24 thoughts on “Why Your Asperger’s-NT Relationship is Failing

  • April 24, 2019 at 5:32 am

    This is an interesting take on the differences between Aspies and neurotypicals. Of course such a summary by its very nature cannot capture all. I could add a few comments… It seems that this article paints neurotypicals who fall for Aspies as somehow damaged themselves. I don’t really see this as that helpful since it implies that to be attracted to an Aspie, someone must have some sort of deep, dark ‘issues.’ That does not do justice to either partner in this discussion.
    When stresses of finance and children or other major responsibilities enter the equation, it is difficult for any relationship. But it is absolutely necessary for the this kind of couple to understand one another. Getting a diagnosis can help a lot though, if the Aspie doesn’t have one (even an informal one) already. And then both partners need to continue the path to realising how their behaviours impact on the other; they must keep communicating; and they must keep being kind to one another. If meltdowns and anger build up, this will become toxic. Any relationship requires patience. This is just another one. Working hard at knowing each other’s limits is perhaps more necessary for this kind of relationship, though, as Aspies’ energy can be finely balanced and when they lose control, everyone will know about it. Neurotypicals often take years to learn the limits though. But it is worth it.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Hey. I’m not autistic, my partner is. We’ve been married for 13 years and have 2 kids, one autistic, one not autistic. Neither of us knew my partner was autistic when we got married. We found out a few years and one kid later. We’ve been through some difficult times, but we really like each other (in addition to loving each other) and we choose to stay together day by day because we each make the other’s life better. For us, ND/NT is normal. It is every day. It is functional. It is growing. It is giving. It is love.

    I wanted to like this piece but I really had a hard time with it. The relationship described here seems really dysfunctional, regardless of ASD status. For example, people who are consistently jealous in their personal relationships are not good relationship material. From the beginning, I felt like the ND player in this scenario was a really bad idea. I wasn’t surprised that they later became suspicious and accusatory. Also, I agree with the other commenter that this story makes it seem like non-aspies who are attracted to aspies must be damaged and/or unattractive. It also exoticizes aspies. My partner is not a mysterious, worldly wise enigma. He’s a good man who has a great sense of humor and endlessly interesting things to talk about. Yes, we’ve had our massive misunderstandings. It’s not easy being together, let alone being together ND/NT. We’ve worked hard on our relationship. I agree that there are few (read no) good resources on how to navigate the ND/NT divide in intimate relationships, so we’ve had to build our own playbook.
    It’s hard for me to read stories like this because it exoticizes and fetishizes what is, for us, just every day life. Think for a moment how this story would read if you switched out the ND and NT labels for “black” and “white.” As a mixed person who is the product of a mixed marriage, I can tell you that racially/culturally mixed marriages have a LOT in common with NT/ND relationships.

    I really appreciate what you’re trying to do here. If this story reflects the reality of the majority of NT/ND couples, then our community BADLY needs well-thought-out relationship strategies, self-help books, and interventions. I am all too aware that NT/ND divorce rates are through the roof and that many people cannot navigate the challenges of a neurologically mixed marriage. But still, as someone who lives in a loving, supportive, functional NT/ND relationship, I question many of the underlying assumptions here. Often, NT/ND relationships fail for the same reasons that NT/NT’s do. Because interpersonal communication is poor, and each partner struggles to clearly communicate their needs and hear their partner’s needs without also engaging in judgment and othering. Jealousy is dysfunction. Undercommunication is dysfunction. Having a “my way or the highway” attitude is dysfunction. A good NT/ND relationship is built on mutual acceptance, valuing, and support with constant effort made on both sides to nurture and sustain the relationship in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved. Good, situationally appropriate communication that conforms to NT/ND norms (rather than socially determined NT/NT expectations) is paramount here.

    Still, despite the above quibbles, I appreciate you trying to bring light to the challenges of NT/ND relationships. It is definitely its own thing!

