Reflections: What Is Love?

Today is Valentine’s Day and for me I see very little value to it. While I am not the one to shoot down the fact that there is no love in the world. In fact it can be a very enjoyable thing. As Valentine’s Day is more about romance, as I lately discovered myself, it is something that I just have never seen in myself.

I have had many experiences with love in my life and while I do not dig deep into them. From my standpoint, as an autistic person I find them very taxing and challenging, especially when it is challenging to take care of myself alone. It is not the fact that I do not have attraction, that is quite the opposite. I want a sense of belonging and wanting just as much as anyone else, just not in the sense of romance because it involves a lot of commitment that makes me feel pressured into having to co-regulate with another person, which can too be challenging.

It is the fact that it is so hard to regulate myself and having to be tied down to a relationship when navigating the nuances of societal norms are challenging in their own way. While I have progressed socially, it is the fact that jumping to the next level in a relationship where having to actually be in contact with a person and regulate can be challenging. \

It can be the fact that I have been through some strange friendships and relationships that were at time at a lower level or more where I contributed more than the other party as a way to want to be accepted while not realizing that the continual desire for me to give attention was very toxic and taxing to my mental health. When this occurred, those in my close circle had seen this and lately it made me learn to build boundaries and keep more guarded.

It is not saying that all autistics feel the way that I feel, but for me, I know that having a relationship would be burdening on my overall wellness. There are many other examples of proven successful relationships, including marriages and shows including Love on the Spectrum has proven that. But for many autistics this is just not in the cards due to the challenges they face and for those that love or care for us to pressure us into wanting love or to love something we are not attracted to is just overreaching of our choice or autonomy in how we want to live our lives.

Love is just not a relationship, but is a feeling. It is the fact that understanding whether we are autistic or not, we all have feelings and it is a responsibility of those that care, ally or advocate for an autistic person that they are educated in managing their feelings and that they are validated for what they are feeling. Dismissing what they are feeling only makes the situation more challenging and complicated. 

However if anything I wish for myself was to be more educated on all aspects of relationships including sexuality education. While I do understand that I was not in the right mind when it was taught in school, in general the autistic and other disability communities are given a great disservice in not being educated properly in what is often considered these taboo topics. It would take decades to right that wrong by attending workshops and reading material especially earmarked for the autistic population because it has been known that there is great absence in this arena. 

It is not that I would blame anyone for my miseducation. I know that those that loved and care for me were only being protective of me when there were more priorities that needed to be addressed, particularly when this action could have led into more inappropriate behavior.  I cannot change my past experiences to use it as a sounding board to advocate for my experience and work at bettering my life.

Love to me or any other autistic person is the way we see it and should be validated regardless of the thought or view of those that care or love an autistic person believes. Autistic individuals struggle enough just trying to be someone they are not in a world that is not made for them, therefore discounting how they feel or what they are attracted to only further compromises them from living the life that they deserve to live.

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