It’s the week of Valentine’s Day again for the world. For some people, it’s considered a holiday excuse to go out with their significant other and have a good time while for others it’s Singles Awareness Day. In the past, I’ve posted blogs with dating and relationship advice, including specifically for people on the autism spectrum. This is primarily a blog site about life and experiences on the autism spectrum after all. To mix things up and try something different this time however, I will be tackling how people who are in relationships should look at those who are not, more specifically how our perspectives should be on people who are single and on the spectrum.
For me personally, the truth of how much it can hurt for a person on the autism spectrum to feel alone comes out the strongest through my middle brother. Many times he has pointed out to me how he doesn’t feel like he has it in him to attract any potential partner and that no girl will ever like him. Sadly, this sort of mindset can be common in other people on the spectrum as well. The documentary Autism In Love is an excellent example of showing us an individual on the spectrum who feels like he has no real worth that any woman would find in him. In this case, the young man even goes so far as to hate the fact that he has autism, because he feels like it is ultimately the obstacle blocking him from being able to be successful with dating, and even successful in other areas in life.
If you’re in a healthy relationship with a good partner and find yourself happy in it, congratulations! You jumped through some high hoops and worked hard to get to where you are now. Obviously, you should feel proud of yourself for making it in a dating relationship and for doing all the hard work that comes with it. It is never okay however, to think that you’re above people who are single and haven’t succeeded in winning someone over. You’re not ‘better’ than that person. The same goes for autistic people who have struggled to get into a dating relationship. If a person on the spectrum is struggling to romantically bond with someone, chances are that person is struggling in other areas too. Like anyone else, that person has areas that he or she needs to grow in before being able to take certain steps in life. Everyone has to do that, and everyone does it in different ways. So when a person on the spectrum is having trouble, understand that that person has limits and needs extra help doing things that others take for granted, and that includes being able to bond with others, even if it’s to be just friends. It’s hard enough sometimes for an autistic person to make friends, so naturally it’s an even greater challenge for an autistic person to date someone.
It’s alright to point out the things that a person may be doing wrong, but it’s important to be encouraging as you go about it. Believe me, as someone on the spectrum myself, I can confirm that encouraging words make a world of a difference. They can inspire and motivate anyone, even autistic people who can prove to be challenging to communicate with. It might take a little more time and effort, but it does leave a positive effect. Autistic people are more likely to work towards changing some of their behaviors and habits that are inappropriate socially if the person telling them what needs to be fixed is encouraging and life-giving. Be life-giving, and you may see that person with someone else, be it friend or date, in due time.
Valentine’s Day is a romantic time for people in relationships (the consumerism and Hallmark leadership of the holiday is irrelevant here) while it may be a somewhat depressing time for people who are not. It can play as a reminder that they’re alone. If we see ourselves on the same level as everyone else though, and choose to carry compassion for those who feel alone, then you might just be partially responsible for a Valentine’s Day where someone who once felt lonely is now happily out with a special someone.