Author's note: I write that the couple here is an autistic man and a neurotypical woman. Sometimes, however, it is the woman who is autistic. Some of the couples I work with are gay, and some are lesbian. Some are multi-layered. In order to rationalize my language in this article, I have chosen to describe the couple most often represented in my counseling and training practices: the man who is autistic and the woman who is not.
If there's one word I hear more than anyone else in my work as a therapist with women whose partners are or may be autistic, it's this: loneliness. I realize that many people experience a kind of loneliness in relationships that are tense. In fact, when these women try to describe their loneliness to their friends, they often hear comments that can be summed up in this way: "this is life."
To some extent, this is true. The problem is that whether it is true or not, it rejects the unique characteristics of loneliness in a neurodegenerative marriage. As a result, the woman in this marriage feels many things at once.
How much loneliness is "normal" in a relationship?
First of all, of course, it recognizes that marriage is a challenge for everyone at times, and that feeling of loneliness when partners are disconnected makes sense. She feels that her friends are trying to support her by pointing her out, although she is also struggling with the deep feeling that there must be a better word, a more accurate way to describe what she is going through, because in her heart she knows loneliness and the wider the kind of loneliness experienced in other relationships is somewhat significantly different.
He feels a little guilty. It's a little embarrassing. She wonders what's wrong with her. Maybe he'll make a big deal out of it. He may grow up a little and realize that overall, things are pretty good. I mean, right?
Still, hungry for connection, he tries to explain. But she finds no attraction as her friends repeat variations on the theme: What did you expect? Marriage can be tough. Sometimes, you are angry. Sometimes, you want to throw your hair out. You may want to leave. But then, over time, the clouds rise. Everything returns to normal and forget that. You will see. Everything will turn out fine.
And there it is. There's a case she knows may be true for her friends, but it's just not true for her – at least not in the way they mean it. She knows that in her case, things will not return to normal. Because for her, deep loneliness is normal. It is its base line. It is both part of her relationship and the ring on her finger, and accompanies her in every moment of awakening. It can be waxed and dissolved as the demands of life come and go, but they are always there. Sometimes she shouts when she is alone in her car and she doesn't know why.
Because for her, deep loneliness is normal. It is its base line. It is both part of her relationship and the ring on her finger, and accompanies her in every moment of awakening.
How any relationship can cause loneliness
There are many reasons why she is right that her loneliness has unique characteristics and causes that her friends will probably never understand. This is because most of them have neuroprotective partners, such as themselves. They know that neurotypical marriages are difficult. Divorce rates should not be taken lightly. There is real pain and struggle in the best of relationships. Sometimes, couples find ways to secure bonds with each other, and this allows them to deal with severe storms. Sometimes, even with the best of efforts, relationships just don't last.
This is the material of self-help relationship books, it is the fundamental thought of couples treatment methods, and it is constantly woven into conversations between women everywhere. This is why many people think that the word "loneliness" means the same thing to everyone else. They rightly believe that their experience and the experience of other women are similar, albeit different in the small details.
What does loneliness mean to most people? Generally, it means disconnecting when the connection is desired. In this way, he differs from the loneliness of choosing to be alone. It's a frustrating situation that doesn't feel like listening, seeing and understanding. Usually, this is a temporary feeling, and when conditions change, feelings of loneliness diminish.
For example, in a heated argument between two neurotypical partners, both are likely to feel separated from each other and not be heard. Loneliness can come from that. When partners compromise, the feelings of connection are restored. This is the mechanism for the disappearance of one and then the reunification. Part of transient loneliness is knowing that it is not permanent, but at the moment, it is not able to overcome the emotional element that comes from not feeling connected. However, faith in the wave nature of this kind of loneliness is part of what makes it tolerable, though painful.
Things will get better. This feeling will not last forever.
Loneliness in a Neurodeveloped relationship
Another type of loneliness can be considered as a state, or chronic loneliness. This describes the feelings of a person cut off from social gatherings for one reason or another beyond personal control, such as illness, imprisonment, moving to a new environment without social connections, or normalizing the death of a personally important person. These are big challenges. There is no quick fix for any of these, and the loneliness that comes from feeling isolated is a social problem especially among the elderly, but also among all age groups, including social media I understand youth.
There are many ways to understand, describe and experience loneliness. But to someone whose partner is autistic, they only describe one part of the story. There is much more to be said.
