The Odd Couple – Why Aspies and Nurturers Attract Each Other

Someone with “Asperger Syndrome” is characterized by their lack of communication skills, social skills, and reciprocity of feelings.

The “Aspie” knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what others think or feel. With a deficiency in these critical areas, some have wondered how someone with “Asperger’s” develops an intimate relationship or even gets married.

The answer is simple, “Aspies” do love. They just love in a different way. We tend to unconsciously seek mates who have qualities we lack. It’s not so surprising really that “Aspies” seem to attract the ultimate nurturers. You know, the kind of person who is kind, self-effacing, open-minded, understanding, willing to carry a heavy load for their loved ones. It shouldn’t be a bad thing, should it? To be a loving light to others is absolutely the perfect gift.

The NT (neurotypical – the one not on the spectrum) may be attracted to the unconventional nature and child-like charm of the AS adult. They may sense that the “Aspies” will allow the NT his or her independence. It’s only later that they learn their AS partner isn’t supporting independence. He or she is just not aware of – and may even be disinterested in – the NT’s interests.

So the trick is to remain this loving light even under the pressures of living with “Aspies” who don’t acknowledge the support you’re offering. My belief is that self-care is in order if you’re going to accomplish this task. Dig deeply into your insecurities and purge them. Accept yourself for the amazing, beautiful Soul that you are.

It’s also possible to help our loved ones on the Spectrum do better by us. They need instructions in what I call the Rules of Engagement (ROE). They can certainly learn to be more polite and attentive, just not empathic.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, and desire counseling, please contact my office and schedule an online appointment.

6 Replies to “The Odd Couple – Why Aspies and Nurturers Attract Each Other”

  1. Dear Dr. Marshack
    Thank you for this! I am the female in my marriage and I thought I could mirror myself in this essay – thinking my husband to be the “aspie” one. I am 66 years of age! I have had this dream for a long time to “bring” you over to my country to “fix” my family ; ). I also wander if I myself am on the spectrum – I always thought though that my complicated upbringing was the reason for me being rather emotionally suppressed and having difficulty in trusting . . . Well, thank you again.

    1. Maria,
      I feel you have taken the words right out of my mouth.
      We are so similar in our thoughts, I too am 66 years old and struggling with my spouse of 45 years. I never stop trying to make it better and get exhausted and angry sometimes.
      I live on the east coast of the US and wish I could just have a few hours with you Dr. Marshack!
      thank you for being there for all of us.

  2. Hello Dr. Marshack, thank you for this post, I struggle to draw the line between an ASD person and a narcissist, they look very similar to me. Not constantly but they do overlap very often. I agree that self-care is needed. This type of marriage can have very harmful consequences on children. Thank you for your books, they are very useful, this is not easy.

  3. I recognized right away that a prospective partner had Aspie traits, and I came to your website and writing hoping to learn how to deal. It was interesting to keep finding myself really doubting that I would want this dynamic long-term. I am sort of NT, sort of not — definitely not Aspie, definitely empath, and also with some ADHD traits. S as t first I thought that since I would want a partner to hold space for my ADHD, that I must be able to hold space for this Aspie partner’s difficult qualities. We only made it a few months before I decided to call it quits. He was showing me his lack of empathy, and the writing here influenced me to believe that he won’t change – either I choose to be ok with it, or not. I chose not. I do wonder if that that makes me weak, or unkind – but in other moments I feel clear that I want to be held and cared for, and that I have the agency to say no to a relationship that lacks that possibility. It certainly is complex, and I’m not sure that’s the intention of your writings, but that’s the effect they had on me.

    1. This is exactly how I feel. i recently learned about Alexithymia and my years of marital misery have fallen into place and honestly I don’t think it should be considered bad to say I’m not accepting this hurtful behaviour even if it isn’t intention behaviour.

    2. E- I can completely relate to this. I too have decided that it doesn’t matter WHY someone makes me feel frustrated, unseen, uninteresting and unimportant, it only matters THAT they make me feel those ways.

      I spent a long time thinking that it was wrong or cruel to leave someone because they thought and felt differently than I do.
      I finally just couldn’t bear the feeling of it anymore.
      I still have love for them but have actively chosen to live a life free of that suffocating burden that is a profound and consistent lack of understanding and emotional reciprocity . I need to feel seen, heard and understood in a partnership and I think most of us do.

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