Love or Obsession: When a Person Becomes an Aspie’s Special Interest


 

An except from Twirling Naked in the Streets and No-One Noticed…

 

According to the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), having an “encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus” is a core symptom of AS.

I’ve had many special interests/preoccupations/passions/obsessions through the years beginning as young as three years old. My three year old self was completely preoccupied with baseball; my fifteen year old self—boys, or more precisely a boy.

That is not an unusual preoccupation for a fifteen year old girl, but what we need to look at is the intensity and focus. When focused on an interest or area to the exclusion of everything else, and everyone else in your life, is this not considered obsession? For the autistic person our obsessions and passions are soothing, calming, a place to hide, decompress, regenerate—a place of quiet peace. But what happens when your special interest your obsession is a person?

Love can be joyous and healthy but obsession can be seen as unwanted attention, smothering affection, and in the extreme…stalking. To make matters worse, the mind-blind teenager will usually never know if she steps over this line. How much is too much exactly?

The first few months were perfect. We cruised the neighborhood with the windows down, wind in my hair—and his, which was possibly longer than my own. My friends faded into the background of my mind, nothing else mattered, no-one else existed. I was in my one friend, one person allowed in my life at a time mode—other people were far from my thoughts.

I went to school—ok to the candy store, went to work, and hopped into this car at night to drive around. I wanted to stay roaming the neighborhoods like that all night long, but he needed to meet his friends. Every night around eleven o’clock he dropped me off at home and left to hang out with the guys.

At first I tried to be accommodating, to make him happy. I needed to be home before midnight or my father would flip out anyway I told myself. But as time went on it became harder, and harder to let go—to understand this strange need for his friends. Why not just stay hanging out with me? What was wrong with me? I began to take it personally, not understanding that others may have feelings and needs different than my own. I couldn’t see it; I couldn’t understand it; his behavior made no sense to me.

“If you loved me, you’d stay!”

On New Year’s Eve we had a fight. He didn’t stay. I called and left messages on his voicemail like a crazy stalker, hung-up and redialed again. The return calls never came. What did I do?

For the next few months I could think of nothing else.

He wouldn’t even speak to me, giving me no reason at all.

I began dating someone else, just to keep my mind off things and keep myself occupied. Make no mistake about it; he knew all about my obsession with my ex-boyfriend, and how I desperately wanted him to dance with me at my sweet sixteen. Why that boy hung around me I’ll never know.

It had never occurred to me that I was hurting someone’s feelings, how could I if I was truthful with them? He knew that if my ex showed up at my Sweet Sixteen party, that it would be the end of things. I told him I would let him dance with me on my birthday if you know who doesn’t show up. I was still holding out hope. I’d invited him, and I thought maybe just maybe he would show-up and surprise me—and he did.

The night was a blur after that, we were back together and that is how it would always be, wouldn’t it? I’d never considered any other scenario in my head—ever.

These relations were all encompassing; I wanted to spend every free moment together and assumed that he wanted that too.

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23 thoughts on “Love or Obsession: When a Person Becomes an Aspie’s Special Interest

  1. Pingback: What’s so Special About a Special Interest? | Musings of an Aspie

    • I am so glad that you are enjoying my blogged book, and do appreciate your reading–thank you so much.

      I took at look at your poems, very nice. I was thinking about taking a Poetry Writing Workshop this spring because I would love to learn to write poetry. I could not, however, find the one you referred to. Am I looking in the right spots? I scrolled through the archives, and searched that name, but came up blank 😦

  2. Pingback: A scratch on the back of my neck and a killer mixtape | Atypical Neurality

  3. This topic is very real for us Aspies. I get nervous at times – I have a very very negative connotation connected with the word “obsessed” because its often used to describe “crazy behavior” or “out of control behavior” and since I have definitely had a person as one of my big interests and it was very hard to make it end – I wish this part of Aspieness could be shut off 😦

  4. My boyfriend has aspergers and also depression which I believe can be linked. There is one fixation though that I really find hard to deal with and it’s affecting our relationship and I wonder if any one with aspergers, particularly men, who have the same thing and can maybe help me with dealing with this.
    A few years ago, before we got together, he developed a fixation on a female celebrity. He didn’t try to meet her in real life at all, but he was obsessed with finding everything out about her online. He used to be a member of an online forum and would write a lot about her there. This lasted on and off a good 2-3 years. She was on a reality dance show and that was where his obsession started. He told me that he would never develop a fixation now that he was with me. We’ve been together just over a year and I’m the longest relationship he’s had for about 10 years as previous girlfriends have not been able to deal with his depression and not understood his aspergers. He’s told me, I’m the only one who’s understood and that he can be himself with me. Last year we both supported a female celebrity on the same reality show and it just occurred to me that her dance partner was the same one that danced with the girl who he had a fixation on a few years ago. This has really worried me as he obviously was drawn to her as she would have reminded him of his fixation. I know this is probably true as he did put a few comments on these forums that he wrote on that a previous celebrity partner brought back memories of this girl as she had the same partner. I know he wouldn’t do anything purposely to hurt me. I can deal with all the other aspergers symptoms he has and he is a lovely, kind person. But this is really haunting me and I’m worried for the future that he might develop another fixation on someone else.
    I really want a future with him, but I’m finding it really difficult to deal with this part. I would be very grateful if anyone who has had the same fixations as my boyfriend could give me an insight as to how he feels and if I should be worried and also how to deal with it. Please help

