Hi, this is the boyfriend!
I thought it might be an idea to introduce myself. I intend to post alongside Alli on this blog, not to correct or contradict what she writes, but merely to present things from the perspective of the Aspie in the relationship.
First, I guess a little about myself. I’m Dale, I’m 28 years old, and while I have a had a few relationships that never really went anywhere, I consider Alli my first proper girlfriend. I was a very different child, “floppy” as a baby, and had a lot of strange rituals and ways of thinking. For quite some time all I wanted to wear was a Manchester United football (soccer) kit, despite my never really liking football. My parents knew something was different, and I was finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome around the age of 13.
Growing up was a bit different for me. During my teenage years I developed a number of extreme obsessions. I had a collection of Star Wars toys in their original mint packaging, and pretty much learned the scripts back to front. I also had a love of physics, often trying to work out the physics of something during a lesson at school and exclaiming to the other children “I’ve worked out the physics (of this device)”. I even attended two or three of the Institute of Physics conferences which as luck would have it, were held in my home town.
A party trick of mine was that I could read out loud about two or three times faster than anyone else, quicker than most people could take in, which annoyed my classmates in English classes, who exclaimed in one voice every time to “SLOW DOWN”.
Over the years I also developed other mental disorders (although Aspergers is NOT anything wrong) including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety (both diagnosed) and Depression (self-diagnosed).
After some time, at around the age of 17 I started to attend a church in my home town, and became a Christian some months after. Unfortunately, around the same time I had something of a mental breakdown over the course of 9 months, something I still take medication for now.
Over the last 11 years it’s been a long journey. I made friends, learned how to socialise, and slowly worked on my anxieties and how to cope with more difficult Aspergers traits.
And that’s when I met Alli. I had asked out girls before but the story had always been the same. They liked me as a friend, or things just fizzed out and we lost contact. Alli agreed to a lunch date, and things went on from there until 1 month after that lunch date, when we officially became an item.
Both of us have learned a lot in our short time together (about 3 months). I am learning how to relate to Alli and how relationships work, and Alli is learning how my brain is wired.
That’s what Aspergers is really. It’s a different wiring of the brain. What other people can do or determine almost instantaneously from instinct and unspoken social cues, I have to exhaustively calculate. Everything, including love to some extent, has to be worked out from a purely logical perspective. If A then B, otherwise C.
I cannot read tone of voice, nor body language and take many things literally, most often not being able to “read between the lines”. I also cannot extrapolate from incomplete information. If I am to do something, I need exact steps, or better yet, a hands on demonstration, even something as simple as using a new washing machine for the first time.
Its not all bad though, and this is why Aspergers is not a disorder, nor a disability in the eyes of myself and many other Aspies. I learn extremely quickly, and while I struggle with basic arithmetic at times, can handle abstract logical or numerical concepts easily. I am extremely competent with computers, having a degree in Computer Science and working in the software industry, and while some people may think I don’t consider the feelings of others because it simply doesn’t occur to me – I am actually very empathetic, perhaps excessively so. I have a childlike fascination with things, and like many, many other Aspies, I am EXTREMELY loyal.
It’s worth noting, that many of us, myself included, do not want to be “healed”. There’s nothing to be healed of. Aspergers is a crucial part of me, not a tacked on illness to be gotten rid of.
Some people reading this may think that a relationship with an Aspie is difficult and unpleasant, but judging from my own relationship with Alli, I would say it isn’t. All we need is patience, kindness and a little help when we need it. All of these are things that any NT-NT relationship needs in some degree in order to survive.
Date an Aspie – we’re pretty cool.