Relationships

Has anyone else struggled? Apart from when I was very young I only have very short term relationships- usually about 3 months, and I’m usually the one to end them. It can be years in between relationships though. I’ve always been awful at judging how to get across to someone that I’m interested, sometimes I try anyway and it may or may not go well - I often do cringeworthy things like fail to notice a wedding ring or something. Sometimes though I don’t really understand what I could have done differently, other than be a bit more forward on the times where I didn’t speak up enough - it’s just my difficulty understanding signals over the years, even though I believe I’m better now, as well as generally being an absent minded, daydreaming oddball (even if the women I’ve been with have assured me they find my appearance very attractive), has totally sapped my confidence. I have almost zero success with dating apps. 

I expect a lot of this is more a problem for autistic men, as it’s normally men who do the asking, but I suppose for autistic women there are other relationship difficulties?

It would be interesting to know if anyone has had similar experiences, and if they have any advice. 

Thanks

Parents
  • I think that online dating apps for guys is difficult in general, at least from the videos I've seen talking about them. They'll do this experiment, where a girl poses as a guy and on the dating app expecting to be bombarded with messages, but no one really notices them, to the point that it's soul destroying. But for girls using the dating apps, they are usually flooded by messages. I've never cared much about trying out dating apps myself though, because it's too much socializing with people who have ulterior motives, and I don't really care for that.

    I'm really lazy when it comes to dating, romance, and relationships. I would not want to date an NT, because if I'm working on something, they feel ignored, so they try to pull my attention away from it and onto them, they want the attention to always be on them 24/7 or else they're not happy and they feel unloved and think I'm a bad person and start treating me like one. I cannot provide all the attention and affection they are looking for, and I know that they won't be happy, because they might think that I'm emotionally distant, so I avoid dating them because it's unfair for them. There'a so many other NT out there that they can find one of those people to date and be happy with.

    I just try to date ND people, who get lost in the work they're doing, just like I do, and we give each other space to pursue our own interests, and there's a mutual understanding of the need for personal space. I can be in my own little world, and they can be in theirs, and then once in awhile we take a break to chat to each other, and these chats are always interesting, and then we refocus on being in our own little world. I mean that's not the type of life for everyone, but it works well for us. 

  • I think autistic people can be like that as well though. At about age 20 I remember being incredibly petulant about being left out by my girlfriend when she spent time with her friends. The reason was likely very low self esteem but still doesn't make it okay. I've matured since then (I hope).

    I do need time to myself though, possibly it's more important for autistic people, I don't know. I get lonely but I've worked hard to ensure I have my own space almost whenever I need it.  

Reply
  • I think autistic people can be like that as well though. At about age 20 I remember being incredibly petulant about being left out by my girlfriend when she spent time with her friends. The reason was likely very low self esteem but still doesn't make it okay. I've matured since then (I hope).

    I do need time to myself though, possibly it's more important for autistic people, I don't know. I get lonely but I've worked hard to ensure I have my own space almost whenever I need it.  

Children
  • Well I've had situations like that as well, and yes it feels bad to feel left out of something by your partner, especially since you value your partner so much, but if they leave you out of something then that feels bad.

    I guess what I meant was that when we need personal space to recharge, but someone's trying to pull us away from recharging, it's like your phone is at 1% power and someone's unplugging your phone prematurely, it's just not enough energy to sustain yourself, and if the other person expects you to socially perform acrobatics for them to entertain them to appease them, when you can barely sustain yourself, and that's not a good thing to do. It's not good to be burned out and not be able to have a break.  

  • Yes I definitely get this burn out thing. I find it impossible to get across to people what it's like so I just don't tell them because I know they won't believe me.

    I understand why you say it's usually better for autistic people to date each other, certainly quite a few of my friends are on the spectrum, people I knew years before I was diagnosed. I apparently gravitate towards people on the spectrum unconsciously. I would say my long term partners had autistic, or at the very least very obsessive, traits, so there were enough similarities. 

    I think because a lot of autistic people get sick of the difficulties of socialising they stop after certain a point, and maybe that's why in my thirties I so rarely meet women who might be on the spectrum - I only usually go out if I'm performing with my band now I've given up alcohol. I'm trying to force myself to go to a book club but I keep reading the books and not going. Three books now and not attended once! I wouldn't even bother thinking about putting the effort in if it wasn't for the fact that I feel I should at least try before it well and truly becomes too late. 

