Is Dating While Masking Lying to a Potential Partner?

A couple holding hands with text that reads, "Is dating while masking lying to a potential partner?"

When I did my latest piece on masking, I have to say something kept nagging at me for a few weeks. Something that has very slowly taken formation in my mind before slamming into me like a freight train.

Masking is an absolutely essential survival skill for neurodivergent people living in a neurotypical world. Without learning how to mask, many of us quite literally wouldn’t have survived this long.

But, when does masking go from survival tool to an outright lie? IS it a lie? I think in the case of dating and potential romantic partners, it may seem like that to our NT counterparts, and I can understand why.

(Article continues below.)

Dating as an autistic person (or dating an autistic person) can be challenging because both parties speak a different neurological language. Reading books about how to communicate more effectively with your partner can help a great deal.

Here are some recommended books:

On the one hand, we HAVE to protect ourselves and, not only that, many of us do want relationships, and a person who does not know much about neurodiversity may not give a wonderful person a chance due to autistic behaviors they don’t understand.

So, some of us ease potential partners into it, or, we disclose as we realize because many of us aren’t even aware that we are masking.

Again, masking is not about inventing a whole other persona, at least not for me and many other ND people who have commented on these threads. Instead, it is a way of hiding “quirks” such as stimming, infodumping, lack of facial expression and tone of voice in order to convey who we are at heart without those behaviors being immediately misinterpreted before the person even has a chance to get to know us.

Personally, when I do date, I disclose right away. If we make it to a phone conversation, I’m telling you. It used to be I would wait for a date or two to see if it was going anywhere, now, I just tell people.

The reactions are mixed. I find the people who do “accept” it turn out to not really understand it, and, at the first sign of autistic traits, the conflict is immediate, and the potential relationship is over.

Being autistic isn’t a list of cute quirks. You’re dating someone whose brain operates quite differently from yours, and that’s a very big deal. It impacts every facet of your relationship, so there has to be good communication on both sides for it to work.

– Jaime A. Heidel

Have you read, “I’m Autistic – Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl”? You should!

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1 Response

  1. April 20, 2020

    […] people use body language and facial expressions differently. Plus, we mask AND we emulate behavior to fit in with others and, more importantly, to not be attacked by others who can instinctively sense that we are […]

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