Crosswalk.com

How to Date When You Have a Condition Like Asperger's

Kris Swiatocho, Cliff Young

EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to [email protected] (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION:

So, this may be kind of long. Please bear with me. I'm 26, male, and, as much as I don't like calling attention to myself or my condition, I have Asperger’s. It's definitely something that has hindered me a great deal in my life. I have extreme difficulty reading social queues, noticing peoples' emotions or behavioral ticks. I'm also much more prone to overstimulation in loud, crowded, or otherwise very public locations. I have difficulty making friends, and I've never even been on a date (and apparently it causes online dating profiles to fail, since no one can bother to even respond to my messages). Needless to say, I've never had a relationship either.

 Of course, being 26 and having very few useful skills, I can only find menial labor, minimum wage type jobs, and those usually involve retail positions, or work in some sort of environment that taxes my mental health beyond what is reasonable. So I'm living with my parents, like so many of us millennials are doing in this overpriced world. More importantly, I really want to serve God in some way, shape, or form, but I can't seem to get anywhere, and He hasn't lead me to my calling (to my knowledge; I miss enough signals from my fellow man).

To make matters worse, I see all sorts of bad signs from the statistics. Aspies like me are very likely to be unemployed/underemployed, have few or no friends, and thoughts of suicide are much more likely in us (not yet for me, but it scares me greatly). The deck has basically been stacked against me since I was born, and it's not looking good.

I know I'm supposed to trust God with everything, but it's extremely hard. What purpose do I have if I cannot even connect with those around me? I keep telling myself that God is in control, but I seem to believe it less and less every day. As much as He has blessed me with, I'm still waiting for anything to happen, because no matter what I can't make anything happen. I pray and beg him for some sort of direction, but all I get is silence.

HE SAID:

Thank you for your sincerity in sharing your struggles with us, as this will help readers to become more cognizant of those who have your condition. 

Asperger’s Syndrome affects social interaction (especially reciprocating and empathizing with the feelings of others), non-verbal communication (eye contact and awareness of body language), behavior patterns (causing repetitive body movements), and may encourage preoccupation with a certain item or subject (one-sided conversations).

Responsiveness, empathy, eye contact, body language, and listening are fundamental in any relationship, especially when you are trying to show interest in (and impress) someone new to whom you would like to date.  These are difficult yet crucial obstacles to overcome whether you have a diagnosed condition like yourself or just struggle with them daily like many of us do.

If it’s any consolation, no one ever responded to my online dating messages either.

Most of us find it difficult to make and maintain strong, long-lasting and trusted friendships, but it is not only necessary, but also Biblical in order for us to grow.

Moses had Aaron, David had Jonathan, the disciples had one another and, closer to home, Maverick had Goose.  We all need that person to “raise our arms” when we can’t hold them up anymore, share in our struggles when it seems like everyone is against us, and be our “wing-man” who is supportive through thick and thin.

Quit waiting for anything to happen, Walt Disney once said, “The way to get started is to stop talking and start doing.”

Don’t be a statistic, set your goal this year to find that one friend who believes in and will walk alongside you, and secondly get involved in some group or groups at church.

No one will know your desires, talents and needs unless you get plugged into other people’s lives. You have taken a first step by reaching out to us, and now you can do the same in your community.

If nothing else, since you have the benefit of low expenses in your life, volunteer to do something you enjoy doing. Every organization or person needs help in some way.  Try something new and you may discover that you have a talent for it. At worst case, you will meet others who may become “that” friend or can direct you to another organization to help.

Along the way, you’ll build confidence around others and practice social interaction, which in turn will help you when you meet someone you’re interested in dating.

SHE SAID:

I so appreciate your question and your transparency. Your letter sheds much needed light on your daily struggles with having Asperger’s. A condition that most people know very little about. A condition that has affected your relationships including friends, family, work and even God.

So what do you do then? How do you live fully for the Lord? How do you go through life and know and understand your value to God? How do you handle seeing others around you build friendships, date and even marry. How do you function knowing the limitations of your condition. Well, you do it through the Lord and only through the Lord and you do it one day at a time. 

While I can’t imagine what it feels like to walk in your shoes, I do know what it feels like to be rejected, have a chronic illness and limited resources. Life is relative. While you feel you are unique, many people in this world are suffering just as hard but in other ways. Some aren’t able to read or write. Some are in physical pain every day. Some are homeless. So it really comes down to perspective. How can you look at the things in your life that are good. You have a roof over your head and a family that loves you. You obviously read and write well. 

So start praying like this: Ask God to change your perspective so that you are thankful each day for what you can do. Ask him to reveal new opportunities including friendships. Maybe those friends will also have various conditions that will require you both to have grace. Learn more about your condition, but don't let it define who you are and what you do. Be sure to communicate with folks of your limitations, so they don't misinterpret anything when you start to build a friendship. I know with some of my introverted friends, they have told me they need to leave early from events due to needing rest. 

While I don’t know enough about your condition to know if it's possible to ever hold a permanent job, fall in love or live on your own, I do know it can get better. Remember God made you and he can use you right where you are, for his glory. Trust him for your present and your future.  

“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” -Psalm 22:8

HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.

SHE is ... Kris Swiatocho, the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is also the author of four books.

DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately.

GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to [email protected] (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you. Click here to visit the He Said-She Said archives.

Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Ruslanshug

Publication date: June 29, 2017