Many autistic people feel uncomfortable saying the phrase, “I love you.”
Love is a feeling, and around 50% of autistic people have difficulty recognizing feelings in both themselves and others, which is an experience known as Alexithymia.
Even more, “I love you” is a declarative statement. However, autistics often have a trait of being immensely honest. Since we value integrity, if there is any doubt in our minds on whether or not we truly feeling “love,” we may fear that by saying, “I love you,” we might perhaps be telling a lie!
This concern around what love is can be very debilitating for autistic people, because we neither want to lie about what we’re feeling nor hurt the ones we care about by not saying that four-letter word.
The English language also complicates things by having only one all-encompassing word for “love.” For autistic people with alexithymia, it may be helpful to take a look at different types of love. This might clear up what kind of love we might be feeling toward others.
According to the Ancient Greeks, there are 8 types of love include:
Phillia – Affectionate Love, or a thinking love that runs deep in friendships.
Pragma – Enduring Love, a long-term love of that builds over good & bad times.
Storge – Familiar Love, or a love of fondness that stems from non-romantic kinship.
Eros – Romantic Love, a bodily love that derives from passion and/or pleasure.
Ludus – Playful Love, a love of infatuation that involves giddiness and joy.
Mania – Obsessive Love, a controlling love that involves a possessive need.
Philautia – Self Love, a self-compassionate love for oneself by oneself.
Agape – Unconditional Love, a selfless love for the spirits of everyone.