Autism and relationships

I once read an article about autism and relationships where the author only focused on the negative sides of autism and why it’s so difficult to be in a relationship with an autistic person. In my article I want to tell a bit about my relationship with my boyfriend and how well it actually works.

Prejudices about autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
Autistic people have issues with communication and social interaction. A lot of people think that as a result of that autistic people can’t be romantic or affectionate. They think that we can’t show empathy, have friends or be in a relationship. The author of the article, I mentioned, even doubted if autistic people can show interest in a conversation with their partner.

Autism is a spectrum
Some prejudices about autism might be right for some people, but it’s important to remember that autism is a spectrum. Not every autistic person has every symptom and the severity of each symptom might differ as well. I know there are autistic people, who struggle with relationships. But there are also autistic people, who don’t struggle. People like me. None of the prejudices mentioned above fit to me. So here I want to share my story.

My boyfriend
I met my boyfriend in the beginning of 2018. We became a couple in May and moved together in December. It all happened quite fast if I look back at it, but we just fit together so perfectly that it is great for us to live together. We enjoy every moment of it and are totally in love.

Getting to know each other
I first got to know my boyfriend, when I started studying at a university college. As I’m autistic, I can get a mentor at my uni. A mentor is mostly someone from a higher semester, who can help you structure your work. My boyfriend was in his fourth semester, when we met. We got along really well, and I told him so many things that weren’t actually related to my studies. I just felt like I could share anything with him.

At some point he added me on Facebook. I got quite confused by that. I think a lot in boxes, and he wasn’t in the friends box. I mean, how should he? He was hired and payed to help me. He was kind of working for me. That just didn’t fit together in my head. You can probably guess that I got even more confused, when he asked me, if we should meet and get a cup of coffee or lunch.

Autism and flirting
I’m not good at flirting. And I’m not good at noticing if someone is flirting with me either. So, I really didn’t get that my boyfriend was interested in me. He was tutoring our whole class, so whenever we were in the same classroom, he looked at me a lot and he was extremely nice and caring. But I just thought he wanted to be friends.

I guess, I did notice that he was flirting with me, when we met outside of uni for the first time. He was complementing me a lot and he was just so sweet. But I wasn’t even sure if we were friends. So how should I have known if he really was showing interest in me? I was really confused.

Being on a date without noticing it
When we went out for lunch, I thought that it was just us getting to know each other, maybe becoming friends. I didn’t think it was a date. But you have probably guessed by now that it was a date. So, after the date my boyfriend was on a study trip and we didn’t see each other for around two weeks. We were constantly texting. When I told my friends about him, everyone said that it definitely was a date. I was so confused that I asked my boyfriend directly. I know most people wouldn’t do that, but I really needed to know for sure, if he was interested in me. And he was. For him it was a date.

Becoming a couple
I was quite excited that he was interested in me. I really liked him as well. But I had a hard time letting him into my life. I really wanted to, but I don’t like changes. And it was a huge change to get into a relationship and have a boyfriend. So, we took things slowly. But when we finally got together, we were really in love.

Open and direct communication
I think our relation differs most from others when it comes to communication. We are extremely direct. Already after our first date my boyfriend started to talk to me about how he felt about me, so that I would know. Because I am bad at figuring it out myself. And I was always really opened about how ready I was to get into a relationship, so that he would know.

If my boyfriend has a bad day, I can’t always get why. I’m just not good at it. So, he’s used to telling me directly. For him it’s no problem and for me it means that I can actually be there for him.

Asking questions
Because of my autism there could be more misunderstandings in our relationship. For example, I’m not really good at reading facial expressions. So, I might think that my boyfriend is angry, but he is actually just tired. Really early in our relationship I started asking, when I wasn’t sure about, how my boyfriend felt. I could imagine that that actually helps us prevent conflicts even earlier than other couples. I also think that I got my boyfriend to be more open, because I am. Whenever he worries about something, he tells me right away as well.

A relationship is possible
When my boyfriend and I started dating we both researched online about autism and relationships. But the only things we could find were about how much autistic people were struggling with relationships. There were no success stories at all. So that’s why I wanted to share my story. I want you to know that it can actually be possible to be autistic and in a relationship.

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