Please, don’t be that guy!

Some of this blog deals with advocacy.  Other parts, like this one, are my observations of the autistic community.  We’re certainly not immune when it comes to human evil.

I’m writing to some autistic guys here.  “Desperate Aspie Males” or DAMs to be exact.  I don’t know why it always seems to be guys, and I haven’t noticed any DAWs, but I haven’t.  I’m sure they exist, but compared to DAMs, the DAWs are an endangered species, or at least can hide from sight easier.

What do I mean by a DAM?  The DAM is the creepy guy that goes to the autism support group, sees a woman, and immediately sees her as a sex object.  Her might be one specific woman, or it might be every woman there.  Not only does he see her as a sex object, but he makes it clear to everyone within a 2 mile radius that he sees her as a sex object.

If I was looking for a man, this way of getting a woman would definitely turn me off.  It’s not sexy, it’s not attractive, and it certainly isn’t going to end in someone having sex (unless there is a rape involved).  It’s also why so many autistic women avoid support groups and similar – it’s almost a given they’ll encounter a DAM.

Here’s some signs for guys that you might be a DAM (note I’m assuming that you, the reader, are heterosexual. If you’re gay, then substitute “man” for “woman”, as DAMs know all orientations):

  • If a girl hints that she’s not looking for a relationship, if you don’t immediately give up any deep hopes that she really is looking for a relationship with you, you might be a DAM.  Hint: she’s giving you one.  Save your dignity and quit pursuing her, even if you would have liked to have a relationship!
  • Do you tell women about how you’ve never had relationships, hoping to inspire pity and get attention from her?  You might be a DAM.  Hint: objects of pity are not seen by 99.9999% of womankind as desirable mates.  Not even autistic women.  Your mother doesn’t want to have sex with you (hopefully) – and neither will women you try to make feel like your mother!
  • Why are you talking to the woman?  Is it because you’re thinking about how you need a girlfriend or want to have sex, or is it because you genuinely enjoy spending time with her?  If you wouldn’t be happy without adding anything physical or romantic to the mix at this point, you might be a DAM.  Hint: even autistic women can pick up on whether a guy really is interested in her as a person or just her as a sex object.  So it’s really not worth the effort to lie.
  • Would you be better served by a prostitute (or your own hand), but are seeking a non-prostitute?  You might be a DAM.  Hint: most women don’t want to be your prostitute.  Having a relationship with you is not a basic exchange of “You give me X, I give you Y.”  It’s instead about truly wanting to give to the other partner.  I’m not suggesting prostitution, but I’ve seen guys that would be better off seeking that option rather than treating every new woman who shows up at a support group as a prostitute (maybe not for money, but a prostitute nonetheless).
  • Do you have expectations for a partner that differ from expectations you expect them to have for you?  For instance, do you expect the woman to be stereo-typically beautiful, while you yourself are a 300 lb man with a poorly kept beard and a very asymmetric face?  If so, you might be a DAM.  Hint: sure, beauty comes in all body shapes and types, and true beauty is on the soul.  And plenty of relationships have one partner that society judges to be more attractive than the other, sometimes a lot so.  But most of these relationships didn’t start by the less stereo-typically attractive person excluding everyone like themselves, but somehow expecting the stereo-typically beautiful women to find them attractive!  You need to be willing to be judged by the standards you are judging them.  So be careful expecting stereotypical beauty – in my experience most men who do this really should look in the mirror first and ask if they want women to do the same to them.
  • Do you initiate a bunch of unanswered communication with her?  If so, you might be a DAM.  Hint: if the woman is interested in you, she’ll let you know and she’ll remember you exist.  You don’t need to keep reminding her.  If she doesn’t…well, be patient and see who else might be in your life down the road.
  • Do you think any woman should be thrilled to have you as a mate?  If so, you might be a DAM.  You’re even more likely to be one if you’re angry about this.  Hint: no man is attractive to all – or even most – women as a serious partner (or even one-night-stand, if she’s really interested in that thing – see below).
  • Do you think most women in society want one-night-stands?  If so, you may be a DAM.  Hint: Most women don’t want one-night-stands. They want a relationship!  Really.  And they want a guy that wants a relationship.  Sure, they might want sex too!  But most women don’t want sex without being pretty sure that the man actually wants other parts of them too, and not just casually or for one night.
  • Do you tell a DAM who you see pestering women to knock it off?  If not, you’re encouraging the behavior and just as bad as the DAM.  Show you have some moral strength.

