Autistic, Ace, and dating: A complicated affair
The world of dating is complicated and nuanced. There are unwritten social rules everywhere, and often, unrealistic expectations. I am lucky now to be in a relationship with a fellow ace whom I love dearly, and accepts me as I am, but prior to this, I took 8 years off of dating.
I am an autistic male. Autistic men are often seen as “creepy” because we love intensely, are socially awkward, and deeply passionate about our (often) very niche interests. Even those of us who mask, find people losing interest as soon as they learn we are autistic. Stereotypes are abound about autism.
I am also asexual. This presents a unique challenge for a world that expects men to be overly sexual. Toxic masculinity tends to judge men on their willingness to engage in regular sex. In the past I masked my asexuality with hypersexuality, which was deeply traumatic.
Living on the intersection of these two identities means that I am never what is expected of men in the dating world. I am not the confident “alpha male” that toxic standards want me to be. I can go years without sex (most recently I went 8 years without sex), not through celibacy, but purely because there are other forms of intimacy I prefer.
I had resigned myself to a life of solitude because I didn’t see a world in which anyone would be interested in me. Once I dropped the mask, people seemed less attracted to me, romantically speaking.
When I joined dating apps I felt that I was just going through the motions. I hadn’t even recognised my own asexuality. So you can imagine my feeling of serendipity when I met a woman who was asexual (but had not advertised it).
She helped me come to terms with my own asexuality, and accepted every part of me. It was a vital step on my journey of self-acceptance. Many men like me struggle to find this, but here was the proof that it was possible.
Autistic and/or asexual people get a rough deal when it comes to dating, but it is more than possible for us to find a partner, should we want one. Autistic people especially are drawn to each other, and when we meet, we understand each other to a depth that is difficult to describe to the layperson.
Don’t give up. I was ready to, and then I found the right person. Unfortunately, even neurotypicals have to wade through a sea of crap before finding the right person. While this problem may be amplified for those of us on one or more spectrums, it is not an impossible problem.