If you have been burned in the past trying to seek romance and being rebuffed, take heart. People with Autism or Asperger’s syndrome can (and do!) find love and satisfying, long term relationships. Take it from me: I married a man on the spectrum, and I will always be grateful for the 27 years we had together. If David and I could make marriage on the spectrum work, then others can, as well.
That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It might be quite difficult finding the right person and navigating the social and communication challenges to make it work. Just remember: the best things in life are seldom easy, but definitely worth the effort.
Dr. Tony Attwood wrote a paper for IAN (Interactive Autism Network) called, “Romantic Relationships for Young Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism.”
In it, he discusses love and affection, special interests, the relationship continuum (from acquaintance to partner), attractive qualities of a person with Asperger’s syndrome, strategies to improve relationship skills, and areas for future research. It’s not too long or heavy, and is definitely worth reading.
If you want to see a light-hearted movie where Aspie finds Aspie, Aspie loses Aspie, then Aspies fall back in love and live happily ever after, I recommend the movie Mozart and the Whale. This love story is about real people, Jerry and Mary Newport, who conquered the challenges of their different “flavors” of autism to finally find true happiness together. I thought Josh Hartnett did a great job portraying Jerry Newport, and the movie on the whole was heartwarming and fun. You can watch the movie for a few dollars online or ask your local library if they have it.
On the other hand, if you want the true gritty, sometimes sad, sometimes disturbing, real life story behind the movie, read the book Mozart and the Whale, by Jerry and Mary Newport with Johnny Dodd. Written after the movie came out, this book covers both authors’ history before they met, the painful challenges that tore them apart, their separate journeys during the time they were divorced, and the path that brought them back together. Yes, it does have a happy ending – the couple remarried and have learned how to live together in a companionable, loving marriage, respecting one another’s needs and unique take on life, love, and relationships. Including the harsh realities that they lived through can make for difficult reading; it may not be for everyone, but I’m glad I read it.
I know there are autistic adults who have no interest in being in a romantic relationship. I know some who are married or in love and who sometimes struggle with the intricate dance of two lives blending together. I know others who long for a special someone in their lives, and are discouraged because they haven’t found that person yet. So, how about you? What are your thoughts, hopes, or dreams about relationships? Write to me in the comments section of my website if you want to share where you are in all of this Valentine’s Day focus on couples. And whether you are in a couple or on your own, whether by choice or because you are still looking for your valentine, I hope this Valentine’s Day you celebrate love. Celebrate all kinds of love – love of family, friends, partners, or pets; love of a movie, book, or genre; love of satisfying work, or a hobby or special interest.
Celebrate love, this month and always!