Now of course there are autistic characteristics that would make someone come off like a DAM.  We often miss social cues, for instance.  But there’s a difference between a missed social cue and using our autism as cover when questioned to give ourselves latitude that other men wouldn’t get.  If you’re chasing after a woman (metaphorically) and you find out she’s been giving you cues that she’s not interested in you, and you just say, “I’m autistic” rather than “I’m so sorry” and then cease to chase her, you’re using your autism as a cover.  That’s BS.  Don’t make the rest of us autistic guys look like a creep – knock it off.

I’ve seen autistics also try to cover their sexist attitudes with bogosity about autism – such as claiming “autism is ultramasuclinity”.  Others talk about how women and feminists have ruined their chances in life but then expect these same women to sleep with them while telling the women that they are essentially horrible for wanting things like a chance to earn a living (uh, “Women, you caused me all this suffering and ruined my life.  Want to sleep with me?”).  No, feminism didn’t ruin your life.  Neither did women.  And if you’re thinking men’s rights (essentially anti-feminism) are an important cause, expect to be lonely.  For a long time.  Women – imagine this – like to be treated like full human beings, even if they do hold to the theory that there are men’s and women’s roles in society (and don’t expect most to hold to that).

I’ve seen other autistics that try to leverage their autism into pity.  Some even seemingly regress into infanthood in a misguided attempt to bring out motherly instincts in their (they hope) sex partners.  But as I mentioned above, mom doesn’t want to have a romantic relationship with her kid, and this is just plain creepy behavior.  Others are trying for some sort of “pity sex.”  There’s not much pity sex out there, DAMs!  Sure, pity might get attention, but – and this is important DAMs – attention is not attraction.  Just because a woman is paying attention to you doesn’t mean she’s interested in you romantically.

Sure, there are always exceptions.  There are women who willingly submit to sexist pigs in relationships.  Some women probably do want casual, one-night-stands and would detest a deep relationship.  The nice guy sometimes is single.  No doubt some women would love a 30 year old baby.  But these are exceptions, and if you choose to play the exceptions, please do it in a way that doesn’t pester, annoy, and harras women that aren’t one of these exceptions.  And don’t expect to find a lot of interest if you try going after the exceptions.

Do you want a relationship?  I’ll suggest a few things that do work:

  • Stop looking for a relationship.  Seriously, stop looking.  When you stop looking at women as sex objects or relationship targets, you’ll find more women around you are interested in you.
  • Become interesting.  Find a hobby, ideally something you can share with others. It can be a solo hobby, but it helps if it’s a hobby that you can do with someone as well.
  • Enjoy life.  Misery doesn’t love company, at least not romantically!  If you can’t be happy without a partner, how does a partner know you can be happy with them?  Happiness can be shared – someone who loves you will get happiness from seeing you happy.  If you’re looking for love, some enjoyment in life will help people who have an attraction get something from you that makes them feel good too.  People like to feel good!
  • Take care of your own needs.  Don’t make a potential partner take care of you.  Sure, part of a relationship is helping each other – and that flows very naturally.  But when someone is just getting to know you, they probably don’t want to be your caregiver, shrink, transportation, etc.  This isn’t about being non-disabled or having needs, even needs that can be met by a partner!
  • Leave some mystery.  It’s actually attractive to get to know someone, but not as attractive to have these details dumped in your lap!  Share a bit, but then wait for her to share a bit before you share tons more.  Email her, but wait for her to email back once in a while before sending another email!  If she’s taking a day or two to email back, you probably should generally too.  You don’t have to rush things.
  • Be patient.  It might take you years, even decades to find a partner.  If you find someone you can have a relationship with, it’s worth the wait.  My wife and I waited quite a bit longer than most people wait – it was worth the wait and I’d do it again knowing what I know now.  But see above – it’s easier to be patient if you enjoy life.

There’s no formula to finding a partner.  The people I know who have found someone all found them at a time they weren’t looking, and even a bit by surprise.   Most of us didn’t find someone in our early 20s or late teens – autistic people take longer on this, often.  That’s how it works.  Frustrating, true.  But I don’t know any guy who found it being a DAM.

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7 Responses to Please, don’t be that guy!

  1. Anonymous. says:

    Thank you for writing this, it needs to be out there.

    I used to post on an autism forum. I don’t know if I have it; I have mild Asperger-like symptoms, anyway.

    This attitude was EVERYWHERE – that women had it easy because all they had to do was give away sex, that women owed men sex and were horrible people if they didn’t give out pity sex to men with overblown egos.

