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Lundi_Hvalursson

Unable to tolerate casual touching (dating)

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I have heard over and over how touch is key in the dating world, and that no touch means no attraction. However, as a 30 year old male, I never felt comfortable with casual touch.
 
When I was 14 in high school, a girl kept trying to talk to me. Eventually, one day, when I was eating lunch alone on a bench, she went up next to me, took my right hand and laced fingers with me. As a reflex I immediately withdrew, as if I put my hand on a hot oven. On other occasions she tried to put my arms around my shoulders and touch my hands. In addition to withdrawing, I was left confused as to what she was doing.
 
Throughout high school, when girls tried to hug me, I withdrew immediately, as if someone were trying to pickpocket me. They usually ended up thinking that I was very odd. In last year of high school (equivalent of last year of sixth form in the UK), I went to prom with this girl, and I could not slow dance with her at all. Those slow, romantic dances made me extremely uncomfortable to the point that I just stood on the dance floor like an unmovable rock. She eventually thought that I had severe problems and left early.
 
When I was in university in the UK around age 19 or 20 or so, some Dutch woman from my residence hall used to talk to me a lot. One night when we were going together to a bar to meet up with other students. I was standing there next to her, and my right arm was in my pocket. She suddenly put her left arm through the loop to lock arms with me. I stepped away and immediately unlocked arms as a reflex. She looked shocked, but still kept talking to me anyway.
 
I tried very occasional dating in my late 20s, which never worked. However, greeting and farewells usually they tried to hug me or something similar. When they approached to hug goodbye, I usually would step back. A lot seemed confused about this. I have never been on a second date before, but it seemed like my reflexes confused all of them.
 
When they initiated casual touch with me, my pattern was usually to withdraw, and have a facial expression similar to the "deer in the headlights" look.
 
Are my reflexes and repulsion to casual touch really that much of a turn-off in dating? Is this touch thing seriously that important for neurotypicals?
 
Touch seems to cause me a lot of anxiety. As in, my heart rate increases and my blood pressure spikes. If I had to estimate, my pulse would probably be over 100, and blood pressure might be over 180/90.

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In my experience it depends on the individual’s personal preference. I know I generally don’t like to touch or be touched as a NT individual most times. But I think a lot of people do expect touching as a way to flirt, eventually, not immediately. And if your discomfort is not explained, I could see how your body language has been misconstrued.

I think as someone looking from the outside, it would be in your best interest to be upfront and informative to these ladies. Explaining how it is a struggle for you, will help educate them as well as teach them that your lack of touch or desire to be touched isn’t synonymous with lack of interest in them.  

Autism, I feel like is just finally getting the recognition it needs. Which means a lot of people aren’t really educated on the matter. I feel like explaining and educating people is key to the world understanding Autism better. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone but I think it would be beneficial to you in the long run.

 

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@Tid322 is right.  If you are not upfront it can be seen as you pushing them away.  I generally do not like to be touched.  One girl in high school was a horny psycho and just pissed me off on top of me not being into her. 

 

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On 12/4/2019 at 6:47 AM, Tid322 said:

In my experience it depends on the individual’s personal preference. I know I generally don’t like to touch or be touched as a NT individual most times. But I think a lot of people do expect touching as a way to flirt, eventually, not immediately. And if your discomfort is not explained, I could see how your body language has been misconstrued.

I think as someone looking from the outside, it would be in your best interest to be upfront and informative to these ladies. Explaining how it is a struggle for you, will help educate them as well as teach them that your lack of touch or desire to be touched isn’t synonymous with lack of interest in them.  

Autism, I feel like is just finally getting the recognition it needs. Which means a lot of people aren’t really educated on the matter. I feel like explaining and educating people is key to the world understanding Autism better. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone but I think it would be beneficial to you in the long run.

 

I guess that there is no real way to say this without sounding at least slightly weird. I am usually direct, so I would probably say, "Please do not touch me at all" at the beginning. Not sure if it sounds odd or what.

I am quite poor at explaining, so if I tried to explain why I act weird when touched it might sound even weirder. I have already been called weird several times for acting strange when they touched me.

