Did anyone else find the Chris Packham show (https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09b1zbb/chris-packham-aspergers-and-me) worrying?
Had Chris chosen to be single, I would have applauded every aspect of this show and agreed wholeheartedly with his horror at the 'curative treatments' he witnessed in the USA / sentiment that his Aspergers was an intrinsic and positive part of his make-up.
But he isn't single, and I was horrified at how casually the show treated the dysfunction in his relationship with Charlotte.
He admitted to having difficulty in empathizing with other humans. The only feeling he expressed for Charlotte was gratitude that SHE loved HIM; he showed her no affection, avoided physical contact with her, said that he only knew how long they'd been together because she had told him (10 years), aggressively forced her to greet his dog before he otherwise acknowledged her after a significant period of time apart... for her part she acknowledged many difficulties in the relationship but the show presented her concluding that it was worth it because she so admired how his mind works. Was that just editing? Can it really be enough? Surely anyone can admire how his mind works, it doesn't mean that you have to be in an exclusive 'romantic' relationship / 'partnership' with that person to witness it.
I worry for her enormously, because I am only just now recovering from a "catastrophic" end to a relationship with a man on the Autism Spectrum. I wrote on this forum about it last year. The short version of it is that I supported him for years, and he ended our relationship a few hours after my Dad's traumatic death because HE found it too intense.
There was more too, but beyond the scope of this post. It's impossible to express the psychological impact these events have had on me, it was devastation upon devastation. That was about a year and a half ago. It has been a very tough time and although I'm starting to pull through now, my own mental health has been in the toilet for most of it.
What is a relationship for if not reciprocal intimacy and support? The show completely glossed over his really unpleasant attitude to humans in general, and Charlotte in particular. In addition, I'm concerned that the show may have given the impression that treating a partner with such disdain is acceptable. It's not.
I completely agree that Aspergers has unique potential to offer a whole other set of intellectual skills which are of enormous value to humanity, but it is my opinion that it is irresponsible for someone who does not have the capacity for human empathy to be involved in a romantic relationship.
There is no crystal ball. Nobody knows how they will be when life hits hard.
In your rants it seems that Packham and all aspies are a conduit for your bitterness and that you are looking for a punchbag, or whatever else from your rants.
I wish you happiness.
I guess the only solution in your opinion, would be to make it illegal for autistic people to get into a relationship, to lock us up in prison indefinitely if we dare to venture into one because as you noted, 'To say that there’s nothing wrong with a condition that would make an individual think that this is acceptable is dangerously misleading'. Maybe we should skip the relationship thing and just lock us all up anyway, seeing as how we're all so dangerous.
I feel for you, I really do, I was in a similar situation to yours, I was convinced my ex had narcissistic personality disorder and had specialist therapy to get over that but I now realise he is probably autistic and therefore I have no hard feelings towards him. I realise he was just doing his best. It sounds like you still have some healing to do which is understandable, these types of situations can take a long time to heal from but like Jedders, I have no sympathy for the two females, they ought to know him by now and if they love and respect him then they will accept him for who he is and not try to push him to do things that that will cause him a lot of stress. I haven't seen the program but he will have worked hard to find a way to live where he can minimise stress and avoiding high stress situations is one thing we have to sacrifice. There are events that I would love to go to but the price I pay is way too high so I have to not go. Others might view me as being mean or selfish or uncaring or whatever, and if that's what they think, then they don't know me very well and there's not a lot I can do about that.
Like others on here, I sincerely wish you healing and happiness and a loving relationship that meets all of your needs.
I have held off replying to this until now but feel I have to put my three ha'pence in.
Relationships are different for everyone. What one person sees as the 'ideal' relationship another will find unbearable. Some couples are very tactile, smothering their partners with hugs and kisses, and never having a moment of time on their own. Others manage to keep a long-distance relationship together with no outward sign of emotion.
