Advice For Dating Someone With Asperger's
Updated December 11, 2018
Reviewer Laura Angers
When dating someone with Asperger's syndrome, it can be helpful to understand better some of their personality traits, so as not to accidentally upset them or cause some other kind of miscommunication. Dating is hard enough as it is, so it can be helpful to know in advance how to prevent some situations from occurring.
What Is Asperger's Syndrome?
Asperger's syndrome is a form of autism. People who have Asperger's are either of an average or above-average intelligence. However, where they struggle is with social interactions, so gatherings and parties are often difficult for them, as is meeting new people and communicating with those they already know.
While Asperger's can create a wall insofar as a person's ability to communicate, it also has some pretty beneficial sides to it as well. For one thing, those with Asperger's tend to develop a deep interest in a particular topic and can discuss that topic for hours. It could be a topic as vague as cars or as narrow as shampoo. If you know a lot about the same topic, then you both can enjoy quite the discussion!
The Positives And Negatives Of Having Asperger's Syndrome
Some of the "perks" of having Asperger's include:
- The ability to work well by yourself
- A keen ability to pay attention to detail
- The ability to do well in a particular area without letting others' opinions affect you
- A unique and intense way of thinking
- A recognition of patterns that others might miss
However, there are downsides to having the condition as well, including:
- A lack of interest in socializing with other people
- A difficulty in maintaining a relationship for the long-term
- Living in extremes (g., staring too intently vs. being unable to make eye contact whatsoever)
- A failure to respect someone's boundaries
- The inability to pick up on someone's nonverbal cues
- Being unusually sensitive to stimuli involving the five senses (stronger sense of smell, etc.)
Diagnosing Asperger's Syndrome
For a person to be diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, he or she is interviewed and observed by an expert in that area and evaluated based on the criteria established for diagnosing the condition. Often, the parents or teachers of a younger child or adolescent will also be interviewed to glean more information before making an official diagnosis.
Plenty of adults have been diagnosed with Asperger's. While this has been falsely attributed to a "rise in autism rates," the truth is that we are much more informed about autism than we were, say, 20 years ago, and have fine-tuned our criteria to help us diagnose people who are on the spectrum.
So, while a child may have been written off or misdiagnosed as someone with behavioral or psychological issues that would explain his or her behavior, it is a comfort for them to realize as adults that really, they were just on the spectrum this whole time. There is nothing "wrong" with them, they just think differently from the rest of us. And the more we learn about the condition, the better equipped we are to communicate with them and help them feel more comfortable.
Things To Know When Dating Someone With Asperger's
Dating someone with Asperger's can take a toll on you, especially if you don't know much about the condition. The following tips can be helpful for dating someone with mild Asperger's or even a more severe case.
Learn As Much As You Can About Asperger's
The more you learn about the condition, the better off your relationship will be. You will find that you have more compassion for your partner when you know why he or she is acting the way they do.
For instance, someone with Asperger's may appear to be self-absorbed and only care about their own needs, rather than considering yours. The truth is, they see the world differently than we do - their brains have been shown to process information differently from ours. So while they do care about you, it may be more difficult for them to show it.
Once you understand this, you can work with your partner to ensure that your needs are met and that neither of you is frustrated by your partner's condition. Don't feel guilty if your partner's actions still hurt once in a while, but do understand that it's not like your partner is doing these things to you deliberately. Your partner is not going out of his or her way to be cold, mean, or distant toward you - that's just how it comes off as to other people.
Alone Time Is Important
Just because someone with Asperger's may want some alone time once in a while, this doesn't mean they don't love you. Unwinding at the end of a long day with other people may be more difficult for someone with Asperger's. Sometimes a little alone time can go a long way in fortifying the relationships a person with Asperger's shares with others.
Subtle Hints May Not Go Over As Well
When you're interested in dating someone, subtle hints and passive-aggression is generally the name of the game. If you want to pursue things further with that person, you may dress a certain way, wear your hair a certain way, or speak in innuendos. However, these subtle hints and nonverbal cues may not be as easily interpreted by someone with Asperger's.
For instance, you may think he's not interested in you because he isn't reaffirming that he's attracted to you, or that he loves you. He does feel these things; it's just harder for him to express it. And when you're more understanding of his methods of communication (or non-communication), your relationship can be healthier, and you both can be happier.
During moments where communication may be strained, it is important to remember to be patient with each other and to communicate your needs and wants. Sometimes you do need to spell everything out and ask the other person questions. This may seem less romantic when the devil is often in the details, but it doesn't have to be. It just means that the romantic dance that other couples do with each other needs to be done a little differently for you guys. You can get creative and have fun with it, rather than letting it frustrate you.
Tips For Communicating Better With Each Other
Because someone with Asperger's may experience more difficulty understanding their own emotions, communicating with them can sometimes be a struggle. Even something as small as making eye contact with them over an inside joke may not go over well. You may be very open to learning more about how to connect better with your partner, but you may not know where to start. In that case, you may find the following exercise from PsychCentral to be rather helpful:
Start by writing down all of how you try to connect with your partner. Then, make a list of the things you would like your partner to do to connect better with you. Have your partner make the same lists, then trade them and discuss how you would like to connect better with each other going forward.
Keep the lists accessible, like maybe on the fridge or tacked up to a bulletin board. Try to do a few of the things on your partner's list, and your partner should do the same. The both of you should feel free to regularly review and update your list as you try behaviors and discover some that don't work or some that worked very well.
Another thing you can try is to be as specific as possible when you need them to do something. For instance, you may ask your partner to help out with some housework while you're at the movies with a friend. You get back from the movies to find that the dishes are still stacked in the sink, but the carpets have been vacuumed. While you may appreciate the vacuuming, you may be angry and dumbfounded that the obvious pile of dishes has not been taken care of.
This is not your partner's fault. He truly believed he was helping out and did not pick up on the subtlety of your request. Next time, be more specific, but don't be mean about it. Instead, say something like, "can you please wash and put away the dishes in the sink while I'm gone?" It may feel like more of a chore, or like you're more demanding, but it's infinitely more helpful for the both of you to state exactly what you need or wants to prevent any miscommunication.
In other words, if you're more of a passive-aggressive person, then this is something you will need to work on to make a relationship with someone with Asperger's work.
Are you dating someone with Asperger's? Do you have Asperger's, and you're worried other people will feel hesitant about dating you? Contact our counselors at BetterHelp for more information and advice.