I'm not saying my downward spiral was caused by that change, I don't think it was, but it didn't help and does not. Nor is my mood a cause of the downward spiral of our physical relationship. Tilly was reluctant to face up to this, though she conceded the dating of it and the manner of it (being down to her rather than me). At least, she did to a point. She shared that she had been reading about ASD and Asperger's and relayed some of the things that she had found from wives who had AS husbands. Following the end of the conversation, nothing really resolved and much depression, I looked these up myself.
And what I found.
So, full disclosure here: I am very likely suffering from AS and I am very likely, therefore, the worst kind of unreliable narrator. Virtually every piece I found recommended that the AS sufferer recognise that the criticisms their neuro-typical partner made of them were real and take responsibility for them. In short, the AS sufferer must understand that they were, in a nutshell, the cause of the negative vibes in the relationship. I read posts from wives of AS husbands who said they rued the day they'd met their husbands and would recommend anyone dating someone with AS to run away right now. I read self-help blogs that proliferated with articles about AS people are incapable of affection, romance, emotion and love. I read advice that said that there was no point trying to be romantic with AS husbands (or wives) as they would not notice. I found countless references to AS sufferers in marriages approaching sex as wanting a lot or not wanting it at all but only advice on how to deal with the latter (as, apparently, the former isn't an issue to people). And, in all of this, the only advice to the AS person was: "suck it up, your brain is different, now fix it".
I got a bit upset.
I complimented Tilly today and shared that this was something I, as an AS person, shouldn't be able to do. Tilly paused a moment before replying. Apparently I can't do it. My compliments seem forced or 'off' and never sound sincere. Indeed, none of my compliments sound natural or complimentary. So, saying that Tilly looked nice or was wearing a pretty outfit or even commenting on playing chess like I did, these are all comments that end up making Tilly less likely to feel wanted and loved. Silence was just as bad. The end result being that she feels lonely and unloved most of the time and thus more inclined to disappear off on an evening or else not particularly inclined to be romantic to me. There was no point, so the articles suggested and Tilly reaffirmed, in offering me any compliments or trying anything romantic as I wasn't likely to spot it or, if I did, I would be unable to reciprocate or offer any inducements to continue.
AS people are also likely to be emotionally immature, said many of the links and articles that I read, that would equate to wanting more physical contact but as a child rather than as an adult. I would want someone to care for me like a mother rather than a romantic partner. I would be unable to offer anything romantic unless it was part of my current 'project' which would end with marriage. Suddenly I was minded of Tilly's comments to me that what I expected from our relationship was emotionally immature and like a teenager. Countless blogs and posts and experiences from women with AS partners spoke of their husband being an extra child - something that, again, Tilly has often commented on with me. Sex with these partners, when it occurred, was likely to be mechanical and all about getting to an end point - there would be no playing around or experimentation. Which... well, part of our discussion on Friday included the gem that Tilly did not see the point in being playful or experimental in bed because it was all about the end result and "an efficient use of the time" before children burst in or we were interrupted. The "quickest and most efficient" method of having sex, so Tilly told me, was "bog-standard missionary" and "there's no point in anything else" because "it's not enjoyable, it's not fun and it might not work".
When I raised that I wasn't interested, necessarily, in orgasm for myself this was used against me later - when talking about how I was frustrated that stroking her hair or holding her hands like she enjoyed rarely resulted in anything being done back: after all, that would be 'going further' and thus invalidated my earlier point.
Since Friday we have snuggled twice in bed at night. It's been nice. But, as there's "no emotional connection" and AS sufferers don't know how to bridge that gap, so my reading tells me, there's no hope of anything else. We agreed that we couldn't spare the time to spend with one another to make it work properly because there's no way to get anyone to look after the children. I pointed out that left about a decade until they were old enough to look after themselves. Tilly opined that there was no point as nothing she would do would ever be good enough. I returned that, no, once a month was not good enough but the sex was fine. Tilly took that to mean that the sex wasn't good enough and proof of her point.
I want to suggest that maybe Tilly has AS traits too but that seems somewhat churlish. In the meantime I suppose I have all the porn the internet has to offer and time most evenings to indulge. Ale in hand, curtains drawn and alone.