Think of this date as a first step. Dating is a process and it takes time. Sure, you’d like to find instant chemistry, mutual attraction, and common interests. That’s the ideal. But there are many other possible outcomes. If you approach the situation with curiosity rather than rigid expectations, you’ll be less likely to be disappointed.
Sharon Romm, author
My “First Date” Revealed
I was 18 years old when I saw her: my first crush in the United States!
I’ll call her Jane.
Having grown up in Brazil, South America, in a remote part of the Amazon, suffice it to say that I had not had much experience in dating.
So here I am at college for the first time, and I was struck by the beauty of my fellow freshman.
So, I figured I would do what all college kids do at this time of life, right? I would ask her out!
Well, she said yes!
A good start, right?
She showed up for the date at our dormitory lounge with three of her friends. So they all came along, and I treated all of them.
I didn’t think anything of it.
And I kept asking her out! Why did I not see the signals? She was friendly, she told me I was a nice guy, she even said yes.
But I should have taken the hint on that first date. She liked me as an acquaintance, and we could even have possibly been potential friends, but she did not want to date me.
I share this awkward experience with you to illustrate some aspects of dating and Aspergers.
In the Untold Friendship Code Revealed, I shared Michelle Garcia Winner and Dr. Pam Crooke’s insights into the levels of friendship known as the Friendship Pyramid.
I encourage you to re-read that article, since most of these Dating Tips come out of that foundational article.
Aspergers Dating Tips
Don’t count on the Law of Attraction
In other words, “love at first sight”, where two people see each other for the first time and immediately fall in love is extremely rare. So, if you are thinking about the friendship pyramid, someone you just say “hi” to and smile to is not someone who you would ask, “Will you be my girlfriend? (or boyfriend)?”
Think of two acquaintances you’d like to get to know better
If you have mastered the art of starting a conversation, and have idenitifed acquaintances who seem like they could be good friends, think about what actions you can take to help your relationship with that person move to the next level.
Figure out where your relationship with that person is, and some practical steps you can take to move that relationship to the next natural level.
You’ll want to read my tips under each level of friendship for ideas as to how you can naturally move from friendly greetings, to acquaintance, to possible friendship, to evolving friendship, and even to bonded friendship. You’ll also want to read some of these ideas for asking a person out on a date.
As challenging as it may be, learn to “read the signals” from the other person
Are they truly interested in spending time with you? If so, great!
But if you are not careful, you could find out that this person may be “using” you for your money, or for car rides, for example. One example in Ms. Winner’s book involved a young man in college who thought a girl was his best friend. However, once he reviewed the sequence of friendship as outlined in the friendship pyramid, he started to realize that she only called him to talk about getting a ride, or to ask him for money to buy lunch at the cafeteria. Once they were at the cafeteria, she would leave him and go sit with her friends. When this realization sank in, he became pretty angry. But he learned!
Just because the other person is not interested, does not mean dating is over!
Dating is a process. As painful as it may be to learn that another person is not interested in a deeper level of friendship, it’s still producing growth for you. You may end up being acquaintances or just good friends with the person you asked out. Continue to learn about relationships, friendships, and communicating. Keep trying. Just like with anything else, dating is a skill that takes time to develop.
Learn about dating from fellow Aspies who have been there
WrongPlanet is a great forum in which to learn from other Aspies what does and does not work in the world of dating. There are helpful articles and posts there to help you increase your dating point of reference. Here’s a search link for the topic of dating (from Wrong Planet) that brought up several helpful posts and articles.
Consider talking to a coach who can help you
Well, I made it through college with a few more dating experiences. I never did form a serious dating relationship. In fact, I once thought I was being “nice” by asking a girl out because it seemed she did not get asked out much. When the time came for us to meet at our agreed upon location, she never showed up!
But I did not give up! I kept on asking girls out, kept on making mistakes, kept on mis-reading signals, but as I got to know United States culture better, and got to know women better, I slowly became better at becoming a friend, and was able to let the dating happen more naturally.
Over the course of time, I met my now wife, and the rest is history.
This is only my story. For some of you, it may be easier. For some of you it may a lot more difficult. The best thing you can do is pursue your own personal growth, gain social thinking skills and friendship skills, get coaching, and keep trying.
I wish you all the best on your endeavors. And let me know how things go along the way
photo credit: Banjo Brown
[wpp keyword="Autistics' Guide to Dating"]
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