Meet Molly and Brendan, a young couple from Whitehorse, Canada

Molly and Brendan in front of a lake

Molly H., 18, and Brendan G., 21, met in high school over three years ago and have been together ever since. Through open communication and mutual support, they’ve found a safe space in each other that’s given them room to grow—both together and as individuals.

Molly, diagnosed with autism at age 5, loves reading, hiking and playing the flute in her high school band. She will be graduating this year and plans to take a gap year to travel to Japan before pursuing a nursing degree.

Brendan is interested in art, video games and taking long walks with his dogs Mikey and Leo. While he does not currently have a formal diagnosis, he has long suspected that he has autism and plans to get an evaluation in the next three years. He aspires to become an actor, particularly in sci-fi or fantasy movies.     

Autism Speaks encourages seeking professional diagnosis if someone suspects they’re on the spectrum. If you need help getting a formal diagnosis, contact the Autism Response Team (ART) for support.                                                             

In this Q&A, Brendan and Molly reflect on their relationship and their goals for the future.

Molly and Brendan

What do you appreciate the most about your relationship?

Molly: Brendan is super funny. No matter how sad I am, he always knows how to cheer me up and make me smile. He’s incredibly loving and protective. He was never officially diagnosed, but we think he’s autistic too. I think that’s why we get each other so much—our brains are kind of similar and we’re on the same wavelength.

He lives a five-minute walk away from me, so whenever one of us is sad or upset, we’ll go see each other or text or call to reassure each other that it’s ok and we’re here to listen. Having that safe person and moral support is really nice. Sometimes I have panic attacks, and I know I can just call him and all of those feelings immediately wash away. We always have each other’s corner no matter what.

Brendan: I like how Molly is there to listen. She’s always willing to help me reach my goals. She brought me out of a little slump a few months back when I was jobless and kind of depressed, and she helped me get up and look for a job. I found a job as a merchandizer at Shopper’s with a boss who is fantastic, and I owe her for that. When she was recently struggling with turning 18 and becoming an adult, I was there to comfort her and hold her as well. She is very kind and caring, and we like to cuddle a lot which makes me feel safe. We’re each other’s rock essentially.

Do you think your autism has any impact on your relationship?

Molly: I think it affects our relationship but not in a major way. Sometimes, Brendan is a little blunt, which is kind of annoying in certain situations. But I can be blunt too, so it’s a two-way street. I think with the autism, we’re just more honest with each other. We don’t really hold any secrets and I personally think that helps.

Brendan: We kind of have the same energy. Even though I’m an introvert and she’s an extrovert, we share the same mindset. I don’t really hang out with people a whole lot, and if I do, it’s mainly because Molly or one of my close friends bring me out. I like to keep to myself for the most part.

Molly and Brendan opening a gift

How is this relationship different from other relationships you’ve been in?

Brendan: A lot of the girls I’ve been with have been self-centered. They basically cared about themselves more than the other person in the relationship. But with Molly, we’re equally invested in each other’s needs and we try to meet them whenever we can. The communication is much better.

What have you learned from your relationship?

Molly: Patience. Lots and lots of patience. I’ve learned that having an open mind and an open heart is the best way to go into any kind of relationship because you don’t set expectations and you do your best to be understanding and communicate.

I’ve also learned a lot about myself which I didn’t expect. It’s easier for me to communicate with people now. I’ve definitely grown, but at my core, I’m still the same kind, empathetic, caring person.

Do you have any advice that you’d share with others?

Molly and Brendan smiling for a selfie

Brendan: Always try to keep an open mind. That’s integral to everything, especially when it comes to relationships. There are going to be things that you disagree on, and of course you will not always see eye-to-eye. It’s important to realize that your partner is an individual and you should respect them as their own person.

Molly: A lot of people ask me how we’ve kept this relationship going so well for so long, and open communication is what I say—even the hard conversations, which is hard because we’re both autistic and we don’t like talking. But with each other it’s easier to open up.

What do you envision your future looking like?

Molly: I recently got accepted into the University of British Columbia, so I’ll be going to school for nursing. But my brain needs a break, so after graduation, I’m planning on taking a gap year and going to Japan during cherry blossom season with one of my buddies. I’ve lived in Whitehorse all my life and I really want to see what else the world has to offer. I’m big on traveling and always have been.

After I get my nursing degree, the plan is to find somewhere to move in together with Brendan and go from there. It’s corny, but I really see myself spending the rest of my life with him, no matter how long or how short.

Brendan: In my future with Molly, I hope she becomes a nurse and I become an actor. I would love to be in those sci-fi and fantasy movies, but I’d be happy doing movies based on real events as well. It’s really hard to be noticed for your talents, especially in a town that’s so isolated. But who knows, maybe Henry Cavill will see this and give me a chance in one of his new projects.

I grew up in Whitehorse and I’ve lived here since the day I was born. Eventually, I’d like to move to the southern provinces of Edmonton, mainly because I want to have a farm down there to keep me occupied. I used to go regularly to my grandparents’ caribou farm when I was young, and I’ve helped my aunt in Alberta with her farm when she was sick and going through chemotherapy. I’m more of a farmer than I am a city boy.

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