When they try to hug me, sometimes I step backwards and my head jerks backwards, like whiplash. So it looks weird if anyone sees me do this.

Unless of course, I just say really directly at first, "Please do not touch me. I am weird."

Problem is I have heard many times how (at least in NT advice) that touching is the cornerstone of attraction, and that many women will correlate as a rule that "no touching = no attraction". Thus I am not sure how this would work.

Edited by Lundi_Hvalursson

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On 12/4/2019 at 12:05 PM, Rattler6 said:

@Tid322 is right.  If you are not upfront it can be seen as you pushing them away.  I generally do not like to be touched.  One girl in high school was a horny psycho and just pissed me off on top of me not being into her. 

 

I often seem to do things, and then others misinterpret my actions, especially if they are awkward withdrawals when I get touched. They usually look at me like I committed a faux pas, or ask what happened.

Like above, I am not sure how to be upfront. I usually am very blunt and direct, so "Please do not touch me because I am weird" might make them less attracted. If they even were attracted in the first place, that is.

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Thank you for sharing this @Lundi_Hvalursson. Reading your experiences, I'm reminded of people I've met who have a trauma response to touch. So I've learned to ask people whose acquaintances I make, "do you do hugs?" 

And sometimes their reply is, "No. Thank you for asking." And that response with no further explanation is fine, because I dont need to make it all about me. And I'm not required explanations of a personal nature, we just met. 

I need more work at this. Just last weekend, I was embracing someone I met at a peer support group who had hugged me, but when my hand touched the back of her head and she suddenly recoiled, got triggered. She told me never to touch her there. I felt horrible about it. I made it into a rejection of me, I shouldn't have.

I am friends with a person living with acute contamination OCD. They don't like their person or their belongings and in particular their food, napkins, utensils to be touched - at all. I occasionally make a mistake. Nevertheless we both find each other acceptable. 

Taking my ego out of the equation isn't a simple thing but the effort is worthwhile because in our community, there are people worth getting to know quite well who, for whatever reasons, cannot tolerate touch. Is it a problem? I don't have to make it a problem and I suppose a way forward would be to not make their reaction all about me.

Sorry, I don't have any good dating advice for you or anyone else. 

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12 hours ago, Atra said:

Thank you for sharing this @Lundi_Hvalursson. Reading your experiences, I'm reminded of people I've met who have a trauma response to touch. So I've learned to ask people whose acquaintances I make, "do you do hugs?" 

And sometimes their reply is, "No. Thank you for asking." And that response with no further explanation is fine, because I dont need to make it all about me. And I'm not required explanations of a personal nature, we just met. 

I need more work at this. Just last weekend, I was embracing someone I met at a peer support group who had hugged me, but when my hand touched the back of her head and she suddenly recoiled, got triggered. She told me never to touch her there. I felt horrible about it. I made it into a rejection of me, I shouldn't have.

I am friends with a person living with acute contamination OCD. They don't like their person or their belongings and in particular their food, napkins, utensils to be touched - at all. I occasionally make a mistake. Nevertheless we both find each other acceptable. 

Taking my ego out of the equation isn't a simple thing but the effort is worthwhile because in our community, there are people worth getting to know quite well who, for whatever reasons, cannot tolerate touch. Is it a problem? I don't have to make it a problem and I suppose a way forward would be to not make their reaction all about me.

Sorry, I don't have any good dating advice for you or anyone else. 

That is interesting that your location is San Francisco. That is where I am. The dating scene has not been kind to me, and is even hard for neurotypicals. The touching thing is making it harder than it already is.

Sometimes male acquaintances try to give the bear hug to be friendly. I almost always withdraw and do not allow it. However, this runs into the same situation when women try to do it when dating.

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On 12/5/2019 at 10:28 PM, Lundi_Hvalursson said:

I guess that there is no real way to say this without sounding at least slightly weird. I am usually direct, so I would probably say, "Please do not touch me at all" at the beginning. Not sure if it sounds odd or what.

I am quite poor at explaining, so if I tried to explain why I act weird when touched it might sound even weirder. I have already been called weird several times for acting strange when they touched me.

