A blog advocating autism through my own personal experiences and insights.

Posts tagged ‘Dating’

A Second Level of Freedom

This weekend that just passed, I’ve had another epiphany (I just love having those!). It deals with my feelings toward finding a girl to date, wanting romance in my life, and putting an end to my sexual frustration. I must admit that during the past few months, my sexual frustration has rather increased than where it has been over the last few years. And after all my fruitless attempts at trying to find someone, it’s starting to really exhaust me. And so I have done the only thing I can do. I’ve just let it go. I’ve decided to stop looking.

This is rather analogous to how I was feeling about my studies last fall. Last fall, my academic perfectionism gave me such a painful experience that I did the only thing I could do then. I let go of it. And it let to a wonderful new sense of freedom, which I’ve illustrated this experience in a previous post Freedom. Now we can replace academic perfectionism with sexual frustration and that pretty much sums up how I’d describe what went through me this weekend. Letting go has indeed led to a whole new sense of freedom, much like how my school experiences last fall did for me. Now instead of experiencing freedom in the academic sense, I can now experience it in the human relationship sense as well.

In stopping looking for a girlfriend, I don’t mean I stop talking to girls entirely. In order to have romantic success that’s certainly a requirement. It’s basically my approach and attitude that’s changed. Whenever I meet a girl, I no longer look at her as a potential girlfriend. I don’t care how beautiful she is, whether she loves math, philosophy, writing, or has autism, etc. If she has or is none of these things, some of these things, or all of these things it really doesn’t matter at the start because there are millions of girls on this planet and it’s not like the Earth’s population is decreasing. Chances are there’s another girl out there that I would be just as compatible or incompatible with (and I don’t think I’d want a girl who was to too much like me. We’d probably get bored of each other). If I find I enjoy talking with this girl, then I see her as a friend. I’d probably only consider her as something more if things developed in a natural way. Like if it became obvious that she liked me romantically. And if she started flirting with me and I was interested, then I’d definitely flirt back and so we’d develop something.

And just because I’ve stopped looking, also doesn’t mean that I’m not pursuing a social life just as rigorously as before. Indeed, if I’m to meet someone then having an expanded network of friends will certainly help with that. My strategy will simply to be to get involved in things I like, meeting potential friends, and go on from there. And then simply let the girl follow. Such a strategy I think is beneficial in a lot of ways. It avoids feelings of depression and helplessness if I don’t find someone very soon. It also avoids feelings of obsession over a particular girl and will allow me more control over the crushes that I might find I’m developing for a particular girl. I can also be myself when I’m talking to girls. I can relax and not worry about rejection because I find a girl incredibly beautiful or perfect in some way. As my Aunt Linda pointed out, it’s good to be a “me” before I become a “we”. Finally, I feel more complete by myself. My feelings of inadequacy of never having a girlfriend are vanishing and I’m left with a peaceful feeling of being single. The trite phrase “you complete me” makes absolutely no sense. You have to feel complete before you enter into a particular relationship in order for it to be successful and to not have your happiness or adequacy be dependent on the actions of another person.

Another thing I like doing (as long as it doesn’t become an obsession though I don’t think it will) is to imagine what the girl who I will eventually end up with is doing at any particular moment. What is she doing now as I type these words down? Is she brushing her hair, enjoying some delicious meal, reading a novel, or enjoying a movie with some friends? I love to speculate and it keeps me excited.

I’ve wanted a girlfriend for 11 years now and have been trying to get one for the last 9 years (If you want full details see Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 1 and Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 2). That’s nearly half the time I’ve been here. And unless it takes me until I’m 34 to find one, I think it’s safe to assume that I’m most of the way through the journey by now anyway. But I think I’ll give the world a chance to work its magic, instead of me trying to do it all myself. Whether it’ll take a month, a year, or 10 years, the right girl will eventually come my way.

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Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 2

I will now continue the discussion from my last post, that is, how my autism has impacted my ability to date and find romance. I ended by admitting my ignorance of such matters when I was in junior high and how I didn’t really know what to do when I started developing crushes on girls. Moreover, I wasn’t sure how to react with my classmates finding out I had a crush on a particular girl and how some of the little advice I got from them was next to useless. I wasn’t about to ask for clarification from anyone either. This idea may have been somewhere in the back of my mind, but I never really seriously considered it. If you’ve read my first post Settling For What I Had you know that I found it (and maybe still do to a certain extent) extremely difficult to confide in anyone, especially my peers, about what I actually thought and to try to become closer friends with them.

I was also a little bit frustrated with what I was learning in school at the time in health class about relationships and sexuality. While I do think that when kids reach their teen years, they should be taught how one should know of all the risks and STIs that are out there when two people are trying to decide if they should have sex, you should know how one gets into a relationship to begin with. I remember touching on the various levels of seriousness that relationship can be, but I don’t think there were any specific instructions on how to achieve any one of those levels. I have a very structured and logical mind and love things to be precise. Yet what I learned about relationships in class was far from this. As well, while math class was enjoyable, it also frustrated me that I had to listen to stuff that I had already learned on my own. Why did things I already know have to be reiterated to me, while certain things I didn’t know, simply weren’t taught in the classroom?

