This is the start of a series of articles on how to show your non-aspie partner "appreciation". It follows on from my article; Working on Your Asperger-Neurotypical Relationship Part 2: Appreciation. You won't find information on living with an Aspergers partner here because this particular series is aimed at teaching aspies to become better and more appreciative of their neurotypical partners.
My point of view here will be from the aspie male in a relationship with a neurotypical female. After all, it's the only one I can speak about from experience. If anyone has any insight into the way in which the needs of neurotypical males differ from aspie males, then please feel free to note them in the comments.
If you've been dating your current partner since you were young, you might think that she doesn't care for flowers. Certainly, that was the case in my situation.
As a "first girlfriend", my now wife never expressed any interest in flowers. I knew the names of many flowering trees and she did not. She never took my mother up on her invitations for a walk around the garden or a visit to local nurseries. Most importantly however, she never actually asked me to bring her flowers.
It was therefore quite a shock to me to find out (after we broke up as teenage lovers) that I didn't "appreciate" her because, among other things, I didn't bring her flowers.
Now bear in mind that I didn't have the best of role models. My father, a suspected aspie, certainly didn't bring my mother many flowers - and we all knew that flowers were a passion for her. In fact, I have very clear memories of the one time that he did - their tenth anniversary. How my mother raved over them and dropped very unsubtle hints for more. I lived with my parents for at least another ten years and no further flowers ever materialised in the time I was there. Apparently though, now they're a little more frequent.
My then "ex-girlfriend" talked to me about her new man on many occasions. It was a very difficult experience and I found myself having to play the part of the "gay friend" since she obviously only wanted me as a "friend". I learned a lot about romance from those discussions though.
When her relationship headed south (stopped working), I pleaded with her to "drop him and go out with me". I followed up the next day with flowers - some shockingly expensive red roses which just about wiped out my wages for the week.
I didn't realise it at the time but I had competition. Her ex was competing for her affections too - and he brought flowers as well.
It turned out that my red roses beat his yellow ones. It was the first time that I'd ever heard that specific flowers could have special significance.
Flower Tips from the Present
Over the years I've tried to deliver flowers with some regularity to show my appreciation. Here are some flower tips;
- Not when you're in trouble
Flowers should say "I love you", not "please let me back into the house". You can use flowers to help with forgiveness but only after you've resolved your differences with "saying a heartfelt sorry" and deeds (proving that you mean what you say).
If you give flowers as a means of prompting forgiveness, it might work sometimes but eventually it won't. Eventually your female partner will start to associate them with bad things.
You'll know this has happened when a random gift of flowers results in the question; "what did you do?"
- Be regular but not to regularAgain. Flowers should say "I love you" - not, "it's Tuesday". In a healthy relationship, thoughts of love or simply things that remind you of your partner should pop into your head fairly regularly. When they do, you should decide to give them. Obviously you shouldn't be more regular than once per week but also, you should try for at least once per month.
- Follow the thoughtsIf your partner has done something particularly good for you, like cooked a special meal or bought you a surprise, then a "payback" via flowers can be a good way to show both affection and appreciation.
Similarly, if you know that your partner is having a difficult time, perhaps a friend is sick, her workplace is giving her a hard time or she has simply had a "bad week" then flowers can cheer her up and let her know that you"re thinking of her - even if you can't actually be there.
- Quality is better than Quantity
Flowers bought at a florist are nearly always much better than flowers bought at the supermarket. Even worse though are flowers from the bottom of the "flower chain". Petrol/Gas station flowers. These flowers have usually been poorly looked after and exposed to a lot of bad fumes. Stay away from them unless you can't get flowers anywhere else.
Note that flowers don't always have to be from a shop. There's no reason why you can't pick flowers from your yard or while on a bush walk. Just don't do anything illegal and don't steal from other people's gardens.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask advice from florists. They're usually quite happy to give it. Talk about the type of occasion and the feelings you want to convey because different flowers have different meanings. You might also want to talk about longevity. Often I'll ask for flowers which have a bit more staying power. Roses look fantastic but they usually don't last.