Should I break up w Asperger boyfriend?

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    Rose Tattoo

    I’m a woman in my mid-40’s. I’ve wanted a life partner for my whole adult life, but after lots of relationships that didn’t work out, ranging from monogamous to polyamorous and from “the one that got away” to a couple of emotionally, psychologically, and even physically abusive relationships, I let go of the dream that I’d find someone to share my life with. After the last devastating relationship with a flaming narcissist, I just stopped wanting to actively date, and decided to focus on making myself happy and fulfilled instead. I have been, on the whole, much happier since I dropped the longing for some fantasy relationship. I figured that if something came along, great, but that the search was too emotionally taxing for me, and that, after years and years of therapy and self work, that maybe there’s something about me that is not conducive to having a healthy relationship.

    For the last five or six years, I’ve had a male friend in my life, who has become one of my best friends. We started out dating, but I was always getting over some breakup or other, and it never really clicked. We ended up being sort of casual on-and-off lovers.

    After this last breakup, I finally decided that yes, I’d date my friend and truly commit to a relationship instead of doing this ambivalent, half-assed thing. He’s always treated me really well, never criticized me or teased me or been mean, my friends and family love him (they haven’t liked someone I’ve dated for over a decade), he shares my values and some of the same interests, he has personal integrity, and he’s financially stable.

    It’s been several months, and I’m coming up against problems. Our sex life was never fabulous. Though he’s a generous lover, I’ve never been that sexually attracted to him. Lately I’ve been thinking that one reason why is that I don’t feel emotionally connected to him. He’s on the Asperger’s spectrum and quite brilliant, but emotionally, he’s in the dark, which he’ll readily admit. I am very emotional and fluent in emotional language. So in this way, we’re not a great match.

    We never fight, and I think it’s because we aren’t invested enough to fight. He won’t fight with me or stand up to me when I have moments of being snippy or unfair.

    I don’t feel that he’s very present in our relationship. He says he misses me when I’m not around, but I’m the only one who ever suggests making plans, and since he doesn’t like talking on the phone (neither do I, really), he’ll often drop out of online chats without explanation. When I’ve had emotional things happen and have gone to him for support, he really doesn’t understand how to be supportive, so I’ve learned not to ask him for support. He tends to say “I don’t know how to help you; I’m sorry.” Or he makes a lot of jokes that just make me feel like he’s not listening or concerned.

    He used to be pretty communicative, but more recently I’ve felt that he’s withdrawn. When I’ve talked to him about it, he says I’ve been the one who has withdrawn. When I try to talk about some of the stuff that’s been coming up, he doesn’t address the issues, but says he feels that I’m looking for excuses to break up with him. He says he loves me and wants to “do better”, but nothing changes.

    After all the years we’ve known one another, and everything we’ve been through together, I hate the idea of our connection ending up with acrimony or disappointment. But I know if I break up with him, we probably won’t stay in one another’s life, which makes me sad. And I don’t want to do the “on-again-off-again” thing anymore.

    Recently, a friend tried to set me up with one of her single friends, but I said no because I’m technically not available, though, truly, I don’t feel like i have a boyfriend. I feel single. But it made me realize that, by being in this not-very-fulfilling relationship, I’m cutting off the possibility that I might find someone who’s a better match. At the same time, I’m so tired of the dating dance, that I just want to live my life and not think about that. I’m also very aware that I might just not be cut out for the kind of relationship I’ve always dreamed of, and maybe this is the best I can expect.

    I’ve tried to convince myself to just accept my guy the way he is, accept what he has to offer (companionship, intellectual conversation, the occasional motorcycle ride) and don’t ask for more, and just enjoy what we DO have. But I still end up disappointed, hurt, or confused when he isn’t proactive, doesn’t suggest plans, doesn’t invite me along when he makes plans with other people, goes along with whatever I say without expressing differing opinions, doesn’t seem to want to spend a lot of time with me, and doesn’t share details of his life with me when I ask him about his day. I feel like I should end it, but wonder if maybe I’m just being too critical or wanting too much. I really don’t know what to do.

    Thanks for any insights/advice you can give!


    I would stick it out a while longer–he has many good qualities and no one can be all things you need. Would he be willing to go to couples therapy with you. I am thinking that if you came up with some ground rules of needs you both have and agree to and put them in writing it might be worth the energy. I am not saying a contract but an agreement that he can see and visually refer back to.

    I read a great funny heartwarming book written by a man with Asperger’s–about how he had to memorize what he needed to do to meet needs of his wife and others that just didn’t come natural. The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch. If your boyfriend is shown how to be a better boyfriend and you do the work to be more understanding–it may be worth your while.

    I am an older woman-a bit older than you. I was ready to be alone. then I met C. approx. 6 years ago. C. used to be a therapist(retired) and is a Carl Jung scholar. He is still a pain and does not meet all my needs. He isn’t suppose to–nor do I meet all his.

