DEAR AMY: I am attracted to a younger woman who goes to my church. I have known her for about two years. She is attractive, sweet and talented. Whenever we see each other, we say hello and exchange hugs.
I got the courage to ask her out but she told me that she has too many things going on with her family and that she is kind of seeing someone. She did say we can be friends and I said sure. But I am almost 50, and I am getting kind of tired of being “just friends” with women.
I know what I should not do: Don’t call her incessantly. Don’t drive by her residence and don’t send flowers, gifts, etc. This would make her feel that I am obsessed with her and that I am stalking her. I do not want to cause a problem with her and her parents or with my own family.
My sister-in-law told me that I should pretend that I don’t like her. But I don’t want to seem like a jerk toward her, and I know that church is not the proper place to exhibit that type of behavior.
I am not sure if I should tell her that I have Asperger’s syndrome. What would be the best way for me to interact with her? -- Wondering Out West
DEAR WONDERING: So far you seem to have a good sense of what to do, and what not to do. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone you’re romantically interested. It can be challenging — especially for people who have Asperger’s — to also read the other person’s cues and to react in a way that won’t make her uncomfortable.
You have to trust her when she says she wants to be friends.
The fact that you have Asperger’s seems like something your friend would want to know about, and I think it’s a good idea to tell her. The best way to interact with her is to respect her choice not to have a romantic relationship with you and relax as much as you can as you make an emotional transition into the “friendship zone.”
It might be a good idea for you to connect with other “Aspies” who can give you information, advice and support — about dating and everything else. One Internet site you could check is aspiescentral.com.
DEAR AMY: Okay, Amy, so I like this girl. We have been friends for five years. I want to take our relationship to the next level but I don’t want anything to change between us. What do I do? -- In Pain
DEAR IN PAIN: The first thing you need to do is to wrap your mind around the idea that if you become romantically involved with your friend, everything will change.
And that’s the whole idea, right?
If you are both very lucky, you will be able to take your relationship to the next level and enjoy the best kind of intimacy there is: love plus friendship plus a long shared history.
Making this move is challenging and requires a special kind of bravery (on both your parts). You will have to completely accept the risk — and potential reward — of being transparently honest.
DEAR AMY: I have never felt I had anything monumental to contribute until I read the letter from “Anxious” and your response. Your suggestion for this couple to sit down weekly for a formal “check-in” triggered the following thought.
I suggest the couple’s formal check-in has a specific agenda, just like a real status meeting. I am a project manager and we have check-ins all the time. Here’s the agenda: 1) Each attendee tells of three things that went well during the week; 2) Then each attendee tells of three things that didn’t go quite as well (as you said, it’s not a gripe session; be positive about the negatives); and 3) Discuss together only two ways to improve during the following week. Don’t try to “boil the ocean.” It works extremely well in groups with differing personalities and agendas. -- PM
DEAR PM: I really like the idea of being “positive about the negatives.” Thank you for your contribution!