Sheldon Cooper, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, Spock. What do all these men have in common? They are all men I have a crush on. And they all demonstrate characteristics of Aspergers Syndrome. One book on adult Aspergers relationships is even titled Loving Mr Spock.
Aspergers runs in my family so it’s not unusual that I have a high level of comfort with it. It was surprising for me to fall in love with an Aspie (affectionate term for one with Aspergers) and not realize it was there.
A person with Asperger syndrome may have trouble understanding the emotions of other people, and the subtle messages sent by facial expression, eye contact and body language are often missed or misinterpreted. Because of this, people with Asperger syndrome might be mistakenly perceived as being egotistical, selfish or uncaring. Interestingly, one author has said if you feel like you are in love with the most selfish man in the world, that is usually a sign to check for Aspergers.
These are unfair labels because the person concerned is neurologically unable to understand other people’s emotional states. People with Asperger syndrome are usually shocked, upset and remorseful when told their actions were hurtful or inappropriate. Even individuals who are high achieving and academically or vocationally successful can have trouble negotiating the ‘hidden rules’ of courtship. Aspies can be incredibly open and send signals that suggest intimacy. They do not recognize the boundaries that differentiate friendship from courtship. And without knowing you are in a relationship with an Aspie, you can fall in love with someone who had no intention of that nor any desire for you.
“Some common issues for partners of people with Asperger syndrome include: 1) Frustrations, since problems in the relationship do not seem to improve despite great efforts, and 2) Doubting the integrity of the relationship, or frequently wondering about whether or not to end the relationship.” Better Health
I have struggled hard to express my boundaries, and with an Aspie that is critical. Over time, I could accept the Asperger tendancy towards asexual behavior, the unlikely possibility of sharing a life, and difficulty with physical contact. His wisdom and skill with energy made him profoundly attractive from a spiritual partnership perspective. His soul was beautiful and the consciousness he could demonstrate was a great mirror for spiritual growth. When we were in soul alignment, nothing was better. Except he is not monogamous and I am. And finally, after 7 years of deep sharing and partnership, he told me he can’t and doesn’t love me.
A typical relationship pattern with Aspies is their challenge with monogamy. The nuance between types of relationships and maintaining the integrity of those relationships requires social and emotional awareness that is not easily part of the Aspie repertoire. Informal discussions with other women in relationship with Aspies showed the same patterns. (Patterns of emotional outbursts, abuse and inability to handle adult life responsibility also exist but go beyond scope of my experience). I have read stories of Aspies who turned to spouses of 20 years, told them they didn’t love them, and then were completely surprised to find their spouse packing up to leave.
I have left the relationship and I have done so without losing myself. I feel more sadness over the loss of Our Best Moments, but the freedom and release is beautiful. I forgive him, because he would never want to hurt me. I think by being honest that he doesn’t love me he demonstrated exceptional integrity, and ironically, love. One day, we may find ourselves in some form of alignment. Today, he is the last part of 2013 I need to release. And I do. With gratitude for the space it creates in me for Me.