It is surely not for us to judge other people by our own standards. I do know it is a trait of many people to pass comment on what others are doing even if it is legal and does not affect anyone else. And we all know that others passing judgement made perfectly loving relationships the victims of the law until quite recently even though they were causing no one else any harm, because of the seeming need of interference in how others conducted themselves in their own way in private.
How Chris, or anyone else, conducts his relationship is up to him and his partner. His partner is not being forced to endure the partnership, she is old enough to understand and is willing to accept him. And as a way he is affected by autism, it put a powerful point across. The point that he feels that his relationship is best served by living apart and seeing each other on a regular basis but not living together. And however frustrated his partner is over this she accepts this. This is what Chris is like, and to change that she would not have the same person who she is obviously very fond of. Yes, relationships do break down as I know to my cost, but once again we do not have the information and I don't believe it is any of our business to try to predict this in other people.
I have a grown up daughter and would never dream of interfering in how she wishes to conduct her relationship with her boyfriend. She is old enough to decide for herself. And likewise I would never dream of passing judgement on a couple I didn't know who are conducting their lives in a way that is ultimately acceptable for them however we may have interpreted it.
Yeah, there are as many types of relationships as there are people and we all want different things. Some people just want companionship while others want deep soul connections. We're all living and learning and we can learn from other people as well as from our own experience but making judgements never helps anyone and if we can accept ourselves, we can accept everyone else.
Although I do not personally share or agree with some of Maras views, perceptions and interpretations of events which were in the programme; underlying all this speculation, I can’t help but feel that Mara raised an important point which is being missed and ‘glossed over…’ here. And that point is (not to focus on CPs relationships personally but instead that the show may have highlighted) that it may be painful for an NT dating an ND in ways that only (NT) others in a similar situation may be able to fully understand?
And this point (as seemingly raised in Maras opening post) appears to be stemming from the fact that the usual things that an NT may naturally assume or expect from any ‘loving’ relationship, such as that their partner (parent or child) will be there for them during difficult or important times, may prove to not necessarily be entirely 'true' when dating (or being in a relationship with) an ND? This point is, of course, true when dating NTs too, however:
Using the programmes content as an example only; Megan’s Graduation demonstrates this point. I fully appreciate and respect that CP does not want to go due to a plethora of possible reasons however; this rationale, however justified from his point of view, may make it fully understandable, but likely does not stop it still hurting Megan that he won’t be there. And I think the important point that this example and Mara both raised may be that, even if an NT knows why an ND does or does not do something, knowing this ‘fact’ with the mind may not always stop it hurting the heart.
There are many NT people out there who know and accept why their ND child (or partner) does not hug them, but this may never stop them wanting a hug from their child (or partner) nor feeling the pain of loss of having no hug.
This is not to say that all NTs are there for their partners (parents or children) either, far from it. Or that NDs should be demonised in any way. However, it is no good pretending that dating a ND is ‘typical,’ because it may often be not. And this diversity has, in my opinion, great strengths and a great many positive and highly appealing aspects, but it must also have its downside for NTs too? And I think it’s appropriate to candidly reflect on (and not seek to shame) that downside, especially when an NT, such as Mara, reaches out and tries to share and make sense of their experiences.
And, in my understanding, it’s downright and irrefutably callous to suggest that any hurt or heartbreak endured by NTs or NDs in any relationship is simply and entirely their own fault for ‘knowing the score.’ We do have free will (allegedly) in our relationships with others, but equally: surely no amount of will power or freedom to choose has the ability to entirely stamp out hurt?
