The fear and pain of rejection can be a very difficult time for anyone. Add someone who’s on the autism spectrum and it can be almost unbearable. The two cases of rejection I see the most in my peers are…
- They avoid a relationship all together because of the nerves of being rejected.
- They have made an attempt to ask someone out and have not been successful. After a few rejections they have lost the self-confidence to succeed in future attempts.
This has become a challenge I’ve been presented with in mentoring high school students with autism who are trying to find there very first relationship. Dates are very much taboo to them when I bring them up in conversations. One tactic I’ve used was presenting some of them with my book ‘Autism and Falling in Love’ that discusses my challenges and successes trying to find love on the autism spectrum.
And that’s just the start of the challenge. For those who have been able to go on a date, a 2nd, and than sometimes finding a relationship partner have been presented with issues with communication, intimacy, and the ability to understand the perspectives of their partner among other difficulties.
Than, one day, a bomb dropped on my lap while having a talk with one of my mentees. While discussing relationships he said…
“Kerry, how do you expect ME to be successful in a relationship when you, my mentor, are single?”
I had the biggest lump in my throat for the next few seconds. I started thinking a mile a second about my own personal experiences with dating just at that moment…
No one gave me a blue print on how to find a relationship when I decided I wanted a girlfriend when I was 18. I had to go out there and talk to girls. That for me was one of the most important things I could do. Have friends who are girls, have conversations with them, and than, at some point, having the comfort in talking to the opposite sex that I could potentially go out on a date with one of them. But after a lot of trial and error, I was able to find my first relationship a few months later. She ironically was the head cheerleader and I was the varsity basketball captain.
Although it didn’t work out between us, I’ve been on countless dates and had several relationships since. That was the reason that I never gave up hope on finding that special someone. For those who have someone on the spectrum who is thinking about dating, take my story and advice to heart. We all have someone out there who will love us for who we are.
And that’s why I brought up to my mentee. We do have someone that will love us for who we are out there. I added that there’s nothing wrong with being single either. One of the leading autism advocates in the world Temple Grandin has never been wanted to be in a relationship. That’s just not her preference and she is ok with that. And that is perfectly fine too.
My advice for my mentee and for all reading this is simple. Get out there, talk to people, build your social skills, have good hygiene and learn how to listen extremely well. When you ask questions, you get to learn more about an individual and a lot of the times if your key interests match up well to theirs. I always recommend roleplaying different scenarios with a family member or friend. Scenarios such as; asking someone on a date, asking someone to be boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Also, if you don’t feel comfortable with face-to-face interactions at first look into online dating websites. You may be surprised to know there are dating sites specifically for people with autism today.
And very lastly don’t be afraid of rejection. There are millions of people in the world who are single. Don’t give up hope. I’m currently single today and I think that rings true for me as well. I know there is someone out there, maybe even reading this article right now, that will want to reach out to me and get to know me better.
The future is bright and no matter the challenges that face you next, I hope you are able to find nothing but happiness in your life.