How to Deal with Loneliness in a Relationship When One Partner Is Autistic

Woman sitting in the driver's seat of her car, cryingAuthor’s note: I write as if the couple here is an autistic man and a neurotypical woman. Sometimes, however, it is the woman who is autistic. Some couples I work with are gay, and some are lesbian. Some are polyamorous. In the interest of streamlining my language in this article, I have chosen to describe the couple most frequently represented in my counseling and coaching practices: the man, who is autistic, and the woman, who is not.

If there is one word I hear more than any other in my work as a therapist with women whose partners are or may be autistic, it is this: loneliness. I realize that many people experience a kind of loneliness in relationships that are strained. In fact, when these women try to describe their loneliness to their friends, they often hear comments that can be summed up this way: “that’s life.”

To an extent, that is true. The problem is that true or not, it dismisses the unique characteristics of the loneliness in a neurodiverse marriage. As a result, the woman in this marriage feels several things at once.

How Much Loneliness Is ‘Normal’ in a Relationship?

First of all, of course, she recognizes marriage is a challenge for everyone at times, and that feeling lonely when partners are disconnected makes perfect sense. She feels her friends are trying to be supportive to her by pointing this out, though she also struggles with the deep sense that there must be a better word, a more accurate way to describe what she’s going through, because in her heart she knows her loneliness and the broader kind of loneliness experienced in other relationships are somehow significantly different.

She feels a little guilty. She’s a little embarrassed. She wonders what’s wrong with her. Maybe she’s making too big a deal out of this. Maybe she should just grow up a little and realize that overall, things are pretty good. I mean, aren’t they?

Still, hungry for connection, she tries to explain. But she finds no traction as her friends repeat variations of the theme: What did you expect? Marriage can be hard. Sometimes, you’re angry. Sometimes, you want to tear your hair out. You might even want to leave. But then, with time, the clouds lift. Everything gets back to normal and you forget about this. You’ll see. It will all turn out okay.

And there it is. There’s the assumption she knows may be true for her friends, but is simply not true for her—at least not in the way they mean it. She knows that in her case, things will not get back to “normal.” Because for her, deep loneliness is normal. It is her baseline. It is as much a part of her relationship as the ring on her finger, and it accompanies her in her every waking moment. It can wax and wane as life’s demands come and go, but it is always there. Sometimes, she cries when she’s alone in her car, and she doesn’t know why.

Because for her, deep loneliness is normal. It is her baseline. It is as much a part of her relationship as the ring on her finger, and it accompanies her in her every waking moment.

How Any Relationship Can Cause Loneliness

There are many reasons why she is right that her loneliness has unique characteristics and causes that her friends will likely never understand. This is because most of them have neurotypical partners like themselves. They know that neurotypical marriages are difficult. Divorce rates are not to be taken lightly. There is real pain and struggle in the best of relationships. Sometimes, couples find ways to secure the bonds between them, and this allows them to weather strong storms. Sometimes, even with the best of efforts, relationships just don’t last.

This is the stuff of relationship self-help books, it is the foundational thinking of couples therapy methods, and it is woven constantly into conversations among women everywhere. That’s why many people think the word “loneliness” means the same thing to everyone else. They assume, justifiably, that their experience and the experience of other women is similar, even if different in the small details.

What does loneliness mean to most people? Generally speaking, it means disconnection when connection is desired. In this way, it is differentiated from the solitude of choosing to be alone. It is a frustrated state related to not feeling heard, seen, and understood. Usually, this is a transient feeling, and once conditions change, the feelings of loneliness diminish.

For example, in a heated argument between two neurotypical partners, both are likely to feel separated from one another and not heard. Loneliness can come of this. When the partners reconcile, feelings of connection are re-established. This is also the mechanism for missing someone and then being reunited. Part of transient loneliness is knowing that it is not permanent, but in the moment, not being able to overcome the emotional component that derives from not feeling connected. However, a belief in the wave nature of this kind of loneliness is part of what makes it tolerable, though painful.

Things will get better. This feeling will not last forever.

Loneliness in a Neurodiverse Relationship

Another kind of loneliness can be thought of as a state, or chronic loneliness. This describes the feelings of a person cut off from social encounters for one reason or another beyond personal control, such as illness, incarceration, moving to a new environment without social connections, or coming to terms with the death of a personally significant person. These are deep challenges. There is no quick fix for any of them, and loneliness that derives from feeling isolated is a societal problem particularly among the elderly, but also among all age groups, including social media savvy youth.

There are many ways loneliness is understood, described, and experienced. But to someone whose partner is autistic, they describe only part of the story. There is much more to tell.

The very nature of the neurodiverse relationship is difference, which is neither choice nor mental illness. It is linked to neurological variations in the structure of the brain, which lead to different ways of experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality. It is not about one being right and the other, wrong. They are simply different. However, this is a neurotypically designed and oriented world, so it is the autistic person who generally feels more out of step much of the time.

The very nature of the neurodiverse relationship is difference, which is neither choice nor mental illness. It is linked to neurological variations in the structure of the brain, which lead to different ways of experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality.

When women talk to me about their loneliness, though, they are talking about the deep awareness that the intimate connection they sought when they married, which in fact was the main reason they married, has not only not come to be, but is not possible. Arriving at this understanding is an existential shock with complex and conflicting emotional components.

What Causes Loneliness in Neurodiverse Relationships?

Most of the women I work with love their partners. They are shattered to describe their sense of isolation from the man they love so much. Yet the pain of loneliness has begun to take both mental and physical tolls. They describe feelings of depression. Deep fatigue. Self-recrimination and other negative self-talk. Profound confusion about what paths are open to them now.

One of the main differences between a person who is what we call neurotypical and someone who is autistic lies in the realm of understanding the implicit emotional and cognitive experience of another person. Because someone else’s experience differs from his own, a person on the autistic spectrum is not likely to intuit accurately what it is like to be someone else. As a result, his partner’s attempts at expressing her feelings or asking for emotional support can be met with a desire to comply, yet no ability to assess what to do or how to do it. Also, it can appear to be dismissed, as the autistic person responds more with cognitive empathy than with the affective empathy the neurotypical partner craves and expects from another person, particularly from her partner. He offers what she considers to be a solution to what she describes, but she is seeking understanding instead.

Over time, a history of these mismatched needs and responses creates a sense of isolation in the neurotypical partner. She is deeply frustrated by her repeated feelings of being rejected or minimized by a partner who seems not to understand or value what she says. She’s angry. Hurt. Confused. She gets to the point where she can’t bury it any longer. Sometimes, she blows up. Sometimes, she walks away. Or drinks. Or starts an affair. At the bottom of these choices is always a feeling of being severed from what she believed would be her primary source of emotional support: her husband.

One important thing to acknowledge in this conversation, however, is the extreme isolation experienced also by the autistic partner, who has come to see that no matter what he says or does, no matter how hard he tries to get it right, his partner repeatedly reminds him that he doesn’t get it, that her needs are going unmet, and that she is at her wits’ end. So is he, by this point. And he, too, is blaming himself.

