If you’re one of the 3.5 million autistic people across America, then you already know how awesome it is to be neurodivergent. You get to see the world in unique ways, fall in love with special interests, and be part of an amazing community.
What you may not know, though, is how to put your foot in the water of the dating pool. Here, we’re going to talk about dating for autistic teens. Read on to learn how you can meet people, strike up a conversation, and find the one.
Know What to Expect
If you’re one of the many autistic people who thrive on routine and research, it’s important that you look into what to expect while dating. After all, you’re going to change some aspects of your usual life. It’s best to be prepared.
Look online and read about other autistic people who have dated successfully. Jot down some notes about their stories and determine how you can use their advice.
Take a look at what dating entails both for people with disabilities and neurotypicals. There are generally common threads throughout many relationships such as going out to dinner, emotional intimacy, and physical touch. Make sure that you know what to expect and what you’re comfortable with so you can immediately set healthy and comfortable boundaries.
Find People With Similar Interests
As an autistic, you know that one of the best things about life is having a special interest (SpIN). This isn’t just fun because of the serotonin-induced adrenaline rush that you get from talking about the SpIN. It also is awesome because other people who share your interests are immediate friends.
You can use a neurodiverse dating app to find people with similar interests to you. If you have a broad SpIN, you might find someone who loves the exact same thing as you. If your SpIN is more niche, you’ll likely find someone with a similar interest that will be more than happy to share this love with you.
Because dating is, well, dating, you also will want to find someone with values and goals that align with yours. Special Bridge’s app lets you enter the precise specifications of what matters to you in a partner. We work to pair you with someone that you’re sure to hit it off with.
Ask Them Out the Right Way
Asking people to go on a date with you can be tricky. A lot of annoying euphemisms are out there for dating, love, and sex. Autistic people generally like to be more direct and have people be blunt with them in turn.
If you’re asking another autistic person out (or they’re asking you out), the process may be easier. You can just ask if they want to go on a date to a certain restaurant or if they would like to meet up for coffee as a date. Emphasize the fact that you aren’t just asking as friends to avoid confusion later.
However, non-autistics will try to use euphemisms when asking you out. Know some of these phrases. Common ones include:
- Want to get out of here?
- Want to take this conversation somewhere else?
- Want to be alone together?
- Would you like to go somewhere more private?
- Would you want to hook up? (Note that this also implies making out/sex and be careful)
- Can I pick you up around (time)?
- Want to go out for dinner and a movie?
If you aren’t sure of whether you’re being asked on a date or asked to hang out as friends, get clarification. It will be more awkward later if you’re unsure.
Meet in Familiar Locations…
When you decide to go on a date with someone, it’s already going to be a big event that takes time and energy from your usual routine. To soften the impact as much as possible, suggest meeting at a location that’s familiar to you.
Make sure that you choose a sensory-friendly place to prevent yourself from getting overstimulated. If your partner is autistic, this is an especially good idea since it shows that you also care about their sensory experience.
A coffee shop or even a library that you frequent may be a good choice for a first date. From there, you can gauge the relationship and determine where future dates can be. If you’re comfortable with the person, you can work up to dinner at a favorite restaurant or just a place where you can talk and get closer.
If your prospective partner is also autistic, they may also have familiar spots that they want to meet up at. Assuming that you’re comfortable with this, go to the location ahead of time and get a feel for what it’s like. Remember that if it isn’t sensory-friendly or if it feels unsafe that you can renegotiate the terms of the date at any time.
The most important part of dating, whether you’re autistic or not, is always to be safe. If something about a person or location feels even slightly off, trust your gut. You need to take care of yourself and your needs above all else.
As a teen, it’s also important that you tell a parent as well as a friend where you are and who you are with. This will keep you safe since you will always have someone to support you. Call this person to pick you up if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any point.
Take Care of Your Own Needs
When dating, a lot of people forget to take care of their own needs. Prioritizing a partner above yourself may sound romantic, but it really is anything but that. You need to take time and space for yourself and your interests.
You also need to set healthy boundaries in your relationship and enforce those boundaries. Don’t let anyone pressure you into anything that you’re uncomfortable with. This is especially true for physical acts like kissing, but it also applies to those who want to take you somewhere that you don’t want to go or say something that makes you uncomfortable.
Meet Other Autistic Teens Today
Dating is a challenge for anyone, but it’s even more challenging for autistic adults and teens. Luckily, forming relationships is an easier process than ever before with online technologies.
Now that you know some of the top dating tips and tricks for autistic teens, it’s time to get out there and start meeting new people. Sign up for our online dating service today to start meeting other neurodiverse teens!