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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

=> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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•    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.
•    Anonymous said… i recently discovered that my husband with Aspergers has had many affairs with many women during our five year relationship. The crazy part is... he told me he had ED and couldn't preform. So, I tried not to pressure him. Has this happened to anyone else?
•    Anonymous said… No wonder my partner of 15 years hates me. Glad this article could clear that up.
•    Anonymous said… I just discovered by boyfriend of almost 2 years has aspergers but he doesn't know, he just knows that he's a little different. A lot of this article sums us up really well, our biggest issue is me feeling distant from him and he's emotionally inept in his display of emotions. I miss communicating with a normal man, I miss the look and touch and connection of someone who is NT. I feel sort of punished that I was single for a while and then fell in love with someone like this. I love this man dearly but I don't know if I can live life like this. There is no passion between us, his display of emotions feel frigid and childlike. I feel so alone. I don't feel passion between us with sex and he's told me what's wrong -- rigid about sex, I've never had any other man I've been with complain about the things he does. I feel like I'm with a robot at times. I have one foot in the door and one foot out. How does one have a fully normal and functioning relationship with an aspie? I'm very emotive, intuitive, nurturing, insightful, deep thinker -- I ask him why the HECKKKKK would you choose someone like me when you are KNOW you are so different? I'm so confused and feel b!tch slapped to be in this position.
•    Anonymous said… I feel exactly the same way mine will not admit to having ass bitch but he cringes every time I touch him he only will have sex with me once a month to keep me happy but he says he doesn’t really enjoy it he cannot stand when I’m emotional and I cry or when I express my love and hug him he says I’m being too clingy he makes me feel that everything I do is wrong but doesn’t see the fox he’s doing that makes me act the way that I act when he’s mad he’s like a child he calls me The worst names ever and he has even gotten violent with me and it seems at that point like he’s not even there mentally I divorced my husband to be with him and we’ve been together for almost 3 years but he would rather live by himself he can’t deal with cancer annoys he likes to sleep for many hours a day or play video games and he does not want to be bothered when he’s doing that.. therefore he says I will never live with you we do live next-door and if we see each other it’s for an hour a day but the rest of the day he wants to be alone I’ve told him many times I want to leave but because he lives next-door he talked me into staying with him I love him very much so this is very hard for me I tore my family apart to be with this man who showed me affection and love in the very beginning while he was on alcohol but once he quit drinking He’s behavior and autistic traits became very apparent I don’t know how much more I can take when I hang on because I do love him and want to be with him.. he does tell me he loves me but only when we’re arguing and I want to leave him..I don’t know what to do anymore I’m so confused I know I deserve better but I just can’t seem to let go.


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