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Featured Are my autistic boyfriend and I hopeless?

Discussion in 'Love, Relationships and Dating' started by Heather752, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the site, so please bear with me. I'm a NT with an aspie boyfriend of 8 months. Recently we've been having a lot of problems. It is important to note that he has not told me directly that he is on the spectrum yet. He has told me he has a communication disorder, mentioned autism in passing, and shows all the signs.

    I am an extremely emotional person and feel very deeply, however my boyfriend is not. We started off really great in the first few months of our relationship, but something changed and now everything is falling apart. I stopped talking about how my day was going or what I'm passionate about because it felt like he either wasn't listening, didn't care, or would try to negate my concerns.

    At some point we stopped having conversations all together--it turned into him talking about cars for hours or going on about how oppressed he is. And he does face significant discrimination, he has a disability (differently abled? Not sure of the preferred terminology on this site) and is Jewish, but he fixates so much on the oppression he experiences that being constantly bombarded with this negative energy is draining me. I mean, I face oppression too--I'm a woman, a survivor of rape, and queer--but I don't let every instance of oppression determine my day because if I did I would be miserable. I already have depression and anxiety.

    He also sees everything in black and white, which I know is a part of autism. So when my sister or roommate joke with him he takes it seriously and to heart and calls them a name that means female dog. I told him I don't like it when he calls them that but he doesn't understand that its hurtful to me.

    I feel like there is such a disconnect. I try being straightforward and communicating my needs, but its getting exhausting. And when I try to bring up my needs he gets defensive and makes me feel like its my fault or responsibility. We're going to have a conversation tonight, but I'm scared for us.

    Are we hopeless? I love him more than anything in this world and can't stand the thought of not being with him, but at this point my family is calling his actions abuse and emotional neglect and putting a lot of pressure on me to break up with him. So now I'm stuck between loving him and wanting it to work, my family telling me to break it off, and him being generally clueless to what's even wrong in general. I don't know what to do at all.

    I'm sorry if this is coming off as offensive, I don't mean it to, I'm just at a loss of what to do and how to proceed. I want to be with him, but I also need certain things I'm not sure if he's able to provide.
     
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  2. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't see it as offensive at all.

    Unfortunately all too common scenerio and people in similiar situation as yourself post here at least weekly if not more.

    Also unfortunate is that the one who needs to work on this isn't here.

    I am confused on one point. You identify as queer, but this seems to be female with male boyfriend. Are you Bi then, or am I missing something?
     
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  3. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    Well at least I'm not alone! Maybe I can refer him to this site once he formally tells me. I just really really really want us to work, but I don't want to ask him to be something he's not and be ableist, ya know?
    I identify as pansexual which is similar to bisexual. I love people regardless of gender essentially.
     
  4. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    There are things you can learn about it of course, that will illuminate where some behaviors typically come from in Aspies ('Aspies' is often used as a generic word by ourselves for all on the spectrum). The thing is that some of what you describe is typical negative behavior that occurs with Aspies that have not had (successful) professional help or lack self awareness/motivation to learn how to relate and compromise with NT partners. And that is what is needed to make the partnership equally based. And the last thing I reccomend is enabling/putting up with negative behavior. It will only get worse. Thanks for clarifying the gender aspects.
     
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  5. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    I know he was only diagnosed 2 or 3 years ago. He sees therapist weekly, but I doubt he talks about self-awareness/motivation to relate. I've suggested we go to couples counseling, but he thought that was a bit ridiculous for an 8 month relationship. I don't know though--having a safe space to discuss these things would be beneficial, I think. Thank you for your help. Knowing I'm not crazy makes me feel better.
     
  6. AO1501

    AO1501 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I didn't find that at all offensive, and nor do I think your situation is hopeless, but two things are absolutely essential: Firstly, stop listening to your family, or indeed anyone else. Secondly, start focussing entirely on your boyfriend, because much of what you are saying here indicates a fairly poor understanding of how autism works in a person rather than as a theory.

    I would say that by and large, you may be better to simply recognise that the relationship is too problematic and to cut your losses right now rather than try to make it work, because it will be a lot of work. And perhaps that means that you need to be more honest with yourself about what you want and why you want it than you may have ever been before. You describe a disparity of function and need that it will clearly be hard to change - and it is you who will have to change, because by the nature of the autism spectrum, your boyfriend really can't, even if he wants to.

