The impossible happened. I met a man on a dating app who is cute, eloquent, and capable of substantial conversation without the drudgery of small talk. He neither subjected me to insipid messages about the weather nor his love for naps.
He didn’t even make me want to give him my entire savings just to get him to shut up, which is my reaction to most people.
Some people might just ask this person out without much thought. I list all the ways that asking someone out can go terribly wrong. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, make a fool of myself, make him cry, make myself cry, or start a nuclear war—all probable outcomes.
I asked Google. The advice I found on dating columns would only be useful to NT men who don’t shrivel at the thought of breasts. The biggest problem I had with a lot of the advice I read online was how it focused too heavily on physical attraction and romance.
It didn’t provide much help for those who are more attracted to minds than bodies. They suggest having an exit plan in case you sense that they aren’t feeling it, or they outright reject you.
When I meet someone whose brain appeals to me, I don’t think strictly in romantic terms. I’d happily have more friends who can engage with me in interesting conversations, or simply have more people in which I have things in common.
So instead, I turned to The Aspergian contributors. Here is the original prompt:
So, say you’ve been talking to someone online, and you have a crush. Said person realizes you are autistic. Said person has not subjected you to small talk at all and hasn’t made you want to pay said person to go away.
How does one ask said person out?
Here are the suggestions I received.
“Personally I’d be straight up and say that I found them attractive and wanted to get to know them better. Then ask if they wanted to meet up somewhere quiet and not overwhelming.”
This is sound. I’m all for candor. Different people can focus on the trait they want to emphasize. Some people want to compliment the other’s people attractiveness—play up their vanity and their need to feel good about themselves.
Or they’re just a nice person. You could also focus on personality traits, like how fun they seem. I’d focus on their brain. Nothing is sexier than a sharp mind.
“I would go for something casual and quiet because of how obnoxious busy places can be. Maybe ask if they want to go for coffee and hang out. Don’t make it out to be anything but friendly and just go with it. I’d definitely recommend going for coffee or somewhere else you can actually talk and get to know each other more without being overstimulated.”
I’m not a loud person and noise can be overstimulating. A lot of autistics are similar in this respect, so suggesting a quiet venue is a safe choice.
“The whole dating thing is so awkward and uncomfortable for me. It’s likely why I spent my social 20’s drunk on alcohol. I don’t think I’ve ever met a partner sober. Ugh.
I’m happily married also, as you know, but I think if I had to ever do it again I’d find some common thing we both like and see if the person wanted to do that. If there was a movie we both wanted to see, I’d ask the other person if they wanted to go see it. If there was a park or scenic place we both liked, I’d ask them if they wanted to go explore it. For my own issues with social anxiety, I’d try to keep it casual and then see if it evolves into “dating.”
If you have restrictive interests like me, it’s exciting when you meet people you have things in common with. It makes sense to build off those commonalities. Does this mean all my dates should take place either in a library or in a dark cave?
“If you’re interested, I’d love to meet up in person. How about we (fill in the blank)?”
This is a simple approach most people can pull off! I’m a babbler. I’ll mess it up and start rambling about coral reefs.
“If the person doesn’t mind the outdoors, I would recommend asking them to go on a very easy hike. The activity will keep them occupied and also allow for easy conversation. If not, then maybe out for coffee or ice cream. Less pressure than a full-on dinner. Edited to add: I mean a hike/walk on a very populated path, not somewhere a person could be taken advantage of or harmed.”
Finding a less formal setting that will take away some of the pressure is smart. I stress out a lot when I meet people for the first time, as I’m sure a lot of us do. If you go on a hike, spend an hour on your makeup. If the guy still wants to continue seeing you after he sees you with sweaty mascara, you’ll know he isn’t just interested in you for your pretty face.
“I am open, and sometimes frank in matters of heart, and a risk taker (in some ways), yet can be exceedingly shy. I’d likely tell the person that I am enjoying my time talking together and feel a connection, and share my feelings. I’d ask if they’d like to do a video chat or phone call — and then hide behind a mug!”
I relate. For such a candid person, I’m extremely shy. I, personally, wouldn’t want to have our first conversation over the phone. My greatest talent is making bad first impressions on people. This is even more true over the phone than it is in person. But for autistic individuals who don’t dread phone calls, this seems like a good way to become more accustomed to the person before the first date.
“Ummm, if it were me, I would ask for clarification of interest. Actually, no I wouldn’t. I would be terrified and keep them nicely perfect and tidy in my imagination.”
I keep all my crushes in my imagination. This is why I asked the question! I sometimes struggle judging whether a person is interested in friendship or dating. Asking for clarification obviously helps, but it’s hard for me to take that initiative.
