Is It Still Gaslighting If My Partner Has Asperger’s?

Young couple sitting in coffee shop in disagreementAuthor’s note: It is always a challenge to choose genders when writing about neurodiverse couples. Here I use the example of an autistic man and a neurotypical woman. I don’t mean to imply there are no cases in which this is reversed. It’s just that at this time, men are diagnosed at a 4:1 ratio to women, and in my practice, it is the majority of men who are the autistic partners. This could reflect the higher frequency of autism among men, or it could mean more couples like this present for counseling than couples in which the autistic partner is female. It is also important to note that individuals on the spectrum can be susceptible to gaslighting from others, and I will address this in a separate article.

In my work with neurodiverse couples in which one partner is autistic, one of the words I hear most often is “gaslighting.” Here’s an example:

“It would be one thing if we just fought like other couples who eventually make up. But that’s not how it is with us. Instead, we argue about something, and he tells me I’m being irrational. Or childish. Or critical. Then he shuts down. Often, he storms out of the room. If I try to bring it up later, he tells me I’m imagining things, that he didn’t say that, or if he did say it, he didn’t mean it the way I took it. He says I’m being too sensitive. And he shuts down again. I’m left feeling as if I’ll explode with frustration. I’m furious. And I have nowhere to go with it. I start to wonder if he’s right about me. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Is this gaslighting?”

Gaslighting Defined

In brief, gaslighting is a term that derives from the 1944 movie called Gaslight in which a husband successfully manipulates his wife into doubting her own reality. The husband in the story has a dark secret which is at the root of everything he says and does to his wife. To him, she is not a person with her own interior life. She is a pawn in his selfish game, which until the end he plays shrewdly enough to cause her to doubt her own version of reality.

“Instead, we argue about something, and he tells me I’m being irrational. Or childish. Or critical. Then he shuts down. Often, he storms out of the room. If I try to bring it up later, he tells me I’m imagining things, that he didn’t say that, or if he did say it, he didn’t mean it the way I took it.”

In reference to the flickering gaslights in the story, this effect has become known as gaslighting: intentionally treating a person in such a way as to cause confusion and cognitive dissonance, which eventually lead to collapse into self-doubt.

Of note is that at the heart of the husband’s motivation is a desire for riches, symbolized by jewels. This part of the story is often overlooked, but it is worth consideration when we are talking about autistic behavior.

Questioning Reality in Neurodiverse Relationships

First, let’s return to the comments of the neurotypical partner I quoted above. One way to view her statement is in terms of gaslighting, just as it is laid out in the movie.

In this model, time after time, incident after incident, she is cajoled into questioning what her own eyes, ears, and heart are telling her. Finally, she gives up. She begins to believe the mirror her partner holds up to her reflects an accurate representation of who she is. In order to believe that, she has been forced to discount any impulse of her own that contradicts such an image. She collapses into self-doubt. His manipulation has succeeded. Does this make him right? His smugness suggests that he believes so. He feels clever. He has won.

What would motivate someone to treat another person this way? Such manipulation may be observable in certain personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD). In short, it is not healthy to intentionally set out to dominate someone else by negating that person’s reality. Such individuals leave a trail of emotional wreckage in the lives of others. Shelves full of books and countless hours of therapy are devoted to helping those victimized by such manipulators.

Looking Beyond the Behavior: Self-Protection

Behind the behavior of the personality disordered, there is an unconscious drive to protect that which feels threatened, which is usually the person’s self-worth. In twisted logic, anything that might compromise such fragile emotional integrity must be extinguished at all costs before it can extinguish the very life of the manipulator. This may be felt as desperation.

As a result, manipulation can be rationalized. It may not be viewed as a choice but rather as a necessity for survival. Incidentally, there is no respect for someone who can be manipulated, which makes further mistreatment easier and may even be viewed as what the person deserves.

But this is not the motivation of someone with autism.

The Tragic Dance of the Neurodiverse Couple

The jewels an autistic person guards could best be described as personal integration and a sense of security in who he is. Threats may come from feeling overwhelmed emotionally in the face of what seems like unmanageable ambiguity and uncertainty, which often lead to untenably high anxiety. Reducing that anxiety, consciously or not, is the most likely driver for behavior that appears to be gaslighting in someone with Asperger’s.

Reducing that anxiety, consciously or not, is the most likely driver for behavior that appears to be gaslighting in someone with Asperger’s.

Often, this person is oblivious to the harmful effects of his behavior and doubts the validity of someone’s observation that it might be gaslighting. The fact is that I have never met an autistic person whose conscious intent is to manipulate his partner.

But the key phrase is “conscious intent.” Because even though a person with Asperger’s may not mean to manipulate (gaslight) his partner, her actual experience is the same as it would be if intent were there.

In short, we have a couple in which one partner feels as if he is fighting for survival and another partner who feels as if she is fighting for survival, and in a two-way charge, one person’s means of doing so obliterates the reality of the other. It is what I call the tragic dance of the neurodiverse couple.

Addressing the Tragic Dance in Couples Counseling

The autistic person can learn in counseling that his behavior has the effect of invalidating his partner’s emotional life. He can come to understand that even though he does not intend to inflict such pain, the effect is real. Her dismayed and perhaps argumentative behavior is how a neurotypical person might justifiably respond to what feels like manipulative behavior from someone else. She is not trying to criticize him. She is trying to express her pain.

More often than not, this realization is met with deep remorse and often guilt. In time, he can learn to understand his own way of being in the world without judging himself harshly as being wrong or defective, because that is not the correct metric. Emotional support for him is key to his growth in this area.

The neurotypical partner can learn, first and foremost, that her response to feeling manipulated is normal. Her pain and confusion are normal. They are valid. She must be allowed to acknowledge and heal her wounds, because it doesn’t matter whether she was stabbed intentionally or inadvertently: she is still bleeding.

The second step, though, is to begin to understand that her autistic partner is not trying to hurt her; instead, what she experiences as manipulation is his way of trying to reduce omnipresent anxiety, which usually derives from a lifelong experience of not quite getting things right when it comes to understanding someone else’s emotions. She needs emotional support in order to move forward. At the same time, she also has to come to terms with the fact that her partner’s way of offering this support may not align with her idea of what that support must look like.

The way to view communication in a neurodiverse couple, or any couple, is in terms of its effectiveness. This is the only metric that matters. It’s not a matter of who is right or who is wrong. The goal of communication is mutual understanding. In order to improve communication skills and strategies, recognizing differences with an effort to respect them without judgment becomes the foundation for growth in the relationship.

When I work with couples, we concentrate on slowing down conversational speed, considering linguistics and the formal logic of argument, and identifying the emotional subtext and context inherent in communication. It takes time. It takes practice. It is not always successful. When it is, it can be described as a process of two steps forward and one step back as two parallel lives learn to build bridges between two lines that will never completely merge.

Learning to trust deeply after years of being hurt, having the faith that being vulnerable one more time might be worth the risk, accepting that one’s interpretation of another’s behavior may not be the same as that person’s intent: these are the challenges.

It can’t be gaslighting without the intent to manipulate. Regardless, it can feel like gaslighting. Education about neurodiversity, skilled counseling, and communication in renewed mutual respect create the tools for interrupting this revolving door.


Gaslight (1944). (n.d.). Retrieved from

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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.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Jsnnette k.

    March 11th, 2019 at 8:37 AM

    I found your discussion on neurodiverse and neurotypical partners very relevant. As a sibling of a brother on the spectrum I witnessed the tragic demise of my brothers marriage as he and his partner aged . Aging was extremely hard on their marriage .

  • Sarah Swenson

    March 11th, 2019 at 10:08 AM

    I’m glad you found this helpful. Aging can be very difficult in a neurodiverse marriage for many reasons. I send warm regards to you.

  • Edna

    January 8th, 2020 at 9:07 AM

    Why is aging harder on a neurodiverse couple? My husband is an Aspie and he was finally diagnosed 2 years ago. It has been a struggle, to say the least; however, we are seeing a therapist and that does help.

  • Lisa M.

    March 13th, 2019 at 8:53 PM

    Very good and enlightening article

  • Sarah Swenson

    March 19th, 2019 at 7:18 AM

    Thank you, Lisa. I’m glad you found it supportive. All the best to you.

  • DJW

    May 5th, 2019 at 7:28 AM

    As a wife of a yet undiagnosed person living with what I believe is Aspergers, it’s a double whammy ; not only is he the one who causes the hurt, even if he sees it, he is unable to give any comfort at all. It’s a lonely place to be – 31yrs on, my options are still open for me….

  • KTK

    May 21st, 2019 at 8:20 PM

    I, too, found this quite helpful. It doesn’t help to suspect or accuse my companion of gaslighting if he is unaware he’s doing it. I had already noticed he does the same thing to himself. When he recounts a story of a situation in which he felt judged or uncomfortable, he rewrites it to cast himself in a better light. His distressful experiences don’t seem to imprint as clearly as do mine, so he’s forgotten the many times he’s been inconsiderate, rude, or deliberately (in the moment) hurtful. I’m trying to forgive, but can’t forget.

  • Katherine U.

    May 27th, 2019 at 5:11 AM

    I am a psychotherapist with Asperger’s and I felt this article was a bit one-sided. I noted that the autistic person can learn how their behavior is hurtful and it is “normal” for people to respond in an argumentative way, while the NT can learn her behavior is normal. Personally, I have had my experience discredited by NT men (as well as perhaps the general population growing up), and it has really caused me to struggle with my ability to self validate. I don’t know if you have worked with couples where it is the autistic person’s perspective being missed, perhaps you need to amend this article to include those examples. I’m always a little weary when NTs try to write about people on the spectrum. It’s a little like a man writing about women’s issues, a straight person writing about the LBGT+ community, or a Caucasian person describing the strife of the African person. There are plenty of therapists, researchers, and writers on the spectrum. With respect, it would be more appropriate if you let us write for ourselves. We are a minority but we are quite capable and don’t need a NT to speak for us.

  • Elaina

    June 8th, 2019 at 12:10 AM

    Katherine, the focus of the article is not the Asperger person but his/her neurotypical partner. So please let the partner’s side to be listened to. There are plenty of websites and articles to support autistic people and not enough to support NTs who are stuck and gaslit by AS partners. Please, make your comments and observations on AS platform and let us NTs have peace and understanding here. Thank you.

  • Katherine U

    August 10th, 2019 at 6:08 AM

    “Please, make your comments and observations on AS platform and let us NTs have peace and understanding here.”
    Do you really think it’s appropriate (or even legal) to ask a certain group of people to stay out of a public area? I don’t know you, but I find that quite shocking.

  • R. D.

    November 12th, 2019 at 12:07 PM

    What I once thought was satire aimed at the overuse of the AT/NT Binary, has revealed itself to have a much more sinister bite to it than I originally thought. It reinforces the misconception that the ‘PROBLEM’ in these relationships is having developed feelings for a spouse who was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. You have amateurs diagnosing jaded, unsophisticated and antisocial people as “undiagnosed Autism” rather than simply accepting that there are people unhappy and are 100% willing to make everyone around them unhappy too. That, in turn, encourages people to lend weight to the stigma of the “Autism” label, making out living, breathing, FEELING human beings – with a full range of difficult-to-express (for them) emotions – to be some kind of wretched, inhuman, sinister entities.

    What I think Katherine is expressing here, is that there *IS* such a thing as explaining a problem in a two-way relationship without taking *EITHER* side, that’s basic sense in ethical journalism. There is a shortage of articles that ask both parties to own their damage, and a MASS MULTITUDE of articles that try and say that one side is being haplessly victimized by a demonic tyrant (based on Gender, or Diagnosis, or Ethnicity, etc.)

    It’s your site, you can exercise your First Amendment to your heart’s content, so long as your webhost is okay with what you post, I’m not going to try and play Thought Police. I *WILL* advise that your readers are encouraged to think of relationships as worlds colliding (in equal ways positive and, yes, negative), and that BOTH parties need to be equally willing to compromise and care for one another in order to make it work, else it is doomed to fail and they will both cause significant harm to one another in the meantime.

    For what it’s worth, kudos on having the courage to stand up for your beliefs, be your opinions popular or unpopular. Human opinions are like grains of sand on an endless Beach, but it’s up to each individual to determine what brings THEIR OWN life meaning and substance, and I’m all for people doing the best they can with what they have.

  • Carolyn

    March 25th, 2020 at 3:09 AM

    I so agree. Please let us NTs find the support where we can. Life is hard enough living with someone who hurts without apparently understanding what he is doing – although, he does not do this to anyone else, only me. I am a coach, empath and HSP. I know how to communicate. Have studied, taught and written about assertive and compassionate communication. I no longer argue. I speak clearly on subjects that won’t cause anxiety. And still he loses it over ‘nothing’. Sometimes I just can’t cope. Please allow us a space to find some refuge when emotions become overwhelming.

  • Brenda

    November 25th, 2019 at 2:22 PM

    This article is specific to how a person with autism in a marriage effects the neuro spouse. There are plenty of articles written about your situation. An autistic never could write this article because they cannot read the emotions of their spouse.

  • R. D.

    November 26th, 2019 at 5:23 AM

    If there’s one thing this “AS/NT” binary has confused, it’s the fact that personality is a series of sliding scales: nature and nature, morality, worldview, opinions, actions and even the goals one sets for themselves. There is no idyllic and Utopia-esque human subspecies versus a more insidious and unworthy human subspecies; there are differing individuals across the globe, no two identical, each trying to find their place in life.

    When addressing marital issues, the focus should be how human beings should treat other human beings, not based on fictitious binaries that try and split all of mankind into two neatly cut squares and trying to force everyone (at least in one’s own kind and one’s message) into one of those two conveniently *symmetrical* packages.

    Not everyone with Depression cuts. Not everyone with Anxiety is a shut-in. Not everyone with a dash of Schizophrenia is running through the streets screaming and being chased by imaginary demons. Yet you talk as if every married person who got diagnosed with this new hotword “Autism” brings misery and sadness into a relationship.

    I disagree with saying “there are plenty of articles defending-”

    No. There are plenty of articles ready to place all of the fault of any miscommunication or tension in a relationship on a single person based on Skin Color, Religious Views, Diagnosis, Sexual Preference and/or Identity, etc.; What there actually IS a shortage of, is articles talking about successful marriages when one party has been diagnosed (by a qualified professional) as being in the Spectrum, because they do exist.

    I met someone online who thinks every obnoxious person who lives on her block, who she butts heads with at the grocery store, who serve her a meal she didn’t order at a restaurant, is “obviously” on the Autism Spectrum. That everyone who is kind, gentle, warm and loving is “Neurotypical”. That kind of thinking is toxic, especially when people feel a need to broadcast these views and draw in others who lack the education or exposure to resist falling into the same trap of demonizing individuals with an AS diagnosis.

    I don’t like to see “Neurotypical” demonized either. In fact, there is so much one-sided, polarizing BS on “NT vs AS”, I wish nobody had popularized yet ANOTHER divisive label with which to divide and confuse people with.

    I would’ve rather read an article on how neuro-different relationships pose challenges for BOTH sides, than see one side cast in warm fuzzy light, and the other with…. Well, something scarier.

  • Ana

    December 27th, 2019 at 2:06 AM

    thank you

  • Rather

    February 24th, 2020 at 6:00 PM

    She is writing from the NT perspective and answering her question about gaslighting.

  • Beth

    June 9th, 2019 at 9:58 PM

    This is the closest anyone has come to describing or understanding the dynamics in my 25-year marriage, despite many years of individual and couples counseling. I think we may both be aspie.

  • Tammy L

    June 20th, 2019 at 9:46 AM

    It appears Katherine U has just validated what neurotypicals have been expressing about people on the spectrum. Her own mindblindness and inability to empathize was a huge validation for what neurotypicals experience when dealing with people on the Autistic Spectrum. Katherine’s comments support that even education in the field of psychotherapy cannot overcome the mindblindness, lack of empathy and the need to be right. She does not have a clue what a neurotypical spouse goes through on a daily basis. She is unable to grasp the dynamic or empathize due to the nature of her own Autism if she were able to, she would not have expressed the unempathetic comments that she did.

  • Katherine U

    August 10th, 2019 at 5:47 AM

    The comments about “mindblindness” are ugly stereotypes. Today people talk about a “double empathy problem” meaning that it’s not autistics who are just missing the NT perspective but NTs who are missing the autistic perspective. Because I am expressing my views which challenge this article does not mean I don’t understand the perspective of partners who feel missed by their other half. To say that I must have “mindblindness” because I’m autistic and all my education can’t change that is simply prejudice.

    Another user suggested I shouldn’t comment on articles meant for Nts. This is like saying we should have separate water fountains. This isn’t someone’s personal right wing blog that I have decided to comment on, this is a public mental health web site that publishes articles for all.

    I don’t want to argue or set myself up for being insulted further, I would just like for people to consider that it may not be as simple as one perspective is right and the other is wrong.

    My complaint about this article is that it claims autistic partners (who have a different perspective to their NT partners) are “gaslighting” their partners. It worries me that people (especially clinicians) still think like this. It’s not helpful for either partner actually. In my opinion, the article misuses the term “gaslighting”. Gaslighting is something done to purposefully mislead others, but the author writes that when the autistic partner realizes they are doing this (implying it wasn’t on purpose) they have “remorse and guilt.” A healthy relationship is one where both people make an effort to understand how the other works. I think we are all on the honour system. Part of that means trying our best to be good to each other, but also not using unfair words to describe the actions of others, and being mindful of what might be prejudice.

  • Athena

    September 30th, 2019 at 1:12 PM

    The article says the exact opposite of what you think. The NT wife wants to know if she is being gas-lighted and, after much explanation, the answer is, no, because gas-lighting is something that someone does intentionally and with a harmful intent. I was very relieved to read the article because I have struggled with just this issue and used the same expression not even knowing that it was a regular issue for NTs in a relationship with an AS. So now I know it’s not gas-lighting and he’s not a psychopath and he doesn’t hate me and, now that I am emotionally validated and soothed, I can put my newly calmed energies into being supportive and understanding. Honestly, I don’t mean this to be upsetting, but I really needed the NT perspective and was just overloaded with guilt when you added your comments.

  • Pea

    January 12th, 2020 at 8:49 AM

    Just right

  • Katherine U

    August 10th, 2019 at 1:07 PM

    I felt, in order to be fair, I needed to acknowledge that I got it wrong about the author claiming that Autistics gaslight their partners. I responded to your comment before re-reading the article (which I originally read months ago) She is really clear that there is no intent and I accept that.

    I only came back to this page because I’m doing a study on Neurodiversity and how people (mainly clinicians) view people with a-typical neurologies. I can hear that you have strong feelings about autistic people. I am sad that you seem to have drawn a lot of conclusions about what I personally know and don’t know and my levels of empathy based on a single critique of an article.

    I experienced your comments as being unempathic to my perspective, but it didn’t occur to me that you would lack the ability to empathize at all.

  • CS

    September 3rd, 2019 at 3:20 AM

    As an NT in a relationship with an un-diagnosed hfa boyfriend, I find this discussion confounding. Honestly, I have no agenda here, I am speaking from the heart. I have spent years researching, listening to YouTube vids, and reading to educate myself about Autism, so I can support my boyfriend and have a happy relationship. I have made changes, compromised, sympathized and supported him through countless personal and professional challenges. And been delighted by his perspective and learned so much from him. He has also supported and loved me and I believe would do whatever he could to make me happy. He is a brilliant musician who teaches young kids and turns them into highly talented players, who find professional work in their field and are accepted to some of the best graduate music programs in the country. I understand that he processes the world differently than I do and have made every effort to make our home a place where he can feel safe. He deals with an immense amount of hurt and confusion in his daily interactions, much of which I think would be helped by an official diagnosis, but that’s another post entirely. And I listen to all of it, I do so gladly (most of the time) because I want to be a good partner.
    He has 3-5 topics that he feels safe talking with me about: the cat, house projects, current events, etc… But when it goes deeper to an emotional level, it all goes haywire. And I know why and understand that, from his point of view, emotion is overrated and complicates things unnecessarily. I do my best to understand.
    And, he gaslights me. every. single. day. Multiple times a day. He denies, changes the version of events to save face that there is no truth left. And I am often the brunt of that thought pattern. He tells me that my experience is not real.
    I know his intention is not to harm me, but he does. Over and over again. So to say it’s not gaslighting, to say that it’s not manipulation – it’s like I’m being gaslighted. To say that I need to accept a partner that uses lies and distortion of the facts to deal with his disorder, and that I need to accept that is the most insane, confounding idea I can think of. To say that he has learned the social graces of work and outside life, so when he comes home to me he needs to feel safe, and part of that is by trying to constantly control and manipulate me is for crazy making. And I’m coming to terms with that maybe I’m not cut out for a relationship with an HFA. It’s me that needs to look for a different partner, so he can find someone who won’t take all of this personally and keep things light and emotionally detached – so he does not feel misunderstood and they don’t feel emotionally abused, which is my reality and what I am experiencing. For me, in this relationship. Just as he has the right to experience the world away from the demands of the NT schemas, I also get to have my own experience. I don’t mean to offend. I have so much love and respect for him in many ways, and for the Asperger’s community. But I can’t live it anymore.

  • Athena

    September 30th, 2019 at 1:45 PM

    I wish I could give you a big hug. I completely understand because I am going through a very similar process. We were going to try an intensive couples retreat, but it fell through because we couldn’t stick it out long enough to attend. I love him dearly but he has no idea when he causes me pain and, when I use my “I” sentences (I feel ___ when ___ and I would love it if ___ instead), I get no response, like null/void, and then we just spiral downward. I try not to “flood” him with my emotions, which are usually stirred up because my emotions are ignored. I wanted to fix myself to be a better partner but it’s all a total loss now. I forgot to mention the story-changing: one day he seeks sympathy for some terrible thing that happened and the next day he’s telling me what a great thing happened and how much he enjoyed it, and I’m like, huh? It’s really too bad, because I was starting to understand and appreciate his way of expressing or distancing from things. But then all sorts of betrayals happened and it all fell apart. Oh, dear, I’ve lost my boundaries in all of this. Sorry.

  • sapphire11

    October 30th, 2019 at 8:21 AM

    Hi CS,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience of being an NT in a relationship with a HFA man. Your experience is so much like my own (except that my partner and I did not live together), and it was validating to read. Our relationship just ended after 2-1/2 years and even though I read everything I could about being in a relationship with a HFA, although it helped to understand that he never, ever means to cause me harm with his behavior, it didn’t help me to feel less hurt or isolated by it. Our breakup is recent and we have acknowledged that we still love each other, there is attraction, and we have a lot of fun when we’re together. Like your partner, my guy is also a brilliant musician, so we played music together. I was so happy when he brought me into his world by sharing music with me. However, I noticed over time that my interests were pushed to the side in favor of his. When we talked after a disagreement, I had to be the one to bend. I only just realized that he was bending just as much in the relationship as I was, in different ways, but I had to let things go when we got into talking about emotions. You end your post sounding like you feel you each need partners who are a better fit. That is what my now ex-bf and I have decided, but it’s heartbreaking. He sees it very logically and to me, he seems much more at peace than he was when we considered ourselves a couple, but I am in so much pain, feeling that I could have done more. After reading this article and your post, I feel validated by my own emotional responses to his behavior (which I know was never intended to cause me harm). I have been still trying to understand what happened between us, and I realized that we each have diferent needs in a relationship. And neither of us is wrong for having those needs, it’s just because of how we’re made. We’re made differently. I love him so much and I feel there were reasons why I was drawn to him. He has amazingly beautiful qualities and in some ways a purity, for lack of a better word, in that he always means well. We both did a lot of bending to try to accommodate each other’s needs, and it’s only since our breakup that I understand that he was very likely bending as much as I was, and we both hurt because of it. I am still thinking about ways I might be able to save it, but after reading your post, perhaps it is best that I leave it as it is, with him as a friend, and each of us finding what we need in a partnership elsewhere.

