Wednesday, August 15, 2007

So now, let's talk about my boyfriend...

I saw him today. We talked about his fear of "judging" the strictly religious people in his life by choosing to live his life differently, which has always puzzled me. But now I think I can follow it.

-In order to explain why he's choosing to live his life differently from how he was raised - he basically goes by old Conservative Jewish rules and restrictions as practiced by his parents, particularly his father, when he was little - he would have to explain why he feels the rules are wrong, or at least, wrong for him.
-He doesn't really feel like there's a strong enough distinction between "wrong" and "wrong for him," nor does he feel that he has the authority to go out and tell them they're "wrong."
-He feels that by judging their way of life to be "wrong," he would hurt them. And although these people are relatively distant from him in his life now, he thinks in terms of the past, when he first became friends with these people, and feels that they are still friends and still important in his life even if he's barely kept in touch with them and they are no longer physically around to tell him what to do. (Sometimes it's good to be a little sociopathic, and be able to make sacrifices when you need to and not make it this big ethical disaster.)

So I asked him about why he doesn't practice religions other than Judaism. Are they wrong simply for him? He said that when two choices are equally valid, he generally goes for the one with the precedent, maintaining the status quo. He only changes when some unusual situation opens him up to it, and he can set a new status quo. That's basically what he did when we started to get emotionally close: an unusual situation established a new status quo with me, and now he wants to maintain that. (And no, I don't think I'm simply a status quo to him. He genuinely enjoys my company. But the status quo factor makes him more passionately insistent on keeping the relationship together. And also, as with the old friends, he wouldn't want to hurt me by choosing them, and their rules that he feels uncomfortable with but follows anyway 'cause he knows no other way, over me.)

So "the problem" of him feeling torn between his upbringing and me hasn't been solved, but at least it makes more sense now.

And it's really sweet that he cares about his old friends so much. So much for him being "inconsiderate" or "autistics lacking empathy." He just doesn't consider in the cold, calculating way that most of us do. "But they're not close friends anymore. And if they disapprove of the way you're living your life, then they're judging you - so screw them."


Axinar said...

You're dating someone with ASPERGER'S who is ALSO an ORTHODOX JEW???

Oh, you poor, poor girl ... :)

Axinar said...

"... an unusual situation established a new status quo with me, and now he wants to maintain that."

For the love of God, be CAREFUL establishing a new ritual with someone with Asperger's ... not only may you never get him off it, you may never get him off the DETAILS ... yikes ...

reform_normal said...

heh...He's actually kind of in between Ortho and Conservative in terms of his upbringing.

It turns out, though, that the rule against interfaith dating was not taught to him when he was very young, because his elementary school was full of the products of interfaith marriages.

So his observance of that rule is a *social* rule, not an *absolute* rule. And social rules are observed rigidly only while the social situation they're designed for persists.

The current situation is that he has very few close friends in his life right now, so still feels a strong connection to the older friends, especially one who happens to live nearby and happens to be a hard-core Orthodox, which means that, unlike my boyfriend, he inherently sees the rule against intermarriage as being on the order of keeping Kosher and observing the Sabbath.

So my boyfriend, valuing social stuff deeply but not quite thinking about it the way most NTs would (e.g., if they'd judge you for dating a perfectly nice girl who happens to be interfaith then they're not really worth maintaining as a close friend), is still in a situation where he must pay a nod to the rule - by not openly saying that he doesn't care who he marries as long as it's a good person and he can raise the kids Jewish if he wants (whether by birth or infant conversions) - so as to not piss off one of his few friends.

But since I also rank among his few friends, he cannot piss me off either, and therefore must keep the relationship going with me as it is.

So he feels he can neither dump me nor open up to the relationship becoming more serious at this point.

Which is okay for now, 'cause I don't think I'm ready to consider marriage or kids anyway.

But what I would like to see is him figuring out what he wants, beyond not pissing off his friends.