3 Neurodivergent Dating Strategies From A Dating Coach
Fairy tales promising happily-ever-after are part of our culture. Who hasn’t grown up hearing stories of Cinderella finding her prince, or boy-meets-girl rom-coms? It seems that everyone wants to fall in love, but it’s not simple as fairy tales make it sound. For some ND people, especially autists and anyone who struggles with emotional regulation and social communication and emotional regulation, love can seem impossibly out of reach.
But why shouldn’t romance be possible for everyone?
There’s no reason. Romance is not reserved for the neuro-majority. ND folk meet, date, and fall in love all the time. Does that mean it’s easy? No, of course not. But, an easy road to dating happiness isn’t promised to the neuro-majority, either. Most worthwhile things call for some amount of work, and dating is no different. During Dating Coaching, a Dating Coach can tell you that when you think about honing your dating skills, look to your ABS. No, not your six-pack abs. A.B.S. stands for Awareness, Boundaries, and Slow Going.
Strategy 1 from a Dating Coach – Awareness
Are you aware when someone is flirting with you? Do you need insight about when or how you should flirt with someone you like? To flirt or not to flirt – that is the question in the dating game. It’s important to be aware of how you’re coming across to someone you like. Flirting is one way that people show their interest in someone. It telegraphs awareness and attraction.
It can be verbal, with clever banter.
Or, it can be nonverbal, using eye contact and subtle expressions, and tone.
Many people believe that flirting is a required part of dating. But what if you’re not good at flirting?
A Dating life Coach can remind you that you don’t have to flirt to be in the dating game. A lot of people value straightforward honesty. You might want to tell someone you like up front, “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t pick up on subtle hints and flirting. If someone likes me, I hope they come right out and tell me so.”
Being aware of your feelings, and letting your potential date know how you feel, is honest. This is far more important than pick-up lines, which can come across as phony, or even creepy. Being aware of this is key to being able to be your authentic self with your date.
Strategy 2 from a Dating Coach – Boundaries
Boundaries and understanding them are vital to dating success. If a line gets crossed, someone says or does something that puts the other person completely off, that can mean the end of whatever may have been possible. So, be on the lookout for signs that you are approaching someone’s boundary.
One way to be aware of someone’s boundaries is to observe them. If you are sitting or standing close to them, do they turn or lean away from you? If so, then you need to pull back and give them more space.
In another situation if you’re talking to someone, and they seem to be scanning the room, looking around as if to find someone else to talk to, that’s a red flag. It might mean it’s time to change the subject and see what they want to talk about, if anything. If they really just want to leave, let them go without trying to prolong the conversation. There are people who also enjoy talking about your favorite subjects, and it’s better to find them than to keep trying to engage with someone who’d rather be elsewhere.
As far as a good night kiss goes, in the movies it might be an expected end to every date, but in real life it’s not guaranteed that your date will end with a kiss. Asking if your date wants a good night hug or kiss is better than trying to go for it without permission. It is charming to ask, and your date will most likely appreciate the courtesy.
Setting Your Own & Respecting Theirs
Being aware of your date’s boundaries and being careful not to be too pushy is important, so they can feel safe. But, boundaries are a two-way street.
You have the right to create your own boundaries for what makes you uncomfortable, just as your date does. It’s never okay for anyone to walk all over you and disrespect your personal space. If you’re not comfortable touching at all on the first date, that is your right. You should not be pressured into holding hands, hugging, kissing, or more until you feel comfortable that it’s what you want, and you are both ready for it. It doesn’t matter what your gender is. The antiquated notion that men should always push for intimacy and women should always hold back is a thing of the past. Either date may ask for more intimacy, and either date may say they’re not ready for intimacy. The important thing is to ask rather than making assumptions.
Strategy 3 from a Dating Coach – Slow Going
Dating is not a race, and the slowest partner sets the pace. You may be in a hurry to find your person and start your life together, but be patient. Slow going is key. If you push your date before they’re ready, you might end up pushing them away for good. Waiting for something makes it all the sweeter when you two finally decide to become a couple rather than a couple of singles.
If you’re not sure whether the two of you are actually dating or just doing fun things together as friends, ask. It’s better to come out and ask what their intentions or expectations are than to make assumptions about how they feel that may not be reciprocated. You want to know, even if the answer is that they want to be friends but not sweethearts. A friend is a good person to have in your life, and who knows, maybe your friend will end up introducing you to the love of your life.
If you have been on several dates and no one has suggested a good night kiss, it’s fine to ask, but don’t be pushy. “No” is always an acceptable answer.
Get Help with Dating Coaching
If you would like a guide to help you on your dating journey, there are options.
Some people find it helpful to work with a Dating Coach as they hone their dating skills and get ready to find their person. If dating coaching at Adult Autism Assessment sounds like something you’d be interested in then follow these steps:
- Email [email protected] for a free consultation
- Speak with one of our Dating Life Coaches about your dating goals
- Start the journey to find the right person for you
Other people prefer bibliotherapy to one-on-one work. Books about dating are out there, including Wendela Whitcomb Marsh’s Dating While Autistic: Cut Through the Social Quagmire and Find Your Person, the second book in the Adulting While Autistic series from Future Horizons, Inc. Check it out or ask your librarian or local bookstore owner.
Wherever you are on your personal dating story, I hope that find success in focusing on your A.B.S.: Awareness, Boundaries, and Slow Going.