    • talk to him ! he isn’t an alien ! he probably sences something is wrong and might think your going off him, aspies need to be told what your thinking so they know whats going on ! , another thing aspies cant lie to save their life, not that most would want to lie so you will likely get the truth from him if you ask ! I don’t know how he feels noone will it might be an intense interest like a hobby like chess or colleting cards or he could be in love with her, no one can know but you can find out if you ask. If it was me id be flattered someone cared about me enough to be jelous and id love you more, but that’s just me !

    • Amanda, your comment is spot-on. I’m an aspie and I have obsessions with celebrities from time to time, some obsessions last for months, and during the wintertime, the depression that gets thrown on top of it hurts even worse.

      Here’s the thing – Currently, I’ve been obsessed with one celebrity in particular. Now I’m not going to say who, but she’s much older than me by about 4 decades. Like your boyfriend, I spent HOURS looking up as much information as I could on her, and unintentionally, I know her birthdate, her kids names, all the movies and TV she was in, quotes she’s said, everything. Now for someone who understands his own aspergers, this is pretty creepy.

      He probably feels a bit like a creep or a stalker when it comes to who he’s obsessed with. Best thing you can do as a girlfriend is tell him that it’s ok.

      …as long as he doesn’t do what the Bjork guy did. that guy was whacked out.

  5. How do you get past this? I met my James when I was 12 (he was 14) and he’s all that mattered ever since. I walked home in snow and ice most days that winter, because maybe 30% of the time I’d find him along the way and we’d walk together. I remember our first kiss (Friday February 17th 2004) and the whole situation surrounding it. I still have his year 11 timetable.. composed by writting down when i saw him in lessons, so that I could ensure my route to my lessons meant i passed him.
    We got together (for 3 months) when I was 15, after he’d left high school (where his friends had mocked me constantly as “the girl who fancies James!”). I’d had various “distraction” relationships in the mean time, the last of which had resulted in me loosing my virginity. So when he’d wanted to loose his, I was there, attractive, and more than willing. Unfortunately he hadn’t really been looking for anything more, but 3 days after the deed I emotionally blackmailed him into going out with me (although it’s taken me 7 years to realise that this was what i did). It didn’t last, and I sank into a deep depression when he broke it off, and started going out with a new girl. I went “off the rails”, tried various drugs, had sex with any guy that’d have me, and sank into a deep depression.
    When the new girl cheated on him, I was there to pick up the pieces and help him get his revenge. we had a strange ‘on-off’ relationship until I was 17, and then we went out again, this time for 3 years. well, 2 and a half… for the last 6 months we were “on a break” – turns out he didn’t want to end it and have me go “off the rails again” we’d basically been living together – me staying at his mum’s, and going home once or twice a week to dump laundry, pick up fresh clothes, and suffer Sunday dinner with my family, and without him.
    we stayed friends, until we strayed back into the realm of “friends with benefits” again, until he found another girlfriend. this was the worst. Me and James had hugs fights via text and messenger, until eventually he told me he didn’t want to see or speak to me again, and wouldn’t even meet me to say good bye. his new girlfriend provoked the situation by texting me from his phone, and threatening to report me to the police for harassment. I had a break down. spent 3 days in bed, sobbing, refused to go to work, or eat. My mum in desperation had to medicate me and gave me simple “to-do” lists, consisting of “1, get up. 2, have a shower. 3, get dressed. 4, eat something. 5, walk the dog” This was a year ago.
    I deleted his number, and all his messages, blocked him on facebook, and changed my route to work so i didn’t drive past his house. As he owed me money (because i was always lending him money, buying him food, giving him lifts places, and doing anything else he wanted) I wrote letters demanding it back, and when I received no responses filed a court claim against him. He sent me a cheque, which i cashed in, then I made the mistake of unblocking him, and sending him a “thank you” message. The cheque bounced, and after another argument, I ended up helping him do a bank transfer so that he paid within a month, and could have the court order removed from his credit record.
    Inevitably, he split up with the girlfriend (because she was a money grabbing whore who was using his photography passion to further her makeup up artistry business, and using him to look after her daughter.) and we started talking on friendly terms again. 4 months ago he came to a party, and stayed over, and a few more times since. I told him i didn’t want to have sex with him, and we’ve talked about the fact that he doesn’t want a serious relationship, but finds me very attractive, and the fact that I want a relationship, and sex without the commitment is going to mean we fight more. We want to be friends, without the drama.
    But I still have that “insane” jealousy when he replys to a girls comment on facebook, or there’s a photo of him with another girl in the shot. I want him to be mine, and I KNOW that if i can just ride out the next 10 years or so, and stay friends, he’ll grow up and realise that he wants the safe, stable committed relationship that I do, and we’ll settle down and have our babies, and life will be good. (I’m not completely delusional, I know we’ll still have problems, every relationship does, but he’ll get to the point where he’s willing to work through the problems with me.)

