Adult Aspergers and Lack of Empathy


I would really like to encourage you to keep writing for adults... I bet there are a ton of us out there, not diagnosed but living a hellish life trying to fit in... Having someone who understands me is refreshing to say the least...

I used to be a Pastor but I gave it up because I had no empathy for people... No feelings of sympathy or love... I have no feelings of love at all, so if you were to ask me if I love God, or love my mom, or my wife... I have no feeling so I would manufacture a response, so I have felt like a fraud and very uncaring and ashamed... I have admitted this to my wife, which had to be recanted because of her shock and pain: "You mean you don't love me??" And my response is: "Oh, no, I did not mean that... of course I have feelings of love for you!"

It’s a real problem because, how can I be truthful and at the same time not offend... Love is somewhat of a decision, not a feeling, for me... I no longer go to church because it’s a problem for me...

I also have a very tough time with sadness... when I approach crying, it is physically painful... I can't get the pain out... I feel sad, but it gets too intense and painful... Is this Normal for one with Aspergers?? Is there any way around it??

I would REALLY like to encourage and challenge you to keep writing for us adults... You truly have a gift... Trying to figure out my maleness, issues AND Aspergers is really really confusing, and painful...


Re: “I have no feeling so I would manufacture a response, so I have felt like a fraud and very uncaring and ashamed...”

I regularly recommend to men with Aspergers to pick prudent times to (a) tell white lies and (b) fake emotions when there are none.

Why would I recommend this for crying out loud?

Let’s use an example regarding white lies: Your wife asks, “Does my butt look big in this dress.” Your honest response might be, “No more than usual.”

BAM!!! You might as well just smack your wife in the face. Your “I have to be honest because I don’t want to be a fraud” philosophy just got you into big trouble.

Now, let’s try it again from the beginning: Your wife asks, “Does my butt look big in this dress.” Better to say, “No, not at all. I like your cute little butt.” Was that a line of bullshit? You better know it! And you just made your wife’s day.

Let’s use an example regarding “faking” emotions: Your mother-in-law has stayed with you and your wife for a 3-day visit. She has just left to catch her flight back to Arizona, and your wife states, “It sure was good to see mom. I wish we lived closer. I’m not going to see her again until Christmas …I’m going to miss her.” You say nothing! Right?

Poor choice on your part. Your silence just sent the message: “I don’t really care if I see her again or not.” Instead, you should assert, “Yes it was good to see her. I’m going to miss her sense of humor.” Do you really feel a sense of loss or sadness with your mother-in-law’s departure? I doubt it. But you just cheered-up your wife. And that’s a good thing.

Re: “Love is somewhat of a decision, not a feeling, for me...”

The same is true for the rest of us! Love is not a feeling. “Falling in love” and “love” are two different things.

Falling in love:
  • can be a first step towards genuine love
  • can be a flash of emotions
  • if it is mutual and both people work at their relationship, can one day grow into genuine love
  • is a strong instinctive attraction to a person
  • is the call of one's longing to belong
  • usually means falling in love with the person's appearance, with the way she walks, the way she talks; sometimes we impute to our object of love some ideal qualities, and the more we get to know the person, the less we “fall” for her (that's when the feeling of love disappears even faster than it appeared)

Genuine love on the other hand:
  • implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom
  • is a decision
  • is a state of awareness
  • is a way of being in the world
  • is a way of seeing oneself and others
  • is misunderstood to be an emotion
  • is volitional rather than euphorically emotional

The concern and commitment to another's spiritual and emotional growth is the purest form of love. It is for this reason that commitment is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. The person who truly loves does so because of a “decision to love.” This person has made a commitment to “being a loving individual” – whether or not the “loving feelings” are present. It can be difficult and painful to search for evidence of love in one's actions, but because true love is an “act of will” that transcends transient feelings of love, it can be said, "Love is as love does." Love and non-love, as good and evil, are objective and not purely subjective phenomena.

Re: “I can't get the pain out... I feel sad, but it gets too intense and painful... Is this Normal for one with Aspergers?? Is there any way around it??”

It is normal, but I would never recommend going “around it” – rather you should go “through it.” Without pain, there is no learning – no growth. It is this pain that is helping you develop emotional muscles and wisdom that you would never develop otherwise.

What did your mother tell you when you were young? She may have said something like, “If it doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.” You should listen to your mother.

==> Living with an Aspergers Partner: Relationship Skills for Couples Affected by Aspergers


Unknown said...

Being neourologically typical and married to a man with Aspergers, this man's struggle hits close to home. Clearly, people with Aspergers really struggle with the politics of emotions in their relationships, and understanding the emotions of others. Equally difficult is processing their own emotions, and regulating them when they flood the nerve system. In my 18 years of marriage to my husband, I have learned to accept the fact that he is truly disabled, and that this isn't going to change. If an Aspergers man can find a woman who understands that his disability is real, even though most of the time he seems perfectly typical, then he is more likely to enjoy marital harmony than if she thinks that "a little counseling" will fix him right up. I know it's harder for husband to process his emotions than it is for me. I give him time and space to cope with his feelings, and resist the temptation to "move things along" and get to a resolution quickly. Truly, the problem of emotions in Aspergers people is real. I hope that the Aspergers man who wrote this letter is able to be patient with himself on his journey to understanding himself in light of his disability, and to not lose hope that he can indeed enjoy rewarding relationships with others as he comes to a deeper acceptance of and understanding of himself.

Unknown said...

I have aspergers diagnotic i found myself have it when i was 32 years old because i have problem with my family..... When something happen i tired find words explain to them but they ignore me and said that i want argue to them .My parents havent empathic for me . They always bring my sadness and my painful to repeated and blame to me.... I tired forget it i looking forward to future but My parents always brings my painful in the past to make me more painful i have been crying so much, i hide my years with them, i they know i cried they more yelling me badly....

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