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Why Some ASD 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 and high-functioning autism, 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 his 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").

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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, he 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 on the autism spectrum. 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 ASD 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 ASD 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 - AND KIDS! Now, in the mind of some men on the spectrum, 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 man that - as you say - seemingly falls out of love over night.

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

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

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Take it from me. Run. I was where you are seven years ago Γ’ne 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!!!
  • I wanted 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.
  • 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.


  1. You don’t survive. You leave and recover.

    1. This is so true.

    2. yes. there is no way back apparently. Once their mind is made up about something, that's it.

  2. This is the best article I have read that helps me understand. It was over 5 years ago and hurt me so badly that I barely survived. I did not want to believe that I was his obsession. I truly believed that I was his love. Now I understand. And I understand that it truly was not me. I didn't fail. It was him.

    1. I also recently got out of a 5 year relationship with an autistic man. Run as fast as you can. He will never and cannot change. It’s like having another child. It will never get better and he will not be much help, if any, when the kids come along. Run, run, run!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Unfortunately πŸ˜” my bf of 3 years left me 5 months ago with no real reasons. I’m still struggling to move on. It has changed me.

  3. Oh well. He told me he loved me and that I made him feel things that no woman ever did, including a strong physical connection. He showed me that he truly cared for me in more than one way. I don’t think I was his obsession; because I am the one who pursued him, he had not noticed me at first apart for my brains, he said. He also said that I never made him feel bored and that he learned a lot from me. There was a lot of intellectual, emotional, and, later, physical attraction, and a deep level of mutual curiosity and understanding (and forgiving too) due to completely different personalities with incredibly strong points in common. We said “I love you” to each other and it felt real. But then, after a couple of years like this, when he realized that “he wanted me too much, to the point of making him want me more than anything else in his life, which risked going upside down because of his desire for me, and he could not afford that” (his words, not mine), he literally disappeared. After a fight like many others, which I felt was just an excuse, he disappeared just like that, saying that I was not able to cope with my own emotions and he with his conflicts, that he needed to deal with me on a more rational level and that he could only offer me friendship but not the closeness that I wanted (?). I never asked anything of him but to be just there like I was, respecting our boundaries. I honestly stopped asking myself what I did wrong. Any other guy, I would have called him an asshole and would have left him way earlier. But this way, I feel somehow conned. I put so much into it, so much effort, so much understanding - he didn’t tell me about his condition straight away, I had to guess it all by myself -, so much love, so much putting myself in his shoes, so much swallowing my pride to come back over and over again, for what? “I want you too much to cope with it”? Whatever the reason, such behavior hurts and it feels unfair. I am sorry to be so blunt. I am sure there are many decent guys out there with or without this syndrome. Mine wasn’t.

    1. I went through the same thing for 3 years. He left me in a very withdrawn “ice cold” way, 5 months ago. I’ll never be the same.

    2. I know it was painful, but I want to thank you for writing this down. I’ve been searching for more than 6 mo to understand what happened and why he said the things he did.
      He literally said: “I could tell when I kissed you that I was in trouble”.
      And later, “I will NEVER let a woman destroy my career again.”
      I was like, whaaa???
      His latest after I didn’t talk to him for 6 months: “yeah we were just way too attracted to one another.”

      Ok. Recognition. More awards. More Money. Validation.
      Yeah he’s beautiful genius. But such a lack of the ability to know a Diamond when she presents herself….Wow. Just SMH…πŸ˜”

