My first post — why I created this blog

From a young age I’ve known I was different. I just didn’t know how. On paper, I lived the “American dream“: Ivy League school, high-paying job, nice house, beautiful family. But despite my successes, I felt I was being held back by something, a deficiency, I couldn’t articulate. I studied hard and worked hard, but I didn’t advance like many of my colleagues, didn’t have the extensive networks they had, or the ease of developing business connections and friends. I knew I was missing out, but why? Was it something I did, or perhaps didn’t do?

Growing up, I was often called “socially awkward” or “anti-social.” And it was true (anti-social in the literal sense, i.e., not socializing). But only in my mid-30’s, after hearing my mother tell me for years her suspicion my father had a condition called “Asperger’s,” did I think, after researching it, maybe the label applied to me. I basically diagnosed myself, and had it confirmed by a psychologist who specialized in Asperger’s. Finally, at age 38, I knew exactly how I was different.

But, unlike many adults who have received a diagnosis, mine hasn’t made life easier. Before my diagnosis, I had some rudimentary understanding I was different. But now that I know my social deficits, I’m hyper-aware.

I think of movies like The Usual Suspects or the Spanish Prisoner or The Sixth Sense, where, in the end, the protagonist suddenly views past events through a new lens, uprooting his fundamental perception of the world. I now know why my classmates voted to impeach me as 5th grade class president. I’m guessing it had something to do with my frequently referring to my “authority” as president and reminding them of school rules, like standing quietly in line (at the time, I thought I was doing them a favor). I also know why I didn’t go out on dates in high school and, sadly, why I’ve lost so many friends over the years. Finally, it makes sense.

But unless someone invents a time machine in the near future (which they won’t, because, time being a constant, they already would have invented it), those events are frozen in time. There’s no way to repair the harm I caused by my ignorance of basic social norms, the unwritten rules most people instinctively know but we Aspies must learn from scratch. As someone already predisposed to depression, it’s not the most life-affirming realization.

There’s another way I feel like an outsider even in the world of Asperger’s. I’ve told almost no one of my diagnosis. The only people who know are my immediate family, and even they are skeptical, because while they may recognize my oddities, their understanding of Asperger’s is shaped by the archetypes portrayed in the media. I don’t seem like “those people,” like my father, for example. If there were an audition for Aspies, my father would get the part. Growing up, when my family went to a restaurant, my father would get up and walk out when he was done eating. If two people were conversing, my father would abruptly interrupt to say something that had no relation whatsoever to the conversation. When we were at the mall, he would walk up to strangers and ask them about politics. If there was a video game demonstration, he might push aside the little boy waiting for a turn. Or approach dark-skinned strangers and ask if they’re Mexican, and speak to them in Spanish, using the handful of words he knew (like BO-nas DEE-as). Here I was, an Aspie, and even I knew he was violating basic social etiquette.

I haven’t told others I have Asperger’s because, well, I fear how they will react. I have significant responsibilities in my job, and it’s important that people trust my judgment, without questioning whether it may be skewed by the perceived defect of an autistic condition. Ironically, one of my duties is advising clients on what “reasonable accommodations” to offer people with disabilities, including, in some cases, those with Asperger’s. If I disclosed that I too have Asperger’s, would it be a conflict of interest for me to advise? As an Aspie, I think I can be trusted to be objective even in such circumstances, but I don’t know if my clients would agree.

The other day I read an intelligently-written blog by an Aspie which included advice that, if someone inadvertently offends a friend by making an inappropriate comment or otherwise violating a social norm, she can make amends by saying, effectively, “Oops, sorry, I just had an Asperger’s moment.” I don’t disagree with the advice, but it assumes the diagnosis of Asperger’s has been disclosed. That is not the case for me (and many others). I have lived, covertly, with Asperger’s for decades and while transparency may provide certain advantages, right now, I consider them outweighed by the dangers of disclosure. I suspect other Aspies are in the same situation. For good or bad, Asperger’s is a condition that, in many cases, can be hidden from the public, unlike, say, a physical impairment. It is the Aspie’s choice, and a delicate and complex one, whether he or she chooses to disclose.

