Affection and autism
February 18, 2020 12:55 AM   Subscribe

I have a crush on a friend who probably has autism. They (afab) and I express affection in different ways. We will need to talk about it but they’re not emotionally expressive, which I mirror. Please advise.
posted by Sterros to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's not much detail here about you, your friend, the relationship or what you want out of it, so it's difficult to advise! One thing I'll say is that it can help to be explicit about flirting specifically. You can do that without killing the vibe! It can be very flirtatious for someone to say 'by the way, I'm flirting with you'.
posted by Acheman at 3:24 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

State what you feel in clear language. I suspect I'm on the spectrum (no formal diagnosis due to age/assigned gender) and one of the hardest things about navigating dating in my late teens/early twenties was the fact that I had no clue when I was being subtly hit on or flirted with. I missed a lot of opportunities because I couldn't read those subtle social cues effectively enough to act on them. Do your friend the kindness of being unsubtle about how you feel, and don't forget that your own scale for "less subtle/more direct" (assuming you're neurotypical) might not be aligned with your friend's scale of what counts as subtle vs what counts as direct. I would not have been in the least offended if people hitting on me ten years ago had been very blunt with me about what they were interested in, but they weren't, and thus I had no idea I was being flirted with.
posted by terretu at 5:52 AM on February 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

What exactly is your question - what problem do you foresee when you broach this subject with your friend?

Also, this makes it sound like you have a crush and they don't. That is, their expression of affection will likely never feel enough to you, regardless of their emotional expressiveness. Are you sure this isn't part of your dissatisfaction with their love language style,?
posted by Omnomnom at 6:32 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's really not clear what you're asking at all - I was expecting there to be any level of detail below the cut, even just another sentence or two. However - if you want to discuss something with someone on the spectrum, it's generally okay to be pretty direct and clear. For the autistic folks I know it really helps to have people lay things out clearly, especially about emotional matters.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:40 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nathan Selove and his wife have done some videos about dating and autism. I've found his videos in general helpful when I was trying to get to know someone on the spectrum, but especially these ones.
posted by assenav at 8:24 AM on February 18, 2020

I think even if your friend isn’t on the spectrum, being direct about this is the way to go. Rip that band-aid off! If she doesn’t return your affections, I think it’ll be easier to maintain the friendship if you’ve been direct about your desires and have heard a clear “no.”
posted by eirias at 8:31 AM on February 18, 2020

"Hey, I love hanging out with you and I'd like to be more than friends. Do you want to go on a proper date with me?"

Wait for response. If it's not emphatically positive (ie, they are hesitant, unclear): "I totally understand if you want to stay just friends, I'm happy to hang out with you either way! What do you think? You can take some time to think it over if you want."

This works on anyone, regardless of neurodivergence / neurotypicalness. Clear, direct communication about what you want, emphasizing that the other person is allowed to say 'no' without repercussion, and giving them space to respond in their own time are all great practices in any relationship. Neurodivergent people (me) can be very blunt or clueless, but can also have difficulty sorting out their feelings and saying 'no' because of social anxiety / past experiences.
posted by 100kb at 8:57 AM on February 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure how flirty you've maybe been / aware of the crush they are, but when I was in a situation where a friend and I were flirting a lot (but in kind of ambiguous "ahhhh you're so cute" "no you're so u cute" ways) and I started having real crush feelings, I was just very direct. I said "hey, this is really fun and it's okay if that's what it is for you too, but I think I have a real crush and I wanted to tell you". It gave us space to talk about some of the different complicated thoughts we were having.

(We've been dating for about 6 months now btw)
posted by augustimagination at 11:10 AM on February 18, 2020

Note: afab means “assigned female at birth
posted by blueberry at 7:00 PM on February 18, 2020

Response by poster: I’m sorry, I wrote the question differently but then I deleted it and rewrote. More details:
-they are a close friend and I feel like I can’t lose the friendship. It feels dishonest to not come clean about it.
-there is a history of mutual attraction that never came to fruition.
-they spontaneously kissed me (an extremely out of character action for a person who is usually allergic to physical affection) then started seeing a new person the next day. It is not a serious relationship. They are not partners.
posted by Sterros at 7:45 PM on February 18, 2020

"Would you like to go on a date to x place with me?"
"I gotta be honest, I have a pretty serious crush on you. How do you feel about dating me?"

Like...just say it. The problem is not their lack of expressiveness, the problem is you're going to have to risk that "no".
posted by Omnomnom at 10:25 PM on February 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not worried about the "no," Omnomnon. I expect the "no." I just want to keep the friendship without losing the possibility for more.
posted by Sterros at 2:37 AM on February 19, 2020

I was in a similar situation and asked my friend if she'd like to date me via text (with a preface that I had a question, to make sure she was free to text for a bit, and I think I sent a funny gif or something after I got the "no" to convey that we're cool). We both have difficulty expressing emotion and I preferred not putting her on the spot by doing it in person, especially since I expected the "no" but needed to actually be told it. We are still good friends.
posted by momus_window at 1:38 PM on February 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

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