    It made me sick. Glad other people recognize it.

  2. Ren Thorpe says:

    I get exceptionally uncomfortable with the attitudes of a lot of ASD men. As stated above, it’s “easy” to be a woman with ASD because all you have to do is spread your legs and someone will fall right in.

    ….Yeah, I think I’ll stay home. Of course, I’m always home.

  3. Anne says:

    One of the reasons I don’t attend the largest local ASD support group is that the *leaders* are into men’s rights and often disregard women’s safety. After I reported an event host for tricking me into going on a date (by manipulating online RSVPs to a public event) they promoted him to co-organizer. Other women had also complaints about his skeeziness, and it turned out the support group in his previous town had kicked him out for harassment.

  4. CB says:

    This looks like a good example of a Desperate Aspie Female to me. Instead of coming across as a creepy, she appears incredibly naive and ignores the dangerous consequences of posting obscene photos online and trying to meet strangers, and of course this is worrying her sister. In other cases, instead of trying to ask a random man out, she may say “yes” to any man who asks her out. Even if he appears to be a player or is creepy.

  5. Brian says:

    These are certainly vile behaviors but I don’t see much on how to ease the pain of loneliness and desperation these men feel. Traditional gender roles give women an advantage here. They can just wait and another guy (good or bad) will come along. No one is approaching me and nothing is going to happen if I just “be patient.”

  6. Thank you so much! So many people– men and women, autistic and neurotypical, need to know this!!

  7. joel says:

    Brian, I’m sorry you’re lonely. The advice I give above holds – not just be patient, but also find some interests and a way to enjoy life, as well as the others. I won’t say that life doesn’t suck sometimes. But I will say that I didn’t see anything happening in my life. What helped me was having a fulfilled life, and getting to that point where I could be happy without someone in my life. It’s counterintuitive – it seems backwards. But gaining happiness in single life is one of the most important things you can do to find a partner. Ironically, if you do it, the need for finding a mate won’t be as great or driving. For loneliness, I know both myself and my wife experienced it. It sucks to be alone on a holiday, or have nobody around to recognize your birthday. But it doesn’t take a girlfriend to have someone else to share life with. I’m also not saying to not ask women out – just don’t do the kinds of behaviors described in this article. It’s hard to find out what exactly works, since forming a connection with someone is typically unique and not a cookie-cutter type of thing. But I do know what doesn’t work.

    As for traditional gender roles, I would not put the blame there. My wife made the first moves in my relationship, I didn’t. So there are people who don’t require the man to ask. That aside, just being a woman does not mean a woman can have a date whenever she wants. This is particularly true if she wants someone she’s actually attracted to (as you should also want). Not everyone asking her out would be a good, safe partner, nor someone she’s interested in. In addition, there’s plenty of women that rarely, if ever, get asked out. So it’s not necessarily easier. If they do get asked out by men they have to deal with one thing most men don’t deal with often: how to let a lonely, sad guy down gently, but firmly enough to get him to back off. It’s not unheard of for men to do really creepy and/or scary things when rejected (no matter how nicely and kindly), like threaten people (or threaten suicide), which a woman doesn’t want the guilt for (or to be attacked over). So sometimes saying “no” may be just as hard as saying “yes”. Finally, plenty of women have the experience of no good guys asking them out. I’ve heard autistic women describe themselves at bars and parties like potted plants too (it’s one of the reasons I think bars and parties *don’t* generally work for us).

    Finally, I’d add blaming the gender roles may have the opposite effect you want. Should a woman you’re interested in feel that her loneliness or struggle to find a partner is being minimized, she’s probably going to be a bit offended and hurt – and not as interested in you. There are depressed, lonely, even suicidally lonely women that want a decent man who they are attracted to as a partner, but can’t seem to find that man (and when they do, “traditional gender roles” say they shouldn’t approach, but are dependent upon him noticing *them*; Imagine how frustrating it is to see man after man and *NOT* be able to ask the ones you’re attracted to). Of course I’m not a huge believer in tradition when it comes to gender roles (since traditional means “our wrong ideas about what it was like roughly 50 years ago” in the US). Fortunately women can and do ask guys out – at least if they are willing to break the stereotypes. But going back to judging people with the same standards you want them to judge you, if you’re not willing to ask people out, why should she be? It sucks (I will say, as a disclaimer, I’m very glad my wife initiated interaction with me initially – I recognize that is wonderful when it’s the right person doing it).