Anxiety in the Asperger’s/Autism Marriage: It Cuts Both Ways

couple having communication issuesIf you are what is commonly referred to as a “neurotypical” spouse of a person who is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, you are probably accustomed to anxiety. I don’t mean to imply that you enjoy it, but I suspect you are accustomed to walking the line between your initial reaction to a conversation, for example, and the way you may come to sort it out afterward.

It usually falls to the neurotypical spouse to make these distinctions, because he or she is the person who has the capability of doing so. This derives from the differences between the brains of the partners.

You may know that Asperger’s (AS)/high-functioning autism (HFA) is a structural, neurological condition and not a mental illness. This is of great significance because there is always risk of shame around a psychiatric diagnosis. If it is clear to you and to your partner that this is not a mental illness, you will be able to manage it more readily. Secondly, you may realize that if you attribute intent to something your AS/HFA spouse said or did based on your assumptions about what you might have said or done in similar circumstances, you are winding down the wrong path.

This error of attribution, natural as it may feel at the time, is one of the sources of the anxiety you experience, but there is seldom intent to inflict pain in your life on the part of your AS/HFA spouse. There is a difference in the way your brains process information, and you are the one most capable of seeing and understanding these differences; you are neurotypical. But your spouse is not setting out to confound you, regardless of how frustrating conversational and situational conflicts may feel to you.

Educating yourself about AS/HFA is an excellent place to start. You can learn about the neurological differences. You can learn about the difficulties your spouse has faced his/her entire life in trying to figure out social protocols and nonverbal cues for meaning in interpersonal communication. You can begin to understand that there is nothing wrong with you, and that your expectations have been normal and natural; they simply haven’t been met because your spouse is unable to meet them. You can also learn means of expressing your thoughts that are less likely to cause confusion.

For example, if you bear in mind that nearly 70% of interpersonal communication is nonverbal, and that your AS/HFA spouse is very literal in his/her approach to communication, you can quickly see the limits. And even that is compromised by nonliteral forms of speech, such as metaphor, analogy, or figure of speech, all of which can be extremely difficult to discern and comprehend for a person on the autism spectrum.

Tony Attwood is an Australia-based clinical psychologist who has made the study of AS/HFA his life’s work. I recommend his works for anyone setting out on the path of understanding this diagnosis.

Now I’d like to return to the first point regarding your anxiety. It is important to acknowledge your anxiety and frustration so that you don’t fall into the trap of assigning blame where there is none, neither on your spouse’s part nor on your own. Understanding AS/HFA from a clinical standpoint is an excellent first step.

The second step I recommend is couples counseling with a psychotherapist who understands both the world of the individual with AS/HFA and the world of the spouse. Be mindful of this as you speak with potential counselors, because you don’t want to find yourself in a situation in which one side or the other is advocated and the remaining partner is expected to do all the adapting.

Finally, I would like to point out that in my clinical experience, nearly every individual I have met with AS/FHA experiences constant anxiety often coupled with depression, due to the complex demands of coping with a world that seems as inscrutable to them as the world of the person with AS/HFA may seem to be to you.

A final word of counsel: be kind to each other. Remember that bridges can be built between you and your spouse with the help of a talented counselor who understands what lies on both sides.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • granger


    August 21st, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    I honestly don’t think that I would be cut out for a relationship like this. It takes a very special person to walk that line all of the time and quite frankly I know that I would not have the patience to do that.

  • Samantha


    October 30th, 2016 at 10:16 AM

    I do not believe that anyone is “cut out” to deal with this. As with anything else in life, some of us educate ourselves and maybe learn to cope. I have spent 21 years with someone who is HFA with other personality disorder “add ons”. For over half that time, I believed him when he insisted the problem was me. It was my problem only because I was there. Still am. Learning about this has not helped me in the short term. All hope is gone. I feel like I’m too old to start over and so now am here with someone who will never, ever be able to relate to me in a satisfying way. I wish information about HFA had come to me 21 years ago. I would say to anyone young enough and with the resources to do so, get out now. It’s not going to get substantially better.

