KEEPING YOUR ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP STRONG DESPITE AUTISM
For adults who are on the spectrum, finding a romantic relationship with someone may be very challenging. Even during the dating stage, there are already a handful of autism issues that you need to consider and be wary about in order to make your special time together a memorable and fruitful one. Being diagnosed with autism can greatly decrease your confidence in making yourself presentable and desirable for other people and you will have to carry this anxious feeling even when your partner is already showing acceptance of who you are as a person. Even after officially labeling your romantic relationship, there will be things about each other that you will still have to find out sooner than later, and these new emerging characteristics can overwhelm either of you and affect your relationship negatively. If you want to keep your relationship with your neurotypical special someone strong and flourishing, you have to always remember the most important things in dealing with your autism condition, and that includes understanding the whole you and embracing your very identity as a mature, autistic person. Only then can you be able to love your neurotypical partner with your whole heart and with all honesty. If you find this difficult to accomplish, here are some valuable advice that may be of help.
Showing Your Love
For autistic people, words may not have the same weight or impact that actions have. This leads you to rely on the behavior and conduct of other people to understand what they really feel or wants us to perceive. In romantic relationships, the use of endearing words and nicknames is often made to emphasize how much someone loves their partner. As such, your partner may call you “sweetheart”, “honey”, or “darling” and this may sound confusing or awkward for you who takes words at the literal sense. Your partner may also expect you to reciprocate their endearing words such as “I love you” or “you’re my everything”, and say these more often. Even if you know for yourself that you love the other person, it is very important that you say these endearing words and nicknames out loud as often as you can to show the other person how much you love them. Of course, knowing that expressing your love through your actions is your strength, that may be enough to give your partner the reassurance that you feel deeply about them. But to further blossom your romantic relationship, saying these sweet words would help a lot.
Attending Social Events
Dinner with your partner’s family, parties, and other social gatherings will be unavoidable along the course of your romantic relationship. Although you have the proper excuse to not attend these social events due to your condition, it wouldn’t be healthy for your relationship to turn down every invitation. If you have social anxiety issues, it would be best to find ways to decrease your tension to be able to attend these gatherings from time to time. This compromise will not only make your partner feel supported and important, it will also help foster your relationship with other people who are dear to you and your partner. There are many ways to lessen your worries on attending social events, one of which is talking with your partner about a particular dress code or any other sort of formalities to observe during the event. You can also practice together with your partner specific conversation contexts and topics that you feel comfortable talking about and then make drills on dealing with awkward or overwhelming situations. It would also help to know how long the event is going to last and to get your partner’s assurance that they will always keep an eye on you.
Sensory Sensitivity Issues
When you are confronted with sensory issues either in a private place or a public area, it is important that you explain to your partner the very reason that’s causing your irritability or agitation. If you don’t like hugs because it makes you feel squeezed, tell your partner to do it some other time when you are comfortable enough and not just reject the action without giving any reason. If you are watching a movie in the cinema and you feel like the brightness of the screen is too much for you, tell your partner about it and make a decision together. If your partner is willing to make compromises, they can leave the theater with you and decide to look for another place where you can both have fun. But instead of having your partner make compromises all the time, you can also find ways to make the activity enjoyable for both of you. With the availability of sensory calming tools, it would be easier for you to deal with sensory issues and not spoil the fun and excitement in your private and public moments together. You can wear fashionable shades, noise-reducing headphones, seamless clothes, and pressure vest or jacket to address your sensory issues anywhere the two of you would go.
Learning the very nature of your autistic condition means that you’ve come to accept some unique behaviors or traits that you exhibit from time to time. In a romantic relationship, it is important that your partner also understands these matters to heart, and learns to accept them as part of who you are as a person. For a start, you can remind your partner that you’ll be often very frank and honest with what you feel and think, especially at times when your partner asks for your personal opinion, or you are both arguing over something (having a fight). You may also find it hard to make eye contact with your partner which can cause distrust if the reason behind it is not explained. It is also very possible that you would forget important events such as birthdays and anniversaries, and go into a meltdown when changes to your plans are known on a short notice. Explaining why these matters happen by pointing out your autism diagnosis can help your partner become prepared and more accommodating for these unique behaviors or traits of yours.