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



COMMENTS:
  • 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 ├óne 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.
  •  

3 comments:

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

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  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.

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  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.

    ReplyDelete