While love is expressed and experienced differently from person to person, those with autism are fully capable of forming deep emotional connections. These can include love for their family, friends, romantic partners, or even interests and hobbies.
Love and affection may be felt but expressed differently
They may show love, for example, through a practical act, and tidy up for you, or iron your shirt, rather than through a more neurotypical way of looking at you and telling you or using physical affection.
Yes, autistic people are capable of forming meaningful romantic relationships and dating. In fact, research has shown that those on the autism spectrum can often form strong bonds with their partners and experience a high level of satisfaction in their relationships.
In fact, autistic people can make wonderful partners. You may need to be patient with your partner when explaining social cues and norms, but there are also many positives to dating an autistic person that tend not to be spoken about.
People with autism may get easily attached to people, leading them to become over-friendly. It can be difficult to understand other people's perceptions of situations, therefore what they feel is appropriate, may be considered as socially unacceptable.
Physical touch can present complications for an autistic person. They may abhor all types of physical interaction, they may crave certain kinds of physical contact, or different intensities in certain situations. Knowing your loved one is key.
Some autistic people might like more 'obvious' forms of flirting like grand gestures, crafting things for someone or writing letters.
It is a challenge for most couples to find a balance between their needs and expectations, and their partner's needs and expectations. In a relationship where one individual is on the autism spectrum, there are likely many more opportunities for misunderstandings and frustration.
Some kids on the spectrum feel a constant need for affection because they are not sure when or if the attention will be available. Schedule 5 to 10 minutes every day when you can provide your youngster with undivided attention (i.e., no computer, T.V., cell phones, etc.).
Many people with autism crave intimacy and love. But, they don't know how to achieve it in a romantic relationship. They can feel blind to everyday subtle social cues from their partner. This can cause conflict and hurt feelings.
By nature, humans crave social support and strong relationships. Autistic people are no exception, and they're capable of connecting with others at an empathic level. Their emotions can run deep, even if they have different ways of expressing themselves.
Touch is an important component of many social experiences for many people. Autistic children commonly avoid social touch more than non-autistic peers. It is generally thought that this is due to autistic individuals experiencing hyper- or hyposensitivity of touch.
Smiling may not come easily to you if you are autistic or neurodiverse. It might feel unnatural or insincere. It doesn't mean you're in a bad mood if you don't smile. You could be neutral or really focused on your work.
These responses are often described as a general hypersensitivity, but they are more complex than that: Sometimes autistic people crave touch; sometimes they cringe from it.
Since the Autism spectrum is so diverse, you can't say that everyone with Autism does or does not like hugs. However, I have recently noticed that there isn't much of a “gray area” when it comes to Autism and physical affection; it's either one way or the other!
If you are dating someone with autism, it is important to be open to learning about the unique person you are dating. Try to understand their likes, communication style, frustrations, and annoyances. Be patient with the learning process, and be patient with your partner in their ways of doing things.
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.
Aggression in people who have autism differs in some ways from aggressive behavior in other people. Males tend to be more aggressive in the general population, but aggression is equally common in males and females who have autism, Mazurek says.
Autism Family Life/Marriage Statistics
9% of autistic adults are married, while 32% have a romantic partner. For comparison, around 50% of non-autistic adults are married. Researchers believe that romantic relationships should be considered when making transitional plans for autistic people from childhood to adulthood.
I wouldn't say "falling out of love overnight" is common for these men, but it does happen. As a counselor who has worked with many couples affected by Asperger's and high-functioning autism, what I see most often has to do with the fact that most men on the high functioning end of autism are very "task-oriented."
Every person with autism manages their sensory input in a different way and their emotional regulation skills can vary. It's difficult to make any blanket statements on the signs of dysregulation, but generally, any kind of change in behavior can indicate that a person is having a hard time managing their emotions.
These studies suggest that many individuals with ASD seek sexual and romantic relationships similar to the non-ASD population12,13 and have the entire spectrum of sexual experiences and behaviors.