Dating and Aspergers: Asking Someone Out on a Date

Dating Aspergers

Dating and Aspergers  is a big topic.  Not only does an individual with autism spectrum often wish to connect with others, but as s/he becomes a teenager, young adult, and adult, dating becomes more and more of an interest.  Yet, dating inevitably involves social rules, which of course are not spelled out.  Therefore, it may be helpful to go over some tips for asking someone out on a date.

autism-dating

I am giving credit for most of this article to Dr. Jed E. Baker, author of Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communications Problems.

First, initiate some common ground by starting a conversation.

Think of what you have in common with the person to find an initial question.  This may take some time, so don’t be in a rush: study and observe before jumping in too quickly. Once you start the ball rolling, ask follow up questions, and make the conversation about the other person, not just all about you.  Think about different types of questions (Who, What, Where, Why, How).  And don’t forget to introduce yourself.  Say, “By the way, my name is ____________, what’s your name?”

Second, keep in mind that you should initiate at least 3 conversations before you ask the person out.

For dating and Aspergers, Dr. Baker suggests 1-3 conversations, but I would be more conservative and say at least 3 conversations.  You don’t want to give the other person the idea that you are overly eager to go out with them.  There is something about a person being too direct or forceful that will send the other person running in the other direction.

Continue to build common ground.  You might ask, for example, “What are you studying?  What kind of work do you do?  What do you do for fun:”  You will want to listen for clues that the other person may be already dating someone, or in a serious relationship.  If that’s the case, you can continue to have a friendship, but realize that this person is already ‘taken.’

You may want to actually watch some movie clips of actors asking people out.  Look for the expression on the actor’s faces to see whether the person being asked out expresses interest: For example, if the person is not interested in going out with you, s/he may make excuses to leave, or may try to avoid you.  On the other hand, if interested, the other person may lean toward you, smile a lot, and seek to keep the conversation going with you.

Dating and Aspergers: Asking the Person Out

Once you have confidence that the other person is showing interest in you, or seems to want to continue the frienship (keep in mind that is is after at least 3 conversations), ask if the person would like to get together with you some time.  If the person says yes, ask where s/he would like to go: you could suggest a restaurant, a movie, going bowling, to a roller rink, to a park, or to any other place of interest.  If you have listened carefully enough during the first few conversations, you may have an idea of what the person’s interests are, and where s/he may enjoy going.

Dating and Aspergers: Going on the Date

Pick the person up, or plan to meet in a place that is convenient for her/him. You may want to bring a small gift, like some flowers, or a box of candy. When on the date, it’s usually good manners to pay for the meal, movie, or activity, unless the other person insists on paying her/his own way. (If the other person indicates that s/he prefers to pay, it may indicate that that person wants to keep the relationship with you on more of a friendship level, that they want to take the dating process “slow.” In this case, respect that person’s unspoken wishes, and let her/him pay for the meal, movie, or activity.)

During the Date

While on the date, you can compliment the other person on how nice s/he looks.  Continue to ask about other aspects of the other person’s life.  Without getting too obsessive, think about the other person as you would one of your special interests: you like to find out as much as you can about that special interest.  In the same way, treat this as social research about the other person: ask about the person’s interests, where s/he grew up, work or school, his/her family (how many brothers, sisters, etc).

Be careful not to go on too long about yourself and your interests.  People like it when you are generous with your listening: it shows them that you are interested in them.  It’s ok to talk about yourself and your interests, but try to ask twice as many questions as you talk about yourself.

photo credit: charles thompson

That’s a very brief guide to asking someone out on a date.  What have your experiences been?  Do you have any other suggestions I may have missed?

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 I'm Steve Borgman.  I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.
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  • julie

    This was some great information and social skill building as well… Thanks for sharing. :)

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com steveborgman

    Julie, so glad you enjoyed this post. It’s a tough subject to write about, because I know so many individuals have been discouraged with their experience of dating. However, I believe that, as many more people are educated about AS, they become more accepting of some of the differences that individuals with AS have. Therefore, they may be more able to overlook any social awkwardness, if the person is sincere in their efforts to communicate.

  • http://www.flirt1.net/dating.html dating

    that’s my opinion too! really well written article…i bookmarked your blog. greetings from germany

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com steveborgman

    glad you enjoyed it! I’m honored to have Germany included in my locations for readers for this blog. As you can guess from my name, I have some German in my background :)

  • Traci

    this is a very good article and reminded me of this great movie i just watched, Adam, and it made me think, wow! i would find somebody with asperger’s to be at the right level i personally connect

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com steveborgman

    Traci, thanks for your input. I have not had the opportunity to see the Adam film. I have watched clips of a similar movie called Mozart and the Whale. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for the Adam film.

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  • HoytFamayl

    DONT go to a movie on your first date.  This is a rule even among NTs.  Sitting there in parallel in the dark with somebody, in close proximity to them, is really awkward and strange and can be an anxiety triggering experience.  Stick strictly to things where you can stay engaged in conversation the whole time.  It sounds so innocuous, but really movies-on-a-first-date should be removed from all dating guides.  Btw though it sounds ridiculous and cliched – ART GALLERIES – they are an excellent icebreaker whether the art is good or bad.

  • http://www.stephenborgman.com Stephen Borgman

    Excellent point! Thanks for sharing the tip!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ SteveBorgman

     @HoytFamayl This is a great point.  As you said, this would apply to NT’s as well as Aspies.  Thanks for the excellent input/suggestion :)

  • gimpy

    i am wondering would going to the gym be considered a date or is that person using me in order to get free workouts i think that she finds me interesting but i am not totally sure we work at the same store so i see her often and it seems she likes to come talk to me when her shift is over although i did ask her to dinner and she accepted but then later backed out … so is that a sign she isnt interested or should i try to ask again ?

  • http://www.stephenborgman.com Stephen Borgman

    Hi, gimpy. I appreciate your question! There are two possibilities: a) she is interested in you or b) she is just using you. You’re smart to consider both options. I would test out both theories, without being too upset if it turns out she was “just using you.” On the one hand, if she may purely like you as a friend, in which case she is not necessarily using you. And she may need time to develop trust before moving to a deeper stage of friendship, like going out to dinner. So you can continue to get to know her as a friend, and then give it a couple of months before asking her out again. If she says no, you might want to inquire if she is mainly interested in friendship. If so, and you’re okay with that, you now have a friend! On the other hand, if she says yes, she may like you and trust you enough to move to the next level. If she is only using you for free workouts, you’ll notice that she only pays attention to you when it seems she has the opportunity to go to the gym with you. If that’s the case, you probably don’t want her friendship, since she only wants a free gym pass. I’ve also posted your question to a closed group of some of my colleagues to get more input. Hope that helps!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ SteveBorgman

    gimpyHi, gimpy. I appreciate your question! There are two possibilities: a) she is interested in you or b) she is just using you. You’re smart to consider both options. I would test out both theories, without being too upset if it turns out she was “just using you.” On the one hand, if she may purely like you as a friend, in which case she is not necessarily using you. And she may need time to develop trust before moving to a deeper stage of friendship, like going out to dinner. So you can continue to get to know her as a friend, and then give it a couple of months before asking her out again. If she says no, you might want to inquire if she is mainly interested in friendship. If so, and you’re okay with that, you now have a friend! On the other hand, if she says yes, she may like you and trust you enough to move to the next level. If she is only using you for free workouts, you’ll notice that she only pays attention to you when it seems she has the opportunity to go to the gym with you. If that’s the case, you probably don’t want her friendship, since she only wants a free gym pass. I’ve also posted your question to a closed group of some of my colleagues to get more input. Hope that helps!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ SteveBorgman

    gimpy And here’s another piece of advice from a female friend at LinkedIn – I wouldn’t consider going to the gym a date, but it could be considered “hanging out”. Try inviting to “go for coffee sometime” If she accepted your dinner date, that’s a very good sign, but of you add the word “sometime” it will indicate that she wants to go out with you, rather than just being interested in the activity at that time. 
    I hope that makes sense (dating rarely does!)

  • aspmom

    Someone has suggested a blind date for my son.  I’m like him in many ways and this doesn’t come naturally to us.  I would like to give him a “recipe” for calling the girl to arrange to meet. It’s everything after “Hi, I’m… ” that’s the difficult part, the small talk. Any advice would be appreciated!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ SteveBorgman

    aspmom You’ve just given me my idea for my next article.  I hope this article can help you in the meantime – http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_call_a_girl_for_a_date. Also, if the person who suggested the blind date knows the girl, that person may be able to tell you a bit about the girl and her interests. If your boy can then research some of those topics, it will give him something to talk to her about. You may also like this site, put together by someone with aspergers : http://www.improveyoursocialskills.com/

  • aspmom

    SteveBorgman aspmom Thanks so much! That looks like useful advice. I’ll look forward to the next article, too!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ SteveBorgman

    aspmom Thank you for taking the time to stop by.  I think you’d also like http://www.improveyoursocialskills.com/, designed by a young man with Aspergers.  His TED talk, which is on the main page, will really encourage both you and your son.