Reflecting on my past relationships (again).

A disturbing contemporary news story and the surrounding narratives in the public realm prompts me to examine my own life and experiences growing up undiagnosed Aspie and enduring puberty and adolescence as an awkward teenager with a ridiculously high libido. Now that I’m in my early 40s, I can definitely tell my libido is finally beginning to wane a little. It’s still quite high, but it has waned. And thank goodness for that.  I’m actually able to lay my head down and just go to sleep.  Masturbation isn’t the almost necessary sleep aid it used to be 😉

A few things stand out for me as to what makes me different. One, I had ridiculously high standards for girls in High School. I also had much more rigid, inflexible ideas about sex and relationships then as opposed to now. I didn’t believe that premarital sex was wrong, but I did sort of believe it was less than moral to have sex with someone you didn’t love or intend to pursue a serious relationship with that could possibly lead to marriage. Not *would* but at least potentially could.
Ironically, this is precisely how I lost my virginity as a college freshman, a weekend fling with an out of town girl in the DFW suburbs whom I’d never see again.

I passed up on opportunity with girls who were physically attractive, were actually physically attracted to me (not my imagination, they actually came on to me pretty earnestly)…but they were just not very smart people. “Pretty but dumb” just didn’t do it for me. I wanted the *smart* pretty ones. I had a few that might’ve worked out, one 2 years my junior that it really seemed like it would work out, but I was such a clod and a Klutz that I screwed it up and that chance slipped from my fingers. I can only comfort myself with the fact that I got to kiss her, and “got to 2nd base”. I loved her and in an ideal world would’ve preferred to have lost my virginity with her rather than how I did, but we live in the real world, not the ideal one.

The rest of my experiences going forward were very rare/lucky “one night stands”, usually happening once every several years (longest stretch about 7 years). I did have a flurry of potential opportunities in grad school and soon after, some women where it might could have worked…but damn my Aspie awkwardness if I didn’t manage to fumble every single one of those chances one way or another, where an NT in my shoes would’ve crossed the finish line, so to speak.

It wasn’t until I met the young woman who became my wife that I had anything like a normal adult sexual relationship lasting over a year, including cohabitation. I had to wait until my 30s to experience what my peers had managed to achieve in their 20s. Many of my peers from High School now have children who are currently in High School themselves.

Compared to my NT peers, my relationship history looks kinda pathetic. Compared to many Aspie male teens & men, I realize how damn lucky I really am. Even though my marriage failed, I’m thankful every day for having met Cheryl and having tried (and failed) to build a life with her. I can die happy having known what it’s like to love and be loved in return, as the line from Moulin Rouge! puts it. I even had one girlfriend after that marriage failed that lasted 6 months and was very satisfying as well. Nothing since, but eh…life’s still okay.

I also like to think I have enough of a self-deprecating sense of humor about myself and a recognition of my own flaws that I can avoid the worst of those kinds of narcissistic impulses. I’ve never once believed a planet of only “me” would be a happy place. It’d be terrible. I wouldn’t want that.

I can’t offer much in the way of advice to frustrated Aspie guys, only than to say I had my best opportunities with women when I wasn’t actively looking for one, or had even sworn off looking or even caring. I just tried to be clever, witty and smart. Some found that attractive, I guess.

There was one woman I met in Grad School, her name was Cindy, she worked as a buyer for a major department store. We hit it off well, even went on a date. She even invited me back to her apartment (a really nice one, too). I enjoyed talking with her, she was really intelligent, but I lacked the nerve to touch her in any kind of flirty, affectionate way. I suppose I would’ve found the courage, but I also ended up denying myself this relationship because I was worried about the emotional ordeal that writing my thesis was going to turn out to be (and it was horrible and painful)…I guess I didn’t want to drag our nascent relationship through that horror and so cut things off with her, for her sake and mine. Stupid? Probably. Short-sighted? Yeah. Plus I felt myself to be mentally unstable at the time…I was forever denying myself relationships because I felt I hadn’t yet achieved the “proper” level of mental “stability” or “maturity” yet, as if it was only a function of age instead of my tragically undiagnosed Asperger’s….I kick myself because Cindy was so pretty, so smart, had a great body, and genuinely liked me. *sigh* I hadn’t done anything special to “woo” Cindy, other than be in the same grad student hangout she happened to walk into…I guess I struck her as clever and interesting enough to see more of…

And of course it was frustrating to hear my NT peers in High School tell me the key to relationships was just “be confident” or failing that, “pretend to be confident”.

I guess when I got older, “just not caring” (i.e. especially avoiding looking/sounding desperate/pathetic–I know it sounds cruel but it’s just a fact of life…it’s true for job interviews and potential relationships) while also being clever/witty looks enough like confidence to work for some women. 😉  It’s been the only thing that’s worked for me this far.