    I appreciate your comments anyway, I'm feeling low a lot of the time lately and the few people I'm still in touch with and trust enough to talk to about this don't understand where I'm coming from about the autism or depression related issues. 

  • Yeah I don't know anyone in my life where I'd be so open to talk about autism and depression either, so I just come here. 

    I realised that I am not very motivated by social commitments. Unless It's something I have to do, like work or a doctors appointment, I just find it hard to go. I used to go to social engagements due to fear and social pressure, but then I realized that those are not good reasons to see people. I'd like to see someone because I want to see them, not because someone else thinks it would be good for me to be somewhere.

    I think that autistic women would probably be working on their own personal interests, more than they would be out socializing with others, but when they are socializing they are masking, which is probably why they'll be hard to find.

  • I think if you feel content with this then that’s okay. Do you feel happy enough without socialising more?

    Personally I know I need company and eventually intimacy even if I don’t like hugging friends or family or that kind of thing. I would probably be a more sociable person if I didn’t worry so much about how I come across. 

  • I socialize a lot at work, and I appear as friendly, hard-working and confident to others. But aside from that, I'm like a hermit. 

    I suppose that I don't mind going to work and  doctors appointments, because I'm not expected to "hang out" with them. I can say hi, and keep them at a distance.

    But with friends and family, they have expectations, which creates ideals of perfectionism about how things "should" be like, and if anything goes wrong, it's dramatic and a chaotic mess. I'd rather not be in those types of situations. So that's why I stopped talking to them.

    And how you could appear confident in social situations, is that you could imagine yourself alone in your own room, and I think that everyone is very confident when they're alone in their own room, I mean they'll sing, they'll dance, and they do whatever they want, and if you apply that "state of mind" in a social setting, that level of comfort to just "be yourself" comes across as confidence. 

    I would also smile and initiate the first greeting to break the tension, and that's also a sign of confidence. But it depends on the social situation. I mean if let's say you're playing in the band, the audience will recognize you, so if you greet them they'll be more then thrilled to talk to you. But if you're at a bar where no one knows you at all, and you try to initiate contact with someone who does not know you at all, they only have your appearance to go by (usually people look at you to see if you're friendly or a threat), and if you don't look so good, they might just find that you're being creepy. 

    And social skiils are a skill, they can be learned and built upon. Even people with high charisma will admit to working on that skill for a long period of time. 

    Also if you're really desperate/have an opened mind, you could tell the universe that you do NOT want something to happen, and it'll usually bring that thing into your life. Like I'd suppose that many white shirts have been stained for that very reason. So possibly if you tell the universe that you do not want a relationship and you're more relaxed about it, it'll bring one into your life. There's a possibility that the universe works on reversed psychology. 

  • There's a possibility that the universe works on reversed psychology. 

    Haha!

    Thanks for the advice. I performed on the weekend but was too overwhelmed for it to even occur to me to speak properly to a woman who came up to me to say she liked my band. Kind of a missed opportunity there but I guess I have to treat it as a learning experience. I used to drink a lot and was able to talk with more ease but I had to stop that. Now I need to learn and maybe prepare a few set responses for when I meet people I think, otherwise I may a well not bother trying to socialise. 

  • You're getting approached by women who like your band, which is good. I suppose you could have exhanged contact details with each other, and then started texting, and maybe go on a date with her if she is interested. 

    Yeah, preparing responses is a good idea, and it's something that I would do too. I mean, it's better to be over prepared than under prepared, so when the opportunity rises again, you're ready. 

  • I wonder if people with autism find it more difficult to respond in a spontaneous way socially? Maybe it’s difficult for everyone, I don’t know. But I think the way forward for me, as I relearn how to socialise post-lockdown, could be preparing a few responses I can turn to in situations when I’m too overwhelmed to think of something to say spontaneously. 

  • Yes, that's the dilemma.  Need to be alone v need for connection. Tell me about it.

  • Do you experience this same dilemma?

    I really like people, I like hearing what they have to say and getting people's opinions and sharing my own opinions. I like to talk about things in depth actually. This suits some but for a lot it's probably tedious. Connection is very very important to me, and I especially missed having people to talk to outside of work during the lockdown (I worked through the pandemic as I was working in social care at the time). But I also go very very quite and need time to myself, preferably to read or write but it seems just as important to just stare silently into space... And I've become crushingly self conscious, which can actually make a lot of social experiences far more painful than beneficial which is sad. My poor short term memory and clumsiness is where a lot of the self consciousness comes from. And I worry about the way I look... but then who doesn't?