Definitely sounds like he is on the autistic spectrum. At the end of the day it his life and his personal life journey. One piece of advice is not put pressure on him or give him too much to think about. If he indeed is on the autistic spectrum he may experience sensory overload. If he doesn't want children or to be with you accept that and move on
As hard as it is to hear all this, I appreciate your comments. Thank you, I have just never been in this situation before
Maybe he just finds the idea of having children too awful to contemplate. I know I do, and I am female. There is basically nothing at all about children that I like, and according to my parents, that hasn't changed since I was a child myself.
It sounds like unfortunately when he talked about having children, he was just doing what he thought he needed to do to maintain the relationship. If you can't imagine a future without him, I guess you will have to see if you can imagine a future without children (and possibly marriage too). I think it's true to say that a lot of us find big displays of emotion overwhelming, and tend to run away when this happens, so perhaps give yourself a couple of weeks before you try to talk to him, so it can all be a bit calmer.
I'm sorry that this must be so painful for you. He obviously means a lot to you if you were considering marriage and children.
If he is autistic, he may be wrestling with this more than it appears. Would the low self-esteem amount to depression, do you think? I think most autistic people would find 'socialising more than a few hours' difficult, particularly putting on a show for new people, and in some cases more than a few minutes. He may be scared of the responsibility of fatherhood or not being a good father, of the disruption from children, or for the reasons he's given. You may want to think how important a child is to you.
I'm not in any position to be giving relationship advice, but it seems he needs time and space in any case, and maybe that would help you. Is the question to ask what he would prefer between a friendship and a relationship? A relegation to friendship might be painful if it turns out to be permanent, but takes the pressure off him and I can testify that I still have mutually rewarding friendships with my neurotypical ex-girlfriends. (In fact, a couple of them took only a couple months afterwards to find their life partners.)
Being blunt (which is something I excel at...), isn't it better to find this sort of thing out now, rather than after you'd married and had kids?
(says the recently diagnosed Asperger guy trying to salvage marriage #2...)
It sounds like everyone else around him has more of a problem with the way he is than he does. If he was diagnosed I doubt his opinion would change. A diagnosis doesn't mean that people will conform to what other people want of them. Probably the opposite.
I'm sorry if this sounds blunt but you seem to think that his suspected Autism is the cause of his opinion and not his individual choice. His "quirkyness" which you love him in spite of, is as much a part of his personality as his loveable side.
It sounds like you have fallen hard for someone who you don't have much chance of a future with. I'd stop wasting my time and find someone more compatible. You sound like you want things your way and he sounds like someone who wants things his way.
Another thing is that being Autistic is never an excuse for being a bit of a ***.