What dating is like when you’re autistic and your partner isn’t.

Video by MWN

Amanda Tendler is on the spectrum, and here answers the question ‘How does it feel to date an autistic woman?‘…

It feels like a superhuman attempt at empathising with a neurology that is completely different than your own.

It feels lonely, frustrating, confusing, rigid, cold, hurtful, and heartbreaking.

It feels like experiencing life in the same way that the autistic person has experienced the world since they first tried to integrate: lonely, frustrating, confusing, rigid, cold, hurtful, and heartbreaking.

It takes a certain kind of partner to willingly want to engage in empathising with a neurology different than their own. It’s a superhuman effort. It is, in fact, impossible to achieve as we autistic folks well know. Approximation is the best you can get.

And it’s so, so, so difficult. One of my partners told me that he is able to get along without a hitch with virtually every single person he comes into contact with – except me. That’s part of what drew him to me – I’m an enigma. It’s enticing and novel in theory, but engaging with that on top of the day to day general relationship stuff everyone deals with? It gets old after a while.

Autistic people call it burnout because we have to engage with a different neurology any time we leave the house – guaranteed. I don’t think there is a name for it in partners of people on the spectrum because it’s more of a choice. They can find a partner with a similar neurology much more easily, statistically speaking.

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Listen: Is Atypical an accurate depiction of autism? (Post continues…)

So they begin to feel cold inside, cut off from their autistic partner. Why is she so different? Why won’t she act normal? Why does she have to be so picky? Why does she have to be so rigid? Why does she hyperfocus? Why does she do things other women don’t do? Why does she change behaviors so quickly and dramatically to match her thoughts? Why does she seem impervious to emotional pleas? Why does she seem so cold? Why does she seem like she doesn’t like me? Why does she seem like she doesn’t love me?

Imagine how you might act if those things are running through your mind.

Imagine how you might treat your partner if those are the feelings you have about them.

Imagine how you might try to change your partner and the frustration you’d feel once you realise it’d be easier to change the flow of a river.

It turns into a relationship where the neurotypical (NT) partner only feels like they’re getting what they need from the relationship when the other person is medicated. When the other person’s neurology is artificially closer to NT, the NT person feels like the relationship is more normal – closer to what they’ve experienced before. It’s satisfying.

"Imagine how you might try to change your partner and the frustration you’d feel once you realise it’d be easier to change the flow of a river." (Image: Getty)

It feels friendly, fulfilling, understandable, flexible, warm, enriching, and heart expanding.

It feels normal.

To the neurotypical partner.

Imagine how it feels to the autistic partner.

They’re fulfilling when they’re not themselves.

They’re lovable when they’re not themselves.

They’re desirable when they’re not themselves.

As an autistic woman I then have to examine not just how that feels to me personally, but how it might feel for my future children.

They’re fulfilling when they’re not themselves.

They’re lovable when they’re not themselves.

They’re desirable when they’re not themselves.

It feels lonely, frustrating, confusing, rigid, cold, hurtful, and heartbreaking.

Imagine if an autistic female partner’s differences were celebrated as strengths.

Imagine if you viewed yourself as abnormal as you view her.

Imagine if you viewed yourself as picky and rigid as you view her.

Imagine if you viewed her ability to hyperfocus as a strength in the same way she might view your ability to easily switch tasks as a strength.

Imagine if you viewed her differences in the same way she has been required since birth to view the differences in all other people.

Imagine how you might act if those things are running through your mind.

Imagine how you might treat your partner if those are the feelings you have about them.

Imagine how much different the experience would be if you adventured down that river rather than sacrificing yourself trying to change the direction it flows.

Imagine how it might feel to date an autistic woman then.

This post originally appeared on Quora and has been republished with full permission. Read the original post here.

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