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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Commitment Phobia in Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Are you an adult with Asperger's or High Functioning Autism? Do you want to be in a relationship, but you suffer from commitment phobia? Do you keep picking the wrong person to be with? Would you really like to discover the underlying cause of your fear and what you can to do about it?

Many adults on the autism spectrum never get to have the experience of a satisfying, loving relationship because they fear commitment. If they do have a committed relationship, they are constantly fearful and worried about breaking up, fighting and other conflicts that can enter a relationship – so they manage to mess it up.

Your ability to open up and feel comfortable with commitment is affected by a host of factors, which include the following:
  • Society shapes the extent to which you might feel comfortable opening up (e.g., many male heroes in movies, television and novels are usually portrayed as emotionally distant and independent).
  • Previous romantic relationships can also shape your behavior and expectations for future relationships (e.g., a person who was in a very intense relationship with someone who was emotionally abusive could develop a distorted perception about what to expect in a relationship).
  • How you were treated as a youngster has profound effects on how comfortable and secure you feel getting close to others (e.g., kids who were raised by warm and accepting parents tend to feel much more comfortable getting intimate and close to their romantic partners later in life).
  • How your mom and dad interacted and treated one another serves as a model of how you're likely to communicate with - and behave toward - your romantic partner. Individuals who grew up with moms and dads who were emotionally distant or argumentative tend to express their emotions and develop communication styles that are similar to the styles they observed as  children.

What is your reason for not wanting to commit? For example:
  • Can't trust the opposite sex
  • Fear of being rejected 
  • Fear of not finding your "soul mate" – a person who is nearly perfect
  • Fear of sacrifice (e.g., relinquishing your identity and independence) 
  • Fear of trusting people in general
  • Fear related to relationship performance (e.g., pleasing the other person, meeting his/her expectations, not letting him/her down, etc.)
  • Fear that the consequences of a future “relationship breakdown” will be all the worse the more time you invest in that relationship
  • Loss of space
  • No more freedom
  • Not ready for it 
  • Only one sex partner – forever
  • Prefer to be alone
  • Have a history of painful breakups 
  • Have an “inferiority complex”
  • Been burned before
  • Experienced feeling "trapped" in a relationship before 
  • Witnessed the rocky relationships of parents and have the blueprint that “no relationship ever works out”

 ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Research on romantic relationships suggests that there are at least four different types of people with commitment phobia:
  1. People who find partners who are good matches, but then pick them apart (e.g., this person is not attractive enough, too tall, likes country music, etc.). No matter what the potential partner’s strengths are, people like this are able to dissect them to the point that they are no longer desirable.
  2. People who engage in relationships with partners whom they are very incompatible with. These types of relationships always fail and serve to confirm the individual's expectations that commitment is unattainable. These people select romantic partners who will reinforce their fear of becoming too close to them.
  3. People who go back and forth with the same partner. One week they're together …the next week they're apart …the next week they’re together …the next they're apart, and on it goes. This can go on for a very long time and allows people to carry on in a relationship without feeling committed. It's their way of avoiding commitment.
  4. People who are too idealistic. They're always in search of Mr. or Ms. Right. Unfortunately, "right" is equated with "perfect." These people have super high standards for their partners. Their potential partner has to be attractive, intelligent, physically fit, have a good sense of humor, be financially stable, have loving parents, a nice car, and so on. If the potential partner fails to meet even one of these criteria – he or she is dropped.

Luckily, there are ways you can overcome your commitment phobia, letting you enjoy a relationship and experience love with that special someone. Here’s how:

1. Why are you afraid to commit? (e.g., “Because I’m afraid of being rejected!”). Write down these questions and answers. It's important to know what the issue is before you can find an answer. Read the list to yourself. Do these answers make sense? Expand on them into the smallest detail you can go into. Take each question from many angles. Also, you may want to spread this process out over the course of a couple days so you don't make rash decisions in the heat of a moment.

