The Straight Male Aspie’s Survival Guide to Dating, Part Two
Where To Meet People:
Apparently the three most common ways in which people meet their romantic partners are (and I don’t remember which order this was in): through friends, through work/school, and online.
If your friends don’t know anyone they could set you up with, and there’s nobody at work or any of your classes who you’re attracted to, there’s the wilderness of online dating.
If you reach this point, God help you.
I could write quite a lot about dating websites, because I did it for a little bit and I find that world depressing and fascinating in equal measure.
It’s a real mixed blessing for people with Asperger’s. On one hand, when you’re looking at dating profiles, there’s no subtext. You know they’re interested in a relationship, you know salient facts about them (their hobbies, interests, values) and even stuff that doesn’t matter (how tall they are, down to the inch).
But on the other hand, it can get pretty confusing. For starters, the only information that’s on people’s profile is stuff they want people to see. For all the bluntness inherent to the medium, people’s profiles are at least as filtered and managed as people are in real life.
There’s also an exciting new set of social skills to develop. How do you construct your profile? How do you approach people online? How do you sell the idea of yourself?
What I’d recommend is finding a dating website you’re comfortable with- and find one that’s free- and spend a lot of time reading women’s profiles before you fill yours out. Get a sense of how people are portraying themselves. When you find a profile you like, ask yourself what you like about it. Is it funny? Is it straightforward? Does it have a lot of information? Keep all this in mind for when you design your own profile.
In terms of messaging people, for God’s sake, please don’t be creepy. I’ve talked to women about their experiences with online dating, I’ve read articles about it, and it is fucking terrifying to be a woman dating on the Internet.
You get sexual come-ons. You get dick pictures. You get all manner of lechery and creepiness.
Please don’t be weird.
Why are you messaging this particular person? What did you read in their profile that interested you? Mention that. On OKCupid, which is the site I used, there’s a section in which people specify what they’re looking for. If you’re using OKCupid, mention what it is about you that matches information from that section. Sometimes people will be very specific about how they want to be messaged, and God bless them for that. Follow their guidelines.
Copy and paste the messages you send onto a Word document, and analyze them, whether they get a response or not. Maybe show one of your Maintainers the messages you’ve been sending out, and ask them for feedback. Or show them your profile and ask them for feedback.
Keep in mind that online dating has a low rate of success. For every ten messages you send out, you might get one response.
Now, if the whole online dating thing isn’t for you (and who could blame you, honestly. It worked for me, but it was emotionally taxing) then you have other options.
There are various social groups and clubs in all large and medium-sized cities, and they’re easy enough to find. If you’re interested in something athletic, check out the local Y.M.C.A., community centre, or gym to see what programs they offer.
If you’re interested in anything else, I recommend using meetup.com, which- according to Wikipedia- is “an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities”.
For every interest you could possibly have, there’s probably a group of people on Meetup who have the same interest.
Some of them will only be interested in friendship or activity sharing, but some might be interested in a relationship.
The other option is volunteering for a charity or political cause. Don’t volunteer just for the sake of volunteering; find something you actually believe in. Prospective romantic partners will not be impressed if you show up at their fundraiser just to get your bone on.
Getting to Know People:
Getting to know people is a pain in the ass. There are so many variables at play, and so many things can go wrong. Sure, you can fuck up in a well-established relationship, but they’re much more likely to understand why you fucked up, and then move past it.
The getting-to-know-you stage is playing with live ammo.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve thought to myself, “Please God, just let me skip the first two or three months and get to the part where certain things are simply known.”
But that’s not reality. You’ve got to put the work in.
One of the biggest problems with getting to know people is figuring out how much information to give them and when. Telling them every fucking thing about yourself right off the bat is terrifying, and you can’t do that.
The first few times you meet someone is like the trailer to a movie. And not one of those shitty trailers where they give away the whole damn plot; I mean a good trailer. Watching it, you get some idea of what the movie is about, you get some sense of who the main characters are, and you’re left with just enough to want more.
That’s what you should do when you’re getting to know someone: give them some sense of who you are, but leave them wanting to know more.
Remember to ask people questions about themselves. People love talking about themselves; they fucking get off on it. So ask them about things that you reasonably think won’t offend them: what they do in their spare time, their professional life, superficial things about their family (where they grew up, number of siblings- not whether their parents are divorced, or did their parents use corporal punishment), or other subject matters on that wavelength. Remember, basically you’re soliciting the movie trailer version of their life. Don’t ask for too much information, and don’t give the impression that you’re interviewing them. People don’t like that.
The getting-to-know-you process is gradual, and happens over a period of time. It starts off superficial, which can be frustrating, but becomes more meaningful every time you meet up.
Another thing you have to consider is whether you want to date this person, or whether you simply want to remain friends.
Keep in mind that some people will interpret an offer of friendship as rejection. This shouldn’t deter you from doing it, but keep that possibility on your radar.
The last time Hannah was casually seeing someone, he decided that he wasn’t interested in her romantically. Fair enough. When he told her he just wanted to be friends, she said, “I have enough friends.” This is also fair.
The getting-to-know-you process might lead you and the other person to different conclusions. That’s life.