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Featured Dating someone on the spectrum, thoughts needed?

Discussion in 'Love, Relationships and Dating' started by Epitectus, Apr 4, 2021.

  1. Epitectus

    Epitectus Active Member

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    Hello autismforums!

    I'm a 18 year old guy who's neurotypical.

    I've been seeing a girl who's on the spectrum on and off for around 7-8 months now. We've had a couple of hiccups where we stopped seeing eachother, due to misunderstandings. A lot of the misunderstandings revolved around me not knowing about her mental illnesses, and hence I thought her behavior was her rejecting me or letting me down slowly. She's currently diagnosed with: Autism, epilepsy, anxiety and dyslexia. She used to be depressed and had an eating disorder that was coming back, though it is under control now. She also has severe trauma from bullying which has pretty much ruined a lot of her self confidence.

    However, nearly two months ago we started seeing eachother again. I'd like to note that it was first now when we started seeing eachother that she told me about her autism, I had no idea up until now. I'm adamant that I want to make things work this time, and I don't want to leave for anything now that I essentially understand things a little bit better.

    We've been out a few times now, and we've talked about relationships in specific, and we agreed that we don't want to enter a relationship now, but that we'll "date".

    She's recently started introducing me to her family. First it was by inviting me over for dinner at her mom's, and later it was inviting me to her dad's for easter lunch.

    My confusion revolves around the last time we were together, which was last friday. I was invited over to spend the day with her family. It went great, actually. Her dad's autistic, and so is her little brother. Her little brother went from being very shy and not wanting to eat at the table because I was a bit intimidating (according to her stepmom), to coming over and tapping me on the shoulder and such. Her dad also went from being sort of intimidating and this kind of "tough guy", to coming over and physically giving me this kind of "guy hug" and complimenting me a lot.

    During the entire thing, her family (consisting of her little brother, her dad, her stepmom, her cousin and her cousins boyfriend) referred to us as being boyfriend and girlfriend. I didn't mind this, it actually felt kind of nice, and I let it slide to see her reaction, which was to pretty much just slide with it as well. They weren't necessarily being serious, and half the time it was in a jokey voice where they'd laugh afterwards or where they were obviously joking. During the entire thing we were also sitting together on the couch in some sort of position (she'd lie down in my lap while I was playing with her hair, we'd sit and hug and intertwine fingers, things like that).

    At one point the father offered me to take shots with him and the cousin. I rejected the offer as I had to drive (He was also very adamant I didn't drink if I had to drive). He had around 4-6 shots, and a couple of beers (the beers were throughout the day), so he might've been a bit under the influence. After the cousin and her boyfriend left, we had some very interesting conversations. It started off with him questioning me about martial arts, and then he began talking a lot about that. I listened very eagerly and asked questions. At one point we went from martial arts to values to his mother (the girls grandmother). That's when things got a bit strange. The girl was very fond of the grandmother. So she began crying while I was holding her from behind (which was a position she had initiated, which was a bit awkward; to stand with her in my arms while talking to her father).

    She first sought comfort with her dad, leaving my arms to give him a hug, but then a few seconds after she came over to me, and I naturally began hugging her and comforting her. This happened once while we were standing and another time while we were sitting down. Then her dad began complimenting me A LOT; He said things like I was "a good guy" and he specifically told the girl "He likes you even though you have these problems. You never thought anyone but your father would do that, did you? But he does." He told the girl that "He could see why she liked me" and that I had "values, goals, beliefs and had a bright future ahead of me". The whole time I felt like the dad was trying to resolve some past trauma that she had. He also said things like "You don't have to be afraid to open yourself up and be emotional with him" and that "He had seen how we had been sitting together, and that it had taken her years to be as intimate with her mom and dad" things like that which caught my attention. At one point he did acknowledge that "I know you two aren't in a relationship, and it obviously confuses the family a bit that you haven't clarified things or put a word on it. But take it in your own pace-".

