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Featured Broaching relationship issues with ASD boyfriend

Discussion in 'Love, Relationships and Dating' started by sisselcakes, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Okay, so I've been at this for over three years now. You'd think I'd be a pro by now, but alas, not yet!

    I'm unsure of the best approach for broaching relationship issues with my bf whom we suspect is on the spectrum.

    For some history, he was married and divorced shortly before we met. I suspected he had ASD after about 6 months of dating. At around a 18 months, he came to the realization he had many traits and agreed he was likely on the spectrum.

    We've had our ups and downs and have worked through them. A pattern has emerged, though, where he gets defensive if I bring up anything he perceives as him being the problem. I've been somewhat successful in the past at redirecting his focus to the RELATIONSHIP rather than on him being the cause.

    Part of our pattern is he doesn't seem to understand how NT's are. If I broach a concern where I need more of this or I need more that, he gets frustrated and thinks I'm unusually needy. I'm not. I'm just a run of the mill NT woman.

    So recently, in good aspie fashion, he's been very fixated on his online business. Works crazy hours. I don't mind that. What I do mind is that his focus is clearly on his interests, his needs, his worries, etc. I just feel like he doesn't care in general. Essentially, I feel neglected.

    If I'm doing something online, he asks, "Are you writing?" (I write for his website for extra $). So, of course, even his asking that ultimately has to do with him. I know this is a blind-spot.

    How do people prefer to be approached about these things? Should I avoid the words "feelings" and "needs", etc? Should I go in with a proposed solution? Should I try to break this down as a cause and effect?

    I'm looking for feedback because last night I had a meltdown and he asked me today what is wrong and I put off talking about it until tonight. I'm going to need to address this. I've been holding it in for a few months.

    Any input is appreciated.
     
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  2. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hi Sisselcakes, Hmmm, tough one. Have had success with indicating that the difficulties are about the relationship and not about blame or criticism. Make an internal list of how your boyfriends actual needs are met by you. Then indicate what your needs are clearly. I need this, I want to do this, I would like this to happen. Then leave it at that. Give him a day or two to respond. Then if he doesn't broach the subject again, talk about the same things that you want. Discuss the things that you do for him. Then, compromise a little, make it fair and equitable.
     
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  3. Quart

    Quart Well-Known Member

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    Have we. Why do you suspect autism?

    Is he the problem? What's actually wrong with the way he's behaving?

    What is it you're asking? Come on now.

    Tap into the tribalism, that'll work.

    There's a phrase for this. I'll remember what it is in a minute. Ah, yes. Psychological projection. "Waaaahhh! It's his f-a-a-a-a-ult!"

    You mean he wants to work for a living.

    Let me think about this. He could probably do to spend more time with you if he's away as much as you say. That might be the optimum solution. He needs to listen to you.

    You mean you are looking elsewhere. Fair enough. If you want that, tell.

    Business and pleasure, business and pleasure. Not good.

    You need to split off the business aspects and he needs to spend more time with you. You need to stop nagging and stop thinking about an affair. Done.

    Also, if he's as good as he says, he needs to get his act together.
     
  4. Peter Morrison

    Peter Morrison Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    People on the spectrum strongly favor some kind of structure in their daily routines. Speaking for myself, I like being able to complete tasks, and if I am being productive (albeit in an obsessive way), I prefer to be left alone to use the energy at hand because I know I can be sidetracked easily. Most ASD people have the right intentions - part of our honesty factor. We're usually very bad at emotional cues. The way he behaves today is likely the way he will always behave, with some adjustments that come with personal growth. Find a way to have personal time together when he is not consumed by other topics. Remember that it is hard for us to understand what we are doing wrong that can cause frustration in others. We behave in a way that feels normal to us. It's like the classic "leopard changing his spots". Don't give up. I have faith that you will find a common understanding.
     
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  5. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Here are my responses.

    Have we. Why do you suspect autism?

    Where do I start? Sensory issues, unusual vocal intonation, difficulty understanding others' points of view, bluntness, relatively inflexible thinking. The list goes on....

    Is he the problem? What's actually wrong with the way he's behaving?

    Our dynamic is the problem. I don't know the right way to approach him and communicate in a way he understands.

    What is it you're asking? Come on now.

    My boyfriend perceives me as too needy, when in reality my neediness is on par with other NT's.

    Tap into the tribalism, that'll work.

    Sarcasm not necessary.

    There's a phrase for this. I'll remember what it is in a minute. Ah, yes. Psychological projection. "Waaaahhh! It's his f-a-a-a-a-ult!"

    Sarcasm not necessary.

    You mean he wants to work for a living.

    You misunderstand the point.

    Let me think about this. He could probably do to spend more time with you if he's away as much as you say. That might be the optimum solution. He needs to listen to you.