2. Sometimes we like to “control” everything, but “control” is often out of your hands in a relationship. This can be very fearful for some adults on the spectrum, and in turn makes them fear commitment. You have to learn to trust that things will go the way they are supposed to. You may not be able to control everything, but there’s no need to do this. Give up the idea that you must be in control of everything at all times. Life doesn't work like that -- never has -- never will. Period.

3. Indecision becomes a habit over time. Whenever we make a “choice” about anything, we are committing to it (at least for the time being). If commitment to any particular “choice” has been a problem for you, then start practicing being more resolute in a few small ways. Sometimes the more time we spend reviewing the pros and cons, the more perplexed we get. Research has found that “over-thinking” a decision can lead to poorer choices. So get used to just deciding what to do, where to eat, and how to spend your money, and you'll find decisiveness becomes a habit, too.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

4. Learn from your friends’ experiences in relationships (e.g., how they have been intimate and loving with each other, how they have stuck together even when problems occur, etc.). Look at your parents and grandparents who have been together for so long and still keep the bond they promised. By knowing about other’s success stories, you will realize that it's a beautiful experience to be committed – and there's no reason to be fearful.

5. Learn how to make small commitments in general. What are the non-romantic choices in your life that paralyze you? Deciding what to eat? Deciding what to wear? Making firm appointments? What type of computer to purchase? When to take a vacation?  Which car to buy? Which interests to pursue?  Which movie to see?  Which organizations to join? Start with the commitments that you perceive to be less intimidating and begin to take small steps in overcoming your indecisiveness.  As your successes accumulate over time, challenge yourself to take on slightly more ambitious commitments.  Don’t punish yourself with unnecessary pressure, just keep building slowly.

6. Seek support from others when you want to commit, but are afraid to do so. Having someone to help you through your reservations and concerns when you enter a relationship can really do wonders.

7. Consider discussing your fear of commitment with a therapist who can really understand your situation. Talk about anything and everything about your fear, your reasons, and the causes. You might have a specific fear that comes in mind when you think of committing yourself in a relationship. What is the main reason for this fear? Did someone you know go through something that made you feel this way? Discovering what triggers your commitment phobia can help you tremendously in overcoming it. Consulting a therapist is the quickest and most effective way of working out these problems. However, be sure to be proactive, and be willing to cooperate with things the therapist asks you to do.

8. Face your fears head-on. Inform your potential partner of your commitment phobia, but let him or her know you are willing to give it a shot. Who knows, maybe this person can help you overcome it as well!

9. Be patient with yourself as embark on the journey toward developing self-assurance in relationships.

10. Use the "Law of Attraction": Visualize yourself being confident, assertive, calm, cool, and collected in all your relationships – romantic or otherwise. Start with an easy relationship first (e.g., your next door neighbor), then graduate to a “love interest.”

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

Overcoming Self-Doubt in Relationships: Tips for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Question: How can men and women with Asperger's (high functioning autism) go about overcoming self-doubt and fear in relationships?  
Answer: By creating a very powerful shift in your self-perception. This enables the light to shine more clearly on your authentic self. The pathway to authentic living will provide you with many positive tools for change.

How to overcome feelings of self-doubt in relationships:

1. Allow relationships to progress in a natural way. If you really like someone, it’s only normal that you would hope for the relationship to move to the next level. But, it’s very important to allow it to do so on its own time, in a natural and healthy way. Avoid “forcing” the relationship due to your own fear that your “special someone” is going to leave you for another person.

2. Avoid over-generalizing. If you’ve been burned in a past relationship, it doesn’t mean that you will be burned in the next one. If you dated someone previously that cheated on you, it understandably could make you feel anxious about a new relationship. But, that situation can be very unfair to your current “special someone.” Take a step back and stop generalizing about people and relationships. You wouldn't appreciate it if someone did that to you. Remember that just because you’ve been hurt before doesn't mean you will be hurt again. Your ex-partner and your current partner have nothing to do with each other.

3. Avoid spying. Don't let self-doubt turn you into a “snoop.” For example, if your boyfriend has a female friend that makes you feel uneasy (perhaps because she is good looking or intelligent), avoid sneaking around and playing back her voicemail messages to your boyfriend. If you listen to something without knowing its proper context, you could be setting yourself up for confusion and unnecessary distress. Also, you don't want to come across as a “nib-shit.”