  • zazu


    December 15th, 2016 at 4:32 AM

    i don’t like when people make such general recommendations.
    If that doesn’t work for you, it may work for others.
    I personally think socially needy people are a hassle, overbearing and demanding.
    I understand people needs are different, and yours are different from mine, but what you’re saying just add to the stigma, it’s like a sighted person who spent a lifetime with someone blind and expecting them to see the beauty of flowers they are arranging and putting for them everyday.

  • Beth


    December 19th, 2016 at 12:35 AM

    Well, this Aspy person who’s a 2nd year law student would disagree with you guys. Do I have challenges? Yes. But my fiance and I deal with them. It does stress her out some, but it also comes with some wonderful benefits. Not everything about High Functioning Asperger’s is bad.

  • Autumn R

    Autumn R

    January 18th, 2018 at 7:12 AM

    I am sorry for you and understand because I am in the same boat. :-( Good guys….just don’t know how to connect emotionally and therefore we feel alone and starved. But at this stage in my 50s where would I go? To recreate myself and start all over again would be epic.

  • Etta


    August 21st, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    that is a whole new learning curve if you are married to someone or in a committed relationship with someone with Aspergers or who is on the spectrum. this is a whole new set of responsibilities and coping skills that you must undertake in order to keep this typ of relationship viable especially when you are neurotypical and your spouse is not. not saying that this is not doable, because i am sure that there are many relationships out there like this which are very successful, but i am saying that it would be a totally different experience than any relationship that you have probably ever been in before.

  • Jayme


    August 22nd, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    The more that you are willing to educate yourself about this and what your significant other has lived with in the past, I think that you will be better suited to help him or her through those future challenges when they arise.

    If you really don’t know anything about being on the autism spectrum, you could be pretty shocked when certain situations arise and your partner exhibits behavior that you might think is a little out of the ordinary.

    Well that could be true for you but for him or her this could be their normal and you need to learn how to anticipate those things and cope.

  • Solomon


    September 9th, 2018 at 8:49 AM

    I was a Psychologist for 20 years. Unfortunately, my training never involved learning about Asperger’s. Now I find myself in a relationship with a women who has ASD and her son (also ASD). I can tell you that life is terrible with them. There is no family life. All their energy goes into being with others out in the world. For these two, home is for recharging the batteries, and I am the recharger. It is a lonely, depressing experience. And what galls me is when I read the nonsense that some Psychologists talk about – they have no idea what it is like to live with people of the spectrum. The textbook is great for the classroom, but woefully inadequate for the real world. I am now a firm believer in Neurotribes and accept that one can only have the best life with one’s own neurotribe. I realise this is a strong opinion, but it is borne of decades of clinical practice and decades of living outside my neurotribe. I hope this helps people to look in the right places for happiness.

  • Shannon


    September 9th, 2018 at 10:04 AM

    Wow! Thanks for posting. I understand every individual is just that – an individual. The dynamics of a relationship of two individuals even more complex….. especially with contributing factors of both NT folks and Hfa/Aspie folks.

  • Solomon


    September 9th, 2018 at 5:52 PM

    Shannon, I think your responses are idealistic and ill-informed. What I usually find is that NT’s want MORE life – more music, more song, more colour, more interaction, more interest…. MORE.. .. alternatively ASPIES want LESS…. they want routine, they want simple, they want predictable. ….. And it is all a matter of biology….they can’t handle the complexity and stimulation that NT’s thrive on. SO, an NT living is an aspie world is often a devestating experience. In fact, Prof Attwood, the world renowned ASD expert, has said that living with Aspies causes mental illness in NTs – the phrase Cassandra Complex has been mentioned… For the sake of your clients sanity I suggest you take off you rose colored glasses and see the reality of things..

  • Sarah Swenson

    Sarah Swenson

    August 22nd, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I agree with the comments from Granger, Etta, and Jayme. It takes patience, willingness to educate yourself (and openness in your partner to this education as well), and a strong, mutual desire to keep the relationship solid in order to move forward in an AS/HFA-NT marriage. For some, it is possible; for others, it is not. It depends on the individuals and the situation, as each marriage and its conditions are unique, as I am certain everyone knows.

