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Advice please!

Hayleigh Sharp's picture
Hayleigh Sharp

Advice please!

Tue 29 Dec 2015 9:19pm

Hi I am desperate for some advice on my boyfriend who has Aspergers. We have been arguing about various things recently but the main one being that he doesn't work. He is 24years old and hasn't worked since leaving school. He has tried various jobs for a few hours but says he couldn't cope. We have been together 2 years now and I just can't see any future between us if things don't change. I have made many suggestions of doing volunteer work with animals and other things but his mum is adamant that he cannot work and so I feel like he has no confidence and unfortunately he won't listen to me over his mum. It is causing such a strain on our relationship as I feel he just has no future and I want to help him be more confident in himself and get out more rather then staying indoors all day but then I'm just made out to be the bad one. And when we argue he just turns so aggressive and says such nasty things and I just don't know what to anymore. I love him so much but can't do on much longer. Any advice here would be so grateful! Thank you 

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  • SherpaMum's picture

    Hi, has he tried the jobs whilst he has been with you? What could he not cope with?

    if you can work out what the difficulties are then you can help him through them.  Would he be prepared to do some voluntary work?  What are his interests?  Is there a job he could do based on them?


    sorry I can't be more helpful, I am sure some of the others will be able to offer more help.

  • Nathan_armchair_traveller's picture

    Dear Hayleigh, I am sorry to hear about the relationship difficulties that you and your boyfriend are having. First let me introduce myself: I am a male in my mid-thirties with undiagnosed Asperger's who has had his fair share of difficult life experiences, particularly in the workplace and in personal relationships.

    From what you've said it sounds to me as though your boyfriend's mother doesn't have very high expectations for her son and, combined with the inherent challenges of autism and the way they have perhaps contributed to his various 'failures' in work, this is crippling his self-esteem. His angry outbursts are no doubt a manifestation of his poor self-esteem and his ongoing frustration in having to strive so hard to achieve what many neuro-typicals, or 'normal' people, take for granted. Like anyone, he wants to make his mark in the world and for most men this means doing well at work; after all, for centuries the traditional breadwinner has been the man, and so whether or not he can support his family financially usually plays a pivotal role in how he regards himself. What your partner needs is positive people around him and, hopefully, in the not too distant future, an employer who is sufficiently open-minded to take a chance on him. Encourage him whenever you can: he is vastly more capable than at times he feels he is (negative thoughts and emotions, as well as positive ones, are often overwhelming in someone with Asperger's) and I am sure that with purposeful persistence he can find suitable employment and keep hold of it. I know this because I myself had a couple of successes in the retail industry. For example, I worked at BP as a customer assistant for two years and despite a rocky start (one of my colleagues claimed that she had never before seen someone flat pack a cardboard box as awkwardly as me!), I was a valued team member who worked with great industry and increasingly commendable efficiency.

    It is true that he will probably be judged and sometimes treated very unfairly by uncaring, exploitative types throughout the course of his life and that your support, for as long as you are together, will help reassure him and stabilise him. For me, the most important thing you can do for him is to really listen to him. Be attentive to his concerns. Treat him like a person, not a stereotype.

    Returning to his tendency to be hyper-aggressive and to launch cutting attacks on you, I understand that this must be painful and confusing for you. Honestly, most of us of the Asperger stripe don't mean to hurt or offend anyone, least of all our loved ones, but because we sometimes see things in black and white terms and find the vagaries of relationships unsettling due to our difficulties in regulating our emotions, we lash out from time to time. We also feel things very acutely and often even minor criticisms can feel like a personal attack and we might, then, make the mistake of arguing vehemently in retaliation.

    Above all, if there is one thing I would try to impress upon him, it is the importance of socialising regularly; even though he might find it scary or frustrating he must do this for his own sanity. I withdrew from the world in a fog of suicidal depression but now regret succumbing to my fears and allowing them to snowball into phobias. I used to be much more social than I am now and long-term isolation has done untold damage.

    Another thing I would recommend is for your boyfriend to try and discover his talents and personality strengths as quickly as possible (if he hasn't already) and, crucially, locate outlets to adequately express them – that way he can be confident in fulfilling certain tasks or roles and will gradually rebuild his self-esteem.  

     Is your boyfriend academic or sporty? In my case, I was both. I did reasonably well at school and at the moment I am studying for a degree (probably in history and politics) with the Open University. I was also a pretty decent tennis player and did mountain trekking all over the world (although this was about 5-10 years ago when my physical mobility wasn't so drastically impaired!). 

    In recent years, because of ill-health, I have been unemployed but am slowly edging my way back into paid employment through training as a proofreader. Perhaps your partner can earn a little cash online (buying and selling on eBay, blogging and generating revenues through commercial advertising, transcribing audio to text, etc.) and then maybe one day have a full-blown business in one of these trades based on his new-found skills and experience. Like SherpaMum I also think voluntary work would do him the world of good. If I were fit enough then that is exactly what I would be doing right now. He could work in a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or an animal sanctuary (as you suggested), to mention but a few options.It would be a great opportunity for your boyfriend to give something of himself to your local community and at the same time feel more connected to others.       

    Lastly, changing direction somewhat, there is a book with advice, tips and coping strategies for people with Asperger's that you might not have heard of and which has helped me begin to come to terms with myself. It's called: "Been there. Done that. Try this!: An Aspie's guide to life on Earth" by Tony Atwood, et al. 

    Good luck and keep me posted on your progress!


    n.b. If either you or your boyfriend want to contact me for anything then please don't hesitate to get in touch. My email address is:

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