It’s an interesting thought, and I have some news to pass along… there already are ASD dating sites!
The idea to launch a dating site specifically tailored to teens and adults with ASDs has already established some history. Over the past 3-4 years, several sites have launched and then quickly disappeared under the radar. The explanation behind that ‘roller-coaster’ trend has yet to be clearly defined, but this is what the basic history has been.
AutisticDating.net (created by a parent of a young man with Asperger’s)
Since these dating sites have launched fairly recently, I am assuming a lot of people in the autism community do not know about it. But they’re indeed up and running. I have never signed up for any of these sites, so I cannot give a review on them.
Personally, I am not too keen on segregated dating sites. Love is blind (in my book) and therefore labels are not relevant. It’s still important to seek potential matches who can relate to you, who share some common interests with you, and whose personality meets with your compatibility. If your match happens to also have an ASD diagnosis, then so be it. But it’s more important to seek a match who is understanding and accepting of your ASD rather than narrow it down to only seeking matches who share an ASD diagnosis.
However, if you do want to enter into a network where you are surrounded by others who you know right away will accept your ASD diagnosis, it may be worth exploring into. When you do join an ASD dating site, there are 2 things to keep in mind:
1. Currently, the number of profiles are extremely limited.
There are a couple of possible explanations:
One reason may be that not very many people know about it (as just mentioned). There is barely any promotion or advertising from these sites. For instance, the only way I knew of Aspie Affection is that a community member of Wrong Planet physically pointed out to me the near-microscopic banner at the bottom of Wrong Planet’s home page.
Another reason may be because the use of a dating site can be too confusing and complex for some people (we’re talking anyone here). It requires continuous communication and feedback with other profiles, while having a sense of knowing what personal information to share and what not to share.
Also hard to resist noting… as of the date of this posting, an overwhelming majority of dating profiles are male (at least on Aspie Affection). Of course, this works out fabulously if it’s geared towards the autism & gay community!
2. There is a possibility of online predators.
This can exist on any dating site, but even more so on dating sites catered to individuals with disabilities. Supposedly, there are strategies that are being implemented to prevent such abuse and fraud (read the warning on scammers on Autismdating.net). But it’s very difficult to perform an extensive background check, so you never really know who’s behind each profile. There are some people that will go out of their way to take financial, emotional, and/or sexual advantage of individuals who reveal they have autism or other developmental disabilities. And dating sites are especially a good target. Even though dating sites make an effort to protect profile identities, many of us on the spectrum have trouble figuring out when to trust others with our personal information, and some of us end up giving in to trust too prematurely.
There are plenty of success stories on couples who have met through dating sites (some even end up marrying). In general, dating sites have proven to be a romance-seeking method that works.
Even though it is possible to find love online, the path I primarily recommend to those seeking romance is to find people through clubs, groups and events that are related to your specific interests — where the friendship is developed first before the relationship. The length of time between friendship and relationship will vary from couple to couple.
Friendships made online can also count. People will often find love through online friendships (social networking, etc.). A ton of individuals with ASDs use social networking as a way to connect to each other, more so than in real life. Just be cautious and aware about when and how much personal information to exchange (just as much so as on a dating site).
If you know of dating sites in addition to the ones mentioned here that are specifically tailored to individuals with ASDs, please feel free to share. Also, if you have tried any of the dating sites mentioned above and would like to contribute a thoughtful, in-depth review, contact me for a possible guest post slot!
image source: Don Hankins