Blog for Individuals and Neurodiverse Couples Affected by ASD
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...
Should you date a guy with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
In no way am I suggesting that one should avoid having a relationship with a man on the autism spectrum. 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 ASD isn't always recognized as a possible cause of odd behavior in adults. Even though ASD Level 1 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 on the spectrum (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 ASD 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 (Level 3), the person with ASD Level 1will probably be able to keep his frustration in check.
2. The individual with ASD 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 ASD 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 autistic 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 autistic 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 person with ASD 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 ASD Level 1 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 a high-functioning autistic 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 ASD include:
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 a man on the spectrum. 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 ASD also demonstrate the following characteristics:
will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong
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
have no interest in harming others
gentle and somewhat passive
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.
amazingly loyal friends
adhere unvaryingly to routines
accepting of others
able forgive others
Unfortunately, in counseling couples affected by ASD, I've discovered that in some cases, all the positive traits in the world do not make up for the autistic 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.
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.
I'm a 'neurotypical' (as they say) wife of a man, David, with ASD [level 1]. 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 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 for his book on Living with an Aspergers Partner- as well as his online therapy groups. 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.
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, as well as the 3 Skype sessions I had with him, have helped me immensely to relate better to my wife. She has learned several things from the sessions that have helped her too.
I hope something I said here can help you have a better quality of life.
"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 autism spectrum disorder) that may help you relate well to your 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?" Autistics 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!
Would you, as a neurotypical woman, say that your ASD 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 ASD 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 man on the autism spectrum 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 "autistic" 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 men on the spectrum 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.
“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 [high-functioning autism] 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 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.”
• 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. * Anonymous said... "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)." Ummm, actually, many spouses of autistic husbands, have weighed in on this and actually state that the older they get, their AS men become increasingly rigid and unwilling to engage in the Exposure Anxiety required to affect changes in their behavior.
We polled 35 women who are in relationships with men on the autism spectrum. The question was: "What would be the #1 thing that your ASD partner or spouse does/says that you find helpful to the relationship?"
Here are their responses:
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.
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.
He does his best for our family. (It may not be *The* best, but it's always *His* best!)
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.
He is always honest and he has a very strong work ethic both at work and when I need help at home.
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.
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.
He is loyal and is very helpful in fixing our cars and fixing things around the house.
He is stable, faithful, and predictable.
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.
He is very devoted!
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.
He tries. Never had a man that has actively tried to make me so happy.
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.
He will do house chores and help me with taking the girls out so I can have stress free alone time.
He works so hard to keep me happy and let me know I'm loved.
He's always willing to help if I ask him. He has a great sense of humour.
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
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.
His good intentions, if he knows the right thing to do he will do it, very high principles
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.
Loyal and gentle
Loyal, has good intentions, stable, good provider
My husband is very good at problem-solving and finding things.
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.
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.
Predictable, good work ethic and excellent provider, loves his kids and is always gentle with them, never raises his voice.
Problem solving and being a font of knowledge!
Stable, loyal, predictable.
Successful career so I only have to work part time. Financial stability.
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!
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.
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.
Wonderful caretaker of our 3 cats and 2 dogs.
As one NT wife states: “This is beautiful to read. There is so much negativity out there, it's lovely to hear how the positives are observed and appreciated by partners and spouses. My Aspie was the most amazing person I ever met. He would remember everything - and but the most amazing birthday cards for everyone, so special. He was the most amazing father - bringing home small gifts or chocolates for our boys every payday. I never needed to forget anything because he had it all under control. He would look at the TV guide, and highlight all of the things he thought we would like to watch together. He was hopeless at banking!!! I lost him 13 years ago to cancer, and miss his amazing knowledge, compassion and humour every day. Our boys do as well xxx”
We took a poll of 86 women who are in relationships with men on the autism spectrum (level 1). 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:
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." 😢
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.
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.
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.
Black and white thinking
blaming, he's never wrong, no empathy
Bottling up his emotions until he erupts. His "meltdowns" include irrational thinking, self-sabotage, and verbal insults. They affect the entire family.
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.
Communication and special interests!
Communication by far, it goes hand in hand with not expressing any emotions.
Communication issues as well: if he is right, he is right and he will talk my ear off until I agree
Communication, moods, lack of coping skills, lack of empathy, inconsiderate. Sorry that's more than 1!
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.
Communication and his inability. To respond to urgent important issues.
Constant struggle with depression but refusal to discuss meds.... he’s always right...
Definitely the focus problem. If he's interested in something, it's to the exclusion of EVERYTHING else -- doctor's appointment, bills, promises ... Everything.
denying that I said things to him. So hard to get him to register anything!
Does he always appear rude? Mine does and when I tell him he is being rude he denies it.
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.
Empathy, lack of support
Foreign communication skills. It's like we speak different languages when we communicate. We truly do not understand each other.
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.
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…
He is most recently spending hours on coin collection. Hours. Lonely
Hiding and lying.
His defensiveness about everything I say and always needing to be right, so fragile
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!
His not acknowledging or caring about others' emotional needs (or at least not showing that he cares whatsoever).
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.
I agree about the lack of communication which leads to a myriad of other problems. I finally gave up.
I dunno is the response to everything… and " I forgot!".
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!
I get 'yep' and 'ok'. That's about it. Usually punctuating my sentence after every word. Every. Single. Word.
I have a rule now. 2 comments and it is over. The constant comments are defeating for everyone.
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!
I make more money than him so financially he’s a joke he spends everything he makes
I think loneliness is a major common issue for all of us. Right?
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.
I would say irritability/mood swings tied with unsaid expectations I'm supposed to follow
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
I'm just so done and I only suspect that this is the problem. But he has almost all of the traits.
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.
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.
Inability to communicate on even a basic level about anything.
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.
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.
Lack of affection, communication.
Lack of affection, empathy, motivation, sex and the fact that I come last all the time.... yep he is definitely aspie :(
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!
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.
Lack of emotion, empathy, communication.
Lack of emotional support, communication
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.
Lack of empathy for emotional hurts
Lack of physical intimacy and meltdowns.
Lack of proper communication.
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.
lack of uninitiated loving touch, "shoulding" me all the time and lack of ability to have appropriate, inoffensive social interaction with friends and family
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.
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.
Mine is so child-like at times. I long for a true adult relationship.
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
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?
No need for relationships or emotional connection
No reciprocity so I don't receive stimulation the way I would in order to regulate myself when having regular reciprocated conversation.
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
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!
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"
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!
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.
Playing the victim
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.
Right this moment experiencing a meltdown he is refusing to stop and take the medication that helps him to at least stop spiraling 😟
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.
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)
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)
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
Task management difficulties. I worry about how this burden might fall unequally on me as we progress in the relationship.
The inability to communicate.
Tone of voice.
Tough one...lack of communication I guess but there are so many! 😭