Anonymous asked: Once I was friends with this one girl that I was seeking a relationship with, but during a conversation that came up between us, she mentioned that she "used to be interested in this one guy, but then I found out he had autism." It was pretty rude and sudden, and I was just wondering what you might think would be the best approach if something like this happens, like if one should continue pursuit of the relationship, try to educate them, give up, or simply never tell them.
While I do understand people who may be put off by traits seen in autistic individuals, if you’ve made it up to the point where you “like” this person in a romantic way then its really kind of petty to go back on that just because you find out they have something. I mean if you never noticed before why does it matter now?
I had a similar experience when I was dating someone. She called me, crying, because her coworker had told her how emotionally distant her ASD dad was throughout her life. She wanted to know if I would be like that. I was quick to take on the responsibility for some other person’s behavior, which looking back on was a rather unhealthy habit, and the relationship eventually ended. But at the time I was determined to prove myself as a complex, thinking and responsive individual. I bought a book titled something like “how to love someone with autism” — I forget exactly… but I went through every page and highlighted the things that applied to me, wrote down why and crossed out the things I could never see myself doing.
There’s no way to predict how you’ll come out in terms of a relationship. Its a two way street, no ifs ands or buts. When I eventually learned how to trust myself and my experiences my relationships got a lot healthier. I caused myself far too much turmoil and strife because I wanted to avoid becoming one of these horror stories. But now I think its ridiculous to blame ASD traits for the whole of a failed marriage. Communication is key for any longterm relationship, and the people who fail and blame their partner’s hardwiring are just as at fault as the rigid, “emotionless” ASD individual.
I guess the point of all that is, I too find it rude to hold someone accountable for some genetic trait they happen to share with someone else. “I heard redheads don’t work well in relationships, you’re not going to be a redhead are you” I mean come on. I know, I know, there’s a faint difference because of the social implication of ASD but I see more people on the spectrum isolated because no one takes 5 seconds to try and understand why they did some atypical behavior. Now that doesn’t dismiss the pain inflicted by an one’s actions, I complain all the time about people on the spectrum not taking responsibility for their mistakes. If you step on someone’s foot on accident you still say you’re sorry, the same guidelines apply to emotional pain. You didn’t mean to hurt someone so you’re sorry that you did. The defensive “but I didn’t mean to so back off!” is bull. But Assumptions are destructive. And I’d be willing to argue that the assumptions often precede the equally ineffective defensive behaviors.
For both parties though, allow each person to be taken in as an individual, not as a whole. Don’t assume just because two people share a trait or a problem they’re going to make the same mistakes for the same reasons. And don’t fall victim to being defensive because someone else refused to understand.
I apologize if I soapboxed a little. For your specific problem I think you should offer a gentle advice that being on the spectrum isn’t being a cold, heartless calculator of a human being. Give her the chance to challenge the myths she’s learned, but I caution against pursuing the relationship unless she’s super responsive to this. Its not that she’s a bad person but it sounds like she hasn’t had the chance to mature in that area of her life just yet. Help her grow but don’t let yourself get hurt in the process. If she’s interested in learning and being proactive on the matter of neurodiversity then answer her questions, but if she withdraws and is unresponsive just let her go. Life has its way of changing how we think eventually, but only when we’re ready to listen. You can’t help someone who can’t help themselves. xD