Now, to be fair, I liked all my teachers and I’m sure they were following the curriculum. Also, I think I was the about the only one in class who was autistic and had these kinds of difficulties with relationships and friendships in general. So who knows? Maybe my kind of specific instructions on how to get into relationships would’ve bored the rest of the class much like math class was for me! Again, it all comes down to us all having unique strengths and weakness and how a utopian world where everyone could be accommodated 100%  isn’t exactly applicable.

Everything came to a hit in my life when that crush I had on that girl that everyone found out about grew even deeper to the point when I actually started calling her from my house. This was after classmates had encouraged me to ask her to a couple of dances, which I did, though she couldn’t because she had other plans. It broke my heart after all this when I discovered she already had a boyfriend for almost as long as I had known her. Though I had considered this possibility before, I was so sure that my classmates’ encouragement made this seem rather unlikely and it came as a sort of blow. From this experience, I derived two new rules for dating:

Rule #2: In junior high at least, even if classmates encourage you to approach someone you have a crush on, even if they are your crush’s friends, does not make it any more likely that your crush is single.

Rule #3: It is perfectly permissible, in junior at least, for a boy and girl to go to a school dance together as prom dates, but for the girl to have a boyfriend who’s not the boy she’s going with to the dance.

Even though the girl never went to the dances with me, she wasn’t sure at first so I know there was still the possibility of her going with me so it’s for that reason that Rule #3 was still obvious to me.

Along the way, another rule that became evident to me was the following. It wasn’t evident to me until the end of junior high. The reasons for this aren’t exactly clear in my head, but involved some reflecting on my experience in junior high, reading a YA novel that portrayed dating, and my crush on that girl developing so rapidly, I was willing to try anything.

Rule #4: In order to get a girl to be your girlfriend, you had to ask her out.

I wished I had known this rule for when I first met the girl. If I had, there might’ve been a chance I could’ve had a relationship with her before her boyfriend did. But while this new piece of information could be put to use, it led to an error in thinking about relationships, particularly where I have a precise black/white logical mind. It led me to the erroneous notion that relationships were basically like an on/off switch. You want a particular girl to be your girlfriend? Okay, go ask her out. That’s all there was to it.

Which I perfectly well know today is pretty far from the truth when it comes to relationships and only started becoming evident to me when I looked up dating in my high school library and actually read a little more about it. Right before then, however, I actually asked out a lot of girls whom I had become acquaintances with and got all negative replies for reasons ranging from ‘already have a boyfriend’ to ‘simply not interested’. I’m also not exactly proud of the fact that my ‘on/off switch’ thinking actually got me to ask out one or two girls whom I had hardly talked to at all beforehand. While they simply rejected me, I’m glad there were no further consequences to this mistake. Hence when I looked up dating in high school library I learned another rule:

Rule #5: In order to ask you a girl you have a crush on, get to know them more than a little bit first.

A sixth rule that I learned about dating is the following:

Rule #6: Two people who are dating usually do not tell each other “I love you” unless their relationship has reached a certain level of seriousness.

You’ll laugh the way I figured out this rule. It partially came from a book publisher. Let me explain. When I had written my first novel, I was actually lucky enough to meet a publisher face-to-face three summers ago when I was doing some labor work in a town. He agreed to look at my manuscript and several weeks later, he returned it saying I was very talented writer, but couldn’t publish the book because of a few things he thought were wrong with it. The book featured two teenagers who while trying to find out a connection between their families fall in love and end up dating. The publisher thought the relationship developed too fast and that he doubted even tweens would say ‘I love you’ before holding hands. Then the message finally clicked in when I was watching The Big Bang Theory over a year ago and I was watching an episode where Penny was making a big deal about Leonard telling her “I love you”. I then revised my novel so that the relationship in it developed at a slower pace.

So what have all these years of trial and error taught me about dating relationships? Here’s a list:

  1. If you develop a crush on a girl, get to know her more first.
  2. Ask her to go on a date. If she says yes, great. If she says no, move on.
  3. Go out on more dates and let the relationship develop at its own pace.
  4. Never tell your partner an “I love you” until you are very emotionally intimate.

It has been a kind of adventure in a way and it’s certainly not at its end. While I do wish I could’ve learned some of this in a classroom-like setting instead of bumping my way around in the dark, I’ve actually come to like the adventure and in the meantime be happy with myself as a single person. I’ve made a few mistakes and I expect I’ll make more in the future. After all, it’s like what Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 1

Having shared a poem about my difficulties in finding a romantic partner, I would now like to elaborate on the less-than-direct way I’ve been trying to find out how exactly the world of dating works. First off, however, I would like to point out a couple of things. I’m still trying to find my way around. I have never gone out on a single date in my life so even to this day the adventure probably isn’t even half over. So if I say anything stupid or you don’t think is correct, please forgive me and feel free to comment. I’ve told very few people in my life what I think about dating and even to those only bits and pieces. I would certainly love to hear any advice or, if you’re autistic and have trouble in this field, how you deal with it. Also, the last several years of trying to find someone have indeed taught me a few things. This includes the fact that I can actually be happy as a single person, which I’ve come to accept and believe.

