Autism and Love

Reviewed by:
Hannah Andreasen

February 2, 2023

There are many myths about people with autism. One myth claims that people with autism don’t have the same ability to experience love as neurotypical people. This claim is not true. People with autism can form meaningful relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. Despite some unique needs, they can still experience love, affection, and intimacy. 

Can people with autism date?

People with autism can and do get involved in romantic relationships, including dating. Some researchers have studied the frequency of romantic partnerships in adults with autism. But, the results are variable. While some people with autism are not interested in romantic relationships, many are. 

Autism dating experiences. 

In a 2019 study, researchers surveyed 675 people with autism. The group included people from age 15 through adulthood. Researchers compared the results to a control group of people who do not have autism. The results showed that 50% of those with autism were in a relationship, compared to 70% in the control group. This finding shows that fewer people with autism date compared to those who don't have autism. Yet, it shows that many in the autism community do engage in romantic partnerships. This study also found that 74% of those dating felt very satisfied. Only 9% reported feeling dissatisfied in their relationship. People with autism can and do experience positive, loving relationships.

How do people with autism express love?

As with anyone else, people with autism can express love in different ways. Some people with autism may be more verbal and use words to express their love. Others may be less verbal and express their love through physical touch, such as hugs, holding hands, and cuddling. People with autism may also express their love through acts of kindness, gifts, or acts of creativity.

How does autism affect the development of relationships?

People with autism can develop loving relationships. Yet, they may face barriers due to their unique challenges. Autism can affect relationships in various ways. It is important to note that the way autism presents itself in each individual is different. Thus, some people may struggle in relationships, while others may not. 

People with autism may have trouble with social cues,  facial expressions, and communication. This can create barriers to forming and maintaining bonds.

Sensory sensitivities can also present difficulty in relationships. People with autism tend to be more or less sensitive to sensory input than others. For example, some people with autism enjoy a lot of physical touch, while others find it aversive. Thus, finding a good balance that fits both partners can be challenging.

Additionally, people with autism may have difficulty understanding and showing emotion. This can affect their ability to form and maintain connections. Understanding body language and sarcasm can also interfere with creating and maintaining romantic relationships.

Seeking support for developing relationships.

For any relationship, finding a good balance is key. While people with autism may experience challenges with romantic partnerships, open communication and a strong support system can go a long way. 

For those interested in romantic relationships, behavioral therapy and individual counseling can help work through unique challenges that make developing relationships difficult. Couples counseling can also help a neurodiverse couple to work together to find a good balance in what works for each partner. 

Therapy or counseling may help by addressing any of the following

  • Understanding body language and nonverbal communication
  • Communicating effectively
  • Reducing inflexible patterns of behavior and thinking
  • Teaching perspective taking
  • Advocating for one’s needs and desires
  • Reading and interpreting emotions
  • Setting healthy boundaries


People with autism can and do experience healthy, loving relationships. Helping children develop strong communication skills can benefit them in developing relationships later in life. 

If you are looking for high-quality autism therapy, ‍Songbird Therapy can help. We are a technology-enabled provider setting a higher standard for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access world-class care at home, uniquely tailored to them.