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heathergracie
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:52 pm    Post subject: Dating a man with Asperger's... overwhelmed. Reply with quote

Hi guys, I am dating a man with Asperger’s. I am NT, and I keep hitting moments where, frankly, I get overwhelmed.

In a lot of ways, I feel like my boyfriend doesn’t fit a lot of the descriptions I find of men with Asperger’s. I know that it is easy to find misinformation, but I have seen so much in books or online about Asperger’s marriages not working because the aspie can’t communicate, or married partners living like single parents because the aspie doesn’t engage with the children… all kinds of stuff like that.

A bit of background, my boyfriend was diagnosed as an adult, and he says that once he had a diagnosis things “clicked” for him about his life. He’s had eleven years since then, and he has taken that time to learn about himself and Asperger’s, and as he says, “make it work for him” when he can.

To that end, as a girlfriend, I will say this. He is highly communicative, expressive, physically and verbally affectionate, and in many ways the boyfriend I dreamed about for ages. He has friends, and he is in frequent contact with them. According to many resources I have found, none of these things should be the case with many aspies. But it’s all true for him.

At the same time, I worry about difficulties in the future. Will we be able to parent together? Are there sides of him I haven’t seen that I won’t be able to handle?

Recently, a friend of mine (who my boyfriend has not yet met) invited the two of us over for dinner in about a week’s time. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend (over the phone), he panicked, basically having a slight panic attack. It was very stressful and scary for me, and draining for both of us. When I talked to him the next day, he was feeling calmer and we are now (I hope) ready for this little dinner party. He says he is looking forward to meeting my friends.

He told me recently that every relationship he has had has ended badly and with the woman leaving him, and he is afraid I will do the same. I didn’t know how to respond, other than to tell him I was here now, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Aspies, does this sound familiar?
NT partners, am I stressing over nothing? I am feeling so overwhelmed, both by how wonderful he is and by how unsure I am of the future. I would appreciate any feedback I can get…
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kojot
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Dating a man with Asperger's... overwhelmed. Reply with quote

heathergracie wrote:
Hi guys, I am dating a man with Asperger’s. I am NT, and I keep hitting moments where, frankly, I get overwhelmed.

In a lot of ways, I feel like my boyfriend doesn’t fit a lot of the descriptions I find of men with Asperger’s. I know that it is easy to find misinformation, but I have seen so much in books or online about Asperger’s marriages not working because the aspie can’t communicate, or married partners living like single parents because the aspie doesn’t engage with the children… all kinds of stuff like that.

A bit of background, my boyfriend was diagnosed as an adult, and he says that once he had a diagnosis things “clicked” for him about his life. He’s had eleven years since then, and he has taken that time to learn about himself and Asperger’s, and as he says, “make it work for him” when he can.

To that end, as a girlfriend, I will say this. He is highly communicative, expressive, physically and verbally affectionate, and in many ways the boyfriend I dreamed about for ages. He has friends, and he is in frequent contact with them. According to many resources I have found, none of these things should be the case with many aspies. But it’s all true for him.

At the same time, I worry about difficulties in the future. Will we be able to parent together? Are there sides of him I haven’t seen that I won’t be able to handle?

Recently, a friend of mine (who my boyfriend has not yet met) invited the two of us over for dinner in about a week’s time. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend (over the phone), he panicked, basically having a slight panic attack. It was very stressful and scary for me, and draining for both of us. When I talked to him the next day, he was feeling calmer and we are now (I hope) ready for this little dinner party. He says he is looking forward to meeting my friends.

He told me recently that every relationship he has had has ended badly and with the woman leaving him, and he is afraid I will do the same. I didn’t know how to respond, other than to tell him I was here now, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Aspies, does this sound familiar?
NT partners, am I stressing over nothing? I am feeling so overwhelmed, both by how wonderful he is and by how unsure I am of the future. I would appreciate any feedback I can get…


Try to understand him. He sounds like he's trying very hard to meat the expectations both his own and yours. Just love him for who he is.
For me it was very stressful when I was not sure what to expect, I often panicked that I'll lose a gf over some crazy misunderstanding or failure.
Aspies can be very different from one another and books ten to be stereotypical or just plain stupid sometimes.
What I always needed was reassurance that I can be myself with my gf without the need to pretend to be 'normal' and reassurance that I can trust my gf and that she would never leave me over some stupid thing, without trying to solve the problem, without a talks and hard work to make things right before giving up.
If he's anything like me he probably loves you to the point of obsession and just thought of distinct possibility of loosing you makes him panic.
I hope this helps. The best would be to talk to him. (and please never ever shout at him, it's even worse than you think - it's total emotional and sensory overload)
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fraac
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Dating a man with Asperger's... overwhelmed. Reply with quote

heathergracie wrote:
He is highly communicative, expressive, physically and verbally affectionate, and in many ways the boyfriend I dreamed about for ages. He has friends, and he is in frequent contact with them. According to many resources I have found, none of these things should be the case with many aspies. But it’s all true for him.


