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Is it very difficult to acknowledge the validity of an alternative perspective when someone points out you aren't doing it?

yogabanana

Active Member
Trying to wrap my mind around where my partner's autism stops and other issues begin. He is chronically invalidating and dismissive, and usually wants to focus on the facts of a specific incident. He says I complain too much but he responds so poorly when I complain, that things upsetting me do not get addressed properly. I try to ask for what I want instead but he hears that as a complaint anyway.

If we are having a minor issue, I explain this issue isn't the single experience in front of us but is fitting into a theme I've tried to discuss with him many times before so it's not a one off situation as I do not generally see the point of raising an issue that is not being repeated.

If he doesn't think I should feel x, he feels no obligation to support me with it. So if he leaves his dirty clothes right by the hamper for the 4th time in the week, despite me asking nicely for him to not do that, I'll say "I'm feeling disrespected seeing your clothes right next to the hamper after I've asked you to put them in the hamper." And he will say he isn't disrespecting me, why do I always want to fight, etc.

Because that is his response vs "oh yeah, sorry about that. I'll go fix it now", or, "I didn't intend to disrespect you but it definitely makes sense to me why you'd feel disrespected anyway. I will go move the clothes now," things become so much more of a problem. It's not just x but now also how he refuses to listen to me or acknowledge my point of view. Refuses to acknowledge that in a relationship there is almost never one version of right. He speaks as if he has a superior view on everything and I'm dumb, irrational, or cantankerous for having an alternate view. Sometimes he says he is being dismissive because from his perspective if he says he was not being disrespectful, I can take in that info and magically correct my bad feelings. So he is trying to help. But he knows that isn't helpful to me because his behavior has a certain impact whether that's the intention or not and even if he wasn't intending to disrespect me, it hits the same place emotionally as every time I felt that from his actions. So trying to just revise my interpretation of the present situation is not helpful anyway. His actions triggered the pattern of feeling disrespected so it won't get better unless he can make room for that to be true for me and try to understand why I feel like that instead of trying to force me to feel differently.

He dismisses my feelings and then ignores me until I stop trying to talk about it... but if I don't want to just let it go, this causes a minor problem to take 3 days to resolve. It's so stupid and exhausting and he believes it is my fault it is like that :(

I understand some of this comes with autism but when I point out he is invalidating my feelings, he doesn't attempt to start over with his comments. Maybe if I say that and then storm off and refuse to pretend nothing happened, he will give some basic effort to correct the invalidation. But generally it's not happening. He doesn't apologize or ever say "I was wrong" and just seems so stubborn and proud that it's hard to believe this is all the autism. Autism doesn't make you have toxic ego issues. Autism doesn't interfere with humility.

We are on the verge of divorcing because this level of chronic dismissiveness has hurt my self esteem and makes it impossible to feel like I matter, my needs matter, or that he wants an actual partnership.

I'm autistic too but I know that you cannot assert your idea of truth on top of someone else as they have a unique experience. Usually when we are arguing he wants me to admit he is right about his interpretation of the facts while I want him to admit I'm right that in relational conflicts that is rarely a fruitful focus as it misses the whole reason there is a problem which is due to feelings, personal values and unresolved issues.

I'm worn down by this dynamic but mostly feel hopeless that it will change. I've told him for years that this isn't ok. That you will lose a relationship if you're so focused on being right about the facts with a person who needs their feelings tended to with care, compassion and curiosity. You don't have to understand automatically, but he's not really trying to understand me better. He's just defaulting to me being wrong because he doesn't understand women see every single instance of the event vs just the one right now. So he thinks I am always overreacting and if he would not feel the same way in the same situation he thinks I am wrong to feel how I feel and refuses to grant the possibility that my experience is valid for my own context which isn't the same as his.

But again, the invalidating responses and various forms of defensiveness have resulted in very little closure or resolution on anything so issues spill into daily life more and more often. His refusal to hear my concerns in a way that is helpful has caused there to me so many concerns the relationship basically cannot make it one day without a problem surfacing, even if I don't say anything about it. There are that many problems he has either dismissed outright or isn't really working on doing differently.

