Love Inspired By The Spectrum

Neurotypical folks, take some notes

Jayde Atchison (she/her) // Opinions Editor
Tara Asadi (they/them) // Illustrator

I can’t remember the last time I knew what was truly going on in my love life. Perhaps it was through timid MSN messages in high school—someone admitting they had a crush on me and wanted to know if I’d be their girlfriend. It’s not that easy as a millennial, I am constantly brought into a room I’ve never been before, blindfolded, spun around until I feel sick and then told to figure it out. Despite all the neon signs pointing out the direction to “relationship”—spending time with friends, constant communication, the quiet moments doing nothing together—there is a roadblock that prevents actually getting there. 

Suddenly dating in the neurotypical scene has become a game of who cares less. God forbid anyone admit they have feelings for the person they’re seeing—how lame. Commitment became a four-letter word and we are all walking around wanting love, but not wanting to be the first to say it. Dating shows like Too Hot To Handle showcase how commitment is so last season. Society has been slowly chipping away at my idea of romance. After being beaten to a pulp, nursing the wounds, a hero appears: Love on the Spectrum.

This dating show highlights people with autism navigating the world of dating, often for the first time. In a world where social cues don’t often come naturally, many of the participants are given coaching in the show to guide them through a first date, or how to have tough conversations about sex. As the audience watches the dates come to an end, we see an honesty that I haven’t experienced in a neurotypical setting. People ask point blank: do you want to go on another date with me? The almost brutal honesty that follows is refreshing and should be emulated by the neurotypical community. I’d much rather have someone tell me that this isn’t a fit than to go home and wonder if I’ll hear from them again because society has drilled politeness into us and they couldn’t reject me. 

Those dating on Love on the Spectrum prove to viewers that romance still exists and that it’s fun to be excited about the person you’re with. They show up with flowers, pull chairs out for their dates, express how happy they are to see them again and aren’t hesitant to ask someone to be their boyfriend or girlfriend. I’m rational enough to know that everyone’s love languages are different, but I would be pleased as punch to receive that kind of affectionate display. Some honesty that alleviates the doubts that start to accumulate when you’re unsure where things are going. 

For crying out loud, just tell me how you feel—are you excited to see me? Do we need to slow things down? Do you want to hold my hand? Is this just sex with a hint of emotional enjoyment or the other way around? I’m sick of second-guessing how someone feels about me. Wouldn’t life be easier if we took a page out of the dating book Love on the Spectrum seems to be writing? 

While there are scenes that may feel awkward to watch, generally we see people encouraged to go for what they want, be unabashedly themselves and make dating an endearing experience. When you find someone whose quirks match your own, let them know. I’ve stopped pretending I’m too cool to have feelings—frankly I find it a boring way to live. Life is more fun when you share it with someone, but how can you expect to do that if you’re always looking for greener grass that may or may not exist. A relationship doesn’t have to last forever, but there’s nothing wrong with making someone feel special while you can.

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