The very nature of the neuroticism relationship is the difference, which is neither a choice nor a mental illness. It is associated with neurological variants in the structure of the brain, which lead to different ways of experiencing viability, interpretation and reaction in reality. This is not a right and the other is a mistake. It's just different. However, he is a neuropathically designed and oriented world, so he is the autistic person who generally feels more than the step most of the time.
The very nature of the neuroticism relationship is the difference, which is neither a choice nor a mental illness. It is associated with neurological variants in the structure of the brain, which lead to different ways of experiencing viability, interpretation and reaction in reality.
But when women talk about their loneliness, they talk about the deep awareness that the close relationship they were looking for when they got married, which was the main reason they got married, was not only that it didn't happen, but it's not possible. Arriving at this understanding is an existential shock with complex and conflicting emotional components.
What causes loneliness in neurotic relationships?
Most of the women I work with love their partners. They are destroyed to describe the feeling of isolation from the person they love so much. However, the pain of loneliness has begun to take on both mental and physical tolls. They describe the feelings of depression. Deep fatigue. Self-doubt and other negative self-feedback. The deep confusion about the paths they like now.
One of the main differences between a person who is what we call neurotypical and someone who is autistic is in the area of understanding the indirect emotional and cognitive experience of another person. Because someone else's experience is different from their own, a person on the autistic spectrum is not likely to guess exactly who someone else is. As a result, his partner's attempts to express his feelings or ask for emotional support may be met with a desire for compliance, but he has no way of assessing what to do or how to do it. It may also seem to be rejected, as the autistic person responds more with cognitive empathy than with the emotional empathy that the neurotypical partner desires and expects from another person, especially her partner. It offers what it considers to be a solution to what it describes, but it seeks understanding.
Over time, a history of these mismatched needs and responses creates a sense of isolation in the neurotypical partner. She is deeply frustrated by the repeated feelings of rejection or minimization by a partner who does not seem to understand or appreciate what she is saying. He is angry. Wound. Upset. It gets to the point where it can no longer bury it. Sometimes, it blows. Sometimes it separates. Or drinks. Or a case begins. At the bottom of these options is always the feeling of being cut off from what she thought would be the main source of emotional support: her husband.
One important thing to recognize in this discussion is the excellent isolation experienced by the autistic partner, who has seen that no matter how hard he says or does, no matter how hard he tries to do it right, his partner repeatedly She reminds him that she is not succeeding, that her needs are not being met and that she is at the end of it. That's the way it is, from this point on. He also blames himself.
What can this couple do?
Bridging the gap of understanding in a neurotic relationship
Understanding what can be changed and what cannot be the key to developing a neurotic relationship. When I work with couples, we start with basic psychoeducation. We look not only at neurology, the concept and presentation of autism, but also at analyzing what is neuropathic.
Understanding what can be changed and what cannot be the key to developing a neurotic relationship.
Our goal is not to emphasize each other, but to identify similarities and differences. This is the way to release responsibility as well as the feelings that are considered insufficient. We focus very strongly on the very human tendency to abuse another person's intentions based on what it would mean if we said or did it ourselves. In the neurotic relationship in particular, but also in all relationships, this is a critical issue.
Once these differences are taken into account, we can move forward with the development of communication and skills strategies that have the potential to build bridges between partners. This leads not only to increased mutual trust, but also to increased intimacy, as partners unreservedly explore their differences and ways of navigating. This includes language discussion, non-verbal communication and the formal structure of logical arguments.
Loneliness can be reduced over time as couples learn value and develop skills to bring their silent (expectations) to clear (clearly defined and stated information about their own inner experiences). Like two parallel lines, partners in a neurodiverse relationship will never merge. But they can come closer to each other and as base pairs that connect the two strands of the double helix of the DNA molecule and hold them together, new communication skills can ensure a stronger connection between partners in a pair of neurodegenerators. Compassion is the vehicle and acceptance is the goal.
Will it ever be a neurotypical relationship that meets all the needs of the neurotype partner? No. Will it ever be an autistic relationship that meets all the needs of the autistic partner? No. It will always be a neurotransmitter and, when managing differences, it is possible for two very deep people to explore increased intimacy and improve their understanding of what it means for both of them to stay together and move forward as a couple. A pair of neurotransmitters.
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