Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

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Getting Your Reserved Man with ASD to Open Up

Dealing with unemotional, reserved men with ASD (high functioning autism) can be a tough dilemma for girlfriends and wives – especially if they are used to handling more assertive men.

They are frustratingly silent during conversations, they take coaxing to come out of their shell, and they often seem uncomfortable when dealing with social situations. Even so, men on the autism spectrum are often very sensitive, which can lead to a truly fulfilling relationship. In order to get there, though, an enterprising woman needs to know how to approach her reserved partner properly.

If your ASD husband or boyfriend clams up around your friends and family, avoids social outings, or is too reserved to express his feelings, you've got some challenges ahead, especially if you're an outgoing person yourself. Be patient, because people on the spectrum need more time to adjust to new situations. If you let your reserved man take his time to open up, your bond will be even stronger.

Here are some tips for getting your unemotional, reserved ASD partner to open up:

1. Be confident, but not overbearing. If you do manage to get your  man to open up (e.g., he starts talking about his feelings), be sure not to interrupt him. It will make it even harder for him to open up again if he feels like what he’s saying is not sufficiently appreciated and that you may think that what he’s talking about is unimportant or boring.

2. Be patient. When it comes to men on the spectrum, it may take some time to get a full answer, so don't be afraid of a little silence. Prompting, such as "go on," or "what are you thinking?" will not help and will likely make him nervous. You should also generally avoid finishing his sentences when he pauses momentarily. He may want to articulate his thoughts in a particular way, so give him enough time to do so.

3. Calling attention to your husband's “reserved nature” can make him feel uncomfortable. Never ask him why he is so quiet or un-expressive. He has most likely heard these things many times, and talking about it will be counter-productive.

4. Do not push your guy to talk if he clearly seems to be avoiding it at that moment. He will only become annoyed with you and try to avoid you in the future.

5. Don't assume your man’s reserved nature is just a social phobia (although it might be). Perhaps he is instead going through a hard time or has had an emotionally trying past. Don't rush him, and don't come on too strong.

6. Don't pressure your man to contribute to a group conversation (e.g., at a family gathering). If he is not already participating, and especially if he is off to the side not even noticeably listening, abruptly requesting his input will likely make him quite and nervous since several people will suddenly be fixing their attention on him. If he is already part of the group and hesitates to contribute, however, asking a simple question related to the topic at hand may be helpful for allowing him a chance to speak.

7. Avoid making jokes about your man’s reserved nature. On the other hand, be judicious with potential compliments. Compliments can make him feel more comfortable around you if they seem sincere.

8. Find out his favorite thing, and try to find something about yourself that relates to his thing. If you have discovered an activity that he enjoys, ask him if the two of you can do it together.

9. Have an ongoing joke with your man. This will help him to be himself around you.

10. Look for topics that seem to engage your man. You will be surprised at how much reserved partner can blabber once you get them onto a topic they care about.

11. During conversations, make normal eye contact, but don't stare at him the entire time. Staring can feel a little intimidating to a person with Asperger’s. Remain casual and relaxed through the conversation, and really listen when he speaks.

12. Many guys with ASD have another side to them. If you discover a way to really bond with your man, you may find that he is loud, fun, and funny.

13. People with Asperger’s tend to choose their words with care. When your man says something, be sure to listen, and then think about what he said and the inflection he used before responding. There may be several layers and meanings hidden in the folds of that sentence you thought were simple and straightforward. When you respond, know that your husband wants you to understand the hidden meanings and layers, in addition to just the words. A blunt or overly simple response from you could potentially be interpreted as a loss of interest or being dismissive of his comments.

14. When you do ask questions, avoid ones that are personal. Try focusing on something related to the current location or activity. Ask what he thinks about different things that come up in the conversation. Try to avoid “yes-no” questions. Instead of "Did you like the new movie?" ask "What did you think of ..."

15. You may have to initiate most conversations initially. But after your man becomes comfortable with you, he will likely be more open and outgoing with you.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

COMMENT: I have seen a lot of articles about significant others and how to deal, I am 51 and just recently was diagnosed with aspergers. I have never been able to connect with anyone beyond casual conversation and that is uncomfortable. I can't imagine ever getting to know someone well enough to even date much less anything beyond that. Sure would like to see more info on finding help dealing in small town America.

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