  • Maybe I am a robot

    November 4th, 2019 at 8:44 AM

    If he can pick and choose who he ‘gaslights’ and when, doesn’t it show some level of intention and awareness. If they put the effort in to making up the lies to cover their behavior and story changes about what happened, same thing. They had to rethink and come up with a different version and they don’t do it with other people. My husband doesn’t have a good job because he unintentionally twists and misunderstands what everyone says all day. It’s only me. He can hear my daughter say the same exact words I say, and hear her, but when I say it he can’t hear it correctly, he turns it in to some kind of drama or problem. We’ve tested this. Something happened to my car on our daughter’s 16th birthday, she’s now 20 and it’s sitting in the same spot. He didn’t see any reason for me to have a car anymore when she could drive. He can always get food when he’s working so no need for me to go grocery shopping. His completely competent and capable brother needs anything he runs right to the store. I found out he’s been doing his grocery pick up for awhile now. We constantly have problems because he refuses to maintain our home but if there’s a nickle size spot of oil in his dead mother’s driveway it’s an emergency. I could go on for hours about how he is able to make these choices about how he wants to treat different people. See where I’m going with this.

  • Dee

    December 4th, 2019 at 3:58 PM

    CS, I hear you. And I agree. I am gaslighted by my Aspie It really doesn’t matter whether it’s the ‘intent’ to hurt, or the intent for self-preservation. It’s still a lie, still manipulation, still deception. I’m done also.

  • R. D.

    December 27th, 2019 at 11:11 AM

    Autism can’t just be arbitrarily *bestowed* upon someone by a partner, friend or relative who thinks the person is socially awkward or emotionally unavailable. Maybe they’re just difficult, maybe they just don’t love you as much as they’ve said they do, that’s as much as can be determined without a formal assessment and evaluation from a qualified neuropsychologist.

    I’m genuinely sorry you seem to have ended up in a relationship with someone who gaslights you, who can’t see things from your perspective. I really hope you can find the peace and autonomy (in mind, body and spirit) every human being deserves!

  • Jen

    October 14th, 2019 at 7:56 PM

    I am not sure they don’t know they are doing it. I tell my aspergers husband over and over that his denying having said something he said literally said seconds ago like the speech bubble is still attached to his mouth ago drives me completely insane. Recently he told me we had to turn at 86th Street several times then he drove past. I said you missed the turn. He said no, it is 92nd. I said you said 86th. He denied it. We looped around that a few times. I said I was tired of his lying about what was said, that he had said 86th several times, he had never said 92nd ever. I knew he knew he had. He said he meant 92nd and in his head it was 92nd. He did not know he said 86. I fell he just could not admit the mistake. He cannot ever admit a mistake and when caught out cannot admit it nor apologize. It is exhausting.

  • An Autistic Person

    October 14th, 2019 at 1:12 AM

    Autistic people can’t be manipulative, because they lack the social skills needed in order to manipulate.

  • Jen

    October 14th, 2019 at 7:42 PM

    I disagree. I think there many on the spectrum who can manipulate.

  • An Autistic Person

    October 15th, 2019 at 11:55 PM

    Well, perhaps that’s true.
    However I don’t think it’s a common trait.

  • pasta

    November 23rd, 2019 at 3:47 PM

    The fact that the number of neuro-different couples you see in your work who are ASD male and NT female is much greater than the reverse can also be explained by at least one other possibility. It could also be simply because there ARE more ASD-M & NT-F couples than there are ASD-F & NT-M couples in the real world. Maybe there are more ASD-M looking for a mother figure than NT-M looking for someone to take care of. Do we have statistics on these other problematic situations?
    On another topic, I’m not sure the mere fact of a person gaslighting one person as opposed to everyone he meets is a sign that he is doing it on purpose or not. It might be a tendency to gaslight people who are close to him, or who are a captive audience (people living or working with him).
    I think a better sign is: does he do it in front of his parents or his in-laws, or their friends, or in public. If he stops himself, it means he is *somewhat* aware of it, which is a good starting point, unless he is sociopath, which is possible.
    Maybe gaslighting was part of his own family dynamics and he was built with “sick” bricks-and-mortar, and he doesn’t know any other way of relating to close ones.

  • Ana

    December 27th, 2019 at 2:02 AM

    “I don’t mean to imply there are no cases in which this is reversed. It’s just that at this time, men are diagnosed at a 4:1 ratio to women, and in my practice” : in your practice men are diagnosed at a 4:1 ratio to women because diagnosing Asperger on women is really difficult. Women with Asperger has been masking all their traits since the beginning of psychology and labelled weirdos and that’s it. I’m an Aspie woman, I have been recently diagnosed at age 40. I´m also a psychologist myself, with not only a bachelors in psychology but also a MSci in Psychology Research that I obtained at one of the best universities in the world. Have done plenty of psychotherapy with all sorts of meds and psychologists from the best to the worst. STILL, I wasn’t diagnosed until now! Immediately after my diagnosis I started pointing at other Aspie women in my family. We are not 4:1 we are equally 1:1. Just, we spend our lives undiagnosed, masking all our traits and receiving 0 help :)

  • R. D.

    December 27th, 2019 at 11:15 AM

    Something that has significantly less exposure than the divisive AT/NT binary conflict, is narcissistic partners who pair up with someone who is on the Spectrum (or who has other social/emotional/psychological difficulties) because they can gaslight their disadvantaged partner, and play all kinds of sadistic mindgames with them, because everything about the AS partner makes it difficult for them to find support or validation out in the community, among people who can’t (or merely won’t) relate.

    Personal experience speaks louder than statistics gathered by people nobody knows, on studies nobody we know has participated in, using subjects none of us have ever met. And personal experience has taught me that there are plenty of people who systematically prey upon the socially awkward/inept and use them for narcissistic supply, because people are quick to dismiss their complaints/objections with “oh, he’s/she’s autistic, and probably just not understanding his/her partner’s point of view”.

    I would love if you could do an article on this! :)

  • Dawn

    December 28th, 2019 at 8:55 AM

    Bang On! One thousand thank-you’s for this article!! Married nearly 17 years to AS husband, I feel as Beth does that this is the closest anyone has come to explaining the dynamics of my marriage. Despite much effort, I could never really put my finger on it, or explain my situation clearly. All I know it the pain, loneliness, resentment and disappointment I feel.
    Question: If the AS person doesn’t intend to hurt, and is not aware they are doing it, how can they possibly stop/change. No amount of explanation will convince them that they are doing anything worth changing. My husband “is never wrong” and dismisses my feeling. He has many wonderful qualities but this behaviour just tips the emotional scales for me. Am I forced to decide to continue living this way or leave? Is there really any hope?
    2nd Question: How do I help my AS 12 year old son? I do not want him mirroring the behaviours of his father. He may or may not marry in the future, still I want him to have meaningfull healthy relationships with the people in his life.

  • BB

    January 2nd, 2020 at 12:31 AM

    Thank you so much for this space and these articles!!
    I have a brother with asperges and an ex boyfriend, and I have always felt that I was wrong, because of my upbringing with my brother and his opinion of me and my “wrong” emotions… I am so fed up with it and so angry as I have tried to understand it all of my life and finally realize that there is NOTHING wrong with me!! Aspergers has – if you are close to them – the ability to make YOU feel wrong because – in reality – they feel wrong and can’t bear the feeling. So they have to project it out onto other people.
    I have thought and fought for my right to be me for all of my life in these relationships and it has affected me greatly. I am done with carrying the weight of their feelings of being wrong, and they dont know that they are projecting because they dont have the ability to realize what they are doing cause they can’t feel it, so they dont know.
    They are probably not even aware that they are feeling this, because feelings just complicate things right…?! WRONG! Feelings tell you if something is right ore wrong. Feeling have messages to you. They are to be listened to. They cary great wisdom that aspergers will never get.

  • Julie K

    May 6th, 2020 at 12:41 PM

    Sarah, thank you so much for the light this post has shed. Gaslighting tends to be confined to “narcissism” in most circles …… but I was convinced all along that my h did not intentionally manipulate me, thought all along he didn’t realize what he was doing. Since I stumbled upon this post a few weeks ago I have read many of your other posts and most of Tony Attwood’s book. I am clinging to the statement, “If you’ve seen one AS, you’ve seen one AS,” because much of what I read doesn’t fit my h of 36 years ….. but then again so much does. (I’m not looking for a “label” to pin him with – just trying to get out of my confusion and feeling crazy.)
    Here’s a difference that is not commonly discussed, although I’ve seen brief nods to it in Attwood’s book. My h is extremely intelligent and pleasantly outgoing, with only extremely subtle social awkwardness. (Social and emotional reciprocity is another matter altogether.) He spends all of his life on the computer, either as a master programmer or as an inveterate surfer of information. The thing is, he has no anxiety, and only extremely rarely any anger. As a young child he was diagnosed with a very high IQ and subsequently put up on a pedestal his entire childhood, sent to elite schools, etc. He sees himself as of superior intellect and thus, by definition, “right.” Anyone who challenges his thinking is “wrong.”
    So this statement you made in your post doesn’t “fit” either:
    “Threats may come from feeling overwhelmed emotionally in the face of what seems like unmanageable ambiguity and uncertainty, which often lead to untenably high anxiety. Reducing that anxiety, consciously or not, is the most likely driver for behavior that appears to be gaslighting in someone with Asperger’s.”

    I noticed your words, “the most likely driver” for apparent gaslighting. I guess what I’m looking for is validation that there are pleasant, superficially engaging autistics who functionally gaslight out of a sense of *superiority.* His lifelong experience is one of being superior to everyone around him.
    I’m the only one who sees it because I’m the only one he has deeper conversations with and the only one who tried to confront him concerning his communication issues. He literally tried to convince me I was mentally ill, in addition to the constant blame-shifting.
    I think I’m concluding: just like any other human being, an AS person can be humble or can be prideful. That makes all the difference in a relationship.
    Thanks in advance for any response!

  • Pia

    February 12th, 2020 at 12:10 PM

    This article is not only ableist against autistics, but it is also ableist against people with cluster B personality disorders. Moreover, the use of outdated functioning labels is a wildly harmful practice. You should engage with the autistic and cluster B communities before publishing articles that 1) harm marginalized people and 2) could have been written without mention of any disorders. Unbelievable.

  • pasta fresca

    February 14th, 2020 at 10:47 AM

    Very often, the far-right propaganda resembles the far-left propaganda. Conservative far-right politicians who want to eliminate all benefits and services for minorities (the few who get any) sometimes want to make us believe that differences are not real (which sounds like a far-left talking point), and just let those people who need services & benefits rot.

  • Amy

    February 14th, 2020 at 1:19 PM

    I am autistic and I think you are interpreting the autistic perspective incorrectly here. The double empathy issue probably is at fault. When the husband says he didn’t say something or that he didn’t mean it that way it’s because he was trying to communicate something different from what she “heard”. A lot of communication is body language and tone which NT and autistic people use differently. She probably got a different message than he was trying to communicate. Add on top of this the re-editing we all do without conscious thought to our memories. She may feel gaslighted but he probably does too. It’s difficult being misunderstood and making people angry without meaning to all the time. Maybe try being a little more understanding and empathetic of the autistic experience as well.

  • mentsh

    March 11th, 2020 at 6:11 PM

    This is my thought, too. He probably feels just as gaslit and invalidated as she does, but no one thought to ask him because he doesn’t express emotions in ways that NTs can pick up on and understand. I don’t think the wife is intentionally gaslighting him any more than he is intentionally gaslighting her. But he probably has very logical explanations for his behaviors that no one is listening to and is just getting their feelings hurt, and they’re not giving any credence to the way he sees things. It’s such a lonely and isolating place to be when you’re in the neuro-minority, and everyone points the finger at you as the cause of the problems. That doesn’t mean an NT should have to stay in a relationship that isn’t working for them. I get that it’s painful when the two people’s “operating systems” aren’t compatible. But recognize that the pain goes both ways.

  • Sinead

    March 25th, 2020 at 12:06 PM

    I’ve been with my partner for nearly 3 years, I’ve suspected of him being Asperger & ADD since a year ago (when we moved in together). It’s the gas lighting that’s the worst part – makes me feel like I’m going insane. The formal language, the robotic body language, the dead-behind-the eyes-look, his inability to socialise and he boasts about how robotic he is. I hate it. He boasts about being logical and intelligent, but he doesn’t posses an ounce of common sense. Confront him with anything and he freezes like a deer in the headlights or starts yelling. I do not see him being in my life for much longer, it’s like I’m his mother and he’s my son… so very very unattractive.

  • wendy

    March 28th, 2020 at 3:45 PM

    My ND partner and I the NT found this described exactly what was happening in our communication . we both feel validated and understood by this article. Thank you as it has been calming to us during a rough and confused day of us both in tears .

  • Fadel

    April 18th, 2020 at 1:14 AM

    I don’t know if I am Asperger, but so many things in this article relate to me, I have been called manipulative by my ex, and it really hurt me to be viewed as such when I know my self I wasn’t manipulating anyone. I wish I have read more about my issues two years ago. Its too late. Thanks for taking the time to write this article.

  • Marion B

    May 6th, 2020 at 1:39 AM

    Thank you so much for this article. For the first time, I feel like this is exactly how I have been feeling for the 23 years of my marriage. I just want to copy what you have written and read it everyday to help me cope, particularly in this time of lock-down. I rang LifeLine today just for someone to talk to. This has really lifted my spirits!

  • Julie K

    May 6th, 2020 at 12:47 PM

    Marion B, I know just how you feel. I’m so sorry but am glad you reached out to talk to someone and that you found some relief here! I just posted a new comment and wanted it to appear as a new reply, but it might appear under BB’s.

  • Marion B

    May 6th, 2020 at 8:33 PM

    Julie K. – I wish you lived down the road from me – we could be such a great support for each other. What you have said is “spot on”. My friends think he’s great and don’t believe me when I try to talk about my despair. My closest friend responds by saying “get him to find a hobby, like my husband just just bought a motorbike and goes out with his friends for a whole day” when my husband’s hobby is to stay home and play with our finances and track the visa card purchases. H wants me to contribute financially (after 20
    years of being fully “at home’ mum and wife) as I have recently gone back to part-time work with basic wages. I am loving having my own bank account (which he is resentful about) but he wants me to contribute to our combined finances and when I finally agree after lots of arguing, he says “I’m bitter”, which he will deny later, like when I remind him that he referred to me as “a babbling brook” when I asked him to “open up” to me. This was apparently because I talk so much, he hasn’t got the space to. So now we just walk past each other all day and the silence is deafening. Some would ask “why don’t you just leave”? H has the finances all sown up and I don’t have any enough personal money. Don’t get me wrong, there is no physical abuse here, he’s a great father to my kids, I just feel so lonely sometimes. But my “faith” gets me through from one crisis to the other and as much as I love my 90 year old Mum, when she goes, I’ll have some of my own money to get my own house, down the coast, somewhere cheap. Sorry about the rant! I just wish there was a support group (like AA, NA) somewhere close I could talk and others would understand. Still, I have found this forum AMAZING and will continue to be a part of it. Thanks to everyone including people who are ND, find your own forum or be a part of this one and learn from it. No-one is saying you don’t belong. My h’s extended family are all ND so I understand what it’s like as a NT to not belong, every Christmas, birthday etc!

  • Tim

    May 14th, 2020 at 11:29 AM

    My issue with this article is that you don’t appear to allow for the possibility that the autistic guy is actually right.
    Sometimes people are irrational and childish and it’s entirely fair that the person on the receiving end of that behaviour calls them out on it.

    Consider that scene in “Mad Men” where Don Draper falsely accuses his wife of flirting with his boss/friend just because she was polite to him when he came over for dinner. She is very hurt by this accusation and it was completely unwarranted. Would she not have been entitled to tell him he was being ridiculous? Should she have just pretended that she was, in fact, flirting with him just so that she is not “invalidating his feelings”?

    The only manipulative person in this article is the NT girl. She is basically saying “I am allowed to be completely unreasonable and if you dare to defend yourself against my accusations by using logic then I’ll cry”.

  • J Kong

    May 14th, 2020 at 2:58 PM

    Hi Tim. Since I’m here, I’ll add a couple thoughts to your post. 1) A writer can’t address all scenarios in one post. She’s trying to make *this* point, and not another one. 2) Of course situations like you describe happen often. And I’m thinking: it’s possible (and usually wise) to validate someone’s feelings *without agreeing with them.* When one’s feelings are recognized, one is often enabled to see past them and hear an alternative viewpoint from the other person.

  • Marion B

    May 14th, 2020 at 5:29 PM

    Hi Tim, my Mum used to cry to manipulate my long-suffering father which worked) and this I never do because it is a callous, gutless thing. Now that he is gone, my mother feels “bad” about it but sadly too late because she contributing to him dying a physical and mental wreck. So, I’m just saying, logic is great, absolutely but as NT, we have to understand that our Aspie partners brains work almost robotically which has it’s advantages for sure! Just don’t ask for sentimentality or anything that requires feelings. Imagine not being able to understand feelings, to just go by hard data all the time, to “colour by numbers” when people need to be comforted after a sad event (or a happy one). I have had to learn to deal with the “data”, to read what will cause my husband may be thinking and cut off any misconceptions before they begin to take a hold, eg. “flirting with a colleague” by saying something like,” I would never be interested in him because eg. he is too smug, too boring” etc. My Aspie has said things like “Women have their own bank accounts because they are planning to leave their husbands”. Ok, maybe some do but not all, but that is what he has been told and that is “data” so that’s what he believes. I can only say That is how it is for me.

  • Rich W

    July 4th, 2020 at 12:29 PM

    Thank you Ms Swenson. This article is so well stated and offers such amazing insight for AS-NT couples that frankly I am surprised at the number of fellow Aspies who have replied to argue with or criticize this article, despite the conclusion that the Aspie partner is *NOT* gaslighting. But it can feel that way to the NT partner. Fellow Aspies, please. You know that mindblindness, or difficulty seeing the thoughts and intentions of others, is at the core of Aspergers/HFA. Accept that you struggle to see the NT partner’s feelings. Accept that your partner can feel gaslighted or manipulated even though you’re not trying to manipulate. Rather than being defensive, ask your partner about those feelings. We can’t intuit them, so we can only learn them by asking and accepting the answer. And if you can, let your partner know those feelings are valid. We don’t have to agree that we remember things differently. But there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that our partner might be right. In response to @Tim, I would say that the guy may actually be right more often, but in the end, in almost all cases, who’s right is less important than the relationship itself. Ms Swenson said “It’s not a matter of who is right or who is wrong. The goal of communication is mutual understanding.” and this was my biggest takeaway from this article. Very valuable insight, and very fair treatment of the issue. Well done!

    @Julie K, I’d just like to take a second to reply to your question, not only because it’s a great, heartfelt question, but also because I felt like you were talking about me when you described your husband. For a moment, I wondered if my wife hadn’t written your comment. It was only the “h of 36 years” that let me know you weren’t talking about me (we’ve been married for 21 years). “My h is extremely intelligent and pleasantly outgoing, with only extremely subtle social awkwardness…He spends all of his life on the computer, either as a master programmer or as an inveterate surfer of information…he has no anxiety, and only extremely rarely any anger.” That all describes me very accurately, and from what I can gather of other Aspie’s, “no anxiety” sets us apart – anxiety is VERY common with ASD.

    Your question was “I guess what I’m looking for is validation that there are pleasant, superficially engaging autistics who functionally gaslight out of a sense of *superiority.*” For me, I can see how I come across to others as *superior*, even though I’ve never actually felt superior. My wife has told me I always have to be right. And my first thought when she says that is “not *ALWAYS*”. I think that itself is the problem. I pick apart her statement, because “ALWAYS” is not accurate, but I focus on that rather than what she is trying to communicate about her feelings. I miss the point. She’s not actually trying to communicate that I ALWAYS have to be right, even though that’s literally what she said, she’s trying to communicate that she feels invalidated and small when I choose to focus on that rather than what she is feeling. So I think we can both make some adjustments – I can do better to see what she is really trying to communicate (but it is *super* hard, because mindblindness is really at the core of ASD, right?), and she can do better to use more accurate communication. Don’t say “You always have to be right.” Say “I feel invalidated and unacknowledged when you nitpick the things I said and don’t see the feelings behind it.” But that’s *super* hard too, because she’s used to NTs who can just read the feelings behind her statement without using accurate language to describe them. To complicate matters even more, she probably doesn’t even really recognize that she feels invalidated enough to describe it – she just feels it. It’s not her. Me, you, everyone doesn’t always recognize our actual feelings.

    I’m only starting to recognize these things – and the added level of complexity that ASD brings in to the relationship. I was only diagnosed less than 3 years ago. And it has been a mighty, mighty struggle in our marriage. But as I go to counseling and continue to read more about ASD and relationships in general, I think I’m slowly, very slowly getting better. I really like what Ms Swenson said about her counseling: “When I work with couples, we concentrate on slowing down conversational speed, considering linguistics and the formal logic of argument, and identifying the emotional subtext and context inherent in communication. It takes time. It takes practice.” I’ve been through a number of tests with my psychologist, and one thing we discovered in that process was that for me, almost all of my ASD problems can be attributed to ‘slow processing speed’. The tests showed that I have ‘low average’ processing speed. I just need more time to process information, especially emotional information. Given time to process, I can often bring myself to see the intents and feelings of others. But most interactions don’t afford that processing time, so I end up lost. If we are able to slow down the conversation speed, as Ms Swenson tries to do, it goes a long way toward me understanding my wife, and her feeling understood. “It takes time. It takes practice. It is not always successful.” I would even say it is more often unsuccessful. But when it is successful, it’s great. And we’re slowly learning to be successful more and more.

    Anyway, I didn’t really answer the question, but hopefully it was helpful. It was helpful for me to write it down. Best wishes to everyone struggling with this tough, tough issue.

  • Marion

    July 5th, 2020 at 2:22 AM

    Hi Rich. I really like what you posted. You sound so like my h! “Who’s right is less important than the relationship itself. Ms Swenson said “It’s not a matter of who is right or who is wrong. The goal of communication is mutual understanding.” Well done

  • Jennifer

    July 7th, 2020 at 11:09 PM

    My estranged husband is Aspbergers. He badly hurt my daughter’s hand during one of his rages. I asked him if he continues to use my car could he please contribute to the costs,. This turned into a verbal assault. After he had smashed my daughter’s little hand in the door, he jumped out on my front door step and yelled “Abuse, this is abuse, you tried to prevent me from leaving!”.
    While I drove to the ER with my 6 year old, he wrote me text messages about how I had prevented him from leaving my home and so it is all my fault. I again apologized to de-escalate. He said that I was responsible for the doctor’s bill because I caused this.
    This was manipulation, control and bullying. He always gets away with it because he can turn his rage on and off at will. I lost my job. Again. I’ve tried to get him help, but why would he want help. He controls us and his whole family with his rages, tantrums and gaslighting.
    Do you believe it is possible that NPD and ASD exist on the same spectrum?
    He is never accountable for his actions.
    He also spoke of what a good father he is in the days following.
    I feel hopeless and so alone.

  • Julie K

    July 8th, 2020 at 9:27 AM

    Rich W – more in a few days, but I want to say right now: your response was an incredible gift to me. Thank you.

  • Marion

    July 8th, 2020 at 4:51 PM

    Julie, this is unacceptable in anyone’s book. For your daughter, it’s not just the physical harm (terrible) but the social (shame – (in front of the neighbours) and the emotional harm that wounds. This man does not seem to have boundaries to his emotional state. I hope your daughter is OK and the injuries to her hand are able to be healed.

  • J

    July 8th, 2020 at 9:59 PM

    I noticed quite a few female autistics getting upset with this article, claiming that it does not properly represent their experience as someone on the spectrum. As a female with autism who has been in a long-term relationship with a male with autism (and who has had male friends with ASD)…I have to say that autism is often expressed very differently in men than it is in women. Especially if a man with ASD spends their whole life undiagnosed and traumatized because of it. The male brain is different than the female brain and their autism can be a whole different animal. There can be lots of unintentional abuse as they have a MUCH harder time accessing their emotions, which are extremely complicated given that men aren’t supposed to be so sensitive. This is hard to understand unless you have lived it. Not everyone’s autism is created equally!

  • Susie

    July 20th, 2020 at 3:57 PM

    My boyfriend manipulates and lies and he is autistic. He gaslights me. I tested to see if he was gaslighting or just didn’t know what he was doing. I started recording our arguments. I let him know when I started recording and just like that the gaslighting stopped!

  • Julie K

    July 20th, 2020 at 5:22 PM

    Susie, great strategy! I recorded with permission though and it didn’t stop. Interesting.

  • Jeff

    August 14th, 2020 at 4:44 AM

    I’m interested to hear views about whether alexithymia (inability to identify and describe emotions of oneself or others), a common ASD trait, could have something to do with this discussion. This first occurred to me when my former partner described how we had had a big fight a number of months earlier, which I’m almost 99% certain did not happen given that I have visceral memories of, in fact, us being sexually intimate at that exact place and time. It was in the middle of the afternoon at her family’s cabin, and the couple who was visiting with us for the weekend had gone off to canoe out to an island. My memory is of a delicious, sort of mischievous, time as we snuggled under the covers of the daybed on the enclosed porch, periodically poking our heads up to see “are they still out at the island?” It was like being youngsters again, doing something naughty while the “old folks” were away (my partner and I, who are solidly middle-aged, actually had a very deep, intimate, almost spiritual sexual relationship). My former partner used that as an example of our “constant fighting” saying “remember that big fight we had while our friends were canoeing out to the island?” What really blew me away was when I later told my friend (the woman in the couple) about this and she said that, in fact, she and her partner had had a fight that morning and that was why they had canoed out to the island – to process what had happened. This is all conjecture on my part, of course, but it made me wonder whether my former partner had created a story based on a recollection that SOMEONE had had a fight, but because of alexithymia she didn’t have a clear recollection of who, and by having the story be that it was US, it helped relieve her anxiety about leaving our relationship. The ending of our relationship was very painful for me because in any attempts for me to hear from her what was not working, the examples she gave were like this story. This article resonates so much with me because I don’t think she was “gaslighting,” because she truly believed the stories she told me, but the impact on me – huge cognitive dissonance – was the same. I still believe she is a beautiful human being, possible undiagnosed ASD, and am struggling with whether and how to reach out to her to share this possibility. I welcome any and all thoughts on this. It’s not easy being a human, for any of us. Kudos to all of us for staying in the fight! (and compassion for those, particularly in positions of power, who cause immense harm).

  • Jules

    August 14th, 2020 at 9:06 AM


    It is definitely not easy being human!

    I can really relate to your story. I’ve been in a three year relationship with a man who always relates the best and most intimate moments of our relationship as some kind of abuse or dysfunction. Many autists are abused and this leads to cluster B personality disorders, but it looks quite different from when a neurotypical has a personality disorder. Sadly, every time you are intimate with them they perceive it as some kind of threat, because subconciously they associate intimacy with abuse, because this is what happened to them as children. My partner won’t respond to something in the moment, but at a later point will accuse me of doing or saying something that I did not. He has almost no empathy, so he cannot understand why this behavior is hurtful. He does this in his workplace too and will likely lose his job, and has lost all of his friends because he accuses them of things. He has severe alexithymia too, and cannot understand why he has sexual feelings towards me. And there is a lot of projection, which makes things even more difficult because he cannot own his own thoughts and feelings and places them on other people. The only advice I have is to be extremely cautious in persuing a relationship.


  • Jeff

    August 18th, 2020 at 5:47 PM

    Jules, that sounds very painful, and very familiar to me. I came across an article you might find interesting: “Trauma makes us shun kindness when we need it most.” Good luck with your situation. I hope that through the pain you can find learning and growth. I know that I have. Or I think I have. :)

  • p

    August 23rd, 2020 at 2:13 PM

    wow. 18 months later and 200 replies later, on every topic under the sun.
    this thread or even this page has gone from trying to help one person with one problem to everyone talking about any topic they want to talk about. I feel sorry for the original poster.

  • Julie K

    August 24th, 2020 at 7:49 AM

    p, your perspective is so interesting. Just because it’s so different from mine . :) As I started to read your response, I thought: oh, this person must see, like I do, the tremendous value of having a community here where we can share thought and insights. So I was surprised!
    In the end – different folks, different perspectives. And that’s what this is all about. 😊

  • Jules

    August 24th, 2020 at 7:55 AM

    Thanks Jeff,
    That’s a good article. Good luck to you too…

  • Kyle

    August 24th, 2020 at 11:12 AM

    I can relate to this article but both the article and the comments don’t give me comfort or hope. My wife has said that my intentions are irrelevant and I am always ready to apologize and make amends but I feel like she doesn’t or can’t understand that when she is hurt/angry for 1 or 2 days that due to my anxiety…I can barely stand it.
    I am not suicidal but I often would prefer being dead to the feelings of isolation and loneliness that I feel in these times. And when I try to bring up my feelings she talks about how selfish I am, how like a child I’m behaving, and how I always make it about myself. I know that I do make it about myself a little more often than I should but I regularly feel like nobody cares about my emotions.

    Even as I leave this comment now, I don’t think that I’m being fair to my wife. Apparently, I said things to her this morning that upset her and I now see that I was being callous but I 100% didn’t have any idea that I was hurting her.
    I would do anything to make it up to her and to feel like we are on the same team but I know that my feelings aren’t relevant.

  • MGB

    August 24th, 2020 at 6:18 PM

    This website was of immense help to me as a NT when I first joined it. It led me to a Aspbergers’ MeetUp meeting in Sydney which has been great. I believe that everyone as an individual is different, we all have different levels of inability to understand another’s point of view, anxiety and stress. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about massively talented people or just the ordinary work-a-day person we happen to be living with. The original article was to address a perception of gaslighting and to find out what it means and if it’s an appropriate term for how people with Aspberger’s deal with ambiguities in their lives and relationships. I don’t think we are talking about every topic, just helping people to cope, clarify and identify if what they are going through is really worth all the emotional pain, suffering and misunderstandings of living with a mental illness. Critical comment is important but only if it builds up and not tears down fragile emotional lives. This GoodTherapy thread has helped me so much but I find it difficult to read mocking comments and hurtful, angry words when really this is a place for care, understanding and encouragement.

  • Julie K

    August 25th, 2020 at 6:24 AM

    Kyle, my heart goes out to you. You sound like such a self-aware and kind-hearted person. Seems to me your marriage could be wonderfully helped with the right coaching from a NT/AS relationship coach. Have you tried this? This might not be approved ….. but there are some helpful resources online.

  • CC

    September 3rd, 2020 at 7:26 AM

    Isolation within isolation. A lonely relationship still after 18 years. Step family with dominant traits. I am a survivor of emotional yoyo realities. I hang on to the good days. Currently I happened on this article because I was searching for “something” to comfort me. Glad I found it. It’s lovely to hear your own voice via others’ experiences. May this communication blog continue for another 18 months and beyond. We are not alone. Thankyou!

  • Laura P

    September 22nd, 2020 at 3:29 AM

    I have just come out the other end of a two year relationship with an undiagnosed ASD man. At first he was kind, thoughtful, understood me like no one else, then I gradually noticed I hadn’t met any of his friends or family, I seemed permanently in my own seperate box away from his work, friends or family. It stayed this way for the whole relationship. I tried not to make a big deal out of it but I felt hurt. When I realised he may well be on the spectrum he admitted his friends had said the same. Gradually, he began to work more, almost pretend he didn’t have a girlfriend, wanted to stick with same routine at Christmas and all holidays etc etc, that therefore did not involve me. I found this article as I felt I was being gaslighted (having previously been in an abusive relationship with a narcissist). I felt bad all of the time but knew it wasn’t intentional. I started to ask myself if it mattered whether it was or not, as the effect was still the same. As I live with anxiety and depression myself, it fed into my own self loathing, which I felt like he knew. But as an empath, I continued to give, rarely receiving any support, emotional or otherwise. He won’t get diagnosed, I suggested CBT just for coping techniques when he has a melt down or loses control. He couldn’t bring himself to do anything to help himself or me. I had to compromise a lot – I always wanted children but was prepared not to to be with him. Before long I compromised on my own mental health and putting myself first. I compromised on the idea of him ever wanting to meet friends and people that I love, and knew that I would most likely never be introduced to his. I am heartbroken as he is a kind, clever, funny man, and I am in love with him.
    Those who have complained about this not being helpful or considerate of the ASD perspective – as others said there is enough information out there to learn about this. This thread is a lifeline and after two years I’ve never felt compelled to talk about my difficulties as an NT in an AS relationship. I feel like I’ve given up on him – but I had to do that rather than give up on myself and everything I ever thought I wanted in life. Its a lot to compromise in a relationship with an AS man.

  • R. D.

    September 22nd, 2020 at 10:07 AM

    I would love if we could stop with this “I was with an undiagnosed ASD man”. This propaganda from the Anti-Autism hate groups (like Heartless Aspergers) ignores the fact that random untrained, uneducated, unqualified individuals cannot just MAKE someone magically be ASD because they’ve exhibited one or two traits shared by COUNTLESS other traits exhibited by every human being on Earth at some point.

    That’s like me arbitrarily deciding that every Ex I’ve ever had was Dyslexic because my words and behavior may’ve been confusing to them, choosing to ignore that I’m unqualified to diagnose, and demonizing everyone who may AC

  • R. D.

    September 22nd, 2020 at 10:09 AM

    There is no “undiagnosed Asperger’s”, not in the context that Anti-Autism hate groups like and their cronies purport. They’ll tell you that anyone who was ever mean to them, argued with them, or disagreed with them was “undiagnosed ASD” and that “they are everywhere” like they’re sinister soulless demons hiding beneath a human disguise.

  • Jeff

    September 23rd, 2020 at 7:41 AM

    Responding to both Laura and R.D.
    Laura, my heart goes out to you. I have been through a very similar experience, and I know that the hardest part is how much we love the other person and feel helpless to help them.
    R.D., along similar lines, I think that most, if not all, of the people posting here are the farthest thing from hating the person who might be on the spectrum. I’m sorry if this thread is hurtful to you. Our hearts are broken precisely because of how much we LOVE our beloved one. Whether it’s ASD or whatever it might be, we are in pain because our loved one is living in such a different reality than us, and that makes life so hard for us, as well as them, and try as we might, we can’t find a way into their reality to find a common place to meet. A friend of mine posted this on Facebook recently, and while it’s about addiction, it captures for me the feeling of helplessness when I see my loved one – who seems to meet so many of the signs of ASD – struggling with life, and yet resistant to any help:
    Loving a person with an active addiction is the hardest thing you may ever do. Watching someone you love, who has fought so hard to beat the addiction, throw everything away and sink back into a life that will most likely lead to jail or death, is one of the hardest things you will ever do. All you wanted was to help them back to a clean and sober life but you realize by doing this, as you have before, will now just be enabling them because it will show them that you will always be there to bail them out. You want to grab and shake them and say “What are you doing?!?!” But, at some point you realize that it wouldn’t make a difference. So you sit back and watch the tragedy unfold, as if you are watching a movie. Feeling helpless to stop it, feeling like you haven’t done enough to help, even though you know only the person with the addiction can help themselves.
    A person battling with a drug and/or an alcohol addiction is a beast for the person struggling with addiction and the ones who love them. So l am asking you to stand with me in prayer for every family member and friend who has lost or is losing their battle with drugs and alcohol and those who continue to conquer this part of them..Put this on your page for one hour if you know someone who has or had an addiction. Many will be hesitant to copy and paste this as a prayer for those people suffering with this disease…
    And thanks💜
    So to Laura and R.D. and everyone, let’s be tender with each other. I agree with R.D. that hate has no place anywhere.

  • Laura P

    September 23rd, 2020 at 10:59 AM

    I’m not demonising anyone. I’m talking about my personal experience in this specific relationship with my own mental health issues in the mix. My ex was very aware he more than likely had ASD based on a lifetime of experience and more than ‘one or two traits’. We tried to work on this together, with the help of his doctor, and I had my own therapy also. It might also help you to know that I have a doctorate and am fully qualified to diagnose ASD. But that’s not my job in a personal relationship. You’ve made an awful lot of assumptions, I’ll assume you’ve had some kind of experience either as someone with ASD or otherwise, as you are jumping to either your own or others defence when no one was under attack. You should look at where that comes from rather than trying to shut down NTs personal experiences on an article about feeling gaslighted in an AS/NT relationship. Just a thought.

  • MGB

    September 23rd, 2020 at 5:13 PM

    I can just say now that one one hand we have a women who is trying to find answers and a balm for her pain and putting some of her heart out there in an attempt to make sense of her sadness. On the other hand we have cranky folk who are understandably so, so tired of amateur psychologists who want to label everyone with a mental illness. Either way, can we just comment without it feeling like we are dumping our frustrations and anger on some unsuspecting person? Please?

  • Anita

    September 27th, 2020 at 10:13 AM

    I have lived 43 yrs married to a man I believe may have aspergers due to comments from family, friends, co-workers and the life I have lived. He was intriging, handsome, educated, quiet, and I thought talented. Ten yrs older than me. I initially believed he was very attracted and attached to me and I felt needed and loved, although he did not, could not express it unless I asked him what he felt. He felt ridgid and I believed he was a gentleman and that we had similar beliefs and upbringing. After we married he completely stopped speaking to me and seemed angry or upset. No eye contact. As an 18 yr old with a baby on the way I tried harder and harder to please him. Nothing worked. Absolutely no communication, no planning, no vacations, no honeymoon, Unhappy anywhere we lived, no church, no social involvement only if we were with his Mom or Dad. This intelligent high college achieving man did not find us a place to live and actually had no visible means of income when we met. Family gave him odd jobs while he was very qualified for any position, Many years later I began to put many things that were confusing to me together and realized he had no plans for a job, marraige, children, home, and because I loved him so much, I would not let my self believe this was possible. Years passed and I gradually realized I was not always wrong, and that he did have many shortcomings. While aspergers men may not have eye contact or speak to you during a death, illness, birth or promotion, never show enthusiasm or show affection in front of anyone, they can divulge the most personal information or legally liable information at crucial times to your employees, co-workers and family. Like a gotcha, or retribution. He is never really wrong, never apologizes, or resolves conflict. Surprisingly he can do all these things with a boss or friend he wants to impress or keep in his life. I have changed enormously in the years we have been together. From a smiling, outgoing, forgiving, loving, compassionate, hardworking homemaker and full time employee to a confused, exhausted, overwhelmed beaten (literally) woman, to now a hardened, angry bitter person, who is finally aware of what happened. I believe his family knew what was waiting for me, and I normalized his restricted life. I now know my role is to prompt him to do what needs to be done, as it never occurs to him. This is called prompting, as his mother had always done. I am responsible for all aspects of our financial life such as bills, taxes, renters, wills, insurance, etc. Planning for a good outcome never occurs to him. It is almost like having an older child. He is unaware if I am sick, but after all these years he feigns concern, and never follows through. After the death of our oldest son, he allowed our daughter and I to take care of every aspect of his estate, will, homes, belongings, etc. When I suffered grief and an almost breakdown in the time after, he told he he had looked it up on Google and he was not responsible for me when I threatend suicide. He later moved in with his 90 yr old mother for 18 months while I almost died from grief, sadness, work, and trying to help our other children who were also in pain from their brothers death. During this time he drove his mom’s car, ate her food, used her electricity, and would occasionally drop in on me like he was my neighbor, who might want to have sex. He would then disappear for 4-5 days with never a call or plan for our future. When she died, my friends and family told me he will now cling to you and want you back. He did just this. I was kind to him and tried to believe he meant what he said to me. We now live in his mother’s house that he inherited and I have tried to feel like it is my home. He has not changed. I know he can’t. He does try to be with me. I feel empty and no longer want us to have a loving life. I see things for what they are. I wish I was strong enough to be a wonderful wife and make his life great. I have tried. I also try to implement the skills suggested like leaving lists, notes, calenders, requests for sex, meal planning, and to be OK with prompting everything. Sometimes I just feel lonely and I don’t want to use anyone or to manage him. I want what he does to be his idea, or inspiration. I miss being able to talk to someone. I was not raised like this and although my family was probably dysfunctional, we did show love and concern and passion. Things did matter and we were not ambivalent about everything. He can also be cruel and had seems to bate me when I am upset. This does not seem like the innocent, shy, overwhelmed aspergers. If you have not lived with a person on the Autism scale or had no clue what Aspergers even was, you can’t imagine the pain and confusion you can experience. He will never be tested or acknowledge, even though I have tried to empathize with him and tell him I am on his side. Do I love him? Yes. Do I want a good outcome and to salvage my family, children, grandchildren? Yes Do I want to be supported and not the supporter? Yes Am I broken and bitter? Yes I am strong enough to continue to live despite his childish behavior. I don’t want the be the leader or man in this family, sometimes someone has to take responsibility and stand up or you lose everything. We are not young now and our time is limited. I don’t know any more about his end of life wishes now than I did in 1977. I have asked gently and want to do what is right. In the end I will make these decisions like every other life question. Sorry for the rant. Just for the record, we don’t label our aspergers partner as monsters or criminals, we love them and feel responsible. But we do know that people sometimes communicate, listen, snuggle, cheer for you, back you up, defend you and can be selfless.

  • Rose

    September 28th, 2020 at 7:25 AM

    Hello, I dated a man who was so charming and attentive to me during the early stages of our relationship. Later I realized he hid alot
    untruths and did not let go of a past person that he keeps an intimate relationship with…She is married with children. when I told him I knew about him keeping her on the side, he said I was crazy and that he loved me…During a nother conversation about this woman, He shut down, screamed at me! and told me, He is bad! He does not love me! He later texted to say he missed me?????????????

  • R.D.

    September 28th, 2020 at 9:51 AM

    When you’re talking about people with erratic and inconsistent behavior, a propensity for deceit and triangulation and other types of manipulation, and people who are abusive and deliberately try and harm the people they’re with (or who are so damaged that they inadvertently damage their partners’ emotional/psychological/physical well-being), you’re NOT talking about “undiagnosed Aspergers”. These are generally cases with people whose traits fall under an acute Personality Disorder (DSM-5). Asperger’s isn’t a catch-all term for objectionable people, nor is it one for the quirky and eccentric but intellectually gifted. There are several traits, dating back to their early development (information that most people won’t have access to about the people they date/marry offhand), that can lead a professional Neuropsychologist to diagnose Aspergers. And in some cases, someone can have both Asperger’s *AND* other diagnoses, like Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Bipolar, Narcissistic Personality Disorders, etc.

    My intended takeaway is not that there aren’t misunderstandings and headaches that come with any relationship, because there are. Two “NT”/”Neurotypical” people under the most *IDEAL* of circumstances will face all kinds of communication and ‘cultural clash’ problems that will cause them unimaginable amounts of grief. Anybody who acts like they’ve been in a serious long-term relationship without any serious issues is either lying to you, or there’s enough independent wealth being generated that all parties can just focus on the silver linings.

    But one issue that I’ve seen come up, is when someone with ASD has had extensive involvement in the mental health community. They’ve had friends and acquaintances with all kinds of neurological disorders and mental health issues, and they have counseled (and been counseled by) Peer Support groups and professionals who have professional and personal insights into these issues. The issue isn’t that they have all of this insight and this wealth of knowledge, but that their partner treats everything they say as “Autistic Nonsense” (whether or not they think/say those particular words).

    But even bigger than that, is that these “ASD”/”NT” labels have turned into yet another polarizing subject matter, like the Democrats/Republicans/Liberals/Conservatives/Believers/Heathens/etc. topics. Now, you’re as likely to find people who are weaponizing terms like “Neurotypical” (by the Autism Community) or “Autistic”/”Autist”/”ASD” (by some of the hate groups and/or people who have been misled by them) to try and paint one “side” or the other in a negative light.

    (I apologize if my posts are coming through weird. The text box I’m entering this in is weirdly triple-spacing and double-spacing in places, so it’s hard to tell if I’m formatting this message properly.)

    PS: My intent isn’t to try and undermine nor negate anybody else’s experiences, but to introduce insights and information that don’t really seem to be getting introduced to the discussion here in the Comments section. I am absolutely open to the insights and information that can be supplied by other users as well! :)

  • Laura P

    September 28th, 2020 at 9:52 AM

    Thank you for sharing your story, Anita. I just wanted to comment to say, that I fully understand your position and you have absolutely done your best by him. It is not a case of you not being strong enough to be his wife – you have been incredibly strong to get to where you are now, raising your children (and him at times, by the sounds of it) whilst going through incredible grief and for the best part, alone. If that doesn’t show strength then I don’t know what does. Your last line brought a tear to my eye as these are things that to most couples and individuals come so naturally – you don’t truly know the important of these little things until you realise they are not available. I once stood begging my partner for a hug and he could not understand how it would fix anything. For that reason he wouldn’t do it as for him, hugging in order to communicate support, love or affection was not logical. It made me feel so vulnerable and hurt. You hurt, and yet you remain in love. It’s a very confusing position to be in. Good luck with whatever you decide for the future.

  • Rose

    September 29th, 2020 at 7:10 AM

    Run! I did all the foot work. I stayed way longer than I should have. The cycle of pain and lies and the arguments are insane! I did years of gathering information and even having him find a therapist due to the fact, that when he did Big lies he would suffer anxiety attacks and I would have to help him during those times. He would then when better flip everything on me! Run!

  • Marion

    September 29th, 2020 at 5:10 PM

    So much sadness and pain – my heart goes out to all you strong people who love so much – and hurt so much when that love is not returned in the natural normal way that most people express it. Now my boys are adults, it’s that time in our relationship that I can find stuff to do for myself and try to be available in the rare moments when I feel he’s the man I married 23 years ago.