What can this couple do?

Bridging the Understanding Gap in a Neurodiverse Relationship

Understanding what can change and what cannot is key to growth in the neurodiverse relationship. When I work with couples, we start with foundational psychoeducation. We not only explore the neurology, meaning, and presentation of autism, but we also do the same analysis of what it is to be neurotypical.

Understanding what can change and what cannot is key to growth in the neurodiverse relationship.

Our goal is to highlight not one over the other, but rather to identify similarities and differences. This is the path toward release of blame as well as feelings of being judged as inadequate. We focus intensely on the very human tendency to misattribute the intentions of another person based on what something would mean if we ourselves said or did it. In the neurodiverse relationship specifically, but also in all relationships, this is a critical issue.

Once these differences are accounted for, we can move into development of communication strategies and skills that have the potential to build bridges between partners. This results not only in an increase in mutual trust, but also in increased intimacy, as partners explore without judgment their differences and how to navigate them. This includes discussion of language, nonverbal communication, and the formal structure of logical argument.

Loneliness can abate with time when couples learn the value of and develop the skills to bring the implicit (their expectations) into the explicit (clearly identified and stated information about their own interior experiences). Like two parallel lines, the partners in a neurodiverse relationship will never merge. They can come closer together, however, and like base pairs that connect the two strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix and hold them together, new communication skills can secure a stronger connection between the partners in a neurodiverse couple. Compassion is the vehicle, and acceptance is the goal.

Will this ever be a neurotypical relationship, meeting all the needs of the neurotypical partner? No. Will it ever be an autistic relationship, meeting the all the needs of the autistic partner? No. It will always be neurodiverse, and in managing the differences, it is possible for two deeply lonely individuals to explore increased intimacy and refine their understanding of what it means for the two of them to remain together and move forward as a couple. A neurodiverse couple.

© Copyright 2019 All rights reserved.

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.

  • Leave a Comment
  • mentsh

    November 3rd, 2019 at 8:32 AM

    I have a friend dealing with this, and I have tons of sympathy for her situation. However, I wish there were more articles and resources available that discussed variations, like where the wife is neurodiverse and trying desperately to be what her husband needs but always coming up short. What about autistic loneliness? There’s so much emphasis on the neurotypical’s loneliness, and I get that’s the more visible perspective because NT wives talk to their friends and social media and therapists about their pain because they understand how to go about seeking that kind of support. But those of us on the spectrum, we don’t have those kinds of support systems. Even when we do reach out for support, people typically don’t understand us or we can’t connect emotionally or the blame gets placed on us. But our loneliness is real, too. The pain from the constant disconnect and misunderstandings and ableism is often intolerable, but rarely acknowledged. Where are the resources for us? Where is the compassion? Where is the understanding that helps us figure all this out? It’s not that we don’t have empathy for NT pain, it’s that the empathy so rarely goes both ways in relationships between NT and ND. Especially in the ND population, you find such a high prevalence of variations on gender and pairings and types of relationships (friendships, families, work) that are confusing and painful or just plain impossible. Please talk more about those. Please stop taking the easy way out with the emphasis on the stereotype and engage with us where are, in all those many diverse variations. I’m reading because I’m looking for answers and trying to contribute to finding solutions. I’m not some cold, distant, empathy-less monoton with no compassion for how hard it can be to be in relationship with me. I care too. But I don’t have viable solutions, partly because most of the effort goes into the one scenario people think of…the clueless autie husband with the lonely NT wife.

  • Anonymous

    November 13th, 2019 at 10:13 PM

    I am suffering from trauma can u provide me ? and Which type of Therapy ?

  • Beth

    February 2nd, 2020 at 6:21 PM

    Yes, yes yes! You nailed this problem in two parts: where are the neurodiverse wife stories, and where is the empathy for aspies’ equally valid ways of being in the world?!

  • lotus

    November 4th, 2019 at 5:09 AM

    I am dealing with this stark reality now and quite confused and feels defeated in the amount of effort to understand, and just at the point of self-diagnosis and trying to figure out what to do in the mixed emotional state of guilt, shame, wanting to hold on to self sanity, he just disappeared. Trying to reach out for help so we can figure out if a NT spouse is even the best option to support him through his self discivery before figuring out if staying as a couple is even a viable option after this.

  • Nohope

    November 12th, 2019 at 2:30 AM

    Great article.This is my reality. Eight years and it doesn’t get much better. Loads of neurodiverse counseling. Lots of strategies. It’s a hard and lonely path and I wouldn’t wish this life on anyone. I know it could be worse though, so I am grateful that at least I can get away even though sometimes I wish I could rest and be at peace. I wish I didn’t have to live such a restless life to escape the agonizing ever present loneliness, isolation, miscommunication, object obsessions and gaslighting. My soul is exhausted.

  • JJ

    November 25th, 2019 at 10:38 AM

    I completely understand. After years of seeking, 2 out of 3 of my children were diagnosed with Aspergers/Autism. I’ve known for a long time my husband is Aspergers- although he refuses diagnosis and is not willing to discuss it. It is heartbreakingly lonely. The emotional pain being surpassed only by my family who was abusive in every way imaginable. I cut off ties to my family 26 years ago and can see why I chose the husband I did- he seemed emotionally “level”. I had not idea what that would play out like…a NT/ND marriage that is terribly painful and lonely. I completely understand.

  • Nohope

    December 4th, 2019 at 3:03 AM

    I’m so sorry that you have three aspies in your life after growing up in an impossibly abusive home. I will pray for you for strength and hope. We need hope. We need to believe that God cares and there is hope.

  • NANI

    November 15th, 2019 at 8:34 AM


  • Rose

    February 7th, 2020 at 7:42 PM

    I have been dating a man that was just diagnosed with autism. He always made good conversation with me and was very kind. Over time I noticed certain habits, routines, and hid his anxiety that seemed to rule him. Our arguing got so bad I don’t even know how they started sometimes. If I said a certain word that threatened him, he would focus on the one word and attack me verballey to the point I thought I was with a crazy person. I started to feel lonely even when I was around him and I would try to express this but he could not understand why I would say that. I always was there for him and who would continuely abandan me or not answer his phone etc. I tried so hard to understand. I always felt he lost interest in me.

  • s.