4. Stay positive. If your feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt are really strong, chances are you put all of your energy towards agonizing about the relationship. Agonizing all of the time is no way to create a happy relationship. Instead, think about why your “special someone” is in a relationship with you in the first place. Remember why you want to be in a relationship with this individual, and focus on all of the good experiences you’ve shared so far. Staying positive will help you eliminate feelings of self-doubt and insecurity.

5. Enjoy what you really like to do. If you enjoy doing something quirky or odd, don't be afraid to show the world. It will make you more contented and inspire other people.

=>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

6. Find a new talent. If you have low self-esteem because you feel like you are unable to do anything, then find a talent. Start dance classes or swimming lessons …how about guitar lessons? …may even learn how to scuba dive.

7. Find out the causes of your self-doubts. Do a self-reflection and write down which areas in your life where you lack confidence or assurance. Go over your list of insecurities one by one. Beside each item, write down an explanation why you feel this way. Go back to the time when the self-doubt was born, then examine your feelings. Is your self-doubt justifiable? Or is it just your fear magnified? By looking honestly into the source of your self-doubt, you will discover that you are the one who is punishing yourself.

8. Take a moment to ask yourself what you can do to make progress in the area you are not confident about. Maybe you don't like your appearance. Do a major makeover of yourself (e.g.,  get a new haircut, change your wardrobe, etc.). Maybe you are fearful of getting into a new love relationship because of poor social skills. Do something about it (e.g., read some self-help books, enroll in a class that will address your concern, etc.). There is always something you can do to start building your self-confidence instead of wallowing in apprehension all day.

9. Find support groups that will help you feel better about yourself and your life. They could be your trusted friends, members in your family, online chat groups, etc. Let them know your struggles and your wish to change them. Having another person to help you change yourself makes it easier than doing it alone.

10. A lot of adults on the spectrum become timid in relationships due to their overactive imaginations. If, for example, you are constantly imagining that your girlfriend is showing interest in other men, even when she really isn't, you are letting your insecurities get the best of you. Look at what is really happening around you instead of letting your imagination run wild.

11. Find new friends. The more friends you have the better. But remember that if you are going to get a new friend, he or she has to like you for who you are. If he or she doesn't, then you’ve found the wrong person to like.

=>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

12. Don't be timid because you are not like other people. If you love yourself for who you are, others will also. Notice features and aspects of yourself that you like – and be proud of them.

13. Remember that you are not a mind-reader. If you live in a constant state of anxiety that your “special someone” simply isn't that interested in the relationship, stop trying to be a mind-reader. This can only lead to driving you totally nuts. Instead of predicting the feelings of the person you have an interest in, ask him or her. Although asking straight out might hurt if you don't get the answer that you want, it might also be able to save you a lot of time, heartache and uncertainty.

14. Smile. It's really important to smile. Smiling givers others the impression that you are a confident, pleasant person to talk to and associate with.

15. Work on eliminating your self-doubts one at a time. Racing to defeat all of them at once is unreasonable and will hurt your chances of getting over them. Be persistent and pray for your success. True confidence is locked inside of you waiting to be opened. You’ve the right key to open the door to a secure future by getting rid of your self-defeating thoughts and welcoming the real you!

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

=>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Best comment:

I was reading this blog and have found that many of things on here match my current boyfriend. We have been dating for almost 4 years. When I first met him I thought he was just shy but as I got to know him better I knew that something was off.

If a friend called us to hang out we couldn't go because as he says he wasn't given enough time to mentally prepare. I would have to tell him things a week in advance for him to want to do it. He would make harsh and inappropriate comments and was a bit socially awkward. He also had this obsession with video games.

At first I thought well maybe he just needs to learn to communicate better. It wasn't until last year when my father passed away that I realized that his lack of empathy was a huge problem and that he might be an Saturday afternoon about a month after my father passed I tell him that my mom and I are going to go look at headstones and pick one out. I ask him if he can come with me and he responded with a shrug and by saying "this is going to be so boring". I was so hurt that I stormed out. I couldn't believe what he had just said.

