Help dealing with a dying NT-Aspie relationship
February 17, 2016 9:30 PM   Subscribe

In short, I am trying to help myself accept that I have to end my relationship with my boyfriend. Although he has never been diagnosed, I'm fairly certain that he has Asperger's (whereas I'm NT), and our inability to communicate with one another is taking a toll on my mental health. He is full of love and respect for me but has done things that hurt me and our relationship so badly, that I feel that I cannot recover at this point. Please help me find the strength and resources to get through this.

Hi. I know many of you will probably wonder why I have chosen to seek advice about something so personal from a group of strangers. Part of the answer is that I recently moved to a new town for a new job and do not yet have a strong support network here. Another part is that I cannot speak openly about many of my boyfriend's behaviors because friends/family would not understand and would think he was willfully taking advantage of me. And, to be honest, maybe the biggest part is that I have not been able to tell anyone about most of this and desperately need to get it off my chest.

I've been with my boyfriend for about 2 years. When we first began dating, I was overwhelmed by his quick-developing and pronounced devotion, respect, and love for me. He was a bit odd (e.g., wearing completely unmatching clothing, showing up very early or very late to meet me, droning on about several different seemingly disconnected topics but then never arriving at any clear point, waking me up in the middle of the night--4 am or so--because he missed me) but was so lovely that I found his quirks endearing. I really thought I had found the one for me.

But over time, and especially once he began to encounter various stressors in his life, some harmful behaviors started to emerge. There were at least 4 long discussions, for example, very early in our relationship in which he explained to me that I did not match the physical standards of what he had always imagined for himself in a partner and that he was afraid that one day he would go back to his old ideals and stop loving me because I could not match them. He said he could not sleep at night because of the agony this was causing him. It was pretty difficult for me to hear this.

Then he moved away for a Master's program. The distance from me was a major stress for him (at the time, he felt that he needed to see me constantly---as in, he would get anxious even if I went away to the store for an hour), and he also had a lot of trouble adjusting to not being first in his class. In fact, he was tormented by not getting all As and would frequently fly into fits of rage because he thought his professors were biased against him, sometimes even making racist insults about them despite me having told him repeatedly that I would not engage with him if he made those comments. Then, when there was a test, he would worry and despair for weeks in advance. On one occasion, in the context of telling me he was worried about an upcoming test, he casually told me that when he was in high school, he got a bad grade on a test and then tried to kill himself (but was saved by a family member who found him just in time). I was horrified by the possible implication (was he saying that he might kill himself if the test went badly???). After our conversation, and without warning, he shut off his phone and stopped responding to email/chats for two days (so that no one would bother him while he was studying). I was extremely concerned that something awful might have happened. When he finally responded to one of my chat messages begging him to please just let me know he was OK, he responded casually that the test had gone better than expected. He could not understand why I was so upset/worried.

When I flew out to visit him, he would often leave for the entire day to work on projects with peers at school to make sure he would get an A on his group assignments. He left me in his apartment, in a strange city, with no food, so I would go get groceries and spend the day at a coffee shop until night time. He never took me anywhere. But when he returned to his apartment at night, he would be so overjoyed to see me, clinging to me almost like a child. So it kept me hopeful that things would get better when he was done with the stress of the Master's program.

When he graduated (the program lasted under a year) and returned to the same city as me, I told him I was not ready to move in together but that he was welcome to stay with me while he looked for an apartment and job. For the first few weeks, it was a happy and peaceful time. We would go on walks, goof around, and the rest of the time, just sit and study side by side (I was a postdoc at the time). Although his personal habits often struck me as bizarre (sleeping at random times throughout the day but almost never at night, not eating for an entire day but then eating bags of junk food from 7-11 while I was sleeping), I felt comforted by him being there. And he could (and would regularly) go on and on about everything he loved about me. These expressions of love/gratitude/respect were so sincere, and it was clear how much he loved me and wanted me to be happy.

But then weeks and months went by, and he could not find a job. He grew increasingly anxious and emotionally distant. Eventually (and I will not go into the details here - too long a story), I found out that he had "borrowed" money from me, without telling me, at a time when I myself was living from paycheck to paycheck on meager teaching assistant wages. That was the one time I really lost it with him. I remember shouting "How could you do this to me?!" with tears in my eyes, and he had no response. He simply said that he needed the money, planned to pay it back, and simply lost track of how much he had "borrowed." He was not remorseful, though he did seem agitated and defensive that I considered him to have done something wrong. Later, when I would try to bring it up to ask how he planned to repay me, he would get defensive: "I already said I'll pay it back. I already said sorry. What more do you want? You are the only person I know who needs someone to say sorry more than once."

It was shortly after this happened that my own anxiety from the stress of our relationship began to reach unhealthy levels. But then my boyfriend got a job (finally- thank goodness!), so I urged him to move out. I thought that would help things. He did eventually move out; however, he gave me only a night's warning ("Hey, by the way, I'm moving out tomorrow."), which was itself kind of traumatic. Of course I wanted him to move out, but I didn't expect him to literally tell me the night before and then leave the next morning. Just before he left, he stopped, took my hand, and told me how much he loved living with me and that he hoped he'd have the honor of doing it again some day and growing old with me. It was deeply touching and left me feeling conflicted.

But then while I was away for an interview, he texted me that he had (apparently) only rented his new place for a month and now needed to move back in with me. So, when I returned from my interview, there he was again, with his roomful of dusty possessions and surrounded by junk food wrappers. Things went downhill from there. He was working full-time but had made no effort to pay me back the money he took. He was living with me without my consent. The day he was supposed to help me pack my last few things to move to my new city/new job, he instead borrowed my car to FINALLY go looking for an apartment for himself (though he did not find a place until over a week after I had moved away and had to camp out in my old apartment unti lthen). I won't get in to the details, but I ended up having a panic attack that day. It started with asthma symptoms and anxiety but got worse and worse until I blacked out and had to lie down. I have never had a panic attack or any mental health issues in my entire life, aside from mild anxiety. My boyfriend found me lying on the floor, but didn't know what to do, so he turned right around and left me there and went down to the street to call his sister and ask her what to do. He came back up 15 minutes or so later to find me even more distressed because he had left me.

