Now that we have covered the importance of relationship boundaries and intimacy, it is time to see if you have decided what type of person and relationship you are looking for. Hopefully you are feeling confident enough to go and explore. There are so many options available to anyone interested in dating, catering to a wide variety of needs, interests, and desires. Some of these options include:
- websites listing special interest groups that hold public gatherings: book club, bike club
- internet-based special interest forums: gaming, art, theater
- community-based organizations: local recreation club, organization running social groups
- skills groups: social skills building group, dating skills group, learning to draw
- various social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
- music events: concerts, playing music with others
- Conventions: COMICON
- sporting events: going to a game, watching an event with a group
- intramural sports: non-professional team sports, pick-up game
- volunteer opportunities: church flea market, habitat restoration, animal shelter
- shared political interest groups: environmental awareness, human rights
- faith-based social groups and events: a retreat or holiday celebration
- advocacy events: rally, charitable event such as a dinner or race
Online dating through companies like eHarmony and Match.com has become increasingly popular as more and more people see them as a way to initiate contact with potential significant others while not being comfortable enough to approach someone in public. Online dating has numerous advantages, especially for meeting a wide variety of people and getting social exposure and practical experience using those communication skills. Being validated by someone whom you have not met in person, yet responds positively to making contact and reciprocates is a great confidence booster. However, there are drawbacks, particularly with the nature of online dating: people can make judgements based on what they see of your profile without getting to know the complete you. Being nervous and initiating an attempt at communication can be exhilarating when you get a positive response indicating interest; however it can be equally devastating when you decide to share something about yourself, such as a limitation, and they stop talking to you altogether.
YOUR FRIENDS! You are friends for a reason. It is likely they know other people who you would get along with and share similar interests. Organizing a get together around watching a movie, playing a game, or just meeting for coffee can do the job!
Getting creative is a BIG part of the work at this stage, so even if an option does not initially seem worth it or obvious, such as going to a book club, don’t write it off! Finding out where the people you are drawn to are, and going there will greatly assist you when making the first contact!
Please see the resources list on the “Resources” page of my website to find helpful ideas and links for places and organizations to meet people, suggestions for using online dating, other resources providing helpful dating and relationship advice, resources with further information on sexuality and difficulties faced by young adults with developmental conditions in the dating world, and real-life stories of individuals’ journeys to find long-term relationships. Happy searching!
Jackson, L. (2002). Freaks, geeks and Asperger syndrome: A user guide to adolescence. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
McIlwee Myers, J. (2006). Dating, relationships and marriage. In T. Attwood, T. Grandin, T. Bolick, C. Faherty, L. Iland, J. McIlwee Myers, et al., Asperger's and girls (pp. 106-145). Arlington, Texas: Future Horizons Inc.