Let's face it, we're a minority within a minority.  We're already members of "America's most distrusted minority" = i.e. atheists, but on top of that, we're also Aspies on the Autism spectrum.

My history of relationships with the gender I'm attracted to (I'm a heterosexual male) has been rather hit or miss.  At 40, I've been married and divorced already, and have had some girlfriends through the years, though few of very long duration...so among many Aspergian men I guess in some respects that makes me one of the lucky ones.

I was struck reading John Elder Robison's latest book Be Different in his chapter on relationships, on how he relates that in most of his relationships with women, it was the woman who chose him rather than the other way around.  I could also very much relate to how John Elder talked about his NT friends telling him to just nonchalantly go up and talk to girls...how it seemed to work for them but not for him.  I had the same experience with an NT friend in High School who was very smooth with girls and said it was all about confidence...but he had a special "magic" that I could never seem to master myself...it's only later, looking back with my DX papers in hand that I realize it was because of my A.S.

When I think back to my first girlfriend in High School, she definitely chose me; picked me out.  She invited me over to her place...we watched a movie then she started making out with me, which came as a pleasant surprise.  But when I exhibited jealousy (when she was being a bit too flirty with some college dude at a NJROTC meet held at a major Texas university--and it wasn't just me who noticed, everyone did and said things to me), she dropped me like a hot rock.  I was evidently just a "boy toy" to her...easy pickings...I got a little revenge by flirting with her younger sister, who was slightly attracted to me for a time.  Plus everyone in the NJROTC gave her the cold shoulder for hurting me so callously.  She was year older than me as well.

When I look back more critically at other past relationships and near-relationships, I see so many missed opportunities and missteps...all that hindsight being 20x20 stuff...that and the delayed reaction to certain emotional stimuli that is so common to those of us on the spectrum.

Even in relationships where I was a bit bolder, it was always a mutual attraction...

My ex-wife before we actually got married was to that date my longest girlfriend-type relationship...we were together as a co-habiting unmarried couple for a full year before we tied the knot.  The longest one before that was like 6 months...and my first post-divorce relationship was about 8 months, with an older woman who, like my first girlfriend, asked ME out casually for a beer...she was a recent divorcee like myself and we really had a good dating relationship that I only broke off because of having to move out of town to take the next available Library gig, which turned out to be bust after 2 years anyhow...the only thing I wasn't keen on were the 4 very big dogs she kept as pets that were way too small for her modest home.  I'm just not a big fan of dogs...too licky, jumpy, over-friendly, etc...those were her "furry" children, and I made the mistake one day of suggesting maybe she had too many...very impolite of me, I discovered.

The experience of having someone of the opposite sex express attraction/desire towards me is almost always one of astonishment.  I sometimes nicknamed myself "The Vulcan", since it seemed like it was just about every 7 years that I'd get laid ;-)  It moreover feels like I spend so much of my life as an outside observer just looking in at life from afar.  I'm filled with terror, horror, excitement, and a bit of squeamishness when someone (especially a girl) grabs me by the hand to yank me into the picture, to become an active participant IN the hustle/bustle of life itself....

I've also in the past turned down relationships because the girl was Christian and I took Christians at their word about the no-sex-until-marriage thing, etc.  It was only later that I learned "yeah, they may SAY that, but...."; There was a really cute, flirty redhead at Texas A&M Fish Camp named Melanie who was really clearly into me, but she was also someone who had been into drink & drugs in her teen years and used religion/AA to get clean & sober again....part of me really wanted her, but the intellectually honest side of me wouldn't let me pursue that relationship beyond mere platonic friendship.

Even in High School, I attracted the attention/desire of some rather beautiful girls but I also turned them down because they weren't very smart and had poor academic skills...I don't know why I had such ridiculously impossibly high standards for young women in my younger years...kept me from having many more relationships than might have been possible hadn't I been such a discriminating hard-ass....

I also used to have rigid views (I've become more flexible with age) that in hindsight I see were really disabling to normal, healthy relationships....such as a naive belief that one shouldn't be sexually intimate with a partner that one knew from the outset could not, would not ever possibly lead to marriage.  That possibility HAD to be there in my mind to consider going and taking things to that level.  That said, I never turned down one night stands of opportunity that (sometimes literally) fell into my lap, kissing me out of the blue...I'm thankful that I'm no longer so rigid in my views on relationships, at least not in those ways.

