Dating can be challenging for many people, especially for those with autism or other developmental disabilities. It can be confusing and scary for parents whose child is exploring the neurodivergent dating world. In this article, we’ll share some ideas for how you can support successful, safe experiences for your child.
You might also be interested in reading: Healthy Eating for Autistic Adults: Tips for Helping Your Adult Child Eat Healthy
How Parents Can Support Successful Neurodivergent Dating Experiences
There are several ways you can support successful dating for your adult child with an intellectual or developmental disability. These include safe dating apps, discussing boundaries, being supportive, coaching on social cues, and talking about love languages.
Dating Apps for Neurodiverse People
In today’s technological world, many couples are meeting on dating apps. As we know, meeting a stranger to go on a date can be scary. However, there are new dating apps and websites specifically for neurodivergent dating that can make these experiences safe and successful.
One of our favorite dating apps that is making strides in worldwide dating for the autistic community is Hiki. Autistic adults have worked to create Hiki to ensure that it represents neurodivergent needs. The platform fosters friendships, love, and community for the autistic community. Best of all, safety is their number one priority, so users and their parents can rest easy.
Another dating site that supports love and romance for people with autism is Autistic Dating. This online site matches members looking to connect with people like them. Autistic Dating also has measures to ensure safety for its users.
Discuss Boundaries with Your Adult Child
Like anyone craving companionship, neurodiverse adults may forget to set and stick to boundaries when dating. This is especially true for those who have challenges navigating social situations.
As someone your child trusts, you can encourage boundary setting by having open and honest discussions with them. It’s important for your child to understand their needs and wants in a relationship in order to set boundaries. Here are some things you may discuss together for them to establish these:
- what kind of settings they’re comfortable hanging out in
- what kind of commitment they’re looking for
- how often they’d like to communicate with and spend time with the person they’re dating
- where they stand on physical intimacy; what physical things they’re okay and not okay with
Once your child can identify and discuss what boundaries are important to them, they have a better chance of sharing these with people they’re dating. As their parent, you can also encourage them to discuss these with their date(s).
Opening up to your child dating can be scary. With that, supporting them can be difficult. But, at the end of the day, you want them to have safe and successful dating experiences so it’s best to be supportive of this.
If your child knows you support them, they’re more likely to open up to you and take your advice.
Some ways parents can be supportive of neurodivergent dating include:
- asking about dating experiences,
- not being critical of choices your child makes when dating,
- and practicing conversation skills to help prepare your child for social settings.
To touch more on conversation skills — talking about and practicing social cues and conversation starters is necessary for neurodivergent adults to socialize and date successfully and confidently. For ideas on practicing and coaching this, check out these ideas shared by parents of autistic children.
Offer Coaching on Signals
If you have an autistic child, it’s essential to understand that one of their most significant social challenges may be reading and sending signals. Social signals when dating can already be complex enough as it is, which can cause frustration and discomfort.
One thing to really focus on in neurodivergent dating is asking questions to clarify cues. Coach your child with practice and discussions on how to do this and to read and send signals.
Talk About Love Languages
Love languages are a hot topic in the world of dating. For those unfamiliar, the idea of love languages is that people give and receive love differently. These languages are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts.
Understanding love languages helps relationships succeed. It can also make dating easier for neurodiverse people who find giving and receiving affection difficult.
Encourage your child to take the love language quiz on their own to learn more about how they best receive and feel loved. Then allow them to practice expressing it so they can feel confident sharing it with a person they’re dating.
Once your child is dating someone they’re interested in continuing a relationship with, it’s a good idea for them to ask that person to also take the love language quiz. This will allow them to discuss how both of them receive love best.
Neurodivergent Dating: Final Thoughts
We understand that dating can be scary for parents of neurodivergent adolescents and adults. We hope these ideas have encouraged you to support your child as they explore these experiences. Coaching, support, and open discussions can lead to safe, happy relationships for your child.
Are you interested in more support in helping your adult child with autism or other developmental disability? Check out NFlyte, a platform to help you manage daily living activities remotely.