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Meeting my (now) husband.

In the years of my heavily masked unidentified autistic life, dating was an absolute nightmare.
 
I hated it.
 
Relationships caused me so much confusion, pain, self-doubt and anguish.
 
Flirting. Ugh.
 
Eye contact, words, body language, no clue.
 
No freaking clue.
 
I went along with whatever I thought was expected of me in order to fit in, and to avoid being targeted, rejected and/or abandoned.
 
Of course, I experienced all of those things.
 
When you’re autistic and your social skills revolve around honesty, and that isn’t well tolerated or accepted;
 
You learn to follow.
 
And so I followed.
 
There was no connecting to my intuition or having boundaries.
 
I had a bloody awful time with relationships.
 
The year I turned 30, just out of my grad year in Teaching, sole Mum to a 10-year-old daughter and still no clue I was autistic, I met my future husband.
 
We met on a dating site, which was great for me because it created a safe distance.
 
It afforded me processing time, the ability to observe and think about what I might say next, and the freedom to turn the computer off if and when I needed to.
 
Complete control and safety.
 
He and I connected instantly and progressed to talking for hours on end over the phone.
When he announced he wanted to meet me in real-time, I was so disappointed.
 
I knew it meant the beginning of the end.
 
I just didn’t want to. I wasn’t ready.
 
And yet, I did.
 
But this time, I had made a friend first.
 
I trusted him and so, decided I’d be completely honest.
 
I asked him to never make a move on me.
 
To not touch me, try to kiss me or get close without consent.
 
I even asked him not to open doors for me or to see me out to my car.
 
I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was all pressure.
 
Too much pressure.
 
I’d been taught as a self-doubting autistic person to just do as I was told.
 
But I really liked this man.
 
I liked him so much that I needed to know there was no pressure; that I could say No, that I could set boundaries and that even if he didn’t understand them, he’d be accepting.
 
And he was.
 
Over a decade, a marriage, four kids and six diagnoses later, we now live as a completely PDA autistic family.
 
And we are happy.
 
Is it easy? No.
 
Has it been wonderful all along? God, no.
 
But today we’re happy.
 
My husband and I know one another and the impact that pressure has on us.
 
Demands.
 
We understand one another’s autistic expression and support needs and we respect those things.
 
The signs were there that I was PDA autistic, my behaviour and thinking was certainly not typical in dating culture by neuronormative standards.
 
And this is important.
 
We don’t have to do anything typical when we’re not typical people.
 
Finding our people and our culture is paramount.
 
And it’s possible.
 
We are neurodivergence people.
 
 
- KF
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