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Dating and Autism

This article on dating and autism is offered by Amanda Winstead with some practical suggestions for both the autistic and non-autistic partner in a relationship.

Dating and autism
Picture from Unsplash

It’s not uncommon for autistic people to struggle with things like social cues, casual conversation, and context. They might also have a hard time with some of the “unspoken rules” that people without autism live by – especially when it comes to dating.

However, that doesn’t mean dating is off-limits or something you should shy away from as an auttistic individual. Recently, dating with autism has come into the limelight more than ever thanks to popular shows like Love On the Spectrum.

While shows and other entertainment-based outlets about dating with autism are great ways to provide basic information and get people discussing the ins and outs of the spectrum, they don’t necessarily dive deep into what it’s really like to date someone with autism or to be an autistic person trying to navigate the dating world.

Let’s cover a bit of both. There’s no reason autistic people  can’t enjoy a fulfilling and happy romantic life, or that someone without autism can’t find true love by dating a neurodivergent person .

Tips for Dating When You Are Autistic

One of the biggest challenges you might face as you enter the dating pool is reading social cues. Nowadays, many people get into relationships online or by using apps. That can make it easier for you to strike up a conversation digitally without having to “read” a lot of those cues. However, you might not be able to fully express yourself when you’re connecting with someone online.

Whether you’re more comfortable finding love through an app or you want to do things the old-fashioned way, there are a few tips you can use that will help you with everything from flirting to ensuring a successful date. Try some of the following to make yourself more comfortable:

  • Look at the person (if eye contact is uncomfortable you can focus on a spot just above their head)
  • Smile
  • Ask the other person about their hobbies and interests. When speaking about your own hobbies check in with the other person if they are interested in hearing more before getting into the details.

Most importantly, be yourself. If you know you’ll do better in a sensory-friendly location on a date, don’t hesitate to let the other person know that. Your autism doesn’t define you, but it’s important for a potential partner to know, so they can meet your needs.

What to Consider When You’re Dating an Autistic Person

There’s no denying that dating an autistic person can be a challenge. However, by utilizing a few tips of your own, you can make the experience less stressful for both of you, and you can learn a lot about the person you’re interested in. Plus, educating yourself on the effects of autism and planning dates that meet the other person’s needs will show them how much you really care.

Some of the best things to keep in mind as you enter into a relationship with a person with autism include:

  • Routine is important
  • Large gatherings might make them uncomfortable
  • They might become overwhelmed easily from sensory overload
  • Honesty is essential

Most importantly, make sure you don’t label them according to their neurodiversity. Autism might present them with challenges and it is also the reason for their many strengths. While autism can cause you to make adjustments to your dating habits, it’s not something that needs to define your relationship. Do what you can to make the other person feel safe and comfortable.

Over time, you’ll get to know their likes and dislikes and situations where they shine as opposed to things that overwhelm them. For example, if the person you’re dating struggles with large crowds but loves being outside, plan a picnic together or a hike that allows you to enjoy the quiet while working toward a goal.

Dating and autism
Photo from Unsplash


Maintaining a Successful Relationship

After going on a few dates with someone, you might be ready to make a more serious commitment and choose to only see each other. Before either of you make that commitment, however, it’s important that you both understand that your relationship might look a bit different to most.

In a relationship where one of the couple is autistic, there are going to be more opportunities for misunderstandings and miscommunication. You’ll both have to work hard to make communication a priority, so you understand each other’s needs and wants. For the person not on the spectrum, that starts by educating yourself as much as possible about your partner’s autism and how it affects them.

For the autistic person, be sure to address and express your needs. Don’t assume your partner knows everything and do your best not to get upset if they’re having a hard time understanding you.

Finally, work on developing communication strategies that best fit your relationship. There’s no “one size fits all” as long as you’re committed to expressing your social, physical, and emotional needs to each other on a regular basis. If you’re struggling to communicate effectively, consider working with a therapist that specializes in neurodivergence. They can help you establish effective strategies that make communication and understanding much easier.

Dating with autism can work. If both partners are willing to communicate and put in the effort, you can have a loving relationship that lasts for years. Keep these tips in mind no matter where you are on your relationship journey, and they can help you overcome some of the common barriers while growing closer to your partner.


If you need help looking for services for an individual with an autism spectrum condition, we will do our best to help. Click below for the Autism Placement Support Service.