  • Pressley


    August 22nd, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    There is still such a lack of understanding overall about autism that I am surprised to know that there are so many who have this who are actually able to hold down relationships. I am guessing that a lot of that has to do with just how profound this is for the person who has it but I am always glad to read things when you see that there are those who are still able to maintain some semblance of normalcy in their lives.

  • LaDonna


    August 23rd, 2014 at 5:28 AM

    Hopefully you would have known that this kind of anxiety was a possibility before signing on to marry this person, so what is getting so much worse now that you can’t deal with it? I am not sure that this would be about the autism but just the seeming ways that any marriage can break down in the face of loss of communication.

  • Padgett B.

    Padgett B.

    August 25th, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Oh yeah this definitely would be a marriage that will take a whole lot of work, because how you think about things and process them will be absolutely one hundred percet different from that of your spouse.

  • lila


    August 28th, 2014 at 4:00 AM

    I agree that this can all be about how you view this (do you see it as a mental illness or an opportunity to learn something about an issue that you have not understood in the past?). Your spouse will know how you think about it too and that will probably have a huge part to do with how they tend to relate to you on a daily basis.

  • Jordy


    August 29th, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    This would be a huge leap of faith to get involved with a person with Aspergers.

    I am sure that there are different ranges of how one perosn or another is affected by it, but for me it just seems that there would be a whole lot of obstaacles that have to be conquered in addition to the regular relationship hurdles that we all have to live with.

  • Sarah Swenson

    Sarah Swenson

    August 30th, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    All the comments above support the idea that all intimate relationships are complicated, but the AS/NT relationship is even more so. To answer the point that LaDonna makes, however, I would suggest that it is most often not until after a couple is married that the traits of AS/HFA begin to emerge, especially in instances where there is no official diagnosis. It comes as a great surprise to the NT spouse, who more likely than not will assume she (for it is most often the wife who is the NT spouse) has done something wrong, or, worse, that there is something wrong with her. This is a painful and difficult situation. Counseling can be very helpful, particularly with a therapist who understands both the NT and the AS/HFA perspective.

  • Estelle


    December 21st, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    I believe my spouse has AS though he has not been diagnosed. He was able to “pretend” to be someone else until we got married (been married 10 years, 5 of which he was on deployment off & on). Slowly but surely over time things have gotten worse. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. There is no emotional connection , no intimacy, he takes everything I say wrong ! I can’t get any affection or empathy …. I come towards him & he is extremely uncomfortable. He absolutely does nothing social & has no friends. Plays video games incessantly (he does work FT). This is one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. I would tell any woman if you discern this in your mate prior to marrying , be prepared for a lot of hurt feelings & loneliness.

  • Savvy


    August 5th, 2018 at 3:15 AM

    The words of your post could have come out of my mouth. I was so in love with my aspie yet he ended up turning on me saying I am self centred! No intimacy, empathy or affection. Everything was about him so total projection. Add to this his painful childhood (foster care) plus most women leaving him makes him very damaged. His radar was so attuned to any & all incoming missiles, I was literally walking on eggshells. Same as you he was wonderful in the beginning & seemed like the sweetest, kindest & intelligent man on the planet but slowly the real him emerged. I was in therapy but he made me feel so worthless I had to leave.

  • Laura B

    Laura B

    June 6th, 2016 at 6:06 PM

    You are so right. My husband didn’t get diagnosed until he was 38 years old after “slipping through the cracks” his whole life, being functional enough to seem “normal”, but having some psychological problems with anxiety and depression. His AS was difficult to diagnose because he had adapted in certain ways that made his AS less obvious. Now that he has been diagnosed, 13 years into our marriage, difficulties have become greater and what was once effortless is not so effortless anymore. Anyone reading about AS/NT relationships should always remember that no two individuals on the autism spectrum are the same, so it is dangerous to generalize. For example, sexual issues do not always involve the AS individual avoiding touch and intimacy. There are important differences from individual to individual.