    You talk about his behaviours and reactions as if he has some control over them, and in reality he doesn't. He very likely won't be interested in your day or what you are passionate about, and when you talk about how he faces considerable discrimination, you can't even know a tiny fraction of it. It isn't at all about being Jewish or disabled, it's about growing up autistic and living his life autistic. We are not accepted by society at large, and mostly entirely rejected by it unless we pretend to be like you - which most of us try, but is very, very draining and confusing to us. Try and imagine that you are an alien from another planet, trying to live amongst us undetected, yet still having to lead a normal life as if you were one of us, just the same as everyone else. Every minute of every day.

    That's what being on the spectrum is like to many of us. We can't be ourselves, yet we don't really know how to be you.

    The reason this is difficult is that if left to our own devices, alone, we can be ourselves, but in a relationship, we can't. Yet we are (typically) very black and white, we are very logical and mostly quite unemotional, we do take things literally - and we mean things very literally too - and we don't get jokes. We don't understand social situations and social cues and 'norms'. Thus when your sister or roommate joke with him and he takes it seriously, it is not him being in the wrong for his reaction, but them being in the wrong for totally failing to recognise that he isn't like them and doesn't understand.

    And that is what you have to do if you want to save the relationship - you have to understand him, how his mind works, what his strengths are, how he processes. Until you are able to do that, you are in constant danger of mistaking him and his actions.

    For example, you say that when you raise your needs, he gets defensive and makes you feel like it's your fault or responsibility, yet you don't know whether he is even able to process what you're saying to him. If your needs are so different from his, which seems very probable, he may not even know where to start in working out what you mean, and the sense you have of him pushing back on you may be nothing more than his way of trying to get you to clarify things in his terms so he can process, rather than your terms when he can't.

    To make the relationship work, you have to set aside almost everything you know about how relationships work, and discover how this one does. It will be very different. The disparity in emotional energy is an example of how hard this could be. Some of us are quite accessible on an emotional level, but if your boyfriend isn't, you can't make him function in that way, because he just doesn't have that in him. If that is the case, he likely has no way to respond as you might hope to your emotional states, and may simply not even understand them. Your emotional input may cause him overload, or just confusion, so you will certainly need to recalibrate how you communicate on that level, and readjust your expectations of him.

    And all this is just to get the relationship back to a stable foundation. After that, it will take a great deal of hard work.

    All that said, while the picture is quite bleak, relationships with those of us on the spectrum can be very rewarding once you figure out how to make it work. But right now it's up to you to decide if you are prepared to try.
     
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  7. Sloth

    Sloth Active Member

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    Yeah, I completely agree with Tom. The issues you list do indeed seem common. The key factor is going to be if he demonstrates willingness to work on it after you talk to him. If he is one of those who refuses to even consider changing, then the relationship can just be a constant negative drain on your emotions. One sided relationships where only one of the partners is putting in all the work in trying to understand tend to be unhealthy.
    I humbly disagree with that. She seems to have identified the autism symptoms even without the boyfriend being open about it himself. She also seems to already realize that he has a different way of processing and expressing emotions. The fact that she is willing to go and seek advice and talk about it demonstrates a large effort that not everyone is willing to do.

    I have to mention that if you do go to couples' therapy, it would be preferable if you could find someone who has experience specifically with relationships on the Spectrum because as AO1501 has said, traditional approaches and techniques might not apply at all to your specific situation.

    Maybe frame it this way, "it's not that there is something wrong with you, but in all relationships (even for those not on the Spectrum), there has to be some effort by both sides to understand each other's needs" .
     
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  8. AloneNotLonely

    AloneNotLonely Well-Known Member

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    At risk of being very offensive... I will tell you the issue and why it will not work unless either one of you makes a drastic change in your very personality (essentially becoming the opposite of what you are now; not likely to happen).

    Both of you are oppressed. He does not listen to your concerns because he's an oppressed victim. When you try to tell him about your troubles or issues, they do not register as meaningful because he's feels like he's facing worse. Now the really offensive part, you are the same. He probably feels the same about you not caring (enough) about his concerns because you mentioned in your post that it's draining and that you are essentially getting tired of it. If you are getting emotionally drained and tired of it then you are not taking his concerns to heart.

    It sounds like a match made in heaven since 2 people facing oppression in their lives would seem to be more empathic to the suffering of others but an oppressed victim always needs to harvest sympathy off another person. Someone with a very happy outlook on life could feel genuinely bad and could actually provide this sympathy and have enough happy thoughts that the emotional drain does not kill their mood if they get plenty of other things out of the relationship. Another victim cannot do this, regardless of how many other things they get out of the relationship as they cannot deal with the emotional drain placed upon them, as well as the other victim being unable to provide them with the sympathy they need.

