Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gentlemen of the autistic spectrum: don't be that guy

I've met some fantastic Aspie blokes, both in real life and on the internet.  They're clever, talented, witty, gentlemanly, decent human beings.  They're good value.

But there is a small minority who aren't.  And for them, I have a message:

No, I won't sleep with you just because we're both on the spectrum

Because there's a small subset of Aspie men who seem to expect that of Aspie women.  I first encountered this phenomenon when I signed up for a big, busy autism forum, using an obviously feminine username and a picture of Cassie from Funky Squad which was my avatar everywhere at the time.

When I next logged in, I had half a dozen personal messages from forum guys.  Some were polite, of the 'hi, you look friendly, want to get to know each other better?' variety, which was sweet if a bit premature when I'd only made one post and for all they knew I could be an axe murderer.   Others were more... forward.  One informed me that I had a moral obligation to sleep with him for the future of the Aspergian master race.

RomantikBy all means send someone a note to say that you think they're interesting and you'd like to get to know them better.  But references to the continuation of the species are not appropriate the first time you make contact, even if you would like to eventually do the horizontal tango.  Try initiating an actual conversation, something like "Hi, I saw your post on X.  I think [thing related to X].  What do you think?"  Show some interest in them as a person, not just as a potential source of sex.  If there's chemistry, it'll happen.  If there isn't, going straight to the biological isn't going to help.

I replied to most of the messages (not the master race guy) because I was young enough to be flattered by the attention and optimistic enough to think it might actually lead to something.

The next thing that struck me was how quickly some of these guys tried to escalate the relationship.  One was talking about travelling from overseas to meet me before I'd even told him my real name.  That's not romantic.  That's scary.  That's a big flashing warning sign with a klaxon sounding.  For heaven's sake, just slow down.  You can't force a relationship to develop more quickly than is natural by sharing too much about yourself too soon, or through sheer volume of contact.  And you risk scaring the other person away if you try.

All these chaps happened to be people with whom I had absolutely nothing in common other than a diagnosis.  Our political leanings were very different, as were our tastes in TV and music.  There were significant religious differences, too.  There was nothing to base a relationship on.  What would we even talk about?  So, it really felt like they weren't interested in me, as a person, at all - they were just after an Aspie lady, any Aspie lady, and I happened to be one.  But a relationship needs more than that.  And no woman will be swept off her feet by "you'll do."

This phenomenon is unique is a very, very small group of people.  Most of the autistic blokes I know are great guys.  Some are in long-term relationships, some are doting dads.  And they don't deserve the occasional creep giving them a bad name.

So don't be that guy.