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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Advice needed: INFJ understanding Asperger's?

I am feeling very conflicted and in need of advice.

I met Brian (not his actual name, though it probably doesn't matter) through a dating website in May of 2011. I liked talking with him, but didn't see the relationship going anywhere since a) he lives 3 hours away, b) our intellectual interests were so different, and c) he seemed friendly with me but not romantically interested. We kept talking, and the intervals varied from talking everyday for a week to not talking for a couple weeks at a time.

About 6 months in, he started opening up a little bit. Things eventually got sexual between us (though just over the internet, which is pretty lame). We talked about meeting up but never made solid plans because of our schedules. I learned he's an INTP.

We've now known each other 1 1/2 years and talk every other day on average. We still haven't met up -- I've brought it up a few times, and he always seems excited about it, but the plans never follow through. I have a lot of feelings for him at this point despite a lot of differences that we have, and nearly every time I bring it up (not often), he ends up dropping major information on me. On a regular basis, he shares his interests with me and we joke around, but he doesn't open up about his life. A couple times ago that I brought up emotions, he mentioned having a therapist, serious family issues going on, and trying to move out. We talk almost everyday and I never knew. A few times before that, he mentioned major health issues that affect his everyday life (though I figured this through other conversations we had, I now had the names of the conditions).

Last time I brought up things, I told him that I have a lot of feelings for him and that I'm unsure how he feels -- I asked if it was lack of expression or if the feelings just aren't there. He told me that he had been hesitant to tell me but that he's known he has Asperger's since he was a kid. To be honest, it devastated me. The difference between a health condition and something like Asperger's is a big difference to me, and as an INFJ I feel like I wouldn't emotionally have anything in common with an aspie.

I've done a lot of research on Asperger's since then, but feel so conflicted. It feels like everything is so wrong. I am not a believer in everything being perfect or everything aligning, but it seems like there are too many hurdles. He lives far away, doesn't pursue seeing me very passionately, and doesn't open up to me about these things. When I asked about romantic feelings, he told me he has Asperger's, which makes me feel like it was just him saying that he's incapable of reciprocating my feelings. I know aspies are capable of love, but it isn't expressed the same way.

Do any INFJs here have experience with Asperger's? I feel that I can learn to better understand him and be compassionate, but also worry about not having emotional fulfillment. I try to detach myself from the situation to figure it out for myself but find it difficult. An outsider's point of view would be much appreciated, regardless of whether you dated someone with Asperger's or know a friend / relative / co-worker. Thanks.
 

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I have a brother and a friend with Asperger's. In terms of living with them, there's a few things to know:

--They don't adapt well to quickly changing situations, unexpected setbacks or changes to routine. Depending on their maturity level, this can range from temporary irritation to full emotional meltdown. For INFJs where we absorb others' feelings, the emotional meltdowns can be very nerve-racking, but with self-awareness, people with Asperger's can learn to tone these down.

--Are clueless about social cues. One very typical way of showing this is not knowing when to stop talking, by not picking up on the sighs and bored expressions that other people give them. They can learn those social cues, though--I've known of a few Aspie psychologists who do their jobs very well.

--They definitely have feelings! They're just bad at expressing them. Just like they're clueless about social cues you give, they're clueless about how to give social cues in return. This can come across as manipulative or cold when it's not meant to be. The best thing is to let them know how they're coming across and request changes if it's a problem, as well as to ask if you're not sure what's going on inside them.

--They tend to believe that other people feel the same way they do. If they're aware of this trait, it's usually not a problem as they'll try to catch themselves.

--Can be very sensitive to certain sensations--which ones seem unique to the individual. For example, my brother is a cook, and can't stand touching raw meat. On the other hand, my brother's extreme sensitivity is what makes him such a good cook as he can detect spices and additives that most people can't with only a taste. Another Aspie I heard about didn't like the scratching of toothbrushes against his teeth, so he had to use high speed electrical ones or distract himself with the television or radio.

--Are often very intelligent. The good thing about this is that they can learn to account for their differences to make life easier for themselves and the people around them, which some of the other autistic disorders don't have. The bad thing is that people then tend to assume they don't actually have deficiences because they seem so smart, and are just being stubborn or disruptive (which isn't true).

