18 Oct Dating Tips for Teens on the Spectrum
Sometimes, nothing gives you more butterflies than asking someone you like to go out on a date. Whether you’re autistic or not, the moments leading up to you posing the question feel nerve-wracking and exciting. If you feel like you’re ready to get romantically involved with someone you like, read on for helpful dating tips for teens on the spectrum!
Work on Social Skills First
Dating is based on social skills, like all other social interactions. Talking to and being with your friends, teachers, and parents provide great ways to practice for dating.
For example, you probably have some feelings about eye contact. Many people on the autism spectrum are uncomfortable making eye contact, but it’s an important social skill. If you don’t like looking at someone in the eye, try looking at the spot right between their eyes instead. This will make the person feel like you’re making eye contact without making you feel uncomfortable!
Friendship as a Foundation
While you may feel the urge to jump right into dating, consider spending some time with the person you like as a friend before you introduce romance. This is a great way to make sure you both have some common interests and enjoy spending time together before your first official date. Making sure there’s a good foundation of friendship helps prevent awkwardness and anxiety as you start to date—after all, you’ll already know each other!
The Importance of Self-Expression
Romantic relationships have a lot to do with communication. When two people make a commitment to each other, it means you’ll both need to talk about your own priorities, wants, and emotions. That way, you and your partner will each get what you want out of the relationship. While this isn’t as important when you’re just beginning to spend time together, it’s something to consider if the relationship becomes more serious.
For this to work, you need to practice self-expression. Try talking to the person you’re dating about how you feel, especially if you feel strongly about something. It’s also best to follow that statement with an explanation—why do you feel that way? Once they have a full understanding, you can discuss what to do as you move forward.
Asking Someone Out
One of the trickiest parts of dating for autistic teens is the act of asking someone out. You may feel nervous before you ask, and that’s completely normal for anyone. In the days before you ask the person you like whether they would like to go on a date, take some time to plan out how you will ask.
You might research potential places to have your date, like a coffee shop, movie theater, or restaurant. Restaurants are a great first-date location because it will give you the chance to talk to your date. Movie theaters can be a fun date idea, but it’s more difficult to get to know your date during a movie!
Once you know where you’d like to go, you can rehearse your question with a friend, family member, or in front of a mirror. You don’t need to come up with a speech and say it word for word, but a little preparation can help you feel less nervous and more confident. Ability Life Solutions is also happy to answer any questions you have—just fill out this consultation form!
Try Group Dates
The concept of a one-on-one first date might be an anxiety-inducing idea, but you don’t have to have that kind of date. If you know other people who are dating (or others who are having their first date), consider proposing a group date. This will help to spark more conversations on the date, and you can get help or feedback from others when planning the date.
Prepare for a “No”
When you ask someone out, you’re always hoping that they say “yes.” However, sometimes you’ll hear a “no.” That’s okay! While many people with ASD assume that the person they like says “no” because they’ve done something wrong or are at fault in some way, there are plenty of reasons why someone might decline a date. They may already like someone else, or maybe they aren’t ready to date anyone yet—just remember, it isn’t your fault.
Before you ask the person out on a date, prepare yourself for them to say “no.” That way, if they do decline, you are prepared. And if they say “yes,” you can celebrate!
Now that you have this dating advice for autsitic teens, take these tips into the real world and try them out. If you have dating advice of your own, feel free to join our Instagram Community and share it—we’d love to hear what you have to say!
The most important thing to remember as you start dating is that there’s someone out there for you—you don’t have to find them right away. Dating is a lot of fun, so meet new people and get to know them (and yourself) better!