“For people on the autistic spectrum, love and relationships can add an extra layer of complication to an already confusing life”
As a person with High functioning autism and married to an neuro typical, I’ve had a lot of experience in the ups and downs of being in a long term relationship. Even for neuro typicals, being in a relationship can be very challenging. Most of the time we hear about friends or celebrities with their relationship problems.
It seems that most people in society are trying to either get into a relationship, out of one, or trying to work out why their present relationship is so difficult!
So for the average person on the autistic spectrum, relationships can add an extra layer of complication in an already confusing life. It is still however, a natural instinct for males and females to want to find company in the opposite sex even if they are on the autistic spectrum.
I have personally seen how some autistic people struggle with the social challenges of speaking to the opposite sex, I witness on a regular basis how some young autistic men have difficulty using appropriate language and behaviour when talking to potential female partners, and how as a tutor I do my best to delicately teach them to keep a reasonable distance, not get to close, and what sort of language is acceptable in a given situation.
There are other social niceties that from my experience autistic males and probably females should learn. For example listening to the other person and not just talking at them. This is something I am still working on, as I tend to just say everything that’s on my mind at that time, whether the other person is interested or not!
We are often not very good at judging the other persons body language. We may not notice that the person we are talking to, is feeling uncomfortable and trying to make a quick getaway!
We often battle with self esteem and low self confidence when talking to someone of the opposite sex which may not be very appealing to the potential NT partner.
From a personal point of view, I frequently get myself into confrontational situations. Often this is because I misjudge my partners mood or intentions, and sometimes appear uninterested in their feelings. Autistic people generally do not go out of their way to hurt someone emotionally, we just get it wrong at times.
It is also common that problems with depression and anxiety create tensions within a relationship. The neuro typical partner can begin to take the role of carer. They often say they feel isolated and alone in the relationship.
But there are successful relationships between people on the autistic spectrum and neuro typicals. It can work well as long as the autistic persons unusual approach is taken in to account.
It’s also the case that if the relationship doesn’t work out, it may be because of a clash of personalties rather than any autistic symptoms.
After all, behind the autism people still have personality traits.