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difficulties empathizing with my boyfriend

madisen622

autistic kidcore grandpa
V.I.P Member
my boyfriend and i have been dating for a year and a half now, the first few months were amazing. i feel like we're at the stage where we run into problems with each other more often than not, my boyfriend constantly says i never empathize with him when he has problems. providing solutions rather than saying im sorry and moving on has always been the way i dealt with issues. it's constantly becoming a problem when my boyfriend shares his life with me. i don't know what to do.
 

Fino

Alex
V.I.P Member
Sounds like you do know what to do. You said "Providing solutions rather than saying I'm sorry and moving on..." is the problem, didn't you? So stop providing solutions and say you're sorry.
 

madisen622

autistic kidcore grandpa
V.I.P Member
Sounds like you do know what to do. You said "Providing solutions rather than saying I'm sorry and moving on..." is the problem, didn't you? So stop providing solutions and say you're sorry.
it's not that simple for me though, it's hard for me to just sit there and hear him vent. if he's talking to me about his issues shouldn't i be providing a solution to help him? saying sorry doesn't do anything.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
I read men don't want answers. They just need us to listen to them. If they wanted their mother, they wouldn't need you.
 

Bolletje

Overly complicated potato
V.I.P Member
it's not that simple for me though, it's hard for me to just sit there and hear him vent. if he's talking to me about his issues shouldn't i be providing a solution to help him? saying sorry doesn't do anything.
What you do is ask him whether he wants a solution, or whether he just wants to vent. If he says the latter, don’t provide a solution but just listen to him.
 

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
My husband has the same issue with me.

This idea that men want to offer solutions and women want to vent only, is a tad of a generaliation.

When it is my husband who feels sensitive, he just wants me to listen and when I do, he wants to offer solutions and visa verse.

It is hard to just listen, if you can see the solution; but I do try to teach myself to offer the sympathy part, before I start of the logical part.
 

PHOton

New Member
my boyfriend and i have been dating for a year and a half now, the first few months were amazing. i feel like we're at the stage where we run into problems with each other more often than not, my boyfriend constantly says i never empathize with him when he has problems. providing solutions rather than saying im sorry and moving on has always been the way i dealt with issues. it's constantly becoming a problem when my boyfriend shares his life with me. i don't know what to do.
To be honest, I find it hard to process the word sorry since I have to visualize almost every word I say. We the autistic are good listeners (in a calm environment) bacause we have to visualize those words been said in conversations: which makes us very quiet for some time. You can say instead "I understand what you are passing through( because relatively you should understand even if it's emotional problem, you will have at least an idea on the matter) and I want you to know I'm here for you" and that will make your boyfriend cared for, even if what he is saying is stupid . Try to fix your situation or it would be subconsciously programmed in your boyfriend's head that you don't try to empathize with him and not tell you things and you may start to feel uncomfortable around him
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@madisen622

This is an interesting reversal: the stereotype is that females just want to vent and receive sympathy, but males tend to look for solutions, and the exchange ends in a stupid argument :)

Your second post suggests that you find the venting unpleasant rather than just a waste of time.
This is certainly the case with me - when I was younger I used to put up with it, but now I just tell people directly that I don't do emotional support.

So I think you have a choice to make:
a) Fake it. The appearance of "caring" can be learned, and It's quite easy to do, though excruciatingly boring
b) Be straight with your BF: tell him it's not your nature to be able to provide what he wants

OFC this can be split into smaller pieces - there are some intermediate options for (a))

The first step towards (a) is to be able to ask directly if your BF wants to vent, and to ask in a way that works for him (e.g. not everyone likes the word "vent"). Then limit yourself to asking sympathetic questions with the sole objective of keeping him talking. Don't engage your analytical faculties with whatever he's talking about - that just distracts from the endless chatter objective.

If (b) is all that works for you, it might be the beginning of the end for your relationship. Prepare for a split before you talk about it.
 

Silhouette Mirage

S̷͕̲̔Ḷ̸̽̌İ̶̞M̸̲͆Ë̶̗̠
V.I.P Member
I do this with my wife constantly. IMO the only way to move forward is for both parties to realize it's going to happen from time to time and accept it as part of you, or at least that's the way it's working for me / us. Communication and understanding each other is at the root of most relationship issues to begin with, and an NT / ND relationship is likely going to be much rockier than others. Expect hard mode and always be willing to work on things as they arise.

It's not easy.

The hardest part sometimes is realizing you can't change the other person, but you can change how you react to them, which can make the world of a difference sometimes. Sill, one person can't do all of the heavy-lifting.

Also, I'm assuming this is NT / ND based on context, if you're both ND then you'll be even more fine. lol
 

madisen622

autistic kidcore grandpa
V.I.P Member
My husband has the same issue with me.

This idea that men want to offer solutions and women want to vent only, is a tad of a generaliation.

When it is my husband who feels sensitive, he just wants me to listen and when I do, he wants to offer solutions and visa verse.