    This has nothing to do with his supposed autism, although perhaps it could amplify things since autism can make assholes even bigger assholes (like me) so maybe it works the same way for victims.

    Realistically neither of you is going to change who you are at your very core as a person so it would be better for both of you to find someone else.

    Just so you know, you would probably consider me an incredibly vile and evil person. So if this post offends you to your core then I did not mean to do so, I've tried to contain my personality as much as possible in this reply but it's possible some of it seeped through.

    Your initial response is probably "I'm not like that!". But regardless, 2 of the same usually doesn't work. 2 disagreeable people doesn't work, 2 dominant people doesn't work and 2 sensitive people doesn't work. It's not a case of "This is bad and this is why it doesn't work". I'm all 3 of those things, so it's not like I would consider them bad things but it just doesn't work when I'm with someone that has any of those 3 traits in any meaningful amount, despite the fact that I consider them to be good traits to have.
     
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  9. AO1501

    AO1501 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I didn't question the OP's commitment to learning, just the degree to which she currently understands the practical issues that an autism spectrum partner faces and how to relate to that. Admittedly, my view in that regard is based solely on what she has posted which in places reads rather more like NT interpretations than dispassionate analysis. But given that saving the relationship rests quite significantly on being able to set those interpretations aside, I think my point would still be valid.

    It was not intended to be a harsh comment, just the basis on which there remains a lot yet to learn.
     
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  10. Dadwith2Autisticsons

    Dadwith2Autisticsons Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I have good news, neutral, and bad, using my own experiences with my wife.

    My wife and I have been married twelve years, and dated two years before as mostly live-in before marriage. Besides each having mental health conditions and liking to write, we are nevertheless in other ways two total opposites, which for some things is good but others not so. We find happiness, but the situation is not ideal, at least from my perspective.

    I feel I am empathetic, very detailed, a great listener, polite, introverted, soft spoken, organized and perfectionistic, and I also seem open minded, analytical, and very vigilant, whereas mostly by wife has the opposing traits, which she would agree to all I said, as she is fine with speaking and hearing truths.

    Also, I love focusing on the present, am self motivated, responsible, am good talking on phones with relevance, clarity and preciseness, and with one to one talks to those I trust or relate to, but avoid groups because of poor social self esteem and shyness traits, which makes me ironically far less approachable socially than her.

    My wife, because of her adhd, focuses on the future, thinks generally, hyperfocuses on things, like stressful government and medical issues, has a hard time finishing things or doing them timely, or may not prioritize well. She has concentration, hyperactivity and anxiety over smaller issues, yet I try to understand these things, and do my best there to support or assist.

    Nevertheless, she is very crafty, can have a great sense of humor, can be complimental and friendly to most persons, can do very well things that interest her like music, which I llove as well, and taking notes, and she likes doing positive things with our two ASD sons too. We do have some complementary traits from all mentioned, and love each other.

    Having said all that, am I truly happy as a person, with my current situation? No, the fact my wife has mental health issues does not bother me, as I can help with her issues as per her request, my abilities, and/or per our needs as a family. But, I am losing part of myself, some of my impiortant needs, desires and identity in this relationship.

    So, I try to keep my mind busy and be more active, and get needs fulfilled outside of this home, too, or do things for myself, besides engaging positively with or helping family at home, for their educational, personal, or social needs, and by maintaining a healthy attitude, if things get stressful here or I get a bit depressed. But, I would not necessarily recommend my situation to any.

    But, for those who have internal strength to deal with another's many issues daily positively, yet still cope daily and find joys and lots of good somehow despite this, because of that love for the other, and complementaty differences, I am not against that either, as long as that other adult partner makes efforts, 'some change' and sacrifices, too, as a successful relationship does not mean either person can do what they want, when they want, and only in the ways they see fit. It requires compromise and showing love for the other, in at least some way. Most persons in any relationship will not change much for the better, so understand though this, too.

    I think the odds of things not working out, based on what you said so far, seem to far outweigh the odds of true happiness and success, as you are feeling this way early on in your relationship whereas it took me about eight years to feel more such despair. As well, I do not see too much compatability yet.

