The Highs and Lows of Finding Love on the Spectrum

Long before he was diagnosed with ASD at age 35, Steve Asbell of Orange Park, Florida, had one of his worst dating experiences. He had traveled to Kansas to see a woman he considered his “long-distance girlfriend.” It wasn’t until about “43 missed social cues and 71 euphemisms” that he understood what was going on. “If I had known what the word ‘connection’ meant, I would have stayed at home,” Mr. Asbell said.

Now happily married at 38, Mr. Asbell said he was “never the one to ask a girl out.” Dating in the “conventional sense,” he said, felt strange to him because he had to juggle “conversation and politeness while eating and maintaining eye contact.” It was like a job interview that never ended.”

These issues are now increasingly understood as the romantic life of autistic adults is increasingly represented in popular culture. Helen Hoang, a 39-year-old novelist, was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when she wrote “The Kiss Quotient,” a novel about an autistic woman who hires a male escort to teach her about dating and sex. Her second novel, The Bride Test, is about an autistic man who avoids relationships because he doesn’t believe he is capable of love, so his mother takes it upon herself to find him the perfect bride.

“It’s important to show autistic people who have romantic lives,” Ms Hoang said, because it “combats the desexualization and infantilization of autistic people, represents autistic people in a more complete and authentic way, and individuals within the autistic community.” shows who had no hope for that it is possible.”

A popular Netflix reality show, “Love on the Spectrum,” gives an inside look at what dating and relationships are like for young autistic adults. The show debunks the stereotype that autistic people aren’t interested in romance, dating, and relationships.

While many in the autistic community found “Love on the Spectrum” to be a sensitive portrait, not everyone thought it natural. Stim4Stim, a podcast hosted by Charlie H. Stern and Zack Budryk, who are both autistic, was based on their disappointment with how the show portrayed the romantic lives of autistic people.

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