    This has confused me greatly. Because all of these things, which obviously really made me happy inside, felt so out of place. I just never thought she liked me "that much" because, which I'll get to later, there's hardly any communication. I knew she liked me, but her dad's words just made it out to be a lot, and he obviously knows his daughter better than I do. Again, granted he was a bit tipsy, but I don't think he was drunk; the conversation lasted a good two hours, and he could coordinate himself well enough to show me a karate kick. He also told me that I was always welcome, and he told the girl more than once that I was a "well mannered person, who, unless I turn out to be an idiot to his daughter, will always be welcome."

    At one point me and the dad were alone in the room, and he told me that "The job she got at the supermarket and you have really improved her mood/her person in general, so thank you for that.". I just don't know how much weight I should put behind the fathers words.

    At the end of everything we ended up kissing twice, just normal kisses, before I left. She wanted me to text when I got home so she knew I'd gotten home safe, and we ended the night with "Goodnight <3"'s.

    Now I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Firstly, I feel like a relationship is pretty much what we're doing at this point. The physical intimacy, especially the intertwining hands and the kisses, and the fact that I've been introduced to a large part of her family feel like relationship things. Originally I was 100% fine with just "dating", but the way I was raised, being introduced to the family is seen as making things official. So there's sort of an internal confusion there; Why am I being shown off to the family when we're not together, shouldn't we wait?! But even when I put that aside, the fact that her entire family was pretty much labeling us as being a couple and her not actually making any objections to it, makes it more confusing. If it wasn't for the dad mentioning the "I know you haven't defined things yet" comment one time, I would've thought she had told everyone else something she hadn't told me. And even if I put her family's comments aside, her father directly told me that I am "accepted" in the context of being accepted as a person that can be with his daughter and that I'm a person he approves of. She also told this the next day to her birth mom who relayed the message to me at work. (We work at the same place.) Her birth mother basically told me "So I heard from (girls name) that you've been approved by her father" and "I keep teasing her (with the two of us)". This just feels more and more like a relationship. And my dilemma is that I feel like there's somewhat pressure from her family, and I'm scared she might get more terriffied about the thought of a relationship?

    Secondly, we have trouble communicating. It's been 3 days since friday, I texted her Saturday because I wanted to give her a ride home from work as I know she hates public transport (Her dad drove her, though). Since then, we've had no contact. The reason I'm nervous about contacting her, is that I know she likes her space. And I've been struggling for a long time about finding a good balance. When we had the talk about "dating" and not entering a relationship, she essentially told me that she was "Scared that if she didn't talk to a romantic interest for 2 weeks+, she'd lose connection with them". I told her I was fine with 2 weeks of no contact, I just needed a heads up. But I feel like it's sort of up in the air at this point. I don't know if 2 weeks is a "this will happen sometimes" thing or "this is the new normal" kinda thing. Last time I asked if she wanted to do something, she told me she had to "think about it". 8 days went by, and when I reminded her at work, she told me she had forgotten. But I want to see her, and I genuinely don't know if 2 weeks+ per date is something I can get behind, 1 date per week is what I want.

    Thirdly, I'm stuck in this limbo of feeling like "Yeah she likes me" but then I feel like there are signs that either show the opposite of that, or that she's somewhy "hiding" her feelings. And that confuses me a lot. She's told me that there are "More things that're wrong with her, and that she's scared I'll leave if she tells me about it." She's already told me about a lot of things. What can be so serious and important that I might drop her, even though I've chosen to stay in spite of all of this? At some level I feel conflicted, because I feel like it would be important to talk about if she thinks it's a dealbreaker to me.

    To sum things up, I just don't know if her anxiety, autism, and other issues are getting in the way and whether she's sort of hiding herself away because of that and because of past trauma. And if that's the case, then I would want to initiate and prove to her that she has nothing to be terrified off, but I don't wanna push it either by coming on too strong.

    Could anyone please provide their thoughts on especially the 3 points stated above? And what do I do from here? Do I just say heck it and ask her out again now that it's been 3 days and plan a date during the next weekend, or what do I do?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
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  2. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Think you are doing a great job. Perhaps don't overthink it so much and just flow. She maybe reluctant about a lot of things but she is working, and she seems to have supportive parents. Anyways, good luck.
     
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  3. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

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    wow. The way you described that, I could see the whole thing. Quite intense. I can't tell you how it coul unfold because we are all so different. But you seem very kind and very thoughtful. I bet anyone would be so glad to have you even as a friend. Keep us posted! I hope it works out!
     
