For someone with ASD, communication is incredibly difficult (obviously). They get frustrated easily because they can’t find the words they’re looking for. They get upset when people don’t understand them. They don’t know how to talk to people, including their close relatives or significant others.
Justin said “I love you” first. It caught me off guard big time. We’d only been dating about a month or so, and he was headed off to an evening store meeting at his job. I was so shocked I said “Drive safe!” and went into the house, where the roommates teased and loved that we were progressing in our relationship.
Then, we didn’t say it. He didn’t say it. We weren’t living together at the time, so when we said goodbye, it was a kiss and a bye. It wasn’t I love you. I was starting to think he thought he’d made a mistake, or one of those, “OMG I said I love you too early!” …but then again, our relationship didn’t have any of that awkward drama, so I didn’t really know what was going on.
For the first few years, Justin didn’t show much affection. He didn’t cuddle me or hug me or do any of the “normal” relationship things like that. We went camping once and he had hugged me from behind. His mom was shocked and made a comment about it (nothing mean) and I could FEEL the awkwardness in Justin. And of course he let go. Affection is HARD for Aspies. They are afraid you’ll reject them, or that you won’t show it back, or just plain don’t know how to do it. I was never worried he didn’t actually love me. He just didn’t know how to show it. I assumed it was because his family wasn’t affectionate and he didn’t grow up that way, but when I hugged his family, I got genuine hugs back from them. Hugging Justin is like hugging a statue sometimes. An awkward statue.
Justin expresses his love in lots of ways. Obviously, sex is a big one. But he also writes notes to me constantly (last night I was complaining about feeling ugly with my broken out face, braces on my wrists for carpal tunnel and crazy stupid hair, and I woke up this morning to a note about how I’m gorgeous to him no matter what). The key for helping affection with Aspies is finding the way they can relay this. Justin can text me and write me notes all day about how much he loves me. He makes me coffee. He cooks me dinner and will back my car up (yes, that means a lot to me). Little things that you’d think “normal” people do in an Aspie world are magnified 10 times. That “I love you” that he says to me once in a while means more to me than hearing it 100 times a day.
Just because they don’t show up with flowers, tell you they love you constantly, hug you or caress you all the time doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. Which means that when they are able to say it the few times they can, you know in your heart that there’s no lie, and it makes you feel like the luckiest person alive.