Where I have drawn a (new) line for myself is on the question of dating Christians.  I just can't anymore.  Just can't go there, not even with "lapsed" Christians, because you never can tell when they will get "on fire" for Jesus again...I would prefer a dating a fellow atheist, though I'd accept Deists, Buddhists, even Pantheistic New-Agey hippie girls...and things might "click" more easily (or at least less awkwardly) with Aspie women as well as opposed to an NT atheist female.

I did toy around with OK Cupid for a time, but only got a few tentative nibbles of interest before losing interest myself.

The long-ish 6-month dating relationship before my wife was with a fellow school teacher I met in university education classes...she was Mexican-American, still living at home with her mom...so sex just wasn't in the cards, or at least I wasn't clever enough to play the right ones to get around the obvious obstacles.  I think ultimately she just got bored of me, plus I moved out and away out of central Houston to a far-flung suburb, it got harder to stay in touch and involved, etc.  I was a summer love for her that dragged on a bit longer than she wanted it to.  Maybe if we'd found a way to be more physically and emotionally intimate there would've been more sparks to keep the fire of attraction burning, but again, that's all water under the bridge.  An NT in similar circumstances might've managed, but as an Aspie male, I was not able to.

The worst relationship I had was a year long mess of a love-triangle between myself and two co-workers...I flirted with the girl, who gently rebuffed me because she had a boyfriend already.  I apologized and went back to minding my own business and keeping things "strictly business" with her.  She then dumped earlier boyfriend for co-worker boyfriend...but then she got bored/stressed/dissatisfied with that beaux and started flirting with me again.  I gently rebuffed her....but she wouldn't take no for an answer.

So I started seeing her; she cheated on her boyfriend and had daytime dates with me (we both worked night shift)...she preserved her conscience by doing everything short of sleeping with me.  As long as she didn't have sex with me, she could justify what she was doing to herself in her own mind, no matter how much it hurt both men in her life.  I was the "surrogate boyfriend" who ministered to her intellectual needs and some of her nurture needs....while the other guy took care of her physical desires.  I tried several times to break things off completely but she found ways to reel me back in...it was pure hell.  Only after a year did I finally at last manage to break free.  It all came to a disastrous end when the other guy got her pregnant, refused to take responsibility for it and dumped her.  I got slammed by my NT friends for doing so, but I honestly told her she should get an abortion and not ruin her life.  To my great relief, this is what she ended up doing, and I was there for her to help her pick up the shattered pieces of her life afterward, cradle her in my arms as she cried and cried afterward.  There was too much built up bitterness and resentment on both sides to build a relationship out of that ash heap, and we maintained a kind of stony, cold-war like stand-off for a year.  When I finally left the company to go attend graduate school, she called me up my last night in town...she slept with me at long last, as a kind of "goodbye gift", a consolation prize screw...again, no relationship ever sprung from it after, but I welcomed the experience...in hindsight, again, no relationship was probably possible anyway as she was religious and I definitely wasn't.  She was a very messed up person and I think she knew she was and wanted, on some level, for me to have better, in her own twisted way of looking at it.  That and our whole overall relationship was shot through with my own Aspie awkwardness and missteps that are only clear to me in hindsight...

I do have one tentative prospect with an Aspie female in my area; she's 25 but her parents seem over-protective of her (her dad writes emails on her behalf, for example) and I think they're also a religious family...and she may very well be herself.  Would be great if she could de-convert, but I'm not sure I'm up for trying that again with anyone...

It's tough enough for any atheist to find other atheists of the gender they're interested in for dating/romance...add to that the awkwardness that comes with being Aspie and the current disparity not only between Atheist men and women but between Aspie men and women as well...I can only hope the theories are correct, that women Aspies are currently very much under-diagnosed as opposed to men...women generally having better social support networks that "mask" and compensate for their Asperger hardships and social awkwardness and men far less so.

Anyway, I realize this is kind of a random, ranty, meandering post and apologize for its being a rather disorganized jumble, but anwyay, just wanted to get these thoughts down and out there to share...

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Thanks for sharing your story!




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