    3. He came back, he said he missed me and I gave him another chance. He reached the point of telling me that he cared a lot for me, that is was deeply in love with me, that he desired me madly and that I had made him understand how his previous relationships were infatuations or obsessions, even the longest ’star-crossed’ crush of many years that he thought was the ‘love of his life’ even if impossible to live, before me, because he really felt an incredible connection with me and when we made love we became as one and he needed it as he needed my wonderful love. He said I made him feel things he thought were never meant for him but that he always dreamed of feeling. Then, when we were seriously taking the relationship to the next level, something sad happened to his ex (old crush, true love, I don’t know) with whom he was still in touch as friends, and he was there for her, which I knew, and appreciated. I thought he was sweet. I didn’t feel threatened, I felt sure of myself and what we had at that point. He kept looking for me and hungrily making love to me and telling me that I was like no other, that I channeled his emotions (which is not nothing), etc. At some point he started to ‘disappear’. Well, after a few days I was able to deserve a sort of reply. Basically he said he has duties and relationships to which he must be loyal that existed before I came into his life, so even if this hurts and angers me (and him as well, his words, not mine), we must limit our deep emotional connection but stay friends anyway. He sort of threw over me his own difficulty in managing his feelings for me and maybe his guilt for loving me while he had made promises of eternal love to his previous crush (the ‘obsession’) in the past. Or maybe he just suddenly changed his mind out of nowhere. I don’t know. This time I feel humiliated in a way that I have never experienced before in my life and the worse part is that I tried and tried to explain to him how some behaviors made me feel. He never listened to me for real. He just wanted to adore me but maybe he never really saw me. Can it be possible that out of sense of duty and loyalty someone ends up hurting this way the person they claim to love? Can someone be so rigid in the perception of their priorities? He was not loyal to me, does it not matter at all? At least this time I was sort of prepared, I was maybe unconsciously expecting it all the time. Now, there won’t be a next time, for sure. I am still decent enough to wish he does not play once again with his old crush’s feelings like he did with mine. But he will. He still has an open chapter with me if he didn’t lie completely about everything with me. Or he did. Or his condition just makes him shallow and selfish. Or it is not his condition but the way he just is as a person. Anyway, it is over. I shut him out. I know I will miss him but I also know that the person I will miss never existed, somehow. Thank you for listening.

  4. Oh my, my boyfriend of 18 months finished everything out of the blue two weeks ago, totally shocked, we are in our 50’s and I really adore him, he told me he has never been happier in the beginning, we had it all... then he just shut off... wouldn’t talk was very critical, I’m feeling I tell you, but this makes me feel better... no I do not want to be friends!!! Heartbreaking...

  5. I believe they confuse obsession with love. My husband - I was with him for 4 years from age 19-23. I had a breakdown because the first year was bliss and then he just wanted me there in the background whilst he did his own thing. Unfortunately I then fell for a narcissist and after 17 years apart my path crossed with my ex who had been removed from the family home/his child due to inappropriate behaviour which I believe is down to autism. He made it his task to rescue me from my marriage (possibly to avoid dealing with his own trauma).

    I took a chance on him because he said he'd changed, wasn't obsessional re hobbies anymore etc and for 3-4 years all was great but his behaviour was odd/confusing at times. He didn't like to deal with anything he didn't want to but the impact of this was masked by his sweet, cheerful demeanor.

    Fast forward another 4 years and I asked him to leave a month ago. He was supposed to be my carer due to my mental health but retirement and more time on his hands led to obsessions with playing a pc game 12 hours a day, becoming a recluse, heavy drinking and sexual fetishes including an obsession with becoming a woman.

    I am not saying he has malicious intent but the damage their behaviour causes is indescribable. For 3 years I felt ignored, unloved and rejected. He couldn't deal with anything he didn't find fun or any negative emotions. I had no peace whatsoever and he started to act quite cruel at times. I asked him to cut his fetishes down to 2 hrs a day and leave me out of it - the next day he said I'd taken the shine off it and felt suicidal. Being punished for his appalling behaviour was the last straw.

    Since then he has had a complete collapse and made it his task to win me back and be the perfect husband. He has harassed me, played with my emotions, hasn't cared about my feelings and I've had to get the police involved and apply for a non molestation order. He text me the other night from his mother's and said should he buy another home or rent which is ridiculous as we have no money and he hasn't followed through with legal advice etc.

    He never understands his part in the convo and how what he says leads to consequences. He ended up saying I was a money grabber, could have it all and took an overdose. The sexual obsessions meant he coercively controlled me and he has been arrested for assault.

    These men, over time, reveal their inherent selfishness. I can understand now why his inappropriate behaviour led to social services getting involved re his child because even if they don't commit a crime they mentally damage you.

    I can't believe he basically did a revenge attempt at suicide. He has been snapped out of his lazy, perverted world into the real one. It's so sad as I truly love him but the lack of any effort on his part is soul destroying and I'm not putting up with it anymore.

    They are a conundrum because they can be very moral, loyal, happy go lucky but they don't understand the nuances, emotions, grey areas between wrong and right etc. It starts off as a daydream and turns into a nightmare. Better to love them from afar but work on the issues within yourself that are keeping you obsessed with gaining love and empathy from them as it isn't going to happen.