I am writing this blog partly to vent frustrations but also to share my observations and experiences, with the hope that other Aspies, and their families, will share as well and that it can be a symbiotic environment where everyone advances, even if just a tiny bit. I’d also like to teach the world to sing … but that’s for another day.

I welcome comments, even if the poster disagrees with every word I’ve written. As an Aspie, I have very thick skin … metaphorically, I mean 🙂

P.S. In case you think you might have Asperger’s, here’s a test developed by one of the world’s leading experts. It’s not 100% conclusive but pretty close.

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23 thoughts on “My first post — why I created this blog

  1. Hello!

    I’ll start by saying thank you for including my blog in your list of fellow Aspies – it’s nice to be part of a little community 🙂

    I read the start of your post with such a feeling of recognition. I totally ‘get’ what you mean about being hyper-aware of things: since the realisation that I am probably an Aspie, I am paranoid about my behaviour. I think I was floating along in a sort of cloud of blissful ignorance (though still with the knowledge that things weren’t quite right). I, too, have spent a number of months now working back over things in my head and seeing where I went wrong, and wishing I could change it. As I can’t change anything (but can apologise if necessary!), I’m slowly working on telling myself that things can only improve now I’ve realised what’s different about me, and that it can sometimes help to ‘come out’ and explain to people what they might have had an inkling of all along!

    I’ve thought about the job aspect too. Some of my colleagues know that I have self-diagnosed with Asperger’s, and they seemed OK about it (and it is actually kind of beneficial for the work I do), but I am looking for a new job at the moment and wondering whether to confess. I think it could affect how people would view me as a potential candidate and colleague. Plus I like to try and get by as a neurotypical as much as possible, and having to be ‘normal’ at work is good practise for me 🙂

    I enjoyed reading your blog post and look forward to many more to come (no doubt with many more feelings of recognition on my part!)…

    AS If

  2. Hello AS If!

    I’m honored to have your (very insightful) reply as my first. I immediately connected with your blog when I read the post about your compulsion to tell the truth. Words can’t describe how closely I identify with your observations.

    I think “blissful ignorance” describes the phenomenon well. Sometimes, I think people’s happiness is inversely related to their awareness of how they are actually perceived. But I suppose awareness is the first step toward improvement.

    I look forward to many more of your posts that apply equally to me with — disturbing 🙂 — accuracy.

    Undercover Aspie

  3. Wow, I could’ve written your post. I haven’t even told most of my immediate family, I don’t think I could deal with the drama of it. I have been reading all of these books trying to understand myself, and it seems to only be making it worse somehow. I am hoping that this is the inevitable grief process with realizing what we’ve lost, and that we haven’t come to the acceptance part yet? I don’t know who to tell or why, found myself blurting it out to people I don’t even know, yet can’t tell those closest to me. Realizing that I can’t help most of these things now, when I have tried all of my life to change them… what I would call helplessness, which often leads to depression. Except we really are kind of helpless, you know? As I said to the person who diagnosed me, it has been very helpful with my friends who have known me for a long time, but for people I have yet to meet? It’s the elephant in the room for me, an elephant others don’t even know about, which probably makes me look even more self-conscious. Sigh. Interestingly, I can laugh about it, though. What else can you do sometimes?

    • And I could have written your comment 🙂 You’ve described many of the same issues I’ve struggled, and continue to struggle, with.

      But you make an interesting point: we’re all helpless, to a certain degree. That’s similar to something my psychologist said — that everyone has weaknesses, it’s just a question of what they are. I think Aspies, often being perfectionists, find it especially difficult to accept that they’re bad at something … and worse, that there’s not a whole lot they can do to change it. But then, we have strengths as well. (Cold comfort, I know.)

      I too am more self-conscious now that I’ve been diagnosed. In fact, I wrote about it recently. I think acceptance comes with time, or at least that’s my hope. I do believe self-knowledge is important, so in that sense, I’m glad I know more about myself than before. At least now I have more tools to help me navigate social interactions.

      I analogize the situation to a person who’s in an accident and has to re-learn how to walk. With this new discovery, I’ve had to start from scratch how I approach social settings. I’m still struggling with re-learning, and I’ve had some dark days — including bouts of depression — but I know it’s the right path.

