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Jane (Sam) Wants a Boyfriend – Making a Life of One’s Own and the Perils of Dating with Aspergers

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Toronto chapter.

The movie is called Jane Wants a Boyfriend but it may as well be called Sam Wants a Boyfriend because just from the trailer it seems to perfectly capture my essence; what I’m about, how I live my life and interact with others. It’s a positive reflection on sisterhood and that there is someone out there for every kind of girl—even the Aspergirls like me. Like me, Jane obsesses over 1950’s dresses and movies, she freaks out on Subway cars—this is not advised!—she’s overemotional at times, she has a hard time letting anyone into her world, she hates being touched, she’s both slow to trust and eager to be accepted. Most importantly her struggles to find love is so earnest and endearing.

In life, we all want someone to love us the way we are in that special touchy feely kind of way, but what if your love story/life story is anything like Jane’s or mine? What if you don’t like to be touched or talk about feelings? Those are two of the most important aspects of communication. The second trailer for the movie shows a personal triumph for Jane where she decides to let someone kiss her for the first time. To Jane, this is a huge step into becoming the open person she wants to be. She gives herself permission to accept the good after struggling for so long with all of the challenges from a life of Asperger’s that have left her feeling inadequate. Even her sister calls her “a full-time job” before realizing that she has come a long way seeing Jane falling for Jack and gaining independence. 

For me, growing up as an odd, emotionally immature and distant young woman with no interest in relationships and only minor crushes, I didn’t really see the need for all of the dating frenzy that occured in puberty. I liked the characters in my books more than any boy in my grade or in my neighbourhood. The few brief experiences I had let me down because I expressed my interest in inappropriate ways or the boy was uninterested in ruining his reputation by going out with “that girl.” I fell in love—or what I assumed was love at fourteen—with a childhood friend who had always had an interest for me, but by the time that I expressed interest in him, he was “too cool” to go out with me. Plus, I didn’t want to go out in the traditional sense. My idea of dating back then and today is so rudimentary and innocent compared to others. My idea of dating is more hand holding and asking someone to hang out, sharing fries and laughing at silly stuff. I didn’t want to kiss and I certainly did not want to be touched, not even hugged. Seriously. I definitely was not thinking of and still abhor the idea of letting another person see me naked. No thanks. This Garden is closed for the season. All of the seasons, in fact! 

More than anything I just wanted to feel normal and liked, but somehow I never could when I stood out so clearly for my differences and social difficulties. I was bullied throughout elementary and high school even at the hands of my “friends”. I grew up in a small area of St. Catharines where a reputation could follow you forever, and it did. No one wanted to befriend me let, alone date me. My best friend kiboshed anyone she was friends with declaring they like me, and forcing them to make fun of me instead and declare love for her or else.

As I reached eighteen, I suddenly felt quite lonely. I was desperate for some semblance of normalcy. I didn’t want to feel so left behind in life. That’s before I knew it was okay to be a late bloomer, and that it’s fairly normal to be alone until you find the right person to understand your quirks; that’s essential when you are an Aspergirl. The wrong relationship can set us off and send us into the depths of a very dark depression. I tried to put myself out there even declaring love for another friend who knew that I didn’t really feel that way about him. He understood that I was in love with the idea of being love, and when I look back on it, I was. How could I not be when I obsessively watched romantic movies while trying to place myself within the walls of the story, and trying constantly to imagine a happily ever after for myself where I finally felt like one of the girls.

Come nineteen and when I start University, I have no confidence to approach a member of the opposite sex directly, so I joined OkCupid and Plenty of Fish. Not the way a nineteen-year old girl wants to find a companion, but nevertheless I wanted to have the experience of having a boyfriend. My first online date was an accordion playing vegan who I should have known right away wasn’t interested. He spent a lot of time in the washroom at Fresh—the restaurant—with his phone. He was awfully smarmy with compliments, made me pay for a twelve dollar burger without even offering to pay, and he didn’t even hug me goodbye. He did ask for a second date, but then he ignored me until he finally admitted that he had a girlfriend but dates other girls on the side. I was devastated and cried for hours while my mom rubbed my forehead, let me cry and made me tea. I didn’t have the social skills or any dating experience necessary to realize and recognize the warning signs and that is scary for me.

