While my wife was away recently, she met a woman whose partner was recently diagnosed as being Asperger’s and the woman recommended some books for my wife to read. One book is entitled “Aspergers in Love” and is written by a therapist called Maxine Aston. When my wife told me she had picked up the book I was a little apprehensive about it. Initially I was unsure what put me on edge, though eventually I concluded that the book possibly indicates that my wife didn’t accept me as I am. There is and perhaps will always be the sense that my wife doesn’t accept what I say when I describe my issues but if somebody else says them, then they are accepted. It reminds me of children never listening to their parents’ advice because what possibly could they know about the child’s life. I do have to say I think that often my kids do seem to listen to me.
Yesterday morning I found the book lying on my wife’s side of the bed and decided to have a look at it. I skipped over the foreword and introduction and started reading the first chapter entitled “Atrraction”. In the first paragraph the author talks about her research and immediately I am enguard, this is a therapist talking about research and most therapists have no clue as to how to do scientific research; I want to know where she learnt to do this, I want to know population size and I want to see published papers demonstrating that the research is peer reviewed.
Later on I find that Aston has a Master’s degree in Psychology but not from where, so she should have knowledge of presenting and researching subjects but I cannot find any reference to them. The introduction covers the populations size – 41 clients. There are no clear guidelines on sample size for qualitative studies but this does seem to be a reasonable number. I can find no trace of peer reviewed papers.
I read the first chapter and find fault in a lot of it. One of the understandings I have about Asperger’s is that everyone is unique so any generalisation won’t hold, but I can see that if people with the diagnosis have three things in common (triad of impairments) difficulties in social interaction, communication and imagination then some generalisation may be possible. At the end of the chapter (and every chapter) is a summary of bullet points and I find it less frustrating to read these. So let me look at these highlights.
An AS (Asperger’s) man often bases his attraction to a particular woman on how much she is attracted to him. I think there is some truth in this for me. When I look back to my university days, it was the women that seem to need me in some way that I went out with. I did have crushes on other women but I think that was more about seeing somebody full of life and energy which I guess I wanted to be part of.
Physical attraction is more relevant than sexual attraction in partner choice. I am not clear on the difference here, it seems that sexual attraction is being attracted to breasts, bums and legs but since these are physical things that doesn’t make sense to me. It could be wanting to have sex with somebody but that seems to me to be measured by my physiological reaction to someone. Generally I would say I prefer slim, fit people which could be a reflection of my own image.
Hair and eyes are the most frequently mentioned and desired physical attribute for a partner. I can’t say hair plays a part in attractiveness for me; eyes possible do. I remember working a factory canteen and being mesmerised by a customer’s strikingly pale blue eyes (I still have a faded image of them). I do like seeing unusual eye colours but I suspect this is more about liking the uncommon than a tick list for my partner (who has common brown eyes like mine!).
Sensitivity to smell or particular fabrics are apparent for AS men. This is fairly clear cut for me, I hate perfume, I find it overpowering, artificial and alcoholic to taste (from a kiss for instance). I really do not see the need to use it, bah humbug. I prefer softer fabrics to harder ones, nylon shirts are horrible, whereas brushed cotton feels lovely, though it can be too warm.
The likes and dislikes of an AS male can be very rigid. There are things I eat now that I wouldn’t as a child e.g. Brussel sprouts, mince pies and dark fruit cake. I do things that I don’t like because the end result is more important, like fly Ryan Air and go sailing. As for attraction though, I think I am pretty easy going. I used to think my poodle looked ugly, but now to me he is himself and that’s okay.
Initially the AS male will do anything to make his partner feel special and happy. Later in the relationship both partners are sometimes left feeling that they got it all wrong. I have to say that I think this may be true of most relationships, people change and grow and often that leads to a change in the relationship. It is true that I used to let me partner warm her freezing cold feet on my stomach when we were dating and the novelty wore off once we were married so for the most part freezing feet are rejected nowadays. I think the decision to be a couple needs to be continuously renewed and adjusted because the people in the couple are continuously changing (I hope). Maybe it is more difficult for AS people because of the challenges in communication so “feeling they got it all wrong” may crop up more often.
In summary then, it would appear that I agree with half of the statements but I am just one individual who doesn’t actually have a diagnosis of Asperger’s so I am not sure what that really means. Further chapters to be explored later.