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Featured Unable to tolerate casual touching (dating)

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Lundi, Dec 3, 2019 at 10:37 PM.

  1. Lundi

    Lundi Well-Known Member

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    I have heard over and over how touch is key in the dating world, and that no touch means no attraction. However, as a 30 year old male, I never felt comfortable with casual touch.

    When I was 14 in high school, a girl kept trying to talk to me. Eventually, one day, when I was eating lunch alone on a bench, she went up next to me, took my right hand and laced fingers with me. As a reflex I immediately withdrew, as if I put my hand on a hot oven. On other occasions she tried to put my arms around my shoulders and touch my hands. In addition to withdrawing, I was left confused as to what she was doing.

    Throughout high school, when girls tried to hug me, I withdrew immediately, as if someone were trying to pickpocket me. They usually ended up thinking that I was very odd. In last year of high school (equivalent of last year of sixth form in the UK), I went to prom with this girl, and I could not slow dance with her at all. Those slow, romantic dances made me extremely uncomfortable to the point that I just stood on the dance floor like an unmovable rock. She eventually thought that I had severe problems and left early.

    When I was in university in the UK around age 19 or 20 or so, some Dutch woman from my residence hall used to talk to me a lot. One night when we were going together to a bar to meet up with other students. I was standing there next to her, and my right arm was in my pocket. She suddenly put her left arm through the loop to lock arms with me. I stepped away and immediately unlocked arms as a reflex. She looked shocked, but still kept talking to me anyway.

    I tried very occasional dating in my late 20s, which never worked. However, greeting and farewells usually they tried to hug me or something similar. When they approached to hug goodbye, I usually would step back. A lot seemed confused about this. I have never been on a second date before, but it seemed like my reflexes confused all of them.

    When they initiated casual touch with me, my pattern was usually to withdraw, and have a facial expression similar to the "deer in the headlights" look.

    Are my reflexes and repulsion to casual touch really that much of a turn-off in dating? Is this touch thing seriously that important for neurotypicals?

    Touch seems to cause me a lot of anxiety. As in, my heart rate increases and my blood pressure spikes. If I had to estimate, my pulse would probably be over 100, and blood pressure might be over 180/90.
     
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  2. Rasputin

    Rasputin Active Member

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    I always disliked hugging and kissing, but always assumed it was because I never saw any display of affection in my family growing up. It took me 60 years to figure out that I might have Asperger's. But my difficulty is not as severe as you described. I believe there may be therapy that would help you to overcome your anxiety and desensitize you to touching.
     
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  3. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    Did you ever explain yourself in any of those instances? They may be taking it as a rejection of them and not just a rejection of touching.
     
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  4. Lundi

    Lundi Well-Known Member

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    No, I do not remember doing so. I am quite poor at explaining things, especially feelings. Not to mention when I get surprised like this, I just say nothing. I kind of just freeze and stay still, silent.

    I am painfully shy right now, but back then I was extremely shy.
     
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  5. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    There’s quite a lot of touching involved when you have sex. If you can’t tolerate casual touching, are you worried that you might have a problem with more intimate touching as well?
     
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  6. Lundi

    Lundi Well-Known Member

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    A bit. My mother also has problems with touching, but not as bad, and she seemed to handle the rest okay. At least I think so.

    I seem to be probably the most socially awkward one of the family.
     
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  7. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Chaotic Neutral

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    I can't handle hugs either, unless they're coming from small children.
    This culminated in eighth grade, when my school had (frankly, stupid) february 14th tradition where students went around collecting names on paper hearts by hugging. I refused to take part in this, and whenever someone would ask for a hug, I would bluntly refuse. But one asshole didn't ask. So I punched him, and literally tried to tear his heart to pieces (the paper one, that is).
    Even today, I simply hate february 14th.
     
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  8. Iamnotarabot

    Iamnotarabot Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Last time a girl tried to kiss me I ran away in panick.
     
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  9. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    If you react in these ways to casual touching, I can see why you are still a virgin. I don't mean that as a put-down. The mating dance in humans involves a series of escalating actions leading up to the ultimate intimacy of sex. When you shrink away from an "innocent" touch, you pretty much prevent any of that from happening.

    I guess it's up to you whether you want to do anything about it.
     
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  10. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Agreed. I'm not a fan of casual touch either. However I make a huge distinction between those I may or are intimate with or closest to versus most everyone else.

    In the event one cannot handle a casual touch by anyone at all, clearly it will preclude the likelihood of any potential, intentional sexual contact let alone a simple act of affection. If this is the case, then one need not fret over being a virgin. Where there is a much more fundamental concern already in play.

