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Why It's Hard to Find a Boyfriend as an Autistic Woman

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When people ask me why I don’t have a boyfriend, I often get offended. Guys don’t exactly fall all over me once we meet. In fact, their immediate reaction tends to be “I’m not interested,” which is very hurtful and dismissive. It’s as if the one thing I would like most in life seems too far-fetched. Although I don’t hate being single entirely, some days I wish a had a partner to spend time with. My friends and family are a lot of fun to be around, but I yearn for a romantic connection with another human being. My lack of success makes me question my self-worth and if I’m truly ready to find someone. I’m about to turn 23 years old and I’m getting tired of waiting for the right guy to walk into my life.

I wouldn’t say I’m the most gorgeous, attractive and alluring woman in the world. I know I’m not ugly, but sometimes I don’t feel pretty. Wearing glasses almost my entire life has made me feel insecure. Beyond my appearance and the fact I have autism, I’m worth someone’s time. I’m just trying to navigate through the dating world in the most concise way possible. When men tell me that they want to go out on a date, only later to ghost me or bail, my feelings become extremely hurt. What men don’t realize is that the heart is a delicate organ and that it can be damaged very easily. I don’t treat guys disrespectfully or patronize them, so I don’t know why I’m coming across so many jerks who enjoy deceiving me. Sometimes how you treat other people in life has no impact on how they’re going to behave towards you.

If a man wants to be rude to me, I usually just walk away. There’s no sense in engaging in conversation if I’m not going to be treated fairly. I think that in a relationship, men often seem to act as though women are their possession and they must be obeyed. But I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work. Women are human beings, not some trophy to be won or chosen. Treat us the way we deserve to be treated and we will gladly do the same.

I think people say mean stuff all the time without realizing they’re being rude. At the end of the day, others return to their personal lives and the hurtful things they’ve said to another person usually don’t cross their mind. I feel like sometimes it’s the anger inside speaking and not the actual person. Men seem to have no clue that each time they reject me, I lose a little more hope that I’ll ever have a normal dating life, much like a non-autistic woman.

When I let guys know I’m autistic, they aren’t very understanding. I’m usually dismissed immediately – or they let me know they aren’t looking for a girlfriend. How am I supposed to respond to such treatment? I understand why men are apprehensive to date autistic women, but if you don’t give me a chance, I can’t prove myself worthy of your time. I may be more difficult to understand and relate to than non-autistic women, but that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of learning.

Being a female on the autism spectrum comes with many cons in the dating world. I actually take notice of the rude stuff people say to me, or behind my back,  though some autistic women may not be able to understand that they’re being targeted and judged. I don’t think it’s ever OK for a guy to be rude to a girl if he’s not interested in her. Just simply letting someone you don’t want to get to know them is a better way than ghosting a girl or asking someone else to be your personal messenger.

I believe I act very respectfully towards men I go on dates with. Yet, I probably could ease up on the fact I scold them for being late. What I need guys to realize though is that I have a busy schedule too, and waiting around for someone is not fun. If you’re one of those guys who says: “I’m not going to lead you on. I promise I’ll show up,” and then fail to commit, you’re basically lying. It bothers me most when men think it’s OK to use their charm and good looks to vindicate their obnoxious behavior.

I want sincerity and more than one opportunity to get to know someone. Sometimes it feels as though a guy thinks more than one date is a life-long commitment when really it is not. It’s just two individuals hanging out and seeing if there is a romantic connection. If it doesn’t work out between us, we can go our separate ways and I promise I won’t hunt you down and harass you. I would expect guys to do the same. If it’s not meant to be now, it may not work in the future. There are so many men out there looking for the perfect woman when she may be standing right in front of them. If you friend zone me instantly after finding out I’m single, I’m not going to take that lightly. That’s pretty much you saying: “Hi, nice to meet you. Bye!” I think that’s quite dismissive and again you aren’t even giving me the chance to show you who I am.

I’m tired of everyone telling me: “Keara, you’ll find a guy when the time is right!” I’m not getting any younger and each second, month, week and year that goes by, I’m left still wondering if indeed there is a man out there in this world for me. There are thousands of suitors I could pursue, but even so, it’s hard to meet single men. People don’t usually go around advertising that they’re single. You could meet someone through an online dating app, friend, family member or at school, for example, but none of those resources have worked for me. What’s difficult for me is seeing other people fall in love and not knowing when I will find my happiness. Of course, I’m thrilled for friends and family who find their soulmate, but I really wish one day that would be me.

