I guess me and my partner, Rhys, are a little bit interesting because we’ve both dated someone on and off the Autistic Spectrum, so we do have some grounds for making comparisons. Of course, we’d both need to date a lot of people on and off the spectrum to be able to make any real observations that are definitely because of Autism, rather than just the personality of that one person we dated.
We’ve each been in two serious relationships, one with someone like ourselves (I with someone on the spectrum, Rhys with someone not) and one with each other. But here’s where it differs – the other people I have dated have all been off the spectrum, as have the other people Rhys has dated.
I have found it easier to get along with people who are, for all intents and purposes, ‘normal’, or a kinder way to put it is ‘neurotypical’ (NT). I see that, on the whole, they are more sympathetic to my quirks, and easier for me to be around without adding to my anxiety. Though that’s not to say that there aren’t things that don’t agitate my anxiety, being with an NT person, but I just find those things easier to deal with.
My longest relationship (and my first), was with someone on the spectrum – although I suspect there was more going on than just Asperger’s. This was a dark period of my life; he was the type of person who thrived off of putting someone else’s light out, making them live alone in the dark until they forgot who they used to be. It was never a good relationship, I just didn’t know any different. Therapy for the post-traumatic stress disorder showed me that it was worse than I thought it was, because it made me process everything fully and come to terms with those six years of my life. But I digress.
Since that relationship, I dated a few guys, all firmly within the neurotypical category. I was largely hindered by PTSD symptoms and ran a million miles away when anyone did anything like my ex – but, I learnt to trust my instincts, and it’s working out pretty well so far. I found that my anxiety got a lot worse whenever they did things that reminded me of him, and in turn they couldn’t deal with my anxiety, and it snowballed a little until I decided it just wasn’t going to work out. If you can’t love me at my worst…thank u, next.
I noticed that a lot of guys tried to change me – or ‘help me’ be more normal, rather than just letting me be me, and loving me for it. I don’t have problems that I need someone to fix, I’m a fixer, I’ll sort myself out. I need support, not pushing to be something they’d prefer me to be. They were quick to lose patience with my issues – issues that only seemed to be there because of them anyway. A few months was the most relationships would last before they grew tired of my shenanigans, and they realised that it just wasn’t worth the hassle, or I realised that they weren’t worth changing for…no one is!
Rhys is different, he doesn’t seem phased by my quirks, and I have a lot less anxiety related issues because he’s not always pushing me or trying to change me, or nagging at me about my problems (except about my cluttered room, fight me bitch). I actually went to school with Rhys, but never stayed in touch. Until he slid into my DM’s, post breakup with six year guy (asl?). We were good friends, and a bit on an off, then he dumped me after a few months and I went on with my life and dated a bunch of guys. But we did stay in touch, as friends (and as ‘friends’). And then poof, one day we were just like…shit’s not working out with anyone else, you wanna be all official and stuff? And official we still are.
He’s the most normal guy I’ve ever dated. He plays football and goes to the pub with his friends. Hello normal life, come at me bro. I attend football matches with him, and go to the pub afterwards, and he does weird stuff that I like to do, like go to stately homes, or camp in a field at a car show for a few days. Compromise is a wonderful thing. He supports me all the time, and he knows everything about me, so he’s always conscious of if something’s wrong and does his best to help. He’s super patient and easy going. He lets me have a life away from him, just like he has a life away from me. And it just works, without any anxiety or hassle.
To conclude, I think that relationships largely boil down to the individual, and their personality, and their capacity to love a person no matter what. Sure, I had some nice relationships with other NT guys, but ultimately it wasn’t a good fit – though every relationship with an NT, no matter how short, was an immensely better fit than the one AS guy I dated. Take from that what you will (spoilers, he just wasn’t a nice person, AS or not).