"But If One Person Rejects Me, I'll Die Alone And Unloved!"

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Yesterday, I wrote about the game of “Cruel or Incompetent,” where I said that for certain core needs of your personality, it doesn’t really matter if someone meant to transgress those rules or not.  If someone needs to be told “By the way, buying a blowjob from a sex worker counts as cheating in our monogamous relationship,” then chances are really good that they’re full of other hurtful behaviors they’ll need to have explicitly programmed – and are most likely not a good fit for you.
To which I got some concern from people about how bad this was for people with Asperger’s, who often need to have the rules told to them.  The folks with Asperger’s people can’t read emotions, goes the worry, and sometimes they need to be told things.  So if everyone took my advice and abandoned these poor Asperger’s people when it turns out the aspies did not inherently grok their needs, people with Asperger’s everywhere will die alone and unloved and abandoned.
I have good news!
Nope.
I’m not recanting on my idea that there are some basic considerations in a relationship that you shouldn’t have to explain.  But the people concerned that “You should consider leaving someone if they don’t instinctively get these core values” are missing one vital fact:
Everyone has different core values.
For some people, buying a hummer at the massage parlor doesn’t count as cheating!  And that’s the glory of people: there’s fucking billions of squishy humans, each of them totally different in every way.  If you don’t get the core values of someone you’re dating, well, sucks that you don’t get to stay with that person, but that doesn’t mean that you’re condemned to a lifetime of isolated anguish.
It means you have to find someone whose needs are more in line with your instincts.
Yeah, your aspie friends may have to date more people to find who they’re looking for… but just because one person would find it stressful and harmful to have to explain their fundamentals (and all the ramifications thereof, as I’ll explain in a bit), that doesn’t equate to “There’s nobody out there for them.”  Because everyone has slightly different fundamentals.  Including your aspie friends, who doubtlessly have their own rules they need to feel safe and beloved – and you wouldn’t tell them, “Well, stay with this woman who doesn’t understand what makes you happy because, well, it’d be rude to her to reject her for that!”
Plenty of Asperger’s people date, and find love.  That’s because the truth is, there aren’t that many core fundamentals that need explaining.  Someone commented, “Well, you had to educate Gini on your core fundamentals,” and the answer is that I really didn’t.  We both agreed that people in love who make reasonable complaints to each other should be listened to, and loved. What we disagreed on was the definition “What is a reasonable complaint?” and that’s a debate that, fifteen years later, we’re still having.
But the minute the other partner becomes convinced the complaint is reasonable, no matter how mad they are, we drop everything to fix it.  That’s why we’ve survived.  And that’s something, thankfully, that we’ve never had to explain, we just agreed on it.  Hell, it took me a moment to actually pinpoint what this fundamental was, because in a decade and a half of almost-constant analysis, we have never once argued about that.
The thing about fundamentals is that they seem like one fact, but actually they unpack all sorts of other vital information about you that are also necessary to your functioning.  There are some people for whom really trivial stuff is a core fundamental to them – “You have to call if you’re going to come home late.”  For most people that’s a nice-to-have as opposed to an I’m-leaving-if-you-don’t-do-that-without-asking, so it seems silly to just contemplate walking out if someone forgets to call a time or two.
But wrapped in that single fact are all sorts of other assumptions that people who want to be with you intimately should probably get – “I worry about things,” “I’m big on protocol,” “Unknowns will drive me crazier than any known fact,” “I drift towards worst-case scenarios.”
The thing that differentials these core fundamentals from a one-time lesson is that explaining them to people often means all the cascading lessons that stem from that core value don’t get learned.  If you have someone who goes, “Oh, right.  Okay, I’ll call,” and marks that off, there’s a really good chance they haven’t understood the other things that will drive you nuts – like how you worry, like how you require a certain politeness in your lovers, like how leaving you in the dark will drive you batshit – and because they don’t comprehend all the ramifications they will accidentally step on your worst fears time and time again. You may be in for months of your lover stepping on your nuts with stiletto heels and going, “Oh, crap, kinda forgot you had those.”
Whereas it’s not a guarantee – nothing is – but if one of your core values is “Call when you’re running late,” and the guy calls without being told to, you’ve got a far better chance of having someone who’s synced with you on a really critical level.
And yeah.  It’s totally fucking tough to figure out what your core values are, as opposed to just a thing that can be hammered out in discussion.  Because these dealbreakers vary for everyone.  It’s all fine and well to say “If you’re dating me, you have to realize my kids come first,” but there’s plenty of parents for whom that doesn’t apply at all.  It’s all fine and well to assume that core value of “If we’re monogamous, you have to be faithful to me,” but for many people that actually reads as “You have to not get caught.”  (Heck, there’s plenty of people for whom fidelity and their children aren’t core values at all.)
Unfortunately, that means you have to date around enough to understand which aspects of partner-ignorance can be worked out with a little education, and which things are the sign that whoah, this means we’re not really suited for each other.
And to repeat: if someone rejects you, that means you’re not suited for that one person.  Which sucks, it really does.  But there are thousands of other people in your city, each with different personalities, and with luck you’ll find someone for whom your natural instincts don’t clash with their fundamental needs… and their instincts line up with yours.
Being ill-suited for one person does not mean that humanity is a mass of cookie-cutter ideals and to be bad for one of us means you will be cast out from the herd.  People with Aspergers find love.  Depressive neurotics like me find love.  People with all sorts of really unusual crooks in their psyche find love, and that’s because we should all thank God that no two people are perfectly alike.  You’ll rejected by one person.  Almost certainly several.
But in time, if you work at gaining understanding of who you are and how you interact with other people, you’ll find the partner that works for you.
Or maybe you’ll just stumble accidentally into love.  That happens a lot, too.  Because wow, are there a lot of us, and luck happens.