    • P.S. I forgot to say thanks for commenting! And for reading my blog. 🙂 I visited your page but didn’t see any posts. I hope you write some, because I think you would have great observations to add to the Asperger’s discourse.

  4. Hi.

    I only started the blog a few days ago, haven’t written any more yet, but I will. I was wondering when reading your blog, are you a guy? I am a woman, and from what I can tell, it seems to be a slightly different experience for different genders. I think the stereotype of the insensitive male can make the Aspie man’s experience a bit different, in the sense that people expect so much more sensitivity from a woman. Also, we apparently are better able to blend in, and it makes it even more unbelievable to people when we tell them we have Asperger’s, especially if you’re “high functioning” like I am. Again, I have fooled them somehow into thinking this is all easy. 🙂

  5. I am indeed a guy 🙂 It’s funny you ask because, based on your writing, I assumed you were a guy!

    I think you’re right men and women experience Asperger’s differently. But isn’t it strange that women, who as you point out are supposed to be more sensitive, have an easier time hiding their Aspieness? You’d think the opposite would be true.

    Here’s my theory: society is more tolerant of “quirky” women than “quirky” men. A female Aspie might be labeled “interesting” and “mysterious,” whereas male Aspies are just plain “odd” and, even worse, feminine. I’ve read that Aspies often mimic others’ behavior, including men mimicking “female” traits, not appreciating the gender differences. I think that’s true for me, although as an adult, I’ve tried to undo that effect.

    But this is just a theory, and maybe I’m totally off base. Either way, I can identify with blending in. When I told my family of my diagnosis, they were (and still are) in disbelief. I’ve gotten so good at mimicking body language, they can’t accept I have a deficiency. I can’t even imagine what my colleagues would say if I told them.

    Anyway, I’m so glad you visited and wish you luck with your blog … and with vanquishing the elephant in the room. 🙂

  6. Hi. Regarding the differences between women and men… Yes, women are supposed to be more sensitive, how they are able to mimic and mirror social behaviours more effectively than men, and sadly, get passed over for a diagnosis more often. Men, so I’ve read, tend to externalize their frustration more and therefore get noticed for diagnosis. Women supposedly internalize and are supposed to be shy anyway, and fly under the radar sadly. I meant to say in some ways it is difficult for a woman to find partners, in the sense that women are drawn to the mysterious, uncommunicative male, and perhaps their nurturing nature will draw the men out. Women, who are supposed to be more sensitive, are perhaps in relation to men with Asperger’s, but in relation to “neurotypical” women, we seem more insensitive, and a lot of men are put off by this. I’ve also read that Asperger’s is in a way a extremely maleness, and women who are “male” in their manner… to prove my point, you thought I was a guy. 🙂 Anyway, each and everyone has their own challenges, I just wonder whether the very things that make it “easier” for women, may in fact make it harder in the end?

    • Thanks for the (very cogent) explanation! You’ve reconciled the seeming inconsistency, in my mind at least. And I say that not just as a male but an Aspie male, so it’s especially hard to admit I didn’t understand something. 🙂

      I can (now) see how female Aspies would have a tougher time getting along with other women, who expect a certain degree of sensitivity and social bonding. But I don’t know whether it’s harder for female Aspies to meet men than for male Aspies to meet women.

      I can definitely see your point about how women might be drawn to an uncommunicative male. In fact, now I’m remembering a (strange) line I read in Tony Atwood’s bible on Asperger’s: he claims women often initially describe their Aspie partner as the “highly desirable ‘handsome and silent stranger.'” (I guess I’ll accept the praise (?), although it seems odd to connect Asperger’s and appearance.) But, what he neglects to mention is that Aspie men also tend to be klutzes, socially awkward, anxious and/or lacking in confidence — traits that, in my experience, most women find extremely unattractive (my wife certainly did).