Fast forward a few months later, I'm in my first semester of grad school..stressed out at school and still going through grief...I have multiple sclerosis and I have a flare up where my face and neck go numb. I'm in the ER in pain, cant feel my face. After the first hour or so in the ER he says to me "If this takes too long I'll go home and see you tomorrow"...not really want I want to hear at that moment.

So now I'm just really confused because I love the guy, I do, but I have a serious condition where I'm not disabled now but there is a good possibility that I can become disabled in some way in the future and other family stresses (like people passing away, kids getting sick, etc.) are going to happen...I'm just wondering if I can depend on him and if I should stay in this relationship?

He is able to self-reflect but it's usually after he has done something wrong. He never really gets that maybe he should make that comment. He can be very affectionate at times and I've noticed that he is very affectionate towards animals, he is often outraged if an animal is abused and doesn't like to kill spiders in our house.

One time he made a comment to me that he wants to marry me, then a few months later he says to me in an honest face that he said that because he knows that's what I want to hear. I don't know if he has aspergers and if he does, he has done a damn good job of appearing to be a typically developing adult...I mean he's right, that's what women want to hear but he doesn't understand that it's inappropriate to tell them that he only said that because he knows that's what women want to hear lol. Sometimes I wonder if he actually LOVES me or if he has just learned that that's what people do...?

Sorry for my ramble, I don't expect any answers just wanted to share my story.


More comments:
  • Anonymous said... I'm 27 with Aspergers and have been without a Girlfriend for 3.5 years nonetheless. I understand that to love is to accept being vulnerable, but that's not so much my issue with relationships. It's trying to find a woman that has the same interests as me, and has Asperger's. I'm not sure what to think right now though I get the feeling i'll be in love again. A part of me has grown impatient but I know that its a doubtful side of my mind that is fighting against me nonetheless. The only thing I find confusion above the rest is when friends and family say to me one of 2 messages such as "don't find love, Love will find you", or "Don't wait for Love, just go for it. Admittingly since this isn't on Facebook I don't have to deal with the embarassment of the sort. Plus i admit its a little embarassing when you realize at your age you're still a virgin. Regardless though as I was talking with a friend of mine about a few college friends we know I then arrived at the realization that getting jealous about those 2 couples was useless because I too will get engaged myself. I wonder when but overall as much as I try to ignore Love it appears everywhere on the internet and when I'm around couples I hear them never Shut The F**k up about it.
  •  Anonymous said... Why does it seem that articles dealing with a relationship with a High Functioning Aspie are about the neurotypical person in the relationship doing all the work and making all the sacrifices to make the relationship function? As a High Functioning Aspie who just destroyed a beautiful relationship, but long distance with a few other obstacles, I find my isolationism a necessary obstacle to overcome. I have fought hard to overcome many of my Aspir traits throughout my many years and have been successful in many regards. Yes, it is hard work and yes it is tiring and does require down time. The problem with downtime or isolationism in a relationship is not the need for it but the communication with the other partner about the need for it. Sometimes we just need to buck up and spend time with our partner, because he or she may need that time. A relationship requires work from both partners and the neurotypical partner should not be the one who has to give constantly. He or she will tire of the work they are putting in and go seek a partner who is willing to give rather than just take. I lost a beautiful soul because I was going through many things at once for a long period of time and literally shut her out and did exactly those six things mentioned above. With all of the obstacles, the distance and my isolationism she feared that I would be that way throughout a relationship, leaving her to nothing but loneliness. I sat and spoke to her about what I had been going through and she spoke to me about what she had been going through. Sadly she has been hurt before and simply wants to protect her heart...and wasn't sure she was making the right decision but went with her instinct and ended our relationship. I, of course, am devastated...I'm head over heels in love with this woman but I understand her need to have someone there who does not make her feel lonely while in a relationship. I also understand that she could not be the one making the sacrifice, that I too had to buck up and be the man she needed. It's not going to be easy to work on this while not being in a relationship but I will find a way because at 48 years old I'm tired of being alone and destroying relationships with my isolationism.

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