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12 Things To Know About Dating & Autism

February 3, 2021

 


While autistic children are the majority recipients of special attention and early intervention programs, adults and teens can be overlooked—especially when it comes to developing and exploring romantic relationships. Just like “neuro-typical” adults, people on the spectrum also deal with the ups and downs of finding and keeping romantic partners and intimate relationships. Understanding the complexities of romantic relationships involving individuals with high-functioning autism can be crucial for successful dating experiences.


12 Tips For Dating Someone With Autism


Depending on your child’s abilities, there may come a time when they want to explore dating. Below are some helpful tips you can share with someone who is interested in dating your son or daughter with autism (they’re also good tips for friendships as well). Of course, these are general tips and may need to be adjusted based on their specific needs and preferences, and some may not apply at all. That’s the beauty and challenge of the autism spectrum. When navigating the world of dating, an autistic person requires awareness and sensitivity to their own unique needs.


1. Dating people who are not on the spectrum is quite common

When considering how to date someone with autism, it’s important to dispel myths and understand their desire for connection. One common misconception is that people with autism only want to date others who are also on the spectrum. This notion is completely untrue as they want to find someone to connect with that they can just be themselves around. After all, autism is a spectrum, so it could take a few dates for someone to even realize the person they’re with is autistic. That’s why it may be important to discuss this with anyone your child wants to have a relationship with.


2. Choose date spots wisely

Selecting appropriate settings is key in autism and dating, as environmental factors can significantly impact comfort levels. While a neurotypical person might think a dimly lit bustling bar is an excellent place for a first date, it could be the worst place for someone on the spectrum. It’s common for an individual on the spectrum to become uncomfortable or distracted in a loud, crowded place. Due to heightened senses, flashing lights and loud noises can be especially unpleasant. So it’s important to do due diligence as far as location and activities are concerned.


3. The magic touch

In high-functioning autism and romantic relationships, physical touch can have different meanings and preferences. While adults with autism also desire the physical aspects of a romantic relationship, the kind of touch they wish to receive may differ from the type of touch a neuro-typical individual would find pleasurable. When it comes to touch, you should always discuss their preferences with them. Autistic partners may need pressure, not aggressive, but firm and consistent. While this is not typically what you think of with tender, romantic love, it may cause a person with ASD discomfort if someone were to kiss them or hold their hand gently. For example, one teenager with autism who didn’t like kissing at all, described that he felt it was just like smashing faces together.


Tip For Dating An Autistic Person - The magic touch

Tip For Dating An Autistic Person – The magic touch


4. People with autism have a higher emotional capacity 

It’s a misconception that individuals with autism lack deep emotional capacities; in fact, they often feel emotions more intensely. Studies have shown that people with autism regularly experience feelings and emotions that are stronger and deeper than those without ASD. Yet, these feelings are invisible to outsiders because they rarely show them the way typical people do. Due to a lack of grandiose emotional displays or any other expected response, people often make the wrong assumption as far as their depth of feeling about other people.


5. Get ready for brutal honesty

Honest communication is a hallmark of dating someone with autism, necessitating understanding and acceptance of their straightforwardness. One characteristic people with autism often have is brutal honesty. When you ask their opinion on something — such as if they like your new haircut —they’ll have no qualms about telling you that your old cut was better, or that they simply don’t like it. It’s important to remember that they have no ill intentions; they’re simply saying what they believe to be true. Although their responses may sometimes hurt your feelings, when they give you praise or say they like something, it means so much more because you know they really mean it. If they tell you they love you, then you can completely trust and believe that they genuinely, honestly, love you.


6. Sarcasm is NOT going to work

Clear and literal communication is essential when dating an autistic man or woman, as they often interpret language very literally. Those with Autism often take things very literally, so if you shout out in the middle of a heated argument “go away” (meaning go to another room so that you can have some space and stop arguing with each other) they might walk out of the house with no intention of returning. It’s important to be clear about how you communicate your feelings. If you tell them that the spicy food you are eating is burning your mouth, they might think that you’ve just eaten something which is physically hurting you and call for help.



7. Ease into changes

A lot of people with autism don’t respond well to change as they prefer stability and familiarity. They often maintain the same interests and tastes over decades, perhaps even for life, whereas neuro-typical people may change their taste in food, music, or personal style often. Due to their dependency on a set routine, abrupt changes that alter their regularly scheduled programming could make them anxious or even angry. For example, they will find it challenging to have a sudden cancelation or change in previously scheduled plans.


