A mans field guide to dating
I remember feeling disgust and then curiosity the first time someone explained the concept of “dating leagues” to me, or being stunned to learn that a girl who invites you to a hotel room to “just chill for a night” might actually mean the opposite of that, or that one who keeps postponing seeing you again is blowing you off. I recently had a conversation with a friend who commented that people with AS should “just use common sense” when navigating the dating scene.Others with AS have told me about similar stories, all linked by a common theme: We experience dating, as we do all other social rituals, as non-native bumblers, struggling to comprehend a culture of Byzantine complexity (in our eyes) and lacking the unassailable logic of being entirely direct, straightforward, verbalized, and emotionless (which is clearly reasonable … Few pieces of advice are more frustrating to a mild autistic, since “common sense” in dating involves intuitively knowing the assumptions that others will make about you based on the cues you give off through what you say and do—which, of course, is precisely what AS causes you to miss.You have far more access to singles than ever before. Which means that there’s also far more COMPETITION.Especially when it comes to men trying to write to women.For better or worse, there is a music to dating, and while people with AS can understand the verses (and often have a distinctly straightforward way of expressing ourselves that can be refreshing), we struggle with the pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre, and texture. The idea that people communicate interest other than through what they actually say, or that even what someone says is fraught with layers and nuances—none of this occurs to us, since our instinct (which we assume the rest of the world shares) is to just say what we think and feel at length without any filters.If we learn it at all, it’s because we’ve had others bluntly explain to us the “rules” regarding these and other related matters.He has no idea what to write in his first email to you, and he’s competing with hundreds of men for your attention.Be patient, write a better profile, and learn not to get so frustrated with men, and you can enjoy online dating a lot more.
I have dedicated an entire volume of my bestselling audio series, Finding the One Online to how to write emails just like this.This could be compared to speaking a different language, although that analogy would imply that individuals with AS could at least “speak” to others with the condition, when in fact AS manifests itself so differently from person to person that we are generally as unable to relate to each other as we are with the non-AS population.While the resulting sense of loneliness is not unique to the mildly autistic, as Russell’s quote itself makes clear, having AS significantly hinders one’s ability to cure it. Mahari, people with AS may be able to ”feel a tremendous amount of empathy, compassion, sadness, happiness, and so forth,” but “it is not natural for us to communicate and to express our emotions in a social/relational context the way that it is second nature to NT’s [Neurotypicals, or people without AS]. It is work and requires effort and energy.” Not only does this cause people with AS to often come off as emotionless and lacking in empathy, but it makes the process of falling in love almost alien to us—you can’t develop or identify chemistry without knowing how to give off and read cues, or feel truly connected to someone with whom you can only communicate by feigning mastery of a social language in which you’ll never be fluent.Thankfully having AS certainly doesn’t inhibit one’s ability to desire or enjoy sexual intercourse, but the same cannot be said of cultivating the kinds of connections necessary to escape from the “existential loneliness” described by Russell.While this is partially due to the insecurity caused by disproportionately experiencing various forms of social rejection for years and years, even people with AS who received predominantly positive reinforcement in their early lives can still feel detached and isolated due to their inability to fully communicate with others.