People always brag about how good it feels to be in love. I have no clue what that’s like because I’ve never experienced true love. Most of the time, my guard is up and I’m hesitant to trust people. Guys don’t have a good way of letting me down easily when they aren’t interested. This usually ends in me getting my feelings hurt and them eliminating me from their lives. The person who does the rejecting often does not care as much as the person they let go. Some guys seem to think women are disposable and they can dump a girl one week, and then pursue another the next. I don’t think that’s how dating should work. Once you get more than one party involved, things become even more complicated and jealousy starts to kick in.

There’s always the option of an open relationship, one-night stand, or friends with benefits, but that’s personally not for me. I want to know my future partner is committed to me and no one else. It would be hard to compete with a bunch of other girls. After all, everyone is trying to one-up themselves all the time. Why don’t we take a break from that and leave the drama behind?

There’s more to me than being autistic and having anxiety and depression. Inside, I’m much like any other woman on the brink of giving up on love. But I feel pain very physically when a guy breaks my heart, even if it’s unintentional. It’s easy to hurt someone’s feelings, but harder to admit you’ve made a mistake. I see flaws in a large majority of men and it’s sad to see that guys pass up on opportunities to get to know truly wonderful women such as myself. If a guy rejects me, I’m not going to sit around and wait for him to come back. I’ll go find someone else. Even if I get rejected once again, at least I’m trying to put myself out there.

By writing this story, I’m not asking others to feel sorry for me, but what I do want is sympathy and reassurance that dating will get easier for me. I believe human connection is difficult for individuals because it requires so much effort and mutual understanding. It takes two individuals to make a relationship work and two to cause it to fail. If you’re an unfaithful liar and cheater, a long-term relationship probably isn’t for you. I feel as though more women want a romantic relationship than guys. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it depicts how men and women often act in the dating world.

I truly believe guys have the ability to invest in a romantic relationship if they put their heart and soul into it. I think what they’re most concerned about is being disappointed or having their heart broken. I would love to see more men invest in relationships, rather than hookups or one-night stands. Maybe then, this would break the myth that guys in their 20s just want intimacy and don’t care about having a girlfriend. Make a connection that matters — not one that is forced because you want to have fun. There’s no sense in leading someone on, only to let them know later you aren’t interested in a relationship. If you want a hookup, say that and if you want something more permanent, tell them.

When it comes to determining whether or not someone is the right person for you, I think it’s important to ask yourself, “could I see myself being committed to this individual entirely or does my heart belong to someone else?” If you aren’t sure, ask someone who knows you well. I think love can be deceitful because sometimes you think you’ve found the right person, and then the relationship takes a turn for the worse and everything falls apart.

It’s easy to become wrapped up in a web of lies someone tells you only to mess with your mind. I believe finding love is always going to be difficult for autistic women in general – whether it’s a gay or straight relationship. Just because someone knows you have a disability doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to adapt and be supportive. I don’t think many men know how to react when I disclose my disability. It’s definitely shocking for them to hear, as I am mostly just seen as socially awkward. However, some people are able to detect I’m autistic right away.

I have to accept the fact that I’m not going to have men begging for my time and affection, and it will always be challenging to date. I’m a complicated woman who knows what she wants in a boyfriend. I’m not afraid to break a few hearts if it means I’ll eventually find my Prince Charming. I care more about my dating life than I will admit to my friends and family. I feel I should have an honest say in who I date. Don’t we all feel this way?

Ultimately, I think I’ll be OK if I never find the love of my life, but waiting for him to finally present himself is going to be hard. Each year I age, I realize it’s one less year I have on this earth, so I’m hoping to speed up the process a little. Most people in their 20s have had several relationships and I’m inexperienced, which is both embarrassing and upsetting. Some of us end up losers and I’m afraid I’m one of them most of the time. I want single men out there to man up and give an autistic girl such as myself a chance. I deserve to find someone as much as anyone else does, so why not take a risk with me? Maybe the next man I go on a date with will be my knight in shining armour and my forever. That’s for us to decide and I really wish that there was someone willing to join me on this journey. Will fate ever lead me to the man of my dreams or is it just a myth? Until that happens, I’ll continue hoping and wondering.

Getty image by Millan.

Originally published: August 27, 2018
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