Dating and Aspergers


photo credit from kevindooley on Flickr Creative Commons

It’s hard enough to date, period. But to date when you are a person on the autism spectrum can be even more challenging. As one person put it, “How do you know when a person is interested, friendly, or annoyed?”

That comes back to learning how to read body language and signals. Which, of course, is the crux of all social communication, but only at a new and different level. I am definitely not going to pretend to have the answers, because I don’t. What I do have is some starting points for conversation that I hope you, the reader, will add to. The tips, or starting points, of the journey of dating are taken from a couple of articles I found across the net.

One is by my friend out in California, Patricia Robinson, know as a coach for Aspergers. She wrote a nice article called Asperger’s and Dating: Getting Started Later in Life. The second article has what seems to be an anonymous author, but that author has put together quite a wealth of resources.

1.  Take stock of where you are.

Oftentimes, adults with Asperger’s, due to the challenges of navigating the social world, may have taken a while longer to develop socially.  You may feel defeated, or think that it’s just too difficult.  Well, you could just give up.  But then you would remain where you are, and you don’t necessarily want to do that, especially if you are reading this with interest right now.  By admitting that it’s difficult, and that you have a lot to learn, you are putting yourself in a position to reach out and receive help.

2.  Find places to connect. There are places to connect online with others who have Asperger’s Syndrome.  Alex Plank, a young man with Asperger’s, founded one of the largest online support communities for persons on the autism spectrum.  It’s called Wrong Planet. In fact, that’s how he met his girlfriend! (Here’s a clip of how he met his girlfriend–it’s the second video down on the page, around the 27 minute mark).  Once you feel comfortable connecting in that community, you might want to check out another dating forum online for people with Asperger’s syndrome, called Aspie Affection.

You may also find it helpful to connect offline with other adults who have Asperger’s Syndrome.  OASIS has links and resources to help you do this.  You can also, if you want to branch out beyond your local support group, get involved in groups that share your particular stes of values and/or interests.  I went to the site, Meetup.Com and typed in a search for Aspergers in Chicago, IL, which is my area, and came up with a list of 6 groups.  You may have interests in the Civil War, for example.  I typed in that term, and came up with 4 groups in the Chicago area.  I think you get the idea.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice.

You may find it helpful to go to a coach or a therapist who specializes in Asperger’s sydnrome to work through the aftermath of your outings.  Just because it’s hard or difficult the first time, does not mean that you will not succeed in the long term.  Remember: Learning to interact socially with others is just one of those emotional intelligence skills that you will be working on for a lifetime.  NT’s have to work on communication skills, and so do Aspies.

I am going to share a story about Albert Ellis, one of the founders of cognitive behavior therapy: as a young man, he was shy about meeting other women.  He figured that the more he practiced meeting women, the more comfortable he would become, so he asked out 100 women in a row!  By the time he had finished the process, it’s safe to say that he was no longer shy! As you practice, continue to learn.

Here are some resources from across the net that you may find to be helpful:

Aspergers and Dating: Getting Started Later In Life, written by Patricia Robinson, from Thriving on the Autism Spectrum blog.

How to Mingle is an interesting blog about developing dating social skills.

Here is another list of tips for dating.

Here are a couple of books that you will also find helpful to you in your continuous learning and personal development in this area:


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