Valentine’s Day is coming up in a few days. Many couples will spend time with each other in social activities ranging from an expensive dinner at a nice restaurant to ordering Chinese food and watching a movie at home.
Due to difficulties with social and communication skills, there are some with Aspergers who feel distressed about not being in a relationship. According to a study done by the Redpath Center of Toronto, only 32% of adults on the spectrum have ever had a romantic relationship vs. 50% of the adult neurotypical population.
Although the statistics sound gloomy for those with Asperger Syndrome, for those who are part of the Millennial Generation, those born between the early 80's to the mid-90's, they are in similar company with their neurotypical peers. A 2016 poll by Gallup, an American research and survey company, shows that 59% of Millennials are single and never married. The trend in the United States has been away from marriage to the point that the number of adults who are not married almost equals the number of adults in this country who are married.
Sadly, there are still stigmas in some social circles against being single. For example, I have read stories of those interviewing for clergy positions being turned down for the job solely because they did not have a romantic partner.
Recent research shows that single people lead just as fulfilling lives as those who are in a relationship. Here is a link I found highlighting different benefits from being single including having more in-depth relationships with friends, having better sleep and being less likely to be in credit card debt.
For me, I believe one of the reasons I can hold down a job despite my disability is because I am single. Since I do not have a girlfriend, I can devote more time to being a better employee and improving myself. Not having a girlfriend allows me to write on the side about exciting subjects. If I were to have a girlfriend, I do not believe I could hold down a job.
True, there may be a little part of me that wants a romantic relationship. However, I question what part of this desire is something I want versus what society has conditioned people to fall in love and get married because that is what everyone does. Although I do have concerns being alone in old age, I do not believe marriage will be the answer to this loneliness. As long as I have friends and family who can be there for me as I age, that is what matters.
I encourage parents, guardians and other trusted adults to communicate with a person with Aspergers that they can be just as complete a person being single as being in a relationship. Even though I have never had a girlfriend, I know enough that relationships are nothing like what is portrayed in romantic movies. In real life, being a couple takes a lot of hard work, which can be taxing for someone with limited social capacity. For example, I imagine most girlfriends would not be happy if their boyfriends sat in their room all day playing video games and ignored them.
Another thing a mature adult should point out to someone with Aspergers is that not everyone on Facebook is in a romantic relationship. The statistics point to many young adults being single. Help them find a social group where those on the spectrum can make friends based on a common interest. Let the friendships develop naturally. If they fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, that is great, but if they do not, the person with Aspergers will have a group of people to do social things together. Again, the key is to let the romance develop naturally.
There is nothing wrong with being single this Valentine’s Day. Use the time being single to focus on a hobby and make new friends. At least you do not have to spend money on chocolate or come up with a silly love poem.
What is your experience being single with Aspergers? Comment in the section below.
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