8. It may seem insignificant to you, but it’s not to them

Because someone with autism lives in a world where the sensitivities of their experiences are dialed up to the max, things that don’t bother others can be overwhelming and painful for them. They could be less than halfway through a dinner date when they suddenly get angry and feel they need to leave because the noise level is too high or the wait staff keeps walking by them. Patience is a must and an effort should be made to avoid bringing them into potentially triggering environments.

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9. They might focus too much on what interests them

People with autism oftentimes develop intense interests, and it’s important to understand that most of their time will be spent focused on their interests. When they talk to people, they often want to talk about these interests, often for long periods of time, with the expectation that everyone will be as interested in their hobbies as they are. If someone cuts them off and starts talking about a different topic, they can be very blunt and will let people know how boring they are. With patience and practice, this can improve over time as they learn to listen, understand another person’s point of view and vary their conversation topics.


10. Give them time to process big-time decisions

At some point or another in relationships, decisions will need to be made. Whether it be something small like deciding where to eat for dinner or a more significant commitment such as buying a home together or getting married, it’s critical to understand that transitions can often be difficult at first for those with autism to comprehend. This isn’t any different for any other human being on this planet, but like we mentioned before, change and transitions can make some people feel overwhelmed or anxious. Make sure to give them extra time to process things fully before expecting a final decision.


How to help your ASD child date

How to help your ASD child date


11. Don’t be afraid to initiate affection

Those with autism want love and affection as much as anyone else but are likely to want you to take control of initiating it. They may not have necessarily developed the social skills to know what to do in a relationship, so they may try to do what they want to do, and at times behave inappropriately or misread signals. At other times they may be so focused on their own interests that they forget to pay you attention. Some people with autism don’t instinctively think to give kisses or hugs and tell you they love you, so their partner often has to be the one to initiate these things. As they learn, they’ll get better at consciously deciding to do these things on their own. The important thing to keep in mind is that just because they don’t show love in a typical way doesn’t mean they don’t love you. From their perspective, they have chosen to be with you and expect you to see this as evidence of their love.


12. Be direct and consistent

Being able to share needs and desires openly is extremely important when dating someone with autism. This can either be verbally during a conversation or in writing by giving them a heartfelt letter. Don’t hint at what you want and expect for them to pick up on it. It’s equally as important to remain consistent in reminding them about what you want because they likely won’t understand the unspoken ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of certain situations. Above all, remain patient, understanding, and willing to compromise as well.


All parents want their children to experience love and have meaningful relationships. With the raised awareness and integration into more inclusive school environments, it is becoming more and more common for those with autism to date. These transitions, however, to teen and young adult can be especially tough when your child has autism or other special needs. As they start wanting more independence and to spend time with friends outside of the home, AngelSense GPS for Autism helps give parents the peace of mind they need to give their loved ones more freedom.


29 Comments

  1. Cory March 1, 2021 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Wow, I’ve been dating a guy with autism for 6 months now, and this article is BEYOND enlightening. Thank you!

  2. anna hall4 April 7, 2021 at 8:56 am - Reply

    ive known my angel for 13 yrs. this is eye and heart opening.. thank you

  3. Gentry Gibbs April 13, 2021 at 6:12 am - Reply

    So quick story, my friend I believe is slightly autistic and has ironically helped me through over two breakups and has continued to remain friends with me despite me being gay. Recently somehow I had a change of heart, I don’t know what snapped, maybe its their sensitivity or the fact they focus on helping other people’s relationships instead of tending to their own.

    Some things have also made lots of sense. It took me honestly over 3-6 months to know they were slightly Autistic. Regardless I don’t know how but after reading this article I think of them higher then before, not because they have some special disability, but more of a perk, as life isn’t continuously held back, its straight forward and blunt, but provides love, and life.

    While it is different, this article did helped alot, even though they are a unique person with their own needs and preferences I feel even more comfortable knowing some basic key-points on how to approach this entire thing, so like what Cory said, Thank You.

  4. Amelia April 27, 2021 at 1:37 am - Reply

    As someone with very high functioning autism, I can say that this article is extremely accurate. The most important point from this article is the fact that no matter what we say, people on the spectrum always have good intentions and would never try to hurt you.

  5. Jeremiah May 11, 2021 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    My girlfriend of a year is undiagnosee but has way too many signs to ignore. I tried some of these tactics and found they not only help me cope with some of the ASD distance feelings but allows me to let her know I really love her and respect her situation.

    Thank you soo much!!!