    He is so good at having healthy boundaries. He does not and will not “treat me”. Its like living with a grown up all the time. He has been meditating and practicing yoga for 35 years. Its still work to make it work. I love him dearly, we are committed to “stand” in love. (a retired therapist is probably what I always needed) I have been in therapy for approx. 4 years–I wanted the peace of mind it appears he has.

    You are going to be ok regardless of whether you work it out with your friend or not. Decide together or apart whether you are both willing to do the work. You probably may find someone who is a better fit later–or you may not. Life is scary like that.


    • This reply was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by Seaisland.

    What I was trying to say and I don’t think it came across was–I met a man late in life that is really together-AND its still hard, and its still work.

    Every relationship will be. The beauty is you are in a relationship with a nice person who is a good friend.

    Love is an art. like any art you must practice to make it beautiful and pleasing. We do not get proficient without the working on the art. If the material you have to work with is good, you just have to practice and practice. You stand in love. You don’t stop. Is he going to love as an art with you? Do you want to work on this art with him?


    Rose Tattoo

    Thank you SO much, Seaisland! I read the intro to the book you mentioned and started to cry, because not only can I see my BF in those assessment questions, but I can see myself. We’ve suspected for awhile that I might also be on the spectrum, though perhaps more functional than my BF. So that could have a lot to do with a lot of things. I ordered the book and can’t wait to read it.

    I do realize relationships take work, of course, and nobody’s perfect. I guess my questions have to do with feeling very lonely in my relationship, more like I’m single. This can’t be how it’s supposed to be, can it?

    Anyway, I’ll check out the book. Thanks again!


    I would gently suggest that you do break up with him. He can’t give you what you need from a relationship. Some people get a lot of emotional support from their family and friends, and can therefore do very well in a relationship with someone who can’t give them that, but it sounds like you’re not one of those people. And that’s okay – plenty of people want their primary source of comfort to be their partner. It’s likely breaking his heart that he can’t give you what you need, and drawing it out longer is just limiting both of your chances to find the right people.


    Rose Tattoo-
    You are soo welcome….be kind to yourself. Let us know how you are.



    @ rose tattoo

    My understanding of people who suffer from any form of Aspergers is more to do with failing to understand or ‘read’ other people and that they struggle to understand other people around them. I think there are two pathways open to you. Ultimately the choice is your own. I would actually give the book that was suggested above to your partner. He may indeed love you, but is uncomfortable showing more because it’s not how he understands love to be. Or even not know ‘how’ to express certain emotions since he is not wired the same way you are. Coupled with the fact he just might not be able to read your emotions very well. But then again if you were to ask my mother, she would sarcastically remark that my father doesn’t have a clue about her and he only suffers from enjoying his own voice too much 😉

    Path 1: you stay together, you work together so that your partner understands what you need. I think it would be best to continually ‘speak’ your mind and your feelings, rather than hope that he picks up on them. Because he may feel horrible that he is not picking up on subtle cues, but once again unable to express his own emotions. It will be hard, but as another poster has stated any relationship is hard work. Everything you said about him not being ‘proactive’ would perfectly summarise someone with aspergers. So as long as you understand the limitations you have within the relationship, you sort of know the where the ceiling is. Maybe the two of you could seek about a couples counselor that can help with matters that are specific to your relationship needs.

    Path 2: You need to make a choice between your partner who is ‘good enough’ or risk everything to find someone who is ‘your perfect’. You seem to be a bit down because you want more, which is a human trait. I guess the question you need to ask is where do you want to be in 5 years or 10 years. Do you see this relationship lasting that distance. If not, then there is no point in delaying the inevitable.

    I would recommend seeking specialised help before you go further. A relationship requires a training period. When you are with someone, it’s like you have to learn how to live together. You are learning everyday about someone who has lived X years before you came along. It may take even longer to truly know and accept your partner. I think the ultimate point of my writing is to suggest whether you can live without certain things in this relationship?

    I hope this helps, if you have more to add, please write 🙂
    Also, if you are looking for a fiction book that is funny and warm where the main character has aspergers, then check out ‘The Rosie Project’. Maybe through reading it (maybe together) you can find comfort in one another.


    I was ok with my Aspergers partner. But after 9 years I realized that all the things t I was missing, I Deserved. And it was Not ok. I had poor self worth and he was nice to me. As in not mean. But he was unhealthy to me. And I wish I had 9 years back sometimes, but I learned a lot about myself. It was hard.   I felt like the bad guy and he was perfect. The problem is he considers himself very perfect and superior and so while I was having such poor self worth, he believed me when I spoke  badly about myself, agreed.

    But I was never understood, never supported, never given things that I convinced myself I didn’t need.