--Most people with Asperger's are aware that they're different and can be difficult to deal with, but it can be a steep learning curve for them to figure out better ways of relating to people. Depression and anxiety can come with the feelings of alienation they often experience.

Overall, learning how to be very direct with your communication is key, as well as having some patience with their idiosyncrasies. A relationship can definitely be fulfilling, but it's likely to be a lot of work for both parties (but then, what relationship isn't?), and isn't for everyone.

And wow, that sounded really negative. :confused: To put a lighter spin on it, the friend with Asperger's is one of the best friendships I've ever had. Very loyal, very accommodating and giving once he knows what rubs me the right way (so to speak), not to mention intelligent, talented in so many ways intellectual and creative, and an awesome sense of humor!
 

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Reading this gave me such a mix of feelings. I'm so sorry that you are going through this confusing situation. Please understand that no matter what you choose, you are a good person and you have been a good friend.

I don’t have experience with Asperger's syndrome and I'm an INFP, but I was once in a similar situation involving a long distance relationship and illness. I made the wrong choice and married the guy. My story ends in divorce.

Love was so easy to build over distance. What I thought was important was so easy to discuss and it was so easy to miss that his saying nothing was in fact nothing, not agreement. What I thought was important when I married (at age 24) was in shambles 6 years later when I filed for divorce. He disclosed that he once hallucinated a cat in his apartment, but he was never diagnosed with anything and it wasn’t a big deal. His parents didn’t know. The symptoms of his illness were so easy to dismiss when my feelings were already so intense, and my heart already committed. As part of the divorce he was diagnosed as schizoaffective.

I am so very sorry, but I can't help but think that the fact that you are conflicted means something.

Take care.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you, @Aizar. I've read about the traits you've mentioned but it helps to see them summarized so concisely. Brian seems very loyal and I like having intellectual conversations with him. He's a science brain in stark contrast to my art brain so our types of intelligence differ. I wish he would open up to me more about his life! I know I would like to meet up with him to pick up on chemistry and hopefully communicate with him better before making any decisions but hearing other points of view really helps.


@Cajole -- I'm not sure that my being conflicted means something substantial. There's a lot of depth and complexity (admittedly) in my feelings for him that make me feel a warmness for him. As I told the previous commenter, I'd like to meet up with Brian before making any decisions for sure, but hearing other points of view helps. I'm sorry to hear about your previous relationship... I'm sure that living with the illness of a loved one can be draining. Thanks for the response.
 

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Hey there, this is my first post - but I couldn't not respond.

I am an INFJ married to an INTP man who was diagnosed aspie as a teen. He is high functioning to the point I have often thought his diagnosis was wrong but I am starting to wonder about this more now because in some ways its quite obvious. The bad news is, that we are currently getting divorced. I can't speak for the man you claim to love, he may be quite different as we all have varying traits, etc, however, I would never sign up for a relationship like this again if I had my time over.
I have found it extremely frustrating throughout the relationship. I feel more like a mother than a partner and I definitely don't want to be his mother - but its worse than a mother-child relationship because he acts like a child, but demands all the rights of an adult.

The issues;

Social situations - he never wants to go anywhere or do anything which I don't usually mind so much since I love being at home, but sometimes it would be nice to share some outside interests. It would be great if he took me out somewhere he knew I would love, but he doesn't. He sits on his computer/games all day and will never venture out without a stressful/nervous resistance.

He is very selfish - forget watching movies or listening to music you love or sharing it with them, over time he is less interested in anything I care about and more insular and self indulgent.

He tries very hard to give me what I want but its not enough. He is very cold mostly and emotional support? Forget it. He has emotional meltdowns and is very manipulative if you try to hold him to account for his (myriad) of broken promises because he loses concentration and has no goals. Very short-term thinking. Constant excuse making.

There are good sides to him - he seeks stability and consistency, but he doesn't know how to create it so looks to me for all of our stability. He's intelligent, but he doesn't share it with me anymore. He is a scientific logical thinker which intrigues me, however, he rarely applies his knowledge to his life and and he doesn't seek to expand his intelligence at all. Instead, he get stuck in fantasy books and hides himself away.