    May 14th, 2020 at 8:43 AM

    Hi-i need help at least tell me im not going crazy or so overly sensitive or so needy
    im 50 yo successful professional. smart , athletic, close family , i raised my 4 children after i got divorced who are all now grown and successful and happy , im actually an empath in all liklihood , and i love and need deep connection and also have adhd which has been diagnosed forever and i take vyvanse which changed my life and took away much of my depression and anxiety . everything seems great on surface , then i met pam. i feel so hard for her. she seemed great, warm, kind, wanted some deep level of intimate communication, family around us ,our children ,, future grandchildren, etc. we were giddy and planning our future life. when i met pam she was going through a divorce and i helped her emotionally and through many other aspects. she was also a high level executive and we traveled a ton together we traveled everywhere and loved traveling and being together . i love and am so use to having deep meaningful conversation as i have 3 highly highly successful sisters who also are close to empaths, deep communication including why we do things, fight, about our parents. all these converations were have as main tpoics or factors our unconscious , early relationships with our parents , freud, etc. high level, deep, multidimensional discussions always which i love. little by little my relationshIp w pam started to show funny things. she had a ton of work friends but no real friends which she complained about, she was constantly on late. not 5 minutes but 30 -45 minutes, was always on her social media, which was part of her biz, but i mean always and obsseively like her phone. 1000s of intagram and facebook followers/ friends but really no close friends. she had traveled so much when her kids were growing up she had strained relationshps with them, and couldnt understand why. they were also semi empaths and would tell her how she was selfish and and never around and how they hold it against her, but she never got it and defended her position saying i made play dates, i was at their schools for events, i was home alot, etc, the kids were smart as was she so their was a disconnect. also, i slowly started to piece together the few relationships she had in her life with “best friends.” they all worked for her and in each case the relationship blew up and ended badly and the friends turned on her and ended up hating her with vitrolance. also, and this was where things really fell apart was her traveling. she travelled non stop and when she was away i would never here from her or sporadically, even though she was always on er fone and social media. when she would come home she was happy to see me but never any excitement in meeting or anticpatory excitement in talking about seeing each other when she came back in fact somtimes we would wait 3, 4 5 days to first get together bc she had plans for work, each night, which was also a constant thing. we discussed all of this many many many times, but nothing helped and it seemed like although she listened and got it, in the end it was if we never had the coversations and the actions would always continue on the next trip… no or limited communication. we had huge fights. i told her that i had never met anyone as selfish as her and she was so self centered it was destroying us. i began to get so lonely and isolated. i talked to a few friends and my sisters and and started to feel i was going crazy, i wasnt strong bc i should be able to deal with this better and not be a baby , i was so insecure,and on and on..somtimes in a 3- 4 week period i would see her 4 days sporadically and talk maybe 2x a week on the phone. the phone was another huge problem. from the beginning of our relationshp we could barely speak on the phone bc she was so awkward on the phone. calls were stilted and i had to carry the entire conversation. she asked the same questions each time and time asked questions of any depth or to me showed any interest other then cursory interest of me , my family, our or my or her family dynamics or otherise. the fights continued and carried over into our in person lives together bc i was angry due to feeling so isolated, her consistent refusal to see any of her actions , me feeling gulty about blaming her always and getting mad, on and on. i use to ask her point blank things such as the following
    – why are you dating me you dont seem to like me or miss me ?
    – are you dating somebody else bc you never want to see me or appear interested in this relationship?
    but her actions many times didnt match the meaness, selfishness, cruelty of a narcissist , who i began to read about almost obssessively. she actually was a kind and seet person in many ways. she planned great trips together, had a great engagment dinner for my oldest ( voluntarily ) , always told people i was her boyfriend ( i know it sounds childish but it was so swwt), we would always hold hands, sit next to each other at bars and restuarants wherever we went, sleep so close and hold each other and the sex which was crazy good at the beginning morphed into being really good but also very intimate and loving ( more by me in the loving department).. i used to joke that i was the “girl” and “touchy feely “one in the relationship. im 6 feet, 185 lbs, rugged and “tough”by any standard. i lowered my standards of what level of intimacy and communication we would have and things got better but not so much. i was always alone and underneath it still angry at times and felt i couldnt talk to people a but it bc it was embarrassing and i was a baby or that one might think she was having affairs and i wasnt seeing it. she was not . i also started to become in the bigger picture much less self confident, more insecure and my interests started to fade .i actually developed so much doubt i asked a friend of mine i am missing something, is there something so wrong with me either in intelligence, looks anything that i have missed and is staring me in the face for years and noone would tell me . also bc pam didnt get along with my sister and her w pam, it led to a huge blow up with one of my sister who was my best friend and who i confided in for most of my life to the point we no longer talk. pam hated her and i took pams side, pam was very jealous of her and my sister felt pam took me away from her. everything generally in my life became weird and relationships strained. CO-19 (“CO”) hits and pam and i are seperated as shes with her kids and and my kids come home and im with them. we dont see each other but talk on the phone. i begin though to think more about my relationship with pam and questioning things and start to pull away from her in my mind. i start to speak to her less on the phone and a few thing s happen that because of the time on my hands i start to really focus those items by themselves and in terms of pams prior actions and our relationship. 1. my mom dies, we have a fi=uneral on zoom and pam does say shes so sorry and is rthere anything she can do. but all of this seemed very perfunctory and cold and she didnt bother to ask if she could sign into the funeral. she never discussed after that how i felt or anything with any meaning or depth how my moms death effected me, which was ok bc i didnt expectit from her and i had other friends who fled my emotional intimacy needs pam couldnt. ugh. 2. one night she called me and we talk for 2 minutes and i say, im so upset worried and sad about x, y and x and z and havent been this down in so long. pam is silent for a minute, and then says oh its 858pm and the ___ news show starts now can i go/ i can call you after. all in a childlike seeking permission way without meaness. i say sure problem. and she goes. i didnt get upset though bc im use to this and being at home with a slower than normal work pace which has has really calmed me down. but that was typical of her. nothing mean whats everi n her motiveor actions, just pam. i start to think that most things and resposes to emotional questios from mr=e to her and her emotional responses to events seem almost canned, rehearsed and very surface level and fake in a way. duing this time pam makes efforts to call me etc and asks to meet me in the city which i nicely say no and tell her essentially im worried about getting CO 19, but its really bc i dnt want to see her. Then pams business implodes and she goes into a deep depression and out of blue says “i need time” “im going in a different direction” a few texts or emails which were clipped and to the point but as usual stilted., and that was that.all conact cut. an email or text that she was evaluating her life and who she was and she loved me so much but that was. i was pretty upset and felt hurt and couldnt believed after all this time, and energy and care, love etc i put into this relationship and the enerrgy she seemed to put in to it and all of the times and plans we made for the future it was over and she could vanish like that. poof. looking for an answer i started to read on the internet more about narcs but as i indicated earler while it seemed at first she was a narc bc of what i percieved to be her extreme selfishness and self centeredness, the more i read about narcs it didnt feel that she was one. she really wasnt mean and was in many times very sweet and kind. then remembered my friends sister, who had been diagnosed as having asp and she was highly successful at a large fortune 500 co and was such a smart and kind person. so i typed in are there similarites btw symptoms of asp and narcissism and boom…omg. i started reading obsessively for 2 days everything on line and talking to people who know this are. it was an epiphany. it explained pam and so much of her actions and my reactions. a few major themes
    1. i realized how amazing pam was. she had risen to the top of her field and was lauded as an industry leader .but the effort and hiding and imitating it had taken her to accomplish this was beyond comprehension. its so hard to believe. i dont think anyone really knows in her business that she may have asp. she must have studied people to see how to react in a myriad of situations which also explained her responses to my very personal over the years emails to her expressing love or other deep messages and her response of ” i read your email dozens of times and it means the world to me” she didnt get it but knew in a odd way how to respond ( sort of)
    2. the world had been very cruel to her. it expained her depression and anger and feeling of going home to her snooty home town for HS reunion and feeling vindicated at having a better life ($$$$) than the mean hs click group of girls who tormented her, but at the same time still feeling alone and isolated as she couldnt fit in then or now
    3. it was liberating to me. i feel free now of really bad thoughts discussed above abt myslf and her, but also like an idiot for not seeing this for years and sort of wasting my time , but not really bc she was great in so many ways and we had so many fun times and much closeness in a way, which she might have “faked” for my benefit. but either way it all made sense now.

