Valentines Day has arrived - A day of celebrating your special person, full of grand gestures and fancy dinners. Some of you might be lucky enough to be in a relationship, some of you might be searching, and some of you might find it difficult. 

Dating as an autistic person can pose difficulties - fear of judgement and anxiety about meeting in the first place to name a few. We spoke to some autistic people about their experiences with dating to hopefully share some useful advice on navigating the world of relationships.


How would you prepare for a date / What would your advice be to people getting ready for a date?

J - Find out where the date will be so that you can prepare e.g. wearing the right clothes, so as not to overdress if not necessary. Usually smart casual works ok. I always aim to be on time!


C - I would tell someone close to me where and when I was meeting someone. I would prepare in advance what I am going to wear, how I am going to get to the place I am meeting the person and how I am going to get home. I will also prepare some set questions to ask them, to help me feel less nervous and not run out of things to say. Lastly I will prepare a get out clause if I feel I need to leave the date. For example, have a code word to text the person I have told who can ring me or come and collect me when I need their help.


How and where do you meet people? How do you keep safe?

J - Being at university made it easier to meet people in pubs, clubs, and societies. This gives a range of different people to meet. There are also on-line dating apps/sites but to be cautious, I would prefer meeting face to face so that you can better understand who you are meeting. Let people know where you are heading to, such as friends and family and keep your phone charged.


C - Online seems to be the only place where you can meet people these days. I would say it is not an easy way to meet people as an autistic person, as I feel very vulnerable putting myself out there, but when I do talk to anyone, I try not give to much personal information away. I will never share any photographs other than ones I have put on my profile. I will always tell someone (parent, friend) about who I am talking to or meeting for a date, so someone is always aware and help me if I get into a difficult situation. I always plan to meet someone in an open space with other people so I am never alone, this helps me to not feel alone.


 What kind of date works for you?

J - First time meeting tends to be better somewhere fairly quiet eg café or on a walk just to get to know the person. After a while, activities could be good if things progress.


C - I prefer to be doing something specific on a date as this can help the conversation flow and give me something to talk about when I am nervous, and also helps me to have structure to the date, but this is not always possible.


 Do you think being autistic has an impact on how you approach dating and relationships?

J - Yes and no – I think autism makes my communication poor in general and I am prone to miss signs of whether people like me or not. This means it is never me that makes the first approach – mostly because I don’t know how!

I have had a few relationships, but they have made the first move. My belief that if I am getting to know someone, then I usually share I am autistic after the first few interactions to see if that changes anything. Most people are accepting, but sometimes they may change their attitude but not to be intolerant.


C - I personally find It does have quite a big impact on me, primarily because, as someone who is autistic, meeting new people, making small talk and being in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation is very difficult. I find I will mask so much on a date that I am exhausted for days after. Not only this but I constantly debate the big question, ‘when do I tell them I’m autistic?’ Do I tell them before the date, so they are prepared, or wait for them to get to know me first? It still feels like a taboo subject, when it shouldn’t be. We are our own colourful characters that what the same thing as anybody else in the dating world.


 There are still misconceptions about autistic people not wanting relationships – what would you say to these people?

J - There are some people that do, and some that don’t, and some would like to have children and others don’t. It is someone’s preference, just like anyone else.


C - Every Autistic person is individual, just like any neurotypical person. In my view, somebody may come across as not being interested, when in fact it is the exact opposite, but the act of seeking and maintaining a relationship can be a scary concept and can be difficult navigate and to know where to start, so it is often easier to avoid these difficult situations altogether.


Take a look below at some of our top picks for safe dating sites. We also run some social groups such as the Asperger's Group which could be a great chance to meet somebody in a safe, social environment!