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Trek to Teach is a nonprofit organization that sends fluent English speakers to teach in Nepal near the Himalayas.
Others with AS have told me about similar stories, all linked by a common theme: We experience dating, as we do all other social rituals, as non-native bumblers, struggling to comprehend a culture of Byzantine complexity (in our eyes) and lacking the unassailable logic of being entirely direct, straightforward, verbalized, and emotionless (which is clearly reasonable … I recently had a conversation with a friend who commented that people with AS should “just use common sense” when navigating the dating scene.
Since people communicate through both verbal and nonverbal methods, those of us with AS are frequently at a disadvantage when attempting to socialize in our personal and professional lives.
As I explained in an earlier article on my personal experiences with AS: If life in a society is a game (and make no mistake about it, it is), having Asperger’s forces you to play while learning two-thirds of the rules as you go along, even as everyone else knows them instinctively … Of course, one of the twists of having AS is that you tend to develop an outsider’s perspective on social rules in general, and the world of dating is no exception.
Few pieces of advice are more frustrating to a mild autistic, since “common sense” in dating involves intuitively knowing the assumptions that others will make about you based on the cues you give off through what you say and do—which, of course, is precisely what AS causes you to miss.
Regardless of whether two people are meeting on a prearranged date or striking up conversation in a casual setting, each one’s emotional response is determined by the assumptions they make based on a multitude of factors, from body language, facial expression, and eye contact to manner of dress, choice of conversation topics, and tone of voice (the same principle applies to online dating, although the cues are different).