MemberDecember 5, 2019 at 4:10 am
This is going to be really, really long and I’m sorry about that.
I’m wondering if people in this sub can help me, I’m (27F) “dating” a guy (19M) who I am wondering if is on the spectrum somewhere. I say this as his traits and behaviours and history are ringing bells for me from my undergrad psych degree and then going on here and reading people’s experiences made me think even more.
Two big questions from that paragraph alone, first, yes I am somewhat significantly older, I’m studying at a prestigious film school now which is where we met and became good friends. And we are not officially dating, I will get into that.
So a bit about him, he is an incredibly intelligent person, has an insane memory recall, and has I would argue, genius-level book smarts, incredible vaults of information about his two main interests, film and music, can pick out a film from a single frame, a song from a note and is insanely good at picking up all manner of skills very quickly. I call him the human Shazam or Wikipedia.
He is also very mature, kind, gentle and in some respects deeply empathetic, which is why I question in some respects if he is Aspie or something else. I also wonder if I feel he is deeply empathetic because of my own borderline Aspie traits. He and I are very similar people in many, many aspects, but I find that I am just much more emotional and less introverted.
He is a bit of a “dad” kind of figure to his friends, very responsible, feels a deep need to “do the right thing” and can listen actively and intently to all your problems like a sponge, you can talk at him and he never minds. He has a wide network of friends and can be very charismatic but also interestingly enough is introverted, does not get energy from social situations, and while happy to party and engage socially, does feel a deep need to be alone for a period of time after socialising. But if there is one on one time with someone, the time limit for socialising is shorter, he can generally only take a few hrs, which makes the “dating” part of this really interesting.
To get into what rings some bells for me I’ll get into that “dating” question. So I have been friends with him for two years now but our friendship was not necessarily super deep just natural and close when we did see each other mainly at university or gatherings or film shoots I would invite him to, then we would catch the train home together and tell each other personal stuff but wouldn’t make one on one time for each other outside of that. In August we were both on a film shoot together when he made a move on me, pulled me on top of him as we were on a couch and asked me to stay and sleep next to him, and I was interested as I realised I was attracted to him, which is significant for me as I don’t generally feel attraction to many people, but I rejected him at first as I wanted to remain professional and left him there. He spent the rest of the shoot with longing glances and a lot of touching/physical affection towards me, which we kind of had before then anyway but not at this level.
I changed my mind after the shoot had ended and asked him to the movies and he agreed but put it off for a fortnight as we both had a lot of busy film shoots happening. When he saw me next was after a different shoot, when he stayed over at my place (which he has done after events and things in the past as he used to live significantly far out of town and we lived on the same train line so it was easy), he made it clear that he felt I was a platonic friend to him. I was confused as he had come onto me less than a week before, and then he couldn’t really give me an answer to why that happened or why he felt the way he felt but got quite frustrated and kissed me anyway, then we proceeded to hook up. But his behaviour was incredibly odd, he kept repeating to himself that this “is platonic”, like verbally repeating it and yet continuing to kiss/touch me. I, understandably, got pretty frustrated with him and said that his behaviour was strange, if he was attracted to me but not sure about where this would go we could casually date, or even just casually hook up and see how that works out. He was adamant he could not do that with me as we did not “click” and I did not agree with that as we were already close friends and attracted to each other, so, I came up with some logical reasons for why like our close friendship, uni, mutual friendship groups and his age, life situation etc. He agreed to my reasoning seemingly as an escape and then that was that.
But a few weeks went by and the attraction would not go away and so when I pointed this out to him he agreed to casually date. But a month later he broke up with me, saying he had an intense attraction to me both intellectually and physically but he had “made a decision” that we did not click, that he felt strongly about this “in his gut” and he wanted to stick to it. Again, super odd to me as we had not really spent that much time together in a romantic sense yet and everything was positive and good on many levels despite some of his odd behaviour, the sex especially good, despite a lack of experience on his part which is saying something about compatibility. But there were some things about his behaviour (which I will get into) that made me decide to believe him and think this was a normal mismatch of attraction and that he did not have the level attraction to me he needed. Yet my own gut said something was wrong about his decision so I did get upset still as I felt gaslit, I cried and he got upset that I was upset and started to hit himself on the head, so I calmed down and he apologised profusely, we slept next to each other cuddling all night but the next day he still felt the same and so we departed on good terms.
