Romantic relationships are a challenge to navigate for everyone. If neurotypical people have a problem tackling them, imagine the struggles of those with Asperger’s syndrome. It can sometimes be so overwhelming that they don’t even try — but it doesn’t have to be so.
Think about it: Approximately one in 60 children have a diagnosis, with even more going through lives without one. So, there are a lot of singles with Asperger’s facing the world of dating.
If your (potential) partner is one of such people, read on to get some handy tips on dating them. Getting informed is the first step towards a successful relationship.
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Things to Know When Dating with Asperger’s
Most neurotypical people don’t need to consider the progression of a relationship in great detail. If nothing else, they understand sets of unwritten rules that move it forward.
A person with AS might face more difficulty in understanding the cues. So, as their partner, be patient and open about all that’s going on. Let’s take a look at Asperger’s syndrome and its implications on dating to help you figure out how to do so.
Asperger’s syndrome exists in some people on the autism spectrum. As such, people with the condition tend to experience challenges in social interactions. Other symptoms include:
- Inability to answer to social cues
- Reduced or lacking eye-contact
- Obsessive tendencies
- Unusual mannerisms
- Repetitive speech
- Sensory sensitivity
- Social or generalized anxiety
In general, though, people with AS most often don’t show any delays in cognitive and linguistic development. On the contrary, they tend to have high IQs — all they lack is the empathy of neurotypical people.
The main challenge for people with AS on the dating scene comes from the arbitrariness of dating rules.
They may seem obvious to you, but it’s difficult to understand them instinctively. Instead, the instinct of those with Asperger’s is to communicate what they feel and say what they think, with no filters. Any dating rules they learn come from explicit explanations from friends.
What’s more, they find it challenging to understand conventional romantic love. They can desire people and want to have sex, but it’s challenging to create meaningful connections due to an inherent feeling of detachment.
All this to say, there’s hope for people with AS. Listening to constructive feedback can lead to rewarding relationships. They only need more time.
The Dating Process
The first step — finding somebody to date — is also the most challenging one. People are creatures of habit, and those with AS even more so. They will often find partners in their social circles and hesitate to exit their comfort zones.
The best way to meet somebody with AS is through the people they trust. Friends and family offer a lot of support and information, which encourages them to start dating.
Nowadays, another excellent avenue for Asperger’s in the dating world comes through online communities. Chatting leaves a lot more time to think of what to say and feels less awkward.
The First Date
Both the act of asking out a person and the very first date are nerve-wracking. Being direct about it and offering a date idea right away can help both sides of the couple.
When it comes to the place, go for one that feels safe and comfortable. There’s no need to provoke anxiety further by adding a new location in the mix.
Take It Slow
Relationships, in general, require people getting to know one another for it to work. With Asperger’s, this need doubles.
If you push your partner into commitments that they’re not comfortable with, it won’t end well. Plus, you and your partner will need time to develop an open line of communication.
Honesty and Boundaries
Being frank about who you are and your needs upfront helps you avoid a lot of misunderstandings and conflicts in this type of relationship. If you’re dating a person with AS, you need to understand their triggers to be able to react appropriately.
If you’re the one with Asperger’s, communicate your likes and dislikes early on and offer alternatives. Both sides should make an effort to listen and understand.
While it feels uncomfortable and awkward when other people interfere with your relationship, getting some dating tips from your friends and family can mean a lot. If you find it too embarrassing to ask for tips directly, find an online community.
Strategies for Relationship Maintenance
Relationships aren’t easy — they need constant maintenance and care to succeed. Luckily, keeping a relationship with a partner on the autism spectrum is not very different from doing the same with a neurotypical partner. Let’s take a look at some useful strategies.
Create a Structure
People with AS don’t have a lot of emotional energy, and they enjoy schedules.
So, let your relationship follow a predictable structure that allows your partner to dedicate enough energy to you. You could even create a calendar together and enter tasks and events related to dating into it.
Don’t Be Needy
Dating a person with Asperger’s sometimes implies that not all your emotional needs are getting met. So, you’ll need to do a part of the heavy lifting and ensure you feel secure by yourself.
Of course, your partner will provide some support, but you shouldn’t rely on them all the time.
Don’t Take Things Personally
People with AS sometimes come off as cold and blatant. Remember that they don’t do so to hurt you but because they’re not aware that you could take things the wrong way.
Try not to get offended. Communicate your hurt clearly and reasonably, and you’ll make it much easier for both of you.
Of course, there are no massive benefits to living with a condition such as Asperger’s. However, people on the spectrum tend to come with particular personalities. From their type come the most prominent advantages of dating a person with the syndrome too.
Since people with Asperger’s find it difficult to read social cues, they don’t take it for granted. This disorder makes them endlessly curious.
Many people with Asperger’s are keen on overcoming the condition. This positive outlook on life feels pleasant for your average person.
Most people with this condition have a sturdy set of beliefs they use to keep them grounded. So, while this can make them stubborn, it’s refreshing to see a person sticking up for what they believe.
Naturally, there are negative implications on Asperger’s on dating. Most prominent include the following.
They Lack Direction
Often, the syndrome comes with feelings of anxiety, which makes it difficult for those with it to deal with choice. It’s not easy or natural for them to plan for the future and work out what they want from life.
They Aren’t Spontaneous
Again, due to anxiety, people with AS are not very able to deal with unforeseen events and any changes to their usual routines. So, you won’t be able to surprise them — they need warning and mental preparation.
Issues with Communication
The main feature of Asperger’s is the difficulty in forming meaningful relationships. It’s thus also tricky for those on the spectrum to communicate their deep feelings and thoughts — not conducive to a developing relationship.
FAQ when Dating with Asperger Syndrome
Finally, let’s answer some of the most common questions about dating people with Asperger’s syndrome.
Can a Person with Asperger’s Have a Relationship?
Yes. Many experience problems with the skills needed for developing relationships, but many adults end up in intimate romantic relationships and, ultimately, have a life-long partner. It’s all about overcoming hurdles along the relationship continuum.
Can People with Asperger’s Fall in Love?
People on the autism spectrum do have feelings. Some even experience emotions more intensely than neurotypical people.
Many find it challenging to identify and discuss them, though. Still, considering they do feel the same way as neurotypical people, they definitely can fall in love.
Do People with Asperger’s Have Feelings?
There seems to exist a misconception that people with AS don’t want or enjoy intimate relationships. Every case is different, but, in general, this statement is untrue.
These people have romantic emotions, as does everyone else. They tend to show a desire to get involved in lasting relationships.
What Is an Asperger’s Meltdown?
A person on the autism spectrum goes through a meltdown when they temporarily lose control because of their emotional responses to various environmental factors.
Most often, no specific thing causes a collapse but triggers gradually build up until a person gets too overwhelmed.
To conclude — it is 100% possible to date a person with Asperger’s syndrome. However, it will require that you put in the effort to understand them. They tend to have an outsider’s perspective on social and dating rules. With patience, dedication, and communication, you can make it work and help the non-native learn the language of romance.