When I’m fond of someone, I (and I think most people) need to kind of feed those feelings by being in regular contact with that person, letting them know I care about them and am thinking about them, etc.
From what I’ve been reading online about people with Asperger’s, it kinda sounds as though love is like a switch, for them; once it’s flipped on it just stays on, and they don’t need to feed the feelings; the feelings are just there, indefinitely. The stuff I read didn’t put it exactly in those terms, but that’s the impression I get nonetheless.
I feel like the “love as light-switch” theory totally makes The Pedant’s behaviour make sense. Here’s this boy who, when he’s not around, often just doesn’t think to call/email/text me, and who rarely (if ever) expresses his feelings for me in words. But when he’s here, he totally just picks up where we left off last time, acting all sweet and attentive. And although it would never occur to him to text me a random “I miss you” or “how’s it going” message between visits, he will text me with information he thinks could benefit me, like if I’d said I need new shoes and he’s just learned that there’s a reputable shoe store having a big sale. So obviously he thinks about me when I’m not around; he just doesn’t express it randomly.
One wonders if the stuff we might normally do to “feed” a relationship goes right over Aspies’ heads because they can’t read social cues. Or maybe the opposite: Aspies can’t read social cues because they have some kind of disconnect between people’s words and what they mean. At any rate, if someone doesn’t get a glowy feeling from being told “I miss you,” they likely don’t get a glowy feeling from saying it to someone else, either. So they’re not motivated to do it.
I’m reminded of the time The Pedant told me compliments don’t do anything for him; yes, he wants any partner of his to think he’s smart, hot, etc., but he needs them to demonstrate their admiration, somehow; words make no impact. I’m also reminded of the fact that I’ve been intermittently sexting The Pedant for months now and he still needed confirmation that I think about him while I’m getting off. Now, granted, I was not actually wanking when I sent him most of my sexts. Nonetheless, I was blatantly telling him that I was having sexual thoughts about him when he wasn’t around. I think most people would extrapolate from this that I use them as wank fodder.
And then, of course, there was the first time we made out – when I told him I was interested in him, he said it was too bad we couldn’t pursue anything because I had a boyfriend, and I was like “Ah, but it’s not actually too late because my boyfriend and I have a semi-open relationship.” And he still didn’t make a move, and told me much, much later that it’s because he wasn’t sure if he’d be welcome to. Wow.
So it seems like there’s some fundamental way in which words don’t connect, with him. At least abstract words that have to do with feelings. A text that says “I’m jerking off right now and using you for wank fodder,” he’d understand, but he can’t grasp the significance of me texting “I wanna shove you down and lick your neck.” Fascinating.
I would guess, then, that my telling him months ago that I’m falling for him doesn’t register with him, either – I mean that he can’t extrapolate from this that my feelings have probably evolved and I’ve gone from “falling” to “fallen.” Therefore, he either has no idea that I love him, or he’s worked it out ages ago from the way I behave with him. Quite possibly the actual word would mean nothing to him, just like compliments mean nothing to him, and it’s all about what I demonstrate through my actions. And ohhhh, that’s probably why he’s almost certainly not gonna say it back to me when I finally do take the plunge – because words don’t seem to give him an ego boost and he assumes everyone else is the same way. And because he assumes he’s already shown me his feelings by the way he behaves, which I agree that he has.
Anyway. Now, instead of thinking that The Pedant doesn’t send me chatty or mushy texts because he doesn’t care enough, I tend to believe that he doesn’t do that stuff because his feelings for me are so strong and steady that he doesn’t need to keep reaffirming them. It gives me more faith in him, and also throws an interesting light on my own relationship habits. Like, I’m not actually saying that The Pedant’s way is superior to my own, but I think it’s interesting to reframe/play Devil’s Advocate here and – instead of lamenting that The Pedant doesn’t conduct himself like neurotypicals do – ask myself why I need to bolster up my feelings of love with continuous maintenance. I mean, arguably The Pedant’s feelings are the “real” ones, the strong ones, because he doesn’t need to do anything to keep ’em going.
And that’s what I’ve been thinking about today.