The Straight Male Aspie’s Survival Guide to Dating, Part Five
This is difficult for me to write about, because most of the people who run into problems with boundaries are hyposensitive Aspies who run roughshod over other people’s limits without realizing it. And I’m not hyposensitive- I’m the opposite. And, what’s more, I have difficulty understanding hyposensitive Aspies.
But hey, let’s give this a shot.
So you’re a socially disabled heterosexual male living in this particular culture. That really sucks, because women in this culture- in most cultures, really- are socially conditioned to be people pleasers. Which makes it painfully easy for you to violate her boundaries without intending to. You don’t know what’s going on, and she’s been taught that girls are supposed to be nice.
So here’s what you do, and there’s no guarantee it’ll work.
At some point early on, you mention you have Asperger’s, if they don’t already know. You tell them that this makes it easy for you to miss social cues, and that if you say or do something that makes them uncomfortable, they should point it out to you. Say this in a matter of fact way, and then drop it. They might have questions. Answer these in a matter of fact way.
Hopefully this sets up a dynamic where she feels comfortable telling you when you screw up. Communication is important in any relationship, and probably more important than usual in a relationship with an Aspie. So hopefully you’ve found someone who’s all right talking about awkward things sometimes.
You can also ask your Maintainers for advice. Tell them to be as blunt and as straightforward as possible, and listen to them.
Now, hypersensitive Aspies aren’t exempt from having issues with boundaries. It’s just that our issues tend to be different. There have been many occasions in which I’ve inadvertently shut people out, or come across as cold or indifferent or aloof. I also sometimes send out mixed signals.
I found out about one such incident just last night while I was talking to Hannah.
So in early June last year I used The West Wing Method to ascertain if she wanted to be in a relationship as opposed to casually dating. A few weeks later, it was my birthday, and I had dinner with my family. I did not invite Hannah. This led her to thinking that maybe I wasn’t serious about her after all. A week after that, I invited her to go to Pride with me and my family. This must have been very confusing for her, but I didn’t consider this at the time. I didn’t consider it at all- she’s the one who eventually brought it up.
Another problem with boundaries occurred last November, when I was attending a private screening of a video I participated in. It was a social skills video for people on the autistic spectrum (created by the Hawkins Institute and available on their website, if you’re interested). I invited my family, but didn’t invite Hannah, because I didn’t think she’d be interested.
She was pissed.
Hannah took this as an indicator that she wasn’t on the inside- that she wasn’t an important part of my life, and my support team- but in reality, I just have weird boundaries sometimes.
The solution here is the same as it is for our hyposensitive brethren: communicate. Be sure that they know you have Asperger’s and that you sometimes screw up socially as a result. If they notice something happening, they need to bring it up so you can talk about it.
I’m not sure where else to mention this, so I’ll do it here. I know a lot of guys who objectify women. It’s totally natural to get turned on by the sight of tits, or ass, or legs, or whatever. But don’t lose sight of the fact that there is a person attached to these body parts. She has ambitions, goals, and interests which are just as valuable and complex as your own, though they may not be remotely compatible with yours.
She plays many roles in her life, and means a lot of things to a lot of people, as we all do. She’s a daughter and a friend, possibly a boss, an employee, or a colleague, or a sister, or a cousin, or a niece.
She has that one thing that happened to her when she was twelve that she never told anyone about, and a home video of her participating in a school play, and photographs of her on vacations.
Never lose sight of the impossible depth and breadth of women, even- especially- when you desire them. They are not the other gender. They are 50% of humanity.
First of all, you need to know that this fucks with everyone else’s head, too. Secondly, you need to know that the only thing that matters is consent.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have sex, or who you have sex with, or how you have sex, so long as both parties consent (and are able to consent in the first place).
So we have to talk about consent. We have to talk a lot about consent. ‘Cause I don’t care where you put your dick, and nobody else should either. Consent is the most important thing.
It isn’t just about saying yes. Sometimes someone will say yes because they feel they have to. Their tone of voice, facial expressions, and/or body language might indicate they actually don’t want to have sex. Remember, women are socially conditioned to be people pleasers. And men are socially conditioned to be entitled assholes. We have to rise above these things.
The problem with consent and autism is that we have a fucking social disability, so how can we understand the many nuances of enthusiastic consent?
You have to turn the non-verbal into verbal. You have to ask your partner to verbally communicate what they want and what they don’t want, and what feels good and what doesn’t. And that communication has to continue throughout the entire sexual experience.
If they’re not comfortable communicating this stuff verbally- if they just want to “see what happens”, or “go with the flow”- don’t fuck them.
They’re missing out on a key fact about sex: it’s not just physical. It’s not just mashing body parts together. It’s just as much about communication. It’s about figuring out what feels good for all parties involved, and making all parties involved feel as good as possible. And you do that by communicating. A lot of the time- with normal people- some of that communication is non-verbal. But you might not be able to do that, so concessions must be made.
Now, there are some finer points about consent which we have to talk about. A person can’t consent if there’s an imbalance of power between them. For instance, a gap of more than two years in age if you’re between 13 and 19. Or a person in a position of responsibility having sex with someone they’re responsible for (a teacher, counsellor, therapist, or anything along those lines).
Also, all parties involved have to be conscious. I can’t fucking believe I have to point that out, but just look at the world we’re living in.
And all parties involved must be sober (I’m talking alcohol as well as drugs). That might be difficult to gauge. Some people might not feel drunk, or present as drunk when they are. But until you have a relationship with someone in which you’ve been sexually active for awhile, only have sex with each other when you’re stone cold sober. At that point, you’ll be able to communicate pretty well, and get a sense for when either of you might be feeling unwell or incapable of making good decisions.
Also, a lot of autistic people are out of touch with their bodies. It might be difficult for you to know what feels good, or what doesn’t, and sensory overload is a very real possibility. Keep in mind that you can stop at any time. You can always say no.
Before you start- before you’re even in the same room as the other person- figure out what you think you’d be comfortable with. Would you be okay with making out with your clothes on? With your clothes off? What forms of sex would you be comfortable with? Oral sex? Manual sex? Sexual intercourse?
In the heat of the moment, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can always do less than you originally thought you’d be comfortable with. But don’t under any circumstances do more. Just listen to your body, and listen to her.
Because it all depends on what you and she are comfortable with, and what gets the two of you off. Remember that sex is supposed to be fun. Some people think that lust is bad or sinful, or that sex is dirty. Those people are wrong. Don’t let their poison fuck with your head.
But just because sex isn’t dirty doesn’t mean it’s something that you can talk to a whole bunch of people about. It is private.
You can talk to the person you’re having sex with about your sex life together, and that’s great. But other than her, only talk about it with one or two of your closest friends. And don’t get into detail. Don’t say, “This is exactly what we did.” You can say, “We did stuff, and this is how it made me feel.”