Oh relationships. Will anyone ever figure those things out? Well, about eight years ago when I was in high school I thought I had the key to it all. It was around that time I was in my first relationship. I know I make eight years sound like a century ago, but back then I’d give my girlfriend a call. For me that meant I would have to put myself out there. I remember talking to her for hours a night and I also remember the periods of time during the conversation which would be full of complete silence.
It’s interesting how a few years can change everything …
Today, I think for those of us in the autism community, relationships have improved due to technology and what I call “the texting evolution." No longer do you have to spend hours on hours talking on the phone when if you want to “talk” to someone, you can do it via text message. For someone who doesn’t naturally like to talk, it’s so much more comfortable. It also takes away the paranoia that I might have just said something I wasn’t supposed to. With texting, I can think more about what I’m saying before I’m going to send it.
As texting has come along I have seen myself advance in terms of relationships I’ve had with girls. For me, it’s been beneficial because of how busy I’ve been, but there’s also a sense of comfort that has come with it too. This point hit me a few weeks ago when I was going out to a local hangout with one of my close friends. We met some people we instantly connected with. By the end of that night, I asked my friend, “So how long do you think I should wait before I call her?” His quick response was “Don’t call, Kerry. Text, Kerry. Text.” This is the mantra for new-age relationships.
Since that night, I’ve spent some time discussing texting with individuals both off and on the autism spectrum about their thoughts on this topic. Many of the responses I received go back to just how much technology has developed, and in-person, face-to-face communication has slowly dwindled and been replaced by social networking sites.
I don’t see a clear winner as to which side is best, but I believe you have to try to navigate both face-to-face and online interactions equally. I’ve seen huge benefits to initially starting out with face-to-face interaction and as a relationship develops, to switch back and forth between the two types of communication.
Even though both methods could be hard for those with autism, I’ve seen it as the best way to commit to a successful relationship. Again, I’m not a relationship guru, but I believe these tips can help anyone be successful. If you are unsure how you want to approach a relationship just try to center yourself on the communication method that makes you most comfortable and then go from there. And maybe most importantly don’t stress! There are plenty of people out there!