Wednesday, December 23, 2009

If Your Romantic Partner Has Asperger's

People often come to my blog with the following query: "What do I do if my boyfriend / girlfriend has Asperger's?" There are many books out there on the subject. Often, however, they describe somebody who is a total jerk and then blame that person's jerkdom on Asperger's. is a prime example of such an account.

In my opinion, life with an Aspie does not have to be constant martyrdom. We can actually make an ideal life partner for the right person. Remember that one of the central markers of Asperger's is developing an exclusive interest in something or somebody and pursuing it wholeheartedly. If that object of interest is you, your Aspie partner will be the most loyal and dedicated person you will ever meet. We are also not prone to lying about feelings and emotions. While many people often say "Yes, of course, I love you" without meaning it, an Aspie will, in most cases, only say it if it's absolutely true.

There are, of course, certain qualities that somebody who wants to be with an Aspie needs to have or develop. Here is what I have come up with but feel free to add your own in the comments:

1. Don't be inquisitive and curious. The best partner for us is the one who either doesn't  notice the little OCD things we do, or pretends not to notice them. Being interrogated about your routines is torture. It is often easier to end the relationship than to give up on the routines or constantly feel that you are judged for them.

2. Develop your own hobbies and pursuits that will take up a lot of your time. An Aspie is somebody who often has obsessive interests that occupy a lot of his or her time. If we are not allowed to pursue these interests or feel that somebody is encroaching on the time we dedicate to them, we tend to start feeling resentful towards that person. If you need somebody who will spend every free moment they have  paying attention to you, think twice about entering into a relationship with an Aspie.

3. Memory and caring are two different things. Retaining dates, names, phone numbers, etc. is often very difficult for us. So if your patner doesn't remember your mother's name five years into a relationship, it does not mean she doesn't care about you. It means that she finds it very difficult to retain names because her brain works this way.

4. Give them alone time. Being alone and doing things nobody knows about is often very important to us. Don't interrogate your Aspie partner. If she seems reluctant to tell you where she was, it doesn't mean she has been meeting her secret lovers. In all  probability, she was just doing her OCD things that she doesn't feel like discussing with anyone.

5. He does not forget your name, he just doesn't like to say it. Often, we find it extremely difficult to call people we are close to by their given name. I have never, for example, called my partner by his name. Not once. I try but somehow it just doesn't come out. This has nothing to do with how I feel about him, it's simply the way I am.

6. Prepare for destruction of pretty things. If you like good china and expensive carpets, either forget about it or look for a new partner. The neurological symptoms of Asperger's include clumsiness and a difficulty with maintaining balance. Everything will be broken, spilled, and destroyed. My best friend 'Mafalda' came up with a brilliant solution after I destroyed her new sofa: she bought me a sippy cup. Way to go, my friend!

7. Prepare to be embarrassed. Some of us come up with ways of dealing with social situations but some of us don't. It is probable that during social gatherings your partner will say something offensive to your friends, relatives, or colleagues, will wander off looking all distracted, or fail to respond when people talk to her. If these things bother you, think twice about making your partner attend such gatherings.

You can read more about Asperger's here and here.


Izgad said...

"And Aspie is somebody who often has obsessive interests that occupy a lot of his or her time."


Clarissa said...

Thank you, Izgad!! I wish people did this more often. Everybody is being too nice and silly typos often remain in a post for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I am neurotypical and had a relationship with an Aspie guy a long time ago and it completely ruined me; I have found every subsequent partner to be clingy, over-emotional, ill-informed and dishonest! Once you go Aspie, you never go back.... :)

Anonymous said...

That is interesting what you say about memory. my sister with ASD has a ridiculously good memory. Photographic even.