In our series on disability, sex and relationships, expert and resident agony aunt Tuppy – who runs Outsiders, a private club for disabled people looking for a relationship – answers your questions. This week, how to make the most of your positive attributes if you have Asperger’s to help you find love and once you’ve found it.
Dear Aunty Tuppy
I am a 36-year-old man with Asperger’s syndrome and I never seem to be able to form relationships with women. I worry that it’s because of my Asperger’s. I’ve been told that I am attractive and girls do smile at me when they see me. I also get online dates, but then the girls don’t want to see me anymore after the first one or two dates. What am I doing wrong?
I know you accept people with Asperger’s into Outsiders and wonder how these members manage? Anything you can tell me to help would be very welcome.
Yes, I have noticed that amongst the men in Outsiders, the ones with Asperger’s do seem to struggle with finding a partner. There are certain traits with Asperger’s that mean, unfortunately, not everyone is accepting of their issues.
For those of you who don’t know, people with Asperger’s tend to have a wide range of issues with socialising, sometimes exhibit repetitive behaviours, and a can have a narrow set of interests.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone. At Outsiders, we get people to focus on their positive qualities and abilities and work out ways to use them to your best advantage.
Positive traits people with Asperger’s may have
Everyone is different, but there are some traits and skills that people with Asperger’s often have in common. Thankfully, most of them are things that really appeal to women. They’re often:
- honest and truthful;
- kind and considerate;
- very knowledgeable about certain subjects;
- enjoy pleasing people;
- focus on, and pay attention to detail;
- have a photogenic memory;
- have a good sense of humour.
Putting these skills to best use
The key to helping you build your confidence and finding a partner is identifying what your skills and good points are and using them. Write down everything you know you’re good at, and remind yourself of these before any date.
Here’s how you can then use these traits to your advantage on a date:
- Being truthful about how you feel or whether you are attracted to someone can be a great quality. Just remember that some things, such as those that might hurt someone’s feelings, are best kept to yourself.
- Being kind and considerate towards your date is always a good thing. If she’s into ‘bad’ guys, then she’s not right for you, and that’s OK. You’ll find someone that’s right for you.
- You can use your intelligence to help the conversation flow by touching on a wealth of different topics.
- Knowing a lot about something your date is interested in is an attractive quality. Just make sure you don’t talk all of the time. The conversation needs to be a two-way thing.
- From trying to make sure your date has a nice time to pleasuring them in bed once you’re in a relationship, your ability to put them first is a great one.
- Ask your date where she would like to go and what her interests are, then use your attention to detail to rea tailor a date to her tastes. It’ll make it a wonderful experience.
- Later in your relationship, your photogenic memory will be a great asset to remembering her birthday and things she likes.
- Laughter is very attractive, so let your sense of humour shine through.
Problems you may have that put women off
Everyone, whether they are disabled or not, has certain parts of their personality that aren’t perfect. As well as looking at your strengths, it’s important to know what your weaknesses are and how to side-step them.
Here are some examples you might relate to.
- Focusing too much on one topic that might not interest your date. Ask them whether they’re interested in the topic, and if not, move onto something else.
- You may need time for social and emotional progress. There is nothing wrong with this, but it’s important to make your date aware of this early on so that they don’t think you’re not interested in them.
- You may need a quiet space, whereas someone else likes noisy, vibrant places. There is nothing wrong with that and there are a lot of people, who don’t have Asperger’s, that prefer somewhere quieter. It’s about finding someone who feels the same as you.
There are a few things that it’s best to tell your date about up front, so they are aware of it. The more they know, the more they will understand your behaviour and where you’re coming from.
- You may have difficulty processing facial expressions or expressing emotions. If your date progresses to a relationship, ask her to always tell you when she is upset because you cannot always tell when to be empathetic.
- You might find that you cannot deal with more than one thing at a time, so she needs to be patient and give you a little time.
- You prefer explicit instruction rather than using your imagination. Ask her to give you explicit instructions and permission to bend rules.
- You may not realise what is appropriate, and where. Ask her to always tell you politely if you do something inappropriate and you will try to learn as you go along.
- Your bodily reaction to stress and arousal can be very different to others.
Tell your date early on what you find tricky, so she will understand your behaviour and not be surprised by it.
Where to find love
If you’re finding it difficult to find a date, here are some examples of where you can meet new people:
- Outsiders Club – it’s free and offers peer support and advice.
- Evening classes, such as cooking, amateur dramatics, foreign languages. These are a great way to find someone with interests similar to yours.
- The website Meet Up a huge array of meetups across the UK, where anyone can attend.
Once you’ve found a relationship, you may feel that talking about sex can be difficult. But communication is key to sex.
To make it a little easier, why don’t you and your partner write a list of the things that you both like and dislike sexually, instead of having to say them? I’d suggest also making a second list of things you would like your partner to do or try sexually, and a third list of things that you do not particularly enjoy sexually.
Then, sit down together and share the items on your lists by swapping notes. Hopefully, that will help a conversation flow. Ask each other whether the items makes sense, whether you agree on any, and how you might go about implementing them.
Also, some people with Asperger’s are hypersensitive to touch. If you are, tell your partner where and when your body can be hugged or touched early on in your relationship, but particularly when it comes to sex.
It’s worth keeping in mind that almost every couple finds that one wants more sex than the other at times. It might be that you want it at different times of the day, maybe when you wake up, in the evening or last thing at night. Just go along with it – it’s not a problem.
Lastly, remember that sexual intercourse is neither essential to a good sex life nor the only way of enjoying sex. Tantric sex involves living in the moment and enjoying being together and each other’s bodies. Kissing, stroking and oral sex can all be enjoyed massively.
Good sex books to help inform your sex life
- The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability
- The New Joy of Sex
- A Guide to Getting it on
- Sex with the lights on
By Tuppy Owens
Outsiders is a FREE social, peer support and dating club, run by and for socially and physically disabled people. Its members have a wide range of impairments, including visual and hearing impairment.