  6. Nicole Corrado May 24, 2021 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I am autistic, and would like to date and eventually marry. Could you offer a moderated safe dating site for autistic persons? I would not want to tracked by parents though, especially not on a real in person date. Please allow a fill out yourself form so autistic persons can purchase the Angel Sense for ourselves (the current form is for parents or caregivers to fill out). Please also offer a strap that can be removed by the wearer.

  7. Will July 4, 2021 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    This article is truly enlightening. I’ve made so many mistakes in my relationship because I had no idea my girlfriend was on the spectrum it’s all starting to come together now. They really can’t do sarcasm and they can’t handle criticism whatsoever. It makes communication more difficult but you have to be very patient. I wish I read this sooner hopefully I haven’t messed up too bad.

  8. Mel July 17, 2021 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    There is a woman in my community with what I regard as high functioning autism; we worked at the same store for a while and I really enjoyed working with her. It’s a small community, and I was ‘warned’ by others not to be ‘too nice’ to her. I think we developed a nice interactive rapport.. at a Christmas staff party (at a private home), she sat next to me on the couch. Of course, the next work day, everyone teased me about it, but I saw nothing wrong with her wanting to sit beside me if it made her feel calm, relaxed and safe. She stopped working at the store several years ago, but I still see her when she goes for her afternoon walk (the local walking trail goes right behind my apt building)… I would like to spend time with her, but the stigma in this town could be adverse for both of us.
    Any advice? I don’t want to hurt, offend or upset her or her family, but I truly enjoyed her company and would like to explore the possibility of a relationship with her, whether it is platonic or becomes romantic.
    I’m very confused

  9. Luke July 23, 2021 at 11:03 am - Reply

    I’m about to go on a date with a woman who is 39 on the spectrum and I found this to be insightful after reading the paraphrases and the comments thank you!

  10. Ferdelity October 5, 2021 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    I have a friend who has some percentage of the spectrum and we both didn’t knew it.With this article I know we love each other and it is insightful on how I should handle him

  11. Kevin October 31, 2021 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    This is the first time I’ve seen this mentioned:

    4. People with autism have a higher emotional capacity

    Really glad to see people talking about this part. I read a lot of things that say people like me don’t have or show feelings or don’t care. The experience for me is that I do have feelings and they are often very intense but people think that I don’t because they stay inside.

  12. Nellie kozak January 15, 2022 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    I also found this article very good. I’ve been dating a man with autism & he has told me some of these things but this really clears a lot up! 💕

  13. Jay February 5, 2022 at 2:53 am - Reply

    Ive been dating my girlfriend for 2 years was my bestfriend for 5years prior to that i have found this article an eye opener especially as i knew noting about autism
    Thank you

  14. Ilene February 13, 2022 at 8:22 am - Reply

    It’s been my experience that it’s rare to Google a problem and actually find really helpful advice or information. You have no idea how much this helped me. I’m bipolar and my boyfriend is on the spectrum. We have a lot of fun together but often he can get quiet or seem like he doesn’t care about me even though he seems to want to spend a lot of time together. I can be very over sensitive emotionally and often think when people are quiet they are mad at me. Reading the part about where people with autism feel very deeply but may have trouble expressing it makes me feel so much better. I was honestly beginning to think today that he hated me or something. This article has completely changed my thinking and let me know I need to communicate with him that I may require some extra validation. Also he often doesn’t not initiate affection. I was talking this as a sign he wasn’t attached to me. Now I know I may just have to start and tell him I like when he hugs me etc. Lastly he doesn’t seem to like to kiss much.. It’s interesting to know that it might be overstimulating for him or something. I would get my feelings hurt during intimate moments when he’d tell me something bothered him but now I know it’s just honestly and that I should do the same. Thank you so much.

  15. OMK February 18, 2022 at 1:51 am - Reply

    This is a great article. I’m a diagnosed autistic adult female, my partner is sick of my autism he says and I imagine is leaving me soon, based on comments recently. I wish he had taken the time to really read a great article like this and invest the understanding I will never be a neurotypical, anyone who reads this is tapping into a wonderful honest goldmine of knowledge. Thanks for this.

  16. Megan February 27, 2022 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    The guy I was seeing was high functioning. Everything seemed to be going good, but he definitely have days when he was pulling away. Now we are in no contact. Being that I got upset with him only because he was pushing me away and then pulling me back in. And it got overwhelming for me. Now he has blocked me on social media and I get the person isn’t taking calls at the moment when I try calling him. It has been three days since we haven’t spoken. I really do miss him. I wish that I would had read this article sooner. I don’t know if he ever will talk to me again.