We have done couples therapy but he does not hold himself responsible to apply what is being learned. If we practice any of the tools taught to us it is because I bring it up and hold him accountable for it. I have to say I'm over the lack of effort on his end. I can't be the leader on everything. If this mattered then he would have made it front of mind. I am convinced he thinks I won't leave so he can do whatever he wants and doesn't believe he needs to change it because I said it needed to change but haven't followed through on any consequences. But I am now sleeping in a different room and I have been telling him for over a week that I'm trying to figure out how to make this stuff work but if he won't cooperate then he's teaching me that divorce is my only option for relief. He says or you could just decide not to fight all the time. Again, not seeing how his poor response to my raising a concern is the very reason a simple request becomes a proper fight.

Anyway. As we might be ending the marriage I was hoping for others to share if you had this problem in a relationship did you work on it? Did your partner give you feedback they no longer feel emotionally abused by this dynamic? What helped you change? I understand perspective taking is challenging but it's not impossible and I feel like he has contempt that prevents him from trying.

I feel like you can be autistic and still feel bad that your partner feels emotionally abused and then would actually want to change your behavior so they don't feel like that. Am I wrong? Is there a "this is who I am deal with it" mindset to more of us than I thought? I mean in his case bc he can't see the emotional abuse he thinks I'm exaggerating or it's in my head or something but chronic invalidation is abusive even if it's not meant to be.

There are so many other reasons to end my marriage that most people would totally agree with. But this is the thing that I can't handle anymore.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
Have you already checked out, or are you looking to understand your situation, and open to change (in yourself)?

NB: I posted in your last thread that my experience suggests your preferred approach is probably making things worse. The factors that caused me to say that (and only that) are present in this thread too.
 

yogabanana

Active Member
Have you already checked out, or are you looking to understand your situation, and open to change (in yourself)?

NB: I posted in your last thread that my experience suggests your preferred approach is probably making things worse. The factors that caused me to say that (and only that) are present in this thread too.
I don't know how to give up more of my emotional needs than I already have. So I need SOME "emotion-centric" conversations. And if what I am upset about has an emotional component then I need my partner to accept that as a valid reality despite it being foreign to him. One can have curiosity about a different experience in spite of alexithymia.

I'm open to change but I've been down this road a long time. I could reduce my communication to only positive comments 6 days of the week and if I'm upset about something minor on the 7th day, there is a 95% chance he will react with invalidation, dismissiveness, justification, minimizing etc. even if I speak softly and am not noticably emotional. I just can't tolerate it anymore. I have accepted that he would change it more if he wanted to.

Certainly general suggestions would be useful in case I'm in a similar situation but I am pretty sure my marriage is on life support due to his refusal to try to see where I am coming from or take accountability for the problems his approach to things has caused for us.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
The "short answer"? It can be.

Especially for a number of us on the spectrum who tend to default to binary thought processes. Having a perception of so much predicated on black/white, true/false, yes/no, plus or minus reasoning.

Though for some of us, we are able to crawl a bit away from that abyss through coming to terms with all those "shades of grey" beyond the poles of black or white.

Others? Not so much...and likely on a pathological level. It's incredibly complicated. For instance I can see envy and jealousy in others, but don't experience it myself. And I have some kind of disconnect when it comes to attempting to process sarcasm directed solely at myself. Yet I can sometimes process it when it is directed towards others.

Probably the most important thing to understand about one you know to be on the spectrum. Is that we have certain limitations that absolutely not a matter of attitude or reasoning, but that they are neurologically "hard-wired" into our brains, with no amount of conditioning that can change it, even with the best of intentions.

I'm inclined to believe that if one is seeking some kind of emotional and communicative "equity" in a mixed relationship between an NT and ND, they aren't likely to find it.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@yogabanana

You're projecting. I asked that question because if you're already planning your exit, we have no basis for a discussion.