    BUT, if this was one of my friends, I’d be screaming at them to cut him out of their life for good. this hasn’t been a healthy relationship up until recently. There’s been emotional abuse on both sides, financial abuse, and a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of scope for it to go bad again, and the “sit-tight-and-wait” approach is crazy…
    But it’s not, not for me and James… because I love him, and it’s meant to be.

    I met him when I was 12 and a few months, now I’m 2 months off turning 24…. My family and best friends hate him for the hurt he’s caused, but I can’t get him out of my head, or my heart. I was diagnosed with Aspergers 2 months ago, but there’s no provision, in my area, for mental health support for autistic adults beyond diagnosis.

  6. This would never happen to me, as I’m not capable of a relationship. Being around people exhausts me, and so I’ve learned to fear it, that it’s something painful.

    We aspies can never let go. When my cat died, I was a wreck and could barely function for a long, long time.

    An aspie dating a neurotypical must learn to adjust to the other person’s needs. And that’s just the thing that always drove me crazy about neurotypicals, that they don’t tell you what you did wrong, offer no explanation. They want you to figure it out on your own. They’ll stay away from you instead of telling you what you did wrong.

    So, I understand the relationship survived. Very happy for you.

    • We have an impossible time letting things go, that is for sure! But no, this relationship did not survive, I moved on…and on…and on…and some got better, some did not. Ultimately, I did wind up in a relationship (by sure force of will I think sometimes), and we have now will be married 19 years in August. I do attribute my stubborn, unable to let go nature, to surviving this long as well. Perhaps less devoted types would flee when heartache strikes, or trouble comes, and it did, it always does-but that unwillingness to let go, can also be a strength. A willingness to work with others and see past the flaws, and keep our promises. Commitment and loyalty are powerful attributes, and us Aspies just need to find the people in the world that appreciate them.

  7. Hello. I’m not dealing with aspergers myself but my friend has it and she is obsessed with me, I need help! She is also obsessed with old tv shows things I know nothing about and she won’t let me ho, please help!

  8. My roommate has aspergers and unfortunately he is now obsessed with my 10 month old son. I’m trying to be understanding but it’s getting creepy. How do I stop this?

  9. your lucky your a girl, if you were a man that obsessed the woman woul run a mile before you even got a first date, !!!! aspie women dating problems all seem preferable to being a male aspie who never gets a first date !!!! your problems are franly trivial compared to male aspies !!!!

    • Hi Peter,

      I cannot disagree that the a male aspie has distinctly differing issues when it comes to dating and romantic issues. The the world seems to be less forgiving of the man who has difficulties than a woman, you are correct, and no, it is not fair! But do understand, that just because your issues, or those of other males may seem more severe, it is unfair to trivialize the issues that your female counterparts experience. We all struggle in one way or another, and none of our struggles are trivial–not yours, and not mine.

  10. Pingback: Culpably obsessed – the difficulties of obsessing over a person | BTBKTR

  11. I am currently going through a possible ‘obsession’ (I don’t like that word but it’s the term my mum uses) with my girlfriend. I am terrified of our relationship being an obsession and being scared of my obsessions has previously sent me to a very dark place. I was wondering if you would be able to contact me with any advice or comfort for my scary situation

  12. Lol I just found out one of my neighbors is my special focus. I had no idea that I was being creepy and annoying and wasn’t diagnosed until after he got mad at me. I wish he would forgive me 😦

  13. My special interest is one of my former neighbors and classmates. I had no idea what was going on and why I literally developed an overnight obsession with him. It’s been almost 6 years and I still think about him a lot. As much as its bad in some regards it kept me away from depression. I’ve been told by neurotypical psychiatrist that I love him, but I don’t know. I acted really strangely toward him because I had no idea how to interact with him on a good level. I think he’s mad at me and hates me even though I was trying to be nice, but not too nice. I hope he forgives me some day. No matter how hard I try I never form the feelings I have towards him but towards someone else.

  14. How do I handle this with my 13 yo son? I’m trying to teach him how to handle his relationship with this girl and I feel like he is constantly emotional and upset.

  15. ” For the autistic person our obsessions and passions are soothing, calming, a place to hide, decompress, regenerate—a place of quiet peace.”
    YES, such a great description of how I feel about my obsessions! I`m already planning on using these words to describe it to others who may not understand me. I sometimes find it extremely difficult to explain what should be really simple.

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