In this post, I am going to try to dissect what may seem similarities with idealized love between Aspergers and narcissists. (Or narcissistic traits in individuals.) There are distinctions between abusers and narcissists as well. Not all abusers are narcissists. I would like to say here, using the word “narcissist” as flippantly as our society has, has made the actual definition and its destructive attributes become watered down. It has become a word thrown around much like, Autism, Aspergers, Bipolar, OCD, ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, etc … These “labels” have been contorted and misused so much that it is difficult for those who are not directly impacted or who have just realized them (been diagnosed themselves or someone in their life) to comprehend what each one actually means.
I believe there is a huge difference when it comes to comparing any of these with narcissism.
Many times people believe that someone not “knowing” or “responding” to them in the way they expected is determined as being selfish. In fact, I would say it has more to do with the person’s expectations. However, if you live with, work for, or have encountered a narcissist (or the overwhelming traits of an individual) you can decipher the differences. It normally becomes very clear after you start questioning many things about yourself. Here is an excerpt to a link that I will share that gives more information.
“Look at yourself and ask yourself how you feel and whether you are the person you once were and knew. If you live with a narcissist, you will develop a cluster of negative feelings centered around the emotion of fear and an image of inadequacy. This self image of being inadequate then will be due to a change in self perception. This is, it is a cognitive concept that you are not familiar with and which is in contrast to how you used to see yourself. Clearly, such a negative self image will have serious effects on the way you feel and behave. The dominant feeling is, as alluded to, fear. Fear of doing things wrong and fear of being punished. And thus, the way you behave too will become modified whereby you will watch your every move and where your actions become unnatural to yourself.”
If you feel any of this I suggest doing these exercises to help get out of the fog. What To Do About Fear, Obligation and Guilt
I have noticed that in the relationships between NT (Non-Autistic? Alltistics? I cannot keep up with the community’s lingo. Please do not be offended.) women and Aspergers men they seem to voice more issues with feeling that their partner shows narcissistic traits. I have not seen many things written by men about their Autistic female partner.
I did find this I Married an Aspie – A husband’s perspective on Asperger’s Syndrome.
I also found this article by a wife regarding her Aspergers husband Reclaiming Wife: My Husband Has Asperger’s Syndrome. I think that out of both of these the main point is to evaluate your expectations. However, I really do not see how that is any different for all relationships. I thought these were excellent as well Asperger’s and Marriage, written from the perspective and experience of an Aspergers woman. In this forum Mistaking Aspergers for narcissism, there are some great points distinguishing the way Aspergers and narcissists differ for their purpose of their needs.
In my mind, this all connects with the illusion of “ideal” love.
Speaking for myself, I have had a yearning my entire life for “The One.” However, my perception of this person was not that they would be perfect and fulfill all of my needs. I did not believe that they would be my sole source to sustain me and keep refilling me for the rest of my life. No, my ideal person is more accurately defined as “finally, having a healthy relationship.”
Unfortunately, I did not comprehend this until recently.
In my opinion, this could be the same thing that other Aspergers people could be searching for as well when they speak of finding the “one” person. We are seeking someone who accepts us, understands us, or is at least willing to understand us, who does not put unattainable expectations on us, who are willing to work with us to better the relationship, to be open with us, a person who does not play games, and a person who respects us. I could go on, but I think I made my point. Ultimately, the real issue is that we are seeking a better connection with ourselves. Relationships of any type help mold us into who we are and want to become.
Those of us who put such a high interest (at times obsession) on this person could have been deeply wounded in many of our relationships.
In order, to find and keep hope we may come up with a picturesque type of relationship. This could manifest in any sort of relationship. It could be our parents, our spouse, our best friend, a co-worker, a spiritual leader, it could be anyone, even our animals could be the relationship that we have morphed into the ideal relationship. However, Aspergers/Autistics are not the only ones who do this. Human beings do this universally in general. However, there can be entirely different motives, expectations, and reasons that others would never be able to guess from the mind of an Autistic person.