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  • June 18, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for this article. I am a recently diagnosed Aspie who is trying to make sense of who I was pre diagnoses and who I am today. I am married to a NT who is very typical of the person described in your article. It is not working out, at all. In addition to the childhood abuse she has a neurological disorder that effects her memory and somewhat how she understands things. I knew this when we married, neither of us about my Asperger’s.
    We are separated now and I am reading everything I can find that is Asperger’s related. I need to know more about my strengths and weakness. The lack of good, helpful in-depth information is appalling.
    I have learned that I am getting older and some of the aspects of Asperger’s are getting more severe. I see that as discouraging, most information I can find is directed towards young people. Nothing is mentioned that there are changes to Asperger’s symptoms as a person ages.

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    • October 1, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      I second this post: divorced at 49 after another intense relationship, feeling like aging is making me more autistic.

      Reply
  • June 19, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    I liked the article, I liked the fact that someone finally said all other articles put the onus on the nt, they do and I can only do so much, I think it should be both partners who learn to communicate with each other . And first you gotta have 2 willing parties, But how you do that is beyond me.i haven’t been able to do so and it’s far from lack of trying or reading.

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  • July 23, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    This explains and makes sense of my hell nightmare 13 years in the making. My deepest gratitude

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  • September 3, 2019 at 10:24 am

    You can find free dating and friendship for people with ASD and Aspergers at https://www.asdating.org. Meet a like-minded partner who shares your special interests! We are dedicated to uniting those without real-life opportunities to meet their special one. ASDating.org is a friendly new portal where you can do this without feeling judged

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  • September 9, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    I can relate 🙁

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    • October 1, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      This article was like a synopsis of all of my relationships…

      Reply
  • November 26, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    “In part 2 of this series, differences in NT-ND identities as they apply to relationships are explored. Stay tuned.”

    I appreciated the post and the comments! Please write Part 2!
    Thank you,
    rb

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    • December 18, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      Please write part 2. My wife believes she may have asperger’s, and I believe she is right. She is going to be reading this, and I look forward to the next in the series.

      From my perspective, this perfectly described what I felt coming up to the climax of our 13 year marriage. I am hopeful we will work out, but I cannot be the only one trying. I love her so much, and she loves me, but at this point that is no longer enough.

      Reply
  • November 29, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Wow. In the “new” stage of things with a new partner. I’m NT he’s ASD. Almost cried because you nailed it from my personal NT perspective. I have known and have wonderful friendships with ASD women and have always got on very well with children and YAs that run the entire spectrum. This is not like anything I know how to handle.

    He recently confided his diagnosis after a very uncomfortable exchange between us and it all started clicking into place. I felt like an idiot for not figuring it out sooner, and it was a gut punch to realize how caught up i was in my own experience that I missed the signs.

    Now that I know, I have to throw all of my regular relationship intuition out the window and it is HARD. We’ve known each other for years and share some mutual close friendships with others but for many reasons never really personally connected until recently. And it went from 0 to mach 5 within a week. We’ve both confided that neither of us expected this at all, but we both want to see where this could go.

    My main concern now is that no matter what happens, I don’t want to hurt this man who has already bent or broken most of his “rules” about physical and emotional intimacy to be with me. I saw that even before he told me about his ASD.

    I look forward to more in this series and hope I can gain some insight that will help me navigate this experience.

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    4th month now , he’s not diagnosed but I have no doubts he’s Asperger. I’m holding on but it’s hard. He’s honest , doesn’t drink , workouts out , faithful … so many great traits. But the flat affect and anger he gets when I need validation gets exhausting.

    Reply
  • January 12, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Reading this made me so sad. My current boyfriend and I have been dating for about 5 months. He is NT and I’m an Aspie (female). We’re still in the honeymoon phase that the article describes, but some of the problems that it mentions have begun to emerge as well. I almost feel like I should break up with him now because I don’t ever want him to feel like the NT person in the article. I would honestly hate myself for making him feel that way.