BTW I do understand the implications of my posts (above, and in your previous thread).
But:
* It's not something that could be covered in a few short posts
* I might be wrong
* You might not be receptive

So I'm trying to find out if we truly have anything to talk about.
I don't want to write something you don't want to read :)
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It was quite long so I only read part. Stopped around the hamper. But it made me think of simple, logical consequences (used as a teaching technique). Don't wash any clothes not placed in the hamper.

I also sensed the somewhat stereotypical idea that men think specifically and women globely which is something that can occur in NTs. It might be more pronounced with autists. I am not a pyschology person and know little about it, but this specific/global scenerio seemed to pop up clearly and repeatedly between me (autist) and spouse (NT). So I think there is some truth to it.

My wife and I resolve these things by having constructive and open conversations about them often.

The issue at hand (ie clothes) is almost moot, until you have first established the effective communication process. In other words a good conflict (or just differeing opinion) resolution process.
 

Misery

Amalga Heart
V.I.P Member
If he doesn't think I should feel x, he feels no obligation to support me with it. So if he leaves his dirty clothes right by the hamper for the 4th time in the week, despite me asking nicely for him to not do that, I'll say "I'm feeling disrespected seeing your clothes right next to the hamper after I've asked you to put them in the hamper." And he will say he isn't disrespecting me, why do I always want to fight, etc.

Just something I wanted to say here, because this trait (or what I'm perceiving of it in your writing) is familiar to me.

I cant remember exactly what it's called... something like... er... pathological task or demand avoidance. Something like that.

This is something I experience myself and the way it works is like this: the more someone tries to get me to do a given thing, the more likely I am to not want to do it. Seriously, the easiest way to make a necessary task NOT get done is to tell me I should do it. The actual way to get me to do it is to just... wait. Sooner or later I'll hit a point where said task is the next logical thing to do in my day, and then I'll do it. If pushed to do it though, I'll get progressively more and more irritable until my patience snaps.

When I go and do the thing, it doesnt always work in a way that others would see as the normal or traditional way to do said task once I perform it, nor will the timing match the "normal" schedule of things, which I think is the part that people around me struggle with. It aint that I wont do the thing AT ALL. It's that I'm gonna be strange about it and the execution of it might seem rather odd. For instance, laundry. I dont really put my stuff in a hamper either. It typically goes in a big pile, and once the pile hits a certain size, I'll sorta do the whole thing all at once in a long string of multiple washer/dryer uses in a single day until they've all been "processed". If anything that would go into the pile is somehow gross or smelly though, it doesnt even go in the pile, it gets shoved into the washing machine directly. Even if I tended to use a hamper, I would still do that. In my mind, gross in the hamper just makes the hamper gross.

WHY do I do this? Heck if I know. I just know that's how it works for me, but it's also something I've heard about over and over in conversations about autism in general. It isnt a matter of disrespect or maliciousness or anything else though. It's automatic in a way I'd have trouble explaining.

So, yeah, that's just some thoughts on why that might be happening. Thing is though, that if this is the case, he himself may not actually be aware of this reason/tendency/trait. It took me bloody ages to realize that I had that trait myself. And I have to sort of fight with myself constantly when it rears up (which is all the time).

That's just a potential theory though.

Probably the most important thing to understand about one you know to be on the spectrum. Is that we have certain limitations that absolutely not a matter of attitude or reasoning, but that they are neurologically "hard-wired" into our brains, with no amount of conditioning that can change it, even with the best of intentions.

Very well put. For me personally, this is exactly the right way to describe the things I do on instinct, so to speak. I dont do things the way I do them because I made the choice. I do them because it's inherent. No amount of arguing with me will change it. I am sure of this, because I have tried arguing with MYSELF on it. It did not work.

I tend to think this is what many people on the spectrum will experience. Not all, but many. At least I think so anyway.
 

tazz

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Trying to wrap my mind around where my partner's autism stops and other issues begin.
I've asked myself about this many times. My behavior upsets people. I used to think it was a weakness in my character. I wanted to change. But after years of trying, and now understanding that I'm autistic, I have to conclude my brain is hard wired to work that way.