Since then, I've felt extremely emotionally fragile. Disagreements with my boyfriend make me start to shake and have asthma symptoms, so I try to avoid any discussions about the money he took/how he'll pay it back, etc. He never mentions the money, the panic attack, or any other serious issues. He says that he doesn't like to talk about "negative things," though I've told him that I need him to proactively address what happened in order to rebuild trust and try to fix the damage that has been done. His own way of fixing things seems to be taking me to places that will make me happy. For example, he'll take me to the store if I need something and recently took me hiking. He comes to see me pretty much every weekend (he lives an hour away). I appreciate those things a lot, but I think it will be along time before I feel OK again.

I guess I haven't gotten into it much here, but I am nearly certain that my boyfriend has Asperger's, though he has not been diagnosed and would be (I'm sure) very defensive if I were to bring it up (he has been defensive in the past when I noted that he seems to have some memory problems). Despite having no formal diagnosis, I attribute many of our relationship problems to our inability to communicate with one another due to his being Aspie, and me NT. For example, he often does not express emotions or say sorry for things that hurt me and seems unable to take my perspective or spontaneously assess what emotions I'm experiencing. Meanwhile, I'm sure my need for him to reassure me that he is sorry about taking my money and plans to pay me back must seem irritating and irrational to him. I have read everything I could about making Aspie-NT relationships work/improving communication (e.g., I'm explicit about what I need and why and always try to frame things positively), but it does not seem to be working, and I feel that I have nothing left to give.

He loves me more than anyone will ever love me, is more committed than I've ever seen someone be to a partner, wants me to be happy more than anything else, but I feel like he just cannot give me the basic things I need. He did not even tell me good luck the day of my interview, even though I asked him over and over the night before "Please just send me a good luck text tomorrow, OK? It would really mean a lot to me to know I'm not alone." He later told me that he intended to call (a text was not enough, in his view) but then didn't call because he wasn't sure when my interview was (though I had told him many times). As for me, I feel that I am too sad and disheartened to be a good partner to him. It is hard for me to give him a sincere smile and laugh when I feel exhausted and full of pain from everything that has happened, and I know he is beginning to interpret this as me being disappointed with him.

Sorry, this is a disastrous post. I'm overcome with sadness that I cannot heal this relationship with someone who loves me so much. I need help coming to terms with this. If anyone knows of resources, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
posted by NeverGrowSoOldAgain to Human Relations (40 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think you should see a therapist. You describe a lot of things you were unhappy with and a lot of your boundaries being ignored. A therapist can help you process this loss and think about what type of relationship you want in the future. I don't think it matters if this dude is an aspie. For whatever reason, you were not at all ok with a lot of his actions but stayed with him anyway. Make a fresh start and do this for yourself.
posted by Kalmya at 9:41 PM on February 17, 2016 [19 favorites]

Oh, I feel your pain. I've lived your pain. I was with a man who said and did similar or in some cases the exact things you describe. And it is devastating. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, walking away. I can't even express how much it hurt to get out. I've had a pretty weird life and I've gone through some real shit but walking away from a man I truly loved who treated me like the way you're being treated - that tops my list of bad experiences.

I also suspected that my boyfriend had mental health stuff going on. That may have been the case, but the speculation wasn't particularly helpful for me. It let me justify a lot of his really mean, egregious, downright shitty behaviors, words, and actions. So I'd try to refrain from asking yourself the ever-enticing why question. In fact, Why does he do that? is the name of a really great book about men like your boyfriend - the why question is a siren song for a lot of us women in these situations. But what really matters is the how. How does he treat you? By your account, the answer is not great.

You say it's sad that you can't repair this relationship with a man who loves you so much. This is not what love looks like. You might love him very much - I loved my man like this so much it hurt - oh, boy, did it hurt - but love doesn't look like this. Would you treat someone you loved this way?

Best of luck. Take care of yourself.
posted by sockermom at 9:54 PM on February 17, 2016 [30 favorites]

I don't think this is about NT vs Aspie. I think you're stuck in the (impossible to know) assumption that "He loves me more than anyone will ever love me," and it's keeping you from really assessing the relationship honestly. It sounds like he loves you very much, and you care* about him, and yet this relationship isn't right for you. You've tried understanding him through the lens of a possible Asperger's diagnosis. You've tried modifying your communication to be really clear with him about what you need. And you're still not getting what you need. In fact, you're hurting because you've tried so hard to communicate, and he's not able or willing to change. It's possible that he is literally incapable of giving you what you need--and that would be sad, and it would suck, but it would be a very reasonable basis for ending a relationship. He might be a perfectly lovely guy, who genuinely wants you to be happy and loves you deeply, but if he can't meet your needs as a partner, he's not the right partner for you.

*Your description has a lot about how much he loves you, how devoted he is, etc. but nothing about why you love him. It seems like you're surprised someone loves you and wants to be committed to you, and almost like you feel obligated to love him back because he loves you. Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that's how this comes across to me. Focusing on your own self-esteem for a bit might help.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:03 PM on February 17, 2016 [30 favorites]

This man is incapable of a healthy, functioning relationship. He will hurt everyone who he is ever involved with romantically. There are many, many more like him out there. I think every woman knows of one (the ones who will *accidentally* hurt you). The wiser ones stay away. Now, is he still so valuable in your eyes?
posted by kinoeye at 10:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

I was about to write the standard "holy hell that is a lot of words for that short of a relationship" boilerplate but...

Ok, full disclosure. I was diagnosed with aspergers when i was in primary school. I went to a therapist for years, other stuff was tried, and i'm doing pretty ok now. Stuff like

very early in our relationship in which he explained to me that I did not match the physical standards of what he had always imagined for himself in a partner and that he was afraid that one day he would go back to his old ideals and stop loving me because I could not match them. He said he could not sleep at night because of the agony this was causing him. It was pretty difficult for me to hear this.

