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Aspergers Teens and Dating

Because of complications in "reading" body language and cues, Aspergers (high functioning autistic) teens have a very hard time in negotiating the intricate art of social interaction.

This is not an unattainable thing, and just about everyone has learned to do this, but Aspergers teens and young adults need to learn it. People without Aspergers need to learn the same things, but the extra challenges that Aspies have make it more challenging for them to "get started".

This is similar to driving -- once you get a beginning level of expertise, you will learn regardless of what your native aptitude for driving is. One distinction -- in relationships, there's hardly any public transportation.

Do anything you can to facilitate getting started with dating or other romantic relationship socialization. This is the threshold to cross.

Dating or building relationships is really a threshold issue for Aspies to the extent that they can be divided into two groups -- those who date (or are otherwise involved) and those who don't. This is stereotypically in the form of "dating" but the actual form of meeting and activity can be varied.

I've come across reports that fewer than 10% of teens with Aspergers are successful in their ability to attain good relationships. I do not think that is really the case simply because:
  • A few significant number of Aspergers teens who have done wonderfully at relationships.
  • You will find numerous historical reports of excellent relationships involving teens with Aspergers.
  • The assessment was most likely based on a determination that matrimony is the only legitimate form of a successful relationship. (This is in addition to a substantial number of apparently successful Aspergers partnerships.)
  • That conclusion was made before Aspergers was commonly diagnosed. Diagnosis is essential to self-understanding, particularly for teens with Aspergers.

If you divide Aspergers teens based on whether or not they have crossed the "dating" threshold, the probability of success in relationships increases considerably when you have started to date (or the equivalent). Then consider the effect of diagnosis, which is important with Aspergers -- instead of being "odd" the individual knows he/she has Aspergers. With knowledge of Aspergers comes a much greater propensity to engage individuals who enjoy the company of somebody with Aspergers features.

These changes make it an easy task to approach the “non-Aspergers” level of 50% marriage rate of success. If a person considers non-marriage relationships, chances are that individuals with Aspergers will begin to have a similar degree of success in life relationships as everyone else.

On a more basic level, once an Aspie crosses the threshold of dating, he/she will improve their knowledge and ability in handling relationships. Often they become particularly social.

For many young adults, dating and finding a romantic partner are important goals, and this is true for those with Aspergers as well as those without. But often, those with Aspergers may have gotten off to a slower start on dating. The high school social scene, when many non-Aspergers teenagers first start dating, can be horribly complex and not open to anyone who doesn’t fit into the popular crowd’s most narrow definition of acceptable behavior. High school teens with Aspergers may be quirky, or dealing with bullies, or just not ready to enter into an activity that is so socially complex.

Then, after high school, it can be even more difficult because it seems like the rest of the world is so much more experienced with dating. The older you get without dating, the tougher it may seem to get started. But, the good news is: if you want to start dating, it’s never too late to begin.

Below are some tips for how to start dating, even if you’re no longer anywhere close to high school age:

Dating Tips for Aspergers Teens and Young Adults—

Needless to say, the first step in starting to date is to discover a date. This is really probably easier than you may envision. Keep in mind that you’re looking for a date, not a husband or wife. So you can be satisfied with an individual you enjoy conversing with or spending some time with, this does not need to be that perfect ‘one’ individual. Consider broadening your ideal criteria. You may imagine yourself only involved with an exceptionally appealing, or brilliant, or successful person. But, if you are only setting up a date here, you are able to relax your standards. Lots of people whom you’d never consider marrying can be lot of fun to talk to on a date. You never know, you may even alter your standards.

Meeting individuals gets easier all the time. If you struggle in more unstructured settings, like book stores and coffee houses, it’s fine to visit practical meeting places, such things as speed dating or the World Wide Web. There, there is no doubt that the individuals you’re meeting want to meet others. If you are unskilled with dating, it may be best to avoid asking out coworkers, neighbors or people you’ll continue to see a lot of after the date. Misread social cues can mean a long-term awkwardness with people you have to interact with well after the date.

