Skip to main content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

← All Articles

Dating Concerns Specific to Autistic Individuals


Every person has idiosyncrasies, and those on the spectrum have added sensory issues you need to consider as a potential friend or if you would like to date them contact. If hugging is too much, consider hand-holding as an alternative. If the date takes place somewhere subject to loud noises and/or visual stimulation, pre-plan how you might take breaks with your date. Knowing a thing or two about self-advocacy can be a major benefit in these circumstances.

Small talk can cover a wide range of topics, such as movies, TV shows, music, sports, theatre, or other extracurricular activities. Practice how to express engagement in what the other person is saying and also how to tell if someone else is bored or waiting for a chance to chime in. Also be aware of sensitive vs. casual topics. For example informal conversations about likes and dislikes are usually worry-free, whereas topics like politics and religion may be problematic. Although these subjects are acceptable to discuss, be sure not to perseverate on a personal belief or opinion. Focus on asking questions about the other person by thinking about what makes you who you are. Some examples include: What do you do for work? What kind of vacations do you like to go on? Do you play any sports or are you involved in any social groups? The book 4,000 Questions for Getting to Know Anyone and Everyone also may provide more ideas.

Intimacy goes hand in hand with dating, and it is essential to be careful about physical contact when meeting someone new. Before pursuing a physical relationship, make sure that both people involved have explicitly expressed that they are comfortable with that kind of interaction and that it is what they both desire.

Watch out for love fixations.
Autistic individuals sometimes can become easily preoccupied with a subject of interest. This attribute, combined with a tendency to be steadfastly loyal, may make some autistic individuals more likely to become fixated with a particular love interest. Think about how your actions may be perceived by the receiving party and make sure your advances are not overwhelming. Sometimes good intentions and interest can be misconstrued as stalking.

Unrequited Love… How to handle rejection?
Facing rejection can be embarrassing and painful, regardless of if you are neurotypical or on the spectrum. This is why it is important to realize the possibility of rejection when asking someone out. If you’re asking someone out face-to-face, think about what you might say in reaction to a negative response, like “Alright, no problem. Maybe I’ll see you around,” and walking away. No matter what, never get down on yourself, don’t take it personally, and always remember the age-old saying, “There are hundreds of fish in the sea!”

Whenever meeting someone new, safety should be a top priority. Getting together in public spaces, like a restaurant or museum is a good idea when getting to know someone and developing a trusting bond. Given that sexuality is a pertinent component of romantic relationships in adulthood, physical and emotional safety must be considered. For more on sexuality and how to stay protected when the topic of sex arises, visit the Public Safety section of the CAR Autism Roadmap™.

Many autistic individuals do get married and have children, whether their partner is autistic or neurotypical. Plenty of neurotypical people and autistic people also choose not to get married. Remember that marriage is a personal preference, not a rule. Like any relationship, it requires hard work, honesty, and openness. Similar expectations, lifestyles, and needs all contribute to a successful relationship, regardless of neurology.

The Bottom Line
Dating should be something that contributes to the happiness in your life. Although it can be very challenging and confusing at times, try to use all experiences with dating as opportunities to grow and learn about yourself and the people you are interested in. The very last line: Be yourself, have fun, and stay safe!