How can I help my boyfriend who has Aspergers

I have two questions for you, but first I want to tell you our story to put the questions in context. My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years.  When I met him he had just started graduate school (at age 43). A month after we started dating his father died and his whole life unraveled before my eyes. He withdrew from school and went into a depression. He didn’t look for work, didn’t go back into his program when the time came, lost his place to live, and had to move to some family property four hours from where I live.

I could see how much he struggled and I knew there was some genuine and significant barrier to him getting his life together but I couldn’t put my finger on it (PTSD? An attachment disorder? Pervasive developmental trauma?). In any case, I have been loving him as best I can without trying to “help” him or “fix” anything. (I am a mental health counselor, and majorly co-dependent, so believe me this has been a herculean act of restraint.)

A few months ago he mentioned that he really relates to the way Temple Grandin explains thinking in pictures and he thinks he might be on the autism spectrum. I considered this. I have been racking my brain for three years trying to understand what is going on. I am a counselor, for pete’s sake, how could I not recognize this? (Possibly because we studied the autism spectrum for 10 whole minutes of my 60 hour master’s program—but that is the topic for another day).

I began reading everything I could find and suddenly everything made sense. After I read Tony Attwood’s Complete Guide to Asperger’s I told my boyfriend that it was like someone had taken all the individual puzzle pieces of observation I’d been collecting over the past three years and fitted them together so I could finally see the whole picture. Now we were onto something, something big, something that explained all the trouble he was having and had been having all of his life (and why he couldn’t say “I love you” with words although I felt more loved by him than I ever did by my ex-husband who said “I love you” every day.)

I encouraged him to read about it, too, (which he is doing) and I have continued reading and reading and we have been talking about it a little bit at a time since then. One thing that just about every article and book I’ve read repeats over and over is that the Aspies who have some measure of happiness in life are the ones who have someone (almost always a mother or wife) who helps them structure their days and navigate the intricacies of the neurotypical world.

I began thinking that my strategy of not “helping” which I thought was so healthy of me (finally, for once!) was actually, in this case, the opposite of what was needed. So, I am beginning to offer help with his job search, depression, and unbearable living situation. In the course of my research I came across your blog. So, finally, I get to the first one of my questions to you: Do you think this is an appropriate thing for me to do? Or would you tell me, as I have read in your responses to parents, that I should just love him and do things we enjoy together and let him figure out the rest?

And my second question is: how can someone with Asperger’s develop an internal locus of control? Tony Attwood says it is quite common in Asperger’s to have the sense of an external locus of control and I think this is what holds my boyfriend back even more than executive function problems or trouble dealing with people (although that causes him a lot of trouble).

He feels completely at the mercy of outside forces and seems to have no idea that he actually has any power to play a role in creating a positive future for himself. Any hint of a suggestion that he can make positive changes in himself and his life seems to make him feel quite hurt and even angry. If he can’t realize he can change his life for the better, he can’t feel any motivation for taking steps to do so and that seems like a hopelessly stuck place.

Did you once have an external locus of control and, if so, how did you overcome it? Do you have any suggestions that you think could help him? I love this guy so much it makes my heart hurt. I want so much for him to have a happy life and for us to have a fulfilling relationship something like what you seem to have with The Farmer. Do you see hope?

How do I get a good career and a good relationship at the same time?

I am an ENFJ and I’ve listened to your course for ENFJ’s and it was great! And you were talking about me when you said ENFJs want to have it all. That’s why I took the course because it’s sooo TRUE! I need to do it all and find myself committing to too much and becoming overwhelmed

I have a question regarding my career. I have NEVER wanted my career to be my life and always pursued a career in science communication because (makes so much sense) I love taking research learned and explaining it to the public. However, I realized this career will never pay me any money and I won’t have control over where I live.

So, after spending 4 years working in the science communications field I have made a decision to become a nurse. I’ll be able to work with people, live where I want, earn more money, and have a good balance between work and life (don’t take work home with me). I’m currently finishing up my prereqs, working the hospital part-time, and applying to schools (out of state schools).

