Have you ever heard about all the problems couples have when one of the two is autistic? What about when both are autistic?
Life is easier with someone else in your life, but to us Aspies, that’s something society doesn’t seem to grant us easily, or for long, if at all.
Why? because of all those so-called experts who wrote books about how to deal with autism in a relationship. In short, their (non-autistic) point of view is that we’ve got little to no chance to have or provide a happy relationship – or any at all, in fact.
Let’s see what people can read in their books:
– We’re not empathic, we can’t read body language, we have mental issues associated with our autism, we are too chaotic, or too rigid about routine, we’re too something, anything. We even cause mental problems to others: the Cassandra Syndrome. etc.
They suggest that even with their advices, therapies and coaching, it will be at least a struggle, and very often a failure.
And they might be right (especially if you believe them).
But they are very, very wrong as to the reasons for that, because they assume we’re the problem, and we need to be in therapy.
Is it true? Let’s make a little mental exercise to switch perspectives: imagine that in your neighbourhood it’s we, autistic people, who represent the majority. Take some time and think then, who have to adapt, who would be considered as not being normal?
I asked this question during a session with a psychotherapist specialised in autism, he tried to grasp the concept and its implications, but it didn’t succeed to materialize in his mind. And you know what? It’s normal because he’s not autistic. What is not normal is that non-autistic people occupy the totality of the executive boards of organizations like NVA/Balans, the biggest Autism organizations in the Netherlands.
They are not experts in being us, nor knowing what’s good for us simply because of that important difference: they are not directly, viscerally as concerned as we are, we, autistic people. It’s common sense, though? Not to them and you know why, now.
Let’s get back to happiness and relationships, one other thing denied to us. Remember all those facts written and told by the non-autistic experts, so-called figures of scientific authority? Too late, we believed them, but are they right simply because it’s the point of view of the majority of people, the non-autistic, or are they biased just because of that?
Still, those judgement errors have a powerful effect on us, and we, autistic people, sometimes choose to end our lives instead of having to suffer any longer. Nine times more often than in the average population. 900% more victims.
We can lower these statistics. First by changing who are the voices speaking about us: us. Secondly by using the room we deserve to reach out to all of us and tell them the truth: you are normal, you are not alone, organise, help each other and experience for yourself how good it feels to be with people who are like you. And who knows what might happen?
Once, while shopping, I noticed a very special someone, someone I thought I already knew because she seemed so familiar to me, even before a few days later, when we formally met. It was something I couldn’t put words on it to explain. It was just a special way of looking at me, directly, without filters, bit like when a cat looks at you: no facial expression to understand what they want but still a quite intense stare.
Why so familiar? I just had met my autistic partner-to be. It’s later that I remembered why her gaze seemed so familiar: I’d seen that look quite often on kids or adults with autism. You can just see how much we are all the same inside, we have no other choice than to be ourselves. That would be a very adult gaze on a very young face, or the other way around – it’s often this contradiction between age, face expression and the impression their eyes give which triggers this feeling of deja-vu for me. In those very moments they are themselves, outside of social codes.
But back then I had read all this stuff about autism in relationships, so logically being both autistic meant double trouble, that’s also what the psychotherapist was certainly thinking every time me and my new special girlfriend went to see him.
That was during the process of assessing if I could officially be diagnosed as autistic, on top of already having ADHD, btw I eventually got the official diagnose but there were quite some embarrassment about the lack of needed therapy, example of our talks:
-Hmm, it must difficult for you sometimes, no? No? Okay… What about needing some time to be alone?
-Oh that? No, we dealt with this possible issue early on, we decided that the best solution was to keep on living where we already live, each of us at home, so we visit each other half or a third of the time.
I can still see him searching very hard for some treatable issues, something to justify we being here.
We did have to deal with all possible issues in the first 5 weeks of our not-yet-so-called relationship (later someone compared us to Sheldon and Amy with their relationship agreement haha). Basically those issues were the ones which need to be addressed at some time in all non-autistic relationships as well, but for them it mostly happens later over the years. Those issues were like: babies versus no babies, living together or not, betrayal possible or not, and if yes what then? Even death. Everything means everything, down to the smallest details like how to communicate by phone or texted messages, or how often. And then we were done, 9 years of marriage counselling in 5 weeks.
All hail our autistic brain! And its uncontrollable need to focus and look for answers, well yeah but sometimes I wish it would take a vacation haha.
So after that we decided to call it a relationship -for the sake of having an answer when people ask, also because if we’d say we were boyfriend/girlfriend our close family would feel we need to step to the next steps and we were like: why? we liked it like that it worked fine, so thank you but no thanks.
Basically, it’s back then I understood I was actually normal and could have the right to feel accepted and understood, vice-versa I could finally see logic in someone’s behaviour and thinking, it was like at last meeting someone from my home town while being far abroad. Such a relief.
All this started a thought process which led me to more questions about autism and relationships, and in there I must say I had the luck to stumble upon a very special blog, which confirmed my first impressions weren’t the product of luck or anything, it was a fact: aspie-aspie relationships can be a success, much more than when only one of the partners has autism.
Here’s the link to the page: