Hi, I’m Nick. I’m 42, I’m gay and I am single.
I also have autism.
The dating world is a scary place to navigate your way through, and if you add autism into the equation, it doubles the pressure and can add anxiety into the situation. But that’s not to say you give up and never date.
But what would it be like to go on a date with autism and what would that look like?
VOICE OVER PERSON:
Tonight on “First Dates”, Nick from Perth meets Autism.
Cut to Nick entering the restaurant and being led to his table. The barman comes across shortly afterwards to take his drink order. He leaves and Nick awaits his date.
Autism: Hi, I’m meeting my date Nick here at 7.45 P.M. I’m on time.
The host escorts Autism to the table and seats them. Nick and Autism have made no eye contact as of yet.
Autism hasn’t made eye contact with me yet, Nick thinks. I am not amused.
This date’s going really well so far! Autism reflects.
Pan out to Nick and Autism reading the menus.
Nick: I’ll probably have a starter and a main.
Autism: I’d just stick to a main if I were you?
I hadn’t realised that Autism would point out my faults so bluntly… Nick thinks to himself.
Autism: Shouldn’t you be watching your waist line?
Autism ponders, Nick really eats a lot. If we did get together I’d get him to join a gym.
Nick: I love Aqua fit. I work out five days a week.
Autism: It’s a shame you don’t do seven days.
Nick looks a gasp: He’s just being plain rude!
Autism is feeling content: This date can’t have gone any better for me at this stage in the evening. I’m sensing that Nick will ask me for a second date.
Nick: I love going to music concerts and being around crowds.
Autism: I’d be waiting at home for you, whilst reading a book and playing a computer game. Going out and socialising isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.
Nick: Clearly were mismatched.
Autism: Yeah, I should have made my excuses and not turned up to this, in fact can someone order me a taxi? I hope I put my kindle on charge before I came out tonight?
That’s a small comedy skit of what it would be like to date someone on the autism spectrum, and I’m not going to lie – dating is not going to be easy (relationships rarely are).
If you are about to embark on a date, why not do some role-playing at home beforehand?
Ask a friend to come over or ask a family member and ‘be your date’.
Role play what type of scenarios may take place and see if by doing this simple exercise you can pick up hints and tips on how not to act and what to say.
Or at the very least, build an awareness of how to engage in conversation without offending your date and having them storm of because what you think is appropriate to them maybe won’t be.
Here’s some other handy tips:
- Make sure that the date takes place somewhere where you are comfortable and won’t elevate your stress
- Maintain eye contact
- Remember to listen before responding
- If you don’t like what they are wearing, they have a wart on their nose, or there’s something else, keep that opinion to yourself. They won’t appreciate it, and anyway, it’s not nice to point out someone’s faults – especially not on a first date
- If you feel that you are getting overwhelmed, excuse yourself and step outside take a deep breath and relax – they are just as nervous as you are!
- When you first meet them, find out if they are a hugger or if they prefer a hand shake – don’t assume!
- Don’t think that the things you’re interested in will be the same as your date. Attempt, through conversion, to find some common ground and don’t rock up in a Star Wars costume! Maybe save that for the third/fourth date?!
- If you want to leave, don’t just get up and leave! Maybe pre-arrange with a mate that if you text them that the date isn’t going to plan that they text back with some type of emergency.
- And remember – Be yourself!