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

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Autistic Men and Intimacy Issues

"I hope this isn't a stupid question, but can men with ASD have normal intimate relationships? I want to know because I'm currently dating one and I'm wondering how far to let this relationship develop."

That would depend on one's definition of "normal." What's normal for one couple may be quite abnormal to another. In any event, it is very possible for men and women with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism to develop an intimate relationship WITH THE RIGHT PERSON (i.e., someone who will learn about the disorder and make any necessary adjustments in relating to the autistic partner).

In some cases, that “right person” may be another individual with the same disorder who understands and has the ability to cope with the idiosyncrasies of another person on the autism spectrum.

Some of the barriers to relationships include a sort of “extended adolescence” or maturity issue in adults with ASD. This can mean that the individual marries later in life and lacks the ability to have solid relationships until they are older.

One of my Asperger's clients recently stated that he feels that the relationship with his wife is challenging, in part due to his overwhelming need to focus on his obsession of choice. He feels that he lacks a strong interpersonal connection and has to make a conscious choice to put his focus on his wife, to the exclusion of his desired focus of choice. He is accustomed to being solitary, and he finds it difficult to concentrate with others around him, including his wife.

Relationships do take a lot of work when one partner is on the spectrum. The social skills required make relationships challenging for adults with ASD, particularly if diagnosed with it in adulthood.

Unfortunately, the divorce rate among couples affected by ASD (i.e., one partner is on the spectrum, and the other is not) is higher than in other groups of people. However, interventions (e.g., marital counseling) can work well if the therapist understands the unique features of Asperger's as it affects relationships.

We don't know statistically how many autisitc men develop "normal" relationships or how many find themselves unable to relate to a partner in an interpersonal and intimate way, but we do know that those with good communication and social skills have a better chance to succeed in a relationship than others.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA



•    Anonymous said... as in most relationships, you have to express your needs. but you also have to explain how those needs can be satisfied. you will need lots of initiative, and teach him how to take initiative.
•    Anonymous said... For 15 years I have an intimate relationship with a wonderful man, he got only a few years ago his diagnosis Asperger. We don't live together in the same flat or village, only every second night he stays in my place with me. He did not agree to marry or even have children with me. This was very hard for me, by now I can cope with this. I can understand now he needs to withdraw into his own walls, where he can "recover from my emotions" and the intimacy/closeness. This enables him, to cope with the relationship. Meanwhile I know of many As/Nt couples and with most of them I observe difficulties. The stress of unplanned or chaotic (from the view of the AS) situations especially with kids, which can't be avoided, enhances the troubles. So I realised after some difficult years, our way of living allows him, to be a loving and caring partner I keep forgetting he's on the spectrum. Also of other AS/NT couples I know, only in finding an unusual way of living together, they manage to be a couple.
•    Anonymous said... I have autism and am married and trying for a baby. Why would it be any different for a male?
•    Anonymous said... In reality I cannot answer this question with any great certainty, as it is dangerous to generalize with anything to do with autism. However like NTs some HFA/Aspergers are quite capable of maintaining close relationships with other people on the spectrum or even with NTs. Just like NTs some are better suited to this than others. People on the spectrum can vary enormously and some may have a higher emotional intelligence than others and allow for socializing and forming closer bonds. Others may just prefer to be alone and there is nothing wrong with that. I myself have two boys on the spectrum and of course am a fully fledged aspie, lol I have been married for 30 years to an NT. Like any other marriage we have had times when we have had to work hard, but generally we understand each other and support each other. I do know other autistic people who have children and have good, warm and loving relationships. Remember that autism does not define us, condemn or damage us and we are not diseased. So there is hope for many and especially for those who have a diagnosis and develop a sense of self awareness and acceptance. My advice to anyone in these mixed relationships of autistic/NT to be patient, accepting of each other and make adjustments if possible. Maybe it will be hard sometimes, but like with our kids, always rewarding in the long run. Good luck! Brian
•    Anonymous said... My husband has Aspergers and we have a great and intimate relationship. There are some differences: I typically drive, I typically talk to waiters, he often doesn't look me in the eyes, and sometimes I have to pose an important question to him and then walk away so he has time to think about it. He can't always just respond on the spot for important and/embarrassing topics. We'll have been married for five years this May!
•    Anonymous said… Of course they can develop an intimate relationship. Just know that there is no "normal" - for anyone! But it won't be bizarre or outrageous. My husband gets it (me being an aspie) and I'm mature enough to step out of my comfort zone to meet his needs when he gives me gentle reminders.
•    Anonymous said… I really like these articles. I'm fairly certain both me and my husband exhibit aspie like characteristics. We have worked hard to get to the level of intimacy that we have. I do have feeling of dread and worry about my Aspie son sometimes. He is so smart and funny. I hope he finds lasting relationship that builds him up and helps him succeed.
•    Anonymous said… There is nothing "normal". Everyone has some type of issues or needs. It is all about learning different tools and having patience. I really struggle with my husband sometimes and I constantly have to remind myself that his process isn't going to be the same as mine.
•    Anonymous said… I have AS and I was married for 13 years before getting the diagnosis. We have a happy marriage although it has become easier now that there are explanations for my sometimes eccentric behavior or unusual mood swings. However my non-AS hubby has many issues of his own. I know there are loads of undiagnosed AS people out there who are in relationships and I think they have the same chance of success as NT relationships provided you are with the right person.
•    Anonymous said… An article I wrote a while ago on the topic of Aspergers and marriage received a number of heated comments from people on the spectrum who felt that I focused too much on some of the challenges Aspergers presents in the relationship. It's important for anyone who is 'neurotypical' to be sensitive to how difficult it is for the person with AS to accept neurotypical thinking. Both partners have to study each other and be sensitive to each others' differences.

*   Anonymous said... I am married to a man with Asperger's. We've been together a decade. We have an intimate relationship but he needs quite a bit more alone time than me and prefers not to attend social events. I have to be very independent.

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