Not long after, I went on a date with another guy who revealed himself to be a recovering alcoholic at the age of twenty-three, but he asked to come up to my dorm and use my washroom. I figured if I let him use my washroom I could ditch him. In hindsight my naïve ways could have gotten me into trouble. He went into my room, started touching my stuff, mocked my large library and asked to “Netflix and Chill,” a term I would wait another eight months to discover the meaning of. It was only by some miracle that I managed to get him out and to the St. George Subway station by telling him I had to see friends. He leaned in for a kiss but I shook his hand, pushed him forward—literally—and skipped for joy back to my residence. Then I went to Subway for dinner and bought a book. My social skills also got me into trouble with a really cool guy I’d been messaging with as the day we were supposed to go out I was sick. I didn’t tell him about my illness, as I was hoping I’d feel better, but I awoke from a nap an hour before our meet up, puking my guts out. I cancelled and let him know I was sorry, but he gradually moved on. In hindsight after speaking with my sister I learned the etiquette is to notify immediately about illness. My behaviour only reinforced that I’m an Aspergirl, and I’m still learning every day about how to do things right by doing them wrong first. 

I dated a guy named Joe for a while last April. It was doomed from the start because he was much too affectionate, and I knew from the first time he tried to touch me that I didn’t want him to kiss me ever judging from his hug. I never let anyone hug me by the way. One night he drove me home and I knew I wanted to end things as he was far too into comic books, and we had nothing in common. I was in for a shock when he kissed me and it was the worst feeling in the world as someone with sensory issues, to be kissed by a guy with horribly rough stubble. You hate his touch, he tongues you for the very first kiss at twenty years old and it’s very slobbery. Plus your mom watches from the living room with your older sister. Then he wondered why I rushed off into my house but we continued to date for a bit until we slowly stopped talking to each other. His mom and his dog hated me, and I didn’t like him so I should have known it was doomed. He was clingy and needy and constantly needed to see or talk to me for validation. I needed space. Back-to-back dates could kill someone like me. I like to go out for one night and recuperate the next. I need to reflect and be by myself. Any potential mate must respect my boundaries.

My most recent date took me to a bar even though he knew from speaking to me beforehand that I hate drinking. During the date, he proceeded to insult me for my age, my taste in music, my educational choices, my shyness, my style (which is fab and on point), my politics, my religion and every part of my Aspergers; including the things that make me special that I would never trade. He kept asking me if he was intimidating me and said he often felt intimidated when he was in the presence of someone clearly smarter than himself. Here is where my bluntness saved the day. Finally, I told him this was the worst date I’d ever been on, that we could never even be friends, about my Aspergers and when someone is rude, I retreat into myself a bit. I made him pay for my drink. Then I went to a coffee shop and followed it up by buying myself a small stack of books at BMV. It felt well-deserved after my terrible night.

My real crush in university was a guy in first year I didn’t have the nerve to admit my feelings to. I ended the year on a cordial note with him vowing to keep in touch but we don’t talk anymore. I’m well versed in unrequited crushes, having one currently on an Australian employee of one of my favourite shops that I frequent in my neighbourhood. He picks the best music to play (he’s the one that gets to pick all of the songs played in the store). He’s cute, has great taste and style, and, of course, I have written a poem about him. Every time I see him I duck around a corner, tense up and move as quickly through the shop as I can without him noticing how red I’ve suddenly become. In another life I would tell him he had great taste, and start up a conversation. But this is me we are talking about.

I’ve given up on online dating and trying to find a boyfriend in the same way I used to. I’ve shut down my accounts and I’m focusing on me and my personal development. Any guy is going to try to figure out how to fit himself into my stellar world instead of me trying desperately to be what he wants me to. I need someone who will research Aspergers, help me in my roughest moments, pick up the social slack, make me laugh, make me feel comfortable emotionally and physically (I’ll know if it’s right if I don’t mind being touched by him), who will respect me for all of the ways that I’m different, celebrate my quirks, we can share in each other’s triumphs and make each other laugh. He’ll see me at my worst and most vulnerable and still think I’m a righteous gal, and he’ll have excellent taste in music and literature. 

I know that he’s out there but I’m not going to seek him out. The right thing will come along for me at the right time I have faith.

I will find the Jack to my Jane and our love story will be anything but neurotypical.

Those are the links to both trailers. This movie looks amazing and I know it will go a long way to shed light on the intricacies and complexities of female Aspergers while celebrating our amazing strengths. There needs to be awareness of female Aspergers and with more movies and representation in media, Aspergirls will see they can do anything and love and success are not out of our reach. We are not superheroes for nothing!

Samantha Allison is a second year English major at U of T. This is her second attempt at conquering the blogging universe and hopes it pans out this time around.In her spare time she rocks out to Indie music and spends way too much time looking up videos on YouTube.