Online dating and autism: I’m still looking for ‘the one’

By Andrew Edwards

When a high-profile television dating programme approached me out of the blue in March 2018, my initial thought was that it could potentially boost my working profile rather than help me find love. However, I went along with the process and was filmed for six weeks in various locations in my life during June/July 2018

It didn’t work out in the end and the show didn’t go to air as I thought that the girl selected was too young to go on a date with me. She was twelve years younger than me and it wasn’t working out.

Nonetheless, after this “experience”, and much cajoling from one of my close mates, I believed that I had the impetus to join online dating. It seemed to be the social norm these days for couples to meet in this way rather than what would have been my preferred old-fashioned.

I initially joined Plenty of Fish and within a week I had secured my first ever date. That date was not how I would have pictured it, but it was a useful experience.

However, I found Plenty of Fish to be a horrible website with “spambots”, “catfish” and inappropriate accounts galore creating a rather unsatisfactory experience, so I was glad to close my account.

I immediately joined and had success straight away. Within a week, I had been on two more dates. One girl I was very attracted to, but my inexperience dating let me down as I came across as a bit needy and a second date didn’t happen. On the other date, we got on really well, but in a platonic way.

A few weeks later, I was in a brief relationship with a girl I met on Match. We were both very attracted to each other. It was the first time in my life that my attraction to a girl had been reciprocated. Unfortunately, we parted ways after six weeks, although very amicably.

Within a couple of weeks, I had been on two further dates on Match without success. I got on really well within a platonic way with the first date and the second wasn’t a disaster.

I am now currently on Bumble and Tinder. Unfortunately, I was “stood up” by my Bumble match. I had taken two trains to meet the girl. I messaged her four times keeping her up to date with my movements as to when I was arriving, where I was when I arrived and asking where she was. All the messages were read by the girl without even bothering to reply with any reason or excuse for her non-appearance. It was a disheartening experience.

Another bad experience on a date with a girl in Chester saw me have every facet of me and my family’s existence criticised. Or, anyway, it felt like that at the time.

Anyway, negativity aside, I have learned a lot from the experiences. With online dating, it is sometimes much more difficult to judge etiquettes than in real life. This is especially apparent when someone could be messaging you back every couple of minutes before then becoming a “ghost” and disappearing without explanation. You feel that you have offended them. I also feel that you get more quickly judged online dating than you would in a manner unthinkable when meeting someone in “the real world”, when usually you are given the chance to give a fairer representation of yourself. Although, one plus is the sheer amount of choice of potential partners that you get online that is unlikely in “the real world” that has undoubtedly increased my prospects no end.

My biggest advice is don’t give up, don’t be too desperate (which I can be very guilty of), be honest but some information is best advised to be divulged much later on (which I have also been very guilty of) and try to come out of your comfort zone. It isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile.

I move on looking for “the one”. I have been on sixteen dates in seven and a half months. So, every first date I go on I know that my aim of finding a long-term partner should be closer to being attained.

By Andrew Edwards

Andrew will be selling copies of his memoir, ‘I’ve Got a Stat for You – My Life with Autism’, and his 2018 book ‘A Vision of Exercise’ at the Autism Together Summer Fun Day (Thornton Hough village hall, Sunday 30 June).