    September 2nd, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Hi. Very informative. It,s good that you mention that Asperger’s is a neurological condition as a lot of people do believe it to be a mental condition.

    Thank you for educating the masses.

  • Joe


    July 1st, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    Hi, I am the HFA person in the relationship and I am searching for more information out there myself. My wife and I have been married for three years and we’ve been together for five. I love her deeply. The stress surrounding my job and her being in school has been overwhelming and is taking a toll on our relationship. This article was very helpful to understand things from the NT side… :-)

    I just have one thing to say to Estelle, just be careful about assuming a person has a diagnosis without medical confirmation. While it’s possible he has Austism Spectrum Disorder (the DSM-V name for all Autism disorders including Asperger’s Syndrome), there may be other things such as PTSD or depression which might mirror some of the more non-social tendencies of ASD. I see he’s only recently been home; my wife was really not aware of my quirks until we started living together. My feeling is find an Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialist in your area and get him tested. There are a whole deal of criteria you have to meet for ASD (lack of eye contact, repetitive movements, anxiety/anger at a change in routine, sometimes a delay verbal communication when younger, intense interest in one or a narrow range of subjects). It’s more complicated, but I commend you for wanting to learn more.

    And to all of you, thank you for loving or having loved someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many of us want the same things you want, but we also need space, and we also need much more patience and assistance in daily tasks. It’s tough especially for the High-Functioning and Asperger’s Syndrome side of the Spectrum, since we just come off as quirky. We are difficult to love sometimes, and I am only learning how my diagnosis feeds both the negatives and positives in our relationship. Thank you!

  • Shannon


    October 17th, 2017 at 10:31 AM

    Joe, I hope you still visit this site. I am in the beginning of a relationship with someone with Hfa. We hit it off just fine but when I look at research/articles on Hfa/NT relationships they are all so overwhelmingly discouraging. In addition, I was in a long marriage 19 yrs. with someone who had poor interpersonal skills due to ???? what one had called borderline personality disorder, with traits that, from one article, followed exactly what I should anticipate in an Hfa/NT relationship. I don’t know what to ask or say from here to you, but I guess I’m just looking for a peek of hope. This person has been through great trauma from abuse from his family and yet has survived and now has a desire to love and be loved. From the articles, writers make it sound impossible for a person with Hfa to do that intimately on an emotional level (much less on a physically intimate level). Am I foolish to think that someone will give me better hope of a good relationship? Those writers would think I’m nuts to ask you, an Hfa, to share a reflection on even this that I ask, implying that you are incapable of doing that. I work as a special needs teacher. I know “some” things about autism, but I have never looked up what it means to have a relationship with someone with Asperger’s. Indeed, I am a caretaker and I am “emotionally needy,” as some have put it. My language, communication skills, and executive function look much like an Aspie, too! Folks have a hard time following my conversations. So, I’m rambling, and I thank you for staying with me, and, unless I am blind, my new friend and I connect in a way that he has not been able to and in a way that I long for. He is kind, seems to genuinely care and love, and seems to be growing to his delight. His counselor told him that, yes, he is able to love others. I am cautious because I don’t want to hurt his life if it doesn’t pan out for us and these articles so discourage me that it never could. What gives!?

  • Elizabeth


    June 20th, 2018 at 4:51 AM

    Joe, thank you for the comment. I am a mom of HF young adult and your comment helped me understand from another perspective. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Lyn


    July 12th, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    There is a constant push to define ASD as “different” not “disabled”. Yet most advice contradicts this, with the NT person (parent, spouse, work colleague) expected to accommodate the “difference”. Limits of ability that are unalterable are a disability, & there needs to be more recognition of this for both ASD & NT people. If someone is “normal but different” then there is no need to constantly accommodate the other persons needs. That becomes enabling.

  • zazu


    December 15th, 2016 at 4:46 AM

    It’s not really this.
    I assure you from the POV of an ASD, it’s the other way around.
    NT person have lots of expectations about how the other should respond and behave, from the POV of an ASD, they are normal, heck, they don’t even notice something “wrong with them” till others start treating them differently and pointing fingers at them.
    So, it’s mainly the problem of the NT who is putting too much expectations about someone without being clear, verbal about them.

