5 Reasons Why Relationships are Difficult for Autistic People

5 Reasons Why Relationships are Difficult for Autistic People

There are always going to be challenges and difficulties in every relationship.

Most people struggle to recognize that relationships need compromise and accepting their partner's preferences and approaches.

Relationships can be difficult for anybody, but those on the autism spectrum may face unique obstacles.

One of the reasons relationships are difficult for autistic people is the emotional dysregulation associated with it.

Autistic people process emotions differently, and this will affect the relationship in many ways.

Some autistic people find intimacy in sexual relationships uncomfortable.

This can be due to sensory issues that some autistic people face.

Autistic people may also find it hard to communicate their feelings or understand the feelings of their partner.

The mental stress that comes with this problem is another reason why relationships are difficult for autistic people.

In spite of all these difficulties, non-autistic partners can still provide support for autism when they are aware of the difficulties their partners face.

Below are more details on reasons why relationships are difficult for autistic people.

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Mikayla Braukhoff, LPCC

Mikayla Braukhoff, LPCC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Katherine (Kate) Taylor, MBA, MA, LPC

Katherine (Kate) Taylor, MBA, MA, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Brenda Hermosillo, SWC

Brenda Hermosillo, SWC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Jennifer Wilson, LPCC, NCC

Jennifer Wilson, LPCC, NCC

Colorado
(720) 437-9089
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Katherine Miller, LPCC

Katherine Miller, LPCC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Rodney Collins, LMFT

Rodney Collins, LMFT

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424

Communication Problems 

Communication problems for autistic people go both ways.

They might find it difficult to communicate with their partner, and they might also find it hard to understand what their partner is trying to communicate to them.

Because of their difficulties communicating their feelings, autistic persons may find it challenging to form meaningful relationships with others.

People with autism also share universal human emotions, but they may feel and express those emotions more deeply than their neurotypical peers.

Apathy is a common misinterpretation of autistic persons because they have difficulty expressing their emotions in the manner that is expected of them in society.

People on the spectrum may have trouble understanding subtleties in verbal and nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

There's no guarantee that they'll be able to read cues from their partner's actions that indicate when they need comfort or encouragement.

This could be painful since it conveys a lack of care.

The Discomfort in Sexual Relationships 

Sharing one's innermost thoughts and feelings, as well as one's body, with another person is what intimacy means.

Sexual interaction between people with autism may be less freewheeling and lively than between neurotypical couples due to rigidity and repetition needs.

People on the autism spectrum share the same need for closeness and companionship, just like other people.

However, compared to their neurotypical counterparts, people with autism may take longer to recognize their needs.

Miscommunication and emotional suffering can result from a lack of capacity to read the thoughts, feelings, and reported sensations of one's partner.

Another reason relationships are difficult for autistic people is that people on the spectrum may also experience anxiety due to a sensitivity to touch.

An autistic person's sensitivity to touch may make it difficult to express affection through physical contact like kissing, hugging, or holding hands.

Also, some people on the autism spectrum, for instance, may have difficulty processing intense odors and may therefore try to avoid them at all costs.

People on the autism spectrum, in particular, may struggle to understand specific dating rules and the hierarchy of sexual intimacies.

Depending on the individual, these sensory issues may be easy to spot or incredibly difficult to detect for those around them.

Emotional Dysregulation 

Autistic people in relationships may experience various forms of emotional dysregulation.

This is referred to as a poorly controlled emotional reaction that does not fit within the parameters of the conventionally accepted range of emotional responses.

A partner's impulsive behavior is an illustration of how emotional dysregulation may harm a relationship.

When sad, for instance, autistic people tend to withdraw from others.

The best course of action they could take in response to a crisis would be to cut off all lines of contact.

Also, a person's anger may also lead them to make snap judgments, such as deciding to avoid the source of the problem altogether by avoiding their partner.

The toll of these emotional feelings on them is also a reason why relationships are complicated for autistic people.

Rigidity 

Sometimes, autistic people's daily lives are governed by strict rules and rituals.

They might have a morning ritual, such as making coffee at the same time every day or cleaning their room before leaving the house.

This could be quite useful in helping them feel more in control of their day and less anxious as a result.

This habit, however, may become far more challenging to maintain after they start living with a partner.

After getting ready, they might walk into the room to find that their partner has dispersed something.

Although to their partner, these may seem like inconsequential changes, for some autistic persons, this disruption to their routine can cause significant anxiety.

Perhaps they did this routine for years while they were alone and never realized how significant it was to them.

Similarly, some autistic people may struggle to adapt to changes in their home's physical environment.

Changes generally make them uncomfortable and can cause them significant street and anxiety.

This is why they can come off as being rigid about many things.

Inability to Read Social Cues

Autistic people sometimes struggle with reading social signs and dynamics.

Body language, tone, sarcasm, flirting, eye-rolling, passive-aggressive remarks, etc., are all examples of social cues.

This is why, when dating someone who is autistic, it is best to be as direct as possible to reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings.

It can be more difficult for certain autistic people to interpret social cues, such as whether or not it's OK to lean in for a kiss or ask someone out on a date.

Knowing how to behave appropriately in different social contexts is another area where autistic people may struggle.

The stress of dealing with their limitations can have serious consequences.

Conclusion

Although social interactions can be challenging for autistic people, with the correct support for autism, they can learn to better regulate their innate tendencies.

Some reasons why relationships are difficult for autistic people include communication problems, the discomfort of intimacy in sexual relationships, emotional dysregulation, rigidity, and inability to read social cues.

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February 21st, 2024

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