Dating someone can be hard to navigate as you get to know their quirks. Dating someone autistic can pose a whole new challenge. Autism is a disability which effects people in a variety of ways, effecting verbal, mental, social and communication skills. People with autism have different levels of functioning and the list below is a generalisation, so be sure to communicate with the person and clarify what they find difficult. These are just some of the things you may come across when dating someone autistic:
1. Be Prepared For Their Hyperfixations
People with autism can become obsessed with something usually considered a hobby. It can be anything from playing a musical instrument, to gaming, to sports. What neurotypical people would usually deem as an interest becomes a fixation for someone with autism, where all they can think about is their fixation and they spend all their free time dedicated to this thing so may lose their attention from spending time with you. They may also talk a lot about it without interruption, so you may need to adapt to their hyperfixations.
2. Communicate, No Silent Treatments
If you have an argument or if they have done something to upset you, you need to tell them and talk to them about it in layman’s terms. People with autism struggle to put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand your motivations and emotions, so going quiet and refusing to talk about why you’re upset is only going to stress out them out and make the situation more painful for the both of you. This is definitely something to keep in mind when dating someone autistic.
3. Be Patient
There is a lot of patience required to date someone with autism. They may get stressed very easily over seemingly small things, or they may become very fixated on something when you would like them to be fully present with you. You need to be calm because getting frustrated with them isn’t going to help.
4. Ask Them
If you’re wondering something about them or you feel you have a question which needs answered, ask them. Don’t be afraid to be straightforward with your question. You may worry that they don’t really care about you or that they’re not that interested in you, so ask them these things. Trying to second-guess them is only going to make you feel miserable.
5. Timekeeping May Be an Issue
Autistic people can be either incredibly anal about time keeping and may panic or become stressed if you’re later than five minutes, or they can be terrible at timekeeping and end up always late, it really depends on the individual. Try to be understanding of this and adapt to their needs.
6. Give Them Space
Everyone needs to recharge but for someone with autism, they can become incredibly burnt out with social interaction. They may take ages to respond to messages or just disappear into their room without another word for hours so they can take time to unwind. This can take a while to get used to and you may worry you’ve done something wrong, but don’t take it personally.
7. Get Used To Their Eating Habits
Autistic people can have a hard time with different flavours, almost like being phobic to some smells or tastes as they react to some things so strongly. They can sometimes struggle to prepare food due to being already burnt out so can go for something quick and simple, so you may notice their diet not being great. It’s important to learn their fear foods so you don’t accidentally buy or make them something that they could hate.
8. Get Used to Different Sensitivity
People with autism can be hyper- or hypo-sensitive. They may prefer to listen to music incredibly quietly or incredibly loudly. There may also be certain textures or materials they hate, and they may like being stroked lightly or having their skin touched heavily. Stroking someone’s skin is a great way to build intimacy so find out what they prefer.
9. Tell Them if They Hurt You
Much like point 2, you need to tell them clearly that they’ve said or done something to hurt you and put it into simple terms. People with autism can lack a filter and say things which may be hurtful or inappropriate so it’s important to be honest. Whilst they may have this condition, it doesn’t mean they can say whatever they like to you without any ramifications. Definitely keep this in mind when dating someone autistic.
10. Enjoy Their Company
People with autism are incredibly bright, funny, and talented people. They have a huge amount of passion for the things they love and their perspective on things can be really fresh and interesting. Taking the time to get to know someone and growing to love them can make for a really fulfilling relationship, it just may be different from what you’re used to but that doesn’t mean it’s bad!