Shaina
Expert October 2020

fh with Aspergers

Shaina, on May 27, 2020 at 12:31 PM Posted in Community Conversations 0 17
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Is any one in a relationship with someone with Aspergers? In the beginning of our relationship he told me he had it and I was confused because I didn’t know what it was , so I asked him and he explained to me that he thinks of things differently. I of course trusted him with what he was telling me and throughout the relationship we have had issues and I did not know at the time that it could possibly be related to Aspergers.


For about a week now I have been watching YouTube videos to see if the problems we are having are actually due to that and some are. I learned that there is an emotional disconnect as well as lack of intimacy and physical intimacy :/. I have joined Facebook groups to hear other stories and it seems like a very lonely relationship because it is one sided for the neurotypical person.
I would consider myself a very emotional person. Very close to my feelings and like to express them and now I understand even if I said “try to put yourself in my shoes, he could not imagine it because his brain doesn’t work that way of understanding someone else’s feelings.
Any thoughts? Comments? Advice?

17 Comments

Latest activity by Kelsey, on May 29, 2020 at 7:07 PM
  • K
    Expert October 2020
    Katie ·
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    My FH does not have Aspergers but he does have a physical disability that has caused some major struggles. The one thing that has helped tremendously is counseling. This gives us a safe and controlled environment to talk about things and also understand more about his disability. Talking with someone who understands and can help you connect may help. Not sure if this helps answer you question. Good luck!!
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  • Hannah
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    My husband does not have it, but I've had friends who do. Aspergers is a part of Autism Spectrum Disorder and technically does not exist as it's own diagnosis anymore (as of 2013). It used to be believed that Asperger's was a milder form of ASD. Now, ASD is the only diagnosis and, as the name suggests, there is a spectrum of severity and symptoms. There are many symptoms for ASD, and no 2 cases are exactly alike. Difficulty picking up on social cues, trouble maintaining eye contact, and issues with emotional connections and the type of empathy you are describing (putting oneself in your shoes) are all characteristics that may be present in someone with ASD. As the previous poster suggested, counseling with someone well-versed in ASD may be a really positive experience for the 2 of you and help you both navigate the relationship in an effective way given any potential emotional limits that exist due to the disorder. Also, as a non-scientific resource, Atypical is a (good) show on Netflix with a main character who has ASD that would probably have been diagnosed as Asperger's prior to 2013.
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  • Julie
    VIP February 2020
    Julie ·
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    My first fiancé had it. I am also extremely empathetic, as you describe yourself. We were physically intimate only a handful of times over several years, and we could never argue constructively, he would get angry and storm off. He also lied a lot, and hid alcohol around the house, and could not hold down a job for more than a few months. I'm not saying that this is the case with you or your FH, but about 9 months before our wedding I called it off. I couldn't picture the rest of my life like that. I know this may not be great advice, but I hope it makes you feel like you're not the only one. Hugs to you
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  • M
    Dedicated October 2021
    Michelle Online ·
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    Psychologist here. As a PP mentioned, Aspergers was removed from the DSM system in 2013, largely due to over diagnosis and lack of clarity as to what deficits in functioning were occurring. With any disorder, keep in mind that the name of the disorder doesn’t tell you much about how a specific individual is affected. Every disorder presents differently in different people. Ask your FH specifically what symptoms he had/has for him to have received the diagnosis, and how it affects him. This will give you a much clearer picture than just the name of a disorder. Talk to him about what works best for him in a relationship and how you both can work together to strengthen your relationship and be a support to the other person (you should do this regardless of presence of mental illness). Ask him about how he shows affection and tell him what you enjoy in terms of affection. If needed, seek help from a professional in counseling. Finally, if he received the diagnosis many years ago, remember that how symptoms present change over development. So the reasons he may have been diagnosed may have changed over the years. He may have learned skills to help him adapt and function without any problems.


    Good luck!🍀
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  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
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    I work at a college for students with learning disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorders (Aspergers is an old term for a diagnosis that falls into this category). Autistic individuals think about and process the world different than neurotypical people, but the spectrum varies widely and individuals with the same, or similar, diagnoses may experience very different challenges and have different aptitudes as well. Many of us probably encounter and interact with a number of neurodiverse people on a daily basis (some diagnosed, some not) and may never even realize it. Neurodiverse individuals who have developed effective coping strategies may even "blend in" with society enough to avoid a diagnosis. These might be the people that others think are "a little odd" but generally their traits come off as quirks or eccentricities instead of disabilities.

    Many individuals on the spectrum have difficulty with executive functioning (the way they organize themselves) and interpersonal communication, which can be extremely frustrating for someone who does not have those difficulties to relate to. Some are hyper sensitive to certain sensory stimuli, some have tics or need to stim, which can be unnerving to those of us who don't experience the world similarly. Be really open to exploring the idea that your FH's lived experience and the ways in which he interacts with and experiences the world around him may be very different from you.


    With many of our students on the spectrum I find that being very direct in conversation is often helpful - a number of our students struggle with boundaries and don't pick up well on social cues related to starting or ending conversations, appropriate conversation topics, or subtleties like flirting. Some studies indicate that autistic individuals interpret facial signals and body language differently, and the majority of human communication happens without words, so that can be especially tricky. Many also struggle to understand sarcasm. I find that polite, but sometimes blunt communication, tends to be best with many of our students. As with any human being, compassion and empathy also go a long way, so be kind when frustrated, as much as you can!