Is not ok. It doesn't matter why he's doing it. It matters that kind of thing is toxic. It's a backhanded and harsh insult to you wrapped up in thin cloth attempting to make it about himself.

Honestly, he sounds a lot like one of my former friends who also had aspergers and was a huge abusive controlling possessive jackass to several friends of mine he dated.

I could grab a bunch of pull quotes from here, like the money thing... But i don't need to write some gigantic point by point takedown to say: You are not a bad person if you can't deal with this. You are not obligated to put up with this because he's not neurotypical. He doesn't deserve that much more or seemingly infinite rope to reel out of your soul and treat you like shit repeatedly. He should not get to stuff you in to a tinier and tinier corner of yourself with his behavior.

I have been embarrassing and awful in relationships in the past. So have my non-neurotypical friends. None of us deserved forgiveness when we did those things.

I'm overcome with sadness that I cannot heal this relationship with someone who loves me so much. I need help coming to terms with this. If anyone knows of resources, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Heal yourself. It's not your job or obligation to heal him or this relationship.

Ok, on preview, i just gotta do one more.

Since then, I've felt extremely emotionally fragile. Disagreements with my boyfriend make me start to shake and have asthma symptoms, so I try to avoid any discussions about the money he took/how he'll pay it back, etc. He never mentions the money, the panic attack, or any other serious issues. He says that he doesn't like to talk about "negative things," though I've told him that I need him to proactively address what happened in order to rebuild trust and try to fix the damage that has been done.

This is just flat out fucking emotionally abusive in my opinion. I've dated someone like this, and so have many of my friends. He can be non neurotypical and a shitty partner without being a shitty partner because he's non neurotypical.

Seriously. Get away from this and take care of yourself. This person does not respect you or care about you outside of socially not getting some obvious things. Even at my worst, i still wanted to at least talk about what had went wrong and what i had done wrong and try and work on it. That avoidant behavior is something he shares with the "normal"(ugh) abusive people out there, including ones that ive heard about offline.
posted by emptythought at 10:15 PM on February 17, 2016 [90 favorites]

He loves me more than anyone will ever love me, is more committed than I've ever seen someone be to a partner, wants me to be happy more than anything else, but I feel like he just cannot give me the basic things I need.

All the evidence you've told us has shown this is completely false. He does NOT love you more than anyone ever will. He is NOT committed to you. He does NOT want you to be happy more than anything else.

Believe me when I say this. You deserve better than this. Please go see a therapist to reaffirm that this is NOT the relationship for you. It doesn't matter if he has a disorder, it doesn't excuse this behavior.

Leave this person now. Block their number. Block them online. Make sure they have none of your banking information. Make sure he does not have a key to your place. Call the police if he shows up at your door or contacts you unannounced. Treat him like a virus.

I am astonished at the horrible things that this person has done and you do not deserve it. You cannot fix it. It is not your problem. There is nothing wrong with you.

It will be amazing how good it will feel to find someone who truly does want to see you happy. You cannot do that with this person.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:55 PM on February 17, 2016 [16 favorites]

I'm confused why you framed this question as an Aspie vs. NT difference when there has been no diagnosis. Some of his traits and actions are reminiscent of autism, but it could well be something else.

Even if he's autistic, I don't think the problems in your relationship are due to your Aspie vs. NT difference. He's done toxic and abusive things to you. They have damaged your health. You are in danger and you're still thinking about salvaging the relationship.

When you say that you cannot heal your relationship, it seems to me that you think it's entirely your responsibility to sacrifice yourself, wave a magic wand and fix it, that because you think he might be autistic, he doesn't have to do anything. That is not so. There are so many loving relationships between Aspie and NT partners (I'm autistic and have only been in relationships with NT partners). What you're experiencing is not the norm for Aspie-NT relationships.

To answer my own question above, I think you are fixating on his possible Aspergers to have an excuse to forgive him for all the bullshit and not to end the relationship because for some reason that scares you.

It's your own choice to make, but this internet stranger suggests you DTMFA and get support for yourself.
posted by frantumaglia at 10:56 PM on February 17, 2016 [12 favorites]

Intentionally or not, this guy has worn you down physically and emotionally. The bursts of extreme affection only delay the inevitable. You cannot go on like this forever -- you will break up sooner or later. I recommend sooner, for your own well-being.

It will be very challenging to break up with this guy. Plan for that and accept it. If you think that he might harm himself, clue his friends/family into the situation so they can rally around him. Obviously, if it's imminent, call 911. But you shouldn't be the person holding his hand through the post-breakup pain.

I wish you strength, healing, and eventual happiness. You will get there. It will take time, but you will.
posted by delight at 11:04 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Preface: I'm diagnosed Aspie, and first thing's first: being aspie and being an asshole isn't mutually exclusive.

very early in our relationship in which he explained to me that I did not match the physical standards of what he had always imagined for himself in a partner

Noooooope. Nope. Nope. This is not something to put on your partner, full stop. If it was a real issue, he needed to deal with it by his own damn self and not made it your problem, which is isn't.

You don't owe him a relationship just because he says he's devoted to you. You say he's committed, but committed to what? Hanging around, sucking up all your emotional energy? To not give you a call when you needed one? Stealing your money? He's either incapable or unwilling to be a real partner to you. It doesn't really matter which.

This guy is bleeding you dry, and he will keep doing it if he's given half a chance.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:10 PM on February 17, 2016 [19 favorites]

Don't ask for the money back.

That money is well spent! It's what I like to call Fuck That Money (tm). It's whatever I have to pay to get effed up people or situations out of my life.

In this case, the amount of money this person stole from you without remorse is the price you paid to find out he is immature, a liar, and a thief. The lack of character you've described is astounding. He was deeply dishonest with you. There's... nothing to explain away. Everyone knows it is wrong to steal. He stole from you. That's a firm boundary, y'know?