Then less than a week later we were at a party and he broke down in my arms as I went to hug him goodbye and told me how much he “deeply cared about me” and we slept beside each other, me telling him it would not be sexual but ended up having sex anyway. This has continued ever since.
There came a crisis point for me when he asked to stop having sex with me (again, no reason other than his “decision”) but brought it up during a conversation where I was asking why, as a friend even, he did not ask many questions about me, especially if we were sleeping together, like how I was doing psychologically outside of our relationship in my personal life or whatever. That I had to initiate all talk about myself. And how he struggled with spending more than a few hrs alone with me (awake). He said it was due to the sex, which I had had only reciprocated not initiated since his initial break-up with me, so I said then stop trying to have sex with me, he said it would be hard to do that. So I made what I thought was the logical decision that while hard as we did care so much about each other, we should not be close friends and should not see each other one-on-one then, he then broke down, did what was as close to crying as he can get (he says he can’t cry) and curled into a ball, scrunching up his face and getting extremely upset. He said he can’t lose me, as I have a dynamic (that’s his favourite word for our relationship) with him he has with no one else and that I would ‘regret’ not being his friend. I was very offended by this and his behaviour but over the weekend he broke me down with his pleas about how much he cares about me and wants to keep getting to know me and wants to be in my life no matter what. He was firm about the no sex thing, so I agreed, again, and then a week later he abruptly kissed me and so we’ve been back at it ever since.
That’s the thing, our relationship has incredibly deepened, I have become his best friend in some weird way, we have a lot of close mutual friends including his housemates (he has since the beginning of this moved to my suburb with a bunch of our friends and so lives about 10 minutes walk away) and they confirm what he has talked to me about, intimacy issues even on a friends level. He doesn’t really talk to people about personal things and he does keep people at arms distance. He has suffered from depression in the past but has never talked to anyone about it deeply. His family is in a deep crisis situation as his parents might divorce soon and his mother has breast cancer but he has talked to no one about it except me. So the joke around our friendship groups is that he is a mystery man except to me. And I talk to him about my personal issues as well but I do have other people I talk to and share the load as I think that’s a much more healthy thing to do. I personally find it odd that he didn’t talk to anyone at all about things before I came along. He says the fact that he talks to me is a “seismic shift” in behaviour for him.
Some of the behaviour he exhibited which at first I thought might have just been an issue with me (and have since learned it’s with everyone) was that he struggles a lot with giving verbal affection or even receiving it, he does not like to be told that I like him or why I like him, even as a friend. When I would ask if he thought I was attractive physically, or just what he liked about me in general, basically just out of curiosity as to what traits about me attracted me to him but also because I feel like in my past relationships it’s normal to be affirmed you are attractive by the person you are seeing, he would balk as if pointing it out was useless, and would state well you know you are very beautiful, compassionate and intelligent why do I have to say it, and would tell me that I had to work on my self-esteem. He would go about this gently enough that it would not come off as rude but on paper, it does sound very rude.
That’s the thing, a lot his behaviour on paper sounds very rude and insensitive but in person, he is very soft and gentle that it is hard to put a finger on how bad it really is. He has said some pretty bad things to me in general and then said that is not what he means. He said he feels “nothing” when he looks at me, but has taken it back and now says he can’t understand how he feels, he says we have no connection but then has taken that back and says we have a bond/connection that is very deep, he has said up I am too emotional/exuberant but has taken that back as he says he is unsure why he ever felt that way.