  • Keri K.

    Keri K.

    July 12th, 2015 at 6:36 PM

    If you have never loved someone on the Autism spectrum then you don’t understand how special these people are. They have the ability to love deeply and establish a connection deeper than a lot but totally different and challenging. They are like a complicated jigsaw puzzle to the “neurotypical” person. They just speak a different language than most. Open your mind. We are all unique in our own ways. Who is to say we aren’t the odd ducks.

  • J.


    September 27th, 2015 at 3:06 AM

    I’m currently in a relationship with an autistic man, & I think that I myself may be high functioning autistic, but am close to being neurotypical. Right now our biggest problems s,tem from miscommunications to say the very least. My hurt feelings because of something harsh he says, my own reactions to the things he says, him wanting to completely shut down because when he tries to communicate with me it’s hard to get out the right words without being harsh… Him, as an adult, being expected to have a full time job and function in the world up to the judgements of everyone else, while truly walking that line of not being able to do so. This is one of the most difficult situations I’ve ever been faced with, but I do love him very much. I believe he loves me as well, very much. I really want to have this work out, & so many difficulties arise from it. human relationships are hard enough. And when you take on something like this, someone like this… I don’t know what to say. We do love each other. But autistic people can visciously lash out when fighting which is inevitable in a relationship. That’s just the beginning. It’s really hard. And it’s also hard to find support groups & therapists that are willing to take this kind of challenge or have experience with it. Not to mention neither one of us has the time outside of our schedules of work or have the organizational mind enough to pursue everything it takes to get all that done.. We really need caseworkers, however I’m not autistic enough to merit one, and he probably won’t go get one. I’m afraid we’re screwed trying to do this on our own. I guess if we just keep trying tthats something. I wish love really could heal everything. I hope it can.

  • Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC

    Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC

    September 27th, 2015 at 3:14 PM

    Hello, J – thank you for sharing your story. I know it is challenging to unravel the aspects of communication that relate to whether there was an intent to be hurtful in a relationship such as yours. In my work with couples, I encourage the partners to have a discussion about this. Even using the conventional framework can be a place to start: “I would like you to know that when you say ______, I feel _____.” If you search the directory here at, you may find someone nearby who understands autism. It might be worth investigating as a way to get guidance and to alleviate your distress. I send you my best wishes.

  • Lyn


    September 27th, 2015 at 7:58 PM

    In reply to J.
    I know 4 adults who have been diagnosed, and another 8 who I suspect as being on or as you put it “may be high functioning autistic, but am close to being neurotypical” … including both my parents, and my sister-in-law. One couple I know the husband & his father have been diagnosed, the wife doesn’t believe in Autism, but recently a nephew, her mother & one of her brothers & one of her sisters were diagnosed (I believe she is too)… so yes it is complicated & it’s not an exact science seeing most diagnostic criteria can be changed or interpreted in different ways. That couple their marriage is working, it is quirky & on her behalf is very compliant to her husbands direction. Another couple I know have just broken up as the stress on the wife & the husbands refusal to acknowledge or address his ASD diagnosis has made it impossible for her. I think it basically comes down to a couple having clear agreement on goals, communication rules & decision making process- and in a relationship where at least one person has ASD that needs to be exceptionally clear.
    Have you seen or contacted any of these sites/organisations: (some are for people with ASD, others for family/partners)
    The Neurotypical Site
    Maxine Aston
    Aspergers other half
    Autism Speaks
    All the best !