    4. i realized she was not mean nor selfish . i was asking her to be the girlfriend and person “I” needed. she tried so hard to please me . its heartbreaking to think of, but she couldnt. she must have been so frustrated and felt no matter what she did she couldnt get it right. it is so beyond sad i am constantly on the verge of tears for the last few days. i was so mad and wanted her to love me the way i needed to be loved that i totally missed the way she showed me her love. ie planning trips, giving a party for my daughter, getting to know my children, planning a honeymoon for my daughter.
    i feel so bad i feel. i just never knew….
    4.i want to talk to her , hug her, apologize to her , tell her i just didnt understand and i was the selfish one not her and that i understand so much now about her , her life our relationship etc but i dont think that will ever happen as shes gone and gone totally silent on me and im pretty sure i will never see or speak to her speak her again as i feel she said its over in her mind and thats it, done fini. logical and reasonable. i will not show up at her home nor call or email again because i want to respect her wishes for space and time and clearly dont want to harass her. in my last ea]mail though, i did without specifically mentioning asp say explain how i now understood so much, that she was not selfish and was very kind and nice , that i loved her and now understood how really remarkable of a person she was ( which she knew anyway i thought she was remarkable as i told her many times) and how i got so much more now how difficult her life must have been and really cruel people were to her. in response she emailed me that she recieved it, shes read it dozens of time, no words in them goes unheard and they mean the worlds to her. ‘ all sweet but canned responses which someone else could have told her what to say. i have no idea.futher i dont know if she understood what i was saying. so im thinking that is the way we will end things and thats it. sad but no choice. i have no idea but guess by going dark, she feel better bc she settled things in er mind and has already moved on and forgoten stuff and has no pain, which if that is the case thats good enough. but its pretty much a puzzle and so strange and a bit confusing and hurtful after 3 years to end our relationshp like this w no goodbyes finality just done…
    4. in any event bc i am sensitive and after reading articles about relationships btw aspis and neuro – typical people, it sounds as if even if we were to get back together and worked really hard in therapy it would still feel very lonely and emotionally unfufilling for me and probably not good for her. is this scenario common?
    5. does she know she may have asp? could she not know? do her kids know that this may have caused the problems in their relationship and she is not selfish?
    .6. should i say anything to anyone or even her explicitly as it may help herand give her some peace and explanation for much of the harder parts of her life and help her navigate going fwd?? she sees a therapist but says that she never understands what the therapist means
    7. anyway, the “breakup” and my even reading about asp has all occured in the last 4 days or so, and im glad it happened and its best that it did but leaves alot of open questions and i am wodering does this story sound off the wall? can anyone relate to this? im so at a loss for answers and not even sure im asking the right questions just totally confused including maybe my entire thought process is wrong andf that there is no connection w pam and and asp and its all a rationalization by me. can anyone provide any thoughts?

    thank you
    please note if the reference to asp or a person ” having it” or anything like that is offensive know it was not meant to be and i am not sure of the proper way to d=say things as its all so know to me

  • Katherine

    August 31st, 2020 at 12:37 PM

    I am responding to Mentsch. You may be a unique variety of Aspie, who truly is looking to understand the NT ways of processing and loving. This is by nature not available to most on the spectrum as part of the state of autism is a processing that does not include or duplicate others, it is in the wiring. Also, the reason why so much of the books and blogs deal with the terrible illness and loss and suffering a NT partner incurs with the rejection and the anger directed at them, is because it happens mainly in that direction. NTs are not hurting an Apsie by walking away , or by ignoring them, or by not hugging them or by never telling them that they care. Being left alone is great news for an Aspie, its HOW they want to process, they want to be left alone most of the time, and not talk and not hug…always more than the NT. Aspies are not feeling lonely, they are feeling misunderstood and frustrated, even by those who actually understand them, but they can’t often duplicate that they are understood because that would be duplicating an other. Which is also exhibited by your reaction. Here is a site helping to bridge the gap between two neurodiverse people who love each other and your reaction, is oh, yeah, but what about us!? That is the nature of the spectrum, always feeling misunderstood. BTW – There are sites and books to help you understand each other and NTs. Also Aspies don’t typically want to communicate and often don’t want to communicate feelings other than frustration, so they are less likely to write the books and the blogs or even to visit them. It is very hard to feel unusual in the world (even though NTs feel that way too) and very hard to not understand it or that one fits in (even though NTs feel this too to a much lesser degree), so if you are an Aspie and can help NTs understand you, then write a blog or a book, there are some and I have read them all, and they are helpful. But usually on these forums I see Aspies saying basically “what about us?!” …which is what happens in the relationships too. Which is why the NT can be lonely, as the NT has to mainly try to understand the Aspie, as the NT can understand others, the Aspie, per autism, is mainly trying to always feel understood – NOT to understand the others.

  • Nohope

    September 1st, 2020 at 1:15 PM

    Katherine, thank you. Aspies want to be understood but apply nearly no effort towards trying to understand others. It’s mostly blame shifting, gaslighting, shutdowns, meltdowns and defensiveness. I’ve read from the few aspies who have published as well and have found their insights quite helpful. If aspies want books and posts about their perspective and how they can help and support their NT partners, they should write these books and blogs. I’m willing to write and read NT and AS materials because I want to understand and increase congenial relations.

  • Rose

    September 24th, 2020 at 4:57 AM

    Blame shifting and gas lighting seems to be a constant battle. A conversation to explain what hurt me turns into how I am hurting HIM and why am I saying the things I am saying…Healing can never be acheived…I have to just be a play mate to this male adult and then he is happy.

  • Tom

    October 8th, 2020 at 7:39 AM

    I’m a male NT and have been with an ASD woman for 4 years. One of her focuses is relationships and no one would ever suspect she’s autistic. I certainly didn’t know until it was too late. But I divorced a malignant narcist after 15 years and fell immediately into this life. For me, the gas lighting, blame-shifting, and total lack of emotional intimacy has made trust impossible. And therefore, our relationship is a failure and hopeless. We bought a house together and we blended 4 kids from our previous relationships. I need to end it. But I can’t bear the idea of starting over for a third time and putting the kids through another loss.