  17. Sepi April 4, 2022 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Hello Cory. I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend, who has 2 autistic children. I can see some problems with him in our relationship, but not sure if he is autistic. He is a successful dentist, but he is nonverbal about his emotions, very indecisive about marriage, has an anxiety disorder, uses injections for being prepared for sex, etc. He is very nice though. Can you please write about your boyfriend’s behaviors a bit more? Thank you

  18. Frustrated mom May 11, 2022 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    As a mother of a young man dating and living with a girl on the spectrum it is extremely difficult to navigate this dynamic relationship between her and my husband and I. There is a long list of things she does that are inappropriate, does not initiate conversation, No hello, how are you etc. Takes everything literally, shows no emotion, empathy or affection for us. Seems uninterested in nurturing our relationship, is extremely picky about where we go to eat, is always uncomfortable at our home, seems very self centered, not considerate of others around her. No reciprocation of anything. Signed Frustrated mom.

  19. Marc May 29, 2022 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Great! Now there’s a guide. If just more people would read it so I wouldn’t have to explain these things with every new potential date I meet.

  20. Breeze July 13, 2022 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    I’ve been dating with great success for while now. And I strongly believe that this most recent person I’m with is masking her highly functional ASD. I’ve never been with a more genuine and caring person but I’ve been doing research for days now to better understand what I’m getting into. This is very helpful and makes me more comfortable with our relationship. Wish me luck 🍀

  21. Adedapo Sekumade January 27, 2023 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    I was on Twitter minutes ago when I saw the word “Autism “ I didn’t understand what it meant till I googled it then your article popped up.

    I didn’t know my Girlfriend had Autism till I read your Article , she behaved weird and strange all the time with her speech and emotions, I just got tired and Frustrated till I came along your article today .

    Thank you very much It was very informative and very helpful

  22. -M January 29, 2023 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    I really like this guy who I know has high functioning autism. Any tips on how to ask him out?

  23. Marc April 6, 2023 at 5:22 am - Reply

    I matched with a girl on a dating app and am going to meet her this weekend. I’m pretty excited, she’s autistic and a very nice girl. I’ve been educating myself about dating someone who is autistic. I appreciate all of this.

  24. Apple Jane Magalit April 25, 2023 at 12:27 am - Reply

    I’ve been dating with someone long distance for almost 3 years now, but he confesses that he has autism, I accept him and love him unconditionally, sometimes I felt lonely and trying to understand him, but thank you so much for this article its really help and I will remember and apply those suggestions.

  25. Melinda September 10, 2023 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    A very insightful and meaningful article. I’ve been with my ASD partner for 3 years and have often found it difficult to interact and also not to overreact in certain situations. This article has shed new light on ways I can improve my responses and actions so that we can have a better and more mutually beneficial relationship moving forward. Thank you!

  26. Dee October 19, 2023 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    Omg! I’m so glad I found and read this. Recently begun a relationship with a guy and although my bf is sweet etc. After 2mth of dating I’d started to feel I was more into him then he was me and getting annoyed.
    After reading this, I can now understand things more and if anything feel bad for being annoyed with him.
    Going to have some honest conversations with him and hopefully our relationship with continue to grow 🪴

  27. Charlee November 8, 2023 at 1:57 am - Reply

    This really helps me, since I’m an autistic in my first relationship and I’m only twenty days away from a year with him. I’ve been lately beating myself up mentally, thinking I’m not a good girlfriend and worrying he’s annoyed. I don’t see why though, since he’s very, very sweet and I’m sure he’s the one. I guess I’m afraid the problem is with me.

  28. Rose November 11, 2023 at 3:31 am - Reply

    I worked with autistic students for 11 years and was an elementary teacher, also having several asd students in my classes, over the last 23 years and now I have the unique pleasure of being in a new relationship with a wonderful gentleman who recently discovered he was asd 1! On his dating profile he was brave enough to put it out there so i found the courage to reply that I have Tourettes! And GAD! Finally I found someone who gets me and I get him! It’s been so painful to hide who I was in my previous marriage and other dating relationships. I am so grateful to finally be happy. I told him-i get you. And recently we both said I love you.

  29. Alexandria January 31, 2024 at 3:20 am - Reply

    I have just met a very sweet man. Who I did not realize was on the spectrum.
    I realize he was a little different but his mannerisms was so sweet. I thought I had met such a Gentleman After seeing on Netflix. The article of dating a spectrum person I’m learning more and more about something I’ve never known. Thank you for your article and everyone’s views to help me understand this beautiful person in testing my self to understand a bye. I’m good for a person of this nature.

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