I've learned quite a bit about Autism Spectrum Disorder in my 2 years of dating Andrew. This blog post is some of my lessons, stories, and advice about dating an Aspie Man.
If there's anyone who's going to teach me to be true to my word, It's my Aspie Man.
If there's a specific way you would like your Aspie man to treat you, make sure it applies in all situations before you express it to him. The more I understand autism spectrum disorder, the easier it is for me to positively navigate our relationship and how I communicate with Andrew. It's difficult for him to apply things in only certain situations. His mind doesn't work that way. If you say it, you better mean it, or it may come back to bite you in the a** one day. That being said, a plus side to this is how attentive he is, as well as how hard he is trying to make me happy.
The delivery is lacking when I receive a gift from Andrew, but the thought is always 110% there. For the first year we were dating it bothered me that he wasn't romantic, but I'm learning that how thoughtful he is trumps romance in the long run. After 2 years together he is still just as thoughtful as he was in those first few months. Holidays and anniversaries don't seem as important when you feel heard and understood on a daily basis. If I need something or ask for something he will get it for me, but he won't make a big deal out of it.
When I feel like we are bothering the sales people I like to try to wrap things up and get out of the store, Andrew will gladly stay in there for 30 minutes while he decides what to purchase. "Michelle It's their job" he often says to me. I know he's right, but it's still tough for me some days. My hope is that society will learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and how to recognize it over our lifetime. That wold make things flow a lot smoother.
It's taken me a couple years to figure out how to deal with Andrew's blunt comments. Not that I'll ever get perfect at it, but asking him his train of thought has certainly helped our relationship. Communicating with someone on the autism spectrum is different than anything I'm used to, but I'm slowly getting better at it. How it sounds in his head is often not quite how it came out his mouth, I need to remember that and practice patience without getting so defensive.
If your facts are wrong in any sense of the word, an Aspie will be the first one to tell you. I'm learning to love his literal stories for what they are, but before the Autism Spectrum diagnosis Andrew was tough to figure out. I sill embellish when he's around, I don't really know how not to.
There has been a few times in our relationship when Andrew seemed really upset or quiet, and I assumed it was my fault. Before the diagnosis I was confused by this. It offended me a few times in the beginning of our relationship, and I felt like I upset him without understanding why. In most cases a week or two later Andrew will put together why he was so off and explain it to me. One time it was as simple as the software he used for his investments being changed that really through him off. He had spent the morning on the phone trying to get it reinstalled but it was discontinued. That night I was really excited to see him and I took it personally that he wasn't present or giving me much attention. It really hurt my feelings. Now I know to be patient without assuming I have any idea what's actually bothering him. Or instead of asking him why he's not OK, I can ask him what happened throughout his day. It's much easier for him to tell me the facts of his day as opposed to how he's feeling about it.
Learning how to communicate with a partner who doesn't know how to generalize is something I've been slowly getting better at over the past 2 years. The more I understand it, the less situations like this are occurring.
Andrew would run into similar issues at work because of his lack of ability to guesstimate time with his bosses/coworkers. If they would ask why a job took him so long he would recount the entire process, as opposed to just saying the one detail that took the longest. It's tough for him to decide what's relevant. The plus side of this is he is often the one to permanently fix an issue on a job that was continually getting callbacks. His ability to micro-focus is an asset not many of us have.
We have come a long way with eye contact over the 2 years of our relationship. When Andrew first asked me to meet his family for Easter dinner he actually looked at the wall and then asked if I would join him. It confused me, almost made me feel like he didn't want me to go even though he asked out of nowhere. I'm glad I have a better understanding of it now since the diagnosis. I notice sometimes that people think Andrew is being rude when he looks away from them while talking. I don't really blame them because for most of us not on the spectrum it's considered rude or deceitful to look down while talking to each other. We tried gazing for 5 minutes last year where we just stared unto each others eyes silently for 5 minutes. I've noticed a huge improvement since that exercise.
If you know of an Aspie man who is capable of expressing his feelings and asking a girl out first... please let me know :) If you have a crush on someone who you suspect is on the Autism Spectrum, or at least near it, my suggestion is to be forward and ask them on a date. I also had to be the one to grab Andrew's hand first on our date. It took a few weeks for that to feel natural for him to do it first.
How rigid Andrew is with his routines is something I didn't notice until we were living together. Before we leave the house he goes through the same process every single time, and if things aren't in their proper place it throws his anxiety levels off. I asked him once if he could put his boots on in the car as we were running behind, and he looked at me like I had 2 heads. (I obviously asked that before we got the Autism Spectrum Diagnosis - Now I just wait patiently). Before bed he always has a shower, cleans his C Pap machine, puts lotion on his hands and feet, brushes his teeth, and puts everything back before he gets in bed. Nothing overly out of the ordinary, and certainly all good habits. But the problem comes when things don't go to plan, or if something isn't working how it normally is. I do my best to keep my nighttime habits as well, but I certainly don't do them all every single night the way he does.
Every relationship is going to have it's complications. From my experience most of the issues I had in my relationships with Neurotypical men are non existent with my Aspie man.
I remind myself of this when his autism spectrum disorder affects our life in a negative way (and it will of course sometimes, the same way my moods will affect our lives in a negative way sometimes.) Andrew rarely drinks and he has no temper or jealousy in him at all, nor does he try to control me. These are traits I found it nearly impossible to find in my 8 years of dating before I met Andrew. I also found most men to be needy when my life got overly busy, I appreciate these are no longer issues in my life now that I'm in love with someone on the autism spectrum. I think all strong confident women who have had similar issues to mine should try dating a man on the spectrum, it might just be a good fit for you.