Six Reasons Why Women Choose Men With Asperger’s


Six reasons why you chose a man with Asperger's sydrome

Understanding why you chose a man with Asperger’s is the key to resolving relationship difficulties

Is love blind? If you are with a man who has Asperger’s syndrome, no doubt you’ve asked yourself this question often. What drew you to him? Why do you put up with his insensitivity, his peculiar interests, his focus on logic and reasoning rather than feelings and emotions, his strange conversational quirks, his struggle to understand non-verbal communication, and the other oddities that drive you crazy?

And what can you do about these differences?

Here is a list of reasons why it happened in the first place and why you keep trying to make it work. Not all of them may apply to your situation but it’s likely some of them do. Certainly, recognizing why you are drawn to your partner and what keeps you with him can help you decide what to do about your own unhappiness.

1.      You Are The Opposite of Him

Many partners of men with Asperger’s are completely different when it comes to empathy and emotional understanding. Unlike someone with Asperger’s, they are perceptive, emotionally sensitive, and compassionate. Tony Attwood, an expert in Asperger relationships, refers to them as intuitively expert in comprehending the world as experienced by a person with Asperger’s syndrome.

It’s possible that your natural ability to understand emotional experiences led you to want to help your partner overcome his own emotional inadequacy, and as a result become as emotionally skilled as you are.

2.      You Misunderstood Who He Is

Men with Asperger’s are often intelligent, well educated, and successful. They appear strong, practical, and independent with a strong sense of moral and ethical justice. It’s not uncommon to characterize them as solid, down-to-earth and low maintenance.

These qualities are not necessarily inaccurate but they are not the full story. It is generally later that the difficulties with communication, narrow interests, emotional unavailability and rigidity surface, at which point you are likely to feel as though you’ve been betrayed. Remember, however, couples sometimes fall in love with who they think the other person is, not who that person really is.

3.      You Want To Rescue Him

Once you’ve found out what he is really like, do you have the urge to change him? This happens to many women with an Asperger’s partner, and understandably so. Having invested so much in him and your relationship, you don’t want to give up on him. It’s easy to imagine that with some effort on his part, and a lot on yours, he will change.

This is a powerful motivation when dissatisfactions appear, especially for women who are capable socially and emotionally. It’s easy for such women to believe they can change their partner, even in spite of all they’ve read to the contrary.

Be careful. It is entirely possible for the man you love to grow, change and adapt to your needs but it is not easy. Change is hard. It takes lots of time and effort, and there are no guarantees of success. You also risk setting yourself up to try and love him not for who he is but for what you want him to be.

4.      You Like To Be In Control

Often, women are attracted to the passivity of some men with Asperger’s because they want to shape the parameters of their relationship, to make decisions, influence the way the relationship unfolds and have a degree of authority over what occurs.

This is not necessarily bad. There is a time and place for decision making and for influencing the way two people get along. But if it is the primary reason for being with someone and the dominant way of interacting in a relationship, problems are likely to surface. This is even more the case when one’s partner has fixed ideas of what a relationship should be like and is inflexible in how he behaves.

5.      He Seems Familiar

When it comes to relationships, most of us are influenced by our early family experiences. And many of us choose life partners who share similar traits with members of our family of origin, or they may have opposite traits. You may be attracted to strong men with Asperger’s because your father appeared weak and dependent. Or, perhaps your father was forceful and aggressive, and you find yourself attracted to the gentleness and quiet nature of a man with Asperger’s. Then again, you may be drawn to men who are emotionally unavailable just as one or both of your parents were with you.

The first and most important model of what to expect from a relationship come from what we experienced early in life. You may not like certain characteristics and behaviors, but if they are associated with how you were taken care of and loved growing up you may be drawn to people who exhibit those behaviors.

6.      You Project Yourself

Projection is a term describing what happens when we imagine people thinking, feeling and acting based on our own thoughts and feelings. We may assume, for example, that someone we know is disappointed in us because actually, we are disappointed in ourselves. Likewise, we presume others are proud, unhappy, afraid, content, confused and so on because these are what we ourselves are feeling. What the other person is actually experiencing may not resemble at all what we imagine is going on.

Women who end up in a relationship with an Asperger’s man often complain that he is not the person they initially imagined him to be. The problem, however, is not always the man himself but how the woman assumes him to possess the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that she actually doesn’t like in herself.

Spend some time reflecting on how you think and feel about yourself. Then ask yourself if you assume your partner is similar and, if so, what might you see in him that you don’t like in yourself. Separating out what you object to in yourself and how you characterize your partner, could put you on the road to success in your relationship with an Asperger’s man.

Dr. Kenneth Roberson is an Aspergers psychologist in San Francisco with over 30 years of experience. To ask a question or schedule an appointment, please call 415-922-1122.

6 responses to “Six Reasons Why Women Choose Men With Asperger’s”

  1. Ze says:

    Wow, this is such a negative take. The title of your blog should be “Six unhealthy reasons women choose AS men”. How about following it up with “Six good reasons why women marry AS men” or “Six reasons why women should consider marrying an AS man” or “Six reasons why women are happy they married an AS man”. Seriously. Sure they are quirky and sometimes socially… awkward. They sometimes put their foot, they can offend. They hurt but not on purpose. They are devoted, super-loyal, able to appreciate you for who you are… If they chose you, then you are one of their ‘projects’ – maybe even their no. 1 project – with all the fringe benefits – if you know what to do with them. They are so rational that they can evaluate and recognize their own weaknesses, and are then able to implement positive changes as soon as they know what to do, without pride getting in the way. They are the best. I wouldn’t trade mine for a ‘neuro-typical’ male in a million years.

    • Dr. Kenneth Roberson says:

      I’m curious what it is about the article that appears negative to you. I don’t see it that way, so I’m wondering why it appears negative to you.

  2. Anne says:

    Yes Ze!!!! I hate how Asperger men are always portrayed by the media and modern psychologists as undesirable! I would choose my loyal, honest Aspergers husband over a fake neurotypical ANY day of the week!!! Even if I had the choice to make again, eyes wide open about Aspergers men, I would willingly CHOOSE to date strictly Aspergers males because they are often more intelligent, interesting, honest, and incredible! I love neuro-diverse relationships, and the world needs more of them!

    • Dr. Kenneth Roberson says:

      Glad to hear your positive opinion of men on the spectrum. Many people agree with you. Not all men with Asperger’s are defective and unworthy partners.

  3. Suzy says:

    Wow. As in, wow what a terrible article. I opened it hoping to read something encouraging to share with a member of my family who is married to a man with ASD, but heck no.
    (I am a married woman and I myself have ASD.)
    Dr Robinson, I usually like your articles, but run this one by any psychologist familiar with codependency, and they will tell you you’ve basically written an article that would be better titled “Why Codependents Are Attracted to Asperger Men”. Or the title “Ze” chose above. Please take this article down. For the most part, it’s insulting and discouraging.
    Aside from that, I find a lot of your articles interesting and I’m thankful there are people
    like you out there trying to educate people about autism spectrum. So a thank you as well. But seriously, please delete!

    • Dr. Kenneth Roberson says:

      Susan, I disagree that this simply about co-dependency. There is a lot more to the choices that women make than being dependent when deciding to partner with an Asperger’s man. That argument aside, I’m curious why you think the article is insulting and discouraging. Could you explain? I would appreciate hearing your opinion. Best, Dr. Roberson

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