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5 Dating Tips for People on the Autism Spectrum


These 5 tips can make dating a little easier to navigate.

1. Look for a kindred spirit

While there’s no rule that sharing a diagnosis is key to a successful relationship, it can help to have something so significant in common.

Paul was diagnosed as a youngster while for Rachel, like many women with ASD, it wasn’t picked up until adulthood.

“It wasn’t until years later that I was diagnosed as autistic, and I realized why I didn’t understand the differences he was trying to explain to me in those first few weeks,” Rachel says.

“It also explained why our relationship felt so ‘easy’ compared to other people. I had always known I was different, but I internalized that to mean there was something wrong with me or I wasn’t trying hard enough.”

Having similar experiences and a similar world view can help you find connection when you’re looking for a partner.

2. Embrace technology

People on the autism spectrum can have an aptitude for technology, either because they tend towards nerdy interests or because human interaction can be easier through a screen. These days, there are any number of digital wingmen to help find and screen potential partners, but sometimes chatting online through something that’s not about dating at all can help.

“We met on an old internet chat site called ICQ,” Rachel says.

3. Have something to talk about

Once you’ve met someone, the next step is to actually go on a date to get to know each other better.

Look into pre-date planning to work out what to say and do.

It’s very much a learned skill, even if neurotypicals like to think it’s instinctive: everyone has felt a conversation run dry and flailed around for something, anything, to break the awkward silence.

Having an obvious topic of conversation, like the movie you’ve just seen or the museum exhibits around you, means less flailing and one less thing to stress about in an already stressful situation.

“It’s much easier to get to know someone when you are in a situation where you have something to talk about,” Rachel says.

“When we first met, we talked about the movie we just saw, and then then conversation flowed onto other topics.”

4. Be ready to grow and compromise

Dating for the first time is a huge learning curve, and established relationships still need maintenance.

It can be hard for anyone to admit they don’t have it all figured out, but even harder for people on the spectrum if we like to set rules and find change challenging — even when we know it’s for the best.

“We have had some trials along the way, but we learned to always talk about problems and not expect perfection from others,” Rachel says.

“Successful relationships are ones where the couples keep working at it and continually learn new ways of problem solving.”

5. Be yourself — dinosaur collection and all

It is a big cliché to just be yourself when you’re dating, but as many people on ASD feel they have to put on a mask when socializing to be accepted, it’s extra important to learn to drop that when you’re dating.

Sure, you might scare someone off — but if your 4,537 action figures or your memorization of the afternoon TV schedule from 1998 is going to be a deal-breaker, it’s probably better to find out sooner than later. Because wouldn’t life be better if people spent less time trying to be cool and impress people and spent a bit more time nerding out about dinosaurs, video games, trains and the quirky, wonderful life that make us happy?

Adapted from an article by Jodie van de Wetering on ABC News Australia