I think you were shocked to find out who he really is. Anyone would be! What he did is shocking!! Anyway, it's a great idea to break up and go no contact. And like I said, the money is gone, but it was well spent.

I agree with someone up top. I think he is only worried about his ego and presentation to others, so you should expect shenanigans from him - threats to hurt himself, stalker-type grand gestures like showing up on your doorstep, etc.. He will use paying back the money as a way to stay connected. This guy is so narcissistic and obvious.

I want you to scrupulously collect everything of his in your home and mail it back to him. I want you to state in writing that the money was a gift and be clear you 1000% will not accept any money from him, ever. Cut all ties, seal off any tiny openings back into your life he might exploit.

I want you to tell your friends and family what he did and ask for their support. It's OK that you were in shock for a little while, it was shocking. You're seeing things clearly now. He stole from you, and he has zero respect for you, and it's over.

Cut this guy out of your life. Stay safe. You can do this.
posted by jbenben at 11:28 PM on February 17, 2016 [23 favorites]

He loves me more than anyone will ever love me, is more committed than I've ever seen someone be to a partner, wants me to be happy more than anything else,

..and then:

but I feel like he just cannot give me the basic things I need

This is the most important part. And if you ask me, he's a jerk-ass babyman who gives you panic attacks when you think about talking about your life with him.

Someone is out there who will love you tons more than this guy, including the basic things you need.
posted by rhizome at 11:35 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

I had an ex who would pull all sorts of mind games and then claim it was partly because she had Aspergers. It took me her dumping me (because I'd protested against her abusive words, most likely) and seeing her fuck over some mutual friends to recognize that it wasn't me being a failure, it was all her trying to justify her abuse.

So what if he has Aspergers? You don't have to put up with this. Get rid of him. Be the person that loves you more than anyone else.
posted by divabat at 12:06 AM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

I know a lot of guys with Aspergers, but that doesn't make them giant fucking assholes. You are massively over-relying on that as a cause for his failures as a relationship partner.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:19 AM on February 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

OK, so this is difficult to write but I may be able to give some perspective from "his side".

I had a relationship with someone who I loved deeply, we had a wonderful child and I desperately wanted to spend the rest of my life with this woman.

So over time I proceeded to make her unremittingly miserable

Why? Because of my own shit.
Did I want to? Of course not.

Did any of my intentions matter? Not one bit.

The Why is not important. He is abusive, he is not making you happy, YOU SHOULD LEAVE.

It is slow and laborious process for me to work out and work through why I couldn't make my Ex happy when it was the thing I wanted most in the world but it is not something she has any responsibility for. It is achingly sad that I would never do those things again and I have pulled my head out of my arse and taken responsibility for my own shit but this is NONE of her concern.

But NONE of this progress, NONE of the good I have achieved, NONE of the regret I feel will ever make up for the unhappiness I caused and her leaving was the second best decision of both of our lives. She seems much happier (I went minimal contact) I am much happier and surprisingly my daughter is much happier.

Am I a bad person? I don't know. But I was a terrible partner and that was and always will be my own damn fault. As she said "Amazing father, shitty boyfriend"

So, does he mean it? I doubt it. Does he wish he was nicer? I would assume so. Does any of that matter NOT AT ALL. You should leave, for both of your sakes.

He is abusive, you deserve better and you will find happiness with someone who not only wants to make you happy, but WILL make you happy.

Keep Safe. There are many resources for abused women and domestic violence; avail yourself of them and get the fuck out of dodge. He can deal with his own shit like he should have been doing from day one.

Good luck.
posted by fullerine at 12:35 AM on February 18, 2016 [21 favorites]

A very old friend of mine fits your description of your boyfriend, in fact you could have been describing the 2yr relationship he had with a good friend of mine. I tried for 2 years to help them both, as I care very much for them both and ended up convinced the only solution was for them to split up. I say this to qualify my advice: end the relationship and write off the money as a loss.
Whether he has a form of autism or not is not the issue, as others have pointed out. In fact it is not helpful to speculate if he has Aspergers, as this makes it harder for you to end the relationship ("he can't help being this way... with the implication so I must put up with it).
You are not a bad person for not being able to deal with him and his behaviour. It is sad and allow yourself to grieve for what could have been.
My good friend separated from him, and this was very hard because he did not grasp or did not want to grasp what she was saying, eg that the relationship is over, and she found herself a therapist and worked through the issues (trying to save the other person at the cost of her own health and sanity was a major one ) and today in fact they have resumed a somewhat normal social relationship (we all move in the same social circle still) but only after clearly drawing the line.
posted by 15L06 at 12:51 AM on February 18, 2016

This sounds so difficult for you, I am sorry.

To be blunt, I think you should get away from this relationship as fast as you can. He does not "love you more than anyone will ever love you". There are other, better, healthier men out there... men who will think you are beautiful. Men that don't say hurtful things and aren't cold toward you. And men that won't STEAL from you.

You deserve to feel happy, desired, loved and cared for in a relationship. He said you "do not match his physical standards"? I think you need to figure out that he does not match YOUR behavioral and inter-personal standards!
posted by fourpotatoes at 2:30 AM on February 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

One of the signs of an abuser is that over the top devotion at the start of a relationship, which this guy showed, and the extreme declarations of how much they love you, more than anyone else could ever love you, whenever they do something shitty and you start to think of leaving. A person does not have to physically beat you up to be an abuser. Like others, I do not think the possible Aspergers has much to do with this. I've known people on the spectrum who are not the kind of manipulative asshole this guy is. He is using and abusing you. There are much nicer men out there who will treat you decently, he is not the only man who will ever love you and you do not owe him anything at this point. Get away from him now. He will try to guilt you into staying with his declarations of endless love, but the way he treats you has nothing to do with real love.
posted by mermayd at 3:18 AM on February 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

If his telling you to your face that he's not really attracted to you isn't a dealbreaker, then his (entitled, making it your problem because you want an apology LET ALONE REPAYMENT) theft should be. This is NOT the best you can do. He is NOT the best you can do, and in the future you'll probably feel he was the worst you ever tried to put up with.