      On the other hand, some men find coldness in a woman very desirable. Speaking from personal experience (and having discussed this with friends over the years), men who are raised by an overindulging, nurturing mother sometimes seek in their partner the opposite characteristic (I’m sure a psychologist could explain why). This was certainly true of my longtime girlfriend and of my one close female friend in law school — in both cases, they didn’t have Asperger’s (well, I don’t think so, but maybe I should reconsider) but they were perceived as being “cold,” and accurately so, and didn’t get along well with other women.

      It could just be that people come in all stripes, even Aspies, so it’s impossible to generalize with any accuracy. But maybe the take away is that Aspies need to target potential mates more carefully than most, figuring out which people are more likely to find their Asperger’s traits appealing.

      On a final note, regarding “male” characteristics, I have a question for you (if you don’t mind — if you do, then just ignore me 🙂 ): If you saw a woman leaving a doctor’s office in tears, what would you assume about the reason she was crying? (I know this sounds odd, but there’s a reason I’m asking.)

  7. Thanks for your reply. I read somewhere (tried to find the quote, but can’t now… frustrating!), but it said that there seem to be two types of people that fall in love with Aspie women: those who share many similar interests, and those who are especially empathic. I have found that my most meaningful, connected relationships were with men who were like that, and one in particular who was both.

    If I witnessed a woman leaving the office crying, I would assume that she had just learned some bad news about her health. I would also feel her pain, and want to comfort her. Even if she was a stranger. Haha. Can I ask where the question is coming from?

    • It’s funny you refer to “empathic” partners. My wife often describes herself as empathic, and even considers it one of her most notable characteristics. I guess it’s an illustration of the adage that opposites attract (which is true although in my experience, opposites also have difficulty communicating).

      About the crying woman scenario: first of all, I like your Aspie humor. 🙂 But I realize I screwed up in presenting the hypothetical. It’s based on a real event that happened the other day, except the woman was walking away from a hospital radiology wing. I assumed the woman had gotten bad results. But my wife, who witnessed the same event, assumed the woman was crying for a family member or friend (who had just received bad news). I asked you what you’d assume to see if it resembled my reaction or my wife’s. I thought it might be a good shorthand for empathy. But now I’m not so sure, because a radiology wing is not the same as a doctor’s office. Anyway, to reach a conclusion I’d probably have to do a poll, so I could compare: (a) NT males; (b) NT females; (c) Aspie males; and (d) Aspie females.

      Anyway, I look forward to more of your insightful observations. 🙂

  8. My ex-husband wasn’t particularly empathic, but he seemed to not be bothered by my eccentricities. Not at first. 🙂 I read about the intense world theory recently, and agree with it. In reading about Asperger’s, it always seems to say lack of empathy, but if they knew me, they would say anything but. The theory talks about how it is not that we don’t feel empathy, but that we feel too much, and shut down, don’t know how to express it. Agree 100 percent. I still can’t watch Bambi. Seriously.

    I have also read about people with Asperger’s having a sixth sense about people’s emotions, also agree with it completely. I can read people’s emotions fairly well face-to-face, especially with people I know really well, I just can’t for the life of me figure out where it’s coming from, if it has to do with me or something else, and don’t know how to get the conversation started. Sometimes, I just go for simple, and say “What’s wrong?” Not really into sugar coating sometimes, and I often get “Nothing.” And then later they tell me that they couldn’t tell me what’s wrong, that they hate that I can look at them and know something is wrong instantly, but they would’ve have started crying in a public place and didn’t want to do that. I think I have been more right about people than I know, but they often will mislead you or deny your accurate observations, for reasons that I would never have guessed unless they told me.

    I am reading yet another book about it all, called “Asperger’s from the Inside Out”, and it is written for people like you and me. It actually has a chapter about disclosure which I found handy, sure you would too. It is a book written for adults finding out, and it also discusses the grief, the walk through the past that has been so painful, things I have lost, including a recent loss for which the diagnosis came a little too late, perhaps. There were other issues, but I wonder how it would have gone differently (as with many events in my life), if i had known beforehand, and can’t undo the past. I only got my diagnosis in February, so I am giving myself a break, realizing that there is a process to this we all have to go through, depression being extremely common, and that is comforting me at the moment.

    • Sorry about taking awhile to respond — it’s been a busy couple days, and plus, I wanted to think of a proper (and equally insightful) response. 🙂

      First of all, thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve already ordered it on Amazon.

