ANONYMOUS POST: “I think my new man has Aspergers. Can I ever be happy in a relationship with him?”

” A little while ago, I met and fallen in love with a man who is very kind, intelligent and successful. On the surface we have a lot in common ( we love sport, (golf,) travel and eating out in restaurants,) but as the 18 months we’ve been together has gone on, I have begin to suspect that he has undiagnosed Aspergers. He is very regimented in his habits and very emotionally unforthcoming. He will never consider me or my wishes without being prompted. ( If I do prompt him he will immediately do as I ask.) This stretches even to making a cup of tea. It is as if he just doesn’t consider me. It’s not that he is unkind or selfish – he isn’t, he just doesn’t seem to think in what I consider a normal way for a man to behave with a person he says he loves. I started off thinking that the reason he didn’t behave like all my other boyfriends or my ex-husband did, was because he has been single his entire life and was just not used to having to think for someone else, but I’m beginning to suspect that it is something more entrenched than that. I don’t think he can change. He is quite quiet and withdrawn and quite awkward socially as well. He doesn’t like being with my friends and is much happier doing exactly what he has always done in the way he has always done it. Nothing between us feels spontaneous or joyous. But he is also one of the most interesting, kind and clever people I have ever met, and I believe he loves me. He is never critical, never mean, never jealous around me. I don’t know though, whether I can live with someone like this. Can I ask, please, if it is OK, if anyone in the Village is married or in a relationship with someone who has Asperger’s or if anyone with Asperger’s themselves, can help me? I feel like I just don’t know if things can ever change. Or how to really feel connected and entirely comfortable. I would call myself an extroverted, straightforward, kind of sporty person. I am, I suppose, a bit of a jock. I love playing a round of golf, going for a drink and a laugh at the club house, watching sport with my friends, going out to pubs and that sort of thing. I just don’t know if I can ever, really, be myself with him and much as I love him, I can’t help wondering what our life is going to be like together long term. “


  • Jane Plit says:

    The answer to this is, I think, so highly personal. First let me say, not entirely flippantly, that I think this is way more common than people realise, and I think a lot of people are high functioning, with varying degrees of Asbergers. If you understand where your partner is coming from, a big part of the battle is won. If your expectations are adjusted to take into account his differences, from your own, you will be less inclined to be disappointed. It’s like having a relationship with someone who speaks a different language. It can work, but there are times that you may feel frustrated…. The big question is, does the good out weigh the bad?

    • Bibi says:

      I have been married to a wonderful man for 25 years and when our son was diagnosed with Aspergers I realised that that was what it was … so is my husband. I battle, I really try to keep saying to myself that he is wired differently, that the fact that he loves me and is loyal should be enough, but no spontaneous romantic gestures or outings is sometimes getting to me.

      He basically does not think of me as soon as I am not in his direct vicinity. No random calls, flowers, presents, messages – nothing. But he loves me, loves our kids, would die for me. He has no need for close friends, enjoys spending time with other people (like once a year with each person is enough) sometimes, will enjoy outings organised by me well enough, but won’t think of organising anyone himself unless being specifically asked to do so. Comes across incredibly self-fish to NT people (neurotypical), but is very generous when anyone needs his help and is asked for help.

      Will go and sleep when tired, even when we have visitors, enjoy & plans his own activities without checking what my plans are (big problem when kids were little). Sulks when he doesn’t get his way or not enough attention from me, as I am his anchor and probably the only person he needs approval from. Doesn’t like his routine broken, up and till not being able to get the same soap he has used for 15 years etc.

      Is it enough … I think it depends on what you want and whether you can keep reminding yourself that he is wired differently and does not do any of it to hurt you on purpose. It might work to tell him how important certain gestures are to you and ask him to diarise “random” surprises for you, but it won’t last long term. He will forget.

      You can try explaining to him why being social and sporty is so important to you and ask him to take part sometimes. You might be the one that feels he should remember, he won’t – only if it is important to him, will he.

      YOU might mind that he doesn’t mind you going out – he doesn’t – he looks forward to those times he can be himself and play computer games without having to talk or do what you want. He might do the sporty part as it is an individual sport – be prepared for total obsession with it though. He might buy the best equipment, train the hardest – I found there is no halfway. All or nothing.

      It is not an easy relationship but adjusting your expectations is the only way. Lots of therapy has gotten me to a point to realise he won’t change (therapists told me so themselves). It is me that has accept him. Good luck.