“I like you. We could get ice cream.”
This could lead to a whole conversation about ice cream. I’m down for that. If the person has a dairy allergy, they may wonder what your motives are. Build some intrigue!
“ I would suggest meeting up somehow and only after that point broach any subjects of dates etc, but that is coming from a super demisexual point of view where it is highly unlikely I’ll be attracted to the person anyway.”
I like this idea! I don’t want to sabotage a potential friendship by moving too fast. I’m not sure I could navigate from friendship into a relationship even if the other person is interested. Maybe it’s possible. Scratch that. I’m entirely confident many of you are better at life than I am. Try this one!
“That depends on what you and the person have talked about and what your interests are. If you have had a conversation about a shared interest, invite them to do a thing involving that shared interest. If you have not talked about your shared interests and you don’t know what the person would enjoy doing, then you should wait to ask them out until you have an idea of what they would like to do that you would also enjoy or feel comfortable with. Caveat: I have never asked someone out online. I have never gone out with someone I met online. BUT I have been asked out a lot online and this is one reason I have never gone out with anyone. Once a guy asked me to a baseball game via text. I ended up being really rude to him in a way because I told him how much I hate the sport of baseball. And that his attraction to me isn’t based on actually knowing me, and I dislike this. If you are a man asking out a woman online, you should be basing your interest on more than just appearance —at least generally speaking.”
My interests are blackmail, espionage, and wedding chapel fires. This might get me into trouble.
“I can name a million ways not to do it…
Failed attempts have been
– do you want to date? (If it’s long distance. Just straight up ask it)
– I noticed we are not far from one another. Maybe we should plan on meeting up sometime in the future?
– I really like you a lot. If they say they like you as well, say “do you want to make this official?”
I’m engaged & happily in a relationship now but, all my online relationships failed as I appear to be creepy when things heat up or the distance really burdens it all with communication as they not be online as much as me.”
“Will be totally honest: I don’t have the guts to ask someone out. I’d likely just make it as obvious as I could how interested I was and hope they were braver than me!”
This is me! I feel this in my coal… I mean, my soul. My observation is that people differ drastically in how forward they are. Usually, I can let the other person take the initiative because even if they are shy, they are less shy than I am. It can become super frustrating, though, if both of us are excessively shy.
“You seem like someone I’d enjoy hanging out with.”
I can’t tell if this is too forward or not forward enough.
“Honest affection is a good way to start this kind of conversation.”
The more emotionally damaged you are, the more honest you should be. Just talk about your feelings and interest genuinely. Just do it with restraint. If you send 200 messages about your feelings and aren’t waiting for a response, you might have crossed a line.
“I’d say something cliche, like ‘Let’s go out. I don’t bite.’ Then, list fifty people I’ve bitten and describe the circumstances.”
Unexpected, but endearing. Plus, you will demonstrate to your crush right off that you are not someone they should fuck with. 10/10.
“If the connection is there it shouldn’t be an issue. It doesn’t need to be a formal proclamation.”
Seems logical. But I can create an issue out of thin air. It’s a gift.
I have an interesting one. A lady from my hobby club has been showing an interest in me. When I told her about my diagnoses she immediately asked me out for a drink (to talk about her brother). Since then we have chatted online, and this evening she asked me out for a drink again. I have no idea (as usual) as to whether she has a romantic interest or a platonic interest. If I can’t work it out beforehand, and as she knows I am autistic, at some point I will explain that due to this I find reading people, and situations, very difficult, and basically ask.
I don’t know either! Why are people so hard to read?
“We could go to bed then get some coffee, I know a place that does great coffee, and pastry. I’m Liz, btw.”
At least introduce yourself before you ask them to sleep with you! Otherwise, it would be unsouthern.
And one friend gave advice less specific to the situation, but it’s a great way to conclude this article:
“As you’re thinking about entering a new relationship, you probably will feel an unconscious urge to mask. Don’t do that. Put all your weird and eccentric flaws and idiosyncrasies out there at the beginning.
The dating pool is smaller for autistics for several reasons. We have very specific criteria for potential partners and very specific needs to keep us happy, and there are not so many people who will love, respect, and appreciate all of our differences and disability.
Being honest at the beginning might turn away a few people who would just eventually turn you away anyways– often after a lot of gaslighting and abuse. But there is someone out there (often other neurodivergent folk) who is just as bored by small talk and normalcy as you are and just as delighted and endeared by your asymmetrical features, your highly-specific sexual needs, your dark humor, your aversion to the color yellow in all its hideous shades, and that weird noise you make when you’re stressed out.
Telling the whole truth in your most creative and charming authenticity at the beginning is a winning formula for a delightfully divergent relationship.”
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