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Featured Explaining Relationship Dynamics to Aspie

Discussion in 'Love, Relationships and Dating' started by sisselcakes, Jun 16, 2018.

  1. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Usually I come on here to post or read threads when I'm struggling in my relationship with my (undiagnosed) ASD boyfriend. I guess reading and writing helps me see things from a more objective and broader perspective.

    I'm here to vent frustration because people on here "get it" but also to ask for help coming up with a solution. My real life friends mean well, but they can't really get what my relationship challenges are. It's something you have to experience truly understand.

    So, I'm coming down from a seemingly harmless comment my bf made which resulted in me feeling hurt, crying, shutting down, obsessing, doing hours of thought experiments to look for a solution, and ultimately wanting to slam my head against the wall until I finally just decided "screw it" and let it go.

    After torturing myself I finally realized that: 1) my own internal reality plays a part in this, and 2) this whole reaction on my part doesn't get me the results I want, and I'm never going to get what I want in the way I want it. I have figured out substitutes in some instances.

    While I know our languages are different and I really try to approach these challenges from a matter-of-fact standpoint, I inevitably return to my NT impulses. I just can't help it in the moment.

    All of this started with his comment "are you gonna go get cleaned up?" Sounds harmless enough to someone who doesn't know the context, right? I had been working all day on our porch in the humid 90 degree Florida weather. I was in the middle of preparing dinner, but had a break.

    No surprise that Rich is not expressive. He's not generous with compliments and doesn't understand the importance of them; or he understands and just isn't capable of pulling it off.

    I just turned 49 and feel old. Even though I've lost weight, I feel fat, gross, old and ugly. I can assure you no one who knows me would say this is true. It's just how I've been feeling. I also have a history with depression. That doesn't help.

    So, I was in the middle of cooking him a nice, healthy dinner that took a lot effort.

    What I looked like: hair in a bun (he's told me on multiple occasions he likes my hair down so I feel he thinks I look ugly with it up), wearing unfeminine shorts, unshaven legs, needed a shower, no make up, hair needs a touch up dye job- roots showing (you get the not-so-pretty picture).

    We were chatting about cosmetic surgery. I feel like I need a face lift and breast reduction, but won't undergo elective surgery for vanity's sake and also because the procedures disgust me. His contribution to conversation was, "Plastic surgery is no different from any surgery. You should do it if you want to."

    How I heard it: "You really need to get both surgeries because I'm not attracted to you and you're gross."

    Then I walk over to the couch to take a cooking break and he says "you gonna go clean up?" By that time, I felt so bad about myself that I interpreted his comment as Rich finding me unattractive and disgusting, so I felt devastated. Also, I was in the middle of making a nice dinner and felt unappreciated. Like all you can do is focus on my appearance?

    If I look at it through literal lenses, I actually was gross in the moment; but he didn't say I was gross and he didn't mean that I'm an overall gross person; and this is where the biggest challenge comes in. I misread his tone because of how I felt about myself and because I have a hard time in general reading his cues (he doesn't give many).

    I know it's taken me a while to get to the point but it's only after writing this all that I've figured out what I want to know and what feedback I'd like from someone whose brain thinks like his.

    I want to be able to explain something to him and have him understand. I'm not looking to change his behavior. I know his strengths and limitations when it comes to communicating, but I want to be able to explain this dynamic/process that happens between us occasionally and for him to intellectually understand it.

    All NT women, by nature, desire reassurance - like compliments or being told we are desirable, for example. I've accepted that I have ASK for them and I will get them. I have to come out and say "do you think I'm pretty?", then Rich will look at me like I'm insane and say "you're beautiful!", as if how do you not already know that?

    I want Rich to know, that when this dynamic comes up between us (my misinterpreting what he meant), that it's not unique to us. I don't want him to think I'm just crazy (because I know he does). This dynamic occurs as a natural result of two people with differing wiring trying to maintain a relationship. It's a natural byproduct and it's going to happen occasionally.

    You see, unlike most people on this blog who have done some reading and soul searching, Rich lacks curiosity about dealing with NT's so his knowledge is limited. I feel like if he understood, when this happens again, we can just define it as such.

    He agrees with me that there are NT/ASD differences and he sometimes finds them amusing. We laugh about it sometimes but that's where his interest and curiosity stops. Still, it's important to me to get some basic points across and I can't figure out how to explain them. This is one of them.

