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Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Sexuality and Dating

Grown-ups with Aspergers (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) have, in general, differences in sexuality from the norm. Many more are asexual than in the average population. It is believed that there are a slightly higher percentage of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered AS and HFA individuals than in the average population.

Bisexual or homosexual adults with AS and HFA may find more potential for relationships in the gay community where there is less emphasis on conformity. Females with AS and HFA may have more chance at success in relationships, generally speaking, than males. This is due to differences in social requirements, where a male is often expected to ask the female for a date, rather than vice versa.

Living in a society where long-term relationships and starting a family are the norm can make it hard for socially inexperienced males with AS and HFA to find a spouse/partner. Many of these men stay away from dating for that reason. Some adults with AS and HFA are celibate by choice, feeling that they are asexual, or that there are more important things in life. Others have resigned themselves to celibacy due to the fact that romantic relationships can be much harder to find due to a misunderstanding of social skills and the difficulty of finding a suitable spouse/partner.

AS/AS couples (i.e., both partners are on the spectrum) are often more successful than AS/neurotypical couples (i.e., one partner is on the spectrum, and the other is not). Sexual feelings in the AS or HFA individual often develops later than usual – with relationships not starting until the 20s, 30s, or even 40s – rather than in adolescence, which is the standard for neurotypicals.

Males and females both enjoy sex and love, but males tend to "fall in love" with the women they "sexualize," whereas females tend to sexualize the men they fall in love with. Since males want sex from relationships, they often try to be (or appear to be) more “loving” to attract sexier females. Since females want love from relationships, they often try to be (or appear to be) “sexier” to attract the most loving and supporting males. The idea in both cases is for each spouse/partner to give the other what they want in order to receive what they want. Just as there are males who make a practice of one night stands for the purpose of acquiring sex from many females, there are females who make a practice of one night stands for the purpose of acquiring love from many males.

To attract a partner takes exposure. Wherever you are, to get another individual to like you and to spend time with you will take time, effort and some money (e.g., taking your date out to eat). Successful “pickups” have happened at bars, clubs, coffee shops, the mall, in elevators – you name it! It's not a question of finding a potential date; rather, it’s a question of starting, growing and maintaining the relationship once you have found a potential partner.

Here are some tips to get you started with your potential partner:
  1. Asking for your potential partner’s number becomes permissible after you both have a sense of rapport and are talking comfortably (towards the end of the conversation is best).
  2. Asking personal questions that may appear creepy (e.g., “Where are you going?”) is not permissible.
  3. Focus only on your potential partner’s face rather than scanning his or her body.
  4. If your potential partner asks, "Do you want to come back to my place" …it doesn’t necessarily mean for sex. If you want to go to his or her residence, smile and give a definite positive answer (e.g., "yes" or "sure"), but don’t sound over-enthusiastic (i.e., too eager). A negative or hesitant answer is always offensive. So is excessive enthusiasm about the prospects.
  5. Saying something that is rather innocuous (e.g., "It would be nice to talk to you again" or "Would you like to go out to eat some time?") is better than asking in a way that sounds too pushy (e.g., pulling out your pen and notepad and asking, “What's your cell phone number?”).
  6. Smile and make good eye contact. These are flirtatious behaviors, but understand that they can appear creepy if not returned.
  7. Note to the men: Touching is probably best left to the female to initiate. Otherwise, you may appear to be making inappropriate advances (a huge a turn-off).

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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