Geeky Guys Make Great Husbands!

Mildly autistic men can make good long-term partners

Posted Jul 18, 2010

Wikimedia commons
Source: Wikimedia commons

Geeky guys may not seem obvious ideal partners, but remarkable new research just published in Frontiers in Psychology by Marco Del Giudice, Romina Angeleri, Adelina Brizio, and Marco Elena suggests that there may be more to their autistic-like characters than meets the eye. Indeed—and contrary to what you might think—they report that where long-term romantic relationships are concerned, geeky guys could be a surprisingly good bet.

As I mentioned in the previous post, new theories throw up new findings, and this post describes yet another which follows directly from the imprinted brain theory and its diametric model of the mind, as its authors generously acknowledge. According to this way of looking at things, autistic and psychotic traits stand at opposite ends of a continuum, with so-called schizotypy representing a mild, high-functioning psychotic syndrome comparable to Asperger’s at the autistic extreme. Normality is in the middle, and represents a balance of mentalistic ability struck between the deficits of autism and the excesses of psychosis. This means that small deviations in either direction are completely normal, and indeed can be measured by standard diagnostic instruments.

The researchers studied 200 heterosexual, unmarried Italian adults, 100 of each sex, aged 21-35 years, and measured their autistic and schizotypal traits in a manner comparable to that described in earlier posts. The study used other instruments to evaluate mating effort and long-term investment, and constructed a set of models linking these to the measures of autism and schizotypy. As the researchers hypothesized, autistic traits predicted reduced mating effort and higher long-term investment in romantic relationships. By contrast, positive schizotypy was negatively associated with long-term investment but positively associated with mating effort.

Del Giudice and his colleagues point out that “If the charming, eccentric artist is the folk prototype of socially successful schizotypy, the technically minded engineer or computer scientist may well be the modern prototype of a successful autistic-like personality.” Furthermore, they note that “when already mated, individuals high in autistic-like traits can be expected to be more faithful than average and to be a at lower ‘risk’ of engaging in extra-pair relationships.” Indeed, they add that “a socially unremarkable man may still be a valuable husband, especially if he is likely to be faithful, good at acquiring resources, and willing to invest those resources in his wife and offspring.”

Autistic men’s single-mindedness and social limitations, in other words, may not be bad news if it means they are single-minded about their partner, focused on providing for their family, and uninterested in other relationships (not to mention probably not having the social skills—and the lying skills in particular—that playing away-from-home games normally involve). As many women mated to them already know, a mildly autistic man can be a much better long-term bet for a stable and rewarding relationship than a seductive, smooth-talking socialite.

And as the imprinted brain theory shows once again, there are many more surprising and counter-intuitive insights to be found in its diametric model of the mind and mental illness than anyone might have suspected—not least of all geeky guys trying to get girl-friends!

(With thanks and acknowledgements to Marco Del Giudice.)