      Regarding empathy, I think your observation highlights how different various Aspies experience the world, and perhaps the problem with viewing Asperger’s as a form of autism (take that, people who wrote DSM-5!). I had not heard of the intense world theory, so read about it, and my take is it describes some, but not all, Aspies. (I also have a fundamental problem with it, I think, which I’ll try to express at a later time.) I believe an Aspie’s ability to read other people’s emotions can change over time, through self-learning.

      That is certainly the case with me. When I was a young child, I had the “classic” inability to interpret facial cues, body language, etc. But over time, I became much better. Today, I can usually tell if someone is happy, sad, angry, etc. — the big stuff. But I’m so-so at reading more nuanced feelings, such subtle sarcasm, what is and is not condescending, frustration, boredom, etc.

      I too have tried the approach of asking the other person “What’s wrong?” The problem is, not only will they usually deny anything’s wrong, but some people, (i.e., my wife), are of the view that they shouldn’t have to tell me what’s wrong — I should know! In her defense, sometimes she’s not even sure, and that’s probably true of lots of people. I totally agree with you that people will often mislead you or deny accurate observations. I’ve learned (very recently) that when someone is mad, for example, they don’t want to be told they’re mad, or asked if they are; what they want is an apology, even if you feel you haven’t done anything wrong. And sometimes, they want to “talk through” their anger. I’m especially bad at that, because this type of talking is almost invariably a non-literal means of expression.

      Anyway, thanks again for the recommendation. Maybe we can share our thoughts once I’ve read it.

  9. Hi. I would say that the ability to read other’s emotions is done differently by Aspies. In essence, determining someone’s emotional state involves many things, but one is most certainly noticing a facial expression and matching it in our heads to what emotion it most closely represents. Very logical way of doing it, it’s how I’ve always done it. It is just pattern detection, really. It is easy enough to see a frown, eyes light up, different kinds of smiles, but it takes a lot of social play to learn what feelings those represent. I think perhaps Aspies lag behind in this, take longer to figure it all out maybe in part because we avoided for whatever reason that social play that is supposed to teach you these things, and also gaze avoidance might make us take longer as well. Aspies are very good at pattern detection, and subtleties are only figured out with even more learning. The trouble is when people are hiding their emotions, or masking them. We may believe what we see, not realizing that people may be pretending. I think there are little facial clues when someone is not being forthright, or their facial expression is not genuine, but it usually comes across as a feeling, not something I can point to or remember, that made me feel that way. And those little clues can come and go so quickly, you may not be sure you even saw it or maybe imagined it, and then self-doubt creeps in. And if you are able to ask them about it, what do you say, and you already know what the answer often is. If it was something they wanted you to know, they wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of hiding it in the first place. I think we all struggle with this, but I think Aspie’s struggle more.

    Also about to finish reading “Safety Skills for the Asperger Woman: How to Save a Perfectly Normal Female Life”, by Liane Holliday Willey. Best book yet, I think.

    • Hi there. I think you’ve articulated, but in a more intelligent and nuanced way, part of what I was trying to communicate in my post “Speed Kills.”, namely, that social interaction involves processing lots of data; that many emotional cues appear and disappear in the blink of an eye; and that (some) Aspies are skillful at detecting patterns and applying that knowledge to future interactions but can’t always trust their analysis given how quickly the emotional cues / clues occur.

      But I think it’s (unfortunately) even more complicated than that. I’ve found that emotions don’t always conform to patterns. Sometimes a statement or action means one thing one day and something different the next. And as you point out, people even engage in behavior, intentionally or unintentionally, to throw others off the emotional trail. Not very nice of them!

      Basically, people (or I guess I should clarify, NTs) are (infuriatingly) emotional and irrational! They don’t always say what they mean; they don’t communicate literally; they communicate through tiny, and sometimes imperceptible, body movements.

      I would add another wrinkle to the mix: many people do not have an accurate awareness of their emotional state at a particular point in time. Or if they do, they may mistake the source. My wife may get mad at me for something I said, but it turns out, the emotion she’s feeling (I later realize) is actually sadness about something her mother said earlier in the day, at least in part. (My wife is actually a great person, despite my using her in a seemingly negative way in various scenarios.)

