The Straight Male Aspie’s Survival Guide to Dating, Part One
About the Somewhat Cumbersome Title:
I’m a straight male, so there are a lot of things I don’t and can’t know. I have no idea what dating is like for women and I have no idea what dating men is like.
If you’re Aspie, and can write, and know anything about dating as a woman, or queer dating, you should write a dating survival guide. Your communities need you.
Reconciling the Past:
So you’ve experienced some disappointment and pain in the past. Everyone has. Not only are you not alone, but when it comes to this, you are the least alone you have ever been.
Before you go forth and start dating again, you need to figure out what went wrong in the past.
And don’t you dare say “those bitches were crazy” because that’s a shitty excuse and you know it.
For some reason, things either fell apart or things just haven’t happened yet. There have been a number of occasions in which your dating life could’ve worked out differently, but it didn’t, and now you’re alone.
In all likelihood, it was something you did. Even if you’ve been selecting mates who are emotionally unavailable or cruel, why on earth do you keep finding yourself in this situation?
There is a reason.
If you don’t work out your own issues, you’ll keep finding yourself back here, or in even worse situations. Figure out your shit. You’re just hurting yourself, and you might even be hurting other people in the process.
In order to explain this more fully, I’m going to tell you some things that I don’t particularly want posted on the Internet.
But here we are.
I am a magnet for people with problems. People who have volatile lives, or have had volatile lives in the past, are drawn to me because I come across as safe and dependable. This is a dynamic which has happened repeatedly in both my romantic life and my platonic life.
Too often this results in a lack of emotional reciprocity. These people rely on me, and I can’t rely on them, because their problems take up all their time and energy, or because they’re incapable of looking after themselves let alone other people.
Of course, I must get something out of this dynamic, because I keep allowing it to happen.
What I get is the assurance that I’m not as much of an interpersonal fuck-up as I believe myself to be. If I can be of value to other people, and if other people can depend on me, then that means I must be socially capable. I’m not some freak on the outskirts who can’t be around other people in any meaningful way.
This leads me to my next point.
You’re Not a Fuck Up:
Once I was able to recognize that I wasn’t a fuck-up, I was able to move on from the past and start a healthy, serious relationship.
I know it’s an awful cliché, and corny as hell, but you really can’t date anyone until you learn to think of yourself as worthy of love and respect. The ability to care for other people begins in your own head, with the ability to care for yourself.
A lot of people with Asperger’s end up absolutely wrecked due to years of social anxiety and rejection. They feel like they’re misfits, like they’re losers, like they’re doomed to failure, like nothing they do will work, like they’re unlovable… God, it goes on and on and on. It’s really depressing. The most depressing part is that it’s not true.
You have unique, extraordinary qualities which will draw people to you and make them want to be a part of your life.
But self-loathing isn’t attractive, and low self-confidence isn’t attractive. If you can’t get over this shit by yourself, you need to see a therapist.
Find one who knows something about Asperger’s, because a lot of these assholes don’t know a fucking thing about autism and will seriously mess up your head. If the first therapist you meet doesn’t have experience with Asperger’s, maybe they know someone who does. Ask.
Who Are You, and What Do You Want?
Figuring out what’s gone wrong in the past, and realizing what some of your strengths are will give you some idea of who you are as a person.
But you need to be totally clear on this point before you throw yourself into the dating world.
Who are you? I know that figuring this out is a huge pain in the ass, because identity is so complicated, but you really have to do it. It’s impossible to open yourself up to a person and let them get to know you if you don’t know yourself.
If the question of who you are gets you stuck, you can sort of approach the issue from a sideways angle. What matters to you? What are you interested in? What sorts of things do people say about you? What do people seem to value about you? You might want to take a personality quiz online. I’ve found the Myers-Brigg personality test to be accurate and meaningful. But hell, if you’re into Harry Potter, you can even take a Sorting Hat quiz. There are any number of constructive things you can do that will lead you to start piecing yourself together.
The other issue is figuring out what you want in a relationship. You probably have some idea of this already, but I find it helps to make criteria as concrete as possible.
Make a list of the qualities you’re looking for.
Don’t be too specific (“Must be a fan of The Simpsons”) or too vague (“Funny”). Find a balance (“Must have a compatible sense of humour”).
If you’ve had relationships, look at the qualities you liked about those people (“Smart, likes animals, enjoys the outdoors”) and the qualities you did not like (for instance, if they were irresponsible, you could specify on your list that you’re looking for someone who’s dependable).
If you haven’t had relationships in the past, look at the personality traits you value in your friends, as well as the personality traits that piss you off sometimes.
Don’t go overboard with the length of the list. The shorter it is, the more useful it will be. Five to ten items is a good length.
I would recommend against including physical features on your list, because physical and sexual chemistry often develop over time. As you get to know someone and grow attracted to their personality, you will in all likelihood become physically attracted to them as well.
I have had a couple of different lists over the years. After each crush or dating situation has fallen apart, I’ve modified my list to include the latest person’s strengths and weaknesses.
Here is my most recent list, written a few weeks before I met Hannah. It’s not perfect. The list is a little long, and some of the qualities are a little vague. Still, it worked.
What I’m looking for in a partner, in approximate order of importance:
-Good sense of humour (sort of goes along with fun)
-Knows her own mind
-Comfortable to be around
-Someone with whom I enjoy working out problems
-Compatible world view
-No mental health problems
-Strong, confident, capable
Things that one should be able to take for granted:
-Mutual trust and respect
-Able, willing to have relationship