You don't have to settle. You don't have to be treated this way.
posted by tomboko at 4:25 AM on February 18, 2016 [11 favorites]

There were some great answers last time you posted about this thieving cocklodger back in August. Decathecting in particular had lots of great advice. Please go back and read them again, and get this terrible person out of your life.
posted by tinkletown at 5:09 AM on February 18, 2016 [9 favorites]

Note that while we Aspies may have trouble being good partners for all sorts of reasons, if we care about someone, we are capable of LISTENING and TRYING to do better by them.

You have not mentioned a single time this guy has taken your complaints seriously, tried to understand you, or attempt to resolve them. You, meanwhile, are bending over backwards to try to understand him and put up with crazy shit like stealing from you and using your home and vehicle as if they were his.

Stop. You can't be with someone who treats you like this, and he has made it very clear that he's not going to change.
posted by metasarah at 5:36 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

My thoughts from my perspective and experience:

I'm sorry, but it's not true that he loves you more than anyone will ever love you. It makes me sad to read that you feel that way considering his behavior toward you reflects disrespect and does not demonstrate love. It reminds me of myself. Do what you need to do to get yourself to have more faith in yourself - From this post, I get the sense that you're generous, hardworking, thoughtful and have a great moral compass. It appears to me that you have to deal with some issues of self-esteem (we all have them!!) if you believe that nobody will ever love you more than someone who treats you this way, takes advantage of you, and doesn't bother to respond to your needs. Therapy will DEFINITELY help (it has worked wonders for me) as well as treating yourself better to show that you are worth it. Part of that means dealing with your boyfriend in a way that enhances your health, wellbeing, and enjoyment of life.

I may be selfish to say this, but regardless of his diagnosis, it appears that he is not willing to work on these issues which reflects a certain lack of commitment to the relationship, and whether this lack is intentional or pathological may be irrelevant because you are not getting what you need. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It is detrimental to your emotional health and wellbeing. Sadly, I think you have to let him go. You will be healthier and happier in the long run, and maybe he will find someone whose needs he can meet.
posted by bengalibelle at 5:41 AM on February 18, 2016

Yes, it sucks to have Asperger's (I do, and I was certainly a crappy early 20s boyfriend), and the complexity and high stakes of being in a relationship for someone with makes it rational for him to try to reduce the unpredictability of the relationship. The way he's trying to do it is by controlling you. The correct way for him to do it is by learning who you are and what you're likely to be thinking at any moment.

He's not going to be able to change from one behaviour to the other during the course of this relationship. If you feel the need to improve him, the only thing that you can do is tell him very unambiguously how badly he's mistreated you, then leave and never look back.

You don't get second chances once you've broken someone as much as he's broken you. The second chance he's allowed to get is to sort himself out and have a fulfilling relationship with someone else in the future. He has nothing for you and every contact you have with him in the future will take things from you and give nothing back.
posted by ambrosen at 5:45 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sorry, resources

To find a therapist, there are lots of options. If you have insurance, you may want to contact your insurance company to get a list of mental health providers (which includes psychologists/therapists). You may want to first be seen to treat this anxiety (doesn't mean medication - but to have it assessed so you can demonstrate need for therapy for insurance purposes).

If you don't have insurance, you can go to SAMHSA's treatment locator, type in your Zip, and there are search parameters you can enter. SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration under our federal government in the US (so this is only useful if you reside in the US...sorry :-( )There are ways to find sliding scale or low cost options for treatment providers, and you can select for outpatient psychotherapy. You can also call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to reach them via phone. There are also ways of obtaining financial assistance for medical bills here at the Assistance Fund depending on your eligibility. Or, but I haven't tried either of those options, so I don't know how easy they are to navigate - I just know at the national helpline we work at, we have vetted these as viable resources for locating financial assistance.

If you want to be a little more active in finding therapist descriptions which suit you (which I have found to be helpful), you can try Psychology Today. You type in your zip, and then it provides a list of providers. On the left hand side, you can filter for insurance provider as well as other filter options.

I wish you the best.
posted by bengalibelle at 5:50 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

1. "I don't want to be in this relationship any more" is a perfect reason to break up with someone. Regardless of whatever issues they may have.

2. If his frankly bizarre behavior -- telling you he's in agony about your body type, stealing from you, ignoring you, taking off on you, moving in and out randomly, refusing to discuss your concerns -- does not bring you to #1, then dear internet stranger, you have some work to do here. This is not what partnership ever looks like. I'm pretty sure without clicking that I said similarly in August.

3. If you mean that it's possible will never bizarrely fixate on you like this again, that's possible. But that is not love.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:06 AM on February 18, 2016 [9 favorites]

He loves me more than anyone will ever love me, is more committed than I've ever seen someone be to a partner, wants me to be happy more than anything else

No. These are toxic stories that have grown between you two. These stories are a trap. I suggest therapy as a way for you to challenge these stories and move beyond false images into living more authentically. I think developing skills in assessing people's behavior as it actually is, rather than as you want it to be, will be wonderful for you.

In terms of not living authentically, I think the cognitive dissonance between what you want to believe (your stories about the relationship) and the way you are actually being treated (horrible violations of your boundaries) is causing your extreme anxiety and exhaustion. A large part of you is rebelling against his treatment of you, and that part is in conflict with the part that calls his abuse "love."

You've heard of fight or flight, right? It's a protection response to threats to your survival. You're being abused by this man and much of you recognizes this and wants to run, far away! However, you're pushing that part down, denying it with stories, and instead your flight response is manifesting as panic.

The panic attacks are warnings signs, a form of protection, telling you to get away from him, to stop trying to believe this is all you deserve. You deserve so much better!
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:32 AM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

You sound like a very caring and empathizing person who really wants to make this relationship work because it has a bunch of features you should want/have wanted in the past/see lacking in other relationships. Just because you care about him and can see where he's coming from does not mean that this is a relationship worth fighting for. It takes two people working together for the benefit of the relationship (and each other) to make a relationship work. You're one person desperately trying to get your boyfriend to give you what you need and it's not working.

