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

Navigating the dating scene is challenging in itself, and 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 neurological condition that affects a person’s perceptioniXOrganization, identification, and inferring sensory information , learning, and ability to socialize and communicate (socialization skills). A person with autism may have difficulty being articulateiXThe ability to express oneself clearly in speech or writing and indulge in repetitive behavioral patternsiXAbnormal behavior characterized by repetition and rigidity . Different 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 diagnosed with autism, this post might come in handy. Read on as we explore the various challenges and amazing aspects of dating someone with autism.

In This Article

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. 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, so you need to treat them with kindness and patience. They may also find it hard to recognize specific body language or expressions, and communication is often perceived and processed differently by someone on the autism spectrum.

Romantic relationships can be confusing for a person on the spectrum. They want to be loved but are unsure how to achieve it (2). Also, they may fail to understand subtle romantic hints by their partner, which can be frustrating for both of them. Straightforward and candid communication is helpful and critical for the success of the relationship. They have their share of struggles and need a partner who can understand their style of communication, their behavioral quirks, preferences, annoyances and support them.

To make a relationship with a person on the spectrum work, you need to be extremely patient, emphatic, respectful, and understanding. You also have to be clear with what you want to communicate to them and not expect them to understand cues and hints 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 their emotions and feelings clearly, and hence, is often perceived as being cold, uncaring, or even emotionless, which is not true. They are emotionally sensitive and sometimes experience emotions more strongly and deeply than neurotypical peopleiXPeople whose brain functions according to their age (3). However, they cannot express the same easily as most people. You need to understand this and not wrongly assume them to be completely indifferent to your emotions.

protip_icon Do remember
When dating an autistic person, you may need to courteously and patiently explain to them why a specific behavior isn’t suitable in certain situations.

2. They may not appreciate a physical touch

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Sometimes, a person with autism may experience sensitivity 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 clearly with your partner to understand how they like to be touched. If they are averse to being 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, leading to tantrums (5). They might find impromptu dates or surprises stressful and not appreciate them. Acceptance of their routine is crucial so you can plan a date that fits in their schedule and does not disturb it in any way.

4. They take their time to adjust

Since they are so accustomed to a routine, stability and familiarity are important to them. 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.

Katie Kustron, an entrepreneur, emphasizes the importance of understanding the accumulation of experiences that lead to a meltdown for an autistic person. Describing the challenges her fiancé faces due to autism, she says, “If my fiancé is in a new place, let’s say a restaurant, they are surrounded by so much newness. There are new smells with all the food around, new booths to sit on, new waitresses and waiters serving us, new menu, new food that she has to try, etc. All of those things that I just listed will build up in her, and sometimes it will lead to a meltdown (i).”

So, you need to introduce changes or interventions to them slowly and gradually. Give them time to adjust and ease into a new routine; do not rush into anything.

5. They cannot go on regular dates

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Going to a bar sounds like a good idea for a date. But given their heightened sensory perceptions, going to the bar may be the most uncomfortable experience for someone on the spectrum. A person with autism can be sensitive to noise, smells, flashing lights, and crowds (6). If your partner is hypersensitiveiXA condition where sounds seem much louder than they should to sounds, plan your date according to their comfort level and preferences. Finding a location or activity that they like can make the bonding experience comfortable and enjoyable for them.

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 are passionate about, they can 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 patiently, and with practice, they can become a better listener and learn to listen to what others have to say and understand their perspective.

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. Try to see the world through their eyes. 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.

protip_icon Point to consider
It can be great if you could find suitable activities to enjoy with your autistic partner. If not, explore parallel activities. You both can be in the same space, engaged in different activities for a specific time.

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. The importance of being clear and direct can’t be emphasized enough.

9. They cannot be diplomatic

Image: IStock

Ask your partner how you look in an outfit and be ready for an honest opinion. This is one characteristic of people with autism, they lack tact, and speak nothing but the blunt truth. They genuinely do not intend 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

Impulse control and emotional regulation can be a challenge for a person on the spectrum. 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 reacting and getting frustrated. These fears or reasons might seem silly to you, but it is important to be empathetic towards their feelings while treating them like adults.

protip_icon Quick tip
Help your partner draw from their past experiences to predict better the outcome of future circumstances. It can also reduce their anxiety along with sensory sensitivitiesiXThe degree to which an individual can detect and process sensory information from their environment .