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  4. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    A this stage I think you have to go at her pace. If it lasts, in time you can introduce some compromising. That means always letting her know you are interested in spending time together but letting it be at her pace. You are not going to change her, but in time you may grow closer and her more confident about it. Don't get caught up in pushing for this or that, defining things etc. If you like her for what she is, just enjoy her company as she is. Yes it is quite common for people on the spectrum to need a lot of space and time. You are getting positive feedback in how she acts and invited you to family gathering, so don't look at long intervals as you would with another NT.
     
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  5. Crossbreed

    Crossbreed Neur-D Missionary ☝️

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    Your thread title asked about autism. Do you know what severity level she has?
    If she has ASD1 (according to the list quoted), autism is the least of her problems. ASD2 would have, at least, another co-morbid condition to add to that list. You can learn more about autism on this forum and through THESE resources, but if you are still interested, you will just have to study her and her ways to get a sense of how she "rolls."

    If she is ASD2, she may have a harder time meeting you half-way.

    (ASD3s typically have legal guardianships and are not legally allowed to date.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
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  6. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    An excerpt from a book I'm reading on Autism might shed some light. It's something that struck a chord with me, as it's how I've acted in every relationship I've had:

    "...we frustrate them, make them feel lonely in relationship, seem uninterested or unable to provide emotional validation, meet their needs, or engage in what a relationship is conventionally supposed to be." (p. 30) Trauma, Stigma and Autism by Gordon Gates

    The book is an interesting read thus far and I can relate to it a lot. It's written by a therapist who's been diagnosed with Asperger's.

    Ed
     
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  7. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    I don't believe l have ASD3 however l shouldn't be allowed to date just because of my horrible choices in uncaring men.
     
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  8. Crossbreed

    Crossbreed Neur-D Missionary ☝️

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    (Sorry, I misread your post.)
    ASD3s almost always have legal guardianships. Such a person cannot give sexual consent (like a minor).
    Minimally, ASD3 would have a representative payee (to receive Social Security payments) like an ASD2.*
    If you have neither of those, your diagnosis would have to be ASD1 up to ASD1.x.**

    Remember: "severity" equals "level of support needed."

    *A Social Security requirement.
    **The gray area between ASD1 & 2.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
  9. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    I am just saying l have horrible choices, it would have been better if l just never had involvement with men. Everything horrible that has happened has always been the result of a man. 99% percent has been man related. I was even stalked by a man who l never met for 4 years. l was kicked out of my house by my mom because of my step-father being a creep. And now l still suffer because my ex still targets me for abuse. l seriously wish l had never dated.
     
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  10. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    I am just saying l have horrible choices, it would have been better if l just never had involvement with men. Everything horrible that has happened has always been the result of a man. 99% percent has been man related. I was even stalked by a man who l never met for 4 years. l was kicked out of my house by my mom because of my step-father being a creep. And now l still suffer because my ex still targets me for abuse. l seriously wish l had never dated.
     
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  11. Epitectus

    Epitectus Active Member

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    I'm pretty sure that she has ASD1 or ASD2, I'm not 100% sure though, but she's very well functioning.
     
  12. Epitectus

    Epitectus Active Member

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    I definitely think you're right about this. The difficult thing about this, though, is that I'm not sure what her pace is. And if it's 2 weeks between communication, then I'm genuinely not sure if I'm okay with waiting 2 weeks+ between each time we have contact (over text, face to face or anything in between). It's simply too little communication for me. I know that's selfish, but at some level I feel like it's fair that I have my wants and needs in relation to that. But at the same time I'm afraid of trying to fix that by contacting her and communicating that further, because I don't wanna pressure her. She's admitted to being a people pleaser, so every interaction to me is very fragile as it is. See my dilemma?

    Also can you elaborate on your last sentence about: "don't look at long intervals as you would with another NT."?
     