It could be something as simple as a number or as complex as the relationship between their parents.
I have been obsessed with people before. I knew when I was becoming obsessed with a person. I had clear physical affects that caused me to know. I would allow myself to obsess about them for a period of time, but eventually I would snap out of it and see them for the person that they were. Sometimes, my obsessions were on fixed things about them. It could have been the color of their eyes, their hair, and/or the way they talked, if we had similar interests, things like that. Another issue would be how they treated me. In my post Understanding (My) Perseverating Thoughts I mentioned how I had reoccurring thoughts about an ex-boyfriend even after 20 years. The reason was what he had done to me and how badly he treated me not that I had feelings for him.
I could not come up with a rational reason for the mistreatment.
It caused me pain; confusion, trauma, and my mind could not let it go because there was no understandable closure. I hope that makes sense. The thoughts became obsessive at times when I felt similar treatment by others. As a matter-of-fact, about three weeks ago, I had these intrusive thoughts consume my brain and I went in search of him.
As I read information about him, it awoke thoughts of healing.
I was able to realize that he is still in the same place as he was 20 years ago. His life has not changed much while I have had extreme changes in my life – not that I am better, no that is not what I mean. It validated that we were not a good fit and he did not know how to have a relationship with me nor I with him. Not a good match. End of story, no need for me to continually wonder if I could have been better or if I deserved to be lied to and treated that way.
No one ever deserves to be lied to and made to feel foolish.
When I have found myself in this state of “obsessing” I did not scope them out, study them, absorb all of the information I could in order to manipulate them. I soaked up things; I watched them, talked to them, and listened to them in order to know them better. I wanted to know them not own them. I believe that is the case with many Aspergers. When we meet someone that we feel connected to it is a rarity and it is an amazing experience. We can have a hard time making and/or keeping friends. When we do, we do not want to let it go. If we meet someone that we have romantic feelings for that can be even more intense. In some cases, confusing. I had been confused for years about my own experience of finally, feeling the emotions that others expressed when they talked about someone they were attracted to or loved.
I had similar attraction feelings for people, but only in parts.
I tend to be attracted to parts of people. It may sound strange, but I will be attracted to their eyes, or personality to put it simply, I mean what I say; I am attracted to parts of them. In this case, I found myself attracted and liking the whole person. After dissecting the relationship for years now, I believe there was a certain “chemistry” that I had not experienced before, but I also believe there was respect for me as a person. It was something new. The person did not violate me. Though I had an instant attraction and affinity for them, our relationship was based on friendship. I genuinely liked the person and enjoyed the time I spent with them. They sparked things in me that others had not physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.
I was not obsessed with them; I did become obsessed with wanting to know the reason why they rejected me.
Rejected sounds harsh, but it is what it felt like. They did cut me off and even behaved rather poorly around me when hanging out with others. I justified it by saying that we were never actually in a relationship. There was no commitment so he had every right to behave the way he did. Nope. He was a jerk sometimes, but I did get an apology after I explained some of what I felt during that time so that was healing. See I did not become obsessed with him exactly; I became obsessed with the “why’s.” I did not want him to fulfill my every desire, nor did I expect that in the relationship. What I did expect was clarity, honesty, and to be treated with respect.
I did not realize that at the time either.
Those were the feelings lingering all of these years. I wanted to know why a person who cared about me and seemed so different would treat me that way. I wanted to know why this person would treat other women in my presence with more respect than me. What was so terribly wrong with me that I deserved to be discarded in such a way? I felt those things. I am not saying that they are completely accurate, but my feelings were real and pain was devastating. Through processing that relationship, I see now how many of my “obsessive” relationships had to do with similar things.
Why am I so unworthy to be treated with respect? The answer is clear now; I did not respect myself in relationships. I respected myself in many other areas of my life. However, when it came to relationships I had my boundaries violated so much. It started from childhood it has made it difficult for others and me to understand personal boundaries. It has been in the last year that I have started to truly comprehend this. Much of the relationship issues, come from my lack of knowing how to make friends. I had imaginary friends, my friends were my stuffed animals, my books, my music, and my special interests because they did not confuse or hurt me. I did not look to people to fulfill this need, but when someone would come along I never wanted to let them go.