  • Marcy

    October 6th, 2020 at 2:40 PM

    Thanks for your comment, Athena. For the most part, I figured this out a few years into my relationship, thank god.
    Katherine, I think what you’re saying is that you’re tired of AS people being presented as the bad guys, which I totally get. There is a movement to view AS as simply another way of being in the world (rather than a disability). I also understand that NT people need help acclimating to the AS perspective. In the end, it helps everyone. So, I’m grateful to the author. Like the first commenter, I’m also curious why the author commented that aging is difficult in neurodiverse relationships. I want to know what I’m in for….

  • Kelly

    October 8th, 2020 at 4:25 AM

    A huge THANK YOU to Sarah Swenson for this very important article and to everyone who has contributed to this thread. I happened across this article when googling “Living with a Partner with Aspergers” and the word gas-lighting caught my eye. I have been with my husband for 27 years and it has recently been suggested by a very experienced psychologist that he has Asperger’s…(as well as both our children being somewhere on the spectrum as well). This has been difficult to get my head around, but it explains A LOT about the extreme difficulties we have experienced and the ensuing anxiety on my part. I have learned so so much from reading this article and thread. The idea that my husband may be on the autism spectrum came as a total surprise. However, we also have two amazing, brilliant and impossibly frustrating children…one who I have long suspected has asperger’s traits and the other who is convinced she has ADHD…so this “diagnosis of sorts” has been a huge revelation to me. I adore my children and love my husband, which has kept my head above water most of the time, but I have always thought “I’m sure it’s not supposed to be this hard!” every. single. day! It’s a clearer, somewhat shifted view of my family I have now, but knowledge is power and I’m very grateful to have stumbled across this article. Thank you everyone xx

  • Marion

    October 8th, 2020 at 1:02 PM

    Wow Kelly – you and I have the same life! Different places, probably on different continents though!

  • Kelly

    October 8th, 2020 at 8:34 PM

    Julie K, I think you and I are married to the same man! I am new to the Aspergers rabbithole, but it has certainly explained a lot! Your comment felt so familiar to me that I actually called my best friend of 30 years and read it out to her. She too was gobsmacked at the similarities… and I’m somewhat closer to accepting that Aspergers could be the hidden controlling dynamic in our relationships. I think you, Marian and I could have a few good laughs over a cup of tea. Blessings to you amazing women and your husbands too.

  • eva

    October 11th, 2020 at 2:54 PM

    I found this blog because one of my friends has Aspergers, and I was looking for tips on how to communicate with him. I gave up any exchange on how we function or process thoughts, because these are subjective topics. So I tried to have only discussions about objective topics instead. But this didn’t work so much better because he seems to have a tendency to want to be right. For example, he sometimes denies having said what he said, when it turns out that this was wrong. Of course sometimes he is right, but that is not always the case. He also tends to pick topics in which I have more knowledge than him, as for example my native language, what I have been working with, etc. When studying, he tries to give advice on my university assignments. If I point out that this doesn’t answer the question, he might reply that the teacher is somehow wrong, or asked the wrong question, that the exercise is pointless, that university doesn’t teach the right thing, etc. I understood that I should just let go, let him finish talking and then change topic towards something more neutral. But after a few months, this is weighing on me more and more, also because he casually criticizes everything I do including eating habits, the way I study, etc. I lost patience with him a few days ago and tried to bring this up. But because I lost my temper, he genuinely got sad and anxious, and just shut down. Although I understand from the article that this is not gaslighting, it does look like it and I don’t know how to handle it.
    If anybody has experienced this with someone who suffers from Aspergers, what is the right way to deal with it? Of course, it works when I try to never react to anything he says, but this requires a level of patience that I don’t have anymore. He has managed to turn a lot of people against himself and is now quite isolated, and doesn’t understand why. So I don’t want to let him down. Any suggestion on how to handle it, and how to improve the interaction so that it doesn’t need to be frustrating for both of us?

  • Mari

    October 15th, 2020 at 11:26 PM

    My issue with this article and the comments is that it fails to acknowledge that people with Asperger’s are still unique, with their own unique worldviews, perceptions, upbringings, cultural background, early childhood experiences, personality traits, and degree of self-awareness. People with Asperger’s aren’t all cuddly, warm, innocent, child-like souls who never do wrong by anyone, but they’re not all sociopathic, heartless, “robotic”, or emotionally shut off either. They’re a diverse group of people and their behavior and dynamics in relationships and in life in general will naturally vary according to all of the aforementioned factors. Some people with autism ARE abusive, manipulative, cold, or just unwilling to compromise or take the time to understand other people’s points of views. Is it because they’re autistic? No, it’s because they’re assholes. Some people are jerks, autistic or neurotypical. Some of you have gotten involved with jerks who happen to be on the spectrum. That happens. It’s part of some people’s personalities to treat people in poorly. It doesn’t mean these behaviors are typical autistic traits. There’s a tremendous amount of stereotyping and putting autistic people in boxes in these comments. I get that people are pain, but don’t paint all people with Asperger’s as “unfeeling” or robotic or manipulative just because you had the misfortune of getting into a relationship with an autistic person who’s a jerk. Don’t speak for all of us based upon experiences you’ve had with ONE person who may or may not be on the spectrum.

  • Beverley

    October 25th, 2020 at 6:01 AM

    Huge thanks for this article and especially comments and discussion. I think a lot of this can really help me in my relationship: which is exactly the dance of the NT/ND couple. Many thanks, especially for pointing out the need for awareness about language.. emotions behind imprecise language etc. I hope to read it this with my partner as regular ‘couples counselling’ has be unhelpful. Wishing you all peace and much happiness.

  • Andrew

    December 2nd, 2020 at 5:11 AM

    Why does Autism, particularly Aspergers, time and time again sound just like NPD? I read countless articles, quora answers and therapist blogs that describe it in exactly the same light. I mean where does the difference lie? These people even lie to get what they want and to avoid conflict they also lie.

  • JulieK

    December 2nd, 2020 at 11:16 AM

    Andrew, I have been immersed for the last year in domestic violence training and for the last six months in researching adult AS in relationships. My current thinking: look at the *motivation* for their desire to control. Is it because they feel superior to the other person, and want control over them for selfish reasons…… or are they desperately trying to control their environment in an effort to maintain their own equilibrium due to brain wiring differences/ sensory processing issues etc? “Narcissim” is a *character* issue. AS is a brain wiring/physical difference and will co-exist with either a humble or a proud heart. So AS narcissim can co-exist but certainly not necessarily.

    My thoughts in case they’re helpful.

  • Karen

    December 29th, 2020 at 7:13 PM

    8 years into our relationship and he was diagnosed with AS earlier this year, whilst at couples counselling. I am NT apparently. The couples counselling arose after a reconciliation (the 3rd in 18 months) all arising from extreme porn addiction. As we have tamed that beast for the most part, he turned to alcohol. He has accepted at last, that he has an addictive personality and he suffers from anxiety and depression, which he maintains are the real issue. His temper has improved a lot but he still regularly gaslights me and flies into the most vile verbal abuse, when temper ridden, which is usually preceded by alcohol. His cognitive distortions seem to be never ending. He is currently having some specific short term therapy with a view to understanding his own behaviour, it’s impact and changes he can make. This is conditional on my part to continuing this relationship. Likewise I have learned as much as I can about being supportive and depersonalising his outburst and actions, and now understand how to improve my own self care. He tells me he wants our marriage to work and regularly (now) tells me he loves me at the end of telephone calls. We are living apart with a view to me moving back in next week, but twice in the last week, he has told a third party that I have informed him I am moving back in unilaterally and that he should be grateful. He also said that I had extensively called him for long periods of time which is just not true. It is he who calls me, for several hours at a time, and it is he who continually begs me to return saying he will change. Is this just him continuing to exhibit cognitive distortions or is he lying to me simply to get me to return? I am so confused.

  • JulieK

    December 30th, 2020 at 12:24 PM

    Karen, I feel free for you regarding the confusion. My AS/NT marriage is different from yours- aren’t they all- but as the NT I would put in this word: it may never be possible to get completely to the bottom of his character vs his brain wiring. In the end, you have to decide if you can live with the impacts on you…..:or not. Just my perspective after some agonizing years.

  • MGB

    December 30th, 2020 at 5:01 PM

    You have a long road ahead but I hope that all the therapy he is undertaking with make changes. It is possible, as change has taken place for the better in my marriage. There is so much sadness – we just all want to be loved and valued don’t we? I have had to find this elsewhere eg. good friends who I can have a laugh with, something to challenge myself with (in my case tennis) and my own faith, which helps me to ask questions, even when I know there are no answers.

  • Peter

    January 15th, 2021 at 12:38 PM

    You have it exactly backwards. It’s the allistic wife who gaslights the autistic husband by insisting that he is behaving in odd or unacceptable ways or that his communication style is the problem. Generally the autistic man is straightforward and clear in communication, but the allistic woman is indirect and doesn’t say what she means, leaving the husband no way to know what’s true. She interprets other people’s reactions to him and tells him about them, but when he checks with those people it turns out that they didn’t feel what the wife thought they felt. Allistic people act like they can read minds, but they are wrong just as much as autistic people are wrong. This article is written from a privileged point of view that treats the autistic person as the problem. Autism is not the problem. Allism is the problem.

  • faith

    February 14th, 2021 at 12:07 PM

    To Mari,
    I’m not sure if your autistic or not, but you sound like you are. Several autistic people have commented on this article and turned it into something about them, instead of sticking to the point of the article. Which is , I might mention, a big pet peeve of neurotypicals. People with Aspergers tend to turn an entire issue about them instead of paying attention to what the other person is going through. The point of the article was to answer a specific question and it was also dealing with the neurotypical side of things. The article wasn’t about exploring the diversity of autistic people. Because it was a question and answer targeted towards neurotypicals, neurotypicals are responding and posting the very real experiences they are having.

  • MBG

    February 16th, 2021 at 12:20 AM

    Peter, please understand that most of us aren’t saying that autistic people are the “problem” – that would be like saying someone with Downs Syndrome is a “problem”. The PROBLEM is how to best support two people in a relationship who are struggling due to both of their minds being “wired” differently. This is not about good/bad, honest/dishonest or anything along those lines.

  • Gina G

    February 16th, 2021 at 9:50 AM

    Without pointing the finger of blame at any of us (NT or ND) for how our brains were wired in utero, there are very real problems which arise from ‘gaslighting’ behaviours which look and feel a lot like domestic abuse in a marriage/ partnership, especially with children. I personally have been through divorce, family courts etc etc in last 5 years, as well as a very unhappy 3 years marriage before that, and I now believe it is much to do with undiagnosed autism, it is tragic for us all, especially the children. This article has really helped me feel less alone in my experience, which is on going and deeply damaging. So it may be hurtful and offensive for an autistic person to read that some autistic people have behaved in ways that look and feel like gaslighting, bit I think it is an important area to look at, as I wonder how common it is, especially with undiagnosed adults, who perhaps have no insight into their behaviour or the consequences of it on other people. We also have an autistic son, and I plan to make sure I help him understand these factors when he is older, so that he has a better chance at a happy marriage/ partnership when he is older.

  • MGB

    February 16th, 2021 at 11:32 PM

    Today I am feeling utterly exhausted with the continual round of emotions. If only every day was the same and I knew which husband I was coming home to. But with each new day, in order to cope, I have to conform and adapt to whatever personality he happens to wake up with. There is no regard for earnest promises made (eg “in future, I will cook and you clean up” which lasts for 2 days then it’s back to me doing everything). He feels he can change arrangements because he is “depressed” or something, but it’s tears and accusations and blame if I don’t consult him about changes to a prior arrangement, and I’m accused of not caring! Thankfully I get either easy going talkative and happy or sullen and moody and no conversation, or it’s accusation and blaming, so I guess one of only three isn’t too bad, now that I’m thinking about it!

  • Sumguy67

    February 24th, 2021 at 3:51 AM

    Good article. I completely agree and this scenario fits my experiences.
    The difficulties are clearly in communication. More so when one person is expected to act “normal” and the other to have a superhuman ability to understand the other. In these situations a neutral relationship needs to be developed BETWEEN two different worlds of understanding an not one person being pulled to the other side. This takes a huge effort on both sides. (and possibly a little help)

  • Ann

    March 17th, 2021 at 12:33 PM

    My brilliant partner has much of the behaviour described, I have been shocked to read it so clearly put. We have never spoken about his autistic, he is undiagnosed and seems completely unaware he has it. We have been together for over 30 years and worked out a lot but it has been lonely. How or should I tell him? I have no idea how he would respond. I don’t want to hurt him or make things worse but I would like to feel my own reality was less denied. Any advice?

  • Rosemarie

    March 18th, 2021 at 4:35 AM

    My partner is an older gentleman with aspergers, but he comes across narcissistic. He is manipulative, because he finds this way easier to get what he wants from people. He repeats himself and i find it difficult to listen to the same topic. He takes in a lot of fake news on YouTube – which if i don’t listen to him talk, i am not being supportive. He chooses who he’s nice to, which makes me feel is is able to be respectful and mindful with others but not me. He gaslights, manipulates, withdraws from me and can be verbally abusive. Is Autism and narcissism connected?…

  • guy

    March 19th, 2021 at 1:12 PM

    In my experience and research, Autism and narcissism are very related and can seem the same. The very big difference is intent.
    This difference, however, does not change how it feels to the person who has to deal with it. The good news is that with good communication and solid boundaries it can change with an autistic partner. With a narcissistic partner there is no change. That said, it does nto mean it is easy.

  • Andrew

    March 20th, 2021 at 3:41 AM

    This is my experience also, particularly if you consider that autism and narcissism tend to run in the same families. It just seems all trauma related brain development, although one is considered a personality disorder and one a developmental condition. They say autists are empathic but not all of them are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes, they just feel overwhelmed by the emotions present and cthen shut down. This sounds similar to how Borderlines behave too, who are considered overly sensitive, empathic yet with traits of Narcissism, it’s all such vague psychobabble-based conjecture dreamed up by a committee of pyschologists. I have an autistic family member and dated someone definitely on the autistic spectrum. Both seem to have a split in self and are stuck in a younger developmental stage of childhood, also like narcissists?? Is it just a variation of the same spectrum?

  • Jennifer

    March 21st, 2021 at 11:48 AM

    Wow. There are some very defensive commenters reacting to your article and other comments. I found it to be empathic and not attacking anyone. I am here because I just did an internet search to find out what “tone” is alright, or at least understood or acceptable, when a spouse has listened to the a) manipulative version of a husband who has about 90% of the symptoms of being high-functioning autistic where rather than asking me to do something applying HIS timeframe, he starts asking me other questions – knowing, it seems to me, that I cannot possibly meet his timeframe and that there is no need to aside from his sudden ambition to have me accomplish a task, followed by his repeating his efforts at least 4 times after I have responded appropriately (as best I can when reading manipulative spoken words and gestures) but not responding as he wanted, then 2) being told by him when after the 4th repetition of my answer, the tone of my voice evidences my frustration, that I should “listen to myself” and that I “have no right to speak with him that way” when all I did was disagree, again, but with frustation in my tone – or a phrase such as “as I just said 3 times”. Bottom line is, it seems to me, the non-autistic spouse, he is pushing me to do his will when it is not suitable or necessary at that moment AND, I should add, demanding that I accept his version of reality (that these are MY boxes full of MY supplies) which is simply not supported by facts. In other words, HE could do what he insists I do on HIS timeframe without pushing me the way he keeps doing. On point, was the fact that, after insisting that I had no right to express my frustration with being pushed numerous times with my earlier, non-irritated responses being ignored or not accepted, he said what he wanted, which was a statement that he had to right to control my tone – and walked out of the room in the process.
    THAT is why I landed here, not because there was an attack on so-called “Aspies” or a cajoling of so-called “neurotypicals”. I GET that it is difficult for people who often cannot follow the logic of what was said, or who get responses to an off-target joke or comment that indicate that he might have said something not understandable to all, or gone off on a private tangent . . . I get that this must feel pretty bad at times. That, however, does not alter the fact that every day, it is ME who is expected to change and adapt and accept the “way he is” because I can’t expect HIM to change. And it does not change the impact on self-esteem or relationship with reality and the effects of both those things on us in terms of having confidence to present ourselves in public say, for job interviews, or to meet with children’s teachers, or to start a business in order to earn income and feel some worth in other ways. Lastly, the thing that others have mentioned. My husband’s reality does not alter the fact that I feel alone, that other people do not understand the impact his behavior or non-behavior has on my life, or that I have no one who I can share the way I feel with and get empathy or even coping strategies.
    I am 60 years old and been married for 15. Before that, we were together and he was on good “courting” behavior and I was explaining away the times when his apparently self-serving behaviors caused me to be curious or concerned. I have wished to be divorced more times than I care to add up.
    So while I do understand and empathize with those who write above in some accusatory/defensive ways, I am glad this article was written and that others shared their experiences and concerns. I am quite certain that I would recommend anyone else against marrying someone like my husband (which I realize is unique to him) because there is much expected of the spouse and an incredible amount given, but much taken and very little given back – even if it can be excused.

  • Sarah

    March 22nd, 2021 at 8:12 AM

    I tried to rebuild with my partner but stuck in the same loop of feeling invalidated, unseen and unheard, never comforted and always end up comforting him. Defensiveness, being told to ‘f**k off’ if I am upset by something that has been said (and desperately, desperately trying not to be, knowing after 3 years it cannot be processed or understood and he will shut down). I know it is not deliberate and he is a wonderful kind man. But as others have said, the fact is, the effect is the same – can an NT live with that? I don’t think I can. I blame myself for having emotions and tears, he blames himself for not processing anything and causing me to cry (and I hate crying). I feel very deeply. I know he does too but he cannot express it. Time to let go.

  • Sarah

    March 22nd, 2021 at 8:22 AM

    Just to add – (sorry Jennifer I only saw your comment after I wrote) – I too am glad this article has been written and people such as yourself have come forward with your honest stories as I realise that all of this is not in my head. As a long term ‘sufferer’ of anxiety and depression myself it’s hard not to blame myself for even feeling like I need more from this relationship but in no way do I blame him for our incredibly difficult communication from two separate worlds.

    Sending you a virtual hug!

  • Jennifer

    March 22nd, 2021 at 3:27 PM

    Thanks so much for the virtual hug Sarah! That was sweet of you – sending one back atcha now!!
    I would never really tell anyone what to do in these circumstances. In my case – and it far too long a story – I had no choice but to stay after I left my great job and moved to the country he came from originally. There are days when I do need a hug, but he doesn’t know how to give one to me and, since he doesn’t and it has been mentioned, he can’t seem to do so without feeling that he is “complying” which is hardly what I wanted in the first place. I have given up or given in at this point. He has a good sense of humor and that matters to me. We are lucky that we have our regular house and inherited a “summer house” so I can escape at times and gather myself a bit. Feel capable. Do things in my own order. No 2 situations are the same – but the reason they created a diagnosis is because enough people have this constellation of similar behaviors, including an aspect of developmental challenge. My husband had those, though he has worked and excelled in the computer world. I asked the doctor once, in a visit for that purpose, and he said that given those behaviors it was likely “asbergers” they still call it that here. In his case, it seems hereditary as he has a niece and nephew, possibly more than those 2 (out of 6) who have even more severe symptoms – communication, abstract concepts, inflexibility etc.
    Would I ever tell someone to stay married with a person who has these challenges? I might be neutral, but I would never say to remain in a situation that is SO DIFFICULT & lonely if they felt they had less problematic alternatives.
    Best of luck Sarah whatever you do!

  • Steve

    March 24th, 2021 at 8:23 AM

    True to form, autism spectrum and cluster b folks read an article that doesn’t let them off the hook but reviews how their behavior affects others, and they just can’t take it and then respond in a way that perfectly fits the stereotypes of them. If you read any comments on an article or video made by a neurotypical regarding how they were influenced by an aspie or borderline, you will see nothing but aspies, etc writing “you are wrong and what about me?”.

  • Lena

    March 26th, 2021 at 7:14 AM

    Wow. I’m glad I’m not the only one experiencing this. I’m a Christian girl who waited for marriage to move in with my husband and many other things. He told me soon after getting married that my body wasn’t good enough for him sexually and he struggles sexually because “he thinks of the things that bother him about me” while having sex. Beyond that he is extremely blunt and told me my name didn’t need to be on his house, assuming I just wanted him for his house and his money. I feel like he thinks I’m out to get him. I’m a peacemaking person that has zero love of money or things. I care about people and relationships. He has completely misunderstood me. It’s so hard for me that he doesn’t see me for me.
    We have been seeing a counselor for about 6 months now and I finally asked to meet with him individually because I was on my last leg and he told me in confidence that he thinks my h has aspergers. My h doesn’t know it yet but all the signs are there. Very strict routines 8pm-bedtime(no later!). He has the awkward posture. Major sensory sensitivities with touch and hearing especially at night. He is basically asexual. He never sees my point of view and shuts down if I say anything that would require him to reconsider something regarding him. For example he had our cat in a physical hold, I asked him to put it down. He continued to hold it until the cat was growling and hissing and then I said “Put the cat down now!” Then he was pissed yelled “what is wrong with you!” Then stormed off to bed. The next day he goes on to tell me that animals need to know whose boss. Anyway, the list goes regarding black and white thinking…and I’m just a mess. We’ve only been married 3 years and I’m 31. I want to hold my marriage vows but I also want to have kids and I don’t know if I see that in our future. What do I do? Will it be better if he finds out? He’s very reactive and defensive.

  • Julie

    March 26th, 2021 at 9:05 AM

    Lena, he absolutely must know and seek to understand your differences for your marriage to survive. For you to survive. There’s a facebook group for NT Christian wives. You’ve got to start educating yourself on AS or you run the risk of being destroyed. I’m not exaggerating.

