Disclosure when Dating
Whether or not to inform your employer that you’re on the spectrum is a hot topic among autistic adults, with many fearing that if they do, their chances will go up in flames faster than Sauron’s optometrist.
A related topic I’ve encountered which isn’t talked about as openly, however, is disclosing one’s autism to a romantic partner or potential romantic partner. Once again, there’s often considerable fear that it will be seen as red flag. Like, fire-engine-in-mating-plumage red. An instant deal breaker.
While this fear may be understandable, I don’t think it’s justified. People can be more understanding and less judgemental than you might expect, and even if they show trepidation at first, this could simply be due to misconceptions about autism, which you can alleviate by explaining the reality to them.
Also, it’s important to remember that while it’s easy to assume that autism was the deal breaker, that may not have been the case. People decide not to pursue relationships for all sorts of reasons. Not everyone is going to be compatible with you, and that’s okay. Learning to accept rejection is vital, not just when it comes to dating, but also life in general. Things won’t always work out the way you want, and if you dwell on the things that didn’t, you’ll be missing out on new opportunities.
But when should you tell them? First date? Third date? At the altar?
Rather than sticking to some formulaic rule, I think it’s best to just play it by ear and bring it up whenever it becomes relevant. (For instance, if you’re uncomfortable with a noisy setting) And when you do, don’t say it like you’re confessing to being a sex offender; try disclosing it the same way you’d inform them that you’re vegetarian or don’t drink. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, they probably won’t either. Remember, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I realize this may sound hypocritical after I’ve just written a whole blog entry on the subject, but ultimately, I think the most important thing is to not worry about it so much. I realize that’s easier said than done. But I truly believe, based on not only my own experiences, but also those of the dozens of people on the spectrum I know, that autism is not the romance-torpedoing red flag that a lot of us seem to fear it is.