Flirting on the Spectrum

My approach to flirting is… I don’t, I just talk to people near me about whatever I think will interest them enough to talk to me. The world of romance, sex, and dating is something adults who adult do and getting anywhere close to it in conversation elicits a nervousness in me that the other party may find the topic creepy or inappropriate and I pivot with utmost celerity to something safer. The stereotype is that people are afraid to engage romantically out of a fear of rejection but I am not afraid of rejection, per se. The difference between asking someone out and hitting on them is whether the other side likes it and I’ve been called a creep for Asperger’s social salients that have had nothing to do with romance enough, I wish to avoid it if possible. It is enough to induce panic and anxiety attacks in me and has. I’m not risking the same adjective a child molester gets.

I have never romantically asked anyone out in my life. With adjectives that loaded spent that cheaply, I can’t. It is a minefield. While I am obviously high-functioning, the vibe with regards to romance is that of someone with an intellectual disability. A person with down syndrome is, by strong social more, forbidden from romance. That is, kind of, how it feels with regards to my relationship with the dating scene. Romance for me is like Casablanca. The city, not the movie. In Charleston, I am at the same lattitude as the city of Casablanca and looking at the dating scene, for me, is like looking out from the beach as the sun sets over Casablanca’s point on the horizon and considering a swim due east. When it is sunset over Casablanca’s point on the horizon and I’m on the beach, I think “Yeah, if I’m lucky the Coast Guard or a charter fishing boat will rescue my sorry ass before I die.” Then I turn on the flashlight on my iPhone and go ghost-crabbing which is when you use flashlights to chase and cause to freeze ghost-crabs. Ghost-crabs are, for the unfamiliar, nocturnal crabs that burrow in beach sand. While ghost-crabbing is no making-out, it is really fun.

I’n not an incel. Romance is just something that is as impossible as perpetual motion without extreme risk to my mental health by endurring a gauntlet of poisonous rhetoric and potential gossip. It feels like an adult thing that my special needs self hasn’t grown into yet. It’s an alien culture. As a heteroromantic asexual with deep religious convictions, I wouldn’t have sex if I could unless and until I were married. Yet, chaste romance that wanders not far beyond kissing is just as alien to me. Dating and romance is something that doesn’t happen in my paradigm or my universe. I’m not failing on the dating scene and resentful. It is just absent, completely, from the experiential canon that is my life.

My last article was about the true crime genre and it is impossible to get anywhere near dating if the alertness and fear level on the other side is DEFCON ONE. Statstically, I am among the safest men to possibly date but that DEFCON level is based on emotion, not reason. Girls will be afraid, alone, at night but not at a frat-like party with horny jocks despite the statistical rarity of being assaulted alone at night and the statistical likelihood of it happening in a place they let their guard down. Girls are afraid for their safety but rather than forensic psychology, they consult stereotypes and pop culture for their information and are often very wrong in their beliefs about what and who are and is safe or not. Being Asperger’s, my awkwardness may be a red flag to people who don’t use science to know what a red flag should be. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the science is on my side because they dont’ care about science. Therefore, my life is dictated by the irrational fears of people with no foreseeable hope that those irrational fears shall be abated.

In short, my relationship with dating and romance is about their irrational fears of my awkwardness and my terror of their potential rhetoric about me. It is mostly fear, intense fear. The homepage of this blog’s main picture is a frame from the “Love Story” music video by Taylor Swift. Yet, the song which best resonates with my perspective on romance and dating in my life is “London Calling” by The Clash. As a heteroromantic asexual, the “Love Story” music video is gushy, ornate, and sweet like I fantasize but the reality, for me, is Bert the Turtle from the “Duck & Cover” PSAs from the Cold War. It is a hypervigilant, intense, terror with the sirens blasting and the Luftwaffe soaring in over London. In blazing, white, panic, I gallop into the bomb shelter.

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