  13. VictorR

    VictorR Random Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm sorry, and don't be hard on yourself - it's not your fault.
    Jennifer Cook O'Toole states that autistic women are often abused without knowing it, and often blaming themselves when they always have been the victims.
    Liane Holliday Wiley and Barb Cook in Spectrum Women (I'll have a review done in the next week or so) add to this - that autistic women because of their nature tend to also inadvertently attract the wrong types of guys.
     
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  14. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Sometimes your looks play a part also. I am a very petite female, and this creates issues l think. l dealt with an extremely pushy maintence man, a pushy non club member. Petite females are more likely to be targeted because we don't look very strong. But thank you for your thoughts.
     
  15. FIVER

    FIVER Well-Known Member

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    I found this link that might help.

    25 Must knows when in a relationship with an aspie
     
  16. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    This is a tough one. If you were okay with the relationship and the communication being so wishy-washy, then this would just be a great match. But you want more class and communication, which is very reasonable. I think you should have meetings to discuss what things you desire. You may not know everything, but you two have spent enough time together, and I think the only way she will understand how to be in a quality relationship is if you are okay giving her constant directives of how to be in a relationship. Are you okay with that, and also, will she be okay with you "bossing her around" to make the relationship work? She's going to be dependent on her family in some way, and possibly dependent on you too. You really like her too. But this communication piece is so important to find a way to make it work.

    Another option you can consider is that both you and her go to couples therapy together.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
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  17. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    That's up to you whether it is worth the wait or not. As far as last sentence, typically long intervals and lack of communication equates to lack of interest. It does not necessarily mean that with people with Autism.
     
  18. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Normally, it's not good to "define the relationship", but you've gotten to know this person for awhile and you both like each other. Some things should be defined now to make things clear on all ends.
     
  19. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member

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    @Epitectus,
    I will speak from the perspective of someone being married for 34 years to a wonderful woman, that is, according to the Autism Quotient scale (less than 20 being mostly neurotypical traits, and above 30 being mostly autistic traits) scores a 27. I have Asperger's condition. I am also in the medical field and spend hours a day doing research. So, I will address your concerns from this perspective.

    Medically, there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that a high percentage with an autism condition will have difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Why? (1) The so-called "love hormones", oxytocin and vasopressin are triggered by the hypothalamus and released by to posterior pituitary. These are the hormones that give you that sense of euphoria when you first meet each other, after intimate contact, etc. These are also responsible for "social initiation",...seeking out social contact. When looking at medical imaging, testing blood, etc,...autistics will often have low levels of these hormones as there is often low connectivity and conduction in the posterior pituitary. I am one of those individuals. I must have physical contact with my wife,...if I don't,...those feelings go away,...it is a constant concern that I worry about. I do not communicate by phone or text,...I can go for several days, even weeks without talking on my personal phone. My wife will text me occasionally, and I will respond,...but it's a one-way street. If someone is not in my line of sight,...I don't think of them,..."out of sight, out of mind". I do not "miss" people. However, when I see them again,...it's like they've never left me and I will pick up a friendly conversation as if we were just talking about that topic a few minutes ago. (2) Many autistics will have high amounts of emotional empathy,...will get their feelings upset at a drop of a hat. However, many of those same people will have low levels of cognitive empathy. The two types of empathy come from distinctly different areas of the brain. More importantly, someone with low cognitive empathy will have difficulties with perspective taking. For example, if I did something to you that got you upset. You angrily come at me and say, "How would you feel if I did that to you?" My response might be,..."I wouldn't feel anything. What are you talking about?" I believe in the "Golden Rule",...basically, don't do something to someone else that you wouldn't like being done to you,...but,...if you have a difficult time perspective taking, it is not uncommon to say or do something that upsets another person. There is no forethought or intent to do harm (low cognitive empathy),...it just happens,...afterward, when the other person confronts you,...you feel like a total turd (high emotional empathy).

    So, I am thinking, that if your autistic girlfriend is not reciprocating equal amounts of attention towards you,...it is likely a combination of these two things that is contributing to the difficulties. It's not intentional,...she might not even be aware of how it affects you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
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  20. Sapphire K

    Sapphire K Autistic Pansexual Enby! (they/them) V.I.P Member

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    Both me an my girlfriend are Autistic so I haven't had that problem. We know that we have to be very clear when speaking with each other.
     
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