I remain convinced that people know what they need but are blocked from getting it. Whenever I try to discuss my lack of love life with health professionals, and often with others, they simply refuse to hear certain facts, they make false assumptions, they lay blame, they ignore facts and evidence, they suggest strategies they know have failed me, and they refuse to hear me when I repeatedly tell them exactly what I need: dating social skills for adults with autism. I sent my new therapist the CBC news clip about the UCLA training program. I explained all the relevant bits of my history I could get in and what I’ve seen on autism websites/in autism groups and what an exclusive match it is. He (I finally managed to get a male therapist, and there’s a male perspective that women just don’t get around straight dating) is still suggesting things I’ve already done, focusing on imagined issues I don’t have (e. g. shyness), suggested DBT–which is fine but hardly helps with dating, is trying to advise me about what to do on a date when the problem is that I can’t get one, is giving me insights I needed 20 years ago but already told him how I discovered myself (the long list of opportunities I would’ve availed myself of except that I had no idea at the time that they were staring me in the face), and acts like I know what to do but can’t or won’t do it. No matter how many times I come back to autism and the unwritten rules and non-verbal communication of NT culture and dating, he won’t address it. Nor will he argue against it. He just changes the subject away from it. He suggests there are different kinds of flirting, dismisses the seduction/pickup “artists” as if sex isn’t or shouldn’t be what I want (why not??), and talks about optimism and confidence–as if you just inject that from a tube you get at the store after a lifetime of being ignored, rejected, led on, abused, systematically crushed and traumatized.
Why do health professionals consistently behave this way? Ockham’s Razor rules out malice. In fact, the therapist said he thinks I’m a likeable guy and should be able to get a girlfriend (which pretty much all my therapists have said). I told him, as I have believed from observation for many, many years; that I’d make a better boyfriend than 90% of the ones out there. I constantly see women with awful men who mistreat them but fit the cultural mold better than I do. They act this way because they are totally clueless. This therapist admitted to me before that he really knew nothing about autism and would have to learn along with me. So of course he doesn’t know what the needs or available resources are–the latter because THERE ARE NO RESOURCES FOR US. But none of them want to admit this. That’s why he neither listens to me nor argues that autism isn’t the issue. They are afraid to say they don’t know and pretend the emperor wears beautiful robes (Kim Jung Un?). They are unwilling to follow the science and either say no one has figured out the answer for us, or that we have a good idea what it would be but don’t have it available. So the default plan is to waste a lot of time, money, effort, and emotional turmoil–for which the blame will all be put on the patient when it finally comes to a head–chasing whatever strategies or programs or resources they DO know about or have available, no matter how irrelevant. The idea there is to run out the clock stalling for time until something becomes available. I’m unable to go along with that.
Also today, I went to a Happiness Initiative event that turned out to be really great, and I wish I could’ve spent the whole day. There was a beautiful young woman there who said some things that positively thrilled me about the constraining, unhealthy gender roles men are forced into; the social, emotional, substance, criminal, and physical problems they cause; how both men and women feed each other to perpetuate patriarchy while both suffer from it; how it feeds rape culture; how men aren’t supposed to be or appear weak, sensitive, vulnerable, or emotional…and the woman whose presentation she was responding to had already said how men were really the key in feminism and gender equality (she’s focused on gender inequality in the home). I don’t think I’d heard women say these things since I was in college! For an amazing change of pace, I could sit back and agree instead of having to be the one issuing strategy and warnings that get me misunderstood and ostracized. (Why is there no feminist equivalent of the seduction/pickup community? How can you achieve equality between two groups of people if you don’t involve both, and how can you expect to appeal to men if you don’t also listen to and address their legitimate gender concerns?)
So this was a kind of small group training, and tomorrow is part of their conference, which I can also attend. I’m not sure whether to try to connect with this girl. 1) Chances are she’s significantly younger than I think, and 2) Basically every woman I pursue after meeting in real life turns out to be unavailable. Or 3) I get one of the standard online dating results: being ignored, rejected, or led on. But she’s on my mind as she was very pretty AND demonstrated a true understanding and fairness about gender.
UPDATE: This was a couple weeks ago. I gleaned the beautiful young feminist’s email from a group message we all got after the training. From that I quickly learned that she is about 26 and got married last year. And has cats. 🙂 Egged on by a couple friends, I replied all to the email and expressed my enthusiasm for what she and another woman had said. But contrary to my friends’ predictions, I never heard from her–in the group or individually. So it’s a good thing I didn’t try to flirt with or date her. She is still beautiful.
I’m going to tell you a story.
In 2002, a very attractive young woman moved into an apartment down the hall from me. Like most of us who went to DC from elsewhere, she was smart, driven, ambitious, and successful. She had a neat job working on a public broadcast show I really like. I developed a crush on her. But for some reason she never seemed to be around, and I hardly ever ran into her in the building. Once each in the elevator and laundry room, but this is when I was still extremely shy. Of course she never said anything to me either. For weeks I did my laundry at the same time and day hoping to see her again, but no luck.