  • Jen


    October 17th, 2016 at 1:42 AM

    Wow. So good to find this article. I recently ended my relationship of one year with my aspie boyfriend. When we first met, he came off as very emotionally intuitive and affectionate. Really, even still he is quite affectionate, but then again in addition to his ASD he is also diagnosed as hypersexual, so I guess it makes sense… Anyway, after the first few months of dating, things went from being incredible to being incredibly draining for me. I should mention that in this context, I’m neurotypical, but I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder when I don’t have my life in order.. I began to see a therapist, in hopes that I could “fix” myself, feeling as though I was not interacting properly with my boyfriend. He encouraged my therapy, but never sought his own. I realized that every time we would argue, it would boil down to him asking a plethora of questions about WHY I was behaving the way I was. My insecurities and anxieties perplexed him, and I was unable to crawl out of my despair without his emotional support and understanding. Well, after several months of therapy, and increasing arguments and miscommunication, I decided I needed to “escape”. I’ve moved back home, and honestly, I’m feeling a bit “shell-shocked”, being around my family who are all NT. It’s like I’ve been underwater for a year, having spent mostly all of my time with my aspie boyfriend, and now I am finally able to come up for air.

    Being an NT person with GAD is challenging as it is, but maintaining a healthy relationship with my ASD partner was just too much to handle.. I give so much credit to those who can transform themselves into ideal partners for their ASD loved ones, but I personally have come to terms with the fact that had I stayed with him longer, my anxiety may have ended me.

  • Diana


    December 29th, 2016 at 6:05 PM

    Please stop blaming spouses for not knowing who they married. Some people role play very well before marriage and then lose complete interest in their partner that they “love bombed” once married. Stop blaming. It is bad enough to have all this pain.

  • Lynn


    January 3rd, 2017 at 11:10 PM

    Right there with you, Diane.

  • Laura W

    Laura W

    March 15th, 2017 at 9:00 AM

    I married my ex husband in 1973. He has high functioning Asbergers never diagnosed. He refused any help, no counsceling, no recognizing anything wrong with him, everything was my fault. I was the typical NS trying to cope with all the problems it brings. and raising 5 children. The whole marriage i knew something was wrong, I was lonely and very embarrassed by his comments made to me in public. He was a payor and an engineer. I spent most of my time explaining his odd behaviors to parishioners. He was no pastor but a theologian. After 40 years I divorced him. The last 5 were spent begging for marriage counseling . Unheaded, and lectured that it wasn’t biblical and i was the problem. My 5 children blame me for the divorce and are not talking to me. It has been 4 years. It isn’t fair. Ihave been dealing with anxiety and depression for 30 years. Even tried suiside so it would all go away. Under care now and married to a wonderful caring man. 40 years was far to long to be with him. A lot of damage was done to my self worth. The hardest part now is none of my children think there is anything wrong with him, it is all me. They never had a relationship with him and now that I am gone, they spend time with him for the first time. I am glad that they know him, but it is hard that it comes at the expense of me.

  • K


    May 28th, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    Laura I am so sorry to hear of your 40 year marriage and the way it dissolved. Suppose the hardest part to read was after 5 children you reared, basically alone, they turned on you. Do you suppose he had any part in that? I f so you may have been married to a covert narcissist. I am intimately – by marriage – acqaited with HFA, my child has it, souse has a very mild form of it, but the extended souses’ relatives have huge flags of autism. HOwever I am more acquanited with a personality disorder called NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Your “Pastor” husband who said therapy was not “biblical enough” sounds very flaggy as a covert narcissist. His biggest giveaway was that he did not concede to help save a 40 year marriage, that is a long and honorable investment that he just pettily tossed aside. No loyalty or faith in you as a couple. That is a signal of NPD, or perhaps another cluster B personality disorder. I know HFA, there really are many autistics that although have social communication disorder, and intimacy failures, it does not mean that they cannot or refuse to bond or attach with others. Sounds to me like what you married was a personality disordered individual who may have had a very mild spectrum. His hurts sound intentional, that is the key difference. I hope you are healing now.

  • Shannon


    September 9th, 2018 at 10:01 AM

    Been there, done that. I so understand your pain especially through the impact on your relationship with your children… i’m being there now. an Aspie/NT relationship that has been looming on my horizon for almost 2 yrs now kind of scares me because the dynamics of it so parallel what i’ve already had in a marriage of near 20 yrs with a BPD or narcisstic spouse. Much pain and after of destruction, hard to move forward and trust and/or even invest in the challenges of Hfa/NT relationship/marriage. It all sounds so good at face value but I wonder what the day-to-day will look like.

