“What can I do about my Aspergers boyfriend’s tendency to spend countless hours on the computer (researching this and that)? I don't usually care for labels, but I think it would be fair to call him a "computer addict." He is in his “home office” constantly and spends very little time with me or my son. Our relationship ALWAYS comes second. When I approach him about it, he just says, "I’ll be done in a bit… hold on!” Do you have any ideas that can help us? We have talked about getting married someday, but we’re just not there yet. I really do love this man, but I have to wonder if he values being on the computer more than he does me.”
The first thing to do is to make an effort to get inside your boyfriend's mind. If you can understand his motivation and what makes him tick, you'll be in a better position to help him fully comprehend your concern. As you may already know, people with Aspergers are “wired” differently. One of the traits associated with the disorder is the fact that they give a lot of time and attention to just one or two “special interests.”
Give this a try: Plan a nice dinner out with your boyfriend on the weekend (without your son, if possible). Put aside your anger and disappointment and tell him how much you love him and appreciate him as a partner and a role model for your son. At the same time, be honest with him and let him know that his “computer time” seems to be taking precedence over the relationship. Tell him you value his input and involvement as a father-figure, and ask him if he would be willing to examine his schedule and make some changes.
If you can deliver this message in the spirit of love rather than resentment and frustration, you may be surprised at how positively your boyfriend responds. On the other hand, if he reacts defensively and denies there's a problem, it may be time for the two of you to consider couple’s counseling with someone who specializes in ASD. If he refuses to go to counseling, then you may need to either (a) learn to live with this situation, or (b) consider moving on.
If your boyfriend does express an openness to your concerns, then you've taken a huge step in the right direction. But you will want to have plenty of patience in store. If he truly has a computer addiction, he's not going to change overnight. If he's serious about making the changes you're requesting, he'll want to be held accountable by a therapist who specializes in addiction.
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD
==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples
==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism
==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Anonymous said… So what is the sum total of all of this? My answer is this - ACCEPT PEOPLE AS THEY REALLY ARE.
• Anonymous said… As to finding out what he needs, suggest you use a computer to interact with him.
• Anonymous said… Best bet is to figure out why he feels he needs to spend that much time; if it is an escape what is he escaping from? Does he feel stressed/overwhelmed? But as states above setting concrete desires and plan of action; I need x # of hrs each day of personal interaction/Family time/etc and working that out; he may not realize or pick up that there is or that you have an issue with his actions.
• Anonymous said… Don't use the word relationship it's meaningless..state what u want simply e.g. an ideal daily/weekly schedule then say please talk with me tomorrow night at...about this.he needs time alone with you too if poss..nothing improves unless you design it to
• Anonymous said… I also have aspergrs and it is always helpful to have a schedule. Computer use from one time to another, family time from another time to another
• Anonymous said… I am HFA and am 63 years old, am married. As a group ASDs generally tend towards empathy but away from overt displays of emotion. People tend to hide from things which bother them in some way. Perhaps he find emotions difficult or touching and being touched. Perhaps he cannot slow his thinking self down so as to hold a conversation. Perhaps his radius of privacy versus interaction is further away from himself than others' are aware. Also, be aware that ASDs may not be able to distinguish individual voices when more than one person speaks. Pushing emotional contact onto an ASD may result in a meltdown.
• Anonymous said… I can pretty much guarantee your relationship comes first even though he doesn't show it. Aspies are highly loyal and dedicated. My husband is exactly the same way, video games and computers are his escape and relaxation. When our kids were younger we set it up that he doesn't play until after the kids go to bed (which was 8 for us). He also had to set an alarm for his phone or else he would play til all hours of the night. Also plan date nights where you can get out of the house. Good luck!
• Anonymous said… I married late in life - after army service and after my 40th birthday - the 1 st marriage was not a success, though we struggled on for 11 years; I found her need for emotion and constant touching difficult to cope with and I escaped into books and hobbies.