I love analogies to describe my experiences so I’ll describe one here. Imagine you’re in a pitch black room trying to find the light switch. In the room also are bunch of bats (I’ll assume you aren’t afraid of them). They can use echo-location to find their way around. They don’t need the light. As they fly around gleefully, you have to take very slow steps and proceed quite cautiously. Often, however, you trip over stuff and sometimes fall. You can’t see around your feet by more than an inch if you can see around them at all. It’s basically trial and error. And you breath with relief every inch you take that doesn’t have you stumble into something. When you finally get to the light switch and flick it on, you see the furniture as it is and all the places you stumbled into. You’re angry that the arrangement wasn’t made obvious to you at the start.

This is more or less how I feel on the subject of dating relationships. Of the few things I have learned about developing such relationships, I’m not particularly pleased or proud with how I did learn them. Let me elaborate.

I’ve had crushes on girls for as long as I can remember, although they seriously started when I was nearing the end of elementary school. Now I had a few friends throughout elementary school, although we were slowly drifting apart due to not having enough common interests, they were into sports, I was into math. Anyway, they figured out I had a crush on a girl in the class and they laughed at me about it. I had rarely spoken to the girl and certainly didn’t approach her in any romantic way. Besides, the laughter was just more discouragement.

Junior high wasn’t all that much better. There too I developed crushes, but you could hardly tell unless you were a true mind-reader that those crushes existed. See my first post Settling for What I Had for an overview on my not-so-successful making of friends in general. One day a couple of classmates began asking me which girls I might have crushes on and began naming names. It admitted to one girl and the same thing happened again. Laughter. Joking around. To be fair, it wasn’t just me that was experiencing this. I sometimes saw others making a big deal one random student have a crush on another. So it wasn’t just me. After all, I was very well liked even though I had very few friends. So I learned my first rule on dating at least that can be applied in the early teen years.

Rule #1: In junior high at least, while classmates may want to joke around about who’s got a crush on who, it isn’t always because they want to hurt or hinder the person.

I know junior high can be a rough time of life and isn’t always enjoyable. Kids laugh and joke about others, sometimes to be bullies, sometimes just to joke around and there’s no intention of getting another’s feelings hurt. The problem with my classmates’ reactions to finding out I had a crush on a girl, however, was trying to understand what their laughter and joking around meant. In a previous post A Question of Interpretation I elaborated on exactly this. I can’t always tell when someone is joking around or intending to be serious. I had absolutely no idea how to react to my classmates’ reactions.

Another problem with my classmates’ reactions was some of the advice I was getting from them. “You should ask her out” was one piece of advice I just didn’t know what to do with. When I heard it, all I could picture was a man and a woman (or boy and girl) sitting at a restaurant table enjoying a lovely meal together. Okay, so I’m supposed to ask this girl about going somewhere together for a date. But then what? What’s the next step? How do I get her to be my girlfriend? Or is this the first step to make for a successful relationship? I had no idea! I’d seen T.V. shows and movies where people asking each other out on dates, but that was about as far as my knowledge on relationships extended.

I’ll continue to share my experiences in my next post. But perhaps, now that I’ve been brave enough to admit my past ignorance, others could tell of their adventures as well in figuring out how the mysterious world of dating works?

The Ultimate Test

Here is another poem I wrote. It’s somewhat similar though also somewhat different than my first poem A Foreign Autistic World. This time I tell of an experience in my life that certainly has been impacted by my autism, but is an experience that a lot of people, autistic and neurotypical, can relate to.

Even though I’ve always been single, I’ve wanted a girlfriend for several years now. I view romantic relationships as being the most challenging and the most difficult relationships to establish with someone else. You aren’t asking someone else to be friends, you’re asking more than that. And for me being autistic and having difficulty establishing any kind of friendship with someone else, I view it, as the title says, as the ultimate test.

The Ultimate Test

Here is a problem a lot of us face
even though it may be easier for the rest
like any ability only some possess.
But for some of us it is the ultimate test.

I can hardly concentrate on anything else
whether it be school, work, or an activity.
All of my senses just zoom in on her
whenever she is in the vicinity.

I am eager, I am impatient.
I just want to be with her right now.
Most of the time she is inaccessible
and when I do see her I can just go wow.

When I do get a chance to talk to her
a great deal of courage is required.
And the more I don’t know her, the harder it is.
Often she slips by me not inquired.

I don’t want her for the obvious reasons
for lust and sexual yearning.
Just for someone to get emotionally close to.
Only this will build a bond of greatest burning.

I contemplate the possible reasons
why she might reject me and say no.
Maybe she’s already with someone else
or her interest in me is just too low.

And whenever she does reject me
disappointment overwhelms me and I moan.
It helps to pause and take a break from everything
and to remind myself it’s her loss not my own.

It is like a trial and error process
where each time you get a little better at it.
And you get that much closer to the right one
the one who is perfect for you and will fit.