It’s challenging these days to meet people and find someone suitable for a romantic relationship. Neurotypicals and people with autistic alike are turning to online dating sites to provide a safe environment to encounter a large number of people, increasing the likelihood of finding someone who has mutual attraction. Getting out in public for the purpose of meeting people can be especially difficult for those on the autism spectrum because of social anxieties. This makes online dating an appealing alternative.
The unpredictability of public social contexts, say a bar or a club or some type of event or social gathering, can heighten the anxiety level of people with autism, who typically have a need for structured and controlled environments. It is also likely that people on the autistic spectrum have had numerous experiences in social settings that have left them disappointed and less than hopeful about meeting someone who understands their particular behaviors and can still relate in a meaningful way. And beyond this, the challenge of meeting someone who desires a deeper connection with them that would involve physical interest and a commitment seems quite elusive.
One way to safely meet more people in a structured environment and to find people that understand the struggles of people on the autism spectrum is by joining a dating site for autistic people only. AutisticDating.net is a dating site set up to bring autistic men and women together. (This is not to be confused with another site for Canadians with autism.) Setting up a profile and the ability browse profiles is free. To interact requires paid membership; a fee that is comparable to other dating sites. The site offers a screening service to make sure that only people on the autism spectrum can join. Two other dating sites are Autism Dating Service and Autistic Personals.
Even though online dating offers structure, control, accessibility, and a means to try out and learn about dating through a low stress platform, there are still precautions to take. Milestones Autism Organization has a great list of online safety tips that are universally applicable in their article, “Online Safety Tips and Online Communities.” It’s also helpful to know beforehand and prepare for the fact that frustrations and rejection are inevitable whether meeting people online or offline.
The blogger of Empower Autism Now, Arman Khodaei, has some great advice on his YouTube video, Online Autism Dating. He cautions autistic people not to depend on the Internet too much. He points out that people can edit their thoughts easily online and it’s not unusual to be amazed at how different someone is once you meet them offline. He suggests getting out of one’s comfort zone and still use offline social venues to meet people.