    I desperately want to understand our differences so I can be a good girlfriend to him. I try to remember or write down specific things that upset him and why, so I can avoid making similar mistakes in the future. I feel like I should tell him that I’m an Aspie, but I’m terrified that he’ll misunderstand me. If there are any other Aspies or NTs out there who have made it work dating someone with different “wiring,” I’d love any advice that you’re willing to share. Does our relationship have to be a ticking time bomb?

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    • January 19, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      I genuinely wish my Aspie spouse was as nice as you. For advice from a successful marriage, YouTube search Brant & Carolyn Hansen Full Podcast Episode. Brant is very outspoken about his Aspbergers

      Reply
    • January 19, 2020 at 8:37 pm

      Girl TELL HIM! First of all there are two people in a relationship and he needs to be able to walk into anything with you with his eyes fully open and of his free will and choosing. It’s not all about you. If you’re still in the honeymoon phase and things are still good there’s no reason not to tell him right now. My guy waited until he had unfortunately overstepped a very personal and sensitive boundary. I was crushed, but I am an open and rational communicator so he knew he had overstepped without intending to and that’s when he told me. While it sucked in the moment, I’m glad it happened because we now BOTH communicate openly and as the NT I’m not freaking out when he doesn’t follow the NT dating playbook. It’s still not always easy but if he would have kept his asd from me I would have dumped him months ago and would have missed out on all of the good stuff that’s happened since. Bottom line- you don’t have the right to choose for him. Give him your true and authentic self, and let him give you his and THEN decide how to proceed. Best of luck to you!

      Reply
    • February 16, 2020 at 5:12 pm

      Oh definitely tell him. I dated someone who I now suspect has Aspergers, but since we never talked about it and I don’t think he’s ever considered it, I was just extremely confused with his treatment of me for the last half of our relationship. If he had known what it was and confided in me that he had Aspergers, I feel like it would have been much easier for me to not take things so personally. He became very aloof and I felt completely replaceable and invaluable to him. Our breakup was even confusing, he dumped me without dumping me, he basically told me about his life plans and there was no room in it for me which forced me to walk away. I could only picture him going on with his day like nothing was wrong when we broke up. I really loved him. If I was given information to view his actions through informative goggles, I think our relationship may have had a fighting chance… but instead he came across as a cold selfish jerk and I probably came across as a unappeasable, needy woman just like every other ex he has probably had.

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  • February 24, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    This post helps. Completely describes what I felt with my aspie ‘friend’. I thought we were dating for 6 months. He was basically like a boyfriend, but without intimacy. I thought he had intimacy issues as he hasn’t been with anyone for years. So I was very patient. I could feel he wants me, but he didn’t make moves at all. Then when I brought up the question about physical attraction he first told me he has no problem being more expressive about his feelings. Then he said what he have is so special, he would not risk ruining it as he wants me near for the rest of our lives, just not as lovers. Then he finally said he never seen me as a date. That he just feel like that towards me. And 2 days later we are back to holding hands and spending weekend together and talking from early morning, going out etc. I am soooooo confused. Could someone please help. Did I push him with my question? Does he actually mean he is not interested in me? I’ve never felt this confused. I don’t know what to do.

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  • April 17, 2020 at 1:42 am