    I mean, I've literally thought of creating a flowchart which I still might do. Just haven't figured out how to do that. My brain doesn't work that way!
     
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  2. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    You get it.
    A lot of things ring true from the other side for me. My wife making the same 'leaps' as you have.
    So many times, it's my 'tone' or whatever .
    None of it is meant the way it is taken.

    When an extreme reaction happens it's hard for either side to understand it.

    You're was a very clear description of the process.
    Doesn't mean it will ever stop :)

    For me,it's learning to change ones actions when the misunderstanding happens that is fundamental.

    That's a toughie :) My side it was me doing the understanding.
    Now I've started a reply to you, I realise I'm too tired :)
     
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  3. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm officially rating this funny and informative! Now go take a rest!
     
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  4. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Have you explained this in detail to him? He is the one who needs to get it and maybe he can. I am ASD and have had my wife explain many things to me. Some things things take time and repeating but it does get through sooner or later.
     
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  5. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Well when you were explaining your melt down obsessivey distressed reaction I just thought you were on the autistic spectrum too. Autistic traits show themselves differently in women, have you read Aspergirls or a recent book about late realisation by women that they are on the autistic spectrum? Might be worth a thought.
     
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  6. VJCJ0628

    VJCJ0628 Well-Known Member

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    "Plastic surgery is no different from any surgery. You should do it if you want to." he might actually mean do what makes you happy to do it or not whatever you feel would make you happy,

    As far as the compliments and things like that I had to learn over time, I am still not great at it and at times my wife has told me I don't put my arm around her when she really needs it,

    However, I improved greatly mainly because she has expressed her desire for these things and she has told me she likes to be surprised with honest compliments from time to time, From this I was able to remember some past relationships where the girlfriend has tried to tell me the same things but not as direct and it clicked, Also we have been together for some time at this point and I was comfortable having this conversation with her at this point

    She also told me she likes the Ecards once in a while, I cant always do these things but I like to surprise her with some message that comes from the truth in the way I feel about her I like to make her feel good

    Growth in this takes time, to trust and patients through,

    Another Thing my wife, in the beginning, would like to take some time once in a blue to talk just about stuff like this, you know just conversation no pressure no expectations just to connect
     
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  7. VJCJ0628

    VJCJ0628 Well-Known Member

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    Also, I would add I found it easier at first to do the ecards or flowers with the Ecard and personal note before I became more comfortable with verbal that took more time these were a good stepping stone to express myself and how I feel

    But I don't always recognize when she is not feeling good about herself In fact i don't always recognize when I am not feeling good about myself
     
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  8. Fitzo

    Fitzo Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    If you were never going to actually consider cosmetic surgery, but the purpose of bringing it up was to elicit a response like "you don't need it, you're beautiful without it", then I think you already know there was the potential for that to go horribly wrong! Your Aspie guy is probably confused about why you would talk about doing something you never had any intention of following through. Many NT guys could potentially react the same way he did too, so he was behind the eight ball right from the start! :)
    You're also probably feeling particularly sensitive as you're getting close to the big five-o which can be daunting for a lot of women. The only thing I can tell you is in twenty years from now you'll look back and wonder what you were worried about!
    If you can remember to spell things out clearly, without using subtle hints on him I'm sure you'll be fine. Having said that though, you are a woman and NT so I know it's not going to be easy. I hope you work things out.
     
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  9. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    Perhaps you misinterpreted him. Perhaps he meant "are you going to clean up the dishes after cooking"? It might not have had anything to do with the previous conversation, and would be a strange thing to say referring to plastic surgery anyway.
     
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  10. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Well, it's good to know that repetition might help. I'm sometimes hesitant to bring things up, even if I'm super careful to come across as objective and not judgmental because he's really sensitive to being blamed as the one who is the "problem" so to speak. I think part of it is finding the right time to address it, which is hard for me because I want to resolve it NOW.

    I actually just thought of a good idea on how to approach it! Once I addressed our relationship challenges as being a system problem more than a problem of one person versus the other and encouraged him to reframe it in that way. He was pretty open to listening after that.

    Thanks for your feedback.
     
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  11. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    OMG. LOL. What's funny is when I wrote that, I realized that it sounded as though I could be on the spectrum. While I'm "NT" (I'm absolutely sure of this), I'm not completely typical. I do have ADHD, so who knows how that might play into it.
     
