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When I Was Honest About My Autism in My Online Dating Profile

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Do you remember the old saying that there are plenty of fish in the sea? Well, I’ve had a hard time accepting that the past couple of months. In the process of losing a special girlfriend, I fell into a bad place. I thought she was amazing. In my efforts to work on myself to show her I could be better, I wrote several blogs about our relationship — “The One That Got Away” was featured on both The Mighty and The Autism Society of America’s blog.

During this time, my self-esteem was at an all-time low. Out of all the women I dated, this one clearly mattered the most to me. But I learned you can’t wait to see how things are going to turn out; you need to live your life the best you can and let whatever will be, be. I needed to move on and make sure I didn’t make the same mistakes twice.

That’s when I entered the world of online dating. It was something I’ve always encouraged my mentees with autism to try. It seemed like a good alternative for those who have difficulties with face-to-face communication. For me, communication with my peers, no matter the method, now comes easily. It wasn’t always this way. Being able to speak on a national level about my life with autism gave me the opportunity to build confidence in who I am.

With the end of this break up, though, I wanted to try something new and something I’ve advocated for in our community for years. I decided to try it for one month. I started off with eHarmony and later joined, OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel.

As the trial month went on, I noticed both positives and negatives to the online dating scene. First, there’s no guarantee when you reach out to someone that they’re going to contact you back. This was probably the hardest part of my experience. How do you make that amazing first impression? I tried many things: I complimented photos, asked questions about interests listed on their profiles, told jokes, etc. The first week was definitely the most challenging of all because nothing seemed to work. I was beginning to lose hope.

When I thought all was lost the “aha!” moment happened inside my head while I was pitching a story to a local news station about my giving a speech about autism awareness at J.P. Morgan. I had a moment of clarity. I didn’t need a gimmick. I didn’t need a pick-up line. Maybe I just needed to tell them who I was. Who I really was.

I start telling these women my story — how I was nonverbal until I was 2 and a half, how I was diagnosed with autism at 4, how many people thought I may never have a girlfriend, how now, at 27, I’ve become a professional speaker who’s had several relationships. It was just a shot out of the dark. “Why not?” I kept telling myself. What do I have to lose at this point? I sent my first message to one woman on eHarmony before I went to bed, and at 2 a.m. my email ring went off on my iPhone with a response.

“Jasmine wants to get to know you.”

That moment right there was enough for me. The next day we started talking, and even though we ultimately didn’t end up dating, that wasn’t my last message on a dating site. The next day, I sent out more messages; more and more women were responding positively.

I’ve begun talking with a few amazing women, and I have to say, I’m excited to see what happens next. My confidence was low, but the best lesson I think I learned from a rocky and shaky couple of months is that there’s a right person out there for everyone, you just have to be willing to work on yourself and be true to who you are and what you have to offer.

For those on the spectrum, I hope you hold that dear to you every day. We all have our quirks out there, but at the end of the day you have to be comfortable with who you are before you can expect someone else to do the same. Be who you are, love who you are, and ultimately, whether it’s in a relationship or not, you will be happy with your results every time.

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Originally published: January 27, 2015
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