To All the Ex-Partners Looking for an Explanation....



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HopeGrows
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:50 am

I've been so moved by some threads I've read posted recently by ex-partners of Aspies (some of the exes are NT, some Aspie). The threads I'm thinking of had the common theme of a lack of understanding as to why the break-up occurred, wondering whether the ex-partner genuinely loved them, the sense of feeling "disposable" due to their ex's handling of the break-up, etc. These women expressed such sadness and pain (not being sexist - these posts happen to have been authored by women, although I'm sure there are plenty with similar themes authored by men)....and ultimately, a huge sense of bewilderment about what had happened to them: the relationship seemed to be going along just fine, and then it was over. No explanation; no apparent remorse on their ex's part....he ended the relationship and seemingly never looked back.

Having been through a similar experience, I understand what these posters are going through. I wanted to share some information that has brought me an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment, and the elusive "closure" we all hear so much about. If you've never heard of attachment disorder (a.k.a., reactive attachment disorder), please take a look at the following link:

Attachment Disorder in Adults

I read this information, and I knew I had the answer to all the questions that had troubled me about my own experience. Attachment Disorder and Asperger's have some symptoms in common - although they are two completely separate diagnoses. If one is legitimately diagnosed as Aspie, it doesn't mean you're more or less likely to have Attachment Disorder. In fact, Aspies are very capable of forming intimate emotional attachments with other people. However if you are legitimately Aspie and have a co-morbidity of Attachment Disorder, the Attachment Disorder diagnosis could be very easily missed by someone lacking the expertise to understand the difference. And people Attachment Disorder are not able to form intimate emotional attachments with other people.

Typically, people with Attachment Disorder desperately want an intimate emotional connection with another person, but they don't know how to make that happen; they don't know what it feels like. I know in my own experience, I mistook my ex's immediate and intense attraction for me as being related to me. (Well, gosh....who wouldn't?) But he really wasn't so taken with me....he was taken with the idea of forming an intimate emotional connection with a woman - any woman. The reality is that he didn't really desperately want me - he wanted the connection, and I just happen to be willing.

And when the relationship failed after a fairly short time, he became intensely angry with me. I knew his anger was disproportionate and inappropriate, but again, I mistook it for being related to me. Unfortunately, I took the brunt of the anger he'd accumulated over a lifetime of failed relationships.

Being involved with someone with Attachment Disorder can be absolutely confounding, because it's very much as though they're playing the part of a lover - rather than being a lover. They'll tell you they love you because you say it to them, and they know it's the expected response. They may enjoy the sex you provide, the family/family connection you provide, the appearance of being "normal" that being in a marriage or relationship provides, the home you make for them, etc. - but without the emotional attachment you feel for them. They tend to stay in a relationship - typically hoping that the elusive feeling of "love" will materialize - until the anxiety or stress or your needs (or whatever) outweigh the perks the relationship provides. At which point they'll end the relationship, able to walk away easily, completely, and permanently, oblivious to your heartbreak. No attachment = easy exit.

I created a post a while ago to express the idea that a successful relationship really doesn't depend on whether the people involved are Aspie or NT - it depends on both partners being emotionally and psychologically healthy. I guess this is just an extension of that idea, because again - it's really not an Aspie or NT thing - it's about being able to form an intimate emotional connection - or not.

I copied a lot of the info from the link (below). It's just amazing how much of this resonated when I considered my own experience. I hope it can answer some questions for the exes out there who are suffering and coping with heartbreak, along with the added burden of not understanding why the relationship ended. It certainly answered my questions concerning my former partner (I made a mental note of "Yes" to every symptom described). I am finally and completely free - at last. I hope it helps some who are searching in the same way.

Impulsiveness
Adults with attachment disorder indulge in impulsive behavior, which they may, or may not, regret later.

Negative and Provocative Behavior
Attachment disorder in adults creates a general negative mindset, and causes them to act provocatively and anger others along with themselves.

Desire for Control
Persons suffering from this disorder have a strong desire to control their surroundings, and manipulate people and events around themselves. They may use means like lying and cheating, and even stealing to do so.

Resistance to Love and Guidance
A natural symptom of an attachment disorder, is the lack of ability to connect, empathize or sympathize with anyone. People who suffer from this disorder also face difficulty in giving and receiving love and affection from others. They are unable to develop feelings of closeness. They also refuse to allow anyone to guide them in the right direction, or to nurture them.

Lack of Trust
Along with the lack of ability to empathize, such persons fail to develop trusting relationships with other. They generally fail to trust anyone around them.

Anger and Agitation
Adults suffering from attachment disorder are inwardly, deeply sad and depressed, and feel very isolated. They are overcome by stress and frustration. However, they conceal these traits by showing anger very often, either openly, or covertly. They may do this by means of destructive, cruel and hostile behavior, and may often argue with those who don't agree with them.

Superficial Positive Traits
In spite of the above mentioned symptoms, persons who suffer from this disorder appear very charming, and can often easily engage one in long and interesting conversations.

Addictions
The attachment disorder in adults also causes them to indulge in substance abuse such as alcohol and drug addiction, and they may also suffer from an addiction to gambling, even to work.

Helplessness
Due to the symptoms of isolation and depression, persons suffering from attachment disorder feel helpless, and feel like they are being accused by family and friends at all times, for various reasons.

Lack of Responsibility
This means that they refuse to take any responsibility for their negative actions, and are unable to handle conflict with others.

Confusion
Such persons are always confused, puzzled, and obsessed with finding answers to their queries. This confusion leads to general lack of concentration, and a disability to hold their attention towards any activity for long.


