It can often feel challenging trying to find a relationship. When you add having difficulties with social interaction due to autism, it may seem impossible.
I recently experienced this situation with one of my mentees while we were discussing National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. I asked my mentees to share five goals they have for in the next academic year and then five goals they have for five years from now. While many put down going to college, finding a place to live and landing a job, the majority of them also shared with me about wanting to find a partner.
One of my mentees in particular shared with me the hardships of dating on the spectrum.
“Boys are usually suppose to ask out the girls and that terrifies me,” he said. I looked at him with compassion as I used to be in the same boat as him as a high school senior getting ready for a transition that tends to come with a great deal of uncertainly. I thought about my experiences dating as someone on the autism spectrum when I was his age. I always had to be the one to approach a girl, whether it was about asking her out on a date or to be my girlfriend. Although it didn’t feel like the sensory overload experiences I had when I was younger, it felt like another overload to me.
While we continued our conversation he asked me why he was always the one who had to put himself in the situation. Why, if he established a rapport with a girl who was interested, couldn’t she ask him out instead of the other way around? He then dropped a bomb on me when he told me that he thought no girl would date him because he has autism…
I blurted my response out really quickly:
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are bright. You are gifted. And one day, someone is going to love you for exactly you are. When you find that right person… it will work, regardless if you ask her out or she asks you. And it will be wonderful. ”
I meant that. Every word. You see, my mentees are smart and have amazing interests. That’s why I know, when they find someone who has those similar interests they will be able to find a confidence in themselves that they may have never understood they had, and be able to thrive in relationships. Regardless of social quirks and being shy at times, each one of them has someone out there for them.
What I hope for his future is that any girl out there will take a chance on him, much like I hope any girl out there today would take a chance on me. Ask him out on a date, be there for him, and see what happens.
For those out there searching for love, it’s out there and you can find it one day. Keep looking, and when that person comes who you connect with, take a deep breath and pursue what may be. There is something in you that only you can offer in this world. Never forget that.