It is hard to just listen, if you can see the solution; but I do try to teach myself to offer the sympathy part, before I start of the logical part.
thank you for your advice, it's comforting to hear im not alone in this :)
 

madisen622

autistic kidcore grandpa
V.I.P Member
@madisen622

This is an interesting reversal: the stereotype is that F's just want to vent and receive sympathy, but M's tend to look for solutions, and the exchange ends in a stupid argument :)

Your second post suggests that you find the venting unpleasant rather than just a waste of time.
This is certainly the case with me - when I was younger I used to put up with it, but now I just tell people directly that I don't do emotional support.

So I think you have a choice to make:
a) Fake it. The appearance of NT-style "caring" can be learned, and It's quite easy to do, though excruciatingly boring
b) Be straight with your BF: tell him it's not your nature to be able to provide what he wants

OFC this can be split into smaller pieces - there are some intermediate options for (a))

The first step towards (a) is to be able to ask directly if your BF wants to vent, and to ask in a way that works for him (e.g. not everyone likes the word "vent"). Then limit yourself to asking sympathetic questions with the sole objective of keeping him talking. Don't engage your analytical faculties with whatever he's talking about - that just distracts from the "endless NT chatter" objective.

If (b) is all that works for you, it might be the beginning of the end for your relationship. Prepare for a split before you talk about it.
what's super funny is i have been told it's the "male" response, when i was speaking to a good friend of mine who just recently got diagnosed he said "i thought only guys with autism did that" haha goes to show im not the sterotypical response "for a female." sometimes i find the venting unpleasant but i think it's because its been happening for so long between us, my boyfriend has ADHD and i feel like our brains do clash a lot. i think im going to go with a mix between options a and b, it's important to let him know how im feeling but realizing providing emotional support can be tough for me.
 

Gwildor

Member
my boyfriend and i have been dating for a year and a half now, the first few months were amazing. i feel like we're at the stage where we run into problems with each other more often than not, my boyfriend constantly says i never empathize with him when he has problems. providing solutions rather than saying im sorry and moving on has always been the way i dealt with issues. it's constantly becoming a problem when my boyfriend shares his life with me. i don't know what to do.
this resonates hard with me. both your struggles, and the reactions of your partner.

I find it difficult to understand why somebody would want empathy vs problem solving.

I noted this as one of the problems I experienced when I tried councelling for poor mental health. I was recommended to try it by quiet a few people and quit after trying several different councillors. And when people asked me why I quit I said I wasnt getting anything out of it. she just mostly listened to me talk lol.

I would say the best piece of advice on this thread so far is to ask if they want you to help solve problems or just listen. The main problem I have run into with this before however is tgat occasionally the reaction has been a "YOU SHOULD JUST KNOW!" response said very aggressively or emotionally. which leaves me feeling somewhat confused and anxious.

Hopefully your partner is a little more understanding than some of my exes lol
 

madisen622

autistic kidcore grandpa
V.I.P Member
I do this with my wife constantly. IMO the only way to move forward is for both parties to realize it's going to happen from time to time and accept it as part of you, or at least that's the way it's working for me / us. Communication and understanding each other is at the root of most relationship issues to begin with, and an NT / ND relationship is likely going to be much rockier than others. Expect hard mode and always be willing to work on things as they arise.

It's not easy.

The hardest part sometimes is realizing you can't change the other person, but you can change how you react to them, which can make the world of a difference sometimes. Sill, one person can't do all of the heavy-lifting.

Also, I'm assuming this is NT / ND based on context, if you're both ND then you'll be even more fine. lol
it's reassuring to know other couples go through this too, i appreciate your input :) what's super hilarious is my boyfriend isn't NT he's ND, he has ADHD. you'd think it would make things easier in a way but our brains do often clash a lot, it's hard for me most of the time to understand his thought processes.
 

madisen622

autistic kidcore grandpa
V.I.P Member
this resonates hard with me. both your struggles, and the reactions of your partner.

I find it difficult to understand why somebody would want empathy vs problem solving.

I noted this as one of the problems I experienced when I tried councelling for poor mental health. I was recommended to try it by quiet a few people and quit after trying several different councillors. And when people asked me why I quit I said I wasnt getting anything out of it. she just mostly listened to me talk lol.

I would say the best piece of advice on this thread so far is to ask if they want you to help solve problems or just listen. The main problem I have run into with this before however is tgat occasionally the reaction has been a "YOU SHOULD JUST KNOW!" response said very aggressively or emotionally. which leaves me feeling somewhat confused and anxious.

Hopefully your partner is a little more understanding than some of my exes lol
im so glad someone understands and relates to what i mean, i've asked other people around me for advice and they answer with "just listen, its not that hard?" it's unfortunate to hear your exes treated you so poorly, i hope things are better for you now. i don't think my boyfriend will respond in a similar manner, but i do think it's worth explaining to him how difficult understanding and listening to emotions can be for me. thank you for your advice :)
 

Gwildor

Member
I hope your boyfriend understands. Being understood is more important to me than being empathized with. Perhaps its the same for you.