Obviously, safety is paramount. It you are a person who struggles with reading social signals, assume that you might have difficulties in determining if situations are risk-free. Have your date in a public, well lit place, be sure you bring a cell phone and a buddy knows where you are. Do not share your address or too many personal details. Plan ahead of time about how long the date is going to be, and then stay with that plan. You do not want to get overly enthusiastic with a charming stranger. Lastly, and most crucial, trust your intuition. Pay attention to gut feelings if something seems off.

Your first dating encounters will likely be somewhat uncomfortable. Loosen up …this does not need to be a long term relationship. See if you're able to consider this date as a way to get more exposure to dating. It's not necessary to share your lack of dating experience with the individual you’re communicating with, just keep it light. Discuss stuff you have in common, and then try to learn general things about your date, such things as where they are from, what they like about the place they are currently living, intriguing hobbies and interests. Additionally …plan on keeping it short. An afternoon coffee date will be a lot less stress than a full night of dinner and a movie. If it’s simpler, consider setting your first date up as an activity, like visiting an art gallery, going for a hike, going to the beach. These pursuits can also take a lot of pressure off carrying on a prolonged discussion.

Lastly, attempt to have some fun! Dating could possibly be the way to meet a husband or wife, or discover the woman of your dreams. But it is also a pleasing way to interact with someone else, and enjoy a Sunday afternoon.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

for the past 8 months, i have been dating a man with minor asperger's. he was diagnosed at 14, and although i have known throughout our relationship that he has asperger's, it has never bothered me nor embarassed me. recently, however, our relationship has been "on the rocks" if you will, and he has had some doubts about whether or not he can have a stable relationship or if he is simply meant to be alone his whole life. i love him VERY much and am willing to do anything it takes to help or make things easier for him. does anyone have advice?

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm pretty sure I don't have AS but have some behavioral characteristics similar to AS @ the 'social aversion' dimension. Generally aversive-affective, if you will, but acquired. So, the tension in me between the way I'm probably not (intrinsically) and the way I apparently was/am (acquired) was a puzzlement in my two marriages, to be sure (similar to your case, both known from the beginning). It had an effect on intimacy and in general, but I think that was secondary to the effect on parenting. I was hesitant to having children and my first wife agreed to that in our marriage but she changed and got panicky about never having children and we got divorced. My attitude evolved into apprehension and uncertainty, and I got re-married, well in love, feeling that I would be willing to have kids, but thinking that I'm not the fatherly type. I have 2 children (who know this story) and they assure me that I've been a good father. [Gee, you'd never know you're...whatever, you know, Dad?" I don't know, though........[still kind of wary/uncertain, see?. This part sux, I can tell you! But I think it's PT not AS; they're apparently hard to distinguish if you didn't know [as in placebo]. And, despite my reticence, I would welcome any questions you might have, because I know this is a difficult area. Best wishes + [[[[[[ :wub: ]]]]]].

Anonymous said...

I have Aspergers, and apparently that scares guys off. Every guy I've ever cared for had rejected me in a rather painful manner. There's a guy I like right now, but he'll only reject me, too. Just like all the others.

Its pointless for me to have those feeling for anyone, as I will only get hurt every time. They'll tell me in subtle hints that I'm not good enough, that I'm creepy, and that I'm weird. They'll tell me the reasons they wouldn't be good for me, which I've learned is only masking a more direct statement:

"I'm not interested in you. I don't want you. You're not good enough. Stop liking me."

Yes I'm bitter. Yes I'm afraid to have feelings for anyone. I'm so sick of being rejected and hurt. Nobody can love me. It also doesn't help that I'm fat and ugly. No guys want girls like me. I'm fat, ugly, and I refuse to conform to society's image of 'feminine'.

