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If I don’t understand people from the social perspective, then I analyze them intellectually.

For better or worse, there is a music to dating, and while people with AS can understand the verses (and often have a distinctly straightforward way of expressing ourselves that can be refreshing), we struggle with the pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre, and texture. This could be compared to speaking a different language, although that analogy would imply that individuals with AS could at least “speak” to others with the condition, when in fact AS manifests itself so differently from person to person that we are generally as unable to relate to each other as we are with the non-AS population.

Thankfully having AS certainly doesn’t inhibit one’s ability to desire or enjoy sexual intercourse, but the same cannot be said of cultivating the kinds of connections necessary to escape from the “existential loneliness” described by Russell.

In middle school, I came up with seven qualities that would be required in a romantic match and committed them to heart.

In high school, I used graph paper to chart the people I knew: were they “friendly acquaintances,” “friends,” or “close friends”?

I am the type of person who tries to intellectually analyze emotional happenings because they make little logical sense to me.

In childhood, I used my stuffed animals to stand for different people in social situations that I acted out before bed.

When I started college, I didn’t have any dating experience. I ended up having a “boyfriend” for three weeks freshman year, counting the five-day Thanksgiving vacation. My reasoning was, “Nobody else will ever want me anyway, so if somebody shows interest, jump in.” It was a “relationship”, if you can call it that, for the sake of having a relationship — all surface.

While there’s nothing wrong with a romantic start in adulthood, there’s a stigma around it. Like a disgusting cake with beautiful frosting, it lacked the ingredients for happiness. My very limited experience suggests that it depends a lot on reading facial expressions and instantly guessing what the other person is thinking, then acting in a timely manner.

While the merely awkward are at least subconsciously aware of these variables when they’re engaged in an interaction, someone with AS is wired to assume that (a) if someone finds us attractive, they will directly and immediately state it from the get-go and (b) they would want us to do likewise.

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