Self advocate Jackie Parslow shares her experiences about being in a romantic relationship with someone who is also on the autism spectrum. This was originally posted on The Mighty.
My fiance Peter and I are both autistic. While we love each other dearly, there are still obstacles with communication and other differences. As Dr. Stephen Shore said, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
Peter can be on the shy side at times, but is generally much more outgoing and extroverted than I am. Sometimes I feel like I am a huge bore to him, even though he says otherwise. I’d rather use the self-checkout line at the supermarket, while he seems more eager to make small talk with cashiers. I will admit I’d rather crawl under a rug, figuratively speaking. He likes to go out more than I do. I can literally stay at home for weeks without going out. All of this isn’t necessarily negative. He helpfully pulls me outside of my comfort zone at times, and I probably do the same for him.
I also perceive words and actions much more literally than Peter usually does. He sometimes reminds me that I am taking things more literally than I need to, but I cannot seem to see it any other way. In other words, shouldn’t I trust that what another person is saying is accurate and completely true?
Another stereotype I know isn’t true about all autistic people is that we all have very narrow, special interests. Well, the stereotype is true for me — I am intensely interested in how people work — especially psychological disorders they may have. I do not have a very wide range of knowledge. Peter, on the other hand, has a very wide range of knowledge and will definitely talk with you about what he knows. Since I am interested in people, this never bores me, even if I am a little clueless about his chosen topic at times. I am more reserved though, and tend to speak about my special interest with few others.
Things we have in common that may seem autistic include, but are not limited to: sensory processing issues, unique senses of humor, social awkwardness even though our eagerness differs, extreme curiosity and more. Peter and I met online on an Everyday Asperger’s thread. And while many things are easier about being two Aspies in a relationship, there are also differences to work out that make it like any other relationship. It’s not all “fun and games…” it can be work, for sure. I’d like others to realize that just as there are no two neurotypicals alike, there are no two autistics alike.
About the Author
Diagnosed in her late thirties with ASD, Jackie Parslow is an autism and mental health advocate who has a passion for promoting autism acceptance.