He sounds like me.

Quote:
At the same time, I worry about difficulties in the future. Will...


No way of knowing. Try it and find out.
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Jayo
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This guy sounds a lot like me too. A decent human being. I'm a married Aspie in my 30s, and I was always very caring and affectionate towards my past girlfriends, and now my wife. Yes, a lot of what you read on Aspergers is based on silly stereotypes. They do have clinical difficulty with certain things like filtering out irrelevant info in an environment, i.e. they might not notice that a girl is walking around looking for a place to sit down, and that he should offer his seat (and yes, sometimes, that girl might be YOU!) - but it doesn't mean he's insensitive, he just has what I call "situational context dyslexia" - and if you bring it to his attention, he WILL do better to make sure your unspoken needs are accommodated the next time around - it may be a bit of a process of trial and error, as it was with me, as we don't as easily abstract unspoken norms from one context to the next (similar) context.

So, don't get too wound up by what might occur...trust me, if he's the way you describe him, everything will turn out fine, and the relationship will be very rewarding in ways that you may not have expected!! Very Happy
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nick007
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He sounds a lot like me in a relationship as well. I think you may be overly worrying about what may occur. You like things the way they are now so try to focus more on that & enjoy it & deal with problems as they come up instead of worrying about things that may happen in the future based on some extremely stereotypical stuff you read about AS that doesn't apply to him. It may help to discuss the future of your relationship & other things that may come up with him
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fraac
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Dating a man with Asperger's... overwhelmed. Reply with quote

heathergracie wrote:
Recently, a friend of mine (who my boyfriend has not yet met) invited the two of us over for dinner in about a week’s time. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend (over the phone), he panicked, basically having a slight panic attack. It was very stressful and scary for me, and draining for both of us. When I talked to him the next day, he was feeling calmer and we are now (I hope) ready for this little dinner party. He says he is looking forward to meeting my friends.


I'd be like this. He knows you, and you know them, but he doesn't know them. So who should he be with them? I avoid this friends of friends situation wherever possible, it's too complicated. Also he's probably used to most people instinctively disliking him, and your friends are like random strangers in this regard.
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ValentineWiggin
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Dating a man with Asperger's... overwhelmed. Reply with quote

heathergracie wrote:
Recently, a friend of mine (who my boyfriend has not yet met) invited the two of us over for dinner in about a week’s time. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend (over the phone), he panicked, basically having a slight panic attack. It was very stressful and scary for me, and draining for both of us. When I talked to him the next day, he was feeling calmer and we are now (I hope) ready for this little dinner party. He says he is looking forward to meeting my friends.


Not a man (obviously), but this is absolutely par for the course for Aspies in relationships- dealing with socially-interacting with friends/family of the SO. I feel a constant doom over my head, personally- when is the person I'm with going to ask me to interact with people, maybe MULTIPLE people, people who mean a lot to him, likely in an unfamiliar setting, and endure their questions about me- will he abandon me alone with them? Will he tell them ahead of time that there's a reason if I seem "off"? Will they be understanding about it, if he does? Will he provide several "outs" for me/us to 'escape' (yes, "escape")? Will he ask me if I'm "okay with" something others want to do alone, or in front of them?

Last night I freaked out on my current squeeze when he invited some of his friends to "tag along" on a date we had planned. He was incredibly sweet and understanding, and we ended up not going through with the plan, but I can't help but think, as a social person, this will get old for him really fast- this is likely how your beau feels, and is at least somewhat the reason for his fears about you leaving him.
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heathergracie
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your comments have all been really, really helpful. I'm doing stand-up comedy, and the boyfriend came out to see me tonight--a situation that i KNOW wasn't easy for him (being in a crowd of comedians is not easy for anybody). He did great, told me honestly when he was maxed out and needed an escape. I fell in love with him all over again.

