I’m a student in my early 20s, and I have Aspergers/am on the autism spectrum. I’ve been dealing with a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings when it comes to the state of my love life, or rather, the lack of one.
I don’t quite have zero dating experience; I had a year long relationship in my teens. In that relationship, my ex-girlfriend ‘C’ approached me and pushed everything forward in the early stages; eventually, she was also the one to choose to end the relationship. Though I recognised this was the right decision, the breakup was ultimately messy, and we have not stayed on good terms. I know that C entered a new relationship less than a year later, which continues to this day. I should also mention that C is a neurotypical extrovert, very different from myself. Around the same time as the breakup, I got my ASD diagnosis, while also dealing with severe social and academic anxiety; I was pretty depressed for about a year, and hopelessly lonely.
In a lot of ways, things have got better in the five years since then. Since starting university, I’ve begun to put together a solid social life, and have made a few great friends. Although there is still room to improve, I don’t feel nearly as lonely as I once did. I’m also working on creative personal projects which give me a sense of direction and purpose.
To some extent, I feel that my current single status is my choice. One of the biggest lessons I learned from my relationship with C is to never settle out of desperation, or out of fear of loneliness. It’s only in retrospect that I’ve realised I was more in love with the idea of being in a relationship, than I was with C herself. I was just flattered that someone was showing interest in me. When I think about it, I’ve yet to fall in love with another person, in a way which extends beyond appreciation. It’s important to me that if and when I meet someone new, that my affection for the other person comes from a much more spontaneous place: that I love her for who she is, rather than merely appreciating her for alleviating my loneliness.
However, I still sometimes find myself thinking about my relationship with C, and the lack of progress I’ve made in my romantic life since then. I sometimes find it difficult to stop myself from comparing myself to C, and the almost seamless way she entered a new relationship so quickly. Sometimes I also feel envious of my coupled-up friends; I consciously know that there’s nothing about them that makes them any better than me, or any more deserving of being in a happy relationship, but it’s hard to shake off feelings of inferiority, or a sense of shame, or failure. I think it taps into a pretty deep-seated fear of being rejected by others, which I’ve had since I was a child.
When I think about it rationally, I know that the situation isn’t all that bad; I’m still young and have plenty of time to figure all of this out. Nevertheless, I still nevertheless struggle with bouts of frustration and self-hatred for my perceived lack of progress. I know that desperation is not a healthy emotion, but it too often gets the better of me and sours my mood. Moreover, I have this irrational fear that my relationship with C was a fluke, that things will never change or get better, and that I’ll never be extroverted enough to make the connections I need to make, to find somebody new. I am weary of my own desperate feelings, yet unable to fully escape them.
Another aspect of this is that I rarely find myself attracted to women beyond a superficial level, and that’s because I have a reciprocal type of desire; I desire being desired by women, but I don’t particularly enjoy pursuing women (this is why C hit all the right buttons with me, initially). This is unfortunate, because for whatever reasons, it seems like most women don’t enjoy actively pursuing men, or aren’t socialised to. It’s normalised that men are supposed to be the pursuers, but I don’t feel comfortable in that role. I don’t know, maybe I will have to accept this discomfort going forward, but it’s one of the factors at play, anyway.
I suspect what I need to do is stop myself from obsessing over what I don’t have and focus on staying in the present moment. I try to convince myself that I can make myself happy, and that I don’t truly need anything beyond myself, but it’s hard. It feels like I have a whole bunch of contradictory thoughts, desires and fears tangled up with each other, and I’m uncertain about the right approach to take moving forward. I’m not sure how well I’ve articulated myself in these paragraphs, but I’m hoping that an outside perspective could help to shine a light on my situation and help me figure out the most productive path moving forward.
Tired Of My Own Thoughts