Anonymous said...

that is the most horrible thing i've ever heard. those guys aren't real men. they are shallow creeps. my boyfriend has asperger's and i see him as normal. because really, who is "normal" if everyone's different anyway? i love him more than i could ever express and i hope you can find someone who will love you like i love my boyfriend.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mysterious. Peace. My 1st wife was fat and not ugly but not 'pretty'. I was skinny, sickly [acquired] and not 'handsome'. But we were both empathetic, albeit pretty pathetic individuals. But pretty intelligent. Enough to not let 'them' get away with doing a number on us. Good for us. Bitter but better. F them! Just make sure that if you DO stumble across another pathetic but wonderful individual like yourself, or s/he you, that you don't miss something that could indeed change your life, and vice versa. I know that sounds NT and maybe it is, but you Aspies are direct, so...well, there you have it. If I were ASpie maybe I wouldn't feel this way, but I honestly don't know and don't give a hoot whether I am or am not. You hurt about this kind of thing, I send empathy and support. Mercy. :wub:

Anonymous said...

I too have been dating a man with mild Asperger's. His initial diagnosis was "High functioning" Autism. We met online and I've known about his Autism/Aspergers since before we ever met offline. Once he told me about what was thought to have been "just" high functioning Autism I began doing research and reading up on the subject. There seems to be precious little out there in the way of information about Adults with Autism, or Aspergers.

We just celebrated our third month together. We know there are challenges ahead and have already faced several in just the past few weeks.

We have what feels like a strong bond already and have agreed to be exclusive. However, he too has doubts about whether of not he will/should end up alone for the rest of his life. I love him and am willing to learn, read, do whatever it takes to help him and keep us together.

He is the kindest, most caring man I've ever known and he says he trust me, still I can feel his pain and it breaks my heart to know he thinks he's unworthy.

Can anyone that's been there help us? <_<

Anonymous said...

Yes, if this looks familair I did post this before. However, when I did so I was not a member. I have since signed on as a memeber and still have the same issues. I am hoping one of you will read this and see that as I am now a registered member you may wish to respond. I am in need of help here... so please...

I too have been dating a man with mild Asperger's. His initial diagnosis was "High functioning" Autism. We met online and I've known about his Autism/Aspergers since before we ever met offline. Once he told me about what was thought to have been "just" high functioning Autism I began doing research and reading up on the subject. There seems to be precious little out there in the way of information about Adults with Autism, or Aspergers.

We just celebrated our third month together. We know there are challenges ahead and have already faced several in just the past few weeks.

We have what feels like a strong bond already and have agreed to be exclusive. However, he too has doubts about whether of not he will/should end up alone for the rest of his life. I love him and am willing to learn, read, do whatever it takes to help him and keep us together.

He is the kindest, most caring man I've ever known and he says he trust me, still I can feel his pain and it breaks my heart to know he thinks he's unworthy.

Can anyone that's been there help us? :(

Anonymous said...

Men with AS are somewhat better at dating than most blokes.
They are less likely to cheat, and sleep around, or have affairs - and they manage to act like every other Joe Bloggs (most of them, depends on level of disability!)

I am not an expert in this field but I can safely confirm this.

It is proven by Professor Broadbent's research into this subject.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne,
I have to agree with you. I posted a few months ago voicing my concerns about dating a man with AS, as they can be less communicative than other men. He has a very mild form of AS, still he struggles to feel he can be understood.

I have found him to be sincere and attentive, caring and willing to learn and experience new things. He knows he sometimes still has a need to "Try too hard," his words not mine. We have been through so much even an almost dalliance on his part this summer when he was spending weekends out of town. Still, he came clean about it before anything could come of it, and as we are now entering our fifth month together we are talking about a (Real), future together.

We are still learning, still growing, all the while our appreciation for our differences has deepened and strengthened our love for one another. He is the man I've waited for all my life and he knows this. We know it won't be easy.
It hasn't been, but it has been the most rewarding relationship either one of us have ever experienced.

Anonymous said...