I am really, really new to this, so I appreciate your feedback. Do those of you with Asperger's often feel confined or stereotyped by "Asperger's traits"? I feel like my boyfriend must feel like that often, as I encounter information about Asperger's and regularly think, well, that doesn't sound like him at all...

Again, thanks so much for the input.
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nick007
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad we helped & your boyfriend is lucky to have a girlfriend like you who takes the time to try & understand where he's coming from. Finding a woman like that is extremly hard for lots of us.

heathergracie wrote:
Do those of you with Asperger's often feel confined or stereotyped by "Asperger's traits"?.

I don't talk about Aspiergers offline because the stereotype of it in my area is very wrong. I talked about it on other sites & some got the wrong impression of me. I mentioned it on dating sites & most all the women who messaged me were under the impression that I would be very successful in the computer field because I had Aspergers & I think they were disappointed when they realized I I wouldn't be. Some were also very confused because I mentioned in my pro that I wanted someone I could be very close & affectionate with.
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Are you too bored to care or too dumb to be scared now?
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Kjas
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:45 am    Post subject: Re: Dating a man with Asperger's... overwhelmed. Reply with quote

heathergracie wrote:
Recently, a friend of mine (who my boyfriend has not yet met) invited the two of us over for dinner in about a week’s time. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend (over the phone), he panicked, basically having a slight panic attack. It was very stressful and scary for me, and draining for both of us. When I talked to him the next day, he was feeling calmer and we are now (I hope) ready for this little dinner party. He says he is looking forward to meeting my friends.


Oh God, I panic (internally) even time I have to go through one of THOSE situations. Usually the entire time leading up to the event I stress about it. The event will be draining for him. In the past, it has helped when the person I am with occasionally whispers in my ear, even if it's an inside joke or just something small, it helps to know there's someone in the room who realises that it's difficult and acknowledges that fact to me privately.

heathergracie wrote:
I am really, really new to this, so I appreciate your feedback. Do those of you with Asperger's often feel confined or stereotyped by "Asperger's traits"? I feel like my boyfriend must feel like that often, as I encounter information about Asperger's and regularly think, well, that doesn't sound like him at all...


Definitely. Being an Aspie just means we experience the world differently and that we think differently. Nothing more. If you read around these boards alone you start to understand just how diverse we are. I think too many stereotype it unnecessarily, which can lead to negative expectations quite easily. Although we do have things in common, it doesn't mean we are going to be exactly the same, this is a spectrum for a reason and even outside of that we are all different people.
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myth
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't see a problem here. It sounds like you are experiencing anxiety about the "mabyes" and what might happen in the future. Other than the initial panic at meeting your friends, I didn't see you mention any problems that you have with him now. Therefore, my advice is to just move forward and keep in mind he may have special needs but just deal with them as they come up.

heathergracie wrote:
At the same time, I worry about difficulties in the future. Will we be able to parent together? Are there sides of him I haven’t seen that I won’t be able to handle?

Will you be able to parent with a random NT guy you happend to fall for? Are there sides of a random NT guy that you won't be able to handle?
The answer to these questions are what everyone in any relationship seeks to answer. AS-NT relationships can be more difficult, sure. But it is just like any other relationship, you have to learn about him and deal with whatever comes up and there may eventually be something one of you finds in the other that isn't acceptable. This is true of every relationship ever.

As for social events, always give plenty of advance notice and reminders as it gets closer so that he can prepare. Helps me, anyway. I can't handle something sprung on me suddenly like "We're going to a movie right now, want to come?" the answer will always be no because I'm just not prepared for it. If someone asked me if I wanted to go to a movie tomorrow or on the weekend, I'd have time to plan for it and be more likely to accept.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heather, I get the impression with him panicking its because he has to think ahead of time and map things out to make them work; if that makes any sense. One of our biggest challenges - even for those of us who are reasonably successful when it comes to people, certain situations can blindside our coping mechanisms and we tend to get a bit tense about those. In the case of him meeting your friend I don't know what the story was - whether he has his weekend planned out and the panic was over changing what he had in mind, whether its concern over having anything decent to wear, typically whatever it is its tougher to deal with in the moment and obviously when he realizes its not "Hey, we're going to dinner with a friend you haven't met in an hour!", that he has time to get himself behind the new plans, he should be alright. I suppose just giving him some amount of notice and letting him understand that you don't need an immediate answer or to have him immediately ready could help as this way he knows that he has time to process the info.