  6. My boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me 5 months ago. It has been the worst pain I have ever experienced, with so much confusion. Here’s the story: Both of his parents have more severe cases of Aspergers. When I met him, I had no idea he had it too, and I just thought he was different. I was intrigued by his awkwardness and sweet gestures. His playful nature was refreshing, coming from a previous long term relationship with a narcissist. As the relationship progressed, I started noticing that he was obsessed with making music, and often neglected my emotional and physical needs. When I would kindly approach him with my needs, he would ask me why I can’t just be happy, and say that I have anxiety issues and co-dependency. I never felt truly sought after, accept for when we were in the honeymoon phase.

    He even told me in the very beginning (red flags I didn’t see at the time because I thought it was sweet)….He said “normally I loose interest pretty fast and I don’t know why. But there is something different about you”. He also NEVER wanted to talk about emotional topics, or his past, not even my past….things that normal couples would use early on to bond. He even told me the WORDS “I don’t know, I think love is an obsession, and I don’t have time for that right now”. This came after I started getting upset that he still had not told me he loved me, 1-1/2 years into the relationship. He eventually did, but there were red flags everywhere. I over looked them all because he had such a sweet innocence about him.

    Well, One day I met his parents, and questions started popping up in my mind. They were the sweetest people, but could not pick up on social cues, and constantly wanted to talk about the same topic every time I saw them. Almost like they were obsessed. I knew immediately that they were both on the spectrum. When I figured out that he was, it all made sense. I tried so hard to be close with his family, support his obsessions, and give him his space, at the expense of my own relationship needs.

    Eventually he left me, it seemed like over-night. He didn’t communicate why, after 3 years together and almost 3 years of living together. He just said that he didn’t want to work on it anymore. I cried and begged, and didn’t understand. 2 weeks later he was with another woman, and 2 weeks after that he was saying he loved her. I was DEVASTATED, as I just assumed this was a temporary break, and he would come to his senses. After all, I was his only real relationship. At 34 years old, all of his previous relationships only lasted 3-6 months. Well, he blocked me when I found out about the other woman. She eventually broke his heart, and within 2 months, he reached back out.

    He apologized, and even said sweet things that came off as if he wanted to try again. This friendzone behavior, of me helping him heal from the woman he left me for basically, lasted 1 month. Next thing I know, he goes cold again. He has already met someone else, after I had just filled his cup, and got my hopes up. Today he told me I need to grow up and accept that it’s over.

    Almost 6 months out of break up now, and I have finally accepted that he will never want to try again as long as he has other new woman entertaining him. He doesn’t see the value of me being close and accepting with his family, doesn’t value the fact that I have a full on career, or the fact that I supported his dreams at all costs while we were together: I was the total package. I lost so much weight from the pain of all of this that my family asked if I had an eating disorder. The hardest part is that I never saw any of this behavior coming. Any of it. When they are done, they are done.

    Moral of the story: while they may not do it on purpose, their hot and cold behavior will cause you to form a literal addiction to them. They don’t value things that others would value, and they see love as an obsession. I finally let him go because I realized he can’t help it. He will never change because it is something he can’t change.

  7. I just ended a relationship with a guy who zi think may have

  8. Honestly, don't waste your time with these men. You will miss out on a real life. It's all a fake show they put on thinking it will keep you happy. But deep down they don't and never will enjoy your touch or even understand what real love is. It's shocking how they really aren't even there but locked behind a glass window. Even hfa men are unable to meet any of your needs long term. They will always revert back to who they really are, just superficial roommates without any compassion, empathy or love.

  9. When you realize your worth, you will prioritize your needs, feelings, and mental health above someone else. Most women are natural caregivers who enjoy taking care of people they love. Moreover, it’s important to receive validation and support from your significant other (SO). I’ve been dating someone on the spectrum and can relate to feelings of neglect and selfish behavior. I’ve come to realize that my time and feelings are equally important. Hence, I’ve allocated more time with friends and doing things I enjoy. He’s agreed to counseling but who knows if he will honor his word. Do NOT doubt your worth or if there’s anything more you can do…It’s not you! In order for a relationship to be healthy and successful, there must be effort from both people. Do NOT waste your time on someone who doesn’t want to put the work in to build a loving and healthy relationship.


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