What are autistic adults supposed to do about relationships?

All the social skills stuff is about starting conversations or finding friends, but nothing about what to do after that.

I can find nothing for autistic adults and how to deal with the complexities of relationships. It is all just surface stuff about how to talk to people, or start conversations. 

Where can I find out what to do?

  • Hello. I'm sorry you're feeling so unsure and so alone. You're right that there is very little  wriiten for AS folk on relationships but I think NT people struggle with them too, they're just difficult!

    There are AS people on this forum who will be happy to advise if you feel able to ask specific questions about your situation. Is your partner NT and could you say what you feel has gone wrong?

  • Sorry orangesun,

     Could you give us some more info? Are you and Aspie male of Female?

  • I cannot put any personal insight into this because it simply never happened to me. It seems not to be an option.

    So it is quite difficult to share insight with someone who is in a relationship.

    I agree the literature out there is about dating, meeting up, making the first move etc., which is often written by non-autistic people trying to make it is easy.

    There are some books out there which are about personal experiences. In the Sheffield Hallam University - Adults Speak out about Asperger Syndrome Series: "Asperger Syndrome and Social relationships", edited by Genevieve Edmonds and Luke Beardon (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2008 ISBN 978 1 84310 647 0) there are some chapters that seem to get into the subject - eg 9 by Wendy Lawson and 12 by Vicky Bliss

    The converse is problems in relationships - Asperger's Syndrome and Adults... Is anyone listening? Essays and poems by partners, parents or family members of adults with Asperger's Syndrome, collected by Karen E Rodman (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2003 ISBN 1 84310751 1). That has chapters by contributors on marriage and relationship experiences. The opposite of success can be informative.

    Then there are biographical books where people consider how things work for them "Look me in the eye"  by John Elder Robison is an American biography that includes a marriage (Three Rivers Press ISBN 978 0 307 39618 1 and other versions including kindle).

    I think the literature would not be a complete "blank canvas" because there just are so many people trying. I think there is useful stuff around, just being pretty ignorant about it myself I cannot judge how good or bad the advice is.

    I guess the big issues are not having social referencing (whether a group of friends outside the relationship, or his/her friends etc), not having any idea about timing (that thing when you are supposed to know when your partner wants/needs acknowledgement and reassurance and when not), and mutual sharing and prompting. A person on the spectrum is just not going to know what to do and when, nor will they know when their partner is making signals.

    Perhaps watching marriage based sitcoms might help - all the misunderstandings and conflicts NTs joke about are really the fabric of a relationship where one (or both) are autistic.

  • I find it is very easy to become attached to one person, espcially when you have no other friends. But I always think to myself that I need to be happy on my own before I can be happy with someone else, and that seems to be a problem you are having. 

    Have you tried a hotline like the Samaritans? They are great as you can talk to them about anything and help you see throught he problems into a safer place.

    Remeber to stay safe, it is not worth staying in a relationship if it is making you unhappy. I know it can be difficult if you are afriad of being alone. But being unhappy will make you lonely anyway.

    It does get better, you WILL find another friend/partner who deserves you much more than someone who will make you sad.