I'm autistic and I've been an awkward garbage partner sometimes but if my partner was having multiple panic attacks because I kept pushing her boundaries, I'd (at very least) change my behaviour to be less of an asshole. Your boyfriend has chosen not to do this despite you stating what you need as clearly as you can. If he loved you "more than anyone else ever will", he'd listen to you. He's chosen not to do that. Don't excuse his crap behaviour by saying it's part of being autistic/asperger's because nowhere in the diagnostic criteria is "be an asshole to people who love you and take advantage of them and gaslight them about how their emotional needs are illogical when they call you on your shit". It doesn't really matter WHY he's being such a jerk, just that he's not the person you want him to be and that sucks and you don't have to stay with someone who is so clearly wrong for you.

You don't need to stay with someone who makes you feel this shitty and who isn't trying hard enough. You deserve someone who will listen to you when you state that something bothers you, who will at very least ask you instead of taking things from you, who thinks that you're cute just as you are, and who treats you as a person. You deserve better than him and you can find someone who is openly loving with you without hurting you so much.

I'd encourage you to consider therapy because relationships like these tend to mess with self-worth/self-esteem, anxiety, and communication in a much longer-term way than you might think. Your support system sounds pretty sparse and you're probably gonna need some emotional support as you untangle this mess.
posted by buteo at 6:33 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

He seems to love you in the way that a child loves a parent or a security blanket, selfishly and insecurely -- not romantically the way an adult loves another adult. He demonstrably doesn’t care about you, he cares about having you be available to him, to provide the feeling of security he (and everyone else) likes to feel.

Your entire relationship is predicted on making sure he gets what he needs (housing, comfort when he wants it but not when he doesn’t, and no needs or demands from you ever, no matter how reasonable) and this will not change. His feeling this way has nothing to do with you — his behavior is so selfish and so unaware, I sincerely doubt he’s capable of anything more.

Sometimes feeling like someone wants you around, however selfish their reasons, is better than the alternative — that nobody wants you around. But that’s not the real alternative — there are people who will want you around, and treat you well. And the longer you’re in this kind of relationship, the more it undermines you, warps your thinking, makes it hard to imagine you deserve any other kind of relationship.

You deserve better and can have it. Please see a therapist to help you understand this, and please stop seeing this guy.

PS: When you do end things, be prepared for him to make things very difficult — remember that he’ll be reacting not of love for you, but out of fear and rage at the prospect of losing his security blanket. Don’t let your sympathy for him crowd out your sympathy for yourself.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 6:37 AM on February 18, 2016 [21 favorites]

Suspecting that he may be on some spectrum is not an excuse for him treating you like shit.

I Am Not Your Psychiatrist, so I don't know that my comparison is relevant, but I've been diagnosed several times with some level of general anxiety, which made me anxious, but one specialist said something to me that really struck home and made me feel better about myself, which was that most people have some level of anxiety, and that those who completely lack anxiety are usually thought of as sociopaths. It's all about how we, as individuals, make efforts to manage it, such that we can build meaningful relationships with others and not unduly criticize them about their physical appearance, or make passive/aggressive attention-seeking suggestions about committing suicide, and abandoning you when you go out of your way to visit, or STEALING from someone you claim to love... and all that other shit you've had to put up with.

Maybe my comparison between anxiety and Asperger's is off-base, I dunno.

But when it comes down to it, you are not happy, and your line of thinking that nobody will ever love you as much as he does is really a bad way to be thinking about yourself.

I could go on, but I'll just summarize it with ... sometimes you have to look after yourself.
posted by Diag at 7:17 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

That he loves you or may have loved you doesn't matter one little bit because he's either incapable or unwilling to act like a loving partner. And guess what? There's no worth in spending your time distinguishing between incapable and unwilling.

I spent a lot of time wondering if my ex's behaviour was intentionally abusive or just broad autistic phenotype stuff, but ultimately it didn't matter - regardless of the catalyst, the outcome was me feeling like I'm too worthless and unrelatable for someone to love properly. I wish I had DTMFA ages ago because the entire experience left me alienated from basically everyone around me. Please leave ASAP, you don't want to become me, that's really expensive to fix.

In the future, though, try to avoid getting too involved with non-neurotypical people who haven't demonstrated that they give a damn about managing the ways that their ASD/ADHD/etc might impact their relationships. There's lots of people who aren't NT who are nonetheless able to adult and own their behaviour, and they make great partners and friends. The ones who aren't there yet? No, don't do that to yourself, not even once.

Bonus round: you might appreciate this week's Ask Polly. Long story short, people who refuse to take responsibility for their stuff can and will make you feel like a terrible person for expecting more from them. Never ever forget that.
posted by blerghamot at 7:20 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

He loves me more than anyone will ever love me, is more committed than I've ever seen someone be to a partner, wants me to be happy more than anything else,

1. This is you feeling bad about yourself, not a reflection on how he feels about you at all. You are a person worth of real love, not this bullshit. If you weren't involved in a relationship with someone who treats you this poorly, perhaps you could find someone who truly loved you as much as he loved himself.

2. He is not committed to you. He has already pre-told you his excuse for when he eventually dumps you for someone he thinks is hotter than you. He is certainly willing to be with you as long as he can continue to take advantage of you, but that's not a long term thing.