  • Barbara

    November 3rd, 2020 at 9:54 PM

    I’m married to a man for nearly 44 years with ASD traits. It took me near 40 years to learn what was going on. My well being has been compromised and continues to be challenged. I have been denied of my emotional needs and desires, no affection, no connection. I’m drained, pained and lonely! His love language is” Acts of Service’., which does not take the place of what I yearn for.

  • Zodiac

    November 14th, 2020 at 7:38 PM

    I am a neurotypical woman in a relationship with an autistic woman. Both of us are in our 60’s. I am well processed with degrees in psychology / sociology and my partner is the opposite. I started to understand her after living with her for 8 months and with the help of a minister who was informed about autism I tricked her into doing the online diagnostic test . All was revealed with her score of 33. I read as much as I could on it and watched You Tube videos by autistic people. My partner was not interested in finding out more. I am at the age that I can accept the way she is, but it is difficult as I feel very rejected much of the time. But I understand that I have been intolerant and critical of her, probably making her feel a failure and not good enough. We have talked very little about it as she doesn’t want to go deep, but I have shown her your article, though she has only read one or two paragraphs and probably may not finish it. . I am still undecided whether I will continue into my old age with her as I have this loneliness that you describe. She doesn’t seem to feel that and says she is not lonely, but I think a lifetime of failing in relationships has hardened her. I wish all younger people well in finding compromises and resolutions for this, but if you can’t manage it, I would suggest it is better to make the break than be unhappy for the rest of your life.

  • No more

    December 9th, 2020 at 8:19 PM

    If you are a neurotypical, you will never be happy with these neurodiverse people. Anyone who says it can work is most likely neurodiverse. I have yet to know anyone on the spectrum who isn’t ADHD or ADD along with it, or comorbid with a personality disorder. ADHD is often comorbid with BPD. This is what I have dealt with in interpersonal relationships for 40 years; it is a nightmare. Forget about therapy; it will never work. If you are in a situation where you can get out, do so; it will be the best thing you can do for yourself, and you are the only one feeling your level of pain.

  • Julie

    December 21st, 2020 at 11:59 PM

    I have just finished a two year, part time relationship with my former handyman, whom I had known previously for seven years. He got cancer, and his wife rejected him. He responded very well to treatment but had to have a permanent colostomy. I feel for him, and helped him obtain a lawyer and get a property settlement. Then I got cancer at the beginning of this year. He tried to support me, But although he could text the most beautiful sentiment to me, he could never out of them. He was very distressed about his own personal situation as Wellers mine, but generally only spoke about himself. I found we could never have a proper two way conversation. I thought it was because he has a working class background, and was extremely distressed. However I kept on breaking up with him and coming back to him in the hope that he could provide me with real comfort. I needed to consult a psychologist, more for the stand for my cancer which is quite severe, far more so than his. After several months with this excellent woman, I told her about some inexplicable and startling behaviour of his, not telling me he was in a full relationship with a 75-year-old woman, but crying and calling me darling and saying he wants for a weekend. Then in the last phone call he casually mentioned that his friend was waiting for him at home. My questioning got from him the fact that they were in a full relationship. He told me he had told me, but he most certainly had not. My shock and dismay, hopefully let him know the truth. I repeated all this to my psychologist who said that she felt he was on the autism spectrum. Well that was more shock wasn’t it? But looking back at some of his behaviour, the fact he always talked on about himself, the fact that we never had a proper two way conversation, and the fact that my brother has just pointed out that he didn’t have much of a sense of humour, has certainly lead me to believe that my former boyfriend does have some difficulty. He’s gone from relationship to relationship ever since he was 26 years old. I think I was about number six or seven, and he is now 61. I will add that I am eight years older, but his first partner was 10 years older than he. So I am really can’t having to come to terms with the fact that my handyman, And he was a very good handyman, and he has a very good job with a major hardware firm, is on the autism spectrum, or at least has delayed developmental issues. His mother died when he was only 13 and he came home and found her. From that time until he was 26 years old he lived with his father who was very straightlaced, did his best with my friend, but was grieving deeply.

  • Jennifer

    January 12th, 2021 at 6:18 AM

    This is the light at the end of the tunnel for me. It reaffirms so much! Thank you.

  • Julie

    January 12th, 2021 at 4:07 PM

    I’m glad my experience has helped you. All the very best. In my case I am just having to get over it. I might add I now have two Psycologist! Eventually I will have to choose between the two and just have one. Don’t recommend this experience to anybody else.

  • Ruben

    February 2nd, 2021 at 8:31 PM

    So many people on this message board sound like their scapegoating ND people because their personal relationships did not work. That is wrong. You’re entitled to your feelings but as one NT person to another do not make autism your pariah. It is dehumanizing and wrong.

  • Miechelle

    February 5th, 2021 at 7:52 PM

    I find the last comment ridiculous. I get desperate every now and again and then I find articles like this just to feel a little less lonely in knowing that there are others out there like me. No one is “scapegoating” or blaming anything. Unless you have actually walked this incredibly difficult and lonely walk, no comment should be made. If you have walked the walk, you know for a fact why you are so lonely and sad and it is absolutely because you love someone who may as well be from another planet or of another species. Do you blame them for that? No. Do you understand it cannot ever be changed or “fixed”? Of course. Is it OK to rail against the sadness of that. For sure!!

  • Fallynn

    March 23rd, 2021 at 1:50 PM

    Hi Nohope, I wonder if you might be referring to a malignant narcissist and NOT someone on the spectrum. Gaslighting and scapegoating are NOT what folks on the spectrum typically do by any means. However, those are the tactics of a narcissist. Just my thoughts…

    Dr. Fallynn C. Cox, Pasadena

  • Freya

    July 14th, 2021 at 12:12 PM

    This all rings so true for me! My husband is 47 and is one of the most kind, honest, and trustworthy, humans I know. With that said, I feel such a deep pain and loneliness that is always met with frustration, blaming, and anger from my husband. I have spent years working on myself and trying to understand where he is coming from. I have changed the way I approach him, how I speak to him and it never changes. I am committed to our relationship but have now learned that the only way to save our marriage is for him to use his intellectual brain to understand who he is and who I am. I know he will never feel the way I do, but I need him to recognize that. What has spoken to me more than anything else is understanding that feelings of gaslighting, blaming, and what feels like manipulative behavior is coming from someone who has no idea that they are doing that. This is what makes it so confusing for the NT partner. We understand and know with every bit of our soul that our partner is a kind and honest person that is unconscious of the harm they are inflicting on us. They never fit the full profile of a narcissistic person, but the damage caused to the NT partner is the same. It’s so damn confusing and exhausting. I also worry about how my two young kids are learning how to treat me, always seeing me struggling, seeing their dad treat me with little regards to my emotional feelings. I worry about how they are learning to treat me, even though I am the one holding everyone’s emotional needs. I am an emotionally safe place for everyone, my family, my kids, my husband, my friends, and even in my job as a healthcare provider. I am usually the first one people call when they need to be held emotionally. I am really good at that. I am good at knowing what they need me to say so when we are done talking they feel better. I do this for everyone, but rarely get this back. I have relied on my girlfriends for this emotional need, but they can only hold that to a certain degree. I need it from my husband. Thank you for writing these articles. It has not only validated my feelings for what seems to be the first time, but it has also provided me with a greater compassion for my husband. Though I have A greater compassion for my husband, I am recognizing that our relationship cannot be saved unless he himself recognizes how his brain works and how my brain works. And I’m not sure if that will be possible.

