or views the world in black and white terms, he is slipping back to the way he viewed the world as a child.

When we only see things in black and white, we miss out on alternative ways of understanding the world. These alternative ways may be just as good - if not better - than our current way. A false dilemma often creates a false choice between “A” and “B,” when “C” is the more precise and helpful perspective. Sadly, if we only think in black and white terms, then we're not likely to even consider “C” as an option in the first place.

A false dilemma often creates “artificial needs” in the person's life that lead to discontent and despair. This is his tendency to think that life “must” be a certain way – otherwise it will be intolerable. The false dilemma doesn’t open the person up to the possibility that, even if life doesn’t work out exactly the way he thinks it should, he can still be content. A false dilemma makes the individual less adaptive to his surroundings, which hinders his social development. It’s also what keeps him stuck in old habits and thought patterns.

A false dilemma doesn’t just hurt the man on the spectrum, but also the relationship he tries to build with his significant other. When he sees the world in strict and over-simplistic terms, he is less likely to negotiate or cooperate with his partner or spouse to meet common interests. This is because he doesn’t see the grey areas in life (which is a mind-blindness issue that most people on the autism spectrum experience). He believes everything needs to be a specific way, and he is not willing to depart from this limited view of the world. This can make him inflexible - and annoying to live with.

Some adults on the spectrum simply do not have the vocabulary to describe the grey area. For example, the "Aspie" either considers his coworker to be a friend or not. The concept of different levels of friendship - and the gradual building of trust - may be unknown.

Perhaps worst of all for people on the spectrum is the fastidiousness that precedes a false dilemma – and the self-condemnation that follows. Some Asperger's men think they should be doing everything “perfectly,” because if it’s not perfect, it’s certainly flawed in a major way. As such, the false dilemma may underlie some of the stubbornness that neurotypical spouses/partners often see in these men. So, learning - which involves not knowing things, but gradually learning them while making mistakes along the way - can be an excruciating process. For example, starting a house repair (e.g., putting down new flooring in the kitchen) can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis.

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
  

Comments:

•    Anonymous said… "My husband has many positive qualities, but his ability to interact properly with family and friends is missing." If your (and his) family don't yet know why he can't interact "properly", why would they blame you? Sounds like you feel that they do. I think so because you state that his inability/unwillingness to make appropriate small talk embarrasses *you*. Maybe you should just make it clear to "large family gatherings" that he is Aspie and they should work out their own relationships with him on that basis, and not bring you into it, so you won't feel embarrassed. Also that way, he will get first hand feedback from the people involved, rather than second hand via you.
•    Anonymous said… Why are we supposed to do it all. When will neurotypicals put a foot in our world and have conversations by our rules. Most won't even try. It is a major deficit in the neurotypicals makeup that they have problems in this area!
•    Anonymous said… it's a big part of autism is a lack of social skills and instincts. these woman clearly married their partners without really accepting the person has aspergers and thinks the aspergers can be taught out of them or is a choice. Yes sure some of it we can learn but for a lot of it we can't learn because we are incapable of understanding it. Being social is not a logic thing it's all about illogical rules based on emotions and instincts we dont have!
•    Anonymous said… This is the best explanation and advice, ever. I used to struggle with embarrassment with my Aspie husband, until I realized that I wasn't accepting him for who he was. And I was interpreting everything he said or did from my perception, or others perception. He doesn't mean to be rude, or complicated, or any of the other things people perceive him to be. He is just himself. And as soon as that light came on in my head, life got a lot easier.·
•    Anonymous said… I love my Aspie hubby and my family and friends know already and he's actually become comfortable around them. I'm a social butterfly so we balance each other out.
•    Anonymous said… I too have these problems interacting with 99% of the people I encounter. I dont have someone to advise me what I did or said that was wrong. I would like that very much! Don't give up on him, he will come around.
•    Anonymous said… Some people need to be explained before they meet someone new. Let everyone know he has autism and just enjoy his weirdness. I am constantly saying the wrong thing but people just laugh because they think I am funny. Find the humor in it or find a new husband. He could learn new social skills but knowing exactly what to say and when to say it so people will never ever be offended or embarrassed? Not gonna happen.
•    Anonymous said… he won't change till he's on his own and has no choice!
•    Anonymous said… You don't fix a neurological problem like that... any more than saying the person whose legs don't work should have their wheelchair taken away so that they'll decide to walk. There is a difference between being truly rude, and merely not matching the NT conversational conventions.
•    Anonymous said… I think you need to do some research on what autism is and how it affects the perceptions of a person on the autism scale. We have very rigid personality quirks that are essentially WHO we are. We do not always realize when somebody isn't understanding us. We don't need to be 'babied' - we need people to accept us exactly the way we are.
•    Anonymous said… In my world I am the NT and they are the ones misunderstanding out of place dishonest and procreate way too much.
•    Anonymous said… AS can cannot change their personality and the way that thoughts are thought. The same can be said for the NT. We are polar opposites and depending on which one you are just remember in each persons world they are the NT.
•    Anonymous said… The bottom line is situations that course us discomfort are a clear opportunity to grow. It is all about the attitude you approach the situation with that determines the outcome.

Post your comment below…

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.

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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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