3. Wanting someone to be happy in a relationship context means actively working to support their happiness. It doesn't mean stealing their money, refusing to discuss it, refusing to discuss anything negative, not doing even the smallest possible supportive things, even when they've explicitly been asked, etc. Theoretical wanting is bullshit. What does he actually do to help you? Things that he are easy for him to do (hiking, etc) but which aren't things you actually need from him (honesty, openness, etc) don't count.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:25 AM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Lots of great advice here. The first thing I recognized upon reading your post is how little you said about YOU actually loving HIM - your favorite part of the relationship was always that he loved you so much; yet his actions were very inconsistent. I completely empathize that it is hard to leave someone who shows you so much affection at times - especially if you subconsciously deem yourself unworthy) but this piecemeal distribution of "love" is the very crux of your problem. These breadcrumbs of hope - his erratic displays of "love" - that are nearly irresistible for you to latch onto actually become the painful, arduous destruction of your self-esteem and self-worth as you know you want a healthier relationship but live for a flicker of hope that burns you every time.

I remember staying in these types of situations when I didn't trust myself to be alone or couldn't bear to be alone and when I stayed I felt horrible and when I would think about leaving, I would worry that finding another "love" was an impossibility.

The harsh truth is, there are no guarantees you'll ever find love again - but guess what? You don't have it now either.

As far as resources, here's an odd one: I'm going through a breakup of my own, and prior to posting the question to the hivemind I already knew how they would respond, and I rationalized it to myself that "other people don't understand the complexity of my feelings! Our history! Our Love "

But the truth is relationships can deteriorate over time and self-deception is incredibly powerful. Reading other people's stories, like yours, and seeing how obvious the answer "appears" from the outside is helping me take a more objective look at my own situation. Perhaps that could work for you as well.

Stay strong and I will too.
posted by asmith30 at 7:29 AM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

I am a woman with HFA, but on the higher end of the spectrum, and I recently ended a confusing relationship with a fellow who has undiagnosed Asperger's and let me tell you...the lack of theory of mind/desire for a caretaker and a lover/anxiety and clinginess/bluntness/selfishness/mimicry to the point of personality snatching/sneakiness and lack of boundaries was enough to make me want to murder him. At first he basically laid out "this is what I find attractive" same as your fellow. I don't think I would have tolerated it for long except that I can relate only slightly to him (or used to...I wager my developmental delays are not as severe as some), and I had a brother who behaved similarly, but he was definitely on the lower end of the functioning spectrum, to the point where he barely functioned. There were definitely a LOT of moments of "why the HELL would you do that?!" that was met with a blank stare or defensiveness. But he was also sweet and seemed to love me to the point of obsession (which I needed at the time), showered me with very pointed gifts, which after a while got really...creepy. After a while it was obvious that he just NEEDED a girlfriend.

I honestly don't know how this relationship would work other than for you to become a caretaker. I got the fuck out of there, and I recommend you do the same, unless you basically want to become both his mother and his lover.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:38 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

This sounds a lot less like love than dependence. And, in fostering situations where you aren't getting attention from him unless it's on his terms, he's pushing you into codependency -- you crave affection and attention, and he's withholding it. Love isn't just showering someone with affection when it benefits you.
posted by mikeh at 7:47 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

You are attributing a lot of very good intentions to him which are preventing you from seeing him in a negative light. What if he didn’t have good intentions at all? What if he really never thought about love the same way you do? What if “love” to him is like enjoying a video game or a tasty snack and he only loves you superficially or for what you can do for him? Do you feel like he really knows you at all? Do you feel like he has an interest in you, sees the real you? Or is he the important one and you’re just the accessory? And, okay, let’s say he does have good intentions but is functionally acting exactly the same as someone with evil intentions. The result is the same! Given the same amount of time, your life will be exactly as it would be if you were in an intentionally abusive relationship (FYI I think most abusers are not “intentional abusers” in that they always feel like they’re justified, always feel like they’re the needy one. I question whether such a thing as evil intentions really exists, or at least isn’t extremely rare. Mostly people who do evil things are thinking something along the lines of “I deserve this because I’m weak and they’re strong. They can give something to me. I deserve it. It’s not that bad. They can take it. She doesn’t know what’s good for her but if I don’t let her wear those clothes it’s really helping her in the long run.” Etc.)

It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t deserve to always be the caretaker for others. It’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to be the one who needs to be taken care of. It’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to expect others to help you. It’s okay to recognize that others are good people who need help but not be able to be the one who helps them. Someone else with more resources can help them. And yes, someone else with more resources is out there. You are not his last chance.

Imagine you had a child. If a very kind and well-intentioned person was doing something to your sweet, innocent little child that made them tired and stressed out and feel taken for granted, even if that person had the best of intentions, would you swoop in and get your kid out of there? Yes, you would! You have that instinct to protect. Everyone does. You just won’t use it on yourself! Because you think you don’t deserve it. Well, you do. Put yourself in the place of that child and swoop in to get yourself out of there.
posted by quincunx at 8:29 AM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another thing to consider: It sounds like what he needs is healthy boundaries and someone to let him know, straight up, when he's being inappropriate. You may be exactly the wrong thing for him. Your kindness and understanding is probably not actually helping him, sadly. Maybe being kind of blunt and cold and reacting with anger and shock to comments like "you're not my physical type" would be teaching him more effectively. Maybe breaking up with him is the lesson he needs.
posted by quincunx at 8:38 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

What? No. Drop the amateur diagnosis. Asperger's syndrome in high functioning adults is little more than a constellation of specific personality traits that occur in a cluster. Yes, a couple of the things you mention might possibly make up part of a diagnosis, but NT people pretty often have a trait or seven that fall on that end of the spectrum, and vice versa.

Much of the perceived inappropriate behaviors that people on the spectrum exhibit are really just projection. Everyone projects their personal preferences onto others, but people notice it more when they are minority preferences. ("I left you alone because in those circumstances, I would want to be left alone," or, "I communicated bluntly and directly because that's what I prefer.") But really, many high functioning adults on the spectrum are probably more conscious of the fallibility of projections than NTs, because their preferences aren't as normalized.

A reasonable, high functioning adult on the spectrum might behave in ways that are unusual to you sometimes, but he personally freaks out if you leave for an hour, then he leaves you alone all day in a strange city? Nope. That's not Asperger's. That's just gross thoughtlessness, as is theft. People all over the spectrum do things like that sometimes. That's just selfishness and thoughtlessness.

