It Happened To Me: My Boyfriend Pretended to have Asperger’s Syndrome

He needs me, I kept stupidly telling myself. If I leave him, who will understand him and his Asperger’s like I do?
Publish date:
October 1, 2012
relationships, abusive relationships

I’m keeping this anonymous strictly for the reason that I am trying to get a job in education and for some reason our society likes to pretend that teachers are in fact not human. That’s a complaint for another day.

Warning: College sophomore me was STUPID. I have, in fact, matured a great deal, sought therapy, recovered from an eating disorder, and now lead a very boring but happy and normal life. This is an account of by far the worst six months of my life and I hope someone with low self-esteem can learn from this -- no person is worth this self-inflicted torture.

I met Michael at a house party when I was a sophomore in college after breaking up with my first “real” boyfriend of two years. I was drunk off of two shots and wearing my favorite jeans when I decided I was going to get his number. When asked if I could change anything about my past, I would change this moment. He was completely uninterested in me, which made me want him even more (stupid, right?) and when he asked to hang out a few weeks later, I was beyond excited. He came to my dorm, told me that he had a DUI in high school, had been addicted to pain killers and had a bad relationship with his dad. Instead of running in the opposite direction and never look back, I made out with him in the common room at 2 AM.

The next week was a hormonal high of making out, “watching movies” and more making out. For someone fresh out of a nasty break-up and a year out of in-patient eating disorder treatment, it felt amazing to be wanted. I thought I had found my broken soul mate, and I thought I could “fix” him. Until he G-chatted me and told me that he was sorry but, in fact, was “talking” to someone he met through Craigslist and was in love with her even though they had never met in person. I was crushed.

You would think at this point that I would have moved on. Nope! He texted me a week later and told me he was so sorry he hurt me, that he missed me so much and to give him another chance.

“Everybody in my life abandons and leaves me,” he sobbed into my lap that night at my apartment. “You’re so different from everyone else.” This is another moment I wish I could take back. In return for this confession, I slept with him. He told me it was his first time -- it wasn’t until months after the fact that I found out that this had been a lie. We started hanging out every single day and I started doing everything for him -- his laundry, making his lunch and dinner, cleaning his apartment and giving him sex whenever he wanted. (Note: worst sex of my life.)

About two months into it, he told me, “You’ve gained weight, I no longer find you attractive.” I was then only one year removed from a stint in an in-patient facility for my anorexia. He then drew a model of where I had gained weight and what I would have to do in order to be attractive enough for him again. I became wildly depressed and stopped hanging out with my friends and going home for weekly family dinners. A week after his “helpful” diagram of my fat body, he left a website up on my laptop for breast enlargement. Apparently, on top of being too fat for him, my boobs were too small. I wish the story ended here, but it doesn’t.

After telling me how fat and unattractive I was, Michael told me that he would never call me his girlfriend because he felt nothing for me; however, he would miss me greatly if I left. I felt conflicted; if I reacted emotionally to his abuse, he would cry and say he was going to kill himself. My days were filled with gems such as, “You’re so childish, sometimes I can’t stand your voice,” “I’m embarrassed to have you around my friends,” “You looked so much prettier when you were anorexic,” and some old fashioned self-loathing, “Nobody loves me, I ruin everything.”

After four months, we had stopped having bad sex and I pretty much became his live-in maid. To this day, this is the lowest period of my life. One night, I woke up around 2 AM to him watching porn and jerking off. I was furious. He refused to have sex because he “never felt like it,” but here he was masturbating while my perfectly unused body slept next to him! I immediately started packing my stuff when he burst into tears. “I have Asperger’s Syndrome! It’s why I have trouble connecting!”

Weirdly, this confession made me feel relieved. Maybe it isn’t me! I thought, He just has Asperger’s! It’s not me! I’m not as ugly and unattractive as I thought! We can still make this work! At the time, I had been pursuing a minor in Autism Spectrum Studies and part-time nannying a five year old with Asperger’s. I stupidly thought that this confession was no big deal.

Life became even more complicated after that night -- instead of being an asshole, he would be an asshole with the excuse, “I have Asperger’s, I can’t help it.” He was always depressed and would drink heavily almost every night. He needs me, I kept stupidly telling myself. If I leave him, who will understand him and his Asperger’s like I do?

Up until the end, I bent over backward for his every single whim, like making him dinner and redoing it if he didn't like it. He would get obsessed with things, like having a salt-water fish tank and would make me call fish stores in three different states and do research for him (I now know a lot about salt-water fish if anyone is interested). He started buying tickets in bulk and reselling them, and then would make me meet strangers in the city to deliver them. (“My Asperger’s makes it hard for me to talk to strangers,” he reasoned.)

The last straw finally came in the sixth month, when I logged on to his laptop to write an e-mail and, as I started typing into the subject line, old subject topics started popping up such as, “Single and ready to mingle!” “Sexy and horny,” and “Anyone want to have sex with me?” While I was remaking his dinners and feeling like a fat cow, he was chatting up girls he found on Craigslist. I packed up whatever clothes I had at his apartment and never went back.

For the next month, Michael proceeded to send me anonymous packages with stuffed animals, DVDs about Asperger's Syndrome and flowers. When I didn’t answer any of his peace offerings, he took to alternately cursing me out over text message and telling me he that he wanted to kill himself.

While the packages were creepy, the shocker came when his mom called me one night several months after I had accepted the situation for what it was.

“Michael says he wants to kill himself, his roommate gave me your number, do you know what’s going on?” she asked me.

“He said it’s because his Asperger’s keeps him from having meaningful relationships,” I tearfully said into the phone.

“What? Michael doesn’t have Asperger’s.”

At this moment, while I felt like the biggest idiot to have ever walked the face of the earth, I felt free. It was as if someone had lifted a blindfold from my eyes and I could see this guy for exactly what he was -- a lying creep.