I have had romantic relationships since I was 18, I’m 31 now. I finished a long relationship a while ago and had been happily single.
I was diagnosed with Aspergers 4 months ago, I’ve been enjoying the liberation it feels to understanding yourself better. I’ve been feeling positive and relieved.
I’ve started to miss male company, so have started online dating.
I started chatting with someone, we exchanged messages regularly for a few weeks and was discussing where to meet and when. He liked me, he put a kiss at the end of his message. We talked about astrology, the towns/cities we lived in, our careers etc.
Only we ended up not meeting... I messed it up. I told him I had Aspergers.
It didn’t go down well. He went silent. In the ‘coming out message’ I had been casual, told him a few facts about it. I told him the most respectful thing he could do if he wasn’t interested anymore, would be to say so rather than just disappearing.
He left it a couple of days and finally messaged saying “thanks for your honesty, but I’ll have to say no, take care”.
I felt shocked. I had been dating successfully since aged 18. The men I had dated had always liked that I was honest, an independent thinker, down to earth, kind, and slightly ‘different’.
Stick a label on that and suddenly you’re not any of those things anymore... you’re just weird, scary, flawed, I assume.
I felt gutted, sad, confused, angry, degraded, embarrassed. All the emotions came over a few days, sometimes all at once, but mostly in stages. I tried to reflect, but my thoughts and feelings felt too muddled to organise.
I made just one big decision, and that was obviously to not tell anyone again, until I’m certain they’ll understand what it means.
Anyway, I decided to message back. Initially I was angry and insulted, I wanted to tell him off. But at the same time, I was also aware that he now sees me as fragmented, and so I had to fight my urges to rant at him, because no matter what I say to him now, I’m sure he’s going to see it as weird even if it isn’t. And I just couldn’t bare further embarrassment.
I stayed as rational as possible, I suppressed my emotions, distanced myself from them for a moment and replied: “you did the right thing by replying, so good on you for that”.
He’s studying to be a counselor, and the aspie in me couldn’t resist educating him, so a few days later I sent him a link to a great video on YouTube of two women with Aspergers, who describe what it’s like to have it. I told him it’s not weird or scary.
He didn’t reply. But I had started to feel a little better. I started to see it from his point of view, and I realise it was a mistake telling him.
That doesn’t stop me from feeling unfairly treated though, by society I guess. Not him individually, for he’s just a number in a crowd. He didn’t get to know me because the label was too much for him to bare. The label has many negativities attached to it, because when learning about autism, the focus is zoomed in only on our difficulties. You’re not learning the positives, or in many cases the whole picture. They don’t tell you a lot of us drive, go to university, have successful careers, raise children, get married even to non autistic people, sometimes non autistic people aren’t even aware that they’re married and/or in love with someone on the spectrum. At the same time, just like non autistics, some of us have greater difficulties than others, in terms of abilities and restrictions.
I’ve wondered how it made him feel. All the time he thought he was attracted to a ‘normal’ woman, turns out he was actually talking to someone he perceives as unworthy, unattractive. How did he feel afterwards? Did it make him question himself?
Like most situations in my life when I’m kicked down, it hurts like hell. But then that fades, and I accept it for what it is. I think about it until I’m wiser and more equipped for the future.
I want to explain to non autistics, that the view you have of us is flawed. We’re very much like you, just slightly different. One is an Xbox 360 and one is a PS3. And the only reason you’re scared of us is because you don’t understand how we work. If there was more of us than there is of you... you’d be the ‘weirdos’. Except an autistic probably wouldn’t let you feel that way. They’d probably be intrigued, curious about how you work, enthusiastic about your skills, and welcoming.
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