A family shares their experience navigating dating and relationships on the spectrum
Meet Dan G., 27, and his parents, Emily and Michael
After our son, Dan, expressed his interest in dating, we’ve done all we can to encourage his journey and help him navigate the dating world. As someone diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 6, it has not always been easy for Dan to express himself, so we have tried to steer him in the right direction while staying true to himself.
We have helped him set up some dating profiles, reviewed some of his matches together and discussed the process of setting up dates. Since Dan doesn’t drive, we often remind him that the date should be relatively close by. While we have role played some scenarios that could play out on a date, the goal is for him to learn and grow through real life experiences.
We have always stressed to Dan that the relationship should be about friendship first. Find things in common and grow from there. Although he’s just 27, he often feels like he’s running out of time because he wants to meet a girl with similar interests and get married, but we stress that it will happen when it happens. That’s the best advice we could give.
Hear from Dan and read about his experience with dating and relationships in this Q&A:
What has your experience been like with dating and relationships?
Going on dates can be nerve-wracking. I sometimes feel uncomfortable, especially if the girl has trouble communicating. I one time asked a girl what she looks for in a guy and I guess that made her nervous. I thought it was an appropriate question.
What was the best date you’ve ever had?
I’m really into animals and one of the girls I met worked at a petting zoo. It was fun being able to talk to her about the animals. She lived too far away so we decided it wouldn’t work out between us.
How do you navigate a first date?
It helps to feel comfortable, so I like to email or text first before meeting in person. I always try to meet at a local coffee shop for a first date. One time my mom’s friend popped in during a first date and said hi to me and to check up on us. Lol.
Are there any communication strategies that you’ve found helpful when dating or in a relationship?
I try really hard to think before I speak, and I just try to be myself.
What would you like non-autistic people to know about dating someone with autism?
We might be quirky and act a little awkward, but we want the same things everyone else does!!
What advice would you give to other people with autism who are looking for love?
Turn your Asperger’s/autism into a superpower because that’s just what makes you unique.