He doesn't seek to understand me - this is probably the worst part of the relationship, because to me, being understood or at least his wanting to understand me, is incredibly meaningful. It is perhaps the greatest form of love. It takes a lot to get to know me, and I have consciously tried to open myself to him in the most honest, natural, truthful and vulnerable way possible, but he isn't interested, or at least has never really tried to understand me to the extent I desire to be understood. A good example is doing the MB personality tests - we spent hours pouring over his conclusions and reading, but mine? Forget it. He read 1 paragraph and got bored and that was the end of that. Initially he asked many questions and showed some interest in me, however it stopped once he 'had me' and now he shows pretty much none. Instead, over time I just moulded into someone he would accept and it ended in me losing myself completely.

He gets overwhelmed with my emotions and shuts down. He withdraws, and this is the worst possible way to deal with me as the more I pursue the more he withdraws. On the very rare occasion he will comfort me with physical affection but it's brief and rare and usually feels like he is just trying to get something from me instead of sharing something with me.

Sex - don't even get me started. Suffice to say, it's rigid and more about him than anything else.

Cooperation/negotiating, forget it. He is pretty much unable to negotiate reasonably and acts very immaturely if he doesn't get everything his way.

Affection - I usually love affection from my closest partner (and nobody else) but his affection is often inappropriate, and sporadic. He doesn't do it to connect but to receive and I feel drained by his constant touching me for his own benefit.

Responsibility - financial management. He is terrible. Can't save, can't plan, etc.

Respect/boundaries - he has pretty much no boundaries, and anything he wants he takes - whether its mine or otherwise. He gets offended if I insist he knock before entering the bathroom or bedroom. He doesn't respect my privacy at all.

Sorry for being so negative, but the above is true. I think I liked him at first because he seemed complex and like a puzzle for me to solve, perhaps someone to rescue. I thought I could love him out of his shell, but the truth is it couldn't be done - and if it could, maybe i'm not the right person for the job since I have now gotten to a point where our relationship is so one sided (with me giving 95% and him giving 5%) that I am no longer able or willing to invest in trying. :sad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Delilah... thank you for opening up on such a sensitive subject. I'll be honest and say that everything you've said fits in with the things I've read about Asperger's and that many of them fit into Brian and I's relationship. The aspects that bother me most are natural lack of empathy and that they don't seek to understand others nearly on the level of an INFJ (although I'd say we are fairly extreme in that sense). I've heard a woman say that -- and this was towards the end of her relationship with an aspie male -- the thing that pained her most was knowing that she and her boyfriend could never look into each other's eyes and know what the other was feeling. That struck a chord with me.

I found out just an hour or so ago that he plans to move even farther away from where I live. It might be for the better, but it hurts because I really do care for him and I can't be "just friends" with him if we continue to talk as often as we do. But I also don't want to cut him out of my life.

Again, thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry to hear about the pain you're going through and it sounds truly exhausting. I hope you're able to find happiness.
 

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Thanks Dotsandloops =) I truly gave him my all, and it wasn't enough. I think as INFJs we are very interested in human behaviour and I think this suits the Aspergers/INTP because they get a lot of attention to play to that self-absorbed side. And we like giving, and giving more of ourselves often than we receive, but there comes a time where you need/want something back or else its just abusive. And that point is often years in the future because we are so exhaustive with our giving. Just be aware of that if you do go forward with this person :)

As for empathy you are right too. My husband can never imagine what I must be experiencing and instead focuses and judges harshly my reactions to situations because he has no way of understanding how I could be feeling a particular way. Same with children, and animals, etc.

I hope that you work out a way to protect yourself from being exploited and used if you do enter the relationship. I think that's the biggest problem really, because from experience INFJs have so much to give, and the more you give often the more they take. And you end up emotionally exhausted. If you can find a way to shield yourself from this it would probably help you greatly.

Good luck and I hope you find the happiness you seek =)
 

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When I was in college, I knew a fellow-student with Asperger's quite closely. I have met several people with Asperger's since then, both online and offline, and the pattern is always the same: I keep a distance.

I'm sorry that I am another negative voice about people with Asperger's. Actually, that is the wrong way to put it. I am not negative about them. Some work very hard to be able to function socially, which I admire. But in the end, I always find it hard to make a connection, if not impossible.

