As I write this, I continue on a journey towards defining towards who I am and what I want sexually. I walk down a path of new adventure, uncomfortableness, excitement, confusion, love and fear. I carry with me items: Asperger syndrome, and a combination of polyamory and recreational swinging. When one of these objects, poke out from my baggage, I tend to stuff it deep inside and continue. I am afraid of rejection and loneliness. But the more I cram and I try to forget, the luggage I carry gets heavier and heavier. I slow down, getting mired in going through the motions and losing meaning. In a way, I stop living. I am learning when to lighten my load and embrace the Asperger syndrome and alternative sexuality and when to respect cultural norms, pack them away and focus on other things. Although I am feeling uncomfortable, I want to share this road with this sex positive community; and, how I am coming to terms. I am a woman with Asperger Syndrome engaged in and interested in, an alternative sexual life style.
I travel down a winding route of Asperger Syndrome or autism. Although I was not formally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a kind of social-dyslexia, until my mid-twenties, its shadows appear in my life. As a kid I wanted to make friends, but I did not know how to do this. I did not know why some people got together for lunch in the cafeteria or got invited to parties. I did not know why I ended up eating lunch by myself, near a classroom or why other kids left my birthday party, once, in the middle of cutting the cake. I guess I accepted rejection and made it my own. Just as I took each breath, I figured I would be better off isolating myself from others, at the very least to not get teased. Science, math, English, and social studies became my friends. I had my books. I was a good student. At least I was liked for being smart.
As a teenager, I did not date much, although I was sexually attracted to guys. I had crushes on my teachers, who were safe, as I could not date them. I watched other boys and girls date, exchange valentines and dance together. I just did not know how to act and what to do. I spent middle school and high school dances hanging out in the halls. I avoided any sexual related thought or action. I mastered avoidance by simply doing math equations and living in my own world. I would get teased by the other girls for liking other guys or for other guys liking me. It hurt, but I would think it made me more independent, not crawling on some guy’s arm. I had control of my destiny, or at least I thought. I went to a woman’s college and studied science. Although I did have a boyfriend for a month, I traded him in for academics. I graduated a lonely, depressed and suicidal woman. I did benefit from engaging my brain; but I was stressed out emotionally. I was stuck and not in charge of my life.
Luckily, I met some good people during this low point, and my life began to change for the better. I saw a doctor who attributed some of my struggles understanding and relating to people, to autism or Asperger Syndrome. I have trouble reading people, just like some people have trouble reading books. But, I could learn the social skills. Over the course of several years, I met with a coach to learn how to meet and make friends with others. I learned how to relate to people. I started to get the language of dating and sexuality. I felt a bit more comfortable with guys. I met my now-husband at that time. When I first started dating my now husband, I started to confront my views about sex. I grew up in a somewhat sexually conservative family and town with these rules:
- No Sex before Marriage
- Only men and women get married
- Use birth control only after marriage to stop having too many babies
- Men control the shots sexually, as they cannot stop or control their sexual desire.
- As a woman, be responsible for stopping any sexual encounter
- Be afraid. Be very afraid of sex and masturbation.
- Sex offends people.
I took away the following message: DON’T HAVE SEX. IT IS WRONG UNTIL YOU ARE MARRIED. At first I liked the rules. They seemed clear. Like many people with Asperger Syndrome, I like clear rules. But, now my boyfriend wanted me to move in with him. So I chose the boyfriend over the rules. I valued my boyfriend and his morality over the rules. I saw he was a good person through his actions. I moved in with him. Yes, I had sex and used birth control before I was married.
I had frequent conversations about sex with my boyfriend, because I felt and acted guilty. He confronted me with many of the logical holes in the sexual rules I brought with me. Through that, I started to enjoy sex more. Sometimes, when I became anxious, my boyfriend suggested a date where I would wear no panties or bra. This was done tastefully. Only he knew. This started to become a fun game. Our relationship continued to strengthen. We got engaged and wedded the next year. My adventures in sex had just begun.
Seven years later we signed up for a trip to Desire in Cancun Mexico because we wanted to try a clothing optional resort where dress for dinner was required. On this trip, we visited the disco. We saw a play room in the back of the bar and went inside to see what was there. My husband and I saw others having sex and playing. We watched and made love. I had lots of orgasms. My husband and I were introduced to swinging.
Again, we talked a lot about what it would be like to swing and what we wanted. We decided to go slow and make some clear rules. I think we ended up more voyeurs than playing with other people. I was uncomfortable with swinging, at first, because I thought other people may reject me. I was also afraid of any impact spilling over to the work world. Then I learned that what stays in the swinging world, stays in that world. One of my former co-workers, also on a swinging site, found out about us swinging. I continued to contract at the same company and was not reprimanded. He told no one. So I could have some trust.
Over the course of many years, our comfortableness with the range of swinging has changed a bit. For example we started with the rule, no kissing other people. Now, we can kiss others. That worked. In this last trip to desire, my husband and I met some polyamorous folks. I was happy, with the consent of my husband, playing with someone who was polyamorous. I connected with him and had a great time. We became friends. When my husband and I came home from Mexico we had talks about polyamory. We drew up a contract and agreed that our marriage came first. I don’t picture myself acting on the polyamory side of myself, any time soon. I have enough weirdness relating with people due to the Asperger Syndrome. Also, I don’t want to become socially isolated from people I care about, who would not accept my sexuality. I do not want to hurt my immediate family. I choose not to act overtly on any polyamorous desires. It keeps things safe.
My husband helps me to feel comfortable to explore my sexuality and he is my primary concern. Who knows where our next sexual adventure will be. I continue to travel down this road of living with Asperger syndrome and an alternative monogamous lifestyle.
Thanks for your very interesting and thought-provoking article. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences!
A thread of this must run in my family: giftedness, learning disabilities, ADHD, social awkwardness… I actually have it on my own grade school IEP: ‘lacks social skills.’ My son has non-verbal learning disorder, close kin to Asperger’s, so I know what you’re talking about. I grew up in a pretty strict, fundamental Christian household, but it didn’t take. As soon as I grew boobs and understood how to use them, I had a great time pushing boys’ buttons. And deep down, even though I would be a little upset after a break-up, within a day or two, I was fine and on to the next. I think I always instinctively understood the difference between love and sex.
Thank You for a wonderfull article. Your story helped me to know that my struggles in life and love are not the first of its kind. It is not easy living with these challenges whether one faces them being a guy or woman growing up. It really does help to have great trustworthy people to confide in for advice and to help boost your confidence to achieve every step toward your goals.