11. They prefer your consistent behavior

Keep your communication consistent and predictable. When you tell your partner something, stick to it because when you keep changing your mind, it can overwhelm and confuse them and cause unnecessary frustration. For instance, if you tell them you want to eat a doughnut, and just 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

Image: IStock

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 explicit with what you want and communicate the same to 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. They cannot figure out social cues easily and may need a little guidance. So, do not feel bad about it next time they fail to comfort you.

protip_icon Point to consider
People with autism struggle to cope with the anxiety linked to not knowing what to say in conversations. This anxiety can lead them to avoid social situations.

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 relevant and genuine questions to your partner. Ask them directly what they expect from you and do as they say. And when they ask you any questions, answer them honestly and seriously. Do not treat them like children; keep your communication crisp, clear, and open.

15. They need you to have their back

Image: Shutterstock

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.

Benefits Of Dating Someone With Autism

Dating someone with autism has its own benefits. One great thing is they’re honest and straightforward. People with autism often say what’s on their minds and wouldn’t fake anything. They also tend to ask direct and honest questions, which allows for smooth and effective communication. Because they’re sincere and genuine, you can nurture an authentic connection with them. Moreover, they’re loyal and committed, making the relationship stable and fulfilling (8). So, appreciate their uniqueness and build a relationship based on trust and understanding. Dating a person with autism will help you build a genuine connection that grows stronger with time.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How should people with autism flirt?

You should be honest, smile often to show your interest, talk casually to the person you are interested in, don’t have a lot of expectations, and move on if the other person is not interested in you (8):

2. What is the benefit of dating someone with autism?

The benefit of dating someone with autism is their honesty and openness in the relationship (9).

3. How can I help my partner with autism build confidence and self-esteem?

Encourage your partner to indulge in self-care activities like yoga and meditation. Help them identify their talents and abilities. Communicate openly and empathetically, giving them ample space to express themselves. Most importantly, work with your partner to set achievable goals that align with their interests and abilities. Also, celebrate each milestone achieved, reinforcing their sense of accomplishment to boost their confidence and self-esteem.

4. How do autistic people show their love?

Autistic people share their love in unique ways. They express their emotions and feelings genuinely. When deeply interested in someone, they may show their love by giving that person their undivided attention. They might engage in intense conversations or activities they and their partner like. To go the extra mile, they may share chores and tasks to display their love, care, and support.

If you have fallen for and are considering dating someone with autism, make sure to give the above points a good read to know what to expect. People with autism are different and perceive life differently. Hence their behavior, ways of expression, and overall style of living can be challenging to understand at first. But when you get to know the person, you can find a different meaning and view of life. So be patient, understanding, and take things slow. You may take the help of a specialist to help make dating a person with autism easier and a happier experience.

Infographic: Things To Know About Dating Someone With Autism

Dating someone with autism can be a fun and loving experience if you know how to navigate it. You need to be more understanding in this relationship to help your date open up and be comfortable. So here are the essential things you must know and consider when dating someone with autism.

tips on dating someone with autism (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • If your partner is autistic, you must know that subtle romantic hints might confuse them.
  • They may not like to be touched, so be patient and find other ways to express your love.
  • You should be direct and honest with your words and behaviors while being with them.

Dating someone with autism can be a rewarding experience. It is important to be patient, understanding and respectful. This video unfurls some important things to keep in mind while dating someone with Autism.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Autism Speaks;
    What is Autism?
  2. Interactive Autism Network;
    Romantic Relationships For Young Adults With Asperger’s Syndrome And High-Functioning Autism
  3. Asperger/Autism Network;
    Asperger Profiles: Emotions and Empathy
  4. Spectrum News;
    How ‘social touch’ shapes autism traits
  5. Applied Behavior Analysis Edu;
    Why is Routine so Important to People with ASD?
  6. Raising Children; Sensory Sensitivities:
    Autistic Children And Teenagers
  7. Altogether Autism;
    A shift in perspective: empathy and autism
  8. Organization for Autism Research;
    HOW DO I FLIRT?
  9. Adult Autism Center of Lifetime Learning;
    Dating Someone With Autism
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