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  12. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Not a bad idea about an ecard! He's really likes it when out of the blue I send him an I love you email. We do tend to communicate better through text at times, I notice.
     
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  13. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I've literally come to the point where I ask for compliments. If I were to tell an NT that (I do tell one close friend) they would think I was absolutely pathetic begging for compliments, but I need to know he finds me attractive!

    My bf doesn't pick up on when I need to be comforted, so I will ask for a hug. I should say he doesn't always know how to respond. He's actually incredibly sensitive to my mood, though. If I'm down, he can tell easier than most NT's. I suppose it's because I'm a talker and I must be quieter in those moments. He's very perceptive and will try in his own way to be sweet. I do appreciate the effort.

    If he's in a serious or irritable mood and I happen to cry, it changes him immediately (not that I use that to manipulate, though that's not a bad idea. LOL). He becomes softer. That's when I see his compassionate side.

    Yesssss. We need to connect. THAT is one thing that suffers when he's preoccupied or distant because I start to feel distressed by not connecting. It seems as though he's pulling away and I respond by becoming more needy. Will try to explain that to him.
     
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  14. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    You are right about bringing up the plastic surgery, though I have vascillated on going through with it and shared that I was considering it in the past because I had back pain. I saw the breast reduction as a solution. Luckily exercises made the pain disappear. Woo hoo! But I would be lying if I said I didn't want him to respond with a "You don't need surgery. You're beautiful just the way you are."

    It amused me- your observation that possibly my bf is confused about why I would even discuss the option if I had ultimately decided against it. Never thought about that. Wow. It's so hard to figure out what might be going in his mind because some of the possibilities never would occur to me.

    Yep, very sensitive about nearing 50! I remember when I turned 40, my stepmother asked how I felt. I responded nonchalantly that it was just another day as far as I was concerned. Later that night I had a surreal experience where I grieved the years that had passed. It was really odd. I bawled for a long time. So, apparently I'm senstive about aging!
     
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  15. LucyPurrs

    LucyPurrs NT, INFJ V.I.P Member

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    Oh my goodness, can I ever relate to that! Sometimes the way in which something is interpreted is so far out of the realm of our experience that we'd just never figure it out. That's when it becomes necessary to ask to clarify communications I guess. Or to try and not have any expectations- easier said than done and then ask for clarification if it's still needed.
     
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  16. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I may misunderstand him sometimes, but believe me, I'm certain I didn't misunderstand this! He's got a thing about cleanliess and bathes two times a day. It will gross him out if I've worked out and sit on the couch before I shower.

    In this particular instance I had been sitting out on the porch working all day in the Florida heat and I went to sit next to him to talk. Sometimes I'll make a joke and say, "am I grossing you out?".

    This may be one thing I left out of my story. It could be that he was confused by my getting offended because I joke about this when I'm in a good mood but suddenly get offended when I'm feeling bad about myself. He's not necessarily know what's going on in my mind at that moment.
     
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  17. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Right. So in these instances, NT's can be just as mind blind (isn't this the term?) as the apsie partner because we can't even imagine the way their minds work, just like they don't understand ours. It would never occur to us in a million years.

    What bothers me is that all these miscommunications and hurt feelings happen and could be avoided if only I could sit back and "get it" intellectually. I guess it might get better as you get to know a person. We've only been together for 3 years.

    Here's an example of hurt feelings that floored me. So, my bf will say insensitive things sometimes about my appearance and I'm very sensitive to that. On the flip side, I can joke and tell him he looks homeless and that his shoes are "clodhoppers" and he doesn't care one bit.

    One time we were in an argument about current events and I told him he was brainwashed. Oh, dear God, that was the wrong thing to say. He was so bitter toward me and practically on the verge of breaking up with me because he saw it as an insult and that I saw him from a diminished point of view.

    I would NEVER find a comment like that offensive. I mean I was so taken aback by his reaction. So we never know what will trigger one person and not another.
     
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  18. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    If this is the case, then he meant no offense and you shouldn't take it personally.
     
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  19. ksheehan88

    ksheehan88 :)

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    I agree with this, this is what I thought too.... I would have reacted in a similar way @sisselcakes and I am an aspie. I also like to be complimented, even though it makes me uncomfortable and awkward feeling and I don't know how to respond, its always nice to be complimented. I also obsess and dwell on things when there is no need and take things totally the wrong way because I've misinterpreted the tone or some other such thing.
     
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  20. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    I like your toes.
     
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