DEAR AMY: I am attracted to a younger woman who goes to my church. I have known her for about two years. She is attractive, sweet and talented. I got the courage to ask her out but she told me that she has too many things going on with her family and that she is kind of seeing someone. She did say we can be friends and I said sure. But I am almost 50, and I am getting kind of tired of being "just friends" with women. I know what I should not do: Don't call her incessantly. Don't drive by her residence and don't send flowers, gifts, etc. This would make her feel that I am obsessed with her and that I am stalking her. My sister-in-law told me that I should pretend that I don't like her. But I don't want to seem like a jerk toward her. I am not sure if I should tell her that I have Asperger's syndrome. What would be the best way for me to interact with her?
-- Wondering Out West
DEAR WONDERING: So far you seem to have a good sense of what to do, and what not to do. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone you're romantically interested. It can be challenging -- especially for people who have Asperger's -- to also read the other person's cues and to react in a way that won't make her uncomfortable.
You have to trust her when she says she wants to be friends.
The fact that you have Asperger's seems like something your friend would want to know about, and I think it's a good idea to tell her. The best way to interact with her is to respect her choice not to have a romantic relationship with you and relax as much as you can as you make an emotional transition into the "friendship zone." It might be a good idea for you to connect with other "Aspies" who can give you information, advice and support. One Internet site you could check is aspiescentral.com
DEAR AMY: OK, Amy, so I like this girl. We have been friends for five years. I want to take our relationship to the next level but I don't want anything to change between us. What do I do?
DEAR IN PAIN: The first thing you need to do is to wrap your mind around the idea that if you become romantically involved with your friend, everything will change.
And that's the whole idea, right? If you are both very lucky, you will be able to take your relationship to the next level and enjoy the best kind of intimacy there is: love plus friendship plus a long shared history.
Making this move is challenging. You will have to accept the risk -- and potential reward -- of being honest.