  • Mama B says:

    Google INTJ personality types, they often get labelled as aspergers. It can be such an eye opener if you find he falls into this type as they make up just 2% of the population. They are very unique and can make wonderful partners when you accept and understand them, They are so often misunderstood and find relationships such a challenge. – Good Luck

  • I dated a man with Aspergers for a year. Whilst Mark was one of the cleverest men I had ever met, he didn’t want to socialize with my friends, he was awkward in many situations and also didn’t have the ability to be thoughtful or spontaneous. Similar to your situation, if I asked him to do something, he did it straight away, but would never think of doing anything thoughtful himself. It took me a long time to try and get used to his ways and try and understand that he had a “condition” that didn’t allow him to be loving towards me or even give me a spontaneous hug. On a intelligence level, I loved that he knew so much about so many things, but the emotional side was incredibly important to me too and this is what finally ended our relationship. I just knew I couldn’t live without all the little loving parts that any healthy relationship should have. So, it’s not really up to me to give you advice, as you know in your heart what makes you happy and what you are prepared to sacrifice or not. I just wanted to share my experience with you. I eventually met someone else and we have been very happily married for 10 years. Touch, fun, romance and spontaneity are very important to me, so I knew I didn’t want to live without them. It just wasn’t possible with Mark, through no fault of his own.

  • Anonymous says:

    While my husband has never had or needed any assessment or diagnosis, I would describe him as having a number of similar personality traits to someone with aspergers. And I feel like I could write a book answering your question.
    Much as you’ve said, my husband is also very kind, intelligent and successful. But really not interested in socialising or small talk. and yes, not good at thinking to offer to make a cup of tea.

    Can he change? I don’t think you can really change those deeper personality traits, but I do think they can be self-monitored – and I think to be successful professionally, your partner will probably already be doing that to some degree.

    To me the most important thing is to be open and honest about how you are feeling. If you want the relationship to last, I think it’s very important that you have ongoing conversations about what you want, and how each other’s actions make you feel.
    Have conversations (at a time when you’re feeling calm!) about how you are sometimes disappointed that he doesn’t want to spend time with your friends, and importantly, listen to his answers on why he feels he is this way. And have those conversations NOW, before your resentment can fester.

    You might find you are able to come to a compromise; eg. you won’t go out EVERY opportunity, but when you do meet friends at a pub, it’s ok for him to sit in a corner and not be constantly social – and in turn he needs to be happy for you to leave him in that corner and enjoy being social with your friends.

    At the same time, i’ve found it’s important to also know that it’s ok for you to sometimes say “tonight it’s especially important to me that you make a little more effort to be part of this group – because it’s my best friend’s birthday, or because we’re going out with Aunt Petunia and she is deserving of respect and courtesy.” My experience is that what I view as “be nice to someone even if you don’t feel in the mood”, my husband might view as being fake – but once explained that it’s important to me, he has learnt to try harder.

    And I’ve learnt that Friday night is better suited to small groups, that after a busy week he doesn’t have “social reserves” to go straight from work to being with a large group.

    But you do also have to look at whether the relationship is important enough to you to do the work and to make the compromises? I love my husband to the moon and back, and when it’s the 2 of us, or with our kids or close friends, he is amazing and fun-filled and genuine, and there’s no one else I would prefer to spend my time with.

    (I think my book is on track haha, this is very lengthy!)

    One thing that has really worked for us, is that my husband has found kindred spirits in our circle of friends. I’ve been at many gathering where my husband has been in a corner chatting to his one mate for most of the evening, because that mate is just as happy to not be a social butterfly. (I’ve written this anonymously because my husband probably has some professional contacts who are on this group – but I wouldn’t be surprised if this mate’s wife guesses that this is me 😀 )

  • Kerry says:

    Don’t expect him to change. Even if he does, it will likely be at the cost of his health, mental and physical, because he’s not designed that way and pretending takes its toll, even if he wants to for your sake. In the long run it’s kinder to both of you to end it unless you can accept him being different from you. It might help to bear in mind that he has had to accept you’re different from him, too. Whenever you ask him to behave a way that doesn’t come naturally to him, he complies. He’s already trying. He loves you; it’s just you don’t recognise his love language. I wish you both luck.

  • the village says:

    This response came in anonymously: ” “You are unhappy that there is no initiation or intuition from him as to what you may want or need. But when you ask he does what you ask. Do you realise how the majority of us talk repeatedly and ask and our requests are not met? You have probably accurately diagnosed him with Aspergers. But do you realise that he is as normal in his needs as you are in yours? You are unhappy that he is “unable to socialise” with your friends in the way you require. Have you ever asked him how he wants to socialise? He loves you. He treats you with respect. He listens to what you ask of him. And responds. He stimilates you intellectually. Your words. Do you realise that your normal expectations may be the opposite of his? Is there a reason why you feel he needs to adjust to your needs more than you need to adjust to his? I think thats the crux. We are all on some spectrum. We are all complicated. Its called acceptance and compromise. Regardless of the label. Dont compare him to. Dont crit him vs your previous experiences. Nor crit his lack of previous relationships. Do you value his good qualities? Yes or no. Its up to you whats important to you. All I ask is that you dont break his heart. All he has done is try to please you. And he loves you. Aspies love hugely. And they hurt
    more than most. It is difficult to be punished for being brighter than most and trying to please all the time so you face super success with super low self esteem. Your decision. But for me its a no brainer.”

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