    I agree, and I need to do a better job at communicating.

    You mean you are looking elsewhere. Fair enough. If you want that, tell.

    Don't understand this

    Business and pleasure, business and pleasure. Not good.

    Hey, I need the extra money and I enjoy writing. Don't think that's a bad thing.

    You need to split off the business aspects and he needs to spend more time with you. You need to stop nagging and stop thinking about an affair. Done.

    The point is I don't nag. That's the whole "problem". I don't say enough bc I don't want to nag and I don't know a way to approach him that will not make him defensive; hence, the reason I'm asking for feedback.
     
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  6. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Thank you for your kind words. I can actually relate to enjoying structure myself. I audit for a living and I find comfort in task-oriented work.

    I realize he will always behave in the same way but I also believe people, no matter their neuro makeup, can evolve and grow. I've seen it based on feedback from other couples on here who have struggled. Both he and I need to work on this.

    I actually came up with a way that I think will be less threatening to him- making it more of a joint project than a compliant about him.

    Will post on my success (or lack thereof). LOL
     
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  7. Quart

    Quart Well-Known Member

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    It's not actually my business if you want to do it. IMEO this is bad relationship hygiene. It's better to keep business and romantic interests separate. Less arguments can potentially arise that way. You're all in each other's business. You need to not be.

    As for the rest - you know what I'm getting at. Usual address, etc.
     
  8. AO1501

    AO1501 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    He doesn't understand how NTs are, because he isn't one. He couldn't get his head into NT-mode if his life depended on it, and hoping that he will someone manage to 'get it' is going to leave you looking at a long future of disappointment.

    In my relationships with NTs over the years, I have never been much better than confused, because the fundamental component of any relationship is communication, and between Aspies and NTs, communication is often fraught with misinterpretation and misjudgment, because like many Aspies, I speak very literally, but my partners have for some reason insistent in interpreting what I said into something else - sometimes wholly different. Then subsequently, I'd hear their interpretation of what I said being used in place of what I actually said.

    Likewise, partners would say something that clearly wasn't mean literally, and I was supposed to understand what they meant, rather than what they said. Knowing this, I'd try, but generally get it wrong because I had no way to know how to translate words into correct meanings.

    Thus, in that context, I would suggest that what you would have to do (if your BF was me, of course) would be to avoid anything that is nebulous and ill defined. Feelings would be a good example, because what you feel and how you express it, will not mean the same to him as to you, so there will be a problem right there.

    Instead, keep is as concrete and definite as you can - which means your thoughts on a proposed solution and a cause and effect breakdown might be rather more beneficial as a starting point.
     
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  9. tducey

    tducey Well-Known Member

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    From my perspective I'd like to know what is expected of me and I'd expect it the same of your bf, work with that.
     
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  10. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Right. I do actually understand that there's a real obstacle/barrier to understanding NT's that will likely be impossible to bridge, so I'm doing my best to explain things in concrete form. I have a hard time understanding his mindset too!

    I suspect he's had a lot of confusion with NT relationships in the past bc when I even ask him certain questions "what do you like me to do? what makes you happy?" he rolls his eyes probably because he knows another relationship talk is coming. I'm literally simply trying to troubleshoot here and write out things in black and white so we can reference them, rather than simply say "I need you to validate my feelings".

    You would think I'm constantly harping on relationship issues and that's far from true. Probably last time I brought it up was 2-3 months ago. And we went to a counselor who said to us "relationships regularly need fixing". So, I just remind him of that. Anyway, EVERY relationship needs regular work.

    So your suggestion about cause and effect, etc. is my goal and I'm working on something now. He asked me what was wrong last night (I was crying), but when i try to broach it now, I get the heavy sigh and eye roll. So, I just texted him to let me know when he wants to talk when he isn't annoyed.
     
  11. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I hear you. It truly doesn't cause problems, though. I swear. I do not mind at all that he works long hours. He's usually in the living room with me with the TV on. It's just that a little attention would be nice!
     
  12. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Thank you. I'm working on that now and when he stops rolling his eyes at me, I'll ask him again. LOL
     
  13. AO1501

    AO1501 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Not to ignore the other comments you made, but this part could be important, because if you look around this forum you may notice that a lot of us have problems with 'open questions' - questions which have no definitive answer. I know that for me 'what makes you happy' type of questions have no applicable answer.

    Instead, think about how you can phrase it as a 'closed question' - one that has a definitive destination. So instead of 'what makes you happy', try 'would it make you happy if I.....' or 'would you prefer me to ...... or ......'. You might find that triggers more constructive responses than an eye roll or two.

    Also, explain not just what your preferred outcomes are, but why. So instead of something like 'I like spending time with you, it makes me happy', try 'I like spending time with you because when you explain about ..... it helps me understand you better.'

