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Do Aspies Really Feel Love For Others?

Neuro-Typicals (NTs) often wonder if those with Asperger’s Syndrome really feel love for others. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), in my own experience, I think that what is more at issues isn’t so much what someone with AS feels or doesn’t feel but can they communicate what they feel or do not feel in a way that NTs can understand.

Recola, who has an aspie boyfriend and posted in the discussion area of Aspergeradults.ca Forum describing some difficulty encountered with her aspie boyfriend. She described his not being there for her in times of needing emotional support and understanding when she needs space due to her own stresses and/or his not fully understanding her need for space when she feels this way.

She asked this question: “Do Aspies really feel love for others or do they just stay with people who give them a comfort level?” and described that her aspie boyfriend seems to take leave of the relationship when she is depressed and that things seem to switch from him professing his love for her to him saying to her that “You need a helpful loving person, someone who can get you through those tough times that you have. I don’t have the energy for that”.

The first thing I want to make really clear in response to this is that each and every person with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) has their own individual responses to life, to the stress of relating. Each individual person with Asperger’s has varying degrees of understanding of “other”. Whether or not Recola’s boyfriend can actually understand what her stresses or feelings of depression are like and what she needs and why or not is not clear. He may well not be able to empathize. Some people with AS lack empathy. Some have empathy and can’t express it. Some both have empathy and express it in their own ways.

It is important to remain cognizant of the fact that each and every situation for those who are involved in relationships with those with AS is somewhat individually different. There is no blanket statement to be made that every aspie will do this or that or not be able to do this or that relationally.

Asperger’s Syndrome is indeed a complication to many aspects of relating generally and specifically in interpersonal relationships for most. I believe that those of us with AS can learn to compensate for
that which we don’t understand very well. We can learn how to meet our partner’s needs, or at the very least how not to stress them more when they are facing emotional turmoil or other life challenges.

To the question posed, “Do Aspies really feel love for others or do they just stay with people who give them a comfort level?” forgive me for sounding like a broken record when I say that it is such an individual thing. There is no lumping us all together generally or when It comes to the ability (or perhaps lack thereof) to relate to a significant other. What it sounds like the aspie described by this poster to the discussion area of this topic is struggling with is lack of emotional reciprocity. This may well be because he, like many with AS, has mind blindness, which is described through the “Theory of Mind”

Theory of mind, or mind blindness is an impairment that those with AS must learn to compensate for to one degree or another in order to maintain heathy and functional relationships with those who are Neuro-typical (NT).

Those with AS may lack the ability to be able to consider, understand, and cope with other people’s thoughts and feelings. There may be times when an aspie may have a degree of understanding but not have found a way to communicate that understanding in a way that an NT would readily comprehend.

This reality can lead to difficulties in the areas of trying to comprehend the intentions, motivations, and subsequent actions and feelings of others.



If you are in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s you must remember that NT’s and those with AS do not share similiar ways of processing information and/or communicating. So to highten the chances of successful communication each must be willing to be patient in hearing the other.

People with AS may also lack understanding of their own emotions and/or the emotions of others. This often manifests as a lack of empathy.

At times any lack of understanding of emotions, one’s own or those of others, can be the result of the time it takes aspies to process information. Sometimes, just allowing the person with AS a little more time will help him or her to identify what they feel or to understand more about what an NT feels.

There are compensatory strategies that can build strength and more understanding to decrease the impact and potential negative effects this impairment. This has been my experience. However, that said, not all aspie’s will be able to make these efforts or even desire to consider making these efforts to learn to bridge the emotional and social gaps between themselves and those who are NT.

To answer the question then, I believe that aspies really do love others in their own way. What that way ends up being, looks like or consists of varies. As an aspie who has stretched and grown in compensatory ways in this area myself I know that in my own case I am not seeking to be in a relationship in the search for some comfort level. Comfort is often elusive and over-shadowed by the anxiety that presents when I am relating to my partner. So to the degree that any aspie seeks to be in relationship to another (and especially an other who is NT) I believe that in most cases this would be from a place of love – love as the aspie understands it which may be quite different and much more limited than an NT understanding and experience of love.

When Recola’s aspie boyfriend says he doesn’t have the energy to cope with her emotional state or needs this may be the product to some degree of mind blindness. It may also have a lot to do with the stress that dealing with emotions causes many with AS.

The bottom line here for Recola, or anyone who is NT in a relationship with someone with AS is that you have to decide what you need. You have to clearly ask yourself what you can and cannot live with.



I would encourage each individual NT in relationship to a person with AS to also consider just where on the spectrum their desired significant other is. I say this because I know from my own experience as a high functioning aspie that I can be taught how to respond to what my partner needs. I continue to educate myself and to challenge myself to learn and grow and adapt the best I can. My partner continues to learn how to best cope with the areas that present difficulties for her and then we both work at communicating and understanding each other.

I do not believe that aspies just stay with people who give them a comfort level because the exposure anxiety and general stress involved in relating are often formidable and for most I believe would be (as in my case) motivated by very real feelings of love. The territory that those with AS have to navigate to express love and to cope with relating is very different from the terrain traveled by those who are NT.

These relationships, between those with AS and NT’s require continued effort on both people’s part to address the challenges that will present themselves and it is crucial to understand that all that a couple seeks to mirror to and for each other within a relationship will be two very distinct reflected images presented in very differing styles of relating, communicating, and emotional expression.

It is therefore very important that assumptions aren’t made “facts”. Each person, and perhaps even more so the NT in the relationship need to clarify and re-clarify things in order to accurately understand the feelings and intentions of his or her partner.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari April 12, 2005 with addition on February 7, 2009 – All rights reserved.


A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with Asperger’s Syndrome and their partners, relatives, or friends. A.J. has 6 years experience as a Life Coach and works with clients from all over the world.


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