I was on the Board of Directors of the building, and for a while in 2003 we had an idiotic president who attacked me on the building’s email listserv. Not long after that, this girl came up to me in the Metro one morning as I was waiting for my Red Line train and said she strongly supported me, before quickly leaving for the other end of the platform. It was a nice boost, and I took it to mean she actually knew who I was. I resolved to ask her out. And I did. Or at least I thought I did. I believe I sent her an email, since I never got a chance to see her in person despite living about 60 feet apart. I told my therapist and was advised that I may not have been clear enough, and the girl may not have realized what I was asking. So I got a greeting card, asked her out more explicitly in pen, and slid it under her door. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, a friend in the building who saw her a lot told her what a great guy I was and suggested she go out with me. This surely looked coordinated or creepy, and I never heard a peep from her. Shortly after that, I noticed on Friendster that she added a boyfriend.
A few years later, in Montreal, I was watching the show she worked on when the host announced her departure and recognized her on air. I sent her a short email of well wishes. No response.
In 2014 I saw on Facebook that she was back home, in the Pacific Northwest. I sent her a short message apologizing for the clumsy/creepy ask out attempt, pointed out several things we had in common, and wished her a Merry Christmas. No response (Facebook showed that she saw my message).
This April, after basically giving up on Facebook and caring who knows what or expecting anything here, I sent her a friend request. To my shock, she accepted it. I messaged her to thank her and said I was pleasantly surprised. No response (again, Facebook showed that she saw my message).
I learned that she is back in DC and about a year older than me. And still very attractive. My heart sank when I saw a post she made about Linked In and said it suggested ex-boyfriends as connections to her. I have no exes, nor money or a successful career or popularity like her. She never interacted with any of my posts, so I tried to comment very sparingly on hers. There weren’t many. She only ever responded to a remark about food (Kerrygold makes the best butter; Tilamook is best at ice cream). Then I noticed that she had deleted me. I messaged her to ask if I’d offended her. No response.
This is just another classic example of what happens to me in trying to date–I never had a chance. None of it is in my control or influence. I am almost always ignored, led on, or rejected–and I can’t change any of those. I can’t even get any kind of explanation. I don’t think there’s anything more or different I could have done; she simply never interacted with me. I am just not wanted; I am a surplus man in a culture where men are the demand, and women are the supply. Yes, that is crass and horrible. Yes, that is economic and capitalist. But it is true. There is nothing I can do and no hope of getting my needs met.
Most people don’t care, a few would like to help but can’t, and a tiny fraction of those will admit it (and then usually disappear). The King County-funded crisis clinic laughs at you and hangs up on you. The health clinics that take Medicaid have no one who knows autism. The support groups are for kids and their parents. The autism people at Children’s Hospital only help low-functioning adults and refuse out-of-hand to address dating. The UW autism center only does medication management and will not replicate a UCLA program since Washington and California autism researchers are rivals. The autism and Asperger’s websites, Meetup groups, and Facebook pages refuse to touch any question about relationships or sexuality. Same for the more general disability ones. The ones on sex education, research, and positivity won’t touch anything on people with disabilities. Tim Burgess, the former cop and closet Puritan who falsely conflates sex work and sex trafficking, keeps increasing penalties on “soliciting”. He has the ableist privilege and lack of empathy to assume everyone who pays for sex is a criminal who should be maximally punished. His office will not answer questions about people in my situation, he will not adjust any of his positions or policies, and he won’t read any of the books or watch any of the movies I’ve asked him to. If you’re suicidal, people call 911, which sends the police out to re-traumatize you, and potentially you get locked up as an inmate in a social service hospital. They won’t do anything to PREVENT suicidality–they won’t even listen to WHY your life is hell or what could make it better. On the contrary, they’ll complain that they don’t want to hear from you even if you’re answering their call to supposedly check on your suicidality. It’s a program that’s typically Seattle–pretty window dressing that does nothing substantive or helpful. So we are stuck. This is life in America in 2016.
P.S. I’m getting more matches on Tinder since changing my height to 6’3″ and saying I drive a Ferrari and have a trust fund.
Please sign this petition against 2nd class transit. Here are my comments:
ORCA Lift is a great program, and I commend you for taking the leadership to implement a low-income fare in a major jurisdiction like King County. As a transit junkie and advocate, I know there are many good reasons for shifting fare collection away from paper and toward smart cards. One of these is the ability to create just about any fare category you want, and charge it to targeted populations. So I’m interested in working *with* ORCA rather than seeking a step backward (in the long term) toward paper fare media.
I appreciate the rationale for peak-hour and two-zone surcharges; they make sense from a transportation perspective. And I understand the reasons for having senior, disabled, and youth fares too–I use an RRFP myself. But it seems to me that these last three are indirect attempts to help people who really need it, which is mostly people with the least money. And a large share of peak-hour commuters paying both the distance and rush hour premiums are probably employees whose fares are subsidized by their employers anyway, so the surcharges raise more money but don’t have the transportation or location effects desired.
I increasingly believe that simplicity is of great and underappreciated importance, and income inequality nationally and locally has become so great that I think it’s now more important than the reasons for, and effects of, the rush hour and two-zone surcharges. So I propose that, short of violating any federal requirements, Metro end the surcharges, abolish the special senior, disabled, and youth fare categories, and charge fares entirely based on income. We have lots of good ways to verify income for people under 200% of the poverty line; we can use existing infrastructure to charge still lower fares for people below 100% and 50% of poverty. Above that, the County has a large role in health care, and the ACA offers premium subsidies to people up to 400% of poverty. I suggest that the Health Department, perhaps working with WA Healthplanfinder, use that information to verify incomes in the 200-400% poverty range and apply an appropriate income-based fare category. This would be simpler and fairer for everyone.