This could be compared to speaking a different language, although that analogy would imply that individuals with AS could at least “speak” to others with the condition, when in fact AS manifests itself so differently from person to person that we are generally as unable to relate to each other as we are with the non-AS population.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.Often a misconception is that people on the spectrum want to only date others who are on the spectrum. We just want to find someone we connect with and can be ourselves with.We aren’t mind readers so tell us when we may be going too fast or too slow.This adversely affects the important quality of empathy, which is vital to a successful and fulfilling relationship.People involved in relationships with a mindblind partner report feeling invalidated, unsupported, unheard, unknown and uncared for.
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.We will respect you even more for being honest with us, as people on the spectrum tend to be some of the most authentic people you will ever meet. I once went on a date and within the first 5 minutes she was already talking about how ‘Rain Man’ was her favorite movie… After we’ve been together for a while and decisions may arise, whether it be something small like trying a new restaurant or something bigger such as getting married or moving in together, understand that transitions can often be difficult at first for us to comprehend.Some people on the spectrum tend to fall on the line of having an ‘invisible disability.’ That means that if we are on a date, you may not see any characteristics of autism on the surface, but it doesn’t mean we’re not on the spectrum. This isn’t different for any human being on this planet.Similarly, many of the practices that are generally regarded as “obvious” parts of dating feel like intimidatingly strange concepts to us, such as “flirting” and “bantering,” creating an intangible “chemistry,” or spacing out how often you call, text, e-mail, and/or suggest hanging out with a dating prospect.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. This could be compared to speaking a different language, although that analogy would imply that individuals with AS could at least “speak” to others with the condition, when in fact AS manifests itself so differently from person to person that we are generally as unable to relate to each other as we are with the non-AS population.