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Arman_Khodaei
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:00 am

Wow! This is an incredible post. This doesn't explain why my ex left me, but I am sure this can offer closure for a lot of people on these boards. Thank you for posting this. Since I've been on WP, this is by far the best and well thought out post I have read.

Thank you for posting this.


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Lene
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:00 pm

Good post Hopegrows.

Quote:
Reactive attachment disorder in adults is a conditions in which an individual has difficulty in forming loving, lasting intimate relationships. These people believe that they are capable enough of providing for their own needs as well as safety. Individuals with reactive attachment disorder in adults fail to develop a conscience. They fail to show empathy and lack genuine affection for any person or even a pet.


Was searching around the site, and this paragraph bugged me a bit; just because someone is self-reliant, why does that mean that they have no conscience? You don't need empathy or affection to feel guilty.

I suppose I'm upset because I definitely have traits of this disorder, but I have also have a conscience. It just seems a little bit like that old favourite 'people with aspergers cannot feel empathy'.



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Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:42 pm

Many of these signs/symptoms overlap with psychopathy and related personality disorders.



zen_mistress
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:38 pm

Yes, this is a possibility. Some exes may, indeed, have this, particularly men with AS, though many men with AS can get very attached and show affection with ease.

I tend to be in the "He's Just Not That Into You" school of thought though. If a man feels no love, he feels no love. Break ups are easy for him. Or her, indeed, if it is a female who ends the relationship with ease.


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billsmithglendale
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:03 pm

The wikipedia entry on attachment disorders is more complete and nuanced -- there are in fact something like 4 different categories, and the react differently in interpersonal situations. I did a bunch of research on this a few years ago, when I was trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me. Still don't know for sure :P



HopeGrows
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:49 pm

Thanks for the feedback, all.

@Lene, I don't know you IRL, but you have never struck me as even possibly suffering from Attachment Disorder. There is some overlap (in terms of symptoms) between Asperger's and Attachment Disorder, so that may be why you're seeing yourself in some of the symptoms described. I agree with you - I know too many Aspies who do feel empathy. I know that psychology is a terribly imperfect science...I hope you don't let it bother you.

@Arman_Khodaei, thanks - very kind of you.

@NeantHumain - absolutely, lots of psychological disorders share symptoms.

@zen mistress, I'm referring to situations that don't really fall into the typical break-up process. I've been reading several threads lately that refer to break-ups that take a surprisingly atypical path, and result in a lot of unresolved feelings and unnecessary pain.

@billsmithglendale, I copied the link from Wikipedia (below). Is this the one you referred to? If it isn't, feel free to post the link you referenced.

Wikipedia's Attachment Disorder Link


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ToadOfSteel
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:51 pm

But what happens in cases like mine, where the NT in the equation just suddenly stops feeling anything in the relationship? I was devastated by that...



menintights
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:59 pm

I didn't need to know I have another named disorder to know I'm too dysfunctional to have a real relationship.



Last edited by menintights on Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

HopeGrows
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Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:00 am

ToadOfSteel wrote:
But what happens in cases like mine, where the NT in the equation just suddenly stops feeling anything in the relationship? I was devastated by that...


@Toad, NTs can have Attachment Disorder. I don't know enough about your ex to get a feel for whether she may have Attachment Disorder or not - but maybe you should take a look at the links and draw your own conclusions?


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zen_mistress
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Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:16 am

I think some people could have attachment disorder, sure. But an autistic person is more likely to have Antisocial traits, or psychopathic traits, or sociopathic traits, if they behave impulsively, without remorse, etc.

HopeGrows wrote:
@zen mistress, I'm referring to situations that don't really fall into the typical break-up process. I've been reading several threads lately that refer to break-ups that take a surprisingly atypical path, and result in a lot of unresolved feelings and unnecessary pain.


But about these weird breakups youre talking about, I just think the man is looking elsewhere. He has lost interest. But who needs someone like that anyway? Men who are interested are far more interesting.

Conversely, if it is a woman, same applies.


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Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:34 am

I recognise the old me here to some extent. I think I'm better now.


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TheWeirdPig
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Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:15 pm

zen_mistress wrote:
Yes, this is a possibility. Some exes may, indeed, have this, particularly men with AS, though many men with AS can get very attached and show affection with ease.

I tend to be in the "He's Just Not That Into You" school of thought though. If a man feels no love, he feels no love. Break ups are easy for him. Or her, indeed, if it is a female who ends the relationship with ease.


Because someone wrote a book called He's Just Not that into You, it has caused people who genuinely have attachment disorder (especially men) chalk the break-up as "Yes, I guess I just wasn't that into her," rather than "Why do I have such problems with meaningful relationships?" Not only that, their friends and family may not catch the warning signs either. In fact, friends and may encourage the person to go right back out there after a break-up, thus repeating the cycle over and over.



zen_mistress
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Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:07 pm

I actually like "He's not that into you" because I am a person who can be easily deceived and reading it made me realise I had to cut through the bullshit. That book helped me through getting dropped a few years ago, and the ideas in it are helping me today, as I am going through a breakup right now. I would rather live knowing how someone actually felt about me, then I can actually cut my losses and move on. I dont want to be protected from the truth.


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zen_mistress
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Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:14 pm

HopeGrows wrote:
I'm referring to situations that don't really fall into the typical break-up process. I've been reading several threads lately that refer to break-ups that take a surprisingly atypical path, and result in a lot of unresolved feelings and unnecessary pain.


I believe one of those threads you are referring to may be SurfMaggie's. Well, I skimmed over that post last week, and I just thought "what a douche" and that was that. That is my assessment of SurfMaggie's ex. Douche. And I have AS so I can be pretty lenient on people with AS, I know that relationships can be very complicated for us. But my assessment still stands: Douche.


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