This post was originally published at http://fallingoutofthefog.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/from-falling-out-of-the-fog-to-i-wish-i-didnt-have-aspergers-autismpositivity2012/ and is reprinted here with permission of the author.
From Falling Out of the Fog To ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers: #AutismPositivity2012”
Dear “I wish I didn’t”…
I’m not normally one who writes about Autism or Asperger’s, but I’ve been so moved by the outpouring of support you’ve been receiving because of your Google search that I wanted to give you another perspective.
I’m not someone who has Asperger’s. My boyfriend, however, is. We’ve been together two and a half years now, and I wanted to share with you some of what being with him has taught me.
Probably most importantly, I have learned to be clear in my communication. Rather than saying “Gosh, the trash is getting full” and (rather irrationally, I suppose) expecting him to get from that that I would like him to take out the trash, I have learned to say “Honey, would you take out the trash, please?” Taking the former approach always ends up in the trash not being taken out, me getting annoyed, and him being confused as to why I’m annoyed. Another lesson I have learned is to be specific with times. When I want the trash taken out now (because it smells, for example), I shouldn’t say “Honey, when you get a chance would you take the trash out?” (because he really will wait until he isn’t doing anything else), when what I mean is “Honey, would you please take the trash out now? It smells.”. I suppose that second point goes back to the first point, doesn’t it? It’s all about communication.
I’ve learned not to ask questions that I really don’t want an answer to. If there’s one thing I can depend on with my boyfriend (there are lots of things, actually), it’s that he’ll be honest. If I ask him if these pants make my butt look fat, he’ll tell me. If I ask him if an actress is prettier than I am, he’ll tell me what he thinks. The upside of that is, if I ask him if he likes a meal I prepared and he says he does, he does. I don’t have to spend time wondering if he’s just saying that to make me happy, because he doesn’t say things just to make me happy.
I’ve had to change to make this relationship work, I won’t lie. The normal “games” people play don’t work with him, but that’s OK with me because I always thought they were stupid anyway (BF tells me often he suspects I am a fellow Aspie, but I don’t know if that’s true or not). It’s a relief, frankly, at least for the most part. A part of me wishes there were things like flowers on a random day just because it’s Tuesday (“That’s stupid. Why would I buy you flowers just because it’s Tuesday?”), or a love note under the pillow (“Also stupid. What if you didn’t find it and it ended up in the wash?”), but far better than that are the hugs when he can tell I’m having a bad pain day (“When you’re in pain, your eyes look tired”), coming home from work to find the trash taken out (“I know it makes you happy when the garbage is not full, so I took it out”), or the deck chairs magically appearing on the deck for the season (“I know you like to sit on the deck in the morning and drink coffee, so I brought the chairs out for you”) Things like that say “I love you” in ways a note under my pillow (which probably would end up in the wash) never can. It says he notices.
My point is, his Aspergerian tendencies are a part of what attracts me to him. A big part, even. I’ve been in relationships before were all the stereotypical NT rules apply, and let me tell you, it’s exhausting. With BF, I don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out what he “really” meant by something he said, because he means exactly what he says. If I ask him what’s bothering him, he’ll tell me. If he doesn’t know, he’ll say he doesn’t know. He gets obsessed with things and ideas sometimes, but that doesn’t bother me because I do, as well, so I get it.
So, my dear “I wish I didn’t…” be glad you do. It makes you the person that you are, and I can tell you from experience that there are people out there who will love you because of the way that you are, rather than in spite of it, people who will love you and trust you enough to take off the mask that we NTs tend to wear when dealing with others and who will learn the joy and simplicity in simply saying what is meant rather than the complexity of what is implied. Those people will become your friends, and one day, you may discover that one of them has become more.