It took me bloody ages to realize that I had that trait myself. And I have to sort of fight with myself constantly when it rears up (which is all the time).
I am able to realise that my behavior is upsetting people. The behavior itself is instinctive - I have no control over it. But then either very quickly, or usually some time later, the guilt and remorse kick in.

Probably the most important thing to understand about one you know to be on the spectrum. Is that we have certain limitations that absolutely not a matter of attitude or reasoning, but that they are neurologically "hard-wired" into our brains, with no amount of conditioning that can change it, even with the best of intentions.
Very well put. For me personally, this is exactly the right way to describe the things I do on instinct, so to speak. I dont do things the way I do them because I made the choice. I do them because it's inherent. No amount of arguing with me will change it. I am sure of this, because I have tried arguing with MYSELF on it. It did not work.
I can relate to this.

Because I can understand that my behavior upsets people, and I don't want to upset people, I do try to talk with people I live with to find solutions. But I'm coming to the conclusion that avoidance is the only thing that will significantly help. In the moment, my responses seem perfectly sensible and reasonable - it's only later I realise I was being dismissive and impatient.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I've asked myself about this many times. My behavior upsets people. I used to think it was a weakness in my character. I wanted to change. But after years of trying, and now understanding that I'm autistic, I have to conclude my brain is hard wired to work that way.


I am able to realise that my behavior is upsetting people. The behavior itself is instinctive - I have no control over it. But then either very quickly, or usually some time later, the guilt and remorse kick in.



I can relate to this.

Because I can understand that my behavior upsets people, and I don't want to upset people, I do try to talk with people I live with to find solutions. But I'm coming to the conclusion that avoidance is the only thing that will significantly help. In the moment, my responses seem perfectly sensible and reasonable - it's only later I realise I was being dismissive and impatient.
Another good point made. That we don't necessarily process conversations/interactions adequately in real time. That we may have better chance to parse things properly later and at our own neurological pace.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
@yogabanana I don't know where to start with all of this. I am so sorry you are going through all of this in your relationship.

Perspective taking. I am of the mind that many people struggle with this, not just autistics. All that is happening in this world, the divisiveness, the tribalism, the right vs the left, the culture wars, etc., it's something we all have difficulty with. The world is in a lot of hurt.

Two things that will often trigger me is (1) being accused of feeling something I don't and (2) intentionally causing hurt feelings in another person. I have alexithymia, so I don't know what I am feeling most of the time. In fact, I would consider myself quite "neutral". The saying, "How would you feel if I did that to you?" is not helpful when talking to me. I wouldn't have any concept of that, so it's not a part of any of my thinking when I am interacting with someone. I tend to operate more upon the morals of "right" and "wrong", "duty, responsibility, and accountability". Feelings are not any part of my behavior. Furthermore, emotional thinking and communication creates a level of chaos in my brain I cannot comprehend, and I will shut down.

I hope this gives some perspective, even if it doesn't save your relationship.
 

yogabanana

Active Member
In case it matters, we are both autistic. But he is also alexithymic and obviously I am not. (Except with sex? For some weird reason I won't know my actions are from missing sex until after we do it and then I'm like oh so that's why I was acting that way).

So I am autistic with emotional needs similar to an NT partner but I understand the sensory issues, need for alone time, confusion about gender role expectations, etc also.
 

yogabanana

Active Member
@yogabanana

You're projecting. I asked that question because if you're already planning your exit, we have no basis for a discussion.

BTW I do understand the implications of my posts (above, and in your previous thread).
But:
* It's not something that could be covered in a few short posts
* I might be wrong
* You might not be receptive

So I'm trying to find out if we truly have anything to talk about.
I don't want to write something you don't want to read :)
I want to read any feedback on this topic. As I'm more of an emotionally oriented autistic, my feelings about this situation fluctuate. Knowledge, context, lived experience is all helpful in shaping my big picture understanding.
 

yogabanana

Active Member
@yogabanana I don't know where to start with all of this. I am so sorry you are going through all of this in your relationship.

