“I went out with this girl two years ago. She was six years older than me, and we got on really well. I was in love with her, but she felt that the age difference mattered and finished it. I was heartbroken,” Callum reveals and shrugs his shoulders in a disillusioned gesture.
I’m sitting opposite this young man, who wants to talk to me about his inability to find another girlfriend since the breakup, despite various determined efforts, and I’m scratching my head why he is still single.
On paper, Callum is every girl’s dream: 6ft 1” tall, muscular (he’s obviously a regular gym-goer), and attractive features in a pleasant face. He’s 21, drives a fast car, studies Creative Media Technology and works as a web developer. He’s a gentleman too, with impeccable manners. Textbook dateable you would say.
And yet, he just cannot find a girl.
Callum has got Aspergers Syndrome, an autistic spectrum condition that makes it difficult for him to read body language and pick up on social cues that we neuro-typicals take for granted.
“Think of it as running on a different Operating System to anybody else; not Windows or iOS but some highly sophisticated software that only insiders can operate and understand, a software that excels in specific areas but is totally rubbish at the basic stuff,” Callum explains.
Callum’s ‘specific area’ is Formula 1 motor racing. He is an expert on the subject and has been managing an F1 blog since he was 14 years old. He arranged and undertook his Year 10 work experience at the then Lotus (now Renault) Formula 1 Team headquarters in Enstone, near Oxford and still keeps in touch with the people he’s met in the industry.
“I even tried my hand at racing, but decided that I was better at being a walking encyclopedia on the subject,” Callum grins.
“I can speak absolutely confidently in front of a room full of people about Formula 1, web design or my autism, but put me opposite a girl and my mind goes totally blank, it becomes a big black empty hole. So, as there’s nowhere to go with the conversation, I don’t blame the girls for ditching me after a first date. I would ditch myself if I were them,” Callum laughs.
“I’ve tried online dating for a while, and at first it looked quite promising. I was able to chat to the girls online for a while, something that is a lot easier for me. I can focus on the written words. There are no outside influences that distract and confuse me – like body language or even the noise in a place.”
“My condition makes me highly sensitive to noise and talking to people in nightclubs or pubs is virtually impossible. It’s like trying to hold a conversation when there’s loud music blaring into your ears at a party for example. For me, it’s like that whenever I go somewhere noisy. I can hear all the background noise as clearly as if people were standing around me shouting into my ears; not exactly ideal when you’re trying to make an impression on a girl. That, combined with the empty brain is a real cracker,” Callum smiles.
What does he look for in his ideal woman?
There’s no hesitation in his answer. “She’s got to be kind and patient with me. I’m often slow to process the most basic things. Give me a complicated riddle to solve, no problem. But, ask me to understand why so-and-so has fallen out with so-and-so, and you’re hitting a blank wall. I’m a black-and-white kind of guy. I see and say things as they are. I don’t understand the concept of small talk. What a waste of time!” Callum shakes his head.
“She’s got to understand and love that I’m different. I don’t want to start playing roles to please her. I’ve got to do that too much already in everyday life. I would just accept her for what she is and love her for it. Is it too much to expect that for myself as well?”
Callum tells me he believes that another major factor in his failure to find love is the fact that he still lives with his parents.
“It makes me feel like I haven’t grown up yet. I’m still living with ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’,” he sighs. “I love my family and we are really close, but bringing a girl back to my room when my parents are sleeping next door? Ahem, no.“
“I’m saving up for a deposit to buy my own house, and once I’ve got my degree in the bag next year, I can start looking for my own place. I can’t wait.”
Is there anything else he’s planning to try to get a girlfriend?
“Yes, my mate and I have been looking at speed dating, maybe. There are some events coming up shortly here in Leeds. But, I’m not sure if the ‘speed’ element could be a downer for me. At least, if my mind goes blank again, it’s over quickly,” Callum laughs out loud.
“If you feel touched by this article, please feel free to comment. If you would like to get in touch with Callum directly (perhaps to arrange a date?), please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will gladly forward your message.”
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Caren is a qualified and experienced digital copy & content writer with both a corporate and small business owner background. She runs KreativeInc Agency, a web design, development and content creation agency with her autistic son Callum Gamble.
She specialises in creating Inbound Marketing content for business websites and blogs. Using her expert knowledge, skills and personal experience in business development, personal improvement and autism, she crafts content that makes people take action. Her work is found in retail publications, professional websites, on her writer’s platform StoryBlog and more.
She is also an active advocate of neurodiversity in the workplace and co-founder of the NeuroPool network, neuropool.co.uk. Here, she is organising free educational workshops for employers on how to utilise the extraordinary talent found in people with autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia within their business.
When she isn’t typing away on her keyboard or spreading her mission, you can see her having her nose buried in a book or hiking up and down the steep hills of the Yorkshire countryside with her husband, son and daughter.
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