    This will probably be the strangest reply here. I met an amazing man in an unusual dating site. One for those of us who love heavy metal music. I had some doubts since it is a rather long distance relationship. Since he will not facetime or skype. Well, in the world of digital love that signals a catfish. So, I posted on a site for help to be sure he is who he says he is. Everyone kept saying if he does this or that he is a catfish. But I kept posting no he does not do that he does this and so on.This went on for 3 days and everyone saying dump him. Out of the blue I got messaged by someone who happens to live in his country, Australia. But, she said to give her a more precise description of his behaviors. So I did. She stated she was a OT that specialized in Autisim. She said he is not a catfish he is autistic and probably Aspergers. He also has a severely autistic son. Suddenly, everything fell into place. I am an RN and it never dawned on me till then. We have everything in common to the point of it being bizarre. He communicates his feelings through sending me music videos. The other night when I told him he was the only man in my heart he sent me the Warrant video of the song Blind Faith.I cried for hours. That was before I met the OT. And yes, I am terribly damaged. Many years of abuse at the hands of men. Now she is helping me communicate in a different way. And he still won’t video chat but he sends lots of photos of his everyday life. It will be a slow process. Oh, and she also works for the government and did check him out. He is who he says he is. Not a catfish. Just someone who loves differently. I am cool with that. Now we see where this goes.

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  • April 22, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    I am to the point of leaving my aspie bf of three years. I feel like I am alone in the relationship and doubt I will ever have a relationship again after 3 years of his aloof behavior, non communication, immaturity, anger, and his ability to ghost without any regrets. He acts superficial, sarcastic and mean. He also tried to accuse me of things when he feels jealous or insecure. I realized it was making me sick and that it is better to move on. I used to think we would be friends but decided there is no point. It has gotten so toxic and creepy and he refuses to get help.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 3:06 am

      Would you please email me? You just described my current situation, I would like to ask you a few questions

      Cardassiands9@hotmail.com

      Reply
  • June 24, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    OMG, it’s like someone wrote about my life.
    I was diagnosed recently and just explains everything.
    right now I am struggling with the concept of what is Aspie behaviour and what is just an excuse that I am Aspie.
    The other issue is that I feel like I am always wearing a mask and as I get older this mask makes me more and more tired, plus why should I have to change me.
    Anyway just my 2 cents.

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  • June 30, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    9 years relationship. Lived together 7 years. His wife and 2 kids live across the road. They never divorced although seperated 10 years ago. Eldest diagnosed with aspergers 4years ago and he was recognised as having aspergers too. He started a masters just after and we got a dog and i joked to a friend my sexlife is over now….. i didnt realise that would be my truth. Added 2 more rescue dogs and im invisible. Last year i pleaded for him to go to my grandmothers funeral for me and he never bothered show up as he was busy…. (football). We dont have a social life, he sleeps with the dogs in his arms and i have to beg for a hug. Im spiralling depression, fibromyalgia and collitis ending up in hospital. His response was a text telling me we arent working out and a refusal to tallk to me since. Im recouperating in a friends house. Ive had zero contact from him. Hes planning his masters and i am broke, jobless, homeless and dogless and apparently single. He was my first love at 18 we dated for a few months and i got ill and broke up. We got together 25 years later. I dont even know how to get to a next step. I feel broken and a shadow of the person i was. Any of my interests were laughed at and all my friends were wasters…… is it still abuse when they are aspies?

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  • July 25, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    I am astonished at how accurately you depicted my relationship with my ND boyfriend of two years. For example, this is what I journaled two months into the relationship:
    “the first time he and I were intimate was unlike anything I’d experienced before…I completely abandoned myself…without feeling self-conscious, without being conscious. It’s quite beautiful and tender…And it doesn’t require any effort.”
    “What I love about X. His sense of humor…And his laugh. His quiet voice when he is expressing care and concern…his insight and experiences…our shared history . the way he uses language, it’s almost poetic. His genious and passion for helping others…”

    12 months into relationship:
    “I…found out you have …created distractions to hurt and confuse me and using fear to control [me]. ” I had no idea you had the capacity to be so cruel”.

    But what really resonated with me was what I experienced just yesterday. Being met with the flatest, coldest, darkest eyes that were once filled with joy and wonder.

    I think I, we, did indeed fail disastrously.
    However, reading your article helped immensely by bringing understanding and a sense of peace about what happened between two good people, an NT and ND who did love each other once.

    Reply
 

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