  • Leesah

    March 28th, 2021 at 4:03 PM

    As Suspected aspergers myself I can see why people are having conflicting veiws in the comments here. I often get accused of gaslighting, and have never understood why, so this has shed some light for me as to the way my partner sees the way I react. However im not sure i can change this.
    The article is absolutely correct in saying that there is no malicious intent from the aspie. Speaking from experience I actually get quite upset when im told im gaslighting because it isnt how it is in my head at all. Due to difficulties in reading emotion arguements often do feel irational or crital because I dont have the same thought process and it doesnt feel like my side of the story is being heard. I then cannot cope with the anxiety and frustration, and often do go into autistic shut down or “storm out”.
    Im not doing this to manipulate in any way i try to remove myself from the situation because i know if i dont i will go into meltdown or overload. I feel i often feel i cant have my own opinion if having listened to someone else i feel like i might be wrong I dont feel like i am allowed to change my mind and agree. What i mean by that is that i often feel like my opinion is decided for me, and i cant get round the fact that my opinion is my own and i have a right to my own opinion without someone else altering that opinion before ive said it. That doesnt however mean that i cant come round to thier way of thinking but i need to express my original opnion first and not be judged for being wrong, otherwise i feel im not entitled to an opinion at all. This will cause me to shut down. Another example is when u ask an open or closed question. I struggle deal with open questions because the answers are too ambiguous for me to prossess and i find it hard to know where i have interperated the question corrctly. So in actual fact often removing myself from the situation to me seems like the kind thing to do in that situation so that i can calm down and think about things more rationally before i respond.
    However this doesnt solve the problem as I then cant bring it back up myself as i need to feel calm and this is then a subject that will then feel confrontational. This often leaves my partner feeling like i dont care about his opinions or invalidate them, but in fact i am deeply upset that he feels that way. To me all ive tried to do is avoid a full blown arguement. It doesnt mean i wouldnt discuss it but i need an extreame amount of understanding. I need to feel that we have emotionally reconnected before we can continue without ending up in the same situation. This is often difficult because my partner will understandably be upset with me and not want to connect at that moment but without that its like a wall stands between us and we aint gonna get anywhere until we break that wall down and let each other in.
    It also comes up a lot that i will say I didnt say that or i didnt mean it the way you took it. The way i see it, if you throw something back at me without my exact wording it doesnt mean the same thing, to me everything is literal and this is what I feel people on the other side of this are not seeing, one slight change to me completely changes the meaning. I dont have a huge thought process on the words that come out and can often be vauge again not intentionally, i just dont think to put in the extra details. Therefore my perspective on things often gets missed or misinterperated. I also find that when people try to put it in perspective they cant because i dont naturally put things in order when I’m talking about them. so instead of getting a full story you get a jumbled list of bullet points, then even when i try to put them in order for you there still bits missing or that don’t make sence because I don’t give enough detail. I would love to be able to but my brain just doesn’t hold information in the same way, when I try and recall details I literally go blank but if someone else says something it can almost unlock memories that I otherwise would have sworn blind where not true. It actually guenuenly scares me at this point because i feel like its possible other people actully know more about me than I know about myself, but from the other point of view i just look like a lier. Which makes me feel like he thinks im making excuses.
    I often feel like my partner deserves so much better, I literally hate myself because I feel like I’m hurting him but I just cant see it until after its happened to be able to stop it. There have been many a time where I’ve actually thought it would be kinder to walk away from the relationship due to the emotion stress i cause, but I’ve realized whoever I am with I am still going to be the same no matter how much I try and change it I cant and I feel like i will always be seen as the bad guy :( I think very much like depression having aspergers is one of those things that you will never truely understand unless youve got it. so i can actually see why there is so much negative around it even though it shouldnt be a negative thing.

  • Linda

    March 30th, 2021 at 9:06 PM

    In the end the NT person is still lonely and disappointed and depressed. Does it really matter if the behavior is intentional or not?

  • Ali

    March 31st, 2021 at 4:14 AM

    Can someone on the spectrum see his actions of gaslighting and claim that they happened only once/twice therefore they didn’t count. Simply gaslighting of a gaslighting action! Recently, I have started thinking that my partner may have Asperger however he is super functioning in many ways and I am doubtful. He doesn’t want to go to a specialist to check it but at the same time heavily uses gaslighting strategies in many occasions. How can I draw the line? We are a gay couple in a relationship of 13 years and I m on the edge of an emotional breakdown. Is there a way to get out of this other than breaking up? I would appreciate any advice.

  • Jennifer

    March 31st, 2021 at 4:09 PM

    Lena – At first I was right there with you on the symptoms you began to describe, as they are ones I have experienced as well. BUT, but but – I have never, in my relationship anyway, experienced the kind of violence you mentioned toward the cat, OR the rationale afterward. I URGE YOU to be especially careful by learning what the signs are for potential physical abuse toward you or god forbid any children you might (I get it – might never happen) have. I can’t analyze the man you married but especially if he is not flexible in his beliefs – I am concerned that you need to think about a plan B.
    Even if he doesn’t intend to be emotionally abusive, conduct that elicits the same responses (see partial list below) should not be accepted by you in my opinion. I say this because I wish I had been taught it myself when I was young. Bottom line: You only have one life you can count on, and no one “deserves” to feel horribly much of the time in their lives. So on top of the physical cues that I hope you’ll seek to understand very soon, here are some signals you might want to review to determine whether you, in effect, are feeling as people who are emotionally abused to.
    Feelings like:
    *quesitonning yourself, your thoughts, choices, validity, rights, movements
    *fearing, wondering or thinking YOU did something to cause him to react a certain way that feels painful to you
    *blaming yourself for feeling threatened
    * walking on eggshells in your own home
    *feeling you are not equal or
    *that you have less right to speak, feel, move about, opine, work than he does
    *you are unreasonably presented with challenges (lack of cooperation or respect?) when you attempt to set or act on your own schedule
    * you’re being denied or blocked from having access to marital information or property
    *feeling that his priorities (bed times? other?) require that you NOT learn new skills, attend events, have and get together with friends, participate in associations – religious, cultural, hobby because you have to accommodate him
    *Similarly, feeling that if you DO pursue these healthy activities, you will have to endure anger, threats, verbal assaults, name-calling or what you might consider “childish” behavior to such an extent that you can’t endure that so to avoid that you refrain from healthy activities outside the home.
    REMEMBER that you might be entitled to an annulment.
    HUGS 8^)

  • Jennifer

    March 31st, 2021 at 4:13 PM

    Leesah –
    How cool that you are making an effort to learn from the experiences others report and are in fact learning.
    I applaud you!!

  • Anonymous Autist

    April 10th, 2021 at 9:44 PM

    I’d have to add to the autistic voices here that say that this article comes across as one-sided at best and dismissive of the autistic partner at worst. I completely agree that there can be lots of struggles in a relationship due to one or both partners being on the spectrum, and I agree that in may cases the autistic person can be at fault. However the article takes a one-sided stance sympathizing solely with the neurotypical partner, and denying the autistic person any agency beyond being the cause of the problem. For autistic people, this is a particular problem for us as we are sensitive to being treated like children or things due to the way many of us were raised. This article seems to frame the autistic partner as a burden on the neurotypical partner, and that it is such a tragedy that the neurotypical partner is married to them. Two-thirds of the article talks about autists gaslighting their loved ones and only disavows this connection towards the end, emotionally way this argument is structured creates a link between autism and gaslighting that resonates in the reader’s mind even if the article says “no, it’s not the case” at the end. It also completely takes the neurotypical spouse’s side, assuming that they are always correct in their interpretation and the autistic partner is always wrong, rather than framing it as the two misinterpreting each other’s behavior (“gaslighting” implies the victim is correct and the abuser is wrong, as well as the fact that it is knowingly abusive in the first place). It also blames every disagreement between the spouses on the disorder, rather than the fact that this behavior happens between normal human beings and I have even seen neurotypical spouses do it just as often to their autistic partners!

    Perhaps the most notable example of this tonal issue is that the article doesn’t give any suggestions on what the autistic partner can do to help improve the situation. I don’t think that any autistic person would knowingly want to harm their loved ones, yet the article treats dealing with the issue as a conversation between the therapist and the neurotypical partner, rather than between all three individuals. Once again it reduces the autistic partner to an object rather than a participant. I read this article because I was worried about doing this to my loved ones and wanted to prevent it, and all it did was scare me enough to not want to enter a relationship with others to spare others pain.

    There are a lot of people in the comments saying this is a space for neurotypical spouses, not people with autism, so just leave us alone. That kind of highlights the problem here. For one, just take a look at the sheer number of comment on the article here talking solely about how horrible their partner on the spectrum is and how it’s ruined their life or they want out of their marriage. I don’t think I’ve seen one person here who has even says “being with an autistic person can be difficult but it’s worth it, and this article helps”. If an article provokes the same reaction in so many different people, it definitely has a certain type of subtext to it. Secondly, contrary to the claim that the commenters make there really aren’t spaces for autistic people to get similar advice, a quick Google search found a lot of articles similar to this one where neurotypical spouses lament how hard it is to be married to someone with autism, but virtually none for autistic people. And finally this article being a “safe space” for neurotypical spouses from their autistic partners just exemplifies the problem: it treats the autistic person as an object and results in people talking about us, not at us, even when we’re the subject of conversation. Do you think we enjoy being talked about behind our back and told to shut up or that we can’t understand because we’re inferior human beings when we try to say something? Do you think we don’t care about our partners too?

  • Guy

    April 12th, 2021 at 4:21 AM

    To: Anonymous Autist
    This article is titled: “Is It Still Gaslighting If My Partner Has Asperger’s?”. Your comments are out of context. It is about what seems to be gaslighting by people with ASD and, from what I have read, so are the comments. Yes it is a one sided discussion because that is the theme here.
    In your comment you say you wish to understand this common problem to avoid issues in your own relationships. That is admirable. I would suggest you read your own comment and see in it the actual gaslighting being discussed.
    On both sides of the discussion we need to identify the issue and find a way, in our own relationships, to resolve it. First is acceptance of our partner and ourselves. Then open and honest communication. And through it all is trust. Trying to hijack an open discussion like this one with an anonymous comment is not a good way to start.

  • MGB

    April 13th, 2021 at 1:39 AM

    Dear Anonymous Autist,
    I would like to say that you haven’t gone back far enough to see that there are plenty of people saying that, yes, though it is difficult for both neurotypicals and aspies to live together, if both parties work hard to resolve the many difficulties on a pretty much daily basis, then the relationship can be productive and affirming. I want you to remember that this is a forum for people who are finding the day by day struggle sometimes nigh impossible and they are just wanting some clues to work out if it is really worth it. In my case, it is worth it. My partner and I just had a discussion about the lawn. I have mowed the lawn for 20 years and now we need a new mower. I wanted petrol but he insisted on electric (with a cord) and when I said I wouldn’t use it, he agreed to. That was months ago. He has never used it. We have had letters from Council saying our neighbours are complaining about our long grass but yet he won’t use it and doesn’t want me too either, even though I have given in. He doesn’t want to start on the lawn because he knows he will be hours making it perfect when I would do it in half an hour. I just want to scream with frustration but I have learnt to put up with this. We have a lot of great times together but the day to day is difficult. Please don’t say we are blaming you – we just need the space to be affirmed, because our aspie partners rarely do this.

  • James

    April 13th, 2021 at 11:51 AM

    So much of this is familiar from my relationship with a woman who had then-undiagnosed ASD.

    She and I would clash constantly and she would frequently tell me ‘you’re just not thinking about it right’, and she would try to convince me that I was broken because I didn’t see the world her way. In the long term that did me a lot of harm, it left my questioning so many aspects of myself. Recently I came to wonder whether this constituted gas-lighting. For my part I had concluded much the same as the author of this article, the lack of intent made her behaviour something other, but that is not to say it was not extremely damaging.

    I would write for hours laying out the things that happened in that relationship and how they eventually devastated my life. Suffice to say, if you are struggling going through something similar, then you have my deepest sympathy.

  • Guy

    April 14th, 2021 at 12:22 AM

    Your lawn story is classic. Thanks for sharing. Setting boundaries doesn’t always work in these relationships. You had set the boundary against a corded mower, for example, but the comprimise never happened.
    In one case that I deem extreme, my partner insists the bathroom is perfect after every time I shower. (Her version of perfect) Now I have a routine and it is no big deal. Until the other day when she discovered that I wasn’t unscrewing the floor drain in the shower and cleaning out the drain trap every time.
    I almost dropped what I was holding when she told me. Then she went on explaining something about it but I was not listening because I was too busy thinking about how I was going to handle this one. So, I boarded the train to crazy town and began unravelling the threads. Luckily I was able to explain how extreme she was being and when we clean the bathroom is good enough and not at every shower. But I still catch her going in after me to clean it anyway.
    Still, having to constantly double or triple check not only the bathroom but everything else can be exhausting. And I certainly do not feel at home here, which I have learned is very unhealthy. “Walking on eggshells” whenever she comes home that there might be a confrontation or a meltdown or maybe another speach about how I do something wrong. All over something simple like the stove top not being polished to a shine.
    But it is not about cleanliness or perfect organization. It is something that is sometimes unrecognizable. She organized our campervan when we first got it and, in her way, everything was mixed. A drawer could have cutlery, a can of tuna, salt and tea towels. The next sharp knives, plates, coffee and the pepper. All neatly organized in her own fashion.
    I must admit that it is better lately but this is because of me and not her. I am a very calm guy and have learned a lot about ASD. I refuse to argue which helps a lot too. I have talked her through OCD tendancies, meltdowns, stonewalling,….. well you all know the drill.
    There was a point where I had to make a choice to become a different person in this relationship because having to live in a nonsensical universe created in someone elses head was really crushing me. When I looked at the literature it was described as a form of PTSD. At first I thought that was extreme but as it progressed I understood the reason for it. Now I set many, very necessary, boundaries and if it doesn’t fit the non-universe then I do my best to explain and then leave it at that. Also I say “no” a lot. Being agreeable is a very deep hole that is difficult to climb out of as I have discovered. Because when you begin to agree you enter a Wonderland that even Alice could not navigate.
    She is a wonderful person otherwise or I would not be with her. And to be honest I have also learned a lot about myself.

  • Sue

    April 17th, 2021 at 6:02 PM

    This article like others about aspergers husbands and neurotypical wives has been enlightening. and sad. It is impossible to explain the long term effects of living with an aspergers unless you live it or are the children and see some of the behaviors. I have lived since 18 to 63 with a husband who stopped looking and talking to me the day after we married. We have lived an almost sexless life, which I used to believe was some punishment. He is undiagnosed but I became aware of the condition through close family and friends who know us well and believed he had all the symptoms. Like other responses, he can be a good person, do many things and our children love him. The emotional deprivation, no eye contact and lack of interest in me has caused so much confusion, anger, frustration I do not feel I am a human any more, I like him am a robot, getting through each day. I was so in love in the early years and tried to be what he wanted, and blamed myself for not being enough and his failure to show emotion or approval. I thought he was intelligent, handsome and hardworking. Gradually I began to see how little he was involved in, how unorganized he was, how little he noticed anything about someone else unless he was critical. I am ten years younger than him and always believed his judgement was better due to maturity. I came to realize that I was the one who took care of details, worried about serious things and that I was turning into a version f his mother, because he never does anything in our home unless he is prompted. He does get super busy with important things like dishes and trash, if you beg him to talk to you. I know I am not perfect, but I am no longer anything like I was in the early years. Its like we cannot laugh, sing, whistle, be excited or enthusiastic or sad and overwhelmed. Just stay the course, don’t ask questions, live without communication or emotion or needs and it will all be okay. I have compromised so much, and told myself I could do this, but it is crazy making. I want to do what is right for him, but I resent the effect he has had on my life. When I was a young wife and mother, the word Autism was unknown, and Aspergers came even later. I have had no idea what caused the pain and arguments, I just needed him sometimes to comfort me, when our son died, our daughter was married, when I had shingles, on and on. I have learned to not expect anything from him, he says to dry it up, and that I need mental health care. I guess I do, and he would benefit form some self insight. Mainly I miss what we could have done, I now I fear it is too late. Thanks for letting us vent.

  • Nancy S.

    April 21st, 2021 at 8:10 AM


  • Yvonne

    April 21st, 2021 at 12:59 PM

    It’s sad when all of the stories sound so much alike, when the symptoms are so similar, yet someone comes along and says, it’s an undiagnosed person, so you don’t really know if they really have ASD. Diagnosed or not, you are having the experience you are having. It’s like racism. You don’t need a professional to tell you it’s racism. You know it when you see because you’ve lived it.

  • Julie K

    April 22nd, 2021 at 7:32 AM

    Yvonne, thank you for posting- someone else putting words on what I’ve been struggling with is just huge.

  • R.D.

    April 22nd, 2021 at 8:48 AM

    I would like to address the”AS Partners — NTs Only”/affiliated hate groups, whose hate rhetoric I’ve seen in several posts here in the Comments Section.

    The world is far bigger than the “AS/NT Binary” idea suggests. And I don’t need to be Autistic to see gaping holes in ANY ideology that seeks to split the human species into two separate groups, sensationalize one group while demonizing the other group.

    Didn’t we get enough of that with Jim Crow laws?

    If that wasn’t enough, there’s a handful of people trying to start an Anti-Autism movement, and they do so through misinformation and the alienation of any views that see ANY silver lining in relationships (platonic, romantic, familial, etc) with someone who has Asperger’s. They allege that every nice, gentle and kind-hearted person you meet is “Neurotypical”, and everybody else is “AS”. Anyone they get into an argument with, or any uncomfortable vibes they get from some creep in a bar, or a particularly grouchy mail courier, becomes “undiagnosed AS”.

    Many websites that stress the “pain” and “horrors” and “nightmares” of knowing someone with any variety of ASD, seem to promote the same ideals as that group. To address the problem, you need both sides of the argument, you need the full picture and you need to have a mindset of “we can make things better for all involved”, not “let’s demonize and alienate and ‘Other’ an entire demographic of people based on their differences”.

    A conservative and a liberal may clash regularly, especially if they aren’t respectful in expressing their views. A marriage between them might fail for that alone. There are countless things that can cause marriages to turn sour, these situations don’t exist merely to be the setup for a cruel joke whose punchline is “undiagnosed [diagnosis]”.

    Not every jerk is on any particular spectrum. Not every Good Samaritan is automatically “NT”. And the solution to getting along with people who are different from ourselves – be they other ethnicities, foreign cultures, subculture groups, etc. – is mutual understanding and respect. And nobody should be automatically assumed to lack those faculties on account of some label assigned to hundreds of thousands (or more) of people, amongst whom there is GUARANTEED to be some diversity!

    Having just recently escaped a toxic and abusive relationship with a narcissistic partner, I am not going to tell you that she has undiagnosed Asperger’s, I won’t tell you that she’s any series of expletives my creative and imaginative mind could come up with. What I WILL tell you is, whether she’s got a known condition or not, the reason our relationship failed is because she would not work on herself and continued to maintain the mindset that she was perfect, all I needed to do was whatever she told me to do, and she thought it was okay to put her teeth and fingernails into my arms hard enough for some small scarring to occur in places. She thought it was okay to destroy my property and to tear my clothes while I was wearing them (in a violent sense, not erotic). You could never have a straight conversation with her because she would just throw some weird salad at you and seemingly make up random sentences with random words in them to try and distract off topic, or cleverly manipulate the words she used as if she thought she might be being recorded and she wanted to make sure she did not incriminate herself, even if there was no conceivable way she could be recorded in some situations.

    I am very sorry that any of you had to deal with a spouse or relative who did not respect you and was not sensitive to your feelings and wants and needs. In order to avoid getting in another relationship like that, I think we need to focus less on giving armchair diagnoses of autism to everyone and their brother and cousin and distant relatives thrice removed, and focus more on the realization that there are far worse things than being single, and a respecting ourselves not to stay in a relationship with someone who constantly makes us feel like we are undeserving and unworthy and like we should just be happy that anybody is paying attention to us at all.

    And I say that as someone who saw my pattern of toxic relationships with people who stole and lied and cheated, and did some very deep soul searching to determine what it was about me that attracted those people, while letting myself know that it still was not my fault that I was abused and disrespected like that.

  • Lena

    April 23rd, 2021 at 6:49 AM

    This stuff is hard. It’s like get me out of this mess but idk how. Idk how to get out of this. I feel guilty. I love and care about him but I also feel like I don’t even know what normal is anymore in a relationship because of lack of communication, connection, sex, understanding, empathy…The thought of potential divorce is hard because nobody will understand. I wish I could just click a button and be out of this whole mess and not have to face it. My passive personality is the issue.

  • R.D.

    April 23rd, 2021 at 11:43 AM

    I’m sorry you ladies have had to deal with partners who are unable to meet your needs. No two people are identical in wants and needs, and we’re sometimes bound by feelings of guilt that keep us in a situation that’s just wearing both people down.

    Regardless of the precise flavor or nature of your partner’s heart, mind or spirit, they will understand through the pain if they truly love you and if you truly love them, that nobody benefits from a dissatisfying and codependent relationship. My wife would outright tell me that she is the one in charge, that “a happy wife is a happy life” even though her joy meant my suffering, just as much as her sorrow.

    I haven’t tried to armchair-diagnose her with anything, I just realized that we lacked a certain mutual degree of love and respect that could’ve seen us through our now-irreconcilable differences, and trying to change her was a cruel and unrealistic expectations I had.

    The best way we can avoid relapsing into the behaviors that helped incompatible people cement themselves into our lives, is to be kindly outspoken about our boundaries and what we need, and break the news if it turns out that those needs apparently can’t be met. That’s also freeing them up to find somebody who can meet THEIR needs without feeling burned out and miserable all of the time.

    I wish all of you ladies positivity and healing in your respective journeys.

  • MGB

    April 23rd, 2021 at 7:03 PM

    Sue – my heart goes out to you. There are so many similar themes in my marriage. My way of dealing with it, after 25 years, is to have an interest outside my home – tennis, which I love and through that, I have made some beautiful friends. Thank God for these people. My own parents where never emotionally supportive of me and neither is my brother so these wonderful women help me to feel normal and valuable. As for R.D., you are missing the point entirely. Relationships are always murky, never one or the either and most people who post here are just trying to keep heart and soul together.

  • Women not ‘Ladies’

    April 24th, 2021 at 3:59 AM

    R.D, the irony here is that you are gaslighting other people’s lives experiences. Stop telling people looking for a listening ear and support in a safe space how they should be grieving or viewing their difficult experiences. No one is telling you how to process yours. Also please refrain from calling all women here you don’t know ‘ladies’ – it’s incredibly patronising.

  • Jo

    April 29th, 2021 at 5:14 AM

    I’ve read every single comment left here. Left the tab open and done it over the course of a week in pieces. It’s been so helpful in trying to unravel many of the experiences in my life that until now have felt so surreal. It’s felt so validating and I am so grateful that I feel less alone now.

  • Guest

    April 29th, 2021 at 2:34 PM

    That’s a great feeling Jo. I had a similar reaction to you.
    What a difference it makes to see others saying words that could have come out of your own mouth. You are less alone. I’m fairly new here too. Welcome.

  • Shirley H.

    May 30th, 2021 at 9:25 AM

    I dated a man who, I found out, is a high-functioning Autistic. He seemed “guarded” (VERY guarded) at first. On several occasions he did things that I was left bewildered by. When I asked him about it, all he could say was, “I don’t know why I did that.” Is it truly a case of not being self-aware? He meets 26 out of 28 of the behavior criteria for high-functioning Autism.

  • MGB

    May 31st, 2021 at 12:57 AM

    In Australia, we have been watching a wonderful TV show called “Love on the Spectrum”. If you can get access to it, do so as you might see some similar traits displayed in the young people on this program.

  • Jenny C.

    May 31st, 2021 at 1:31 AM

    RE: Women not ‘Ladies’
    WOW. Could you make any less sense, and go any farther off topic? Not sure whether to start with his unnecessary psychoanalysis of amateurs trying to diagnose Autism, or your misuse of the term ‘gaslighting’. We’re here trying to speak about our experiences, and you’re here trying to pick apart somebody’s post while griping about them picking apart somebody else’s? Maybe you both on the spectrum and are just undiagnosed. I never felt so free and liberated than when I saw other people also calling their partners and spouses and relatives and neighbors autistic. It’s so freeing, changed my life

  • Rich

    May 31st, 2021 at 2:11 PM

    Shirley, it certainly could be a case of not being self-aware. It kind of depends on the context and specific behavior. As someone on the spectrum, I find myself saying something similar quite often. Usually, though, it’s not “I don’t know why I did that.” (I almost always have a reason that makes sense in my mind at least ;-) ) Usually, it’s “I don’t know why I *didn’t* do that,” and it’s in regards to not recognizing an opportunity to help, compliment, or connect with someone else. As a person on the spectrum, these misses of mine are in line with autistic behavior. But for me it’s being less aware of *others*, not myself. I am well-aware of my reasons behind my words and behavior. It’s not a problem of self-awareness, it’s a problem of awareness of the intents and feelings of others. Could his lack of self-awareness be something other than autism?
    That being said, don’t we all think “I don’t know why I did that” from time to time? But it sounds like the behaviors that left you bewildered were rather significant faux-pas and not just your run-of-the-mill “woopsies”?
    You probably found it really hard to make a connection with him being so guarded. That must have been hard in a dating relationship.
    I’m curious about the “28 behavior criteria for high-functioning autism.” I’ve never heard of 28 criteria before (DSM5 only has 5). Do you have a link? I wonder how many of those criteria I meet.

