Dating and Aspergers

DatingAspergers 300x300 Dating and Aspergers

photo credit from kevindooley on Flickr Creative Commons

(I am re-posting this article, since I am running the Chicago Marathon to raise funds for HAVE Dreams on Sunday, which is when I usually post new content)

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 third 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:

The Asperger Love Guide: A Practical Guide for Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome to Seeking, Establishing and Maintaining Successful Relationships , by Genevieve Edmonds

The Guide to Dating for Teenagers With Asperger Syndrome, by Jeannie Uhlenkamp.

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About Stephen Borgman

 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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A very close friend of mine is on the Aspergers spectrum and very very happily married to a woman who is not. They work together to make it through, to communicate and comprimise. It is completely hopefull. Don't give up! Also, I wanted to point out that the link to the video says something about 27 minutes in but the videos you linked to max out at about 19 minutes. Where is the video YOU'RE talking about, I'd love to watch it!

Stephen Borgman

Gretta, thank you for the feedback about the link. I've edited the article, because I checked it out and it's the third video down the page, not the second. Thank you so much for pointing that out to me :)

Louisa Radice

My problem is twofold. Firstly, I take a very long time - typically months to feel attracted to someone. The eyes-meeting-across-a-crowded-room scenario is so not me. Nor have I ever fancied someone based on their online dating profile. Or is the idea of internet dating that you force yourself to go out with people you are not attracted to, on the offchance that it might, just might, eventually "click"? Secondly, I never know when people are attracted to me, so I presumably don't send off appropriate signals.

Stephen Borgman

Louisa, perhaps a better idea is to go to other Aspie support groups or to go to other events that are in sync with your interests (e.g., a book club, or a biking club, etc). You might want to attend the groups with a friend or family member who can help you understand the signals that others are giving off, so that you can get an accurate perception of whether someone is interested in you or not.

Stevie@Top Online Dating Sites

As Kathryn said, it is hard enough for even to more "seasoned" people to get into the dating game, let alone folks with Asperger’s Syndrome.

It is really great that there are group supports such as the one founded by Alex Plank and particularly loved your example of the shy person who set out to date 100 people, at the end of which he was no longer shy.

It's just a shame that he didn't find anyone amongst these 100 ladies!


Stephen Borgman

Stevie, thank you for your input, as I can see you're an expert on this topic. I truly hope some of my readers will read and benefit from the wealth of information on your site!
As for Dr. Albert Ellis, the gentleman who asked out 100 women, I don't know if it worked or not, but he did get married in his 80's, so he must have learned something :)

Kathryn Brown

Very informative article. You're right, dating is difficult for anyone and you don't need to have a disability to find this out.

Kathryn (Crystal Jigsaw, mum to 11 yo girl with autism)

Stephen Borgman

Kathryn, thank you very much for stopping by. Absolutely: both NT's and Aspies alike go through difficulties with dating: it's just that there are some other steps for Aspies to learn that NT's already have hard wired into their neurology: the good news is that it can be learned.

Hilario Orhenkowski

found this through google.. good stuff


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