    This reminds me of that idiom, "putting the cart in front of the horse". The suggestion that something is done contrary to a conventional or culturally expected order or relationship.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019 at 9:50 AM
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  11. LucyPurrs

    LucyPurrs NT, INFJ V.I.P Member

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    It sounds like you are really afraid of touching. What is it you are afraid of happening? Is it something like not knowing what to say or do or is it a more deep seated fear? Perhaps if you can start to deal with the fear you can begin to gradually tolerate touching from someone you trust. As someone else suggested, some desensitization therapy would probably be helpful but also try to understand what touching signifies for you.
    I encourage you to try and explain this issue to any close friends you have and to relatives you care about. You could write something down (like you have here) and practice in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable saying it to someone.
     
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  12. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I often recoil from casual touch, it's not unusual in people with high autistic traits or Aspergers. It hasn't stopped me having relationships, I think it may be more that you haven't felt able to explain or discuss it with the person, since clearly girls and women have been attracted to you.

    This would probably improve if you work on confidence building, and I would recommend this in a group setting if possible, which is scary but I have found helpful, with a therapist or coach there who helps people in the group discuss issues they are up against.
     
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  13. Lundi

    Lundi Well-Known Member

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    When someone touches me, my first instinct is to think that the person is a pickpocket or some other type. If it is a date situation I usually think to myself, "What the f*ck?". In those other instances like in high school when a girl would try to touch my hand, I would usually jump in surprise and think, "What are they trying to do?!". By the time that I was in university, I would withdraw and thereafter think, "This feels weird."

    If the person is related to me, and it is clear that they are about to touch me, I usually try to allow it. When my parents hug me, I usually let them but never reciprocate. When extended family try to hug me or do the two kisses on the cheek, I usually withdraw and/or step back. They know me for this and consider me weird for it.

    I have zero close friends who live here. Only friend moved to Los Angeles a decade ago. In fact, I have no friends here. Acquaintances, a couple, but now I rarely see them.

    I usually only talk to my mother about these things. Like I said, she has similar problems, but her case is not as bad as mine.
     
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  14. Lundi

    Lundi Well-Known Member

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    If you mean non-romantic touch, there was one time during my holiday a few weeks ago when I was on a train. The woman who sat next to me suddenly tapped me on the shoulder and asked how to use the electrical socket on the table. Since I was reading, I got surprised and I immediately jumped, accidentally dropped my book on the floor and turned my head in her direction. She probably got put off by this reaction, because later she went to an empty seat down the aisle away from me.

    Well it is not like I want to be this awkward. It did not help that as a teenager, I trained for a couple of years in karate to just two belt levels below blackbelt, which made my reflexes very jumpy when people touched me. Up to now I am a bit paranoid if I get touched suddenly without prior warning. Touch usually makes alarm bells ring in my head and it equates with pickpocketing or some sort of robbery. At least that is my instinct.
     
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  15. LucyPurrs

    LucyPurrs NT, INFJ V.I.P Member

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    Lundi, I'm sorry to hear that you have no friends where you are, that sounds very lonely to me but then I also understand that some people don't really want friends. I'm not sure how you feel about that. It's kind of unclear what you are looking for or want. Do you want to be able to touch and be touched? If not why would you want to engage in a dating relationship as opposed to a close friendship?
     
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  16. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm always vigilant about potential pickpockets. Particularly any time I'm surrounded and crowded by strangers. But then I confine such concerns and vigilance to just that- total strangers. Not those I know.

    Sounds like your challenge is to condition yourself to touch based on conditions and who touches you rather than touch in general.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019 at 2:22 PM
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  17. Lundi

    Lundi Well-Known Member

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    Of course I want friends, but my quirks make it quite hard, plus I do not live in a conducive environment. Same goes for dating relationships.

    At the back of my mind I also have suspicions that I am being touched to be made fun of or humiliated. My instant reactions about withdrawing, recoiling, etc. usually put off a lot of women. Sometimes even they say, "Sorry, I did not mean to startle" or something similar. Then both of us are left confused. It might be something about my trust issues too, not sure.
     
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  18. LucyPurrs

    LucyPurrs NT, INFJ V.I.P Member

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    This is a good place to find support and maybe even develop friendships. I've found a couple of friends here whom I talk to regularly and it has been very rewarding for me. Perhaps you could just try to connect via private messaging with someone here who you find interesting or would like to get to know better. You have to start somewhere to develop trust and here is a good place I think.
     
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  19. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    When you're talking with someone and if you feel like they are starting to become like friends, you should be upfront about how you're opposed to touching since it's so extreme. Or, maybe just be okay with repeating that as your intro when just meeting someone even. Then if they don't like it, then they're not good people to be around. You want friends, but you want good people around you too.
     
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  20. Lundi

    Lundi Well-Known Member

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    I see, I had never thought of that before.

    I think that lately I have been increasingly paranoid and suspicious of other people, so it does not help. I suppose that in the rare cases that I do go on dates, I already start from a suspicious and paranoid mindset. By default, I do not trust her in the first place. So touching would probably confuse me like it usually does.
     
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