When they try to hug me, sometimes I step backwards and my head jerks backwards, like whiplash. So it looks weird if anyone sees me do this.

Unless of course, I just say really directly at first, "Please do not touch me. I am weird."

Problem is I have heard many times how (at least in NT advice) that touching is the cornerstone of attraction, and that many women will correlate as a rule that "no touching = no attraction". Thus I am not sure how this would work.

I think “weird” as usually an attractive quark in individuals. I’d also much rather be perceived as weird than not interested. But it is ultimately you that has to make the decision of what they are comfortable with.

From an outside look I’d much prefer someone to tell me why they wouldn’t want to be touched and seem weird than maybe have that fear that there is something wrong with me. If you are as blunt as you say you are I don’t see how that could be misconstrued. I think leaving it up to others imaginations could be a poor choice. 

But like I said, ultimately it is what you are comfortable with. And you don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m only stating how someone might feel, perhaps inadequate or otherwise without prior knowledge. Best wishes in your decision.

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You could explain yourself (if you feel the need) by saying your boundaries are different from him/her and you'd appreciate their respecting them.  No need for you or them to think "weird."  You just want to maintain your space.

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I am told that I am too blunt and abrasive, so often when I get touched in a friendly way during social gatherings, my first instinct is to tell the person, "F*ck off". This puts off women I think. I realise that I probably should not say this on a date. But the only nice way that I can say is like above, "I am weird, so do not touch me". 

I guess that I could set boundaries early. I get rejected anyway for appearing too weird overall, so being weird at the beginning is probably not going to affect the women's evaluations of me.

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On 12/6/2019 at 3:07 PM, Lundi_Hvalursson said:

That is interesting that your location is San Francisco. That is where I am. The dating scene has not been kind to me, and is even hard for neurotypicals.

I wish you better luck in finding a scene that's more accepting of your preference with respect to physical contact. I regret that I don't have any great advice on how to find that scene. I don't know how you identify in terms of your sexuality and preferences but I got to believe our city has a community in which you could feel comfortable.

I was looking for a community that would be more accepting of me. So I joined a couple of peer mental health support groups - not with an intention of finding a date - but fate was kind. I found someone living with mental health conditions of her own who can also hang with my own MH conditions and we began dating. Dating isn't simple, we are learning to communicate (about boundaries in particular). If we decide to invest more time in us, we might even go to couples therapy just to learn how to express our needs and fears in a less triggering manner.

In any case, we are both enjoying the immediate acceptance of ourselves and each other's conditions. From the first date, neither she or I had to hide our truths, hide our pills or our appointments and endure the silent fear of being outed and stigmatized. For myself, it was quite a different way to begin a romantic relationship. 

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9 hours ago, Atra said:

I wish you better luck in finding a scene that's more accepting of your preference with respect to physical contact. I regret that I don't have any great advice on how to find that scene. I don't know how you identify in terms of your sexuality and preferences but I got to believe our city has a community in which you could feel comfortable.

I was looking for a community that would be more accepting of me. So I joined a couple of peer mental health support groups - not with an intention of finding a date - but fate was kind. I found someone living with mental health conditions of her own who can also hang with my own MH conditions and we began dating. Dating isn't simple, we are learning to communicate (about boundaries in particular). If we decide to invest more time in us, we might even go to couples therapy just to learn how to express our needs and fears in a less triggering manner.

In any case, we are both enjoying the immediate acceptance of ourselves and each other's conditions. From the first date, neither she or I had to hide our truths, hide our pills or our appointments and endure the silent fear of being outed and stigmatized. For myself, it was quite a different way to begin a romantic relationship. 

I hate to say all, but mathematically speaking, all, as in 100%, of the women whom I have met personally at meetups and gone out with on dates have not been particularly kind to me especially considering my situation (which is found on other threads about how I turned 30 still being a virgin without wanting to). Not only do I have social anxiety and am visibly awkward, I have Asperger's and it is screwing things up a lot, especially in this topic about touching during dates. I have found that women have treated me better in Europe, but that is a whole other topic altogether.

