Dating an autistic person

It was easier for people my age, particularly men, to see my weirdness as a trope, as opposed to a complex neurological condition. My current boyfriend understands that I can’t read body language all the time; that if he is annoyed he must state it verbally and calmly; and that clattering resentfully around a messy kitchen, say, will not pass on the message that it is my turn to clean, but simply asking me for help will.

Here the common misconceptions about autism were both my ally and my enemy: they allowed me to hide, and to embrace a status as “off-key yet normal,” but they also damaged me by giving fuel to the lie that I was just a bit odd, making it all the more difficult when it blew up in my face with someone yelling: “What the hell is wrong with you?In the years between twelve and nineteen, I had taught myself a lot — forcing myself to go out and read faces as you would a foreign script, learning to figure out certain movements and postures.But it did not come naturally to me, as it does for most people.I’d like to say that my boyfriend’s words upset me, but it’s more complicated than that: I was both hurt by his disbelief, and strangely thrilled.“Adorably awkward,” I thought, beginning to embrace this new, if inaccurate, diagnosis, given by a boy who wanted me to be normal as much as I did.

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