    But I needed them. Everyone does.  He only wanted me to take care of him. Not the other way around. That is another trait. That they want to be “taken care of”  in a relationship. But they make it where we don’t have anything left to give ourselves and they can’t take advantage of people like that. By people I mean partners.

    All the books say the facts. How hard it is and try to inform you on how to deal

    But you don’t know, even by writing a book. Even the doctor who wrote a book on Aspergers relationships  because she was in one.

    Accept it they all say. But giving love care compassion understanding respect and more to your partner while you got nothing in return emotionally leaves you very resentful empty and in a big way you are being leached from.

    I myself didn’t know for 4 years that he even had Aspergers. I thought he just didn’t like me. 5 years later I am leaving. I resent him. I feel that he took advantage of me. I wasnt loved. He says he did but never  showed  it. He appears fine to others. Only I have the right viewpoint to really know how different he is.

    So I loved him and I didn’t really love myself and he didn’t show me any love either. After 9 years of that, my heart now just seems dead.  *choking back tears as I put that into words.

    He loved himself enough for the both of us.

    Partners of individuals with Aspergers.. if you are loving you need that in return. You might not realize how much you deserve and you may think it’s all you you not him.

    My guy wouldn’t think badly of himself enough to believe me when I told him he was doing something wrong. everything he Does is perfect and if you don’t do something the same way he does you are doing it wrong.

    You aren’t nagging him because you don’t have good reason. It’s not you it’s him and he will not believe that its  the things that he hasn’ t done that’s wrong.  done are wrongly  doesn’t do he just know that they exist but you need them and deserve them and can’t love somebody without getting it back.  it’s a give and take you can’t give it all away you’ll be left with nothing


    A close friend of mine is going through the same struggle as described in your initial post. Her boyfriend is a high functioning autistic who can be vibrantly fun to be with – intellect in art and creativity, good looking, affectionate etc. But after nearly a year’s dating, some frustrating traits become more and more obvious in his behavior:  lack of understanding and empathy of others, got defensive easily, extremely selfish, enjoy being taken care of without return. My friend feels very lonely and depressed. Another frustrating thing is this bf is becoming so forgettable and occasionally confused that he started resemble the symptoms of dementia as his late father who started the illness in the similar age of his. Beside feeling depressed and extremely uncertain, my friend is also troubled with ta sense of guilt thinking to break up with this man. She had a NPD boyfriend before this experience too. What happened to the relationship after your post a couple years ago? Your experience sounds so close to hers, I would like ask and appreciate much if you could share more about your experience, your feeling as well as the lesson you’ve learned. (please feel free to kindly reply to celebra2003 at yahoo) Thank you and hope all is well!


    Dear Rose Tattoo

    How are you? Are you able to share your ultimate decision? I’m 3 months in with a new boyfriend I’m convinced is Aspie. I only learned of my own diagnosis in the past year. I’m 49 and boyfriend is 54. Neither one of us have been in relationship for 12-14 years. Crazy about him although in the past 3 months we’ve been together it feels like my heart’s been broken 3 times already. I have complex PTSD from emotionally unavailable and abusive parents and boyfriend’s Aspie traits (difficulty listening, emotionally un supportive, needing a lot of alone time  (we only see each other once a week), inconsiderate of feelings, have all been major triggers for me, feeling like I’m an unloved 5 year old all over again.

    This past weekend, after a week of heart palpitations, and the latest heart break, I told him I couldn’t stand being a nag all of the time and I couldn’t do it anymore. That it would be better if we were friends. We’re amazing friends. He’s a highly intelligent man, full of integrity and extremely generous (just not when he’s acting selfishly). He admits his faults. He’s sorry. He does make changes but the heart break is so much.

    Anyhow. Our stories sound so similar I really wanted to find out how you landed. I’m hoping with peace.

    Namaste- Christie


    You were mostly attracted to him because he was emotionally unavailable to begin with. He reminded you of your parents (or father) and you longed for the acceptance you didnt get, from someone like them – detached. So if you think about it, it is unfair to complain that he is how he is; you actually chose him because of it, whether you were conscious of it or not. If he had morphed into a new person who magically gave you everything and showered you with love and affection and worshiped you, you would probably fall out of love. You are stuck in a paradox.


    I read your post and you described my experience in life for the last 6 years line after line. I searched for “should I break up with my Aspergers boyfriend” and Tiny Buddha was the first choice. This was posted years ago and I wanted to learn the outcome of your dilemma. Did you continue your relationship?


    *Dear Cindy:

    Members shared about their “Asperger boyfriend” in this thread from June 2016 to November 2019, and this is long ago, so I don’t know if they are still following this thread. You are welcome, if you would like to, to share your story here, or to start your own thread and share your story there. If you do, I will reply to you further.


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