I have never personally met or went on dates with any woman here who had mental illness nor understood nor cared to understand it. The attitude was usually that one had to act normal, and that those who are not normal are creepy or weird. With this touching thing, I get put in both categories because I cannot stand public physical affection. When I back away from attempted hugs, it usually surprises them. 

Like when I once went on a date with a woman who was my age at the time (27), we had made plans beforehand about where to eat dinner and where to go thereafter. She deliberately changed the plans when we met that evening and then laughed about it saying how she did it because it was funny to her how I was so rigid and planned in my thinking, that she wanted to see how I would function without a schedule. Then my problem with touching. It never worked out with any of the women whom I have met here in San Francisco.

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9 hours ago, Rattler6 said:

Have you found ways to re-phrase what you are trying to say?  So that it does not come across as hurtful.

I have to think of something. But often when I say stuff it comes out wrong and abrupt.

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1 hour ago, Lundi_Hvalursson said:

I have to think of something. But often when I say stuff it comes out wrong and abrupt.

I have needed to learn tact the hard way myself.  I would look up how to be honest and tactful. 

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2 hours ago, Rattler6 said:

I have needed to learn tact the hard way myself.  I would look up how to be honest and tactful. 

The entire thing about dating being a game is hard for me to understand. If touch is so central yet my reactions are off-putting, then by their definition I am losing before I even begin to play this "game". 

And it seems like brutal honesty is not tolerated here where I live. Rather, subtle sugarcoating and passive-aggresiveness.

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It is interesting to me you've written so much about your preoccupation with not having had sex but you don't write about your own sexuality, what you find attractive, whether your fixation on sex is libido-driven or a manifestation of something else. 

I mention this because you present as an analytical thinker and while I admit I haven't read every post you've made, the many I have read appeared to be absent of what you identify as, sexually-speaking. 

To a great extent, I think a lot of what you've written about San Francisco is seen through the lens of your preoccupations with not having sex along with your negative self-beliefs. I get that you see yourself as socially awkward but I feel like you are mind-reading others quite a bit and your assumptions then become data when you haven't really checked the facts.

From what you've told us, I think you have some tremendous strengths to play to when you're interacting with women. Some significant challenges and limitations too - and I do empathize with you because of my lived experience with anxiety disorder. Perhaps if something were to change about your comfort with yourself you might see people's reactions to you slightly differently. 

I have to mention that what you wrote about the Armory in San Francisco baffled me. I'm quite familiar with it - or what it was, as was sold months ago. It used to be the company headquarters of an adult entertainment business focusing on bondage kink. It was very sex-positive, safety-first, trauma-informed, respectful of its employees and yes, they used to have tours where you could learn how to safely use ropes and rigging to bind your partner for sex play. The company made impressive efforts to be a good member of the community. I'm aware of these details because I live in that neighborhood. But please don't regard the above as a rebuke or a rebuttal of your experience, rather I think it's fair to say that we have differering perspectives. Not just about the Armory but about the people in this city and it's dating scene. 

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I am not sure if I understand correctly. If you mean what I find attractive, I find honesty, sincerity and intelligence attractive in a woman. I prefer to put character traits as my main preference. I think that looks are not that important. If you really forced me to choose a "type", it would probably be White European, blonde or brown hair, high and narrow nose bridge. Of course I find this to be superficial as well, since it tells me nothing about their character.

I am not the only one who seems to have problems in San Francisco. Many of my male acquaintances have moved permanently away from this city after having moved here and becoming disillusioned with the place. In fact, I have no friends and no acquaintances any more. I had one acquaintance who was a guy in his late 40s from rural Minnesota with whom I attended meetups. Now he stopped attending, and I think that he may have moved out permanently. I am basically the last one stuck here. I was born and raised here, so they can just pack up and leave, unlike me.

The Armoury was something that people made fun of me as well. They said that I must be a virgin for not wanting to attend BDSM tutorial sessions or whatever in a dungeon. I am not into that stuff. And like the title of this thread, even normal touching can make me feel quite uncomfortable. I would guess that most normal women would in turn find me uncomfortable, and say that I am the weird one, not them.

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