2 Comments

  1. Rosemarie
    Oct 9, 2014

    Incidentally, as an aspie, I get really tired of hearing people talk about things other people need to do to take care of the “poor Asperger’s people.”
    Now, I haven’t read the actual comments talking about this (because they didn’t come in on the version of the blog I read), but my guess is that most, if not all, of them came from people who don’t actually have Asperger’s. That bothers me. Aspies aren’t helpless infants, completely lacking the ability to communicate. We don’t need anybody else to speak for us; we can speak for ourselves.
    Of course, if the comments did come from aspies, the complaint doesn’t apply in this case. 😛

  2. Jericka
    Oct 9, 2014

    The people who seem to say, “but what about the Aspies!” Tend to :
    1. Forget that Aspies can be female, or, only seem to care about the guys.
    2. Not seem to understand that real Aspie type awkwardness folk back off nicely or otherwise correct themselves when told what the problem is.
    So, I too get really tired about, “but what about the Aspies!” Unless it is Actually an Aspie speaking up.
    For myself, I like to be told why something is a problem if I transgress, because it helps ME spot other areas that would probably also cause problems. I like to know the underlying reasons and the system that ties things together. It would have helped enormously if I had known that my late husband thought that jealousy was a sign of love. It was a problem when he was jealous of my interactions with an online friend, and also when I was NOT jealous of his interactions with a female friend of his. I did figure it out, but, i didn’t figure the entire systemic problem out until we had been married a while because he didn’t tell me about the base assumption ever, and only spoke to me about his jealousy when it was severe.
    Things that I learned from all that include:
    I don’t deal well with jealousy.
    I now talk about underlying romantic assumptions with people that I date. (Things that trip people up include, what does infidelity actually take? Spending too much time online with someone? Participating in a story role play with someone where a not self referential character kisses someone? Masturbating? Going to lunch with opposite gender coworker? Watching or reading pron? Emotional attachment? Cuddling? Where is YOUR line?)
    I tell people that I am not psychic, and that I will tell them if I have a problem, but, I expect them to tell me if THEY have a problem as well.
    Lots of other things that I learned tend to be if/then things.
    For example, If you expect me to make dinner for you, then you need to reliably tell me if you will be home late, hopefully before the prep gets too far along.

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