I'm a guy with AS and i just want to say to Titiana (i know this is a little late to say this!) that even though your boyfriend feels that he is unworthy of you, i can tell you that he problably feels an insurmountable gratitude and love for you that you actually notice him and love him. As for your most recent post, you two are amazing. Good luck! :unsure:

Anonymous said...

How does one get determined with AS to know he or she has it for sure.
I am new in the business regarding my son so any bit of information
would certainly be valid to me. Much appreciation.

Anonymous said...

well i have AS and i find it easyer to understand what a person wants if they explain what they want. so in ur case its better to explain every thing in ur relationship u dont like about him and then tell him u still love and respect him and he will let out any information to help the situation get better

Anonymous said...

hiya,
my boyfriend was diagnosed with ADHD as a child due to his wild behaviour, i question this diagnosis as i have since been reading about aspergis syndrome and i really do beleive that my boyriend has it.

As i have not known about this untill now, we have had many silly arguments, because of my failure to understand his inability to read my feelings and emotions. spending so much time with him was becoming tedious and frustrating due to his obsessions on particular subjects. also becuase i didnt know about aspergis, i often thought his behaviour and input into conversation was rude and eccentric. Im hoping now that i have learnt a little about the syndrome, that maybe il b able to cope a little better. the problems seem to arise in social situations when his behaviour can be 'in your face' and often frighten his friends. also just sitting on the sofa having a chat can end up in a huge argument because of his inabilty to read social cues, or read my emotions. It was getting frustrating that i have to explain my feelings in depth, otherwise he does not understand. if i tell him he's upset me, he always thinks that he has merely anoyyed me. a conversation that would normally last 5 minutes, lasts about 20! simply because i have to explain everything over and over again!

we are both seventeen and he is very loving, loyal and caring, he apreciates me and the fact that i love him, we have a fantastic relationship and really trust each other, and now im hoping that things will get much better as i can now understand his behaviour. his mother has taken him to the GP and decribed her thoughts that her son may have aspergis, but her thoughts were dismissed, the GP beleives he has ADHD but i strongly feel that this diagnosis is incorrect. i have been finding it a little difficult and think it would be helpful to hear someone elses experiences. im not finding it easy, especially with us being so young. i think i just need a bit of guidance on dealing with it.

i love him so much i cannot begin 2 describe the feelings i have for him. I like the fact that he is eccentric and wild with his friends, but sometimes it can be innapropriate. im getting frustrated and i have been very confused! i really want to make it work!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shelli,
I too have a bf who has asperger's so i know exactly how you feel! I'm 19 and have been with my bf for
over 7mths now. Like ur bf mine too is really loving, loyal and caring, but we often have little
misunderstandings. I try so hard to understand where he is coming from but I just can't and that's really
difficult to cope with. We try to talk about everything and if we have a fight, we never leave each other before we've sorted it out. But sometimes i think will it ever work? Can i do this anymore? Even he has said
that he feels as if he doesnt belong in this world. So i wonder, if we're both living in different 'worlds' how the ###### is this going to last??? Though he is the sweetest guy i've ever met and no relationship is ever going
to be perfect - i don't want it to be. I think if it's not tough sometimes you cant truly appreciate the good bits.
I found a site with some good info if u want to check it out - http://en.wikipedia....perger_syndrome

It's really good of you to be taking the time to find some information on Asperger's too - it sounds like you
really love him and care for him a lot. If you do some reading i think it won't only help ur relationship (coz u will be able to understand why he says/does things) but it will also help you to cope a little better.
I know it is frustrating sometimes, when he just can't seem to understand why you feel a certain way but it will take time to find ways to make communication more effective -trial and error.

Hope this helps a bit - but it's just nice to know that there are other people out there feeling the same way as me :blink:

Dating for Professionals said...

Helpful information. I believe the more time such teens spend in society the less issues they have with interaction.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

Click here to read the full article…

Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

Click here to read the full article...

Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

Click here to read the full article...

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

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