Dating with aspergers
Matthews is funny, intriguing, eccentric, articulate, a talented artist — all qualities that many people find appealing.
The problem with having Asperger’s is simply that he doesn’t know how to market himself.
Others with AS have told me about similar stories, all linked by a common theme: We experience dating, as we do all other social rituals, as non-native bumblers, struggling to comprehend a culture of Byzantine complexity (in our eyes) and lacking the unassailable logic of being entirely direct, straightforward, verbalized, and emotionless (which is clearly reasonable… We also notice that …I recently had a conversation with a friend who commented that people with AS should "just use common sense" when navigating the dating scene.
Few pieces of advice are more frustrating to a mild autistic, since "common sense" in dating involves intuitively knowing the assumptions that others will make about you based on the cues you give off through what you say and do — which, of course, is precisely what AS causes you to miss.
There is a universality to the suffering captured in “Aspie Seeks Love,” a new documentary by Julie Sokolow that premiered at Cinequest over the weekend.
For better or worse, there is a music to dating, and while people with AS can understand the verses (and often have a distinctly straightforward way of expressing ourselves that can be refreshing), we struggle with the pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre, and texture. 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.While the resulting sense of loneliness is not unique to the mildly autistic, as Russell’s quote itself makes clear, having AS significantly hinders one’s ability to cure it. Mahari, people with AS may be able to "feel a tremendous amount of empathy, compassion, sadness, happiness, and so forth," but "it is not natural for us to communicate and to express our emotions in a social/relational context the way that it is second nature to NT's [Neurotypicals, or people without AS]. It is work and requires effort and energy." Not only does this cause people with AS to often come off as emotionless and lacking in empathy, but it makes the process of falling in love almost alien to us — you can't develop or identify chemistry without knowing how to give off and read cues, or feel truly connected to someone with whom you can only communicate by feigning mastery of a social language in which you'll never be fluent.Love requires not only the ability to have "loving" feelings for someone else, but the ability to have those feelings reciprocated, create "chemistry" in a relationship and, ultimately, create a deep and mutual romantic bond. This isn’t to say that there is no hope if you have AS.If nothing else, many of us (myself included) have learned through careful study, trial and error, and self-discipline how to socially "function" at the level of people who don't have AS.It's still possible to have sexual and/or committed relationships, and while the ordeal may be painful at times, it is undeniably worth it. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his Ph D program in History at Lehigh University.