Is It Hard To Date Someone With Autism? 15 Things To Know

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Dating someone with autism can be a new experience for you. However, it is no less great an experience than dating a regular person. Autism spectrum disorder is a brain-related condition that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate. A person with autism may have difficulty speaking and show repetitive behavior. People with this condition can manifest different symptoms, and the intensity may vary in each case (1).

If you plan to or are already dating someone with autism, this post might come in handy for you. Read on as we explore the various challenges and amazing aspects of dating someone with autism.

Is It Hard To Date Someone With Autism?

Dating someone with autism is different and challenging, but it can also be a fulfilling experience if you know how to get along the right way. Before you start dating a person with autism, you should know that they may not be well-equipped to understand or decode certain basic things in life that a regular person can do.

Romantic relationships can be confusing for a person on the spectrum. They want to be loved but are not sure of how to achieve it (2). Also, they may fail to understand subtle romantic hints by their partner, which can be frustrating for them and their partner. They have their share of struggles and need a partner who can understand and support them.

To make a relationship with a person on the spectrum work, you need to be extremely patient, emphatic, and understanding. You also have to be clear with what you want to tell them and not expect them to understand everything on their own.

Dating Someone With Autism: 15 Things To Know

Dating someone with the autism spectrum may not be easy. That is why you need to know a few things before you start a relationship.

1. They are not emotionless

A person with autism finds it difficult to express clearly, and hence, is often perceived as being low on emotion or even emotionless, which is not true. They are emotional and sometimes experience more strongly than other people (3). However, they cannot express the same as easily as most people can. You need to understand this and not assume them to be completely indifferent to your emotions.

2. They may not appreciate a physical touch

Sometimes, a person with autism can get extremely sensitive to touch and may feel enraged to even a slight brush of fingers, while some love to be hugged tightly (4). This varies for those on the spectrum. You need to discuss this with your partner to understand how they like to be touched. If they do not like to be touched, find an alternative way to express your love for them.

3. They like to follow their routine

Individuals on the spectrum exhibit repetitive behavior and activities. It can cause a certain obsessiveness for their routine. Due to any reason, if they are unable to follow their routine, it can cause them a lot of anxiety, which can lead to tantrums (5). They might not appreciate impromptu dates or surprises. Ensure that you plan a date that fits in their routine and does not disturb it in any way.

4. They take their time to adjust

Since they are so accustomed to a routine, changing their habits and adjusting to anything new may not be easy. In case you shift to a new house or start living together, the experience can be overwhelming for them. So, you need to introduce changes to them slowly and gradually. Give them time to adjust and do not rush into anything.

5. They cannot go on regular dates

Going to a bar sounds like a good idea for a date. But for someone on the spectrum, going to the bar may be the most uncomfortable experience. A person with autism can be sensitive to noise and crowds (6). If your partner is hypersensitive to sounds, plan your date according to their comfort level and preferences.

6. They seem to be a selfish talker

Topics of discussion with a partner with autism may often involve their subject of interest. When they have a hobby or interest, they like to talk on and on about it. They will show hardly any interest in anything else. It might make them seem self-centered. You need to talk to them about it, and with practice, they can become a better listener and learn to listen to what others have to say.

7. They need you to support their interest

People on the spectrum can be highly passionate about their interests. Their interests and hobbies may be unusual for you, but those mean a lot to them. Support their interests. If possible, and if they are okay with it, join them. Let them spend some time indulging in or pursuing their interests. Do not mock anything dear to them as they may resent you for it.

8. They do not get sarcasm

Someone on the spectrum might not understand sarcasm. They can take every word literally. So, in case you get angry and ask not to talk, they might stop talking to you. Hence, you need to be careful about what you ask your partner to do and what you tell them because they will believe everything you say and even follow your instructions.

9. They cannot be diplomatic

Ask your partner how you look in an outfit, and be ready for an honest opinion. Someone with autism lacks tact and they speak nothing but the blunt truth. They do not mean to hurt you. They tell what they feel is right. They are not deceptive in any way, which makes them trustworthy. However, you need to develop a thick skin if you want their opinion on anything.

10. They may seem unpredictable sometimes

Suppose you and your partner are watching a movie at home, and suddenly they switch off the movie because they spot a butterfly in the background and are afraid of butterflies. You have to be mindful of the triggers that disturb your partner. Even after taking care of the slip-ups, your partner throws a tantrum, be patient with them instead of getting frustrated.

11. They prefer your consistent behavior

When you tell your partner something, stick to it because when you keep changing your mind, it can confuse them and cause unnecessary frustration. For instance, if you tell them you want to eat a doughnut, and when they are about to order the same you change your mind, it could frustrate them.

12. They want you to be direct and honest

For those on the spectrum, relationships can sometimes cause anxiety. To avoid unnecessary stress for your partner, be direct and honest in your approach. They also want to make the relationship work as much as you do. They only need you to be clear with what you want and communicate the same with them without hesitation.

13. They may not understand your unspoken words

You may be upset about something and may need your partner to comfort you. However, do not expect them to sense your low mood on their own. Some people on the spectrum are unable to identify and understand the feelings of others (7). It is not that they lack empathy. They cannot figure out social cues easily. So, next time they fail to comfort you, do not feel bad about it.

14. They do not mind your questions

No matter how long you have known your partner, there will be times when you will feel that you do not understand them. Instead of feeling frustrated, ask questions to your partner. Ask them directly what they want you to do and do as they say. And when they ask you any questions, answer them seriously. Keep communication clear and open.

15. They need you to have their back

Not everyone understands the special needs of a person with autism. There will be instances when they might have difficulty in social situations and when interacting with people other than their family. In such situations, they will need you to help others understand them. You will have to act as an intermediary to resolve conflicts on their behalf.

Each person on the spectrum is different, and it requires empathy and patience to understand a person with autism. If the above points do not help, seek professional guidance to make dating a person with autism a pleasant and happy experience for you.

References:

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Ratika Pai

Ratika has experience writing in various fields including finance, education, lifestyle, and entertainment. After her masters degree in Commerce, she acquired a PG Diploma in Communication and Journalism from Mumbai University. She is inquisitive about human relationships and likes to study people and how they manage their relationships, during her freetime. At MomJunction, Ratika writes insightful and informative articles on... more