  • Lu

    July 14th, 2021 at 6:48 PM

    I am completely scared by the commentaries I read here. Most of them filled with ableist, prejudicial and aggressive accusations. I wonder how maybe many people have been in relationships with, as Dr. Fallynn just commented above, narcissists or simply with people they weren’t compatible, but also mainly by lack of emotional development. From unofficial diagnosis (“my partner is on the spectrum! i read it! it’s the only explanation!”) to accusing autistic individuals of not trying – when we have to recognise that allistic people will never ever understand the processes of autistic people. This is an absurd. It only means how there’s a lack of true education on the matter. I don’t think my ADHD makes any easier to understand ASD minds, and I’ve been to far more toxic relationships with NT people who made me even extremely more isolated and rejected. My autistic partner is the most sincere and friendly personal I ever met. We have differences, obviously, and both struggle to understand our minds but there’s no doubt of the effort he makes. No relationship in the world is easy, and neurodiverse one’s are incredibily challenging because its own very nature but if someone signed up for this, it’s necessary to understand we have partners that have a completely different relationship to the environment. Can’t handle? Walk away. We have to learn to respect ourselves as well – set boundaries and walk away when it’s “a nightmare”. Be responsable for your own mental health. One of the most precious things he taught me: we can’t get into a relationship until we are not ready to face each other with the amount of emotional intensity it requires, so we have to have a strong identity and feel comfortable with who we are. I wonder how many of us fall in love to our expectations and fail to understand that no, our partners are not going to read our minds or respond the way we will respond… exactly the way we don’t know how they would like us to respond . But we want them to act the same way we do when asking for help, we want them to act the same way we to show us care, and we want them to be explained in a self-help book… and we want them to read the article… and we want them to write the article… and we want them, and we want them…

  • Nieth

    August 20th, 2021 at 6:54 AM

    OK so my situation is I’m a women I really would not consider myself NT because I have a lot of medical issues and past traumas growing up with covert narrsasists I was emotionally abused and verbally abused under the radar my partner is ND is autistic (Aspies) and yes this loneyness is real and there is no one and no one thing that you can shift blame to do your left shifting guilt on yourself or others I’m lonely been in this relationship from beginning 13 years this October we were highschool sweet hearts just this morning asking him again if our relationship is working or if we should mutually find new people if that would solve our problems and it might solve my problem finding a connection but I don’t want someone new not really if been 100% faithful to my partner and I’ve been patient, finding this article helps me understand the situation im in but I still don’t understand my partner and have lost hope and faith that he will make an effort with me to elieviate these stressful feelings I’m willing to try again because I don’t want to be weak giving in giving up and it breaks my heart thinking I can’t have a trusted connection with the man I choose to spend my life with we have 2 kids to I’ve been trying to understand, how I’m even supposed to understand if were even compatible partners, moneys been hard, my health declines from self hate and stress. He says he wants to be with me he says he’s happy I find it hard not to resent him when he can be so happy when I’m so miserable and his effort doesn’t look the same as mine I don’t want to accuse him of not trying but I can’t recognize it so is it there? This uncertainty of the real patterns of our relationship wash clean any hope of security I crave. On top of that I haven’t felt physically secure not with my body, more importantly security in household I’m 29 and I’m still not in a home of my own always rented in housing because we are poor I can’t find a hint of security in my life except that he will never let me leave this hell without a fight but I wish I could see or feel him trying to turn hell into heaven I’m bitterly wounded by the breaks of this relationship knowing I got in the car of my own freewill but I love my partner he says I understand him better than anyone he’s ever known he said he was sure he would be alone till he met me I feel his romantic style is nieve and childish not something I’m attracted to because I doubt if he couldn’t have found a nice girl to settle down with that wasn’t me and would be fine but he would of had the same problems with a NT women I never want the same problems coming up more than once because I like to learn from my mistakes I feel he does not learn from himself enough he is a smart man so I have trouble understanding his difficulties understanding me especially when I really try to be understood this morning I did not try to over explain how I felt I simply said I was lonely he looks lost maybe because he was lonely and nobody was there for him so what does caring look like anymore I don’t know if there is a simple answer I wish there was I think its just assumed you care if your here and trying but it can feel as though he was never here from the start thats unfair to him but this whole relationship feels tipped on the scale where he is light as a feather and I’m a big fat stressed out rock! I’m heavy with decisions, effort, insecurity I want this to change but where do I put the effort he doesn’t know and this is both our first and only relationship we have ever been in we are still our first and only kiss I’m broken trying to fix broken things in a society where caring is the rarest commadaty to pin down I’ll keep trying but is it for my sake? or is it for him? or my untouched relationship record? maybe for the kids? no I think its because I made these decisions I built this life with him this is our life not just mine and I love seeing the things I know I’ve been working to improve we are buying our fist home soon, I think it will be easier and that’s the goal to make love as accsessable and easy for as many as possible creating an abundance a Well to take your heart to, to fill up. I feel I have to remember anything is possible and that probability can be shifted in your favor.
    This uneasiness remains because it will always be hard to recognize whether or not I’m moving forward or running into that old familiar brick wall

  • katy

    September 2nd, 2021 at 11:17 AM

    My Asperger partner has driven me into the nut house. Advice: If you have Asberger’s don’t date people with empathy. Leave us alone please. Have a relationship with someone else who is emotionally lacking. Oh, and stop thinking you’re just fine, because you’re really not. Thanks. P.S. Clearly I am not concerned with political correctness here. Ha. Life too ruined for that. Sorry. Ping! (Oo, now let me tick the “I’m not a robot box.”)

  • Nohope

    September 3rd, 2021 at 7:06 AM

    Katy, it is so hard. I’m so very sorry. I get it. It hurts terribly. With lots of prayer, therapy and outside support, aspies can learn. I finally feel like we are rounding a corner in our marriage. Maybe I should change my name from Nohope. It’s taken years, and I realize we will need this level of support forever.