• Anonymous said… I reckon he loves you loads, personal space, my computer and other bits of nonsense represent safe haven for me, I use mobile devices to stay connected to that which allows me more time to venture out into the crazy world, I'm rubbish at peopling in general so not the best person to be giving relations advice, but when people say autistic folk don't feel stuff they are wrong, it is an overwhelming experience that creates my blank response to those deep situations not the fact that I'm not feeling anything, hope you can find some solutions. 😎 🎈
• Anonymous said… I think you need to put very specific boundaries around your needs - ie I need to have an hour of time each day to catch up on life - etc
• Anonymous said… In all of this I do not hear or see his voice nor what he wants - until you know what he honestly and truthfully wants, then you are whistling in the winds of uncertainty.
• Anonymous said… My 3rd marriage happened late 2014 and we are both essentially loners who felt the need for companionship. M is severely disabled and I am her principle carer. Somewhat ironical because I wear a power chair. We annoy each other and then we laugh about it.
• Anonymous said… My second marriage was to a lady I call the love of my life because she instinctively knew what she needed and when I needed to have separation because I was heading for a meltdown; we were really close - she was terminal when I met her and we had 8 years together. She died on the operating table on Jan 26th 2013. so just coming up to 4 years now.
• Anonymous said… Nothing will change .. been there done that
• Anonymous said… Now as to a non-ASD imposing rules or routines on an ASD - you are likely to find that he withdraws even more.
• Anonymous said… now it sounds like your boyfriend is a typical Aspergic, let me tell you we love our patterns i have Aspergers my self, now i don't know him or you so i cant give direct advice but what i cab say is that yes he does love you, being and Aspergic we are drawn to certain things like technology, i my self love playing on my ps4 when i am at home. if i would give advice from an Aspergerics view point id say try to set up a time table of sorts a lot time for him to go on his pc and time rot you and your child.
• Anonymous said… Yes He Probably Does value the time understanding and processing then with you. However that does not mean ur not valued. Tolerance levels of one on one and groups?
Asking for time in other activities is key for eveyone whos lives are online.
• Anonymous said… Yes, this. 1. We need an exact, specific, literally-worded schedule, 2. Schedule ALL time, & 3. The hyperfocus on the computer/similar favorite activity is akin to what others do to relax and have fun. The computer stuff is simultaneously stimulating and relaxing. But it's also a need for us in this overwhelming world, not merely a hobby or escape.
• Anonymous said… You need to be more concrete in your needs. People have mentioned a schedule for the computer but actually a schedule for family and couples time is probably s good idea too. Give him definites around the time and activities you expect him to do with you and his child. Now you may get tired of always doing the planning but getting him to plan things might be stage two. For now set up a schedule for the evenings. Including playtime for your son and time for just the two of you. It may be a good idea to schedule his computer time for the very last thing in the evening when you are having your own chill out time or going to bed. If he has met his commitments then don't complain about his computer time. If it cuts into his sleep time that's his issue. Not yours. Giving him very concrete plans is best. Saying vague things like you want him to spent time with you may get through to him as he won't understand what you want or what you are saying. Learn to speak his language and see how it goes. It's all about compromise and it may seem like it's you doing all the compromising but it won't be. Escaping into the computer or an activity is a natural impulse for us aspies and giving up some of that is actually hard. It doesn't mean we don't love our kids. This is " our" bottle or wine or beer . Or friends or social outings. These type of behaviour replace a hell lot of stuff people like you do naturally to feel good. Like friends or nights out or wine etc.
* Anonymous said... I'm on the AS as well. What I don't like is using the word "computer" exclusively for describing something as an addiction, obsession, et al. Computers are multi-purose tools, not single purpose devices/consumables (e.g., video games, narcotic drugs, etc.). If you go to your favourite bar/club/pub frequently, using your car to get there, you are not a car addict, but possibly an alcoholic. There are many things you can do with a computer which are either not possible (and/or not feasible) to do differently. Lastly, those "smart phones" you and everyone else is using could be seen as an obsession, or addiction as well. If you were to have a timer of some sort that recorded how much time in a 24 hour period your phones display was illuminated, how many minutes in a day do you think you would average? You may not think of your mobile device as a computer at the end of the day, but that doesn't change the fact that it still is.
* Anonymous said... So if your not married yet I would tell you to move on without him. I am married to an Aspie for 24 yrs. We only got gis diagonsis 4 yes ago and he hasnt even tried to change. Always on his tablet and no interaction with me or our son. He seems to get angry when I even mention it now. He has gotten worse over the past few years. It leaves you very lonely and you and your son will alway be doing things by yourself.
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