This could be perceived as a narcissistic type of behavior.
It seemed to look like a feeling of ownership of the person. My one best friend would comment about how I behaved like a “jealous boyfriend.” It was not exactly jealousy it was confusion. I could not understand why they would want someone else when they had me. Why mess up a good thing with more people and cause confusion? I would only do this with people that I felt I shared a close connection with. Other people I did not care if they came or went. It would be nice to see them, but I was fine not seeing them too. When my friend would make those comments that confused me very much. I would mentally beat myself up for being such a jealous person. What was wrong with me?
Why couldn’t I just have friends and not be a jealous freak?
That was wrong thinking; if the person had explained it to me, I would have understood. I would feel the tinge of fear though because the more people you bring in the harder it is for me to know how you feel about me. Unless the person is reassuring, affirms, or they have been consistent with me being respectful with their actions (treatment) and words. Then, I am fine. It is about trust. A narcissist does not trust anyone, nor do they want to. (Cannot) From what I have read their obsessions toward people is based out of fear of losing their narcissistic supply. There is no mutual relationship, the narcissist is constantly up or down and you never know what the day will bring and the other person is drained, fatigued, depressed, angry but may not know why, full of fear, self-loathing, but not sure why, confused, and feel as though their world is unstable and shaky.
I cannot remember if I shared this or not, but here is a page that links to many articles about dealing with a NPD person. Stop Walking on Eggshells
I have read several things that indicate women who marry an Aspergers male may feel these typed of things. I know that it can be very difficult to live/love someone who you feel does not notice you, understand you, puts their interests, or possibly themselves before you. I cannot write about other relationships or give any pointers because I am no expert. I am only working on trying to help myself and that requires me to do a lot of research, reading, and processing.
I can make suggestions though.
I would suggest letting go of expectations, seeking their way of communication, and educating yourself about Aspergers from men and women like myself, who share. It may give you more insight that does not mean that what you are feeling is invalidated. It could help you to see with new eyes if you try to understand from their perspective. It could also, open their eyes to how you are truly feeling. Any person who loves you and respects you will be willing to listen and make it possible to work together.
In many cases, when people feel like someone else is trying to understand them they are more willing to work on change.
It may help to learn what narcissism truly is it is beneficial to learn the differences between it and Aspergers. I have written several posts in regards to that. I will link below. It helps a great deal to not take things personally, and to understand that many things that seem to be done on purpose, are not. Once you accept that premise, you begin to filter without an offense.
It can be years and years of feeling as though someone is purposely treating you in a particular way that can cloud your perception.
We can do this with any relationship. However, if a person is unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions/attitudes, are unwilling to compromise, or validate your feelings, or to be frank, your personalities just produce more negative than positive, it may be best to move on. That last statement too many do not consider, but the reality is that some people just do not work well together and if it is a long-term relationship where both parties are miserable, why keep it going?
Ok, I have lost track of my thoughts I will leave with some more resources. A Ton!
- Asperger Love: Searching for Romance When You’re Not Wired to Connect (I have not read this yet, but I thought it looked like a good resource.)
- How to Love Someone With Aspergers / Autism- Part 1: Acceptance
- Premise: Marriages/Relationships between Non-Asperger Partners and Asperger Partners Are Extremely Difficult
- PARTNERS OF THOSE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM
- The Love Illusion
- Asperger’s/Autism Love Success Stories (Sticky)
- Asperger Syndrome in the Bedroom ‘Sexual and Relationship Therapy: International Perspectives on Theory, Research and Practice’
- Ideal(ized) Love & So On …
- Are You Calling Me & Other Autistics Sociopaths? (Think About It)
- Aspergers – Narcissism: NOT The Same I
- Aspergers – Narcissism: NOT The Same II
- Aspergers – Narcissism: NOT The Same III