Friday, 6 September 2013

The Story of My First Boyfriend & Dating Can Be Scary

About a year ago, I was in a relationship with a young man.  This young man was my first boyfriend.  Our relationship was not particularly long-lived and -- frankly -- should not have lasted as long as it did.  I had never been in a romantic relationship before and I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be like.  I suppose I was glad that somebody found me attractive.

This young man and I never spent a lot of time together.  We rarely communicated.  He was hardly the one person I would confide my secrets to, nor was I to him.  We were just "dating" as they do in university, something I'd never experienced before and something -- to be perfectly honest -- I didn't enjoy as much as I probably should have.  I should have been pickier.  I should have seen the "deal-breakers."  I shouldn't have been so lenient.  I should have seen the signs and when I didn't like his behavior, I should have confronted him.  I was so scared to tell this young man how I felt.

I merely wanted a boyfriend.  I had never had one before, and it was exciting to have someone who -- at least some of the time -- wanted me.  Our feelings were never mutual and honestly mine were more of infatuation or lust than actual interest.  I was interested, I suppose, but I didn't know how to express that interest.  I didn't have the tools I needed to know how a romantic relationship is supposed to unfold.

He was the one who broke up with me, and it wasn't a surprise.  I was dreading it because I wanted to have him as my boyfriend because I thought I loved him, even though it turned out that I actually kind of despised him.  I just had this fascination with him, you see.  I wanted someone, and he's just the one who ended up in my life.

It has been nearly a year since we broke up and so much has changed.

I now know what true love is.  I now know what true support is.  I now am with a person who makes me immensely comfortable.  I am with a person now who doesn't make me anxious or ashamed of who I am.  I am with a person who is good for me.  I am with a person who brings out the best in me.  I am with a person who trusts me and who I trust.  I am with a person I don't have to make compromises for.

The point of this history is to really emphasize that -- when I was nineteen years old and in my first romantic relationship -- I didn't know what "dating" was and I didn't know how to handle it productively.  I have never been excellent in social situations and the one-on-one of dating with all the pressures that it comes with was absolutely overwhelming for me, a "Young Autistic Female" who'd never so much as looked a boy in the eyes.  Dating was scary.  Dating was hugely and immensely scary.  I rushed through dating that first young man with such fervor and frustration because I didn't know whether I was doing it right and I was constantly second-guessing myself.  I was terrified.

The advice I've received subsequently about dating has been invaluable.  I am so thankful to the many friends and family members who have stepped forward to explain dating and relationships to me and who have made sure that I'm safe and comfortable.  Because dating can be dangerous and frightening if you don't know what you're doing.  And I really hope -- for all the other girls out there -- that there's someone to teach you how to date safely and comfortably.

I'm thinking of doing a quick series on this.  Maybe I'll share some "tips" I learned about dating and relationships.

Anyways, I just wanted to impart that dating can be scary -- for everyone, regardless of whether you are Autistic or neurotypical.  And if you need a little bit more education on dating and relationships, that's absolutely OK as well.