I’m also concerned with going back to school as school is not my strong area and I will be doing the accelerated nursing program which is quite intensive. I know I can do it, but am trying to figure out how to still maintain balance and not feel overwhelmed, which is why I’m seeking out advice before I take the plunge this fall (have to be accepted first though).  Do you have any advice on this?

My second question for you is that you say “ENFJs can have anything they want, and if they don’t have it it’s because they don’t really want it.” I understand this to a certain extent. I’m curious as to what you mean exactly because there have been, is currently actually, guys who I have wanted, but they haven’t wanted me in a romantic relationship. They want to still hang out with me a lot and confide in me, but it actually blows my mind that they want that, but don’t want to be in a relationship with me.

So, I’m confused on how you say “ENFJ’s can get anything they want.” AND the worst part is because I know they enjoy my company I hang out with them whenever they want to because I don’t want them to feel alone or like they don’t have anyone to confide in. It’s actually kind of nuts. I’m also stubborn and can’t accept that it’s “just platonic.” This is actually the most challenging part of my life right now, as for everything else I want, I do get. You are right about that.

I’m 27 now though and want kids and to settle down. I’m tired of getting sucked into dating guys that I date because I feel they need me more than I need them, but I stay with them because it makes them feel good. It’s insane when I say it out loud. I want to take the time to date a guy who I want to marry.

Thank you! I thoroughly appreciate any advice you have!

I need a plan to stop doing the job I hate

I just finished the INFJ course, and I wish I could thank you, but I won’t. That class made me see my plan for myself is totally fucked up.

I am 27, and working as an advisor to the government. Going to work everyday is exhausting to me: having to come up with all the things people ask me to do, the meetings, everything related to working in an office is just too much, plus the fact that I need to wake up super early to be able to save some time for myself before heading to the office, and also have at least two hours of alone time (I usually go to yoga) before getting back home to my boyfriend. It’s just too crazy.

My exit plan before following the course was to go into something related to health and wellness. I thought it would make more sense than my actual job, and I did my yoga teacher training and I’ve been practicing for more than 10 years now, so it has always been interesting to me. I know teaching yoga is a lot of marketing, I was thinking more about going back to school to study acupuncture and work as an acupuncture/massage therapist/yoga teacher + counting on my boyfriend to be the breadwinner (he’s an INTJ).

Knowing now, from your course, that I am a planner more than a doer, and that my exit plan might not get me what I need to be happy was kind of a relief (not having to go back to school full time for 3 years without a salary was scary), but now I am left without any plan and I feel totally depressed.

I miss my family, spending time with them is the only thing that makes sense to me, but I still have to make some money to live like pretty much everybody else. I have an amazing boyfriend and might have been interested in the kids plan (even though I can’t quite figure it out and still not sure I could do it), but I have been dealing with a disgusting eating disorder for 12 years which keeps me from having my period, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat enough to maintain my period, so I can’t and I do not want to count on that.

I have no idea what to look forward to anymore. I feel stuck in my beige cubicle and I want to die. Help.

Is it ok to be mad at my mom?

I’m 25 years old and I’m angry with my mother.

She did well raising us. She came from a poor family and used her skills to create her own business. She didn’t even graduate college. Over the years, she earned money to buy us a house and several necessities. She paid for our education, she gave us allowances. She just made sure we were okay financially.

And we are okay. Until now. Or maybe it’s been a long time but I’ve just realized it now. I recently resigned from my job and while I have my savings, I don’t have to rely on them too much because I don’t really spend a lot and most of the things I need she buys (we still live in the same house). I’m grateful in that aspect.

But I’m just frustrated with my anger at her. She was never loving, never emotionally attentive. She never said “I love you”, hugged us, kissed us, not even a moment where she actively showed she appreciates us. Even though we’ve grown as respectable, responsible adults. Despite the difficulties we experienced and how we’ve overcome our struggles. She never told us she’s proud of what we’ve become.

