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Everything I Wish I Knew About Dating

Updated: May 10

Dating in the 21st century is a minefield as it is, without the added complication of an undiagnosed neurological condition. For the first twenty-nine years of my life, I was a confused mess. Then I became a confused mess with diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. I know that the modern-day term is Autism Spectrum Disorder and is changing to Autism Spectrum Condition, which is a fabulous idea, because we all love change and deal really well with it. I don’t mind what you want to call it but there’s a spectrum and I’m on it.


When you get diagnosed with something like this, an all-encompassing brain disorder, you quite quickly think you understand all the parts of you it affects. It turns out those obvious qualities, like punctuality, obsessive interests, and a propensity for supreme awkwardness around other humans, are the crisp tip of a mile high iceberg. I discovered Asperger’s to be the reason for many of my shortcomings and my talents. Welcome to my latest blog series. A weekly story of everything I really wish I’d known Asperger’s would affect, and how. The main segments of life a guidebook would have come in handy, mostly for reading, but occasionally for swatting away unwanted pests.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of the day a man would sweep me off my feet. We’d be married in our twenties and live happily forever with our swarm of kids. Never did I think to question whether that would happen. It’s what people did, why would the trajectory of my life be any different?


I wish I’d known that not everyone is the person they serve up to you the first time you meet. People lie. Some people maliciously, although not as many as the internet will have us believe. The internet paints the world as grim and bleak and full of cartoon villains. I’ve done the research, and people are nicer than they’ve ever been. There’s less crime and death, we just hear about more atrocities than ever because of the immediacy of the global media. Asperger’s seems to attract the small percentage of villainous thugs with sharp teeth and menacing green eyes. Some people lie in a way that isn’t all fairy-tale wolves and old witches. Sometimes people don’t know they’re lying. And if they don’t know they’re lying, that iceberg in the arctic will catch fire and set the earth ablaze before I know. People everywhere on the autism spectrum are vulnerable in the dating world because we take people at face value. It’s a wonderful quality to have. I would rather think everything is squishy marshmallows and pink candy floss than be filled with cynicism and assume the world is a smoosh of grey, grey, and more grey.


There are games in the dating world but no rule book. If I start talking to someone who lives near me, I generally want to meet straight away because I find messaging anxiety-inducing, exhausting, and confusing. I’m slowly learning that this is not acceptable behaviour unless you’re desperate for a quick shag or a sparky fizzy relationship that burns hard and fast and is over before you can say ‘fairy-tale ending’. I gave up with dating apps because everyone who lives within a mile radius of me wants to text for months before meeting. What purpose does this serve? I find this entirely nonsensical. I’d rather be in the real world than talking to people on dating apps. You know, binge-watching Black Mirror or going down a rabbit hole online about what inspired Tom Six to make The Human Centipede.


Something I hear a lot as we’ve descended into a world of tech is, ‘dating apps are the only way to meet people’. Being the transparent pane of gleaming glass I am I believed this to be true for years. Never quite grasping the hyperbolic nature of the English language. I wish I’d known about society’s use of words and the lack of nuance in my interpretation of it because we in fact do live in a tangible world where we encounter other humans every day. If you really want to meet someone, I’m sure someone will come along at the right time whether you’re on an app or you meet them at your local library - the only place I frequently find myself.


I wish I’d known what constitutes flirting. This is another tightrope. How often I have been accused of flirting with people and been entirely baffled as to why. Perhaps because of my open-bookedness (I made up a word). And because there are so many rules I don’t understand, it makes it difficult to know what’s acceptable. Another pitfall I’ve fallen into twelve too many times, is not realising when someone is flirting with me. I think everyone is my buddy. I think that lingering hug is a sign they are my best mate. I think their questions are because they are being friendly. And then there’s the way I flirt. In the past if I fancied someone, I would tell them. What’s the point in being coy when you could miss out the confusing stage of trying to convey you like them? Mostly this has led to relationships or situations with some of those villainous thugs I was talking about earlier. Now I have been diagnosed and I am learning about myself and the impulses I have that aren’t socially accepted, my way of flirting would be remembering something important they said, like a birthday or date coming up that is meaningful to them. Or remembering their favourite film and bringing it into conversation. Who knew memories were so sexy?


The Manic Pixie Dream Girl fantasy is something I wish I’d known about. As I’ve grown older and - arguably – wiser I have noticed a pattern. Men find me intriguing. I used to love this. But now I wonder whether people fetishize my eccentricity. The things that make me different to other people entice men to begin with, despite me trying to warn them it’s a difficult life to become involved in. They insist they can handle it, almost dismissing things I tell them about myself, and then the novelty wears off and they realise it’s not all being a bit quirky and interesting with bright hair, tattoos, and lots of interests. It’s all the other stuff that comes with it. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl fantasy has been shattered by anxiety, meltdowns, and a need to be away from sunshine and bright lights to recharge my batteries.


Sometimes it feels like I am a child let loose in a sweet shop. The predicaments I get myself into and the problems I have to work myself out of. I look grown up and responsible and adult. But I feel like a child, and I wish I could hold my mum’s hand on dates because I struggle to interpret situations, and my mother is far better at conveying what I want to say than I am. I wish I understood how vulnerable I still can be. I am a child running around kissing boys and believing them when they tell me they love me.


Now I am diagnosed, into my thirties, and sober for a good while, I am going through a nauseatingly fast growth spurt of the soul – how dreadfully bohemian of me. The things I thought I wanted - the kids, the house – I shudder at. I yearned for these things as a child because they were what ‘normal’ people did. Tasha Oswald at Open Doors Therapy says, ‘Many individuals with high-functioning autism feel immense pressure to conform to social norms.’. Now I am older I feel incredibly lucky that I never got married young. It would have resulted in me buying a house and having kids, i.e. a nightmare. For me and my mother, who supports me so much daily that if I had a baby, it would essentially be my poor mum having a baby.


I am having so much fun now I’ve been single awhile and I’ve regrouped at home with my parents. I am pushing forward towards goals and achieving dreams I’ve had for years, all because I know who I am now. I never could have done that in a relationship. I am so fulfilled by living life for what feels like the first time that the absence of romantic love in unnoticeable.


Having to relearn life to fit around my actual needs has been liberating. I feel free for the first time and there is no more running bewildered towards things because I see everyone else doing it and assume it must be what I want. I move with purpose now. As said by Tasha Oswald, ‘Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can do is work on yourself first and honor where you’re at in your life’. I wish I’d known this sooner but am having an absolute belter now I do.


Worth it.






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6 commentaires

Very proud of you!! 👍🏻

En réponse à

Thank you ♥️


Beautiful words as always and very enlightening 😌 so proud of you. Xxx

En réponse à

Aw thank you you ♥️ xxx


Hannah, this is such an enlightening blog. It is such a useful piece, because there are so many insightful things to learn about what makes people with Asperger’s/ASC ‘tick’, as it were. There’s just not enough knowledge out there regarding these syndromes/spectrum conditions, even for people who may have a little knowledge, like myself. Or at least, I thought I did. But now I believe that there is so much more I can learn, in order to be more appreciative of what life might be like for a person living with it. Thank you for publishing this, it’s a brave thing to share your vulnerabilities publicly. I believe that your future blogs will also teach us how beautifully creative and…

En réponse à

Thank you, this is really good to hear, I'm glad you enjoyed it ♥️

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