  • Laura


    May 28th, 2017 at 3:47 PM

    Hi K,
    This is the first time anyone has understood my pain. The kids are 40,38,36,35,and 34. They all take their dads side He is now connecting to them and I left the state because the pain was too much. He NEVER taught them to honor me in all the years I raised them. I had 4 boys and they look up to their dad. He wll never remarry. I will be the bad guy for years. It really hurts.

  • J


    August 10th, 2018 at 5:01 PM

    These posts are so disappointing. I’m an AS partner of an NT female. I love her and I do things to show her constantly. I try to practice theory of mind and she just rejects me. I’m able to tell THAT she’s upset and be supportive. But I can’t always tell WHAT she’s upset about. I ask. She doesn’t always tell me honestly. And it’s somehow my fault that I didn’t magically figure it out.
    She yells at me, gets angry, tells me everything is all my fault, etc. She’s allowed to get completely emotional, irrational, irate, feel however she feels and do whatever she does, and then get support from all the other frustrated ladies out there, making it all my fault. I draw boundaries so that she doesn’t get to yell at me and make everything my fault, she tells me that I’m just in denial and making everything HER fault. It’s complete nonsense and really, really hurtful. And there’s no escaping a feeling of being ganged up when she gets “support” from her friends.
    I’ve never been in a relationship with someone with AS. I know it’s frustrating. But it’s not the only thing out there. There are thousands of diagnoses of all sorts, all of which have symptoms and behaviors, all of which are unusual, often maladaptive and difficult to work with. If the symptoms weren’t unusual or concerning in some way the diagnosis wouldn’t require a diagnosis.
    AS just means I process information differently. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It doesn’t mean it’s what’s right for another person in a relationship. Nobody has to accept things about other people that they don’t like. But it’s literally 99% negative, saying RUN AWAY. And despite me reading everything I can, getting professional help, accepting responsibility for anything and everything and trying my darndest to show her that I love her, any progress I make is drowned out and negated by the OVERWHELMING negativity and sense of DOOM cultivated on nearly every thread about NT/AS relationships that I’ve come across.
    I’m sure it feels horrible to feel unloved. I’ve felt that way in previous relationships. But it feels really bad to feel unlovable because I process information differently and HATED by the person you ACTUALLY LOVE all because of how my brain is built.

  • Shannon


    August 13th, 2018 at 10:14 AM

    Hi J! Thanks so much for writing and sharing a deep place in you! Yes; these threads are almost all so overwhelming. You sound like a great guy giving it all you got. Keep going and maybe this one isn’t the right one for you. I, personally, wouldn’t put up with the yelling. In any case, trust that you are very loveable and I hope one day someone will really appreciate that and give open their heart and mind to love you with all they got, too!

  • Solomon


    September 9th, 2018 at 8:46 PM

    J, it ain’t going to work. Do yourself a favor and get out of the relationship. Somehow, we are conditioned to MAKE relationships work, and the Psychology people prey on that. Usually, Psychologists are doing what makes them feel better and don’t realize they are doing “feel good” harm. I think we try way too hard. It’s not just ok to say “enough” and move on, it’s actually very healthy. Life is too short to make square pegs try to fit into round holes. I know I’ve said how difficult it is for NT’s in AS relationships. But I am not saying that Aspies are bad people – you sound like a great guy who is investing in a poor asset. As far as relationships are concerned, I think that for NT’s, Aspies are best left as occasional friends, not life partners. I think that is for a number of reasons, but one of them is that without knowing it ASPIES want/need NT’s to compensate for them. So, in my situation, my AS partner needs me to soothe her, to provide optimism, to allay anxiety, to help her with empathy, to help her understand others ……. you get it? i feel more like a Psychologist in this relationship than I do a partner.. Actually, I feel more like a prisoner because if she doesn’t get this attention/management she has a melt down. So, my suggestion is that you find what makes YOU happy and stick to that. All the best

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