And she gets angry when we do things wrong. Absolutely humiliates us. Undermines us for every wrong thing, even though she could simply tell us to do it right and not berate us.

I’ve confronted her about it on several occasions. Told her she’s too cruel. She should be kinder; aren’t we her kids? She would always throw the same argument: but I gave you food, money, all the things you enjoy! Which is true.

I just want to know if what I feel is valid. And if I should just move out or something. Maybe space will make her more loving? I resigned because of work stress (and maybe I’m having a quarter-life crisis? I’m just lost right now. Figuring things out. But generally okay, like I just need to rest for a while) and I don’t feel like having a job just yet, but maybe I need to find a job soon so I could interact with her less.

Do dating and job hunting require the same skills?

How do you think looking for a job or career is similar to or different from looking for a lover or life partner?

I’m interested in improving the way I approach both of these tasks and often sense that there is an overlap. But I realize that my sense that they are similar might be a reason why I’m not as successful with either as I could be.

How can I sell to chief marketing officers?

I am launching a new online marketing platform that will allow brands to connect with (potential) customers globally in a completely new way. The biggest component of the business is partnering with various large and medium size brands that are willing to experiment with their marketing approach and product offerings.

Until now, I was working on devising the business plan and the operational aspects of it but now is the time when I have to penetrate the C-Suite, specifically the Chief Marketing Officer suite at those brands with my partnership proposal. I am not sure how to go about it.

Do I sent emails, pick up the phone, send letters? Do I prepare a “pitch deck” that I email the brands or send them or a top view summary page? I am totally unconnected to those brands and they span across various industries. Any ideas or insights would be appreciated!

Getting a job after earning a Ph.D.

I just finished my Ph.D. in educational policy and I’m on the job market for next spring. I don’t want to be an academic, so I’m looking at all kinds of jobs in all kinds of places.

I’ve been a teacher (middle school and university) for my entire working career, so I’m not familiar with how non-teaching job searches work. So, here’s my question: how do I know if I’m qualified for a job based on the job description?

I feel like they are written so cryptically that I can never be sure if I’m totally wasting my time applying or if it is a case (as you often write about) of framing my CV differently? For example, should I take the “experience, knowledge and skills” section as non-negotiable?

I am trying to use my Ph.D. to break into a related–but not directly academic–field and I don’t know if my skills translate.

The new hire wants to manage me.

The new hire wants to manage me. He’s supposed to be my co-worker. He’s in his thirties. Every conversation we have he’ll ask questions that are to “see the way I think”.

Am I just being competitive? Do I have to put up with him? The CEO hasn’t said that he’s my manager. The CEO has asked me to take more responsibility in managing the operations team.

What’s the best degree for someone with Asperger’s

Hi, so I’m no one specific. Just a mom reaching out to see if you have any advice for me. I’m neurotypical but my junior in college who is a girl has Asperger’s, but really mild. We tried some groups but those kids seem more severe. Her ACT was strong in math and science and low in English reading and writing. Those stupid tests do not represent her potential as a 4.0 average and her teachers said she is so organized.

She has learned coping strategies for dealing with people. However I have no idea how to help her with degree ideas. No real people skills, focusing on the tasks etc. Your writing makes me feel that there is hope in her future. If you have any time to just give me a suggestion for college ideas and degrees that would just be great. Facts are fine. Thanks!

Do I take this job?

I have been interviewing off and on for product manager jobs. I am so tired and exhausted from working startups and doing that. I’m freaking burned out.

Anyway, today I got an offer from a VC funded, pre-shipped startup who reached out to me.

I love the founder. I love the idea but there is part of the implementation that is bugging my conservative upbringing from an ethical point of view.

Also, I want a more stable company. I want to have a senior product manager to be my mentor and learn from in that role. I won’t have it here. I don’t want to have to figure it out anymore by myself, like I had to in my old startup.

I am an INFJ. Sometimes, an ENFP. Depends on the day.

What do I do?