I was reading a something written by an autistic guy who was complaining that his girlfriend (who he had just insulted) was upset at him. Someone responded that you have to be careful about what you say around women because they are “very emotional.”
Uh, no. You insult people, they get upset. That’s how it works. It’s nothing about being “very emotional” (heck, how many guys get into fights over something stupid because they were drunk and experienced the emotion of anger – which is just as much of an emotion as sadness). And saying crap like “women are very emotional” isn’t likely to get a guy a date, either. Anytime you hear that – no matter how successful that person seems to be with women, he’s not. You need to find someone better for advice. Really.
I’m no expert on relationships. I’ve had one serious romantic relationship in my life (that said, it’s a successful one!). But I know autistic people can be good partners in a relationship. I know too that we can be assholes, just like anyone else can. Plenty of non-autistic people abuse and manipulate people, but non-autistics don’t have the exclusive license to that either.
So I’m writing this to the generic person (sadly, probably a guy) who feels entitled to have a girlfriend at the very same time he mistreats her.
So, you want a girlfriend? I understand that. I’ll give you a hint: you probably won’t have a good relationship if you don’t treat her at least as good – preferably better – than you want her to treat you. But the minute you start tracking how she’s treating you and how you’re treating her, and making sure it all balances out…well, you’re wanting a business transaction. That isn’t a relationship.
There is this thing called “love”. It’s real, and, yes, even autistics experience it. Yes, even autistics.
Let me explain what love isn’t. Love is not:
- Doing something to get something
- A way to get sex
- A way to be popular
- A way to get a personal servant
- A negotiation of any type
Love is not selfish. If I get my wife flowers because I want something from my wife, and I think I can manipulate her with flowers, that’s not love. That’s me thinking about what is best for me, using her as a tool to get it. Love would be giving her flowers because I want to see her happy. Period. Not because I somehow got something from it. You see, the minute I start thinking, “I can get (something I want) if I (do something to manipulate her),” I’m not loving her. I’m trying to get something for me.
Selfishness is not an autistic trait. Sure, there are plenty of selfish autistics (and selfish NTs). But it’s no more an autistic trait than it is an NT trait. And it’s disgusting when I hear people try to make it into an autistic trait as justification for being an ass. It’s not and you confirm to the world that you’re an ass if you try.
Let me go back to what love is. You aren’t ready for a relationship if you don’t have some love for another person already. I’m not talking romantic attraction – I’m talking basic friendship. Sure, I might not get my friends flowers, but I will help them out without expecting anything in return. Because they are my friends. Not because they will return the favor (they will, but that’s besides the point), but because of this bond of friendship – this form of love.
I’ve seen too many guys – not just autistic guys – think that relationships are a way of manipulating someone to get something you want (typically sex or the status of having a girlfriend). Then they are surprised when most women turn them down. You see, women (and people in general) generally can figure out when someone is trying to manipulate them. Sure, we all get tricked sometimes by a particularly skilled evil person – but we still figure out much of the time when we’re being manipulated. And it sucks to be manipulated. Nobody likes that or people who do that to them.
It’s not just giving, either. Sometimes it’s changing. It’s not being or doing something, or maybe it’s being inconvenienced. Not because you’ll get “paid back” for it later, but simply because you care about the other person and want them happy. Yes, they’ll do the same for you, but you can’t dictate the terms and it will not come in a form that you control.
(I’ll add that love is why people that love someone are willing to hear them say “no” and to back off when that happens – they care about the other person’s feelings, not just how that person makes “me” feel – love, again, isn’t selfish, but is concerned about what the other person wants)
So, if you can’t say, “I really care about this person,” and not add any “but” after that sentence, you probably don’t love them. And you shouldn’t manipulate them into believing you do.
I will tell you something, though: when you do feel that way for someone, and they feel the same way for you, it’s an absolutely wonderful thing. In part, I think that’s because it’s given freely – it’s not given to get. That’s why my wife giving me a special meal means so much more than the McDonald’s worker giving me my food. The McDonald’s worker is obligated to do that – I gave him money, he gives me product. There’s no connection there. It is a business deal. But not so with my wife. If she cooked me something special, it was because she wanted to see me happy. Knowing that your happiness is what someone else desires…well, that’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful feeling. I can’t imagine cheapening that by trying to make it a business deal and trying to count how many nice things I do for her in exchange for the nice things she does for me.
Certainly, it is a two way street, and no relationship or friendship can be successful if only one person is willing to show love and concern for the the other. But there is no general ledger when it comes to love and you don’t get to buy certain items for your troubles. You don’t record what you give and what you get, to make sure you get your money’s worth. It isn’t like that at all.
And this has nothing to do with someone being “very emotional.” It has everything to do with not wanting to be a piece of meat traded for some other goods.