    Truth is if it were not for my great internal strength or perseverance through growing up in a very bad environment, and through much self-help techniques in my twenties and early thirties to worry less, think more positively, and to build my self esteem, and if it were not my strong need to help others, and needs to provide stability because the children see many benefiits in my wife as well, the relationship would have ended long ago.

    I am wishing you good luck with whatever you decide. I hope you find out more from others in this group.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  11. Dadwith2Autisticsons

    Dadwith2Autisticsons Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I just read your reply after posting mine to the op, and I thought you made lots of sense, and I agree. Yes, it was more direct than I replied in mine, because your and my condition differs, and as I may be considered an NT, but I did not find it offensive and it seemed in line with my relationship experiences I faced and per my feelings about successful and not successful relationships, and what they usually entail.
     
  12. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    Thank you all for your responses. I suppose I did not present any of my reasons for wanting to remain in the relationship.
    He is the smartest, most dedicated man I know. When he commits to learning something he learns everything about it and finds it all so interesting. Often he says "It is my business to know everything."
    Despite his actions I know he cares for me. Once in a blue moon he has a bout of deep emotion that I can tell is genuine. He encourages me to do things that make me happier and protect myself from harm (I am an empath so I feel all emotions of everyone around me very personally. That's what I mean by draining and exhausting. I feel his problems and oppression personally in addition to my own).
    He has introduced me to so many new things and taught me so much. I'm inspired by his many hobbies and interests.
    I feel safe when I'm with him. He respects the boundaries I have because of my sexual assault and we talk openly about our sexual desires and restrictions.
    I've read A LOT on dating partners on the spectrum and have read differing opinions as have also been stated here. Some say to talk with him and express your needs and encourage some sort of counseling; however, this feels like assimilation like @AO1501 said. Others have told me to cut my loses now; however, I love him more than I've loved anyone.
    I know I have a lot of work to do on myself as well to not be so insecure and require reassurance. But I've also read that sometimes aspies do benefit from counseling specific to autism (@Sloth) .
    I would strongly disagree with this. We both recognize and are angered by each other's oppression. While his reaction is limited, he is angered when I speak of being catcalled or have PTSD episodes. He usually replies with sarcasm and sass which I love because it helps me not wallow. I am also angered by his oppression. As I stated earlier, I am an empath, so my exhaustion comes from absorbing his negative energy, not from hearing him "complain."
    This resonates with me, so thank you. I think I, and my family, have a set view of what a successful relationship is and what it should look like. I have a pipe dream of a romantic surprise that I don't think will happen. They think I need someone who emotionally supports me and who I agree with on all fronts.

    This is a long post so I apologize, I feel like I had a lot to respond to.
     
  13. Starfire

    Starfire Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Realistically, I think based on what you wrote it’s going to be a big struggle to make this relationship work. You mentioned early on for example that you are Pansexual.

    (Pansexuality, or omnisexuality,[1] is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.[2][3]Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others.)

    I have to wonder why if you love him as you said, why you would even need to mention that. Did you make this clear to him right at the beginning? As an Aspie if a partner said that to me, I would take it as potentially meaning that they were unable or unwilling to commit, as they could be attracted to almost anyone at anytime. It sounds like something someone who wants to reserve the right to ‘play the field’ would say. I would also take this as meaning they would be a poor choice of monogamous partner. I would not feel secure in a relationship with such a person. In general, Aspies tend to be very loyal to their partners and expect the same back, do you think describing yourself as pansexual engenders good feelings about your relationship in your boyfriend? I think it sends a very confusing message that you don’t know what you want.

    When your sister or roommate joke with him, for him to call them names suggests he may take it as a form of passive bullying or feel that he is the butt of their jokes. That would become extremely tedious and annoying. Yet your family say he is emotionally neglectful and his actions are abusive!

    I can see him becoming totally fed up with the confusing messages he is receiving and the insecurity of his situation. His self defence mechanism might have kicked in as he talking endlessly about cars, and shows little interest in your day. He may be feeling very claustrophobic and unable to cope with you, your sister and friends and family, I get the impression he’s backing off and putting his defences up. Do you ever give him space and time for himself alone?

    There’s more I could say but others have given you some excellent feedback so it’s pointless to go on. In answer to your question, I don’t know if you’re hopeless together but I get a sense that long term you are probably not very compatible unless things change dramatically, and the cost of change to such a degree, may be more than your boyfriend is able to manage.

    Good luck anyway, and hope things work out for the best for both of you whichever direction you both take.
     