If anything, I'd just diagnose him as an entitled dude who thinks that your role (as a lady? I forget if you mentioned that, or if I'm assuming here) is to support him without reciprocation.

Stop making excuses for him. The problems you're having are not symptoms of Asperger's. They're symptoms of assholery.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:36 AM on February 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

I have no opinion on whether he's on the autism spectrum and I don't think it matters much, but did you know that "maybe he's autistic" is a REALLY common excuse women make for their abusers? I learned that from Why Does He Do That, which you should download right now and read immediately. This book changed (saved?) my life.

And are you familiar with the term "cycle of abuse?" That really dramatic, romantic part where he makes you feel like he loves you more than anyone else in the whole world would ever be capable of? Where you're the only one who understands him and he makes you feel like your love is some kind of mythological incomprehensible love for the ages? That is not proof he's not abusive; in fact, it supports the idea that he is abusive. That is PART of the cycle. It's ESSENTIAL to it. Otherwise, if he was just a demeaning thief 24/7 there is no way you would stay. He has to give you that hit of melodrama and elevated romance to keep you hooked so he can get away with his shit.

I'm not saying he is doing this with any awareness, or even malice, but that's how the cycle works.

You don't have to think of him as an evil person with no redeeming qualities to admit he is abusive. Of course he has good qualities; of course he has reasons for being how he is. You can feel bad for him if you want. But you don't have to put up with it. You don't want a lifetime of this. Do you?

I worry about this warping your self-esteem and your ideas about love. A grown man stealing from you and saying you aren't hot enough for him is not romantic, even if he sometimes clings to you like a child.
posted by kapers at 9:38 AM on February 18, 2016 [11 favorites]

I commented on your last post about this dude, so, to reiterate: I'm pretty familiar with Asperger's. Most of the things you're describing are not Aspie Things, they are Abusive Things. Even if they were just Aspie Things, you are still 100% allowed to end a relationship that's making you miserable. I recommend checking out Captain Awkward's Darth Vader Boyfriend tag, especially the post that inspired the concept. Also relevant: this post, which contains good, concrete steps for ending a dysfunctional relationship (skip straight to the answer if the question is too triggering).

You already live in your own apartment in a different city, so hooray! That may make things a bit easier. You totally have my permission to break up via email or phone or text, rather than in-person. He's been pretty crappy to you and you don't owe it to him to hash it out face-to-face. You can block him on all platforms, and send him an email saying, "We're broken up now, bye forever" in whatever idiom suits you.

I have been in a couple of bad relationships where I spent ages agonizing, and feeling guilty about wanting to leave, and drawing up pro-and-con lists. In both cases (one actually abusive, one that just wasn't working), I so much wish I had left sooner. Because the breakups were really, really hard, but mere weeks later, I felt the most overwhelming rush of relief and lightness and joy, because I finally didn't have that stress in my life, and could function. The liberating thought I kept returning to was "What if this just wasn't my problem anymore?" My subconscious knew the relationship was over, it just took a while for my conscious to catch up.

It's OK to feel sad, and it's OK to miss him. But I don't think you'll regret breaking up with him, in the long run. The first couple of months are gonna suck, I won't lie to you. But then you really will decompress and then feel so, so much better. Seriously: what if this just wasn't your problem anymore?
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:24 PM on February 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't ask for the money back.

That money is well spent! It's what I like to call Fuck That Money (tm). It's whatever I have to pay to get effed up people or situations out of my life.

I know i already posted, and i know i could just click the +, but this really needs to be restated.

Do not give him shelf space in your mind or heart as someone to be angry or resentful about because he didn't pay you back. Imagine if you could pay like, a neutral arbiter to come out and objectively look at the situation and tell you it's fucked. Imagine you paid them the money he owes you.

I have been in this situation. I've had money i gave in good faith not repaid and money just taken from me. I've had priceless heirlooms and items stolen by shitty people. I tried to recover the money, or the items. I've even had that person try and rally their or my friends around them saying "emptythought doesn't deserve that money back because of ArbitraryReason/ThingTheyDid" and try and make that sound logical.

All chasing after it does is tie you to that shitty person and tie you to their shitty game playing. It gives them an in to your life, and gives them space within yourself to still stress you out and wreak havoc and ultimately control you.

Did it hurt and suck having $LargeAmount taken from me when i wasn't making very much and that was a TON of money to me? Yea. Did i work through it and recover? Yea.

I would write that money off. You'll eventually have to anyways, and if you get it out of the way now you'll save yourself a lot of grief, anguish, and drama from having to engage with him to try and get it back.

If you get a letter in 5 years saying "I found our lord and savior Jesus Christ and i'm atoning for my sins, here's the money i took from you" then it's fucking party money. If you don't, well then, you didn't waste time and emotional energy(which you're probably low on right now!) expecting it back.

My friends think it's weird that whenever fucks me out of possessions or money i just go "eh, whatever, now i know what their deal is" almost instantly. When the reality is, you almost never get that stuff back. It's so much healthier to just write it off as fuck you money IMO.
posted by emptythought at 1:16 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

he could (and would regularly) go on and on about everything he loved about me. These expressions of love/gratitude/respect were so sincere, and it was clear how much he loved me and wanted me to be happy

There are plenty of other men out there who will charm your ears with empty words while they use your apartment, car, and bank account. This guy isn't even doing to well on that if he tells you multiple times how he doesn't find you attractive.

If you've heard of the Five Love Languages, it sounds like yours is Words of Affirmation. This can be an unfortunate love language if you get attached to the wrong person -- talk, as they say, is cheap.

In the future, you will be better served in life by looking at people's actions even when their words say all the right things.

In general I've found people with aspie traits to be very responsive (by this I mean that they change the offending behaviors) to discussions of their behavior. People who repeatedly defraud, hurt, or abuse others I have found to be much less responsive (whether or not they have aspie traits).
posted by yohko at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2016

« Older The baby/toddler next door screams more than what...   |   Semantics of the word Negro Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.