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  • Natalie
    Expert November 2020
    Natalie Online ·
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    After reading your previous posts, this makes sense, as those with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to have difficulty with communication and social skills. He most likely hasn’t been picking up on subtle hints or social cues, so you might have to be more straight-forward when it comes to discussing emotions. It also explains why his family is a bit overprotective of him.
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  • Shaina
    Expert October 2020
    Shaina ·
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    What you described is similar what I am going through with mine. He lies a lot and hides watching porn(he chooses that rather initiating with me). We were doing good for about a week working on our communication but it slowly stopped working. He hid his spending before but not now anymore. I have just been sitting down with my thoughts on this and wondering if he will ever change . I’m afraid it won’t and I will constantly be sad and stressed out. Another part of me sees how he can try but not in the ways I ask him to. It’s all very confusing
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  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
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    Diagnosis or not, do not marry a person who you feel needs to change to be the person you want to marry (I hope that makes sense). You may love someone, but if parts of the relationship are very challenging and you can't envision continuing the way they are and are hoping for something to change, that is an unrealistic expectation. No one is perfect, and relationships change over time, some for better, some for worse. All people have the potential to be better versions of themselves, but if you are in a relationship where you are not currently happy and don't feel valued (whether as a romantic partner or intimate one) then don't get married right now. If you need to work on your relationship, then that work needs to happen now, so that you can find a point where your relationship is sustainable, happy, balanced, and equitable before you get married, on the day you get married, and hopefully throughout your marriage. Don't settle for something substandard and hope it will get better in the future - that is not fair to either of you. The person you marry and dedicate the rest of your life to needs to be a good partner, not just someone with the potential to be a good partner down the road.

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  • Julie
    VIP February 2020
    Julie ·
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    I totally understand. My ex promised he'd quit smoking cigarettes (never happened after 2 years) and hid A LOT. Money, gambling, intimacy was HUGE. He was always on his phone playing games rather than interacting, etc. Our issues would never resolve since he would never actually change.


    The thing is, psychologists can give you advice, and it's valid, sure. You're the one living it, though. Also based off of previous posts, just because you know the cause, doesn't mean that it will get better. It sounds like my relationship. I loved him, but I finally gave myself permission to love myself more and cut ties. I cried a lot, felt guilty, felt too old to start over, but I also felt SO RELIEVED. It was to the point where the stress, sadness and "icky feeling" in the pit of my stomach gave me anxiety attacks.
    I'm not saying this is your future, necessarily, but I think you wouldn't be reaching out online and reading (all things I did as well) if you weren't feeling lonesome and exhausted. You can DM me whenever you want. I wish you so much happiness. In the end only you can decide your future. I will tell you one more thing though, being his wife is going to be NO different from being his fiancé. It'll just be more permanent.
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  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
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    This is such good and compassionate advice. Julie, I'm really happy you saw your own worth and put yourself first!

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  • Julie
    VIP February 2020
    Julie ·
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    Thank you so much. It was a hard learning experience, but an important one. I want to help anyone I can.
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  • Hannah
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    I want to second what Karli said.


    Also, I just want to point out that it seems like the lying and deception were problematic for you, and also seem to be an issue for Shaina. Lying is not a common characteristic of ASD. The research is mixed, with most of it pointing to less acts of lying in people with ASD than those who are neurotypical with some research suggesting that rates of lying are about equal. In doing a quick look at available research (I'm a psychology grad student lol), I couldn't find any research suggesting an increased rate of lying. Therefore, it is likely that the lying and deception are not necessarily because is his Asperger's/ASD, but rather a characteristic of his personality as a person. Not all behavior can be linked to the disorder, and I think that is also an important distinction to make, especially in situations like this.
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  • Julie
    VIP February 2020
    Julie ·
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    I understand what you're saying, but at the end of the day it's what I experienced and it's what she's experiencing. Let's not dilute the problem by sussing out what behavior is or isn't typical of a disorder. I just wanted to help Shaina with her specific issue, not have an open forum discussion on general understanding of a specific neuro-psychological disorder. No one here is bashing individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
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  • Hannah
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    I was saying it more in a sense of feeling like one needs to be more accepting of otherwise intolerable behavior (like lying) due to the person having a diagnosis when in fact the two can be mutually exclusive. I guess I didn't make that clear in my previous post.
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  • Kelsey
    Dedicated October 2020
    Kelsey ·
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    "Do not marry a person who you feel needs to change to be the person you want to marry"

    THIS!!! (where is the clapping emoji)

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  • Shaina
    Expert October 2020
    Shaina ·
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    I am not trying to change who is. He wasn’t this way in the beginning but over time his efforts in this has just decreased and he’s lying and hiding things and not showing me the affection I need. I mean he can be the only person to admit that it is hurting me and actually want to do the stuff it would take to put in work honestly.
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  • Kelsey
    Dedicated October 2020
    Kelsey ·
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    Totally didn’t mean that as a response to your situation! Just very much agree with the sentiment in general. You are the only person who will know what feels right and doesn’t in your relationship ❤️
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