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This is Part 2 of my "The Autistic Dude's Guide to Getting a Girlfriend or Boyfriend" series.
One challenge that autistic guys face when looking for a significant other is that there may not appear to be many "fish in the sea," or possibilities.
I've met some autistic guys who specifically wanted to find a significant other who also had autism. If you are looking for a girlfriend, this may be difficult for a few reasons. First of all, there just aren't as many women with autism as there are men with autism. While more women are being diagnosed now than ever before, there are still between 2 and 16 times as many autistic men as there are autistic women. Also, many autistic women are not interested in dating. And the autism spectrum is very wide. Just because two people have autism, that does not mean they have any similarities at all as far as cognitive abilities, independence levels, social skills, etc. Therefore, it may not make sense to limit yourself to a significant other who also has autism.
You could consider finding a significant other with a different disability. Joining a group or program for people with all different disabilities and special needs might help you to meet someone.
You could consider finding a significant other with no diagnosed disability or special needs. This can get a little tricky. Some guys with autism may find that neurotypical people are not open to dating someone with autism. It is easy to feel offended by this. Try not to take it personally. The problem is, while people with autism are said to hate changes and surprises, neurotypical people often also hate changes and surprises. They often have only dated other neurotypical people. They often have only imagined themselves being in relationships with, and marrying, other neurotypical people. They may have never experienced anything else. They may think that dating an autistic person could change their life drastically. They may be afraid of people who are different from them.
Think about who you would be comfortable being in a relationship with. Would you date a neurotypical person or someone with a different disability?
One thing to keep in mind is that, when dating someone who may have more cognitive or social skills challenges than you do, it is more important than ever to be a perfect gentleman. Never pressure the other person to do anything that they don't want to do. Never touch or kiss them unless you are sure that they are okay with it. Realize that they may have family members or caregivers that are active in their lives, and they may not be as independent as you are. On the other hand, you should look for this same level of respect from your potential significant other.
How will you meet these potential people? The usual advice is to go out to parties and mingle. For autistic people, this can be pretty difficult. Instead, you could consider joining a Meetup group based on one of your favorite activities. There are often fewer people at a Meetup than would be at a party or bar. Plus, since you sign up ahead of time to go to the Meetup event, everyone will be expecting you to be there. You won't have to worry about sidling up to someone and making awkward small talk. Often, you will all be doing a specific activity together, which helps to "break the ice." Using an online dating site would be another option. Many people with autism feel more comfortable writing or texting rather than talking in person, and a dating site can allow you to get to know someone a little better before actually having a face-to-face encounter.
Now that you have an idea of who you are looking for and where to start looking, please tune into my next blog entry, which will be about starting out in the "friend zone."