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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Is it Possible to be Happily Partnered as an Autistic Adult?

I wasn’t sure I’d date again. Well, that’s not quite right. I knew I could go on dates. I wasn’t sure I was capable of being in a long term relationship.


I found out last year that I’m autistic. It made a lot of disparate nonsensical aspects of myself and my life make sense - especially how much difficulty I’ve experienced in relationships.


It made sense why I’ve had little trouble starting relationships, and much trouble after about two weeks.


It made sense why my dates got so frustrated with my varying levels of emotion. They were intoxicated by my enthusiasm and excitement, then perplexed and frustrated by my low energy and frequent need to recuperate.


It made sense why I had different expectations of others than others seemed to have of me.


Many, many other components made sense. It also made me wonder if I would ever be able to be in a successful, happy long-term relationship. I wasn’t sure if:

  1. I could find someone I liked enough to remain interested in

  2. Someone would like and tolerate me well enough

  3. I could tolerate being in a relationship


I still tried dating though. Given I don’t run into many people in a day (and of those few they are mostly my therapy clients), I decided to try online dating.


It felt foreign and difficult. Neurotypical or neurodivergent, I think most people find online dating to be difficult.


Conversation after conversation, date after date, I began to feel more and more confirmed in my worries that I wouldn’t find an adequate partner.


I knew if I were to ever find someone and acclimate them to my life, they better be absolutely worth it. I spent a lifetime compromising and I was done.


I had a strange list in my head, but a list nonetheless. My list was so long that I resigned myself to being single.


Furthermore, I know it’s about more than a list. It’s about finding someone that you can share a life together. Enrich each other and discover new things about the world and each other. To develop with time.


Regardless, I knew it would be a hard thing to find. Furthermore, I had come to love my single life so much that I simply wasn’t willing to give it up if the person did not meet the above.


In many ways, I had also become prideful about my single life. Proud that I could provide myself with everything I needed. Proud that I could be happy on my own. Proud that I had made a life fully my own.


Autistic Art Therapist Jackie Schuld shares a sketch of a mole and duck together in a den.
"Happily Partnered" Illustration by Jackie Schuld

And then I did meet someone.


Where it felt natural. Where it felt easy. Where each time we talked I found another item on my list. When we finally met in person, it was even better than our endless text conversations.


I’m still in shock. Every single one of the above was met, and thensome. Part of me feels like it has to be a little nod from heaven for it to have worked out this nicely.


When I’m with him, it feels so natural that I forget I’m an autistic in a neurotypical world. I don’t feel othered. I feel belonged.


This is a more personal essay than I typically share. I usually choose to not share about my romantic life. However, I’m choosing to share this essay because I want other autistics to know it is possible to find someone who appreciates who you are as an autistic person. Who can roll with your quirks and unique ways of being. I also want fellow autistics to know they don’t have to compromise with subpar or unhealthy relationships.


It is perfectly fine for us to remain single, but is also possible for us to be happily coupled.

 

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