In all honesty, I tend to steer clear of all people I cannot connect to, whether they have Asperger's or not. The mere effort of finding a way to these people's hearts and minds is simply too much for me to take in the long run.

I find that my husband's (ENFP) ability to connect to me on an emotional level (as well as an intellectual level) is one of the most important things in our relationship. I don't think I would be able to do without that in marriage.

@dotsandloops, I will refrain from giving you any direct advice. That would not be fair to Brian, since I don't know him or his abilities. I firmly believe that people can and must make their own choices. But you asked about INFJs and people with Asperger's, and these are my personal experiences.

I wish you all the best... this must be a tough time for you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you, @Northwind. I actually initiated what turned out to be an in-depth conversation with him last night and it was very helpful. He told me he does have feelings for me but that he'd have to meet me to confirm the amount of feelings he has; I feel similarly. He opened up more about his Asperger's and he said that he is considered very high-functioning and has learned some social cues over time (which I believe given our conversations). He is still hesitant to meet up because -- and this is what I took from it -- he seems to take it very seriously if we were to meet up. I told him that when I say I like him, I mean just that, and that meeting up wouldn't mean a commitment.

To be honest my biggest worry about him and I meeting is that I end up being different than what he imagined. As an INFJ I strive for clarity in communication, but I know that INTPs and aspies don't think about people the way we do. I've thought a lot about his character and have a good idea of what to expect, you know? And I was straightforward and told him that. I told him I've done the research on Asperger's. I also explained to him what a friend of mine said about me recently after she and I met up for the first time after talking on the internet for over a year, in order to give him an idea of how he might view me in-person. What else can I do?

Anyway, I do agree that an emotional and intellectual connection is imperative. I identify with demisexuality and those play a lot into that. The thing is that the reason I like Brian is because I do feel those things with him... it took a long time, but it's there. I'm just not sure the degree of which they are reciprocated. I do admit that sex plays a large role in our connection, as neither of us have opened up sexually the way we do with each other. My point isn't that our relationship is sex-based (very far from -- it's more intellectual and humorous) but that we've opened up in ways we haven't with others, and that we've helped each other communicate those aspects of ourselves better.

Thank you for the input. I would hate to know him for so long and feel the way I do without meeting up with him, but I have a lot of advice to take into consideration. I definitely wouldn't commit to someone I don't see myself with in the long-term and those of you that have responded help with giving me other angles to view from. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
@Delilah -- oh yes, for sure. I take my commitments seriously and am very cautious with them. And honestly, he's not in a rush to get into a relationship either, so I don't feel any pressure. I mostly want to hang out with him to enjoy time together and get to know each other on a better level... no rush for sex or a commitment, which he and I have both agreed on. Thank you!


@Sai -- I think there's a chance that I won't feel romantically about him in person, but I feel comfortable with what I know about him and know what to expect. We'll at least get along, which is more important. But you do make a good point!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Not sure if anyone is still following this post, but I'm posting an update just in case: I decided to "put myself back out there" via a dating website (I don't know how else to since I hate bars and don't meet eligible men at the artsy fartsy places I go). It's only been a few days and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it's been a breath of fresh air. I'm meeting up with someone on Saturday for the first time that I've already had many more fulfilling conversations with than I've been able to have with Brian. I still casually talk with Brian about every other day.

I don't want to hold my breath about this new guy but he's an ENFP and one of the first guys I've ever talked with that I have a lot in common with. :)
 

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Not sure if anyone is still following this post, but I'm posting an update just in case: I decided to "put myself back out there" via a dating website (I don't know how else to since I hate bars and don't meet eligible men at the artsy fartsy places I go). It's only been a few days and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it's been a breath of fresh air. I'm meeting up with someone on Saturday for the first time that I've already had many more fulfilling conversations with than I've been able to have with Brian. I still casually talk with Brian about every other day.

I don't want to hold my breath about this new guy but he's an ENFP and one of the first guys I've ever talked with that I have a lot in common with. :)
I think dating websites are a great way to meet people. I read that approx 5% of marriages in USA the couple met via eHarmony (which is just one of many such sites).

Good luck! @dotsandloops
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I haven't had great luck with dating websites, despite being on them for about 9 months combined -- but I do agree that they work for a lot of others. Thank you, @Zech. :)
 
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