Honestly, by neurotypical standards I probably treat many of my ex partners as poorly as they did me. Not intentionally of course. But just by the fact I struggle to conceptualize emotional support. Acts of service is one of my main love languages. I tend to want to do things for people to show my love. Solve problems for example. It might be worth you and your partner looking into love languages.

Also I tend to attract women with borderline personality disorder for some reason. So that explains some of the poor reactions I have had before. And the Aspie borderline couple must be one of the most destructive combinations out there. The borderline is generally widly unpredictable, highly emotional, agressive, controlling etc and has very strong needs for emotional support and proximity, dependance. And the person on the spectrum struggles desperately to provide any of that. Resulting in terrible consequences.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
I hope your boyfriend understands. Being understood is more important to me than being empathized with. Perhaps its the same for you.

Honestly, by neurotypical standards I probably treat many of my ex partners as poorly as they did me. Not intentionally of course. But just by the fact I struggle to conceptualize emotional support. Acts of service is one of my main love languages. I tend to want to do things for people to show my love. Solve problems for example. It might be worth you and your partner looking into love languages.

Also I tend to attract women with borderline personality disorder for some reason. So that explains some of the poor reactions I have had before. And the Aspie borderline couple must be one of the most destructive combinations out there. The borderline is generally widly unpredictable, highly emotional, agressive, controlling etc and has very strong needs for emotional support and proximity, dependance. And the person on the spectrum struggles desperately to provide any of that. Resulting in terrible consequences.
I tend to attract emotional avoidant personality men which ends up making me clingy and emotional which makes me come across as borderline. I also have strong issues of being emotionally avoidant, and two avoidants ND couples is another difficult combo. Because you are so busy being avoidant that you never get off the ground. Also in this particular case, the person can be very critical which drives me right back to an emotionally controlling father which sends me straight to that emotional box.

The wall l slam into is he would want me to listen to his issues with or without help but l was not allowed to have any issues because my issues were to stressful. So l felt like l needed to have duct tape over my mouth when l visit. Which l can get through but first l had to process this inconsistency.
 
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Gwildor

Member
I tend to attract emotional avoidant personality men which ends up making me clingy and emotional which makes me come across as borderline. I also have strong issues of being emotionally avoidant, and two avoidants ND couples is another difficult combo. Because you are so busy being avoidant that you never get off the ground. Also in this particular case, the person can be very critical which drives me right back to an emotionally controlling father which sends me straight to that emotional box.

The wall l slam into is he would want me to listen to his issues with or without help but l was not allowed to have any issues because my issues were to stressful. So l felt like l needed to have duct tape over my mouth when l visit. Which l can get through but first l had to process this inconsistency.
That sounds perhaps like disorganized attachment rather than purely avoidant. I have the same style. Its very hard to live with and form healthy stable relationships.

It is also known as Fearful avoidant or anxious avoidant. It can look a lot like borderline in some senses because of the fluctuations between avoidant and anxious behaviours. Its an attachment style based on distance management. Get too needy or close with me and Im going to shut down and push you away. Get too distant and Im going to panic and try pull you back any way I can. All of this is subconscious of course.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
That sounds perhaps like disorganized attachment rather than purely avoidant. I have the same style. Its very hard to live with and form healthy stable relationships.

It is also known as Fearful avoidant or anxious avoidant. It can look a lot like borderline in some senses because of the fluctuations between avoidant and anxious behaviours. Its an attachment style based on distance management. Get too needy or close with me and Im going to shut down and push you away. Get too distant and Im going to panic and try pull you back any way I can. All of this is subconscious of course.
That explains so much. I tend to push away when l become too emotionally attached. Because l feel l have to save myself, from what? I can only think of losing some sort of control because l value independence as my sole survival skill. The one person l have known many years doesn't critique me, so perhaps we have stayed friends forever as a result.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
my boyfriend and i have been dating for a year and a half now, the first few months were amazing. i feel like we're at the stage where we run into problems with each other more often than not, my boyfriend constantly says i never empathize with him when he has problems. providing solutions rather than saying im sorry and moving on has always been the way i dealt with issues. it's constantly becoming a problem when my boyfriend shares his life with me. i don't know what to do.

You aren't alone on this. It's my nature as well. Seems logical to offer help to one in need rather than lament with them that things suck. Yet it seems more often than not people want that lamentation rather than real help.

Just another example of how illogical humans can be I suppose. And yes, it's difficult for me to be anything different in this sense. My NT cousin is one who insists that men are problem solvers when all women really want is sympathy. Interesting to read some here reversing the genders on this issue.

Times like this I think of that line in Star Trek II where Lt. Saavik says, "Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical."
 

Gerald Wilgus

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I think with ASD many of us are solution oriented. Looking for solutions has been one area of friction between my spouse and I. Then I took the advice of Jimmy Buffet.
But the right word at the right time
May get me a little hug
That's the difference between lightning
And a harmless lightning bug

 

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