On Autism and Falling in Love: To the One That Got Away

“This time I want it all. I’m showing you all the cards. Giving you all my heart. This time I’ll take the chance. This time I’ll be your man. I can be all you need. This time it’s all of me.” — John Legend

To the One That Got Away,

I don’t know if you’ll ever come across this letter, but I wanted you to know that my life will forever be changed because I met you…

When I was 2 and a half years old, I had no speech. Growing up, I thought I’d never have a girlfriend. Then, I became a man who had, not just a girlfriend but also a Master’s degree and a full-time job. It was pretty incredible.

Then it hit me. Having you as my girlfriend didn’t even matter… having you in my life no matter the title was enough. You made my life better, and I wanted you in it. Even though we only dated for a short time, it felt like we’d known each other for years.

When I lost you, it felt like I’d lost a family member. I’ve seen so many of my previous relationships crash and burn because of me coming off as a jerk and me being so blind because of my issues not only with autism but with not understanding others and their needs.

I started to work on myself.

What could I do that I wasn’t doing already to improve myself to make you see things could be better? I started seeking help on what I could do to fix what had gone wrong in the relationship. I was determined, and during this time I learned a lot about myself in the process. I wanted a clean slate with you, but first I wanted to make sure I did right by you and learned the lessons I needed to to gain your trust again.

One of those lessons was about understanding you as a person. In relationships, you can’t control others; you can only control your own actions. My logic was flawed. My obstacle wasn’t supposed to be how to convince you to get back with me but how to understand things from your perspective so I could understand why things went the way they did. People come and go but you can’t force people into thinking things will change; you have to show them through your actions.

Even now, in the back of my mind, I still regret the mistakes I’ve made. It’s true what they say about not knowing a good thing till it’s gone. Of all the relationships I’ve had, ours was, by far, the one that meant the most. It’s still obvious to me how special you are.

Because of you… and the other 500 some odd awesome intangibles you brought to our relationship, I wanted to say thank you. Because of you, I’ve realized the standard I want for my future relationships. If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s that mistakes have consequences. This is one of the bigger consequences I will ever have to live with. I hope from this experience though I can come back stronger. As we move on, I just wanted you to know you are one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. 

I’ve never tried so hard to make myself better for anyone in my past. If I’m ever lucky enough again to have a woman as incredible as you in my life, I’m going to make it my mission to make sure she is treated like a queen and will be loved and respected.

As much as things went wrong, I wouldn’t have traded my time with you for anything. This one’s for you. The one that got away. The woman who made me realize how far I still have to go. The most beautiful thing about who you are is your heart. Thank you for bringing so much happiness to my life and now for showing me what I need to do in future relationships. I’ve spent so much time working on how to define my obstacles, and now more than ever, I want to define how to become a better partner to the people I care for. It’s a lesson I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life… Thank you for that.

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” — John C. Maxwell

For those reading this, regardless if you have autism or not, try to learn from my mistakes by trying to make a conscious effort to see things from your significant others’ perspectives. Every relationship is about that bond between the two of you. It’s easy sometimes to get lost in only thinking about your own needs but when that happens, you ignore your partner. Learn to invest in the people who mean the most to you. Respect and care for them because trust me, your relationships will be far better for it.

For all of November, The Mighty is celebrating the people we don’t thank enough. If you’d like to participate, please submit a thank you note along with a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to [email protected].

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