  • Women Not Ladies

    June 1st, 2021 at 3:27 PM

    RE: Jenny C
    Yes, precisely Jenny. We are all here to share and talk about our experiences. Therefore being made to question our own experiences, lived or felt, is the core of gaslighting – so no, it is not a misuse of the term. Someone saying our experiences are not what we perceive as RD was is undermining the support that this group can give. I’m here to speak about my experiences too, not ‘pick apart’ any post unless its undermining other peoples views that have come here for support – just like you’ve undermined mine.

  • Helena

    June 11th, 2021 at 2:49 PM

    Great article at parsing the miscommunication in NT/AS misunderstandings. I have been with my AS partner since 2010. We had a child together. I always knew something was off about him but it really didn’t hit home until the baby was born and then it just escalated as I took over more and more responsibilities in our lives, he ranted and had meltdowns over trivial matters and I ran around trying to put out these imaginary fires, set up the house just the way he liked it so he would be happy or at least stop his yelling. He always had a rational why he was mad, though I could see that he was coming up with it on the fly as he yelled at me and I responded. As an NT, I spoke to be understood. That’s my mode of communication, especially in these day to day matters. And he as an AS person spoke to get some kind of result, out of me, whether it was my undivided attention while he ranted on a monologue about some obscure historical fact in the middle of our daughter’s school morning routine causing her to be late or ranting about a piece of bacon on the floor he had walked by ten times and it still wasn’t picked up or screaming bloody murder because our daughter didn’t want to go biking with him because she was scared “**less by his lack of awareness for her safety on the streets.
    I became aware of his autism as being serious when our daughter was 2.5 and after he’d had another meltdown at 2 am, she went up to him and told him to be nice to me. Its taken me till now to truly understand how I as an NT communicate and how my AS partner communicates and finally understand why I was losing myself in all of this, hurting our child who like me is NT and couldn’t understand her father either. Understanding that AS people like him come from a place of deep confusion about the world due to context blindness, inability to read people has helped me see that me pleading with him or trying to be understood for the feelings I have, the thoughts I have was pointless. I was using a language he cannot understand. But also, I needed to understand my NT language. I use it without thinking really. And in parsing it out, I understand my own communication far better. Understanding his mind blindness, I also now understand what he cannot comprehend and therefore I have to tailor things according to a version of communication which avoids certain NT pitfalls. Like if I am sick, I no longer expect him to care. I do expect him to still expect dinner on the table and to have the house clean, etc. So what I say is, “I cannot make dinner. I dont want to make dinner. I am sick. I will not be cleaning the house. You can make your own dinner and if something is dirty to you, you can clean it.” Then regardless of all his confabulations about how worthless I am or how I didn’t tell him this in time, etc etc, I stand there and look at him and say, “stop.” I then walk away.
    Its not a relationship. Ive realized it never was and it wont be given he refuses to get diagnosed but clearly he is on the spectrum and has no clue how to behave in close personal relationships, having defined them as a place to get his needs met. He of course never behaves this way in public. This covid lockdown the past year has however affected his ability to define the threshold between private and public. Many of our friends have come to see him as an abusive jerk to be avoided.
    Learning to see the difference in NT communication, AS communication has allowed me to stop being gaslit. His tantrums no longer work on me. And from that place I can see him for what he is, hear his illogical tantrums. Nothing he says is accurate because he makes up his logic with a subset of facts, never the whole picture of what is going on.
    Its sad. I feel sorry for him. But I cannot love him any longer, not because he is disabled but because regardless of limitations, people must treat everyone with respect. HE needs to treat everyone with respect. For him, he thinks respect only goes one direction, toward him. And no matter how much anyone says he is being disrespectful, he only sees how others are disrespectful to him. And often even that, is made up confabulations.

  • Embee

    June 14th, 2021 at 3:53 PM

    This article explains my experience exactly. We were married for 12 years, separated two years ago, just finished our divorce. We have a 13-y.o. daughter, also on the spectrum. He’s an alcoholic, too, and he would come and rage at me every night. It was *harrowing* living with him. It was not easy to get out, emotionally or logistically. I borrowed money and moved to a small apartment because he wouldn’t leave. He continues to be furious and mean to me the rare times we talk about anything other than our daughter.
    I believe in myself much more now, and I know that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about most of the time, and I know that I don’t have to take it personally, if I can manage that.
    I do much self-care, therapy, 12 Steps, etc. Still, I also have PTRS (Post Traumatic Relationship Syndrome). Sometimes, when I’m down – as I have been during COVID, working at home all the time and feeling very lonely – I feel that I’m damaged and will never recover. I feel shame that I chose him (he was 100% different with me at first, and is still very nice to virtually everyone else), and that I stayed for so long) – that it’s all my fault. I worry that will never truly recover – never be myself or be happy again, let alone be able to open up to a partner (should I even be able to go out there again).
    What advice do you have for how to recover from this?

  • Jess

    June 15th, 2021 at 8:15 AM

    For the autistic people out there, maybe this will help.

    I am autistic; I got really frustrated with being accused of being domineering when all I wanted was to be allowed to state my side and reach a mutually acceptable compromise.

    I finally had a revelation: Having autism means I DON’T MATTER. I have a mantra now: “Your perceptions matter, my intentions don’t. Your intentions matter, my perceptions don’t.” I repeat it every time I want to try to present my side, and I find it really improves others’ satisfaction with me in relationships. True, it is very painful. But I want to have relationships more than I want to have personhood.

  • Aspie

    June 16th, 2021 at 10:12 PM

    More one sided misandrist Aspie bashing from a so called medical professional.
    According to this article:
    – Personality plays no part, all autistic people are the same
    – NT people are never the problem and are universally reasonable and kind. Yes, See how ridiculous this assertion is in the 90% NT messed up world we live in. Created by NT people.
    – Only men can have Aspbergers: “Often, this person is oblivious to the harmful effects of his behavior”
    Anyway I’m back to live out my one dimensional insensitive self centered life, according to the author.

  • Marion

    June 16th, 2021 at 11:44 PM

    Jess, Hey it works both ways – let me share my story. I went overseas on a family holiday to the UK with my aspie partner and our two kids. I’m NT. One of my sons gave me a travel diary and the only thing I wrote it in is I AM CRAP, I AM NOT WORTH ANYTHING, I AM CRAP, I AM NOT WORTH ANYTHING over and over again. Because that is how I felt at the end of every day for eight weeks. I won’t say I was made to feel that way, but that was the result of being ignored, questioned, told (in his roundabout fashion) what to order for meals. He had the GPS, I had the road map and every day, he chose to listen to the GPS and when we ended up in a field or in a church courtyard, he would swear and blame me. It was the worst holiday I have ever been on – I was his emotional “punching bag” every day. Now that is how it feels to be continually discounted and worthless.

  • Zaige

    June 17th, 2021 at 12:21 PM

    Check out a website called DelphiForums dot com, and do a search on the main page for “AS Partners”. There’s allegedly a few dozen “individuals” (identical writing patterns, slang usage and posting habits) who practically raise a hand to their head and swoon into a chair, gasping and moaning at OMG JUST HOW GOOD (OH MY GOD, SO GOOD) it feels to hear other people’s stories. “They” then go on to describe traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Psychopathy and Schizophrenia, and lay 100% of the blame for any marital problems on their “undiagnosed Aspie” spouse/partner/etc.

    From the looks of these comments, “they” are here too. I mean sure, this is a good website with some decent exposure on the internet, but I’ve acquired a sixth sense for when that Anti-ASD Cult has landed and is waxing their narrative of how everyone they disagree with, who has different political leanings, or who isn’t a doormat when confronted with emotional or physical abuse.

    Between you and me, I suspect this “Bstn” is the author of that hateful Heartless Asperger’s website that spewed half-truths and hate rhetoric about anyone with ASD or anyone who didn’t agree that they were the worst things anybody could ever find themselves confronted with.

    I just hate polarizing, and that’s what this “AS”/”NT” goofiness is doing; everything “good” is “NT”, and everything “bad” is “Aspie”/”ASD”. Though you can tell just by reading these dodgy narratives that the author(s) can do no wrong, and are merely besought on all sides with the inequities of the Autistic.

  • Jennifer

    June 18th, 2021 at 1:52 PM

    I find it so sad that there is so much offensive/defensive talk here. If only we could share feelings with each other without feeling hurt, or feeling that what we say will be used by anyone to indulge in self-pitty OR aggressive talk or blame. But that seems to be it in a nutshell doesn’t it? This is what we experience. Not always the best of both worlds. 8^(

  • Guy

    June 20th, 2021 at 8:31 PM

    Jennifer, I agree. And I guess there will always be those types of people, especially online. But we should be able to share our experiences so that other may learn from them. That is the value of articles like this and the related comments here on this page regardless of the strange or silly reactive comments.

  • Muse

    June 21st, 2021 at 11:03 AM

    Every psychiatrist or psychologist I’ve spoken to, has always encouraged me to see beyond labels and to see the person and who they are more than what they are on paper. People can be a burden in a relationship when they want to take far more than they want to give, and that is not exclusive to any one group of people on the neurodiversity spectrum. And I think every group should benefit from getting to express how their relationships make them feel, and share that perspective with others so maybe we can all learn better what to do and what not to do based on other people’s experiences. Doesn’t it just give us a broader perspective on human relationships in general?

  • Sara

    June 23rd, 2021 at 10:14 AM

    I am a person on the spectrum who lives with a person on the spectrum. I’ve realized a painful truth about all people. We all are so focused on our own thoughts and feelings that we do unintentionally invalidate the other person because we all worry about being externally validated and ‘winning’ by knowing we got our point accross. We all seek much more to be understood then we really try to understand, especially if that perspective is different from our own. This happens whether we are NT or AS. It doesn’t matter. Deep instead we share a level of common humanity. I wonder if we would not benefit from the aboriginal method of communicating using a visual symbol of whose turn it is to talk and whose turn it is to listen and switch it back and forth. Also maybe we could all learn that we can apologize for hurting another without guilt or also not owning it but just acknowledging the hurt and then work together to try to understand the situation together and to come up with a different plan for next time.

  • Rita

    August 27th, 2021 at 4:57 AM

    Now 75 years old and still trying to understand the mindset of the father of my 2 offspring. We were married for 18 years, lived in a house in his name, with a marriage contract with separation as to property. I was an immigrant when we dated and he was highly educated, solicitous for my welfare. I was so unaware of who he really was until the day after the wedding when he dropped the persona and life gradually deteriorated to a point when the kids were 12 and 8 year olds, I packed a few suitcases and left. Then, the long letters in French, his language, English was forbidden in the house, came before I even moved out. He could not communicate fave to face, would get mad, walk away and hide in the basement. There was no physical contact, sex climbing on tops of me while I slept, no touching or kissing. I took life into my own hands, getting University degrees and eventually a part time job. The finances were totally controlled by him as well as holidays and eduction of the kids. He told me I was weak because I needed other people even though I was the 5th child in a family of 11 kids and shared everything. When my family came from abroad, he did not try to be kind to then but removed himself to the garage or basement. If my friends phoned he would tell them they had the wrong number and hand up. At first I thought it was just me but he did not bond with the kids, called then your kids! Never ours! He gave lip service to wanting them but changed towards me once they were born, becoming more distant, unreachable. All his lengthy missives were projections of himself, of the confusion and how my feelings were only an overactive imagination. The day I left, he told me never to show him my face in this life time and never to set foot on his property again. The rippling effect: no graduations, no weddings (the kids live common law) no Birthday gatherings. If I am to be invited, he will not attend. It has been 35 years since I walked out but the awkwardness still persists as he does not communicate with his grandchildren and even refuses to acknowledge our son’s child, now 10 years old, living a mile from his place. So, he will never be diagnosed as he considered therapy as airing one’s dirty linen to strangers! I feel so relieved to be able to live these years away from him but since AS was not known in our time, I had left him before 1993 and wonder would I have seen him differently or been able to make life easier had I not been mind blind to his neural wiring. I do not regret having had my kids. Without them my life would have been unbearable. During COVID i wrote a mémoire about my years with him but will not publish it as the kids want me to burn it and not relive the horrible past. Now, I am no longer angry with him but feel pity for a wasted life as he hides away alone in his house, in an upscale community of wealthy people whom he refuses to speak to but where he flaunts his individuality. Life could have been so much better, but I have come a long way, picked up the pieces and had a good career that took off when I left him at the age of 42. My adult kids and grandchildren are my pride and joy. I pray there is no karma and that we will not have to share another life together. Please don’t wait as long as I did to pack up and leave. I lived as free as a bird when I was out. In COVID a times, being alone came easy as I got lots of practice in my years with my ex! We were two solitudes living under the same roof, speaking different languages, literally and figuratively!

  • Sarah

    September 11th, 2021 at 9:03 PM

    I thought it ironic to write ” She is a pawn in his selfish game, which until the end he plays ‘shrewdly’ enough to cause her to doubt her own version of reality;” since this seems to the plot of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

  • Esther

    September 28th, 2021 at 4:35 AM

    English is not my native language but thanks to google translate I get a long way, apologies for any mistakes.

    Very nice to find a piece of recognition and to know that I am not the only one struggling with this.

    Sometimes it really seems like a mind f**k when what you hear, see and understand is not right and the disappointment is so painful.
    What can you expect that someone with ASD will understand and be able to apply in order to provide sufficient care as a father and partner?

    Anyway, thanks for all the information and stories and sorry it’s a long story, but writing it down helps me

  • Esther

    September 28th, 2021 at 4:44 AM

    When I met my husband it was his patience, calmness, kindness, reliability, stable work situation, intelligence and accepting me as I was the reason I wanted to share life with him. I myself was always highly sensitive, and was diagnosed with add and was also very insecure, which made me unconsciously search for the most stable partner. Of course there were sometimes situations that I did not always understand why I felt so alone and scared, he also had some special traits which were not very noticeable but were different from other men. He never really got mad at me or made direct accusations. He always remained calm and spoke to me politely and correctly.
    My ADD made it difficult for me to concretize in conversations why I was experiencing a problem and what his part was in it, leaving a lot of room for him to go into specific details where he could be right or at least lower the truth value because I talked too much in absolutes. It made me understand myself less and less and made me doubt my own mind more and more. From a young age I always felt that I often screwed up and that my emotion was always exaggerated and that made me feel like I always had to defend myself when I got angry, sad or scared. So when I had concerns about my children’s health, the deviant behavior of either child, the upbringing, the finances, his or my health, maintenance of our home, contacts with the family that were difficult or busy thinking about upcoming holidays, birthdays or with what was going on in the world, the news, such as for example recently Covid for example it was always me who brought it up as a subject to talk about and he listened nodded with an understanding look and gave general reactions or stayed quiet. And if I ever insisted on actions, reactions or interest from his side, there were superficial or general kind words that (in hindsight) created the expectation that he would deepen, feel called to take action and would come back to the subject later. But he then did little or nothing and indicated by default (when I approached him) that it was because of too busy, forgotten, still working on it, no priority given or that he was still busy with it. However, indicating that he is working on something, but then not being able to substantiate what, why and how I have finally been able to recognize as not being busy with it, but not wanting a discussion.
    Because of the fearful feelings, the loneliness and the continuous search for how we could get and keep our family safe and happy (where I and not he was the one who was worried about that) and the feeling of hopelessness and self-blame I started looking for help for my anxiety, depression and uncertainty. I presented it as my problem, given the fear, chaos in my head, insecurity, depression, not knowing what to do. He failed to see the concerns and confirmed my sense that my insecurity was the biggest problem in our marriage that caused me to express myself so often in panic, anger, or sadness. Later it turned out that he broke several agreements, circumvented the truth, felt no responsibility for the concerns, apologized without acknowledging his role, without learning from it, without making sure he would not soon forget it, he didn’t ask for help with where he was failing and he didn’t communicate this to me which only increased the damage. In many quarrels and discussions he pointed to causes outside himself and avoided the subjects that he found annoying. I’ve gotten angry so many times, desperate. He has started to share less and less. He’s been ignoring me more and more. He literally remained silent and didn’t return to anything after that. He did not respond to my pain and ignored it by leaving, changing the subject, or remaining silent. And his silence lasted longer and longer. I started to behave in a way that I was ashamed of, screaming, swearing, crying, begging, even hitting or breaking something, threatening to leave. Anything to get a reaction to see that it was important to him, anything to get through to finally make him understand and see. His reaction was often in words, that it touched him, that he thought it was important, that he loved me very much, that he also wants the children to be well, that he wants to be there for me, that he wants to do everything to make it better and I…. I wanted to believe it so badly against my better judgment and I got hope and expectations again. Because someone who loves you so much won’t hurt you again now that he knows how much it hurts. How is it possible that you fool yourself so much and continue to doubt your own perception of the situation.
    I have almost no social network. The family and environment do not understand why I feel so anxious and sad and see this more as a problem that lies with me. And I can’t blame them, because I’ve been thinking that myself all along. My in-laws blame me for all the problems and have repeatedly pointed this out to him and advised him to find another wife. This hurts me because I went to them and asked if they could be there for their son with help en support because he was obviously not feeling well and seemed to be getting less and less done. I explained to them that due to the overload of all the extra tasks and responsibilities and the failure to reach reliable agreements, I was unable to help him now and that I still blamed him too much for not solving anything. But that I found it very sad to see him so unhappy and that he doesn’t seem to do it on purpose.
    Now that we know that probably both my son and daughter have the diagnosis and now also my husband, their father, I find it very difficult to comprehend this. I experience a kind of shock, an almost unimaginable loss of a great love, my best friend, my better half that I thought I had but which turns out to have been almost a kind of imaginary friend. I question everything about our years together and see less and less concrete evidence that the man I thought I knew actually existed. And that all the energy, all the grief, all the waste of time to understand it, to solve it, to work together has proved so futile. He thinks that if you have determined the cause (ASD) then you can get to work and solve it. What he does not understand, however, is that my pain and sorrow, the overload and lack of shared accountability will not go away. That the daily worries are too great for me alone and that I increasingly no longer experience life as bearable. That leaving is not an easy option given the extra care of the children and the financial shortages that I will have leaves me in doubt. Remaining in a situation in which I am constantly confronted with incomprehension and my grief does not get any comfort and I can no longer hold back my tears while he watches, does not respond and is silent is not an easy option either. And whatever choice I make, everything that is needed to change something must be initiated by me and asked of him, and there is a good chance that it will not happen after all.
    I understand that he will also have a hard time accepting that his perceptions and his experiences turn out to be different from most people. I know that failure triggers a fear in him. I understand that changes are very difficult and some may even be impossible. And I am convinced that if he is separated from me and our family and his work is given full attention and he feels free to only consider himself, he will leave us without any problem and move on in an uncomplicated, financially good environment without experiencing the grief that all this has caused in our family. And I know that anger and revenge are not helpful, but I feel really bad about this and think it is so unfair.
    How do others do this? How can you stay in a relationship where you are never fully seen or understood? How do you deal with the grief of losing an illusionary love? How do you provide the right care to children when your partner is so unreliable and does not seem to see what is needed in terms of education and care? How do you continue when you are completely burned out and you no longer see any solutions?
    The nice-sounding words, the learned understanding facial expressions, the apologies, the denials or the designation of causes outside himself… It is and remains shocking to me how empty it is. Also, not understanding that kind words without further action and without intentionally hurting does not mean that you are free from responsibilities to work hard to improve if you are told it is hurting the other person. And that you should also take responsibility for obtaining more information and help.
    If there is enough love, he is able to be a responsible parent (with or without professional help) and he continues to work hard on a solution just like me and together with me then I would have had a reason to still have hope. However, I see no urgency on his part to do so. If you are familiar with ASD in advance and your partner has been diagnosed before the start of a relationship, then in my opinion you have a choice to enter into a relationship that has different preconditions and where you can determine whether you provide sufficient for this. your own needs and those of your partner. So I think it is indeed possible to have and keep a relationship.
    But if you are (unintentionally) misinformed about who someone is, what someone feels and what you can and may expect and you start doubting yourself more and more and continuously try to understand what is wrong and why you are the only one who has problems If you feel scared and hurt then too much damage has been caused and it often turns out that there is simply always a shortage of what you need from your partner.
    And yes he can still have humor, wants to bring coffee in the morning, does something without grumbling when I ask him to do something for me, he stays nice and calm, watches movies I like, let me do what I do wants to do…… He is not a nasty person, as long as you don’t give him responsibilities or are dependent on him then you won’t be bothered by him. Unfortunately I’m only seeing that now and I’m already stuck in a position i never would have wanted.
    The sense of illusion, my need for his understanding and help, my need to be together, my desire to go back to the illusion and not feel this pain anymore. He says what I want to hear, they are words that are meaningless but that I want to be true so badly that sometimes I can’t control myself to think that it will be different now because he understands now……

  • Fletcher

    October 4th, 2021 at 6:02 PM

    I’ve read the comments with some interest. I recently ended a very long-term relationship with a woman I was very close to. A big part of ending the relationship was that she insists I have ASD when I do not. She used this as a way to just dodge my feelings or to try and win any disagreement we had. If I disagreed with her, it could only be because I have autism and therefore don’t register her cues. It got to the point where I was essentially not permitted to dispute her in virtually anything that happened. I found it rather strange that in the article that the complaining person would say that her Asperger’s partner would complain that she was “critical” of him. It practically states that a person with ASD can’t balk or chafe at another person’s criticism. Is the criticism warranted? My personal experience was that the great majority of the time the criticism wasn’t warranted at all. In my case there hardly seemed to be the slightest aspect of my life that wasn’t under scrutiny and commented upon. If I disputed that the criticism was warranted, then I got the entire “you have Asperger’s” pronouncement and any hurt feelings I had about being critiqued 7 ways to Sunday on things was tossed out. My perceptions, my feelings were utterly discounted because she would just hide behind her “you have Asperger’s” claim. If I repeated a story to her that I’d related to her at any time in the past, I was likely to get immediately shut down—“you’ve already told me that.” Recently I forgot some petty thing she’d brought up and asked her a small question about it. Response—I already wrote you that; to ask was proof I either had Asperger’s or was an ass. Then, she finally answers my question. Enough’s enough.

