Dating with aspergers
Regardless of whether two people are meeting on a prearranged date or striking up conversation in a casual setting, each one’s emotional response is determined by the assumptions they make based on a multitude of factors, from body language, facial expression, and eye contact to manner of dress, choice of conversation topics, and tone of voice (the same principle applies to online dating, although the cues are different).
While the merely awkward are at least subconsciously aware of these variables when they’re engaged in an interaction, someone with AS is wired to assume that (a) if someone finds us attractive, they will directly and immediately state it from the get-go and (b) they would want us to do likewise.
After all, there are few places in society where social rules are as crucially important and deeply entrenched as in the sphere of courtship, and being mildly autistic—or having Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), if you use the label as it was before the APA revised its diagnostic criteria last year—impairs your ability to comprehend nonverbal communication.Since people communicate through both verbal and nonverbal methods, those of us with AS are frequently at a disadvantage when attempting to socialize in our personal and professional lives.As I explained in an earlier article on my personal experiences with AS: If life in a society is a game (and make no mistake about it, it is), having Asperger’s forces you to play while learning two-thirds of the rules as you go along, even as everyone else knows them instinctively … Of course, one of the twists of having AS is that you tend to develop an outsider’s perspective on social rules in general, and the world of dating is no exception. A lot of the “obvious” rules about dating are actually pretty arbitrary, so we aren’t instinctively aware of them.Asperger’s men often seek partners who compensate for their shortcomings, such as their social awkwardness, their focus on routines, and their trouble expressing emotions.
Asperger’s women, on the other hand, tend to look for romantic partners who are similar, who share the same characteristics and goals in life, and who have comparable views of how relationships should work.Thankfully having AS certainly doesn’t inhibit one’s ability to desire or enjoy sexual intercourse, but the same cannot be said of cultivating the kinds of connections necessary to escape from the “existential loneliness” described by Russell.