Autism and Relationships – Part 6 – Asking someone out/being asked out on a date

Note: there is an assumption when writing these articles that the individuals dating, or in a relationship are of equal capacity, and no one is being taken advantage of or being exploited.

If an autistic person is ready to ask another person on a date this doesn’t mean that the difficulties are over. It might only be the beginning of the anxiety, and worry. But again, this doesn’t have to be too much of a problem. There are a few important things to remember, both when asking someone out, and also in terms of how to respond when being asked out. Below are a few tips.

Asking someone out – remember that this is a difficult situation for everyone, whether autistic or not. The majority of neuro-typical people also get embarrassed when it comes to this. So when it comes to anxiety it is much more equal than a lot of situations. Make sure to keep things in proportion. Asking if somebody wants to go out for a drink is fine, but saying straight away `Will you be my girlfriend` is a bit over-the-top. People need to get to know each other before they move on to this stage; just because two people go out together they are not necessarily a couple.

Dealing with rejection – everyone will be turned down at some point in their life. This doesn’t mean that it is any easier to take, but it is important to remember it is not a unique feeling, and the person saying no has probably been, or will be rejected themselves at some point. Nobody is everyone’s type, and no one can get everything they want. But there is an etiquette to being turned down. It is important to take it graciously. Once somebody has said `No` their decision is made. Continuing to mither them, or constantly challenging their decision isn’t going to help. It can either come off as desperate, or depending on what form it takes, even sinister and intimidating. The best way to deal with it is to simply say something along the line of `Ok, fair enough. I`ll see you around then,” and then leave it at that.

Accepting or declining a date – when you are saying `Yes` to somebody you have to make sure you are clear, and that they understand you have accepted. It is understandable that you might be nervous, but you should try to look up, and speak as clearly as you can. Though this can be very difficult for someone with autism.

You might have to do a bit of planning, and the fact that this might interfere with your routine may take you off guard. You might have a plan for your weekend that you`d like to stick to, and if somebody asks if you want to go out on the Saturday night this might mean having to decide whether you want to change that routine. But remember it is perfectly acceptable to say that you do want to go out with them, but you`ll have to check your schedule when you get home, and text them later to let them know when you are available. You don’t even have to say yes or no to the date immediately if you are unsure. You can let them know that you are going to text them later to let them know one way or the other. This might take some of the pressure off as you won’t be face to face with them.

It might be hard to say no to somebody, but there could be a multitude of reasons you don’t want to date them, and you should never feel pressured in to saying yes, for any reason. You don’t have to give an explanation if you don’t want to, but it might be helpful to say something. If you are already with somebody, or just don’t feel like dating then it is simple enough to tell the person this. Whether you should say “I just don’t like you,” if asked for a reason might depend on the circumstances. It could come across as sounding a bit cruel, but it might also stop the person from repeatedly mithering, and asking you out again on other occasions.

Communication – it is important to communicate clearly whenever possible – although many people with autism may find this hard to do. And also be willing to volunteer information if you do want to go out with somebody. An example of this might be if someone says “Do you want to go for a drink on Saturday night?” and you`re busy on that night, but would still like to go out with them, then tell them this, don’t just say “No,” because you know you can`t do Saturday. Also, if you don’t drink, or aren’t comfortable in bars, tell the person this, and you can go somewhere else. This will make for a much more relaxed date than just going along with something you don’t really want to do because you are not sure how to say no, or volunteer another option.

It might seem like asking somebody out, or being asked out is a difficult and stressful experience, but it doesn’t really have to be that bad. It is a socially awkward situation for most people. But when you look at it in its most basic form it is only asking, or answering, a question. As long as you act in an appropriate manner nothing terrible is going to happen. Having a plan of what you are going to say, and how you are going to act in your head will give your more confidence, and confidence can be really helpful when it comes to asking someone out.