Greetings Earthlings! 🙂
In continuation from my previous post, today I’m going to expand a little bit more on the social problems autists experience in romantic situations.
We’ve already explored some science on the subject, so now I’m going to try and clue you in a little bit on what it’s like inside my head 🙂
As a person with autism, my life is often governed by rules- don’t tell lies, never go over the speed limit, don’t put raisins in a scone (a serious crime against cake! 😛 )!
Hence when it comes to socializing, things start to get tricky. Even trickier in matters of the heart. Rules exist when it comes to love, but these rules are in a constant state of flux- and I just can’t seem to keep up! 😛
Social rules are a cornucopia of contradictions- a source of constant frustration for the black and white autistic mind.
Opposite’s attract, but birds of a feather flock together. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but out of sight is also out of mind. Treat them mean to keep them keen, but do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It’s enough to make your brain explode!
The majority of autistic people want to love and be loved as much as anyone else, however, when the goalposts keep moving and the game keeps changing, it can be extremely difficult to navigate the battlefield of love.
Growing up, love always seemed so easy on screen. Boy meets girl, boy asks girl out on a date- both know where they stand and so relationships blossom.
Easy peasy right?
Boy was I in for a shock when I got smacked with the reality stick! I was in no way prepared for the games that teenage boys play with your mind and heart.
Wide eyed and innocent, I believed the boys who said they fancied me, I believed the so called friends who encouraged me- but all along I was being set up for a fall. It was all just a game to mess with the weirdo who’d never been kissed, and I never saw it coming.
In hindsight when I see pictures of my atrocious hair cut at the time, I really should have seen through them! 😛
I was in for an even bigger reality check when it came to night’s out.
People grabbing you on the dance floor, stinking of booze and cigarettes, expecting you to just fall into their arms! Whatever happened to chat up lines, buying someone a drink, or even just learning their name? I struggle with things as innocent as hugs, how was I meant to cope with this invasion of space, not to mention the sensory fallout?!
This wasn’t the path to romance, this was carnage! 😛
If you are one of the lucky few who can get past this awkward stage to forge a real connection, communicating one’s feelings can be a real struggle for an autist. Saying the words ‘I love you’, even to family members, does not come naturally for me. I can tell my dogs I love them a thousand times a day, but ask me to say it to my parents and I freeze. It’s not that I don’t love them, I just can’t seem to get the words out…
Advice for family and significant others (SO): Don’t take this struggle personally. Your child/SO does really care about you, they just struggle to show it 🙂
Psychologists are of the opinion that we don’t see a need to repeatedly tell people that we love them, and hence we don’t say the words. Personally, I’m not sure that I’d agree with this explanation. I do want to say the words, they just won’t come out. In their absence, I’ve learned to do what I can through action to show people I care- a cake or a knitted present say more than I ever could 🙂
When it comes to romantic situations, this struggle for words is multiplied tenfold! With so many conflicting rules about showing affection or revealing your feelings, as with empathy, sometimes it’s easier to stay silent. I weigh up all the options, assess every social rule, turn myself upside down and inside out over my feelings- and then do absolutely NOTHING about it by default! 😛 Painful as it is, sometimes it just feels like the easiest option. There’s no drama, no outright rejections, no awkward moments…but also no requited love! As a result, I’ve landed myself in the friend-zone more times than I can count! 😛
Over the years I’ve become a little more assertive in this regard. I eventually work up some bit of courage to communicate my emotions, but it’s still a real struggle to get there. I frequently undergo these periods of hyper-analysis prior to opening my mouth!
Advice for SO’s/potential SO’s: Be direct and let us know how you feel. We can’t read between the lines, we struggle to comprehend the rules of love and fathom the games- the direct approach is the way to go. The object of your affections may seem aloof, but they might simply not know how to act on their emotions. Just ask them out- their answer may surprise you 🙂
If my future husband happens to be reading this- when you meet me, no games please! 😛 😉
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! 🙂