I'm so glad to have finally found somewhere to discuss this.
My partner and me have been together for a couple of years, and we both feel he has AS. Both of us have siblings with AS and I have professional training and experience with people with this condition, plus his behaviours match up on online tests he's taken (though those things are a NIGHTMARE for literal thinkers like him!). We're in our late twenties and have discussed him getting a diagnosis for some time, but we're aware of the time/ effort/ chance of it not being recognised and we're not sure there'd really be any benefit for him or us. However, I'm starting to struggle a little.
I'm a very emotionally colourful person- enormously expressive and open- and I find his lack of emotion so challenging at times. There's zero affection unless I instigate it, though we have a relatively healthy sexual relationship. I can be crying and he'll just sit, blinking at me. He's never said anything emotional about me or our relationship, in terms of how much he loves me or how I make him feel. It's TOUGH, especially as I feel loved through words. I feel like we've tried everything, and bless him, he tries so, so hard to meet my needs, but having to constantly direct him in how to love me makes me feel I'm the only person in our relationship. We're both reaching a point of frustration and huge imbalance. I think he feels he irritates me all the time and is walking on eggshells. I find communicating with him so exhausting that I'm switching off, and I feel enormously guilty and responsible.
I've come to the point where I've realised I absolutely have to stop pushing him for things that are simply not in his repertoire, such as physical and vocal affection. He's tried and tried and just can't keep it up without reminding. I want to learn to love him as he is and stop focusing on my own void, but it's difficult. I have the most amazing relationship with my brother who has AS, and I'm the only person who can communicate well with him, but it's a completely different thing with a partner and strong emotions.
I don't feel I can talk to anyone else about this, as I worry people who don't understand would simply tell me to leave. I absolutely would never leave him. He's the most amazing man- kind, funny and intelligent. I just wish I had the skills to make him always feel that way, rather than the irritating little boy I probably make him feel at times. We're the best of friends and he's the absolute love of my life.
I wondered if anyone might have any advice, such as how to meet in the middle, or even how to learn to put my own needs, regarding affection, aside without feeling resentful. I'm already a very open, honest and direct communicator, but I feel we're so wildly different, that we're still not communicating well, and I'd love to fix that. I'd also like to add that I'm happy to be on this journey with him- people with AS have deeply enriched my life and my soul and I know that learning to navigate this will make our relationship, and me as an individual, infinitely stronger.
I'm so sorry this is is so long, and I'm so grateful if you've managed to read this and could offer any tips.
Sending love, thanks and best wishes.
Are you sure he's AS? A lot of men don't verbalise their feelings.
You sound like my girlfriend. You're clearly devoted to each other and there seems to be frustration on both sides. I could go on and on about the various things to try, reading books about each other etc etc etc but the best piece of information I've come across is this:
(About my NT girlfriend) the love she feels from me is like a plastic cup with tiny holes in, naturally it empties. To top it up with water I need to say I love you, give her an unexpected hug, buy her some flowers. This keeps the statement 'I love her' true as in she'll become worried about whether or not I care for her any more when her cup becomes empty. This allowed me to visualise her need to feel loved in a much more logical way and I've able to keep her cup much fuller recently!
I don't require the same stuff to feel loved, I believe she loves me until she tells me she doesn't! Her very presence in the same room as me is enough to make me feel happy and secure - I don't need affection. This is very confusing to her! It's not that I don't like all that stuff, it simply doesn't occur to me to do any of it naturally for her.
I'm un-diagnosed too, on the waiting list for assessment.
Thank you for your response, though I was hoping I wouldn't be asked this, especially as being unable to verbalise feelings isn't the only thing I've mentioned. Yes, I'm as sure as I can be without having a diagnosis. I'm a qualified social worker with plenty of experience in working with people with AS, and I have spotted it in individuals and supported them through diagnosis. I've had specialised training in this area. I've also had many friends with AS, and both my brothers have it, so I've known more about it than many neurotypical people since I was a kid. My partner's brother also has AS, and he (my partner) feels he has it too. Additionally, as mentioned, he has taken several of the diagnostic, online tests. It is not only being unable to verbalise his feelings. He is highly socially anxious, and has always struggled to make friends and maintain relationships. He has copied the behaviours of others his entire life as a kind of coping mechanism, due to lacking social skills. He can't read facial expressions, body language or tone of voice very well. He takes things very literally and can't 'read between the lines' or really...imagine. He lacks empathy, though I know he wishes he had it. He has a very strict, self-imposed routine which he repeats every day and becomes stressed when this is interrupted. He becomes overwhelmed extremely quickly and has practised stimming behaviours since he was a baby. He is obsessive about his (narrow) interests... I could go on, but I don't like to. This isn't why I posted.
OK, so maybe try this - rather than wanting him to provide the NT expressions that you expect why not ask him what he does/says because he loves you?
I do loads of tiny things for my NT wife that I consider to be micro-expressions of how much I care about her:
...she doesn't even notice that I do these things... but they are the way I express my love for her.
Don't get me started on 'meeting half-way', if he is ASD then he's probably already meeting you 75% of the way purely due to the need to 'mask' all the time to 'fit in'.
Realign your worldview to see the things he does for what they are, plus realise that when most NTs say 'I love you' or bring flowers these carry about as much value as reflexively saying "Bless you!" in response to a sneeze, but when someone with ASD does/says something they MEAN it.
Quality, not quantity...
But still what you originally described to me sounded like gender communication problems that many couples experience.
I think you could do with a professional opinion other than your own about the AS. You can't be sure you are being objective here (doctors aren't allowed to treat their own families for this reason).
Whichever way it goes you basically need to love and appreciate what he is and stop upsetting yourself over what he isn't and never will be, otherwise you will both be miserable. How would you feel if he told you that your basic nature was upsetting to him?
That's the nutshell answer.
Probably not what you want to hear, but its the voice of experience speaking.
Ah, this made me tear up a little bit! The way you describe things is just like the way my (AS) brother does. Perhaps these 'visual' ideas are a really good way to communicate with each other- thank you. I'd not even thought of trying that. My boyfriend is exactly the same- as long as I'm here, he's content, which is actually quite lovely most of the time! He's very, very easy to be around, and never has any expectations of me. That's a big reason I want to be able to do the same for him. Thank you so much for your response. I hope the diagnostic process is helpful!
Original Prankster said:she doesn't even notice that I do these things... b
Exactly. Men DO things to show their love. I wish more women would realise this.
Yes, because in this kind of forum, I didn't feel the need to describe 'symptoms'. I'm not the only person who thinks it. It hasn't come from me. He doesn't feel he wants/ needs a diagnosis- and that's fine. For him, it wouldn't change anything, as I said. Also, what you're saying about accepting him how he is is literally what I'M saying, what I'm asking for help with! I just don't understand where you're coming from with these comments.
You're kind of angry now. I think you wanted some other kind of answer here, so I will leave it to the people who don't challenge you to carry on
I can also relate to the problems you both mention. I have Aspergers and I get the constant do you still love me? Wheres the romance? This relationship is rubbish blah blah blah.
No matter how many times my wife will need me to comment on how nice she looks I just don't do it. I will often think it but don't remember to tell her it's so annoying. Like I don't need to be told if I look nice so why do you?
It's annoying for us blokes trying to get by in life without our wife's asking for compliments etc or to do romantic things just doesn't come naturally. Well it doesn't for me, I need to be told.