      I realize it probably appears I’m diminishing the importance of (your and my and many other Aspies’) ability to read patterns in the context of social interaction. But there’s a silver lining: I think you should trust your instincts. If based on all the information you’ve observed, you think someone is sad, there’s a high probability they are. Of course, you could be wrong. But it’s better, I think, to go with a working assumption, and talk it through, even with the risk it’s incorrect, than to doubt yourself. I suspect you’re better at reading people than most NTs. 🙂

  10. I think when you said we don’t have an accurate awareness of our emotional state, you are right. I will add to that, that maybe that uneasy feeling I get when I think someone’s words and face or words and actions don’t add up, is in fact an unidentified emotion. Often, I will identify and feel the emotion that I was probably feeling all along, I just think i needed to think things through to make sure I was understanding the situation correctly before I gave myself permission to feel the emotion. Kind of hard to explain. I think this is how empathy is not intuitive, we have to think it through as a compensatory mechanism, at least that is how I think it works for me. Sort of like saying “Am I right to have this emotion?”. The problem is, we all have the right to our emotions, they are not right or wrong, but they can cause damage if the event you are feeling negatively about was misinterpreted by yourself. In other words, if you go ahead with expressing anger at someone/something, and it turns out you read the person/situation wrong, you find yourself apologizing and losing people who don’t understand what happened. And if you don’t understand what happened either, because you don’t know you have Asperger’s, it can make you slowly lose trust in your instincts, make you second guess yourself, and lose confidence in yourself and your relationships. Where the social anxiety comes in partly. However, having said all of that, sometimes it turns out in the end that you were absolutely right in your assessment of the situation, and the other person couldn’t admit to what you were suspecting. Such a messy place this world can be. I am trying to find a middle ground… I try to express my emotion to a person along with my perception of the event, so there are no misunderstandings. I may even explain how I came to my conclusions, and why I am feeling the way I am, because it’s based on my take. It gives people the opportunity to correct faulty assumptions you may have made, and avoid a big misunderstanding. Other times, they just won’t get it, and I can live with that. I just can’t stand being misunderstood, or second-guessing myself constantly.
    I have only read this one post of yours, so maybe I’ll read some of the others! I wasn’t aware there were others. 🙂
    All in all, I would say that most problems in relationships come from a lack of communication and perspective. I have made my way trying to be as clear as I can, while trying to put myself in other people’s shoes, realizing now after all these years that not every one thinks like me, follows logic as much as I do. It has been very eye-opening, not seeing people in black and white, like me or not like me. I think knowing the person very well, their life history helps with understanding them, but being an Aspie, I am not prone to asking many questions of others about themselves. Lol. I read in a book somewhere, that a good tip is to ask a lot of questions, show interest in other people. I find that hard to do, I find most people kind of boring, haha, but I try to find something we have in common, and then go to town. I should actually be trying to find out what it is about them that is different, so I can use that to understand their behaviour.
    Thanks for the convo. You are not one of the boring ones. 🙂

    • Great observations — not much to add from me, as I agree with your perspective(s). I think you’ve analyzed some fundamental problems encountered by Aspies when conversing with others. The downside with self-awareness, as you’ve pointed out, is it can lead to doubt and questioning (and in my case, disengaging).

      I agree that asking questions of others is extremely important for having successful conversations and getting to know other people. Even now, with all that I know, I still have to remind myself that, when someone asks me how I am / how my weekend was / what vacation I’m planning / etc., I’m supposed to follow up, and soon, with an equivalent question of him/her. Often, I can sense the person’s annoyance when I delay asking — or am I just imagining it?

