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People with Asperger's have difficulties with social interactions, and thus find it difficult to build and maintain relationships. Understanding more about Asperger's and relationships can help us support people with Asperger's and their peers and partners to overcome these challenges.
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Difficulty Interpreting Non Verbal Behavior
People with Asperger's find it difficult to understand and interpret the non verbal behavior of the people around them. Very often, they may not understand that their friend or partner is upset, or angry, and this lack of understanding may cause further damage.
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Asperger's and Relationships: Poor Communication Skills
People with Asperger's find it difficult to communicate their thoughts and emotions. This can make the partner or friend feel distanced, and may inhibit emotional intimacy. Sometimes, aspies will attempt to show genuine care and love, but their monotonous and mechanical tone of voice may not be able to communicate it.
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Narrow Range of Interests
People with Asperger's have a very narrow range of interests. Thus, they may not be able to connect with other people's interests and understand why they want to talk about their passions. They may also not want to join in with an activity or interest that their partner wants to pursue. This factor often interferes with the ability of a person with Asperger's to make friends.
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Inability to Understand the Emotional Expectations of their Partner
In some situations where they are expected to respond with empathy, an aspie may not understand what the other person expects, and this may cause hurt and strain in the relationship. They may not understand the need for complimenting, or appreciating their partner. This can make the partner feel dissatisfied.
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Asperger's and Relationships: Sensory Discomfort with Intimacy
Some people with Asperger's do not like the feeling of being hugged. Some may not even like to hold hands, or may not understand the need for their partner to hold their hand. This can often be misunderstood by a partner, and may inhibit the development of intimacy.
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Misinformation about Relationships and Sex
Many people with Asperger's learn about sex and relationships from pornography and movies. Due to this, they have an unreal understanding of what is expected from them and may behave in ways that seem odd or weird to their partner.
In some cases, people with Asperger's may not be able to understand about the various stages of a relationship and how it is supposed to progress. This can cause many misunderstandings.
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Poor Judgment of Others Motives
Poor judgment of the motives of others can cause two types of problems. In some cases, people with Asperger's may interpret care or friendship to be romantic love, and may get hurt or embarrassed if they respond to it. In other cases, people with Asperger's are prone to exploitation and even rape, if they are not able to judge people well.
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A.J. Mahari, The Challenge of Relationships In Adulthood and Asperger’s, http://www.aspergeradults.ca/assuiteadultchallengerelationships.html
Tony Attwood, Romantic Relationships for Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism, http://www.iancommunity.org/cs/articles/relationships
Patricia A. Rao et al, Social Skills Interventions for Children with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism: A Review and Recommendations, J Autism Dev Disord (2008)
Kara T. Tamanini, Rehearsing Social Skills with the Asperger’s Child, http://kidsawarenessseries.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/rehearsing-social-skills-with-the-aspergers-child.pdf