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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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I have been dating a man I deeply care for, for almost two

Customer Question

I have been dating a man I deeply care for, for almost two years. We have so much fun, but he has a son that has aspergers, and as an educator, I see he has a bit himself. He has decided that he just wants to be friends because he cannot committ to me long term. I know he cares more for me than probaby any woman he's known. He even said he saw a psychologist about it while dating me. I have agreed to be friends because I don't want him out of my life, but explained that there can be no more romance with committment.
Help me understand please.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

It is difficult to ascertain whether he feels he doesn't want to 'commit' to you, in terms of agreeing to a long-term relationship per se, versus 'commit' to you in the sense that he simply doesn't feel the emotional intensity or passion for you that would make someone want to have it be a permanent aspect of their life. Also, it may be that he realizes that you feel differently about him than he does about you----he doesn't really 'get it' in terms of the quality and depth of emotional connection, as you do (it is though his brain isn't 'wired' to feel that). Were I to place a 'bet', I would suggest that if you married him for example, you would probably have the same experience with him as his other wife did i.e., he would appreciate the stability and dependency of the relationship in terms of role assignments, but he wouldn't feel the emotional connection or emotional 'commitment' with you. Again, this would be a good 'guess' as to what his former wife experienced---assuming that everything else about the relationship was more or less o.k. So this is a man who doesn't want to deal with the emotional life and emotional demands of a marriage, probably because he doesn't really 'get it', doesn't want the pressure and chronic complaints, reminders etc., that 'we aren't close', 'we don't connect emotionally', , 'you can't empathize with me the way I need my spouse to', etc., etc. I think a clue to this is the fact that you are reporting that you are trying to be 'patient and understanding'; patient and understanding about what, exactly? I suspect you 'wish' he would feel a deeper sense of passion about you. The fact that you don't want to have sex if there is no commitment is perfectly understandable---most women would feel as you do. I would lay bets that this man is honestly telling you that he doesn't know if he will wake up one day and feel a bit tired of the stressful demands of what a 'committed' relationship means, and feel that he could be quite happy walking away. I will pause here and solicit your feedback.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I believe you nailed it when you said he doesn't have the passion or intensity to make me a permanent aspect of his life. He has a lot on his plate without making excuses for him. An asperpers 13 year old, a 17 year old bi-polar daughter ( I love them both dearly and he admits no one is better with them than I, but I really don't want to be Mary Poppins, I just love kids (I am a teacher for a reason:). But truly, am I wrong about this?

I'm not taking it personally, because I don't thing he knows how to feel that depth of a relationship. He definitely does not want me out of his life, that is for sure, and vice versa. Isn't this lack of feeling characteristic of aspergers. The students I have taught with it have different flavors of it, and I see it in his son. Should I accept the terms of friend. I am 55 and ten years older than he is, he says I am a young 55 and he is an old 45. True, but we love hiking, nature, we went to Ireland last year and it was spectacular. We had dinner tonight and it was very open (good for me to get him to talk), but no pressure. I told him I thought that all the times he said he loved me were to appease me. Very few times did it feel real. We had a wonderful physical relationship, the best either one of us have ever had, I know that to be true. So what do I do? Tell me and make this simple for me. You're the doctor and obviously I need your advice.

Keep in mind, please, he even went to see a doctor about his lack of feelings, and I know he has a mild case of aspergers. I see it in his maps obsession, sensitivity to cold, fabric. and after a year and a half of a wonderful relationship where we NEVER argued, the need to be free.

Thank you,

Rachel

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
If you formed a committed relationship with him, you more or less DO commit to being Mary Poppins for these children, simply because the would probably benefit from such a relationship, more than not. But this is a big responsibility to assume of course, at 55 (even though you are a very young 55).

His lack of emotionality and not 'getting' feelings that others experience is absolutely common in Aspergers---it is classic. People with Aspergers need to learn how to relate to people in ways that are appropriate and reflect reciprocity, even though they don't 'feel' the way other people do. I can't dictate what you should do about this relationship. I would at LEAST, maintain the relationship and keep him as a close friend---you can at least have that with him. But I would make it clear that you ALSO agree with him that there probably can never be a commitment, as in marriage, and that one or both of you might gravitate away from the relationship at some point. This would give you an honest opportunity to see other men, if the occasion arose. And, you would agree that you probably shouldn't continue to have sex, unless you both really wanted to, because that is hard on you emotionally---you want that to be deeply connected with feelings of mutual, emotional love---which you probably cannot experience in this relationship. I would take what the relationship has to offer at this time, but be honest about the likelihood that both of you may gravitate away into other relationships; I'd keep my options open in terms of socializing and dating other men. Can you do this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I can do it. I haven't any choice. Life is too short and maybe, just maybe, in all likely,

God just brought us together for a season. I imagine you are absolutely right about the fact that we may gravitate away into other relationships. I told him tonight that he will always be my friend, but that I cannot do the physical part, and of course he completely understood. I also told him I know and have known this is all he can offer me.

You have been tremendous help in confirming what I already knew but when you're thinking it all by yourself, it's hard to know for sure.

Thank you so much.

Rachel

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Rachel, it has been a pleasure. Please let me know if we need to toss about other problems or ideas in the future; I'd be happy to help. Please click on the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks.
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience: Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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