Are you thinking about dating a man with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
What you need to know as a neurotypical woman:
Social and emotional interaction can be complicated for people with ASD. Although they are thought to have "high-functioning" autism, they still have social problems (e.g., they don’t contribute as much socially; they have trouble understanding or interpreting nonverbal language; they tend not to share their emotions as frequently).
Interaction and emotional reciprocity are important in relationships, so it’s no wonder that it would be a challenge for a person with ASD to be in a close/intimate relationship. There are some things you will have to consider to help the relationship work.
• Understand that some people with ASD can be brutally honest (e.g., One young lady asked her man, “Does this dress make my butt look big?” ...and he replied, “No more than usual”).
• Tell him how you are feeling, especially if you are angry, and why. He probably does not understand your emotions and why you are reacting a certain way.
• Romance can be puzzling to an ASD man, but you will probably see improvement after explaining the meaning behind it, why it’s necessary, and that it makes you feel good.
• Remember not to use riddles, jokes or sarcasm in the same way you would with someone who doesn’t have ASD (if you do, ask if he understood, and then explain what you meant – otherwise, he might be hurt by what you said or just be confused).
• Don’t expect a relationship along normal lines. Whether you can get a suitable relationship going depends on a lot of things (e.g., patience, tolerance, clear thinking, knowledge, independence, strong self-confidence, adaptability).
• Don’t be alarmed if he is confused by romantic gestures (e.g., hugging or kissing). Educate him by explaining what the gestures mean.
• Learn what his interests are, and try to engage in activities focusing on those interests. Go on a few dates where social interaction isn’t necessarily the focus.
• Learn about ASD and how they are different interpersonally.
• If your ASD man talks in a confusing manner (e.g., talks in riddles or uses complex vocabulary, doesn’t answer your questions directly), ask him for more clarification.
• If he has certain quirks (e.g., doesn’t like talking on the phone or sending emails), understand that it may be related to his disorder. Confront him about the issue if it bothers you, and explain why.
• Ease your guy into large social situations (e.g., parties, group outings). Understand if he is overwhelmed or decides not to go with you, he might prefer being alone or with a smaller crowd.
• Don’t assume he is uninterested, incapable of feeling love, or selfish just because he isn’t telling you he likes you or finds you attractive. Decide what you think of him and let him know. After he is aware of your attraction and becomes less confused about nonverbal gestures and flirtation, it will be easier for him to decide if he feels the same way.
Note: There are a lot of positives that come with ASD. So, know that it is a "mixed bag" of challenges and strengths when you enter this dating arena.
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
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