Perspective taking. I am of the mind that many people struggle with this, not just autistics. All that is happening in this world, the divisiveness, the tribalism, the right vs the left, the culture wars, etc., it's something we all have difficulty with. The world is in a lot of hurt.

Two things that will often trigger me is (1) being accused of feeling something I don't and (2) intentionally causing hurt feelings in another person. I have alexithymia, so I don't know what I am feeling most of the time. In fact, I would consider myself quite "neutral". The saying, "How would you feel if I did that to you?" is not helpful when talking to me. I wouldn't have any concept of that, so it's not a part of any of my thinking when I am interacting with someone. I tend to operate more upon the morals of "right" and "wrong", "duty, responsibility, and accountability". Feelings are not any part of my behavior. Furthermore, emotional thinking and communication creates a level of chaos in my brain I cannot comprehend, and I will shut down.

I hope this gives some perspective, even if it doesn't save your relationship.
Yes this tracks and is helpful. He is triggered if I say something hurt me that he believes shouldn't. He has a hard time understanding we operate from a different context. I agree that perspective taking is hard for people generally.

I think his issue is a combination of what you are describing around the lack of emotion processing and defensiveness and I can't always tell which is which. It feels like without defensiveness there ought to be a curiosity to understand the perspective of someone that is in pain so you can see them more clearly vs project who you think they are. Like that is the more reasonable, logical goal than simply to be right. Lol.
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Hello @yogabanana

To me this sumarizes quite simple. You want him to behave, feel and conversate more like you do. And if he keeps being the person he has always been, you will divorce.

Thats pretty much like telling a cat that you have already tolerated so many years of him not being a dog, so you will divorce if he dont turn himself into a dog.

If you no longer want to be with him, dont put the shame on him. Its your deccision.

There are strong differences between one autist and any other autists. And there are even stronger differences between autist males and women. And on top of that the guy had Alexithymia and you dont.... And you expect him to connect with your feelings when he is unable to connect with his own feelings?

The guy is probably not even understanding why you are so angry.

By the way, have you ever used your working emotional brain to think how are your constant anger impacting his life? He probably cant feel it, but the body keeps the score.

Do you want one of those super-sensitive men that will listen to all your feelings and understand you, and cherish you, and valorate you as you are the princess of a fairy tale?

Well, get divorced and check whats available in the autist market... Lets see what kind of blue prince you can find there.

Maybe that day you will appreciate some not emotional stuff that your guy does for you every single dam day.

He probably does what he can do. Nothing more, nothing less.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
I want to read any feedback on this topic. As I'm more of an emotionally oriented autistic, my feelings about this situation fluctuate. Knowledge, context, lived experience is all helpful in shaping my big picture understanding.
This response is consistent with my impression of the thread title and your first post /lol.

An outsiders viewpoint for you:

We tend to "turn away" from things they can't deal with in an "Aspie natural" way.

Aspies have to spend a lot of energy on "decoding" indirect speech. There are different strategies for dealing with someone who weaponizes it. I doubt there's any Aspie-standard ...
... but the most common I've seen is just tuning it out.

I'm 80% confident you are inducing that reaction in your husband. Don't take that as an accusation BTW: I can't tell if it's deliberate or not, and I doubt it matters.

But if you actually want to recover the relationship, I suspect you need to renegotiate the way to communicate with your husband. It wouldn't be easy, but it's not impossible.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I think his issue is a combination of what you are describing around the lack of emotion processing and defensiveness and I can't always tell which is which. It feels like without defensiveness there ought to be a curiosity to understand the perspective of someone that is in pain so you can see them more clearly vs project who you think they are. Like that is the more reasonable, logical goal than simply to be right. Lol.
Is there a chance that when you approach these conversations, you are doing it with emotion,...frustration, anger, sadness,...a raised tone of voice,...or worse, an accusatory approach? If so, it's at this point where I would be triggered and shut down.

