How can an aspie gain confidence

Love with Autism: How It Can Work

by Dr. Peter Schmidt
He does not understand gestures and facial expressions. He can't flirt. But he wants to fall in love. Our author is autistic and describes how he found love with a clear mind.

His view of things.

Peter Schmidt, 54, has known for a long time that he emotionally assesses situations differently than most people. However, he was only diagnosed with this 13 years ago: Autism with Asperger's Syndrome.

Is that actually love for you, Peter? ", Martina asked me while walking on Eckernförde beach. What a question, I thought. Simple, but difficult to answer. And it came so suddenly. Without warning. To give spontaneous, profound answers, that's impossible for me! And banal things like "Love is riding a bike together. Love is laughing together ", my girlfriend probably wasn't really expecting that.

head against heart

My brain hastily called an internal parliamentary session. The rational faction debated with intuition, gut feeling. Unfortunately without a decision. I froze inside and said nothing loudly to Martina. Love has to mature, has something to do with the level of intimacy in a friendship, I thought. But how should I explain that to her?

Finally, I took a stick and drew a coordinate system in the sand. With three functions that describe the process from first meeting to love. As the development of the intensity of a relationship as a function of time. I lectured: "In the beginning there is the fire, the intensive sniffing. Then comes the mutual testing and finally the increase in confidentiality. Represented by a steadily increasing function that, starting from the origin, approaches a saturation line, the love asymptote, over time ! " I concluded: "Love is given exactly when this curve has snuggled up to the asymptote!"

Shared experiences

I had no idea whether she understood it, found it good or bad, because facial expressions are a book with seven seals to me. So we walked on, talked about this and that. In general, we spent a lot of time together. I studied love films like "Up there, where the Alps glow", "Thorn Birds", "Gone with the Wind" and then staged the romance exactly according to my script. Numerous excursions into the great outdoors, mostly by bike, enriched our shared experience and gave us many memories.

It was followed by my first Christmas with my girlfriend. As a present I received a calendar from her, a picture I had painted myself for each month, based on the experiences of the past months. A cycling heart radiated special love for me. Then I knew: my strategy was working!

I discovered dancing for myself at university. At some point I brought Martina with me, and from then on we danced together, never missing an opportunity. We even danced on the volcano. In the truest sense of the word: Cha-Cha-Cha. That was on Etna. Easter 1992. A volcano tour to test whether we can get along while traveling together. We came and so we danced on through life. But sometimes the love sky clouded over when there were communicative misunderstandings or conflicts in the evaluation of situations in the room. "You dance hard today," I stated matter-of-factly.

Components of love

One day Martina pressed a pretty, colorful book into my hand: "Normally this is nobody's business, but I talk a lot with my diary. You can read it so that you can understand what's going on in me. Maybe it will help if you know how I think, how I feel. "

For me, essential components of love are trust, openness and honesty. That there are no taboo subjects. That you can talk about anything. I saw Martina's offer as an opportunity, read her feelings and thoughts, which incidentally also revealed an unprecedented external view of my behavior: "He doesn't even notice when I'm angry!" or "He doesn't check what you tell him through the flower! He always needs clear text!" I read about myself. And it was true: Nonverbal communication is difficult to read for me. Associated expectations of others about my social behavior can remain unfulfilled. Only true words full of facts help, even if they hurt. But no pointless small talk. Classic flirting is almost impossible for me. That was also shown by our getting to know each other. Looking for a wife, I got down to business from the start. Martina wrote about this in her little book: "There was a guy like that at the dentist the other day, nobody has ever grinned at me like that. That was in the summer of 1991, when I was a PhD student. My landlady at the time clearly took part in my attempts to find the woman for life. She gave me flirtation: I had to leave the church in the village, even though I never wanted to move a church. Instead, I should just smile.

And I smiled. At the dentist, of all places. Whenever I saw Martina. But nothing happened. I was looking forward to going back to the dentist soon. And again nothing happened.

"You must have noticed whether she was flirting back!" Stated my landlady in an advisory capacity. "Did she play with you?" - "No!", I answered, "what should she have played with me? Rummy? Mau-Mau?"

Days later my landlady said: "I called the dentist for you and described your problem to him. Here you have the number of the young woman, you are welcome to call!" If there is a bridge over the raging river that you want to cross, then take it, who knows if and when the next one will come! So that's how I bridged my first date.

"My mind as a jammer"

In her diaryi also found the love map i drew in the beach sand. She found it fascinating and strange at the same time that something as emotional as love can be explained mathematically. And I read about my first kiss: "Beginner-like" it was. We sat on a park bench. Wild and romantic setting like in one of the kitschy Heimat films. The final sunset was not missing - the sign for the very first kiss! Or? I tried in vain to find out if she was ready. I couldn't read your body language. And I found it difficult to get out of myself freely. No autopilot surrender. Instead, my mind as a jammer. Only when I realized that my future wife should love me for who I am did I stop the inhibitory dissection and act.

To this day, it is and remains exhausting for me to give feelings. As a token of my love, I once gave Martina a cactus for Valentine's Day. For one thing, I don't like cut flowers because, strictly speaking, you only watch them die in the vase. On the other hand, the gift should also be a statement about me. Even as a child, I compared myself to a cactus when it came to enforcing your own needs as an exception to existing rules. The cactus stands for my otherness. It needs more sun and much less water than other plants, which I equated with a lot of retreat and little company. When it comes to love, competing desires determine my feelings. I wanted to be alone but not lonely. Like a candelabra cactus in Arizona. He is solitary and yet among his own kind.

Tropical suitability

In order not to spend pointless time developing a relationship, the failure of which is rationally foreseeable, I created a "wife" checklist years ago. Because one's own needs, which are in conflict with those of the woman, would probably erode love over time. This list included things like taste in music, non-smokers, but also suitability for flights and the tropics. Because for me it was and is about being able to spend as much time together as possible, finding happiness together and experiencing it twice. Finding out whether it was suitable for the tropics was the most time-consuming task. But when the sun set over the sea in Southeast Asia just according to plan, I told her that she had just passed the last important test.

We finally got married on a day that contains all the important color digits, which for me are 1, 3, 4, 7 and 9. And on which, statistically, usually good garden and barbecue weather can be expected.

Today, after more than 28 years of relationship, I know that true love cannot be found in the flames, it is rather like the embers of the fireplace: if you don't put more wood, it goes out. "Sometimes you tip a bucket of water over it," said Martina recently. Yes, but embers survive!

Dr. Peter Schmidt is an author and speaker on the subject of autism. Oh, and a full-time IT expert.

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