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Online Dating: Tips for Lonely Adults on the Autism Spectrum

If you find yourself constantly alone, and if you would really enjoy having a love relationship but don't know how to get one, you will want to consider starting with an “online dating” approach.

Too much anxiety and self-consciousness create a bad first impression; therefore, believe me when I tell you that online dating is infinitely better for adults with Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism compared to a first-time, face-to-face blind date. Dating sites will help you break-out into the dating scene, and help you talk to potential dates in a more relaxed manner.

Imagine walking into the local pub with 50 strangers in it. If you’re looking to start a conversation with someone, where do you start? (You’re feeling anxious already, aren’t you?!) Do you just sit there by yourself in hopes that someone will come up to you and starting talking? Do you risk being offensive by asking someone if you can buy him or her a drink?

An online dating service is like having a friend go into the pub ahead of you as a “scout,” and this scout picks 5 people who you could go out with. How cool is that?! Of course, this doesn't mean that any of those 5 people are perfect for you, just that they share important traits and interests that are the basis for a compatible relationship.

10 reasons to consider dating online:

1. Most online dating sites have a "matching algorithm," (i.e., a formula that matches people in a way that helps ensure they are compatible, thus significantly increasing the chances of romantic success).

2. Adults on the autism spectrum often tend to be better at writing out what they feel and think (e.g., in chat messages), whereas in “real life,” they might hold back feelings or thoughts, or be too afraid or embarrassed to talk about some things.

3. Dating sites allow you to place a photo along with a personal ad, and some even have audio capability so you can listen to your potential partner’s voice. While this may sound a bit superficial at first, it actually takes the whole "meat market" aspect out of the dating process because it allows you to weed out the individuals that you feel uncomfortable with from the start.

4. For the frugal minded “Aspie, online dating saves you a lot of money. When you go out on a “real life” date, you have several possible costs involved (e.g., gas to and from the date, a meal for two, movie or concert tickets for two, etc.) – and this is just for one date! When you date online, you save all of that money (and if the date does not go as you had hoped, you will not be out any money).

5. If it turns out that a particular “online person” is not for you, you can graciously back out without the awkwardness of a “real life” date.

6. One of the “hidden” benefits of online dating is that it allows you to critically examine what you want out of life (not just out of a potential relationship) in a way you haven’t done before.

7. Online dating helps you meet potential partners rapidly so that you can quickly determine whether or not there is any compatibility. Initial contacts may be through online chats and messaging exchanges, which help you get to know your potential date.

8. Online dating offers you access to potential mates that you would be unlikely to meet through other avenues.

9. When you look for that special someone online, you are able to be yourself, to relax more, and not feel so pressured to impress the other person. You can just be you.

10. With online dating, you get to know the “real” person. Once you have chatted with someone online for a while, you begin to know that person, how he or she feels and thinks, and what makes him or her happy or sad.

So if you’re tired of being single and isolated, consider joining a dating site soon (or how about now?!). But before you do, understand this:

In romantic relationships, many of us are somehow convinced that one particular individual (yet to be discovered) will make us completely happy. This is a myth! The modern idea of romance, the idea that one “special person” is out there, that there is a perfect match waiting for you, is simply bullshit. There is not one specific individual for which everything should be given up so that you can have a “happily ever after.” So, forget about it. Get online and start looking over all the available matches, pick on, then see how it goes. If it doesn’t work, simply go on to pick #2, then #3, and so on. Eventually you will find someone who will be just fine as they are (which won’t be perfect, but that’s O.K.).

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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 

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