How one has a "critical conversation" is most important and will often change the tone of the interaction from an argument to a productive conversation.

Can you have a calm productive discussion rather than an emotional argument?
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
I feel like you can be autistic and still feel bad that your partner feels emotionally abused and then would actually want to change your behavior so they don't feel like that.
One common trait in autism is the inability to look at things from another person's point of view. It is one of those social skills we don't naturally have.

I don't feel that I'm abusing you, so your feeling abused is irrational.
or
I wouldn't feel abused in your position, so you shouldn't either.

NTs do this, too, just not as consistently.

Autistic people are also extremely prone to black-and-white thinking. Grey-world thinking leaves them in an uncertain state, and they have no tolerance for uncertainty.

This is not universal, but it is common.

It sounds like what you are dealing with.
 
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Neri

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I relate to the PDA stuff. There are a lot of youtubers covering this.

Autistic content creators also like to reframe "Pathological Demand Avoidance" to "Persistent Drive for Autonomy".

Autisamatic has a good vid on it on YT and many other's do too. I thought about starting a thread on it, and may yet do that.
It does sound like your partner is struggling with this. I, my ex, my son's and I all fit into this category of struggle. As a result, I DON'T ask my partner, or my ex partner to do things (I made the mistake of being more insistent like you and it backfired badly).

I make no demands. I occasionally ask for a bit of help from my current SO, but it's usually simple tasks like "can you please pick me some parsley from the garden?"
I NEVER ask him to tidy or clean. It's just not something he can deal with very well, and I am not the best either. Probably why I am dx with ASD2 and not 1.
So, I don't think, from what you've stated here, that it's something he's deliberately doing to upset you, or disrespect you. That is you superimposing an interpretation onto a motivation unto his actions or perceived inactions. It's your projection.

As to the lack of emotional connection and responses, that's hard, my ex was like this but also abusive and narcissistic. I know it's very lonely too. If you do get divorced, my guess is that this is what will break you. Not getting your emotional needs met. And I feel for you. You may need to look elsewhere for that.

My parents are both very alexathymic and dissociated, emotionally, and I had such a lonely childhood and got very depressed. It's important to try to find some emotional support and connection. Really important. A basic human need for most, if not all, of us.
 

yogabanana

Active Member
One common trait in autism is the inability to look at things from another person's point of view. It is one of those social skills we don't naturally have.

I don't feel that I'm abusing you, so your feeling abused is irrational.
or
I wouldn't feel abused in your position, so you shouldn't either.

NTs do this, too, just not as consistently.

Autistic people are also extremely prone to black-and-white thinking. Grey-world thinking leaves them in an uncertain state, and they have no tolerance for uncertainty.

This is not universal, but it is common.

It sounds like what you are dealing with.
Yep that tracks.
But perspective taking is also a skill you can learn. I don't expect him to become neurotypical but I do expect him to pause, remember that I NEED this, and try.

We are working on a new plan where I express a frustration or need and remind him to say NOTHING for at least 20 minutes. In the past, giving this buffer gives him time to get past defensiveness and formulate a response that incorporates at least some of what he has heard me say I am needing from him. He actually does a pretty good job of it, if I don't hit him with a fire house first.

To the earlier point yes it is better when I have zero emotion but it's really unfair that I have to do all the accommodating. Like if I literally can't ever bring my emotions to him, then I end up emotionally starved. Containing them so it's easier to deal with makes sense but having to feel everything before I speak to him seems really unfair. Feeling emotions together is part of what connects me to other people and it's not enough for it to be emotions about tv shows or facts. It needs to be personal.

And because of my autism I have significant social anxiety and avoidance so it's very hard to bond with people and get to the point of feeling safe to feel emotions with them. So the few people I get there with, to have one of them basically refuse to participate makes me feel very sad.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
You're trying to perform "emotional alchemy", regardless of the negative consequences.

And why exactly? You're not going to emotionally align with your husband.
The techniques you describe won't even give you the best middle ground.

What you're looking for isn't possible with a majority of NT males either.
 

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