      I’m glad you don’t find me boring. If you couldn’t tell, I don’t find you boring either. 🙂

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  12. Yes, all of this reading, I am become very aware of my conversational weaknesses. I had an interview today, and to prepare, read a book I’ve had forever of having a successful job interview. I laughed out loud at two of the suggestions…. first, make sure you listen to the interviewer and don’t interrupt, and especially don’t correct them if they make any mistakes. Second, maintain eye contact at all times. Lol. No wonder Aspies have a hard time in the workplace. I think I did quite well, though, I was smart enough to interview with someone who already knows me and what I can do, so it was mostly a formality, but more than once I had to stop myself from interjecting or going on and on, and had to really focus on what the person was saying, even if I was starting to get bored, knowing what he was going to say before he said it. He is a kind man, though, and I know he will be able to teach me quite a lot on how to work in my field, how to make contacts, maintain them, etc.

    I don’t think you are imagining annoyance at all. I bet, like me, you have gotten quite good at reading people. One of the contradictions I keep coming across in my readings and research, is the notion that Aspie’s cannot read facial cues, tone of voice, etc. I believe that as Aspie’s age, they have enough experience and have found a certain level of comfort with certain people that they can get through day to day interactions with minimal duress, having learned through years of pattern recognition what they don’t know intuitively, or at the same pace as others. If you happen to be intellectually gifted as well as an Aspie, you may have some social success even. I find I am fine with the friends that I have, but it is in relationships that I struggle. I think the level of complexity here can far exceed what I can easily understand, without a partner who is an excellent communicator, and a kind soul willing to forgive errors and misjudgments on my part. All of my friends are such people, but finding someone I find attractive with those qualities seems to elude me. Not giving up though. 🙂

    • I think it is I who owes you an apology … for taking almost five months to respond. Sorry! I’ll explain my absence in an upcoming post (or try, at least).For what it’s worth, shortly after our exchange I read “Aspergers from the Inside Out,” the book you recommended. I’ll have to discuss it in another post (that’s already two I owe!).

      Again, it’s difficult to supplement your observations, as I agree with virtually everything you said (you really need to write a blog!). (And I need to stop adding exclamation points to my sentences!)

      But I’ll try to add another layer anyway: I think one reason some Aspies succeed better than others, whether in the workplace or with relationships, has to do with fluidity / adaptability of the mind. Many Aspies probably have the intellectual ability to learn the “rules” (i.e., societal expectations) but far fewer can do the mental yoga (I love metaphors, which I know is odd for an Aspie) necessary to apply and modify them, and quickly, in various unpredictable situations. That’s another post I need to write …

      Anyway, thanks again for adding so much wisdom to the comment section of my blog!

  13. What mistakes did you make in dating? I am not good at that scene and know I am messing up, but I have no idea what the rules are. The person I am not dating yet, because I want to know them better also has Aspergers. We speak without any metaphors or figures of speech, we’re very clear about everything. The mistake I might be making has to do with my perseveration that comes with Aspergers that I find fascinating, yet very few people in the world understand the industry, let alone like it the way I do. Should I avoid talking about it? What do you do in those silent moments by the fireplace? Nothing? So many things that puzzle me. I know you’re an aspie, but it sounds like you’ve figured this dilemma out. Any advice is welcome!

    • What mistakes did I make? Where to begin?!?

      One meta “mistake” unfortunately, which I suspect all Aspies know too well, is being completely honest. Relationships involve, well, a degree of dishonesty. But I mean that in a good way.

      I remember one time I blurted out to my girlfriend (now wife) as we were driving to the restaurant for one of our early dates that I meant to get flowers for her but didn’t have time. Big mistake! Also, if your date asks,”Who’s the most attractive woman in this restaurant?” there is one and only one correct answer (“you”) … and it needs to be stated without a long pause, eye twitch or crack in your voice.

      Having said that, if you’re interested in another Aspie you have an advantage, because there’s less of a need to follow the “rules” of dating — you can communicate openly and honestly. If you tend to perseverate or obsess about a particular topic (as I often do), I don’t think you need to change that behavior. But I would advise trying your best to tone it down, at least initially.

      The first several dates are sort of like a job interview, by both parties; you don’t necessarily want to reveal all your eccentricities upfront in their full glory (that’s for later, once your boss, or girlfriend/boyfriend has already accepted you!). And for those silences by the fireplace, I would think in advance of topics that might be of interest to the other person — maybe even research them — so you’re prepared.

      I hope that helps at least a little!

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