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8 Things Every Neurotypical Woman Should Know About Her Aspergers Partner’s Brain

An Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) man's brain varies tremendously over his life span, quickly contradicting the image of the emotionally-distant, self-absorbed “nerd” that circulates in mainstream consciousness. From his task-oriented personality to his “excessive” need for time alone, here's what women need to know about their partner's mind:

1. “Men with Asperger (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are non-committal,” the refrain usually goes. But this may be one of the largest misconceptions about these men. The “fear of commitment” is most likely to occur before men hit 30. After that, most AS and HFA men focus mostly on providing for their families (of course, some have a harder time with commitment than others – a problem that could be genetic).

2. “AS and HFA fathers don’t really bond with their children.”  This is another myth. While many of these fathers may occasionally (and unintentionally) give the impression that they are not very interested in “bonding” or spending quality time with their kids (which is due to mind-blindness issues), most will tell you – categorically – that they love their kids more than anything or anyone else. They just have difficulty conveying that love in a meaningful way.

3. “AS and HFA men embrace chain of command.” True! An unstable hierarchy can cause these men considerable anxiety. An established chain of command (such as that practiced by the military and many work places) gives them a sense of control in an otherwise chaotic world.

4. “AS and HFA men have no empathy and are more focused on solutions than feelings.” Yes and no! While many studies suggest that females are more empathetic than males, this is not entirely true. The empathy system of the AS/HFA male brain DOES respond when someone is stressed or expressing a problem – but the task-oriented, "fix-it" region quickly takes over.  As a result, these men tend to be more concerned with fixing a problem than showing solidarity in feeling.

5. “AS and HFA men are hard-wired to check-out other women.” Maybe. While often linked to aggression and hostility, testosterone is also the hormone of the libido. And ALL men (not just those on the autism spectrum) have six times the amount surging through their veins as women. Testosterone impairs the impulse-control region of the brain. While it has yet to be studied, this may explain why men ogle women as if on "auto-pilot." However, most AS and HFA men forget about the woman once she is out of their visual field.

6. “The AS/HFA man is immature for his age.” Of course! He has a “developmental disorder” after all. This simply means he is emotionally and socially lagging behind his peers. But even “late-bloomers” develop a significant element of experience and wisdom over time.

7. “Men with AS and HFA don’t show their emotions.” False. While women are usually considered the more emotional gender, infant boys are more emotionally reactive and expressive than infant girls. Adult men have slightly stronger emotional reactions, too – BUT ONLY BEFORE THEY ARE AWARE OF THEIR FEELINGS. Once the emotion reaches consciousness, most men adopt a poker face. When young, males likely learn to hide emotions that culture considers "unmanly."

8. “AS and HFA men are vulnerable to loneliness and anxiety.” Unfortunately, this is spot on. While loneliness, depression and anxiety can take a toll on everyone's health and brain, AS and HFA men seem particularly vulnerable. These males tend to “reach out” less than neurotypical males, which exacerbates the emotional problems and the toll it takes on their brains' social circuits. Living with women is particularly helpful for AS and HFA men. Men in stable relationships tend to be healthier, live longer, and have hormone levels that decrease anxiety. Having “time alone” to de-stress is also especially beneficial for men on the spectrum.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


  1. In regards to item #2 you state: "They just have difficulty conveying that love in a meaningful way." If I may, the more accurate statement would be: They just have difficulty conveying that love in "the way that neurotypicals classify as meaningful." The expression of love may not be mainstream, however it is no less meaningful.

    1. Adrienne, well said. What neurotypicals may need is a guide to help them understand what their Aspergers partner means by his/her gestures of love.

  2. Absolutely, It's really a very informative for me, although my colleague has faced same issue, after marriage she has found his husband also suffering from Aspergers syndrome disorder but the problem was partial for him. It is the common factors for every couples, for all time women knows the husbands brains conditions.

  3. I'm loosing my boyfriend of 2years because I didn't know he had As and neither did he. I've done research and he fits all qualifications. I can't seem to understand him.

    1. That's pretty much how it goes. Neurotypicals get frustrated by us and just leave. Then we Aspies spend the next 2 months analyzing why we broke up, heartbroken, and confused. It's not easy for us to make it to the 6 month mark, let alone 2 years, or marriage before the NT's get frustrated. I've never dated another Aspie but someday I might try it. I figure it might be the first time in my life I actually understand someone.

    2. It does not always go that way. No relationship is easy.....everyone has its challenges. I am neurotypical and my husband has Aspergers (never officially diagnosed but we are pretty sure after three kiddos on spectrum). We have been married for 9 years....together 11. Do we sometimes have problems with understanding, yes. But I can tell you everyone I know in relationships have issues of one sort or the other. I personally appreciate my husbands honesty, his dedication to his work, his intelligence. Yes sometimes I feel frustrated. Counseling really helped us with communication. I love him so much and we both are determined to make this family work. All I can say is that there is someone out there for everyone.

  4. regardless of knowing and understanding the above information, living with this can still leave the NT partner a shell of what they once were, the effects are tremendous and all of the understanding falls to us, so we end up completely damaged by the relationship. Not being mean, but 31 years in and I have been badly affected.


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