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  • Susan Morozowich

Understanding "masking" autism in relationships

People with autism may mask their symptoms in their romantic relationships for a variety of reasons, like to avoid being misunderstood or judged by their partners, while others may mask to fit in with societal expectations of what a romantic relationship should look like. Masking can be emotionally and mentally exhausting, and it can also prevent individuals from fully being themselves and forming authentic connections with their partners.

One common reason why people with autism mask in their romantic relationships is to avoid being misunderstood or judged. Many individuals with autism struggle with social communication and have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings in a way that is easily understood by others. As a result, they often feel misunderstood by their partners, which can be frustrating and isolating. To avoid this, they may try to mask their autism-related proclivities, such as their need for routine, their tendency to have intense interests, or feel lost in social situation, in order to avoid misunderstandings or conflict in the relationship.

Another reason why people with autism may mask in their romantic relationships is to fit in with societal expectations of what a romantic relationship should look like. Many people have certain expectations about what a romantic relationship should look like, and these expectations can be especially strong for women. For example, there may be societal expectations for women to be more emotional or to show affection in certain ways. People with autism may feel pressure to conform to these expectations in order to be perceived as "normal" or to avoid being seen as lacking in some way. As a result, they may try to hide their autism-related traits and behaviors in order to fit in with these expectations.

Masking can be emotionally and mentally exhausting, it takes a lot of energy and effort to constantly try to hide or suppress one's true self, and this can be draining and frustrating. In addition, masking can prevent individuals from being fully authentic and genuine in their relationships, which can lead to a lack of intimacy and connection with their partners.

It is important for individuals with autism to feel comfortable being themselves in their relationships. While it may be difficult to reveal one's autism to others, it can ultimately lead to a deeper and more authentic connection. It is also important for partners of individuals with autism to be understanding and accepting of their unique needs and characteristics. By creating an open and supportive environment, individuals with autism can feel more comfortable being themselves and forming meaningful and fulfilling relationships.


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