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  14. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    This is a gross misunderstanding of my sexuality and a terrible stereotype. Pansexual means I love someone for who they are not how they identify. I would ever cheat on him or anyone. If someone is straight you should have the same worry by that logic because they would be looking at other people of the same gender as yours.
    He is not threatened or concerned by my sexuality. I only mentioned it because someone asked what I meant by saying I was queer but in a relationship with a man.
     
  15. AO1501

    AO1501 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    That you and your family have a fairly fixed notion of what a successful and good relationship looks and feels like is both normal and reasonable, and of course in almost any other situation, would be totally valid. However, in this circumstance, it isn't.

    The reality is that there are many different shapes and forms that good relationships come in, and it would even be true to say that a form of relationship that might be disastrous and awful to one person could be perfect for another, so it isn't possible to apply our personal view of what is good (or bad) on anyone else.

    The important thing to realise is that however much someone on the spectrum may find it hard to express their feelings, it doesn't mean they don't have those feelings. They are in there, somewhere.

    If you read around the threads in this section, you will find something often said: that those of us on the spectrum tend to demonstrate our feelings in practical ways, not verbally. So your romantic surprise may never happen, but instead you might find a nice meal cooked for you, or an offer to run to the store for something you want or need so you can stay home and relax. He might clean the kitchen, or buy you a DVD of your favourite TV show. Small practical gestures like these are the way many Aspies communicate their love to their partners. It's easy to miss, and when it is missed, or misinterpreted, it may also feel like rejection on both sides.

    In the end, it isn't what your family think you need that really matters, but what you actually need. If your boyfriend is that, then tell your family that you have listened to them, considered their thoughts, and that you thank them, but that it is time to go do what you know is right for you. It is your life, and only you are responsible for it.
     
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  16. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    Thank you so much for this. It made me tear up. He does do things like that. He's fixed my car and helped around my apartment. He got me a showerhead when I was complaining about how short the shower head installed in my apartment was.
    As a society we're so conditioned to understand only one type of relationship as a "good" one. That's why people have problems with queer couples, interracial couples, interfaith couples, etc. because they're different from what we imagine is correct. I need to do some reconditioning of my own, it seems.
     
  17. Bella Pines

    Bella Pines Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It's not that he doesn't care, he is absorbing the information and responding logically. If you examine what you perceive as him "negating your concerns", you'll see that it was simply a derived assessment. We are solution driven and so if you say "kelly gave me an evil look", but have no data to support that, we will probably point out that you have no way to know what kelly was thinking and may have imagined it. This is not negating, it is performing an independent assessment and providing solution based feedback.


    This is not aspergers, this is him whining. Give him solution oriented feedback and tell him to man up.


    Which doesn't make a lot of sense, why would you get hurt by a conversation that doesn't directly involve you?


    Then by all means post specific examples. You may think you are being straightforward, but maybe it's not quite the black and white fact stream that we can comprehend.


    Of course not. I am an aspie female in my 40s, have been with my neurotypical husband for 20 years and have 2 lovely children. It's simply a learning and communication exercise.
     
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  18. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    @Bella Pines
    To your first response: that's fair, I see that now.
    Second: I wasn't sure if anything was heightened by Asperger's or not. I don't want to seem insensitive, because I want to listen to him and support him, I just also feel he would benefit from more positive thinking.
    Third: Because it involves people I love. A word that means female dog is a very gendered and derogatory word. Using butthole as an insult is fine with me as it isn't gendered. I love my sister and roommate very much and don't want them to be disrespected like that.
    Fourth: I'm realizing I need to do that :/
    Fifth: Thank you, this is helpful
     
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  19. OlLiE

    OlLiE Well-Known Member

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    he has chosen to be with you, so he needs to respect your needs and limitations
    you have chosen to be with him, so you need to respect his needs and limitations

    if reciprocity is not there, erm....
     
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  20. Heather752

    Heather752 Active Member

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    Update:I spoke with him last night. He is deliberately choosing to not tell me about being on the spectrum because he doesn’t want me to treat him any differently I would anyone else. So if I am upset by something he says as a natural reaction he wants me to be hurt and angry as I would an NT. For months I’ve been ignoring actions of his that made me naturally upset because he’s on the spectrum I know he didn’t intend it to be malicious. Since I told him that he said that I should have been telling him because he doesn’t want to be treated differently. So I guess a lack of communication on both our parts in general. We have a lot of work to do to make this work but we’re going to talk to a counselor to get ideas. Thank you all for your insight. It really helped me.
     
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