Dating Apps Have Failed Autistic Users, But That Can Change
Posted byBrandon Cherry
Imagine living in a world in which you have a 1 in 3 chance of ever going on a date.
Now imagine that even if you somehow find yourself in that lucky minority, you still have just a 9% chance of finding a partner, falling in love, and getting married.
Meanwhile, as you struggle day in and day out just to find someone that you have an ounce of chemistry with, almost every single other person around you is going on dates, and over half of them are getting married.
I know this situation may sound bleak, but there’s hope yet! A new wave of mobile apps have just been created specifically to help people connect, go on dates, and fall in love. In fact, these apps are so effective, that 39% of people are finding long term partners on them.
The only issue? None of these apps have been designed with your differentiated needs in mind. As you try to navigate the world of online dating, you find it impossible to connect with anyone who understands you, your personality, and your unique social behaviors.
As a result, you naturally feel rejected and hopeless, believing that you will never have the same opportunities to find love as those around you.
Unfortunately, this is the reality that tens of millions of adults with autism and Asperger’s face each day.
I know this all may sound negative, but there is some positive news. The underlying problems inhibiting autistic users from finding partners online are relatively simple and can be easily resolved with the help of just a little research and design work.
Chances are that you either know someone on the autism spectrum, or know someone close to someone on it. If you do know someone with autism or Asperger’s, there’s a significant chance that you’ve seen them struggle to form relationships, go on dates, and find suitable partners to share a deep connection with.
As the brother of someone with autism, I’ve seen this uphill battle played out first hand over the course of a few decades. Throughout that time, I’ve also seen resources for those on the spectrum grow exponentially.
Technology has transformed and improved the lives of people around the world — but in many ways, those on the spectrum have been left out.
As a User Experience Designer, I believe it’s about time the worlds of autism research and accessible online dating finally meet.
As such, I’ll be outlining why prominent dating apps are in need of a new feature that enables autistic users to connect, who should be integrating this feature, and how this feature should be designed.Why can’t people on the spectrum just use existing dating apps as they are?
They can and they have. In fact, there are stories of those with Asperger’s meeting their significant others on Tinder. However, those stories are incredibly rare, and experiences such as the below are much more prevalent within the community.
The main reason for experiences such as these is that users with autism express and receive affection very differently than neurotypicals. They have a very unique way of navigating romantic situations and don’t interpret social signs the same way as those not on the spectrum.
Due to this romantic disconnect, users with autism and Asperger’s typically prefer to date others with ASD, as it facilitates a deeper level of connection and comfort.