Moving in with a Bumble match two weeks after meeting. Not thinking twice that a new boyfriend punched walls whenever he misplaced his keys. Gushing about my love for the Borderlands video game series until a crush’s eyes glazed over. Assuming the non-monogamous couple who kept DMing me to sleep over and chat about sex just wanted to be friends — not flirt their way into a threesome.
Unfortunately, these are not my proudest dating moments.
I always thought I was just painfully awkward with terrible social anxiety. Then, at age 30, I finally unlocked the key that changed everything: an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. This new understanding of myself helped explain all of the cringy, confusing, and downright traumatic experiences throughout my relationship history.
I realized that it was important I bring my full self to my dating life. And that started with being up-front about who I am.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that’s characterized by repetitive or restrictive behaviors as well as difficulties with communication and socializing. According to Ryan Sultan, MD, board-certified psychiatrist, therapist, and professor at Columbia University, some of the most common challenges autistic folks face while dating include interpreting nonverbal cues (like body language), expressing emotions, dealing with unpredictabi