  • Michelle

    October 8th, 2021 at 4:57 AM

    Finally! Someone who gets it! I have been married to someone with probable ASD for 36 years. He has never agreed to therapy of any kind. I guess that the death of our marriage is easier for him to handle than the idea of working on himself and admitting that he may not be perfect. I have no one to speak to who understands. I have internalized the messages that its all my fault. My children also believe that. He is a fun father who plays games and jokes with them. He is polite to me, helpful in the house, financially responsible, etc. Emotions? Connection? Communication? Those are lies that were invented by professionals looking to make money.
    So I hide my severe depression behind a mask of smiles, and bury the real me under horse manure. No one wants to know me anyway. Leaving the marriage would mean losing everything, including my children, who would side with him. Someday soon I will end the loneliness and pain. Saddest of all is knowing that after the initial shock wears off, his life will continue to flow happily, and only my grandchildren may miss me until the memories fade.

  • Rose

    October 8th, 2021 at 12:36 PM

    Michelle, Get all the information you can to feed your soul. Listen everyday to self help CD’s, and even download books on your kindle with all the information you can get on this. I went through a thirty year marriage that ended in a three year divorce. I was so islolated and lonely, but I built myself up with information everyday and it brought me to my next steps. Hang in there lady! Love yourself with information, it’s strength.

  • Rachelle

    October 8th, 2021 at 1:54 PM

    This one of the first articles I’ve found where I have felt seen as a spouse of an Aspie in the 16 years we’ve been married.

    I’ve endured so many pain, and he has dismissed this lived experience for years, which has torn my mental and physical health to shreds. He may not be capable of actually gaslighting, but he does it every. single. day. I can be sobbing and pleading for emotional connection or just for him to reciprocate kindness or advocate for our children, and he’ll break from the “conversation” with an urgent “I have to take out the trash.” (which he can never remember to do without reminders, signs, and more pleading). He also does this without a single shred of emotion or empathy toward my request for connection. Being married to someone on the spectrum for a long time can drain you of every ounce of self-worth and energy you have. Thanks for writing a post that describes with such accuracy, my lived experience of doing all the compromise, all the family culture building, all the back handsprings of relationship building – only to be met with a lack of safety and sanctuary in my own marriage.

  • Jenny C.

    October 8th, 2021 at 2:10 PM

    Finally! Somebody to justify and excuse why am I husband doesn’t worship the ground I walk on the way I deserve. I can’t believe the anguish and torture and agony I am subjected to when he doesn’t learn his lesson for not cooking me all my meals, and he doesn’t even start doing it when I start crying him and tearing his clothes and punching him in the face repeatedly. Why can’t he understand that males are to be seen and not heard, and stay out of my way when I’m not interested and having anything to do with him?

    I saw many amazing traits in him, but now I am disgusted by the reality that is an actual human being. Why can’t everybody understand that I’m just misunderstood and that nobody gets me? I deserve to be treated like a queen no matter how I treat the people around me. There is nothing I hate more than a partner who does not respond well to me randomly and arbitrarily determining that he has autism, because he doesn’t carry me on a palanquin and feed grapes directly into my mouth while I watch soap operas and reality TV. When will people learn that some of us are just entitled to far more and better than everybody else, and we are more than happy to call them autistic if they do not comply?

  • Maxine

    October 9th, 2021 at 7:43 AM

    Remember, my Cassandras! Narcissistic behavior is your right and entitlement, and anyone who disagrees is autistic! Make your many accounts and spam these messages where you may. Leave a trail of narcissistic abuse victims in your wake, and call them “autistic” if they ever DARE besmirch your holy, righteous name by telling people what you’ve done. Remember: denial is the key to empowerment! The less responsibility you take for your own actions,candy the more you deflect and project onto your partner and ex partners, the less heavy with responsibility you’ll feel. Remember, the world misunderstands you, that’s all. You’re more special than everybody else, and the more pseudonyms and alternate accounts you use to spread these messages, the more chance you’ll have to come to my High Leader’s throne and kiss my ring. Only the worthiest earn that honor.

    May you never be held responsible for what you do, and spread your confusion unto all.

  • Andy C

    October 10th, 2021 at 12:49 AM

    Dear Maxine, your very own comment is the narcissistic one, calling out everyone through a sneering self righteousness via gaslighting, word salad, shaming and projection… “pseudonyms and alternate accounts you use to spread these messages”. You seem to be the one engaging in such behaviour as all the other comments are genuine relationship woes apart from your egotistical trolling spewed out at everyone. You’re easy to spot amongst the authentic and not as clever as you’re trying to be.

  • Rich

    October 11th, 2021 at 10:02 AM

    @Rachelle, so sorry to hear how much you’re suffering. It’s a very difficult situation to be in, and it’s not your fault or his.

    I can think of a few things that might be helpful though. 1) BE SPECIFIC about your request for connection. You said he won’t show empathy toward your requests for connection. As an Aspie, I can tell you, I can only guess what that means. And if I have to guess, the risk of getting it wrong and upsetting you is too great, so I’ll probably do nothing. I’m pretty sure he wants to please you, but he’s not sure how. He’d probably happily do it if you would be specific about what it is you want from him. What is a “request for connection?” Do you want a hug? Do you want him to just sit and listen without judgment or defensiveness? Do you want him to hold you? Do you want him to play with or look after the kids for a bit? Do you want him to take out the trash (btw, you said he never remembers to do that without a reminder right after he says “I have to take out the trash,” which sounds to me like he’s feeling a ton of stress from your pleading – and he doesn’t know how to please you so he’s trying to get away from the stress and maybe(?) please you at the same time). Which brings me to #2) PLEAD LESS and SAY THANKS MORE. Tbh, all of that pleading isn’t really helpful to motivate him. He’s just going to want to tune out, get away, escape. It’s very stressful. But if you say THANKS or acknowledge when he does things like take out the trash, or give you a hug, guess what he’s going to do more of? 3) If you think “But he should just KNOW what I need from him emotionally, you’re doomed to continued unhappiness or marriage failure. I know that’s harsh, but that’s the reality of being married to someone with ASD. You can expect this from other NTs (although that’s not guaranteed either – there’s a lot of misunderstanding even between NTs when we expect others to know what we want without clearly telling them), but if you expect this from an Aspie, you really don’t understand the condition. Sure, you understand that ASD means “difficulty expressing emotion and social awkwardness”, but then you continue to interact with your Aspie as if they are an NT. And that’s a recipe for relationship unhappiness.

  • Esther

    October 11th, 2021 at 12:49 PM

    He tells me countless times that he will do everything he can to save our relationship. Only then does he do nothing himself. He does not act and he is silent to me.

    He expects me to deliver the following to him:

    full specified user manual
    job description
    all the time he needs without being disturbed

    In addition, during these tasks I have to coach, guide, learn, prioritize, direct, adjust, take over, solve

    I’ve been asked so many times: tell me what to do, how to do it. Tell me what’s most important and I’ll focus on that.

    The answers, explanations, schedules, planning, information has been given so many times where I could give it. Supplied in so many ways to meet his demand and my wish for things to get better.

    But he doesn’t do anything about it. And keeps asking the same questions again.

    And every time I show him that the answers I could give have already been given so many times. That he should not put the responsibility on me, but should take responsibility himself, even if he does not know something and has to ask for help or support through, for example, a psychologist.

    He loves me. Has everything for me. Loves the children very much. Want to make everything right, do good……
    Just words……. Nothing changes
    I would love nothing more than to solve it, to be able to work together, to trust and build on each other….. But the harder I try, the less he does and wants to try…. so frustrating.. I’m so tired en so stressed.
    Should I give up?
    Has anyone been successful in restoring the relationship? I’m feeling so much guilt towards my two children who are the innocent victims of al the drama

  • Denmark

    October 15th, 2021 at 1:39 AM

    Rich, it is nice to read your response above without it being angry, but rather, trying to be helpful. That alone, might be something that many of us miss, namely, someone who is actively trying to understand what we non-aspies are experiencing and trying to help us move past obstacles. It really was helpful to hear what your experience is; how you hear what is said, how you interpret it, how you or others might react! I have to respond, though, with some insight for you and maybe it is simply this simple: all of us hear and interpret things based on our experiences, including aspies – who also have interesting genetic or biological reasons for their own ways of hearing, processing, feeling and acting. The truth is, in my experience anyway, that some of us are simply not capable of changing to accommodate “the marriage”. Yes, I realized long ago that it would be me who’d have to “change”. The thing is, though, that much of what I have experienced and others seem to have as well, is that some of the responses and/or active thinking, doing, planning, of our partners feels like – to any healthy NT woman anyway – abuse. I will give you some examples: one is that my husband, because of his concern for leaving the driveway open wide enough for other cars to pass and his own desire to have the car pointing “outward” – for 7 years parked in such a way that I had to open the passenger door IN TO THORNY ROSE BUSHES. Another, he considers actually having a toilet that is bolted to the floor in the bathroom to be an excessive concern on my part, similarly taking care of many aspects of the house – like insisting that the t.v. be placed in a room we had agreed to design to be a “library”. Okay, he is Danish, but has worked in the English language with Americans for 40 years. He knows what a “library” is. His other idea is to have the t.v. in a different room that is adjacent to (and separated only by double glass doors) the other side of our house which we rent out to tourists who rate us online. In other words, in a room where we cannot actually listen to the t.v. without being heard by people who will almost certainly hear us and rate us – thus impact a source of income that we need. Lastly, I humored him when I moved to this house with him, 16 years ago, by decorating the living room in a classic way, with antiques that were similar to the age of the house (100 years old) but now, this much time later, I can say that we do not use this room. It can be a beautiful room – but he will disagree with any changes I want to make. Everything I want to do that would bring more order, logic, comfort, efficiency, cleanliness to our lives – he disagrees with. In fact, evern when he agrees, he will articulate it as disagreement. With these experiences behind me – and having gone through extreme depression, crying every day for almost a year, I have developed a kind of anxiety about trying to do anything unless it fits within his paradigm. Some of this, btw, can have nothing to do with his autism and more to do with his being lazy, growing up in a disorderly household etc. But most, I think, has to do with his difference (which numerous of his nieces and nephews also have to one degree or another (some worse, some less severe). In the end, though, it is not unusual for a spouse to develop this kind of anxiety because it is experience-based, and it builds on being around someone who has his own kind of anxiety disorder. It can be as if the stress a partner has is transferred to us – and I will give you another example that you can try for yourself. If I suddenly and in haste grab someone’s arm – when they least expected – and I mean grab hard, they will almost always react with an equally aggressive/defensive physical, facial, emotional way. It is a transfer of one type of emotion from one person to another. With the aspies I have expereinced, their stress operates this way. Thiings said, faces and sounds made, anticipation of another disagreement coming, blame coming, judgment coming . . . and it leads to stress in the partner as well.
    TO AVOID THESE EXPERIENCES AND FEELINGS many of us act the way we would act with any person – and that should be expected of us. We use our words. They may be heard as “pleas” or “complaints” but they are ways to resolve problems – and if more words follow, at least in my house, it is because a conflict exists and it has not been managed – leaving issues open (“Are you going to call the painter, you said you would call him 3 times now”, “Will you send me the phone number for the painter?” . . . because it has been AGREED that the rooms need to be painted).
    This is hard stuff all around.

  • Denmark

    October 15th, 2021 at 1:49 AM

    Define “successful in restoring the relationship”?
    We are still married but we have lost respect for each other. Also, as the saying goes, “nothing can cut one’s throat more quickly than a sharp tongue.” When some things have been said, they cannot be taken back.
    Lastly, for a relationship to improve, both parties have to want it to improve. Our problem is not that we don’t each want it to improve, but that either one of us can slip into intolerance for the other’s behaviors and sometimes, that leads to real argument and me getting upset that I cannot afford to leave the relationship, which can slip into tears followed by me keeping my distance from him. It is not a way to live.
    In terms of your kids, I read somewhere a realistic concern by a parent that raising children in a situation that is painful or would seem abusive or degrading to NT people, can be harmful to the child’s development, self-worth and expectations of how spouses treat each other, or accept treatment that is, in the NT world, NOT acceptable. Think about that.

  • Muse

    October 15th, 2021 at 10:42 AM

    Props to people who see the issue is between two parties, not two NT/AS strawmen.

    NT/AS relationships can work, under the same rules as a Muslim/Christian relationship can work, or a Conservative/Liberal relation can work, or a Brazilian/Mexican relationship can work, or an American/Canadian relationship. And those rules are BOTH people need to be willing to work on things, and NEITHER needs to be quick to assign blame to the other party.

    In a lot of these scenarios I’m seeing, the alleged “NT” is complaining about how every difference of opinion was ‘her’ being RIGHT and ‘him’ being WRONG, comparing their UNIQUE relationship to the relationships of other people. Unless abuse is involved, there is no one-size-fits-all relationship, and a lot of those “healthy” relationships you see your friends and family in, often have a completely different look if you’re one of those people, rather than on the outside looking in.

    When there’s a breakdown in communication, it isn’t because so-and-so is [LABEL], or their boyfriend is [LABEL], or their girlfriend is [LABEL]. And the world is NOT full of licensed Psychiatrists and/or Psychologists who blame one party and not the other; if you’ve seen such a person, you need to report them, because they are operating off-script.

    Involved parties need to talk. AND listen. AND try to do better. AND, if it looks like no reconciliation can happen, be willing and able to leave. It’s more complicated when kids are involved, but custody/visitation should be reviewed on an objective basis, not from the view of “They were a crappy spouse, so they’ll be a crappy parent”. And kids, being kids, can sometimes play one parent against another; don’t be so gullible and destructive as to let them being upset with your spouse saying “No” to sweets before dinner or “No” to ungrounding a kid who earned a grounding, become another wedge between you and your spouse.

    Also, to the ‘Cassandras’ out there…not everyone you disagree on something with is Autistic. The mailman, that person at the grocery store, your sister’s dog, your Uncle’s cat, the Mayor of Townsville, etc…people are allowed to disagree with you, to be VERY different from you, and not have an unqualified nonprofessional play at having the credentials to diagnose. Also, stop confusing every neurological disorder with Autism. Dexter Morgan from the series DEXTER is not Autistic. Jeffrey Dahmer was not Autistic. ISIS is not a terrorist cell of purely Autistic Middle Easterners.

    You can’t fix your life, until you can perceive it clearly. If you’re taking the time to play Psychologist and fake-diagnose your spouse with stuff? If there’s legit abuse going on, you need to spend that energy DISTANCING yourself from them. And if you’re more focused on diagnosing your partner than working out some kind of workable arrangement, your priorities are CLEARLY in dire need of rearranging.

    Lastly, there is no “AS World” and separate “NT World”; there’s just one planet, full of people who possess immutable differences from one another. Drop the xenophobia and learn what YOU have to do to survive the hazards of this world, rather than sitting around trying to find a label for it so you can insult those people on the internet.

  • Denmark

    October 15th, 2021 at 9:23 PM

    Muse – To the extent you may have been referring to me, I get that my examples might not have been confincing, or sound “ordinary” but I couldn’t possibly describe the repetitive manner of our experiences in a post here. In fact, there is a reason that diagnosing (let’s face it – scientists have notices similarities in the traits and experiences they have been informed about, researched, categorized and obtained a space in the latest DSM serioes) for these sets of behaviors, dispositions, was not a thing – because it is hard to articulate. I agree that it is best to get diagnoses. I did it by way of a physician and in my husband’s abscense at the time, but he himself has also read about it and agrees that he has known he had these differences his whole life, including most of the identified feelings, reactions, behaviors, dispositions. Not only that, but High-functioning Autism is believed to have some genetic components and, this is absolutely, ABSOLUTELY, the case in our circumstances. So I have no need to challenge his diagnosis. Speaking only of my own, not others’ circumstances though. Live and learn.

  • Sumguy

    November 2nd, 2021 at 2:14 AM

    to: Muse
    I use to work on the premise of a similarity of cultural difference comparing an AS/NT relationship. And it was a good start into understanding and working through my relation ship with my ASD partner. However communication is so much more complex and learning about topics such as Theory of Mind became essential in a better understanding.
    There is no off switch in innate methods of communication which over 90% of the people around us use. And this makes it incredibly difficult to truly communicate with some people on the spectrum even when, on the surface, there seems to be good communication or understanding.
    My relationship takes A LOT of work. And the days I let my guard down I find myself reacting instead of thinking through it. Luckily I usually catch myself. However I believe I am different from most as I am fascinated with psychology and personality differences and disorders. This gives me a huge advantage in making this relationship work. Conversely my partner to this day just doesn’t see the issues. She does not have the capacity in many of the detailed forms of communication and understanding even though she is a bright professional.

  • Sumguy

    November 2nd, 2021 at 2:27 AM

    to: Sarah
    I respect you perception about the “painful truth about all people”. And there is a little truth in that. And creating a life rule, so to say, like this may be helpful to some.
    However in my experience it is simply not true of even most people. Yes we all have that instinctual instruction but most people are conscious enough to make a choice. And it seems more choose. something other than what you suggest.
    I would not disregard your idea but I would certainly consider an optional outlook. Just my 2 cents.

  • CR

    November 21st, 2021 at 7:54 AM

    I am an NT and married to someone who is most likely on the Autistic spectrum( unassessed and v high functioning).
    Over time I have tried to develop an understanding of how his mind works and his way of communicating and have tried to adapt my communication with him to his way of thinking. Frankly, to buy peace for myself more than anything else.
    Obviously not being Autistic myself and my brain not being wired the same way, I often don’t get it right. I am constantly on a high alert mode, stressed and anxious, anticipating some outburst, or gaslighting (be it unintentional) if he becomes anxious when he gets confused or does not understand something I’ve said.
    Whilst I have a lot of sympathy for him about the fear, confusion and anxiety he probably experiences navigating a predominantly neurotypical world, I would rather feel this sympathy from afar. I am exhausted, battered and bruised from navigating and surviving this marriage. We have been married a long time and I cannot and do not want to hold out any longer for a ‘pie in the sky’ hope of my husband making the effort or seeking support to understand my way of thinking and us finding a ‘middle ground’.
    He finds our communication difficulties and breakdown really frustrating too. The difference is that he blames me for all of it and hurls really mean, cruel and hurtful comments at me. Equally, I used to blame him for our difficulties ( minus the constant meanness and cruelty) but have moved from there and accept that it is not a question of apportioning blame, but that there is such a huge gap because of our differences.
    Interestingly, the author had commenting that aging is difficult in a neuro-diverse relationship, but didn’t give any further explanation why that is. This has been my experience too. The difficulties and breakdown in communication have really worsened as we got older. My hypothesis is that the way my husband has been navigating through an NT world all or most of his life was by masking these difficulties through mimicking NT behaviour. As he gets older this is becoming more and more exhausting and therefore his patience is eroding more and more in trying to make that effort. Don’t know if that is correct.
    Whatever the case may be, we are tired and have agreed to call it quits. I am v clear about it, have come down a long road to this decision – that this is the end of the road for me. I need to move on to find some peace. My husband is at an earlier part of the journey – thinking we might find a way forward through a period of separation. I don’t think physical distance will help us to make any more effort effectively on top of all the sincere effort we have truly made already. Too much ugliness and hurt has taken place.
    This is my personal experience. Might not be others’
    The main point I am trying to make is that, from my experience a neurodiverse relationships can be difficult and painful even without hurling blame at each other.

  • JulieK

    November 21st, 2021 at 9:24 AM

    CR: very well spoken. I’m in a similar place but minus the masking dynamic, eg no anxiety- he’s had no apparent challenges living in an NT world and doesn’t realize he’s ND. The challenges are mostly only with me -I think to a large degree because he’s always worked in hi-tech land (and excels at it). I’m so sorry. I’m also obliged to make a gut-wrenching decision just to save my person, both mind and body.

  • NTbybirth

    November 22nd, 2021 at 7:47 PM

    You are obviously intelligent and articulate. What you wrote rings true for me point for point – except he did not swear until recently and was raised so politely that he certain behaviors have not been in his repetoire. On the otherhand, gaslighting and self-serving emotions have been. He will fight to the death to claim we have the “same standards” but we don’t. To his benefit, he is easily satisfied. To my disadvantage, it means I moved away for a year+ to find work really, and returned to most rooms having mouse pee and poo throughout, ruining paintings and frames he would not get rid of (hoarder) and also those my mother had handed down to me. It was disgusting and beyond unsanitary and who do you think he expected to clean it? Me. Because, although he had the “same standards” he didn’t mind living in filth whereas, I did and so my welcome back was disgusting. He rejects when I have mentioned this as an example for why I think we need to move to a smaller place because he is now 66 and I might go first. He should have a space that he can manage, and I might (though not usually) mentioned this. He’ll get angry and say why do I have to think about the past! But that is it in a nutshell. Even though he says he thinks about the past sometimes, he lets go of his own undesirable or offensive conduct. You are lucky you have the option of moving out. I have thought numerous times that we could work out if we were neighbors who cared about each other but could go home and find peace. Contrarily, what you seem to be saying and what I experience is a kind of disrespect for each other that we cannot pull back from or go forward past. Your solution seems as good as any to me! It would be great to hear back from you 6 months down the road – hopefully hearing that you feel safe from attacks to which there is no response and maybe with your self-esteem intact. You can do this. You deserve better. I try to explain to my daughter, you can divorce someone because it doesn’t work for you, regardless of what that means for the other person. Once you have tried your best and concluded that you are not better off, but worse off to a significant degree, it is enough to move on. Life is short.
    (I would follow my own advice if I had the money and the guts – which I used to have before this).
    Good luck!

  • jody

    November 23rd, 2021 at 6:14 PM


  • Jody

    November 23rd, 2021 at 6:21 PM

    I have been married to a man with ASD for 34 years. He is a good man who loves his family. I live my life on the verge of tears. I am lonely, misunderstood and no longer the person I once was. I have been treated as though I’m a nothing for most of my life and now, at the age of 57, I feel like a nothing. I feel empty and alone even though I am surrounded by family. I ache to be loved and feel a connection with a man who understands me and cares about who I am. I am utterly miserable and feel so hopeless. I have been called vile names and pushed away until I have no self worth. This is all there is for me now.

  • JulieK

    November 24th, 2021 at 9:09 AM

    I’m so sorry.
    Just sitting with you. You’re not alone in experiencing this.

    It’s very hard to find the right help for you, but it does exist. You *can* recover who you are.

  • NTbybirth

    November 25th, 2021 at 11:22 AM

    Jody, I feel your pain. I haven’t been touched without begging for it (and then, an awkward forced pat on the back) and I ache for the positive emotions and, literally, hornones that work positively on the body. Unless what you experience their is what you signed up for, my own belief is that you are entitled to more. I realize that moving away can be impossible for a variety of reasons. I hope you will seek out professional support to brain-storm with. Hugs. 🙏🤗

  • Michelle

    November 26th, 2021 at 12:10 AM

    Jody, your pain is so raw and real. And yes; I closely relate to everything you wrote, as well as all those emotions that are buried within, too deep to be put in words. I have been married for 36 years and am a walking shell of who I once was. My life goal at this point, is to survive each day. ‘Alive’ is something I havent been for decades. I wear a smile most of the time, but inside, the depression has taken over my soul.
    And yes NTbybirth, the pats on the back, and ocassional hugs – after begging for them – are robotic and emotionless. Its as if I asked him to take out the garbage. He will do it, because he is a ‘nice guy’, but its a chore he doesnt enjoy or want to be bothered with.
    For me, leaving isnt an option, but for those of you who can, weigh the options carefully.

