Most of us notice qualities of character and integrity in those around us, and we feel comfortable in generalizing our observations. It seems reasonable to assume that if certain positive qualities are demonstrated in one setting, that those same positive qualities apply to other settings. For instance, when we observe someone being exceptionally kind to a child – we build a framework in our mind that informs us about that person’s tendencies.
When the neurotypical wife and ASD husband first begin dating, she is often initially attracted to many of his responsible qualities. Many neurotypical women endured childhoods that were filled with instability – abuse, neglect, trauma and/or caregivers who were mentally ill, personality-disordered, absent, or enslaved by addiction. Having survived tumultuous early years in life, the NT wife experiences the hard-working and intelligent ASD boyfriend as a calm from the storm. She can envision a future with him that feels safe. The ASD boyfriend seems to demonstrate so many qualities that would ensure a marriage and family built upon a solid foundation and partnership.
Because the ASD boyfriend is brilliant at work, there is an impression of his overall competence that is imprinted upon her perception of him. (While there are some ASD men who struggle to keep employment – for the purpose of this post, we are referring to the large percentage of Asperger’s Syndrome men who are very successful in their professional endeavors.) He appears dedicated, capable, focused and reliable. The framework in her mind is that this man has qualities which would lend to dependability in marriage.
NT women often have a history of childhood emotional neglect. As young girls, many were compelled to take on adult responsibilities far too early. The autistic boyfriend’s professional life is reassuring. It’s easy for her to generalize that he’s equally devoted and proficient in all aspects of adult life, especially when paired with the social-emotional masking that happens prior to the marriage. She believes he will be a partner whom she can rely upon to share responsibilities with, instead of taking on the over-functioning role of her childhood.
The autistic boyfriend is self-assured and well-respected for his authority and knowledge at work, but he is boyishly vulnerable with his neurotypical girlfriend during personal time. He may be far less confident when they are alone and in intimate moments. She’s charmed that such a professionally successful man is not sure-footed when he is trying to be close to her. It gives the impression that his feelings for her are sensitive and special. She believes he is gifting her with rare vulnerability, and it must be because his feelings for her are so strong.
The neurotypical girlfriend might also notice that unlike other men she’s dated, he is very respectful of her personal space. She does not feel threatened by his advances, because he’s reserved and cautious in initiating anything physical. He may even be a bit awkward. He might confess that he doesn’t have a lot of experience, which is endearing to his neurotypical girlfriend. This might make perfect sense to her, because he’s been so busy building his career – he didn’t have time for personal relationships until now. Many neurotypical women who marry autistic men have a history of sexual abuse, assault or trauma. As a result, neurotypical survivors are sometimes unconsciously avoidant of sexually assertive men. An autistic boyfriend is often lacking confidence, experience and skill in seducing his neurotypical girlfriend, so their intimate moments feel very safe – she can’t imagine being coerced by him.
The neurotypical woman is drawn to the dating experience of:
- ASD attentiveness to her (she is often the special interest)
- Observing his work ethic and professional success
- His boyish charm & sexual inexperience or reservedness
She does not realize that after marriage or cohabitation, it often translates into:
- ASD discard (losing her special interest status)
- No energy put toward the household, family or marital relationship
- Avoidance of sex, preference for porn, and sexual sensory overwhelm
The framework of his strengths and qualities as observed by her in his professional life, cannot be extrapolated to family life.
It is quite devastating for the neurotypical wife to realize that the strengths which drew her toward him initially, can in turn be the qualities which cause the most suffering for her in the long-term. It’s so painful for the neurotypical wife to observe that he can show up in the boardroom, or the science lab, or the tech conference and be fully present, engaged and dynamic. But at home, the relationship with his wife is not prioritized in the same way he has dedicated himself to professional success. He might be a corporate executive, but he lacks executive functioning in the home environment. He might have had very little intimate experience prior to meeting her, but perhaps that was not a lack of opportunity – and more so a lack of interest.
While the neurotypical wife usually maintains an admiration and sense of gratitude for her husband’s career achievement and dedication, she still anticipated a very different marital partnership. She expected his professional integrity to spill over into the same amount of energy and interest for his wife and family. She extrapolated that his professional passion, dedication and work ethic would be brought into the marriage with equal emphasis, and that is often not the case.
4 thoughts on “The Extrapolation Mistake”
This article is vague and only covers the basic obvious traits as they show up in a marital relationship. It doesn’t go into the daily specifics, the ins and outs. It doesn’t talk about how he shuts her down when anything she wants doesn’t align with his wants, how he can’t for the life of him discuss anything to do with her feelings, he can’t understand cause & effect (that things we do/don’t do) cause others to feel a certain way. He can’t understand her needs, connection or intimacy. Can’t grapple with what those things even mean. They take things very very literally. They are void of sympathy and empathy completely! To the point that many are misdiagnosed as narcissistic. The ONLY difference is a narc is typically extremely intentional with his manipulative intentions. Aspires often can’t comprehend how their behavior and mostly (lack there of) is hurtful. They check all the boxes (I love her, I bring her flowers, I kiss her, dated her, called her , I married her, I work all day for her….why can’t she be happy! It’s all very robotic! He can’t laugh, discuss, respectfully disagree, cry, support or lean on her for ANYTHING emotionally. And you will never ever EVER expect a compromise! They don’t understand what they are doing wrong (bcz it feels so RIGHT TO THEM) therefore they can’t change it. And even if counseling or a diagnosis can prove them wrong and they are forced to change….it won’t stick. They simply can’t! They are socially and emotionally handicapped in their most intimate relationships. Aspies are typically extremely loyal (typically) responsible and very dependable to provide. If you just need a sugar daddy to pay the bills and live as roommates, getting your needs fulfilled elsewhere then a relationship with one is perfect for you. But if your trying to have a relationship with one built on conversations, quality time, compromise, trust and forgiveness and grow old together…..run the other way. It’s a slow death by a thousand cuts and you will kill yourself trying! You will end up feeling worthless and alone and an empty shell of who you once were, bcz you gave and gave and gave all you had thinking he would do the same. But he simply c a n ‘ t!
Wow. Spoken with experience.
Thank you… I understand and echo your pain and disappointment. Let’s remember there is hope in realizing and finding peace with our mistakes.
I pose another layer to this devastating cycle of reasonable expectation Vs reality of life with an Aspie. When his special interest is not you and never was you – sex was and remains his special interest. You represent access to his special interest – but he has zero interest in you as a person and he resents and despises you because he cannot be in a relationship with an NT woman but he wants access to his special interest. There is zero escape from the spiral of a relationship – the pain of being disregarded – but also being the gateway to his special interest.
I wish I had discovered this site while I was still in my marriage. 39 yrs of confusion, loneliness, headache and tears spent with no comprehesion of why he changed so dramatically immediately upon getting married. Lots of red flags before but I ignored them – having him in my life was so much better than life with my family of origin. Later I always felt that I had married my mother who I had spent years trying to distance myself from as I got older. These articles are so validating and put all the craziness into perspective – so much of my marriage makes sense now. 2 1/2 yrs out now with lots of healing to be done – thanks for helping me understand what was going on inside my life behind closed doors.🌹