Other than that as far as future and parenting - no way to tell really. He sounds like a good guy and if anything my bigger concern from the sound of him might be that he'd try overly hard to be the perfect dad, perfect husband, etc. and burn himself out. I'd encourage him to find small ways to be himself, let things hang out, and essentially 'recharge', at first you'll do that just by gaining his trust as much as possible. Overall though the more minimal/essential he can keep his social front the more manageable it is and the less I think it will weigh him down or run him ragged over the course of the relationship. When I say that I don't mean in a way that he'd be hiding himself, rather I think we all prefer to keep our best foot forward when we're around people and for aspies - especially with what a lot of us have been through - we tend to put in more overtime with that than what's healthy in the long-term.
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heathergracie
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
He sounds like a good guy and if anything my bigger concern from the sound of him might be that he'd try overly hard to be the perfect dad, perfect husband, etc. and burn himself out. I'd encourage him to find small ways to be himself, let things hang out, and essentially 'recharge', at first you'll do that just by gaining his trust as much as possible. Overall though the more minimal/essential he can keep his social front the more manageable it is and the less I think it will weigh him down or run him ragged over the course of the relationship. When I say that I don't mean in a way that he'd be hiding himself, rather I think we all prefer to keep our best foot forward when we're around people and for aspies - especially with what a lot of us have been through - we tend to put in more overtime with that than what's healthy in the long-term.


This is so helpful... and I really think you've hit the nail on the head. We have talked about burnout a little and I have noticed little ways in which he has a 'perfect' point in mind he's looking to hit. We are still early in the relationship, and learning new things about each other every day.

Thank you... one of the things I have to remember that will take time to learn for both of us is that I am naturally a very social person, and I think he gets a little overloaded when I talk about my numerous friends. On our first date, though, we had a good moment where I was able to say, "You're uncomfortable at parties? I'M uncomfortable at parties! I'd much rather meet up with a friend one on one..." but of course, introducing him to anyone makes any one on one meeting an instant group...

I hope you guys don't mind me asking these questions (I feel a tad obnoxious), but the positivity I've found here has been such an encouragement!
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RightGalaxy
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a lot of situations that I have seen, it's the friends of the NT that causes the break-ups with the aspie partners. If you want to help him at this invitation, try to direct the conversations with your friends toward things that he likes and knows about. This will put him at ease. I had a grandfather on one side and a grandmother on the other who didn't even attend their own kid's weddings. Relatives who simply could not accept this just dragged their their names through the mud. Being that I was a child at the time, I believed too that they were both rotten and never satisfied. Now that I'm 50! I realize that they were horribly misunderstood. The anxiety that social gatherings caused for them was unbearable to them. They weren't evil.
My grandfather cheated a lot on my aspie grandmother. He viewed her as a COLD woman.
My grandmother did not cheat on my aspie grandfather but became very depressed that she was always on her own when it came to the kids. This hurt her a lot and she longed for a different man but never left his side. She died first unfortunately. So, she never got a chance to have another guy. For me, I feel as though I am a single parent because my husband NEVER gets involved with our son with school functions. He loves out son and plans vacations for us, etc... but when it comes to meeting and greeting other people, he falls apart.
I even went as far as to say that my son's principal is hitting on me - but he really is - I guess he's not getting layed at home? EVEN THIS - did not work to get him to come and see our son in concert at the school. He's quite the singer! Everybody raves about him but his OWN father won't show up. My son gets depressed. I have to put up with that J.O. bothering me all the time. Starring down my blouse and brushing past me way too close all the time saying, "How ya doin' mom?" If he were single, I'd be flattered. But he has a wife and two growing daughters!! He makes me feel nothing but shame. AND if that douche bag was with me, I wouldn't have to put up with this.
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heathergracie
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a quick update:

Had dinner with the friends tonight... started off awkward and quiet (didn't help that my bf wasn't feeling great), but after dinner we all played a game, things warmed up and I felt him relax a little. Afterwards he tried to take the blame for the awkwardness, and I tried to remind him that MOST people are awkward when they meet someone new.

Also, my friend had made a sarcastic comment, telling him at one point, "Hey, you're supposed to be making a good impression here..." She meant it entirely as a joke (may have even winked at him), but when we left, he feared he had made a poor impression. We talked it over, I assured him she meant nothing by it, and he let me know he would probably need a day or so to process things. Knowing this is so helpful!

I am calling the night a success. It might not be what I would have labeled a success a month ago, but it was a good night. Thank you all for your input.
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