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Why Some Asperger's Men Fall Out of Love - Seemingly Overnight

"Out of the clear blue, my boyfriend with Aspergers stated he's not in love with me anymore, but doesn't want to break up. We haven't gone on a date for several weeks. He stopped being intimate with me last week. And now ...well, I don't know what to think. Is this common for men with Aspergers? He swears he hasn't found another woman, and I believe him because he's not the type to cheat like that. (Plus I've peeked on his cell phone and FB page and see nothing suspicious.) How can someone just fall out of love like that - seemingly overnight. ~  Hurt and confused!"

I wouldn't say "falling out of love overnight" is common for these men, but it does happen. As a counselor who has worked with many couples affected by Asperger's, what I see most often has to do with the fact that most men on the high functioning end of autism are very "task-oriented." The scenario often plays out something like this:

In the beginning, a new girlfriend is the "Aspie's" new task. He works on getting her to like him, to go on dates, to have sex, and so on. Also, in the beginning, he may try very hard to appear "typical" (i.e., tries to avoid exhibiting any traits that may reveal his disorder). Once he feels that he has "won her over," he begins to feel more comfortable around her. And it is during this time that he lets his guard down and begins to exhibit some symptoms of the disorder that his girlfriend picks up on (although she may simply view his behavior as "odd"). 

Once he has achieved his objectives -- mission accomplished! In other words, he has completed the task of getting her to be with him. Unfortunately, due to (a) mind-blindness issues and (b) problems with empathy, the Aspie does not understand that the "relationship task" is never-ending. As most of us know, couples need to work on the relationship throughout its entirety, providing ongoing nurturing, love and support.

This doesn't make sense to some men with Asperger's. They think they have officially "arrived" and that there is no need to continue to "work" on the relationship. Think of it like this: 

You live in California and drive to a vacation destination in New York. That's a long hard drive! Once you arrive at your hotel in New York, you wouldn't continue to drive in circles in the parking lot, because you have already arrived at your destination. As odd as it sounds, this is analogous to romantic relationships in the Asperger's mind (e.g., "I'm here - the work is done").

Another issue that results from "mind-blindness" and "lack of empathy" (two traits of the disorder) has to do with the Asperger's partner confusing love with obsession. I've talked to many men on the spectrum who thought that they were in love, only to find out that it was just an obsession or a "special interest" in the romantic phase of the relationship (i.e., the first three months or so when everything is noncommittal, fun, and interesting). 

Once the romantic phase is over with, the real work begins. For example, he has to have conversations about things that may not be so "fun" (e.g., has to listen to your past troubles, trials, and tribulations; listens to you sharing your past, which is what most people do in order to build trust and a bond). He may have to go with you to family gatherings (socializing is NOT a strong point of people with Asperger's). He has to work on conflict resolution (another skill that is typically lacking). He has to deal with the anxiety that goes with moving to the next level of the relationship, such as a proposal and marriage. Now, in the mind of some Asperger's men, the relationship is getting too messy and complicated. Thus, they rethink their commitment level.

This may or may not be the case in your situation, but I can tell you from experience, the scenario described above is very typical of the Asperger's man that - as you say - seemingly falls out of love over night.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

6 comments:

  1. So how do I survive this? I loved him completely. I cherished every moment. And I loved every part of him. He said he had loved me for 30 years. (obsession?) He was so happy we were together and so was I. I didn't want anything more than for us to be what we were. I didn't ask more of him. And now I am a casual friend, if that. Thrown away like last night's supper. I am truly dying inside.

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    1. Run. I’ve been there for 8 yrs. three married. They drain you emotionally. I finally left recently. I moved. I am at peace, even th I miss him and love him. They have a way of sucking you in an sucking the life out of you. If you knew what it’s like (worse married) you’d run. I wish I had walked away all the yrs I tried to get a commitment. Get therapy or go to a 12 step program. They are defective people. I’m sorry. It doesn’t work. I bought books, tried to communicate but it’s always my fault. Run. Fast. God bless you

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  2. Take it from me. Run. I was where you are seven years ago âne he finally married me 3 yrs ago. I had high hopes. I’ve recently left him. I’m drained emotionally. He hasn’t called on his own for over two was now. I am so at peace for leaving, even tho I cry and miss him. They have a way of sucking you in and sucking you dry. God be with you!!!

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  3. Sorry, was not done. I want to take care of him and receive in return. But I made a serious error and opened myself up to him just a few months after her death. He was happy with me but couldn't get past feeling guilty because of that and said this often. This escalated after her grandson whom they raised together committed suicide. He couldn't really grieve and began to be distant at times. It slowly escalated until he in complete opposite of any thing he had ever said, informed me that he was "done" and no longer has any feelings for me.

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  4. I am so sorry for both you and the previous responder Obviously you have been through Hell. There are some differences though. He was married for 23 years and his wife died. It was supposibly an iconic marriage. I have talked with her closest friends who have no question that she/they were very happy. Of course, her style was quite different than mine. Per one of her best friends, she was the queen and he was her "devoted lackey". Well I don't want to be queen. I want to 2

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  5. The order of those comments was reversed. The main point is that despite the hurt, we were incredibly happy and insync until the very end.

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