At its best, online dating can suck. At its worst, it can be a total train wreck. After a bad previous experience ended, I took a very long break from dating, stating that I was good being alone and single.
I still feel that way, and now even more so, though a few weeks ago when I decided to dip my toes back into the online dating pool, I thought some companionship would be nice to have.
It started as the usual song and dance, message a few women you find interesting, don’t hear back from any of them and then get frustrated and wait for that one person to finally return a message.
That’s where I found myself last week, with a woman that I had some interest in finally returning a message from me. We did the obligatory messaging for a short while on the online dating platform and then moved to text. From there we chatted on the phone a few times and made a dinner date for Monday.
Going into the date, the woman was all about communicating. After the date, not so much.
Everything started out great on our date. We were talking, we were laughing, and I was there without my autism service dog, Tye as I felt pretty comfortable with her and didn’t think I would need him. Normally I would bring Tye on a first date, which meant having to tell my date ahead of time that I’m on the spectrum and will have a service animal with me.
This typically leads to the date being canceled as the woman isn’t often down with a four-legged chaperone. I would tell myself that it’s better to know right up front that the woman isn’t into a guy with a service animal, but I don’t always believe what I tell myself.
So, this time I decided to leave Tye at home to chill and figured I would find the right time to tell the woman that I’m on the spectrum and that things would be better this way. I was wrong.
As I said earlier, we were talking, laughing and having a good time and then she asked me the question that ground everything to a halt.
“So why did you move from California to this part of Missouri?” She wanted to know. I figured the question would come up at some point, though I was really hoping it wouldn’t be ion the first date. I wanted more of a chance for this woman to see me for who I am before dropping the information that I knew could kill the buzz of enjoyment I had going.
“Would it surprise you to know that the reason I’m an autism advocate is that I’m on the spectrum?” I asked.
She replied that it would, and I told her that the main reason I moved here is to cut down on the overwhelming sensory overload that is LA and the OC. The conversation slowed down a bit at that point, but we had already made plans for a second date on Friday and I thought that things were going well and that this would only be a small bump in the road.
Once again, I was wrong.
This woman who was very chatty and fun turned in to someone who had little to say and eventually blew me away with her deafening silence. On Tuesday we exchanged a couple of texts, but they were short, with the longest being six words. Wednesday I received one text that was a single word, “fine.”
Thursday there was nothing and on Thursday night I sent a message asking if I could assume that our date for the following day was off. I’m still waiting for her answer to that question, but suffice it to say that there was no date om Friday.
Once again, the knowledge that I’m autistic has driven away a woman.
A couple of friends tried to cheer me up and remind me that it was her loss, but that didn’t ease the pain a whole lot. I was still metaphorically kicked in the junk for being the way I was born.
Why is it that when a woman hears that a guy is on the spectrum, or worse, has a service animal, they cut and run? That’s a question I’ll probably never have an answer to, but is the one question I would really, really like to have answered.
The only answer I can come up with is that people are ignorant about autism and who an autistic person really is. I really can’t come up with anything else and I’m supposed to be smart and have all the answers.
What do you think? Why do people hear, “autism,” “autistic,” or “on the spectrum” and make a beeline for the door? What is it about us that’s so offensive to people? Other than sheer ignorance, I don’t have a good answer.
Maybe you have a better one.
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