Asperger's Syndrome & Romantic Relationships
What It's Like to Love An Aspie
I had an eight-year relationship with an Aspie. No, it's not some alien on Star Trek or even Star Wars, although sometimes his behavior could have been considered Spock-like. I'm talking about a person with Asperger's Syndrome. Asperger's is an autistic spectrum disorder—already that sounds complicated, doesn't it? It is and it isn't.
What Is a Spectrum Disorder?
A spectrum disorder means that there is no typical, one-size-fits-all behavior in the world of autism. People with autism can range from those who are completely non-verbal to ones who are highly intelligent and functioning well in daily life. Asperger's Syndrome falls into that category, although again there is a scale of behavior even among people who have Asperger's.
My love interest was neurologically atypical—his wiring was not like the "normal"' person. He was attractive, extremely intelligent, and completely maddening in so many ways—but totally fascinating at the same time! (Highly illogical, Mr. Spock!) He delighted in calling himself "above normal," and he was that and more.
He Was Mr. Fix It
He could repair anything. It was a matter of pride with him that if he didn't know how to fix something, he would learn. While I was reading female instruction manuals like Glamour and Cosmo, he was reading How To Repair Anything. And he did. He built an amazing bedroom set when he couldn't find one he liked, he built incredibly intricate crown molding for his home, he rebuilt cars from the ground up.
But when it came to nurturing a relationship, it was a struggle. And that is typical of adults with Asperger's. Their lack of empathy and social understanding inhibits the forming of close personal relationships with others. Although there are many people with Asperger's who are married and have been for years, there are many, many others who are not married or in a relationship, because they can't form and sustain the depth of connection that's needed in a relationship.
Like most people with Asperger's, he had hobbies that he devoted himself to, to the detriment of our relationship. People with Asperger's tend to develop a few narrow interests and their fascination becomes intense. Think hobby on steroids! The hobby consumes their time and thoughts and efforts, so a relationship with you could become a sideline.
Let Me In!
Many of the interests of my guy were also interests of mine...classic cars, water sports, marine life. But he had been alone so long, he had no idea how to involve me or inclination either. When he became focused on a hobby or task, that was it, I was history until he mastered the task or moved on to the next hobby. However, some hobbies of people with Asperger's become full blown obsessions where they find it hard to compartmentalize and spend a huge amount of time thinking and dwelling on all aspects of them.
Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? Yes!
People with Asperger's are brutally honest, so be prepared for inappropriate, although not intentionally mean-spirited comments about your looks, body, etc. They are just observations, not cut downs! However, if you try to mingle your guy with your friends, beware! Chances are he will end up offending someone and you may be out a friend. I spent many years trying to help my friends understanding my guy's behavior. They couldn't understand why I put up with it, I must have really low self-esteem, etc., etc.
If you value capable, highly intelligent men, then a man with Asperger's could be a good choice for you in a relationship. However, if you long for true, romantic love where the other person cares intensely for you and can empathize with your needs and desires, you will more than likely be crushingly disappointed.
The Deal Breaker
In the end, it was from sheer exhaustion and frustration that my guy and I ended. He was frustrated that I couldn't understand him and his ability to shut out all distractions, including me, and I was exhausted from trying to understand him. I'm not sorry that I spent the time, I don't consider it wasted. I had times with him so intense I wouldn't trade them for anything, but I would advise a typical woman to think long and hard before investing a lot of time and emotion in a man with Asperger's. The love that you have for him will never be reciprocated in the way that you hope for it to be.
As he told me one time, he was tired of making me cry.
And that pretty much sums it up.