My crushes started in kindergarten, when I first had the opportunity to get to know boys I wasn’t related to. A neighbour boy and I considered each other boyfriend and girlfriend at that age, and there was another boy in our class who said he wanted to marry me someday, but once I got chubby when I was 7, boys didn’t like me anymore. We moved a lot, so I went to a few different elementary schools, and at each school I found a new boy to fixate on, but after age 7 it wasn’t reciprocated.
Around the age of 10, I started getting obsessed with the whole concept of romantic love, taking my crushes to a new level. I started reading romance novels and listening to songs on the radio, mentally grasping on to every lyric that mentioned being in love. I wrote in my diary, “I love Clint,” about a boy in my class, and my mom read it and yelled at me that I was too young to be in love, accused me of fornicating, and threatened to call the boy’s mother. I was mortified. The boy barely knew I existed.
It wasn’t until I was 14 that boys started liking me again. But the only ones I got to go out with were ones who liked me before I liked them. If I liked them first, there was no way they would have come to like me, because I acted like a freakin’ lunatic when I liked a boy. In the book Aspergirls it says, “If she likes a male, she can be extremely, noticeably awkward in her attempts to let him know, e.g. she may stare when she sees him or call him repeatedly. This is because she fixates and doesn’t understand societal gender roles.” That was me in a nutshell. Despite my introversion and meekness in other aspects of life, when it came to guys I liked, I stared at them, called them, wrote them letters and poems, and made them mixtapes. Sometimes I would even let a friend ask them out on my behalf. That never went well, but it didn’t stop me from trying again with other boys. I was quite the optimist when I was young.
Even if someone had told me I was behaving inappropriately, I probably would not have stopped. I enjoyed my fixations, and I always had the idea (erroneously, I now believe) that if I were meant to be with someone, they wouldn’t mind how obvious I was. They might even like it. It’s like one of my male relatives says about his wife, “She pursued me and told me we should get married and it didn’t occur to me to argue.” They have now been happily married for over 50 years.
Unfortunately, even the guys who liked me first and whom I did get to go out with, didn’t actually fall in love with me. One boyfriend told me, “You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met, and I want to love you because you’re so nice, but I don’t. I’ve tried to love you, but I just can’t.”
Another boyfriend never even brought up the word love, but he did tell me once, “I really like you, but I will never understand you.”
I got dumped again and again. I was always the dumpee, never the dumper. When I was with someone, I was extremely loyal. Even though I had many crushes over the years, I really only ever wanted to settle down with one person. If the first guy I’d dated had stayed with me, I would have been happy to stay with that one person my whole life. I didn’t actually want to play the field at all.
I went through a dry spell for about 7 years in my twenties during which no men liked me at all. I was hit on by a couple of women (which really made me question what kind of vibe I was putting out there), but men showed no interest in me whatsoever. I hated being single, and as time went on it became excruciatingly emotionally painful.
The biggest heartbreak of my life was in my twenties over a guy with whom I’d never even been romantically involved. We were friends, and I felt such an affinity with him (he might very well have been on the spectrum himself) that I became convinced we were soul mates who were meant to be together. He was very intelligent, and just talking to him gave me a sort of high. Other people kept telling me that they thought he liked me and that they saw him staring at me when I wasn’t looking, which encouraged my delusion. After a year of friendship, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and when he said some really nice things to me that built up my hopes, I told him I had feelings for him and that I thought we were supposed to be together. He told me he did not feel the same way and if I felt that way he didn’t even want to be friends with me anymore. After yet another year during which we traveled in the same social circles but avoided each other, he started talking to me again, but then I blurted out something that made it obvious I was still fixated on him and he again rejected me and got quite cruel about it. He said I was confused, misguided, and possibly dangerous to him. I was crushed. I lied in bed and couldn’t eat a bite of food for six days. The despair I felt seemed insurmountable. I couldn’t fathom how he could misunderstand me so horrendously. Yes, I was intense and even obsessive, but there wasn’t a dangerous bone in my body. I was, always had been, and still am likely the most harmless person on the planet. When rejected, I don’t get angry or bitter or vengeful, I just get very sad.
It’s only been since I’ve been watching more TV and reading stuff on the internet that I’ve come to truly understand how an intense woman like me can be perceived, and how creepy and even scary we can seem. Not that I believe I ever said or did anything actually scary or stalkerish (I mean, if someone said, “Don’t call me,” I did stop), but I can see how my fixations could have appeared to be leading up to that kind of thing. I feel incredibly embarrassed when I think about how some people must remember me.
I ended up getting married at the age of 31. If it weren’t for the internet, it probably wouldn’t have happened. I met my husband in an online discussion forum. We noticed that we had a lot in common and had similar senses of humour, and we got to know each other without him having to witness all my in-person weirdnesses. By the time we did meet in person, he already knew what I was all about, and apparently wasn’t put off by my quirks. Also, right from the beginning, he pursued me and never stopped pursuing me, so I never had the opportunity to pursue him; he was always getting in touch or making a move before I was. That was the first time that had happened to me and it was the only way it could have worked out for me, I think.
We’ve been happily married for 11 years now. I can’t believe I’ve ended up with someone like him. We’re extremely compatible, and he’s intelligent, educated, kind, funny, and most importantly, a very good, honest, loyal man. I consider him to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 10-year-old self that I’d have to wait a couple of decades, but it would be worth it.
When I was so miserable being single in my twenties, people told me marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For me, however, it has been. And despite all my social and emotional deficits, marriage seems to be the one thing I’m good at. So far, anyway.
Edited to add: This post was really hard to write and my face is hot after admitting these things.