Many autistic adults have partners and children. Some manage marriage, relationships and family life very well, while others may have difficulties.

Here we look at partners' experiences, diagnosis, counselling and other support and having children with an autistic partner.

You can also read what autistic people say about relationships.

Partners' experiences

While everyone's experiences are different, there are common themes:

  • autism is an invisible disability meaning that it can be hard to explain to friends and family why your autistic partner may be behave in a certain way
  • it may be harder for an autistic person to understand other people's emotions and feelings
  • it can be difficult to live with their autistic partner’s sometimes unintended hurtful behaviour.

"He says that he keeps his distance emotionally and remains detached so that he doesn't feel the pain of being apart. It doesn't seem to matter to him whether we are in the same room or even the same country."

Having an autistic partner may mean having to help them with social interaction, particularly around unwritten social rules. Not understanding these rules may make you partner more vulnerable.

Having a relationship with an autistic person can be as rewarding as any other relationship. However, there may be adjustments that you need to make, such as thinking about the way you communicate with your partner. You may have the additional responsibility of helping them to manage their money, find employment, or supporting them to advocate for themselves. 

Partners often contact us to talk about relationship strategies, counselling and other support. 

"We have had our ups and downs, but I love him more than anything and find him totally fascinating to be with. We make a great team. I have learned so much from him about truth, loyalty, friendship and fun. He is the most special person in my life."

Behaviour and relationships strategies

Your autistic partner may have difficulties interpreting non-verbal communication, such as your body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. They may not be able to tell from your behaviour alone that you need support or reassurance.

This may be hurtful as it can come across and indifference. Try to be explicit with your partner, telling them what you are thinking, feeling and what you need from them. 

Your partner may be anxious, have certain routines they need to follow or have problems with organisation and prioritising.  

It can help to talk to your partner about any relationship problems you are having and explain your feelings in a calm, reasoned way. Your partner may prefer to discuss things in writing as it will give them more time to process what you are saying. This could be done using clear language in an email or text.


Diagnosis can help you to understand your partner better and see why they may face certain difficulties. It can also help your partner to make sense of their life experiences and begin to identify with other autistic people.

If your partner isn’t diagnosed but you suspect they are autistic, it can be difficult to know how to talk about it with them.

Once you’ve discussed it with your partner, they may want to try to get a diagnosis.

Read more about autismAsperger syndrome and demand avoidant profiles.

Having children with an autistic partner

You may be concerned about the cause of your partner’s autism and whether it could be passed on to your children. Research is still being carried out.

Talk to your partner about any difficulties you think they may have with having a child. This could be:  

  • not understanding what being a parent means and what they are expected to do
  • anxiety about giving birth
  • coping with unpredictable children
  • dealing with noise and unexpected change.

By discussing this with them you can agree some support strategies.

Read our guide for sons and daughters of autistic parents.

Autistic people and relationships

Many autistic people want to have a meaningful relationship with a partner. Hear what they say about: 

Counselling and other support

Either you or your partner may benefit from counselling to think through your feelings and decide on possible coping strategies. You can find counsellors with autism experience on our Autism Services Directory.

You may also like to make contact with others in the same position for understanding, support and advice. Our online community may be a way of doing this.

Further help from our charity

Autism helpline
Autistic women discuss meaningful relationships
Developing and maintaining a relationship
Relationships and autism

Useful reading

Sex, love, & marriage through the eyes of an autistic woman
What Men with Asperger Syndrome Want to Know About Women, Dating and Relationships

Last reviewed 25 January 2018.