  • Louise

    September 18th, 2021 at 1:04 PM

    Ironically, all of this article seemed to put to words my feelings better than I feel able to: but I’m autistic, and my partner isn’t. I struggle so deeply with the loneliness of not being understood or made to feel loved by a partner I desperately care for but who doesn’t show signs of earnest commitment or understanding. If you sought this article wondering about loneliness, know that it can be felt precisely the other way around when the roles are switched (and you’re not alone).

  • Ru

    October 30th, 2021 at 6:16 AM

    Nohope, please change your name – you are literally the only hope I have found in yeeeaaaaars of my journey. I came across this article after googling “success stories of marriages between NT/AS”. Good read, as with most I can pinpoint my exact emotions. Then the loneliness kicks in yet again because well, doesn’t help me being validated by an article – I need validation by life, my spouse preferably! I need people like you in my life, I am just about done. “My soul is exhausted” – your words resonated to every fibre in my being.

  • Nohope

    October 31st, 2021 at 12:04 PM

    Yes, Ru. Sisters on a strange journey. We are actually rounding a corner after all these years because he is finally able to accept there is damage here, and he can do something about it. But any deep refreshment is still just out of reach of a connection to each other. Grateful for all the other loves of my life. Take good care of you, Ru. Nurture those relationships that bring out belly laughs, warm hugs, quiet understanding. ❤️

  • littlelost

    November 1st, 2021 at 9:24 AM

    Thank you everyone for sharing your stories on here, it has helped me feel less alone. My friends are all in NT relationships, the whole of instagram seems to be in an NT relationship, all the instagram therapists and coaches are for NT relationships, all the wedding accounts are for NT relationships and all of this can make an NT/ND relationship seem like you’re in a relationship with someone who raises major red flags and this can make things as the NT even lonelier. I have been in a relationship with my partner for 14 years, I suspect that he is an undiagnosed autie with adhd, he also grew up in a home where love and empathy are not a big focus. We’re gradually understanding what this means for him, we’ve learnt that he drank and took drugs to give him confidence and that took over his life. He supported his children financially but not emotionally and didn’t support himself emotionally. Hes given up all drugs and is now working very hard in reducing his alcohol consumption. He won’t go to therapy and when we talk about things he says I’m trying but i don’t understand my feelings so i just shut them out or avoid situations (socially). I don’t want him to feel that he has to become someone that he isn’t but it would be nice to see him have some tools in the toolbox in his mind to help him find those situations less overwhelming, i hate to see him in pain. I feel extremely lonely and isolated, i miss doing things socially with my family and friends and having him by my side, i find it exhausting to always be giving instructions and repeating myself. I understand why I do these things but I’m tired. We’ve talked about marriage but I worry that he is just getting married because I want to but that he might not understand what marriage is. I don’t want him to be hurt and I also don’t want to feel hurt. We have a lot of amazing qualities and experiences together but lately the lonliness and tiredness has become overwhelming, maybe its the thought of the marriage commitment that is driving these feelings. We’re in our mid 40’s and these decisions about our future are serious. I just feel a little lost and I’m worried he feels lost and hurt too and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it.

  • Lindsey- invalidated wife

    November 2nd, 2021 at 2:14 PM

    I am a wife of an undiagnosed Aspie who has primary relatives who are diagnosed.The penny dropped for me before their diagnosis.He grew up in an emotionally cold house with an undiagnosed Aspie dad.Essentially they all just suit themselves.Their relationships are superficial.When there are too many demands being made of them they feel entitled to resent who ever /whatever is getting in their way wants/needs.There is total disregard for the feelings of others.I am now separated from my husband.He left because he was not happy.Its the second time he has left the family home.Again he self prioritises his well being /welfare.We have 4 children he has told them that I am to blamed has a narrative to justify his abandonment.At some level he knows he cannot be blame free but if I try to get him to acknowledge that he then turns it round and he plays the victim.It is an absolute nightmare seeking some sort of acknowledgement from him re the damage he has caused .I feel totally invalidated.Now he has discarded me because “people split up -move on”.He is as cold as ice and almost robotic.I feel so upset to have wasted all this time on a man who should come with a health warning”will cause destruction in your life and not care or own it”.I really don’t think he should have a family -he is a man with a family not a family man because he essentially wants to be alone order to lessen his anxiety.Why marry then?Why dupe me.I am an empath and feel utterly broken and totally unheard.He misunderstands most of what I say then takes exception.I love him and don’t know why .I would have done what it took to keep marriage together, but he refuses tithing he is on the spectrum despite his brother and nephews diagnosis and my suggesting he is for many years.The penny dropped for me at first I felt relief as maybe he could own it .However his lack of insight being what it is means he cannot see the part he plays in the confusion he feels in his life and an ND.I am now in therapy but can’t help but feel it is he who should be because of how his autistic lens affects his life and everyone who is in it.I am NT but I live and am affected by autism -it is a very difficult place for a NT to be.It feels like I am going over the edge-I have panic attacks and feel totally broken.25 years has taken its toll.He does know at some level as he used to tell me at the start that he “could not give me what I want”-red flags ignored by me-now look -all these years lost to a man who could not care less for me and had the nerve to tell me he felt no connection !Its constant gas lighting and projection and nobody seems to see it let alone acknowledge it.He should never have got married but I guess he wanted to try -now he has and has discarded me like I am nothing .He is cruel albeit perhaps unintentionally but the impact is the same.He need called out -he needs to see how he really is and how utterly distorted his autistic lens is.Do not marry someone who is seemingly measured and kind but on the spectrum fact is they have no interest in your world other than its impact on them .They are not giving you space they are totally disinterested as they only have self (auto) interest .What a very difficult unexpected end to my “relationship” where only I was involved in the marriage that somehow I am to blame for its demise(of course I am I am always to blame no matter what)

  • Shelly

    March 21st, 2022 at 7:32 PM

    I divorced after 33 years and 6 children. I just could not take it any more and this description is perfect. I have just now found out that I am NT and my X was ND, or austistic. How frustrating and crazy making! Lonely was absolutely the right word. No intimacy! In 33 years I cannot ever remember my husband ever asking me how my day was or how I was feeling, or anything of that nature. He could talk at length about his work or things that interested him but never relate to anything I was doing or cared about.. know I know why…wish I had his info earlier, not sure it would hav made things better but maybe.

  • Rose

    June 2nd, 2022 at 6:16 PM

    All the therapy in the world does not help. How my boyfriend thinks is the way it is always. Even when he is dead wrong. I can see something that will be a terrible choice, and in a minutes notice if he is extra impulsive, that will be the route he will take. it causes repeating history over and over. He seems to like to sabatage when things are kinda going smoothly. I will never understand this.

  • No hope

    June 3rd, 2022 at 10:13 AM

    Thank he is a boyfriend and you have no kids with him, I implore you to leave. We are doing all kinds of therapy and systems to make it last, but it will never be good. Even once they can recognize they are part of the problem, the brain wiring can’t be changed. Don’t feel sorry for him. He has his special interest. He will be just fine.