I am really truly sorry that your relationship didn't work out, i can see how hurt you are and feeling let down. As an example of other individuals and how your experience is not possible to stereotype......I am an NT (whatever that is!!) and i am in a cohabiting, good relationship with my HF Autistic partner. We aren't married but that's only because i don't like the institution of marriage. We are committed in every other way, going on for 15 years. We have two kids, one is an exact a carbon copy of my partner and one is very much like me, so we are continuing the array of good and tricky traits we both have in different areas. Of course, we've had our fair share of ups and downs and difficulties, as all relationships do have, when life sends us down a bendy road of chaos and unpredictability, we have to respond as best we can! It's taken a while for me to make sense of some of my partner's occasionally mysterious behaviours and sometimes hurtful responses, we didn't know he was on the spectrum until we realised that our child was. Now those areas all start to make sense and some of the responses my partner has, which were unexpected to me, i now understand in a new light. When i've had difficult times, it is hard for my partner to emotionally be there for me, but he does everything he can to help in other areas, he solves other problems and logistics and issues which sit around the 'emotional centre' enabling me to focus entirely on my emotional issue whilst managing the chaos surrounding it. I am quite emotionally stable and self reliant and so maybe i'm not so in need of emotional support, i don't know - i'm certainly full of empathy but i am no victim and i don't feel like i'm living with any vampires! I have friends and family if i need other support, but honestly i rarely do. I can't see that this is any different for any partnership, no one is good at everything, no one has a full emotional tool box, in fact most of my friends complain about their husbands not understanding their emotional needs!!! In our relationship we have strengths and weaknesses in different areas and can therefore be stronger together, we are a compliment in almost everything, he covers my blind spots and i cover his, we are a team and sometimes he pisses me off and sometimes i piss him off. Compared to what goes on in other relationships, i feel very lucky, even without the instinctive empathy part!! It goes without saying, he is capable of self reflection and self awareness and we can often joke about issues and resolve our differences, even if it starts with a lack of understanding or reluctance, no different to anyone. I absolutely admire my partner and my sons. We are most definitely in the right relationship and it has no bearing whether we are NT or ASC, we are simply the right fit. I hope you can see that we are all individuals and that the ability to respond instinctively by imagining yourself in someone else's shoes, although is important, is not a show stopper - it certainly does not exclude that individual from feeling deep love, being sensitive and feeling attachment and ALL the other feelings which we all share, both for themselves and for others, on any part of the spectrum of life. I didn't want to share this as a criticism but as an honest example of one relationship which works in spite of and maybe because of our neurological differences!! Good luck in your future relationships xx
I worry about the last para as it makes a huge generalisation, something I think is very dangerous when talking about anyone on the autism spectrum. It’s a spectrum for a reason, everyone on it is unique in where they fit, hence such a global statement about being irresponsible to have a relationship is frankly rubbish.
i accept that for some it is incredibly difficult to have a relationship. I was married for 18 yrs and every day was a challenge but I tried very hard to make it work. My wife left me three weeks after my diagnosis so I’m happy to accept it obviously wasn’t enough!
That said we have three beautiful children and I spend a huge amount of time with them. Yes I can’t always understand why their upset, nor why I sometimes answer the way I do. But if any of them asked if I would go to their graduation I’d be there with bells on. Hating every second of the noise, lights and people but it would be important to me to support them.
I would do the same for my ex even now. Since she left there has been a gap in my life. I don’t understand why but she’s now there when I want to share things with her, I still cook meals for her and drop them round sometimes, I still buy her flowers on occasion and help her choose dresses. Why? Because it makes her feel good and I like that.
I accept I’m more than likely destined to be single for the rest of my life but whether or not I meet the qualification and definition of ‘love’ whatever that is isn’t the point. The point is if two people of differing skills, temperaments, and even interests can find a space to share and spend they’re time together who are we to judge.
Otherwise where do you stop? By the time you’ve banned narcissists, politicians, lawyers and all the other groups who can’t possibly enjoy a mutually loving relationship there won’t be many left....
i kept trying to explain to my friend that i can't form emotionally close relationships like i want to because of the autism, he kept saying 'but do what Chris Packham does in his relationship and you'll be fine' and i kept saying 'i can't form relationships, form, not keep or maintain' but now you it sounds like it's not even my idea of a relationship. Maybe it's a male thing
"Aspergers has unique potential to offer a whole other set of intellectual skills" to the lucky few, most of us have learning disabilities but you're not allowed to say that here for some reason
Mara said:Can it really be enough?
Mara said:it is my opinion that it is irresponsible for someone who does not have the capacity for human empathy to be involved in a romantic relationship