Teen Years: Autism and Relationships: Your First Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Being autistic/Aspie means we naturally struggle with social interaction.  Although we can improve this over time, through trial and error and masking (which is basically acting the same as a neurotypical person), it will always be a difficulty we face.  Because of this we find making any form of new friendship or relationship tough.

None autistics/Aspies (neurotypicals) will, for the most part, naturally have a large friendship group and chat with new people on a daily basis.  They will have lots of intricate friendships/ acquaintances that we would never be able to form.  As for us, we will usually have one or two very close friends, and may greet/acknowledge other people, but nothing much more than that.  Meaning our base point for starting a new relationship is much weaker than the general population.

All of which means it will be harder for us to find that perfect partner, as we will not have as many relationships that we can easily build on like everyone else.

Temptation to Take Risks

Because of our difficulties, in finding a new partner, we may be more susceptible to take risks or to allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. 

Such risky tactics may be to ask someone out as a boyfriend/girlfriend, without even getting to know them first. Which can work, but will usually result in rejection and the outcome of which will negatively impact your self-esteem massively.  This will usually lead to you even less willing to take risks in the future.  Another would be to ask a friend to ask someone out for you, which will also be a bit risky for a similar reason.

You may be tempted to date someone much older than yourself.  This person will be much more experienced at forming and nurturing relationships, which means you can let them take the lead.  Which can, and sometimes does, work out but there can be massive risks in terms to being taken advantage of under these circumstances.

Another risk may be to date someone the polar opposite to you.  The kind of person that has many boyfriend/girlfriends and moves from one to the next one often, and without much thought.  Which will often result in heart break.

Then there are the ultra-risky methods such as dating apps.  It is so easy for someone to pretend to be someone they’re not for short periods of time.  Dating apps do have their place, but are often only recommended as a last resort. It is worth mentioning that there are dating apps that exist specifically designed for autistics/Aspies such as Hiki.

Give it Time and Take Smaller Risks

Usually the best way to find a partner is to wait rather than rush.  It feels like it will never happen and sometimes it can take a very long time.  But it will happen.

If it doesn’t happen at school there is a much larger chance of it occurring when you leave.  When you finish school you will probably go to sixth form, college or work.  Where you will meet a new set of people.  After this, university and so on.  Meaning that the people who you form friendships with (and closer relationships) will certainly change.  You will have to make new friends, which means you will meet other new people too.  You may also meet up outside of college/work; such as going to cafes, pubs, night clubs, into town or take part in clubs or sporting activities.  All of which will bring new opportunities to form new relationships.

Being autistic/Aspie means we need a lot of recovery time and like to have periods of time alone.  We also like routine so often don’t like, or feel we cannot manage, any new social activity in our lives.  But we do need to mix things up a little in order to give ourselves the best shot of finding a new partner.  We have to go outside of our comfort zone to get to know new people.

Ways of Meeting New People

There are lots of ways to meet and get to know new people.  These include:

At a school age:

  • Going to youth clubs or after school clubs/lessons
  • Joining a group or volunteering in Scouts/Rangers
  • Going to places like shopping centres/malls with your friends
  • Join a religious group
  • Work or volunteer part time

At college or university:

  • Many more after college/uni clubs are available
  • Go out to pubs and clubs with friends, if you’re old enough of course!
  • Go to coffee shops
  • Go to events like the Fresher’s Fair
  • New people will be on your course and quite often, in the first few weeks, you’re really encouraged to get to know the rest of the group.
  • If living in halls you will meet new flat mates

Nearly everyone at college/uni will be in the same position as you, where they are looking to make new friendships.  So you can often, especially at the start, just let people make friends with you without putting much effort in initially.

First Date Ideas

It can be challenging when you’re autistic to know what to do on a first date/meeting.  This can be even more troublesome if you have not got much money.  For the first couple of dates it is best to just get to know each other a bit more.  So anywhere that you can have a conversation without much pressure is a good idea.  Another good idea, if you are not keen on eye contact initially, is to sit at a place like a bench where you are naturally side by side.  If you feel your safety is at risk always follow your gut instinct and either cancel, or put measures in place such as letting someone know who you are meeting and where. 

Places you can have your first date include:

  • A nice local park or outdoor space (where you could walk, chat and maybe have a drink)
  • A coffee shop
  • Out to local pubs, sitting indoors or outdoors
  • Cinema
  • Picnic
  • Bowling (although it can be overly noisy)
  • Shopping Centre/Mall (preferably at a quieter time)
  • Mini golf
  • Museum, Zoo or Theme Park
  • Restaurant or McDonalds (fast food)

If you know you will find it too difficult to spend time interacting with one person initially, it might be worth double dating or just meet up with a few friends.

Final Thoughts

Finding your first partner when your autistic/Aspie can be very difficult, but not impossible.  Life events and changes happen that will almost certainly mean you will meet new people in the future and more opportunities to form new friendships and relationships will come your way.  When it does happen, and you meet the right partner, it will be more than worth the wait.  Although it is tough, you need to push outside your comfort zone sometimes and make new friends first.  Interacting with new people will definitely increase your ability to get to know other new people and put you in a much stronger position when you meet your first potential partner in the future.

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