Popular films and TV shows like The Big Bang Theory & Silicon Valley have helped increase public awareness of Asperger syndrome (AS), a form of autism that affects social skills and can make everyday conversations challenging. And for those hearing about AS for the first time, these portrayals might create the impression that people with Asperger’s only want to talk about their narrow range of interests and don’t care about getting to know others.
But that’s not the whole story. While it’s true that people with AS may sometimes seem aloof or disinterested in others, they can also form strong and lasting relationships.
For example, people with Asperger’s may want to share their interests with family to connect with them, but they might not know how to start a conversation or keep it going. Many people with AS are employed and have successful careers, they love open communication, spaces and nature, and they’re often very creative.
The problem is they find it hard to start or keep a conversation going. Additionally, they may have difficulty reading nonverbal cues, such as body language or facial expressions. This can make it arduous to know when someone is joking or being sarcastic. They may take things too literally, so a casual remark like “I’m starving” can make them feel like the food is needed immediately. But again, these challenges don’t have to get in the way of developing positive relationships.
The good news is people with Asperger’s can learn social skills and tips for interacting with others, just like anyone else. And with patience and understanding from family, friends, and romantic partners, people with Asperger’s can have happy and fulfilling relationships. It is highly recommended that couples seek therapy together to learn how to communicate best and connect.
In therapy, people with Asperger’s can learn how to read social cues, manage anxiety, and resolve conflict. They can also practice conversation skills, such as taking turns talking, making eye contact, and using appropriate facial expressions. On the flip side, family members can learn vital lessons such as speaking clearly and slowly, avoiding slang and metaphors, and being patient during conversations.
Another important step in building and maintaining a relationship is sharing interests. People with Asperger’s often have very specific and intense interests that they can discuss at length. While this might not seem like the basis for a healthy relationship, it can be a strength. When both partners share an interest, they can bond over discussing that topic. And when one partner is interested in learning about the other’s interests, it can help to build a stronger connection.
Of course, each relationship is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But with patience, understanding, and some outside support, people with Asperger’s can have happy and fulfilling relationships.
If you or your partner has Asperger’s syndrome, it’s important to seek help from a qualified therapist. They can provide guidance & support as you navigate your relationship. You can build a strong and lasting bond with your loved one with the right tools.