  • NTbybirth

    November 28th, 2021 at 1:07 PM

    Jody, JulieK, Michelle, I just have to put this out there. I personally believe that we ARE entitled to feel loved, or at least cared about, by an adult and that, given the impact (and this is also documented by fact-based science) that emotional isolation, or worse, has on us mentally and physically. I also feel strongly about honesty, so I prefer the idea of honesty, but if necessary then discretely, but if the opportunity arose to have an additional relationship which would improve our health we should seriously consider it. I mean, even someone who meets for coffee and pulls the chair back so you can sit down comfortably, or who opens the door to the coffee shop and offers you to go in first . . . Honestly, my ND-Husband-In-Training has improved a lot. He doesn’t love me much, but he treats me better now in some ways due to my unwillingness to accept some of his anti-social behavior. . My point being simply, when I have had four hours of nightmares in a row and barely slept the rest of the night since I couldn’t free myself from them – and I wind up crying for various reasons (rare), the man I am married to is NOT going to come, take me by the hand and sit down on the couch with me. The bitter coldness of his reaction when I was crying as I tried to explain my night (never lifting his head up from his new love – the tablet), made my morning that much worse because there was a human there who might, or might not, love me, who is watching me feel physical pain and carry the haze of these nightmares in my head. If someone offered me their shoulder (won’t happen but still), I would take it. My husband would have to understand it more as a medicine than something to be jealous of. We deserve this much. I believe that.

  • Jan

    November 28th, 2021 at 4:07 PM

    Our marriage ended due to the unwillingness of my husband to participate in therapy with those trying to help.
    Unfortunately he just did not see any problems in the relationship unless they were mine & spent most of his time casting doubt on my state of mind rather than trying to save our family. His affairs had nothing to do with anything in his mind. I still feel sad in my 70’s.

  • Another anita

    January 8th, 2022 at 6:26 AM

    Hi. My husband scores pretty highly on the AUstism Quotient Test. We’ve been married 21 years. I suppose I came to realise some time go that he was ND. When I met him, he seemed a lot more stable – than did the dysfunction of my family/previous marriage.. We’ve both acknowledged that I arrived like a ‘rescuer’. Old habits/conditioning. My bad.
    I feel so lonely. All the time. Since I decided I was banging my head against a brick wall trying to get him to ‘talk’ about things, we’ve degenerated into (to me) soulless brief conversations about mundanities. He seems happier with that. He refuses to even entertain counselling as a couple. Or singly.

    I’m mid 60s now. He’s about a decade younger. It seems too late to start again, and not bad enough to leave anyway ? So – as Covid permits, I’m working towards making an alternative life ‘on the side’. Friends I can talk to properly. New hobbies and hopefully interest groups – just for me. NT support groups. Focussed counselling.
    Fingers crossed. It’s not easy. I’ve subsumed myself as a person who is entitled to respect. To be heard.

    And I need to try to stop myself feeling guilty for doing that. It’s time to put myself first.
    My self esteem is shot.

  • Bill

    January 8th, 2022 at 11:40 AM

    Well it seems I’m not alone here. I’ve been married to my wife for about 15 years, and I have suspected that she has Asperger’s for maybe 12 of those years. Since the very beginning she has had no empathy whatsoever. She never admits to being wrong. She always turns every conversation around to avoid taking any responsibility. And reading the comments here from people on the spectrum who get pissy and annoyed that they are actually being called out for their crazy making behavior just brings it home all the more. We have 4 wonderful kids together, and that is the only reason I have not left. I have thought about leaving many many times over the years, and I have discussed it with therapists, religious leaders, friends, mentors. Most have told me to leave. But I think it would be too hard me to live without seeing my kids every day, and I know it would be devastating for them for us to split up. In the meantime I live a life of constant sadness, loneliness, resentment, and bitterness. But I’m always second guessing and doubting myself. She is an expert gaslighted. She lies constantly about things big and small, and she changes her story all the time, sometimes from one minute to the next, without embarrassment or remorse. I don’t care if she’s not a psychopath — it’s still gaslighting, and it’s killing me slowly. I have no doubt about that. And I say to everyone reading these comments: if you are in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s, get out now. It will slowly kill you. I know that my chronic health problems have a lot to do with the constant misery I feel from living with someone like this. If you have kids together, it’s obviously not so simple. But don’t lose your life over someone who cannot and will not love you and care for you.

  • Jen

    January 10th, 2022 at 10:10 AM

    Second-guessing your own sanity and experiencing your self-worth dwindle to the point losing one´s soul, feeling empty, lonely and desperate are themes common to this thread about gaslighting. It says a lot. It would be so nice if there were answers. Not everyone can leave – and with low or no self-esteem anymore, the prospect seems incredibly scarey.
    But I am curious. How can your kids be doing well when you and your wife are not?

  • Sumguy

    January 12th, 2022 at 5:54 AM

    Hi Jen,
    The answer about your kids is that they are not doing well. No matter how much you try and shield them or do your best to make up for your partners inability to be a good parent, your children will suffer. What we do not realize is that when we are dealing with all of this we are also not good for our kids. We are not the person we should be. We are not good parents under these conditions no matter how hard we try.
    The answer is to seek counselling. Both for emotional and legal reasons.

  • Missy

    February 18th, 2022 at 1:49 AM

    I feel deeply sorry for everyone on this forum. There is much pain, frustration and anger from both sides. And understandably so. Those with different wiring have statistically been outcast from the normal sects of society, in much higher numbers, by the gatekeepers of “normal” socital interactions and interpretation.
    Leaving much bitterness and anger for the “non normal” person to deal with alone, this leads to feeling isolated and rejected by the very fabric of society they are simply trying to be a part of, and leads to a lot of resentment and bitterness and hatred. And this normally starts at such a young age, that it cant be blamed on peer abuse, or upbringing, but rather some deeply sensed genetic and biological difference that even small children can sense in one another.

    To further pain this issue, this causes strain in normal interactions with those that have typical wiring. As they most likely arent rejecting the oddity of the other consciously, but rather instinctively because the other is so very different from them on a intrinsic and rudimentary level.

    Aside from that caveat, this is my advice to anyone in an unhappy relationship that is harming them and causing as much dissatisfaction and hurt as I see presented here in this forum.
    If you are in a relationship with someone who mistreats you, abuses you and causes you such deep emotional pain, and if you are so unhappy that you must come to a “safe-space” online to vent about them, air your partners dirty laundry for all the world to see, without their knowing it, simply so you can feel heard, then I highly suggest leaving said relationship and tending to your own needs in order to become a whole and healthy person once more. Your partner will be hurt and upset as anyone not wanting to end a relationship is, but they WILL be able to move on and heal as well, and it MAY be EXACTLY what they need in order for their own healing to occur as well.

    Also a lot of what is being presented as autistic traits are in fact human asshole traits, not limited or exclusive to any label or defining factor outside of simply being a sshitty uman that is donning the role of the asshole supreme. It is not simply a “nt/as” issue, but as has been said many times, a human condition that all, on or off some perceived societal construct of labeling, are capable of doing and being towards one another.

    So final point, if you are unhappy and in an abusive situation, seek help to leave immediately, protect yourself, leave. If however this is merely a way to gain sympathy and continue playing the victim mentality, seek help immediately and leave, because your partner doesnt deserve to be vilified and misdiagnosed over your hurt feelers. Maybe he or she is autistic, maybe they are just assholes, maybe it really is you with the issue, maybe your the asshole that needs to change.
    MMaybe you uare the autistic sone . iThs whole world could do for a lot less talk about feelings and lot more action. Especially towards healing and forgiveness and true unconditional love, understanding, and compassion. And sometimes that means leaving a situation where you’re miserable all the time and continue to blame the other as the source of all your problems and pain. Love is an action word, not a feeling. And you cant love someone else if you dont love yourself first. you also cant give from an empty cup. And your partner, despite how you may precieve them, is still deserving of basic human dignity and respect.

  • Dianna

    March 7th, 2022 at 10:23 PM

    While this article has alot of good points. I think it is missing something vital. The plight of the NT wife. While she is endeavoring to understand and keep her AS husband in his comfort zone, her needs for emotional reciprocity and humane treatment are going unmet. She can explain it intellectually to herself and not blame him. But living without emotional reciprocity is an unhealthy relationship. Even with a good attitude. Whether the AS husband is Overt or Covert, over time, it is death by a thousand paper cuts for the NT wife.

  • Hanging on so far

    March 10th, 2022 at 7:32 PM

    You are right about what happens and how it feels. Loneliness is actually associated with poor physical health. I might be a test case, but I think others who have written in here are too. I´m all out of words. Marrying someone with a bi-directional communication disorder and many other symptoms makes loneliness a certainty, as well as frustration. We´ve definitely addressed this elsewhere, I think?
    If this is you, my only advice is to live as a partner, not a spouse. If you are younger and employed reasonably well, get out. The consequences of living like this can, I imagine, become tragic for many. You are also right if what you are saying is that the co-morbity, if you can call it that, seems to be missed by scientists. I think the consequences are measurable, if anyone measured. ;)

  • together but not really

    March 13th, 2022 at 6:07 PM

    Both my partner and I have ASD. He has a very unstable ego though and is jealous, angry and knee jerk protective of his personal view of himself. He has the lowest self esteem you could fathom. I wonder if that is the cause of the “gaslighting” this article speaks of, or if he really is incapable to imagine that I might have been hurt by his behaviour. I’m also autistic, so if someone tells me I messed up, I apologize and try and fix it going forward, win or loose, I try and am aware of it. This gaslight thing is the description of an a hole and not just someone with ASD.

  • Just got here

    March 15th, 2022 at 6:19 AM

    If they are smart enough to emulate what they perceive as “common..average..”typical” they are smart enough to know what survival tactics work and do not. Manipulation and lying their butts off (in a panicked state)…has worked in the past..and is most effective on ..this person..or that person…they will knowingly continue to do so. They may not perceive the same outcome, but they are sometimes delighted by how easy it is to lie to a certain person, and seek to do it further. They know. I stopped letting mine get away with it. “I didn’t try to kick you out, I said I’d sell my house and move” So I started packing. “He said, I didn’t think you’d actually do it. Lying is an easily accessible “crutch” Tool” insert word here…for survival. I know this because I have PTSD, Bi-polar, anxiety disorder, you get the gist. And I am hyper aware. I have studied people far more than the average person. I know conscience manipulation when I see/feel/experience it. And so do they. It do what works to survive. Nope, I see thru your obvious guise. or I do what I did to my children if they had a fit in a store, because they didn’t get what they wanted. I act like a 5 yr old with him and walk away. You are smart..stop acting like you are dumb and naïve,because it doesn’t work on you. I’ve tried most of what you are trying now. Because I was done playing his game, I stopped arguing and attempting to defend myself, and simply stated You are lying I am done talking to you. It has alerted him to the fact I am done with his boohoo baby woe is me after you lie like an idiot repeatedly. There have to be boundaries. I am making them as clear as possible. “I will always have your back in public when you need me, but I am no longer playing the “aww poor misunderstood you…it’s ok..*comfort*” person because you attempt to force me to be with you. I am insecure, and terrified of doing something wrong and looking like an idiot in public , but that does not justify manipulating people, because you are afraid they will leave if you don’t. Only when you can admit you are wrong, when you are wrong, will people start to believe you when you are actually right. They may not grasp the entire concept, but if they are clever enough to find ways to “fake it” then they are certainly aware of how well quick manipulation and confusion, work. That is my rant, and that is part of this story. Someone else said “I stopped fighting and walk away, and it is working” They say “speak clearly strait forward, to the point, in as few words as possible, so I started doing just that and thus far, it is presenting as knowledge he can assimilate. (we have been together 23 yrs and have a 22 yr old son and we are both quite obviously (to me anyway) co-dependant. ( i do not interfere when he “needs his space to look and be this” i am now conscience of reasons for those types of actions and needs) I not heartless, but I’m alll done being an emotional punching bag. Again…my rant, my story. My right. Love peace and I wish you all to find an acceptable level of peace for yourself alone. ( all the lightbulbs “clicked” about a week ago.)

  • Pippi

    March 18th, 2022 at 4:15 PM

    Together But Not Really,
    You seem to be pretty aware and despite what you say your diagnoses are, able to see right from wrong. Can behavior of someone diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (formerly called Asperger’s in the U.S. – still called that on many other countries) be knowingly wrong? Of course it can. Can it be hard to learn that certain behaviors are inappropriate, unhealthy, harmful to others? I suppose. Though it is not a given. Sometimes, as in other “neuro-typical” relationships, a person can simply be lazy and unwilling to listen or change. At the same time, people with Asperber`s can have a much more difficult time taking abstract ideas in and processing them. For that reason, I sometimes get the “deer in the headlights” look. There is simply a gap between the concept I discussed and my partner`s ability to conceive of the concept I introduced. I OFTEN get this when we are discussing, for example, shoes and that, say, the summer shoes are still in the hallway. Then a minute later, after a very brief silence, I can say, “We should put them away in the attic until spring;” and I will get “put what away?” Then I´ll say, “the shoes” and I will get, “What shoes?” So clearly, understanding can be challenging. Communication can be challenging! That said, yes, anyone can gaslight! I am rarely concerned about “why?” one might do it though because, whether it is to make someone feel better (example, saying they “didn`t” do something you just saw them do – because they don`t want to take responsibility, because admitting that they “did something” that might have been a mistake or an outright selfish act (ate all the ice cream that you bought, before you got to have any) that they don`t want to feel guilty about, or if they are really trying to lie to themselves because they KNOW that they have done something wrong and had acted impulsively and don`t want to be reminded (to themselves) that they, AGAIN, failed to control an impulse . . . all of which leads them to deny a true fact and to impose the “new, FAKE, fact” on you . . . . or if they do that because they want to control you . . . . the end result is the same. It happened, it is crazy-making and YOU have to deal with it or refuse to deal with it. Some behaviors feel like abuse because they have the SAME EFFECT as abuse. The name doesn`t matter, the EFFECT ON YOU matters, and should matter, to you. Another person`s behaviors can be intolerable for that reason and SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED if they happen too often (you decide what too often means – once a day? once a week? once a month? or when you notice that your self-esteem has been going downhill and you have started to doubt your own judgment). Some handicaps are obvious and their consequences very clear. A person in a wheelchair cannot walk or has pain walking or can only walk or stand for very short periods. That person will need physical support, the wheelchair and probably medical issues and medication that can have consequences, probably for the rest of their life. You can know that and decide how to deal with it once the full impact is clear to you. Maybe you go farther with having a relationship, maybe not. Unfortunately, that person has to deal with their limitation, very sad as it may be. For me, it is the same with Aspbergers/neuro-atypical/high-functioning autism. The question is, “What do you do once you see how certain behavior is impacting YOU?” YOU have to take care of YOU – no one else is going to do it for you. If it feels abusive and you have tried to improve things but improvement doesn`t occur, it is time to re-think whether the relationship is GOOD for you or not. Be careful not to wait too long. Gaslighting can have the effect of terrorizing a person`s sense of self-worth. Once that happens, it can be hard to find the self-confidence to leave even if leaving is the best, maybe the only, solution.
    Good Luck!

  • Karmen

    April 7th, 2022 at 8:23 AM

    My exboyfriend of the last 5 years was a Highly Functioning Austist, not diagnosed in denial, functional alcoholic in denial, workcoholic, a math genius a fooled all along. He mentioned just once after nearly 5 years he could be Autist based on a couple of friends told him some time ago. At first I ignored it but finally I read about it and he qualifies 100%. Knowing him has been devastating in most ways. At my age I feel used, mistreated, decieved, fooled, taken for granted and exploited. It is going to take a true healthy mind, brave and honest man willing to earn my trust to love again.

  • AnnieB

    April 21st, 2022 at 7:56 PM

    @Anonymous Autist
    Thank you for your post. This really sheds some light on the thinking pattern of an autistic person. I am myself diagnosed with ADHD, so I have some similar thought patterns perhaps. I wanted to really address you feeling dismissed when voiding your opinion out there in the world and being pigeon holed almost, invalidated and unheard. I think it really started to understand where an autistic person could be coming from. I can relate to my opinion not being heard, etc. This really bothered me in my younger years, until I realized it is the way of the world. It isn’t that I don’t have an opinion, it’s just that I am not important enough to be heard really. So unless it’s an instance, where my opinion is crucial, like my job, that is when it gets taken into consideration, and also only after spending years and earning that place in the world. Unless it’s a close family member or a friend I’ve had for years, noone cares about my opinion, period. And if I absolutely think that my opinion will help and is definitely better than something else that’s out there, would I even decide to speak out of turn if you know what I mean. And the attitude I have adapted is that I let it all go. It’s an attitude of forgiving and forgetting. Could this be something that an autistic person could adapt? Letting go of having to the need to be heard, or at least limit that to when it’s prompted and be collaborative of sorts if there are more of you with different opinions. And letting go if things are not done to your exacting specifications?

  • AnnieB

    April 21st, 2022 at 8:36 PM

    I am myself recently broken up with an ASD boyfriend, short term, but we are still in touch and I am still weighing my pros and cons. From what everybody has shared it looks like I could be with him if I had a completely separate and fulfilling life, but we would be under the same roof, and spent days not talking and not having sex, and maybe would have a surface conversation here and there about a movie or our pets. So like a roommate who has a status of a boyfriend, but no benefits so to speak. I think I would only accept this arrangement if I were asexual and had no desire for emotional intimacy. I can see how one can be that way. I’ve been that way for stretches of time when I came out of bad relationships in the past. It was a healing stage, a temporary stage. I could never accept that as a relationship or a marriage. I was lucky that our relationship deteriorated quickly, and it took a complete nosedive in the last month. But I can see that the courtship could have lasted a little longer if he had seen me as somebody he wanted to impress. I understand a young, maybe 18 year old autistic person may not know how to relate to a NT (I have ADHD by the way, so not really qualifying as NT), but at his ripe age of 44, and having gone through a marriage and several unsuccessful relationships that he would start to get a grip on how and why things go bad. He has learned so many other things that he has applied himself to, but the one thing, the relationship thing he is still acting like a teenager. It occured to me that it is because he can and doesn’t actually care. Because he has not invested any time understanding the NT point of view, and in essence lacking basic respect, when it really boils down to it. Respect is a word we all understand. NTs and NDs alike.

  • Elizabeth

    May 27th, 2022 at 10:17 AM

    I am happy to see this post still active after several years. My boyfriend, and I have been dating for three-and a half years. I suspected him to be autistic after dating for three months. We are both in our thirties. One year ago, things had gotten so bad in our relationship, he finally saw a psychologist, who diagnosed him with a high functioning autism spectrum disorder. He has had about 5-6 sessions of therapy last year, we did five couples counseling sessions, and I have been in therapy over a year, dealing with him. We moved in together to a new high cost of living state after dating for 8 months. There were a few red flags that I chose to ignore in the beginning, because I thought he was so wonderful, and charming.
    He started off very attentive, loving, super affectionate, seemed interested in knowing EVERYTHING (but never asked the right questions) about me, and generous. He was so tall, handsome, and goofy. He had a great job, was super smart, and was a computer/electronics genius. I felt like he was husband material, and gladly moved into a beautiful house with him ten hours from where we lived. A few months into the relationship, he changed for the worse slightly. He bought me a brand-new luxury car (which I never asked for, but thought it was his job to provide since I had an old 2006 Jetta). He bought us a house with a pool (because I liked to swim).
    The first year we had several arguments a week. He would scream at me if I used the wrong tone, talked too fast, asked him to repeat something, if I would want to talk about the future or emotions, or if I would ask him to buy my dinner. I was in school, but still had a job making about 40-50K a year. Not a lot, but he still insisted I pay $1000 a month on his mortgage, because, “do you think you get to live here for free?” All while he was making six-figures/ had a side hustle, and never needed my help. I struggled in school, and had to withdrawal from a class after COVID first started. He said to me one night, “if you fail a class, I’m breaking up with you, I don’t want to date a loser, only losers fail classes.” I have ADD, but I’m medicated, but I’ve always struggled with learning.
    The July after I moved in, about eight months later, we went out to do errands, had lunch, and since he bought lunch, I said I would buy ice cream somewhere. We got there on a 105 degree Saturday, and he said he wanted this milk shake thing, and started listing like 5 toppings. I explained to him that I’m only paying for one (I only had like $40 in my bank account, and didn’t tell him out of embarrassment). He started screaming at me in the parking lot, calling me, “a g****mn *f*****g cheap a**,” and ran to his car and left me there. He took off in his car with my cell phone in it. I sat in the parking lot for twenty minutes for him to come back, because, “you’re lucky I saw your cell phone, that’s the only reason I came back.” He wasn’t going to let me back in the car, and I had to force myself into it. Two years later he still refuses to apologize, and when I bring it up, his response is always, “you apologize for telling me I can only have one topping.” He’s made one half-hearted apology after I had a mental break down over it five months later. He still to this day does not understand why what he did was wrong. He literally thinks it was the right thing to do, “and I’ll do it again if I have to.”
    All in all, I’m still with him. He’s living overseas while I finish my nursing degree, and watch the dogs. He got a wonderful promotion, where everyone tells him how amazing, and smart he is. No one has ever said no to him his whole life, including his mother. I pay hell for it though, because I think everyone is afraid of him. I have no emotional connection, spiritual connection with him, and we’ve lost our physical connection. When I talk to him about bonding, and emotionally investing in each other, he says, “I don’t understand, I don’t know how to do that.” He is your stereotypical robot, with a very mean streak. He’s never laid a hand on me, so he doesn’t think he’s abusive. He is in fact emotionally, mentally, and financially abusive. I love him, but I know the person he was in the beginning was not him, because, “I only acted like that, because that’s how you’re supposed to act.” He’s learned to play the game by watching others, but he doesn’t know how to stay in the game for the long run, because you can’t keep an act up like that when your autistic.
    I don’t feel like myself anymore. I feel like I’m walking on egg shells. I have to be careful about what I say, how I say it, how I text, how I look at him, and I can’t ask for anything. I have consuming anxiety most days. I’m two years from finishing school. Often times, after fights I can’t focus on anything but fixing the situation. I wish I ran away from him long ago. But I am here now. I want to tell my story, so people don’t get involved with a person like this, like I did.

  • Rose

    June 7th, 2022 at 6:55 PM

    This is was of the hardest relationships I have ever had. I don’t know some times what to do when he retreats, when he hears a question or comment he does not like, or tries to avoid. He will also get extremely angry, and punch the door frame or wall. I never know what to do. causes trauma with me, but he does not see that.

  • Angelique

    June 17th, 2022 at 11:17 AM

    Do yourselves a favor and leave. Don’t wait for it to “get better”…it won’t. Don’t wait for the person you originally met to come back…they won’t…it is called MASKING or LOVEBOMBING for a reason. And for God’s sake, DO NOT MARRY THEM. Once they think they have you, the mask comes off and you will meet the real robot behind the mask. The best you can do is to put them behind you. Don’t let them become the biggest, most long lasting mistake of your life like I did. Learn from my mistake. What I wouldn’t give to get those 40 years BACK. And, on a sadder note…do you really want to bring asperger kids into the world? That is what you risk by having a relationship with them. Don’t risk it because it is NOT worth it. If anyone is offended by my comments…too bad. Living with an asperger person will turn you into an uncaring person, too, because that becomes your own survival mechanism.

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