He struggles with physical affection outside of sex sometimes as well, he seems to want to touch but then he has admitted to me that with all of his friends it’s like the clock resets and he struggles with regaining a sense of physical trust and intimacy, including with his own parents/family. So PDA is really odd and interesting, he has had to be “taught” how to say goodbye, he generally just wants to lightly hug or shake hands, when I told him it’s normal to kiss someone goodbye if you are dating he said he didn’t know that and he needed me to tell him these things. When he did kiss me in public he would point out if there were people nearby (like walking down the street or in the distance) or if there were security cameras nearby, like while kissing me. Since he broke up with me he has gone back to shaking hands or hugging unless I point out I would like to be kissed and then he sheepishly kisses me as if caught out in doing something naughty. And he has just recently admitted to me that he has been like this since a small child, even with his own parents, if he is not the one to initiate touch then he is uncomfortable with it. I’ve noticed this with sex as well and have pointed out this as a key issue going forward as far as equality, he is confused and slightly reluctant about sex unless he initiates it, it’s really subtle though as he is a red-blooded male, but I can pick up on his discomfort still.
His psychology about sexuality is really interesting to me as well, he doesn’t find being touched himself that pleasing (other than the obvious orgasm at the end) and he doesn’t find people sexually appealing in and of themselves but finds the sensation of watching them in sexual pleasure and giving them pleasure to be what he finds enjoyable. Which also plays into why he does not feel the need to be affirmative as to him my aesthetic beauty is just a logical fact, and while something he appreciates, not something he finds necessarily the most attractive thing about being with me.
He also stims a lot when in intense conversations, pacing, fiddling with things, opening and closing doors/cupboards/bottles. When having intense conversations, his main response is that he does not have a response and either he catastrophises or tells me he does not know what to say and that he needs to process, and so he quite literally then dismisses me and goes off on his own. He often needs to process a lot of things and never really comes back with a response. He struggles to contact me about anything but is very responsive when I contact him, and when I suggest we spend time together. But is also very confused about the need to regularly see me, even as a friend, I say this in the context of him wanting to maintain a closeness which necessarily requires regular contact, I’ve pointed this out to him but he doesn’t seem to connect the closeness we have built with the regular contact that we have maintained so far.
One thing I should also add in this is that he says he has had girlfriends in high school, but no sexual relationship with them. He first started hooking up with people after high school (so in the last two years) but before me had only had penetrative sex on two separate occasions with two people, both of them female friends from high school and he did not tell the first that it was his first time (but I’m sure she figured that out on her own haha). Afterwards, he claims he has been able to remain, friends, even close friends with one and so, he was confused when I said I did not want to be close friends with him because of that, despite the different contexts, ugh.
Despite casually dating/hooking up and being clear we are not at the stage of being monogamous, neither of us has felt the need to sleep with other people during this either.
He has said he knows there is “something” about him that is unusual and this has contributed to his depression in the past, he says he can’t stand his own behaviour at times and so when trying to have conversations about it he hyper focuses and takes it very personally that he is a “shit person” in general. So there is some awareness there and that is why I am unsure what he really has going on.
I know you are probably thinking, wow what are you even getting out of this yourself, and I can only say that you have to be around him to understand. I find him incredibly physically and emotionally attractive, he is such a gentle and kind person, with a fantastic mind and we have so many similarities and common interests beyond even film/music, our main passions. We have similar lifestyles and hobbies, as well as the same values/opinions on most topics. So there is a shorthand there I just don’t have with many people I have met in my life.
I’m also just out of a long-term relationship that ended at the beginning of this year, in which I found deep fulfilment but ended on good terms and am still good friends with my ex. However, I haven’t spent much time as an adult outside of a relationship that is intense and deep. I am kind of intrigued by this situation as it does at this stage still give me some freedom as a single person which I think I need, to learn how to be alone a bit. I’m trying to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too unhealthy and am aware that if his intimacy issues continue it will have to end completely.
I just want to understand him more though and figure out if his behaviour really is just asshole young guy who doesn’t know what he wants or actually something more neurobiological, or maybe somewhere in between…