I chose to have someone else write about “significant others” and Asperger Syndrome because I don’t feel that I have sufficient experience in the matter. My friend, Erin, was in a relationship with someone with high functioning autism. I asked her if she would be comfortable writing about her experience for my blog. Obviously, she agreed to help me out. I asked her questions, she answered them, and then she wrote a little something from the heart. Hopefully, what she has written will help Aspies to better understand what they need to work on and help the “normal” people in a relationship to have patience for their Aspie.
Q: What areas of your relationship were most affected by his Autism?
A: It was mostly communication, both in a good and bad way. In the beginning of our relationship we talked about everything, which was good. We would spend hours talking on the phone about complete nonsense. In the end, it got bad, we knew everything about each other and we had nothing to talk about. We would communicate less, and it would start most of our fights.
Q: How did you deal with his meltdowns, strange habits, lack of communication, etc.?
A: His meltdowns were pretty mild, I mean considering I wasn’t really present at the time of bad explosions. However, he did get overwhelmed or angry, and after a couple of months of our relationship I noticed the signs and facial expressions. I was unsure of how to handle his meltdowns, sometimes I kept my space and sometimes I didn’t. He didn’t really had strange habits, just less common ones. He found playing video games for hours entertaining, he liked watching anime cartoons late at night for hours, and most of all he liked being inside in his own safe and comfortable home. His habits weren’t that much of a problem, considering how I was happy just being with him and spending time with him.
Q: What behavior/habit of his hurt you the most?
A: It was a couple of things, like when he was overwhelmed, I felt it was my fault and I felt hopeless when I couldn’t think of a way for him to calm down. Another thing was that when he played his video games when I would come over to his house. Yes, I tried to play but it just frustrates me, so I would watch, but after a long time I felt that he played because he was bored with me or our relationship was going on a downhill spiral of boredom.
Q: Do you think he was even partially aware that his behavior was hurting you?
A: I don’t believe so, until one day we had a fight and I told him. It was out of anger and said at the wrong time, but he eventually did find out.
Q: Was it his decision or yours to end the relationship? Why?
A: Well in the last month of our relationship we were questioning it a lot. One day we fought, it wasn’t as bad as a lot of them, but we were still questioning it. He asked me if I still wanted to be with him and I said we should break up, but in the end it was mutual. The reason I said we should because I could feel that he wasn’t happy anymore, that I was holding him back from hanging out with his friends and college life. I still love him now, even after a little over three months after that event.
Q: Do you feel that the relationship was worth it?/Do you have any regrets?
A: Yes, I do feel that the relationship was definitely worth it. Even though it makes me sad to think about it, I always remember all the good times we had and even when I’m mad, I never regretted it. Ever.
Q: If you were able to have a “do over,” what would you do differently?
A: Some stuff. I would have tried to see things his way. Things I didn’t understand or even tried to understand. I was selfish and took him for granted, I wish I had not done that.
Q: What is the most important thing/lesson you got out of the relationship?
A: He would talk about us in the future, and it scared me. I slowly accepted the fact that we would be together for a long time and I became dependent on him. After we broke up, I felt so lonely. I missed talking to him and hanging out with him, but I realized that I didn’t need him to be happy. I have become more independent since we broke up, and if he is reading this, I want him to know that I am grateful for him to come into my life.
Q: Is his autism something that influenced your decision to become a part of Forever Friends? (If you do talk about this, explain briefly what Forever Friends is)
A: To put it simply Forever Friends is a program where kids in my local high school mentor kids with disabilities, whether they come from elementary, middle school, or high school, there are 20 of us there to mentor 20 out of the 400 + disabled kids in our small town. He did influence me to become apart of forever friend. Until about a year and a half ago, I found kids with disabilities scary, I was even scared of one my deceased family members with down syndrome. I found them scary because I didn’t understand why they weren’t “normal.” They looked and acted different from what I was used to, so I kept my space. It wasn’t just me either, a lot of my peers did the same, and I assume it was for the same reason. After dating him, I realized they were just as normal and anyone else. He has a little sister with autism too, and I love her. She was timid at first, but she warmed up too me, now when I see her she always feels comfortable with me. Both of them influenced me to let everyone know that just being with them is amazing, and that even though kids with disabilities seem scary, they are the same as you and I.
I was only 15 years old when I started dating him, and he gave me the most wonderful year and 3 months in my life. He taught me that it is ok to love and trust people. He taught me that it is ok to not put up a front and act tough. Which I never really knew how to do before, and I hope he is reading this because I want to thank him. I want people to know that even though it didn’t work out with me and him, I do still love him and I want him to be happy. He has moved on, he doesn’t love me anymore, and it breaks my heart. I feel like I have to throw up every time I think about it. I want to beg him to take me back and start all over, but then I think about the day we broke up. I think about the real reason why I said we should break up, I just want him to be happy. I know this sounds cliché, but if he is happy then I am happy. Its all I can really hope for anymore.