  • ASD x 2

    June 5th, 2022 at 3:00 PM

    Can anyone here report from a marriage between two ND people? I’m writing from a marriage between two people in their 30s-40s, both late-diagnosed with ASD level 1 (would be Asperger’s if they still used that term). ADHD, GAD, C-PTSD, and dysthymia are also factors. At first we understood each other well, but over time, being misunderstood has become the norm. The pain feels similar to what’s described here with NT/ND relationships. We both put in good efforts to understand the other, talk regularly, attend therapy (individual and couple), etc. but it does not bridge the gap in understanding true intentions, and being constantly misunderstood is extracting a toll that’s too high to keep paying.

    As an aside, the cruel comments from NTs here are quite frustrating to read. (In particular, authoritative statements about how autistic people works strikes me as ND-splaining that comes from someone who could work on their empathy a bit). Just FYI, if you assume autistics have no empathy–don’t try to make the relationship better or to meet your needs, don’t care about how your NT mind works, don’t feel tormented when they accidentally hurt you, etc.–well… you just might find what you *think* you’re seeing. That’s a limited viewpoint that strikes me as ironic given that many people here complain about autistic people not trying to understand others. Anyone making such a complaint might look in the mirror and consider whether they’ve mastered such a skill enough to judge it (or its lack) in others.

  • Exhaustive efforts

    June 29th, 2022 at 7:01 PM

    If ND readers are flummoxed regarding some NT comments, I suggest you read the authors other article “Married with undiagnosed ASD”. That article describes perfectly the erosion of self etc after many years in this type of relationship. It is extremely difficult to describe 15, 20, 30 years of absolute devotion and the exhaustive effort of keeping yourself and your family afloat when your partner has undiagnosed ASD (Or unable to have success in therapy etc). My partner comes from generations of undiagnosed ASD and the ensuing masking, deflection, projection and often narcissistic traits that have kept his family empowered and wealthy. He was diagnosed as a child but it was kept secret. It wasn’t until our children were radically different as babies that I sought help and through their diagnosis and psychologists observing my husband, we realised he came from a long line of ASD. We have been together for 17 years, I have done exhaustive therapy, classes, courses, study etc to help us as a family (from all my efforts, I could of had a PhD in something I loved!). I deeply love this beautiful person (he is beautiful in what he does but nit to me after the first 14 months) but at the end of the day (even though he says he loves me, and he does as much as HE can) he treats me like utter garbage, and to have children watch this is unbearable (no birthday celebrations for me, basically no photos taken of me in 17 years, no affection, no normal way that you would hope to see your parent loving and honouring the other).

    The nature of a relationship is an eco system, a co-regulation. In many ASD partners, that is not possible. Parallel isolated systems can not nourish and nurture each other in the way that promotes health, life and expansion.
    A family is an eco-system, it is awful and unfair if the other Adult is a solo entity “bio-sphere” just plonked down in the middle of an inter relating eco-system.
    Relationships are interactive, when one person reflects a void back to you (thats representing you) this creates a deep deep pain and loneliness that is impossible to articulate.
    There needs to be an awareness and practical steps taken for some ASD people to understand trying to do a NT relationship is unhealthy for everyone involved. At the moment my husband is living downstairs in an apartment because as he gets older (He’s only 50 though) he is finding his sensitivities even higher, his energy for masking and seeming social etc is much lower. He can no longer feign interest in other people’s emotional realms.
    But still he swears “He doesn’t have autism!!” (But records repetitive stimming music, repeating same 2 bars of music over and over that he listens to 14 hrs a day with headphones)
    Please dont harshly judge Nt’s for their comments. Most people i know through therapy have spent 15 + years researching, thinking and trying every minute of their relationship trying to make it work. These are kind beautiful accomplished wonderful people who have basically given up their lives to help their ASD partner. It is because of our love and empathy that we stay and try SO hard. It’s a brutal dynamic that rarely works as a family.

  • Athena

    July 24th, 2022 at 4:17 PM

    For Tom….I hope you have moved on by now. I know your pain; I need to end it also; no children involved, thankfully. There is zero connection; what once existed has been destroyed by the gaslighting and verbal abuse, triangulation, and manipulation. Third time around that is keeping me stuck, as I dread the process in my 60’s.

  • Hollow

    August 25th, 2022 at 12:21 PM

    I am blown away reading the comments here by NT partners of ND individuals. And I had no idea there were groups of people experiencing the same isolation, pain, soul crushing attacks, and utter hopelessness that I have been enduring for years. Thank you for sharing your experiences here. I am now too old, sick, impoverished, emotionally injured, and completely without family or friends, to get out and try to build a different life. My question is, how would I go about finding a therapist that specializes in NT/ND relationship trauma? Is there any help available for those who are poor?

  • El

    November 12th, 2022 at 10:57 PM

    That’s a self-serving of autistic men stereotype that serves NT wives. Maybe you married a sociopath, or maybe your ableism blinds you to how you reject and diminish him.

  • Doris

    December 6th, 2022 at 12:19 AM

    My husband knew and didn’t tell me about having ASD found it out after we got married.

  • Rose

    January 21st, 2023 at 7:51 PM

    give them direction to a good therapist and then save yourself. Years of staying proved losing myself in something that could never change. When something improved another heavy problem appeared and formed into another investment of time and patience that is never returned. I told him we could be friends, and he argued that. Lol

  • Sally

    March 18th, 2023 at 8:27 PM

    I have been cripplingly lonely for 20 years. I never knew this sort of a situation existed until I got into it. It’s strange to love someone and feel so alone at the same time. He ignores me all the time, for years on end. Problem, he is my only family. My heart goes out to all of you. Unless you experience it firsthand, it is impossible to understand.

  • Louise

    March 30th, 2023 at 6:58 AM

    My Aspergers bloke is not intentionally cruel; he is stable, kind and sincere; but I am desperately lonely, starved for years because he does not ever offer physical affection or any words of love. It doesn’t sound like much but those of you who are in the same position will certainly understand. I love him and do not want to leave for so many reasons, he is the most adorable man in the world to me, but one day I may have to. I am dying of thirst for my love and affection to be reciprocated. My messages attract dry and factual responses, if any; my heart simply yearns for proper connection with him. I have had to withhold myself all these years so as not to overwhelm him. I am getting very sad more often and becoming emotionally disturbed.
    One commenter above wryly said don’t worry about him if you break up, he has his special interest and will be fine. Spot on.

  • Derek

    May 2nd, 2023 at 11:31 AM

    better off alone.

  • Gwendoline

    May 23rd, 2023 at 4:40 PM

    We have survived nearly 40 years of marriage, by the grace of God but its been hard. I honestly think I wouldn’t have married him if I’d known how lonely it would be, at times I have felt publicly humiliated by his unthinking treatment of me.

  • Nohope

    May 24th, 2023 at 12:34 PM

    Hugs, Gwendoline. I’m beyond grateful for my children, my God and my interests. Without these, this situation is simply unfathomable and quite frankly unsafe.

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