    These are concrete and are likely to make more sense to him. If you think about what you want to say sufficiently in advance, it should be possible to couch everything in these more concrete terms.
     
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  14. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I really like your observation about open ended questions. Good point. Makes a lot of sense.
     
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  15. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    So I tried to broach the subject tonight and I feel like we are at an impasse. I really feel like this is more than just issues related to communication between a person on the spectrum and an NT. It’s like he has issues beyond that. It’s like his thinking is so rigid he cannot see beyond his own believe that I’m criticizing him.

    I tried to start the conversation with the fact that it seems like he feels like I’m always blaming him for my relationship concerns. Was that the wrong approach? I thought that would help keep his defenses down because I’m showing that I believe I understand where his defenses are coming from and acknowledging them from the outset.

    But I find that people on this forum seem to have a lot more self awareness and insight about their own struggles and differences between ASD and NTs. I mean everybody on here gives really good advice and seems to understand the differences between people on the spectrum and NTs.

    Basically, he ultimately put me in a situation where there is no out. Even though I tried to explain it as a relationship issue that has to be worked on, that it’s normal, that ALL relationships have to be worked on- all he heard is that he is the problem. No matter how I tried to explain it.

    I am an empathetic person who can at least imagine myself in his position, and I really tried to explain it every way that I could but he was fixated on the fact that he’s the problem.

    So I said, “Rich, I need you to tell me how I’m supposed to talk to you about relationship concerns that will not make you feel like I’m saying you were the problem.” I tried to point out how illogical it is that we cannot talk about relationship problems without him interpreting that I’m saying he is the problem. His response was “I think you’re never going to be happy”.

    So basically, the conversation was cut short and I have no options or no way I can approach him because his go-to is that I’m never going to be happy and that he is the problem.

    I’m at a total loss and I don’t think there’s a way out.
     
  16. OkRad

    OkRad Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I wish I had advice because you seem nice. A lot of NTs come in and slam their ex and shred them to pieces and then ask us for help. You actually seem like you like your Aspie. But I have no advice. I am very straightforward and that helps, but I am the Aspie. If an NT were to sit me down and point blank ask me about the relationship, I would find that awesome. Usually there is blame or hinting. I hope it works out. Keep us posted :)
     
  17. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    It's best to be straight forward, but kind. That's hard to do, but it's possible. It takes maturity and discipline to do that. Offer solutions and don't blame. Blame and negativity can just make people run or block online. Keep your expectations low. Try to be prepared for the worst and how to handle it too. You can only be so much prepared- some things you can't be fully prepared for. So, just "roll with the punches" as much as you can.
     
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  18. SimplyWandering

    SimplyWandering Well-Known Member

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    Bisexual Autistic here, with different points of views. While I am not in a relationship with a women at this point, I have been, but I guess that's why I am not in 1 now.

    I was also in a relationship with a very needy and jealous NT guy, thankfully done.

    I have been in a relationship with an NT guy for 10 months... he's getting to understand me more and more when I need a break, me being messy, etc.

    Unfortunately I am never sure how he is feeling or how many steps he is away from breaking up and that is a concern because I often am immersed in my hobby of selling items on eBay, at times he has left because I was doing this , but he didn't express it in a way I understood...

    I am sorry you have to deal with combativeness, that's not always the case, but it's often just how a lot of us think, different from neurotypicals, unaware of the outside world as we live in our own bubble.

    I would try to suggest bringing him to the table and discussing your feelings ( not how he makes you feel), try to use words like I feel or wish without directly attacking his personality/or inabilities.

    "I wish to spend more time doing things together, and wonder if you could make more time do so and so." Your not directly attacking his work, but at the same time your opening his mind up to new ideas.

    If you don't do it like this, I feel like you might be in endless relationship of annoyance and that isn't healthy for you or him.
     
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  19. BraidedPony

    BraidedPony Just Enjoying Survival V.I.P Member

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    Hi sissel! First, you are an excellent communicator. I do have some feedback for you though. In your last post , second paragraph it would sound to me like you are telling me how I feel i.e. i feel that you feel i think its your fault...
    That is something, to me, would drive me up the wall.
    So, for a positive suggestion, how about trying to not “fix” anything right now. Focus on enjoyment. You could, when he seems to be getting at a stopping place in his work, or it’s time to eat, say Hey Rick, lets go to (fill in the blank) and hold hands. Lets go now and we can be home by 7. Or whatever you want to do, but make it fun, not a chore to fix the relationship.
    He just got over one when you started dating, he may be carrying guilt about how it ending, feelng it was his fault.
    Just thinking that he probably feels really bad and anxious because he wants to please you but is so afraid he can’t.
     
  20. Major Tom

    Major Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Ever try writing a letter? Trying to keep things simple and not as if there's any blame involved? It may work better for him to see something in writing, as it does for me.