“We know people with autism think very concretely,” said Laugeson.
“Yet those feelings may be invisible to outsiders because we don't show them.
Because we don’t show them or the expected response, people make the wrong assumption about our depth of feeling about other people.”It’s not that individuals on the spectrum do not have the same desire for love; they just may not know how to find it. Elizabeth Laugeson, an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA said, “If you asked a person with autism if they wanted a romantic relationship, they would probably say yes, but they would probably also say they don’t know how to.”Partially from the emphasis on early intervention treatments, there's a dearth of dating skills programs, or, rather, effective ones for people on the spectrum.
“We will constantly not be able to read whether someone is interested, so you can have an insecurity about whether the person you're dating likes you,” said Plank.
In heterosexual courtships where men are still often expected to pursue women, males with autism are at a distinct disadvantage to their female counterpart.
A common trait of people on the spectrum is being extremely logical and straightforward.
A blunt man may repulse women or get a slap in the face; think of how a woman would react if a date told her yes, she did look fat in that dress, or consider the famous 1989 study where a female researcher received positive responses to her request for sex from men on the street 69 to 75 percent of the times compared to her male counterpart who received not a single yes. “Especially if they're really attractive, neuro-typical guys appreciate when women are blunt,” said Plank.“First, a couple notices each other across the room.They make eye contact and look away, and they look again and they look away,” said Laugeson.While Paulette doesn't necessarily think women with autism have it easier than men, she has noticed that her neuro-typical dates have particularly valued many of her autistic traits.“I’ve found that people who are neuro-typical really appreciate the qualities that people on the spectrum posses: complete honesty and almost an inability to lie,” she said.For example, while a "neuro-typical" person might think a bar is great place for a first date, it could be one of the worst spots for someone on the spectrum.