I started dating this girl just over a year ago. We first met 7 years ago at college; we were only acquaintances back then. Fast forward a few years, we recognized each other at a work party and discovered we both work for the same bank.
We hit it off right away, and she had no problem expressing she was interested in me. I found her fascinating too. She's clever and witty, makes me laugh, and she showers me with a ton of affection, constantly. When she asked me out, I took a while to respond because I had to be sure. After my first (and only, at that point) relationship, I was single for 4 years, and I was very happy by myself and a relationship wasn't something I was looking for, as I was focusing at getting to a better place professionally.
I couldn't ignore her, however, and decided to give the whole dating thing a try. Just before our first date, she told me she was a high functioning autistic, she has aspergers, and has trouble dealing with social situations. Furthermore, because of her very violent and abusive ex (from whom she had to get police protection and relocation), she suffers from anxiety attacks, depression, and PTSD. Poor thing has scars all over. Still, I was determined to give it a go and knew it was going to be hard work, but I thought I could be a good support for her help her heal.
Almost immediately, I noticed that I would have no space for myself. She moved in, 2 months later, with me, without asking me; one day she came, and never left. Slowly all her stuff were moved and when I tried to talk to her, she would get hurt and assume I wasn't serious.
Over the year, I've begun to see the "real her", and the "real her" is a very sweet girl who doesn't want to hurt anyone and just wants to make some friends.
Due to her Aspergers, or anxiety, or past (or all of them), she can't seem to make any friends at all. I am quite a social introvert myself - I have plenty of hobbies and plenty of groups of friends due to those hobbies, and I spend time with the groups, in my own terms. I definitely hang out once a week at the least, plus most weekends. Obviously, I took my girlfriend to each of the groups, and initially she seems ok, but she has this strange thing of deciding that she doesn't like someone. Once she does that, she does everything to avoid that person. I have tried talking to her about it, and she just says they remind her of her abusive ex and withdraws into herself, and says she doesn't want to talk about it. Any further attempts seems to send her down the depression spiral so I let it go.
For example, I surf a lot. One of my surf buddies is a girl around my age. She's not single, but she's in a long distance relationship. I have 7-8 people I can call friends that I regularly surf with. This girl and I are very close friends, we've known each other for 4+ years, we get along well, we went Pokemon hunting when GO was a thing, and we went to watch animated movies when there was one. All of that was with the group. We never did anything together alone. When I introduced my girlfriend to the surfing group, she said she wasn't comfortable with how close my female friend was with me. No amount of trying to explain that there is absolutely no romantic interest between us seemed to satisfy my girlfriend. When I would try to arrange dinners with the rest of the friends, without the female friend, my girlfriend would say she is not comfortable with it, and the rest of them would know the girl is missing and not hang out. I now barely surf, because, even though my girlfriend says I can go surf, she becomes miserable when I go and sulks about it a lot. I'd rather not go surf knowing I am hurting my gf and I can't seem to enjoy the activity anyway.
Repeat that for most of the other groups of friends. One of them had a very small wedding and didn't invite my girlfriend (the wedding was planned before we started dating). Now my girlfriend doesn't want to hang out with them, because she has been excluded and bullied all her life and this friend brings forth those memories. Another group of friends I play Xbox games with, asked her a lot of questions and she doesn't like him. So now I don't invite them over to my place to play games. Yet another group of friends I rollerblade with came across as very aggressive, so now she doesn't want to hang out with them. You get the idea.
I can see why she can't make friends, and she relates one event to another and ends up stressing and having anxiety attacks about events that occured several years ago. You know how we heal from something bad over time? She doesn't seem to heal at all. Any time any of the topic of my friends comes up, she starts crying all over again as though it only just happened. When I ask her to let go, she says, "what does that mean? I don't know what letting go means and I don't know how to do that, I wish I could make friends and I wish I didn't stress, but I can't help it". So I don't know how much of this is PTSD and how much is her Aspergers. Or both.
Anyway, this relationship is costing me a lot of friends and I'm having to wear a lot of hats for her. She has no friends, so I have to be there constantly for her as a friend. She has no parents and I have to mentor her, she has no hold on facial expression and social situations so I have to constantly answer her about people's intentions and why something should be done a certain way, and why she doesn't deserve the pain. Among all this, the real, witty, charming girlfriend comes out very very rarely and I am finding it hard to maintain romantic interest in her.
At the same time, I am heartbroken for her and every time I imagine myself in her shoes, I am terrified. I can't imagine having no one to talk to, no one to ask how I am, not knowing people's intentions (She says that a person smiling and person being angry appear the same to her and she can't tell the difference), and I feel terrible and selfish when I think I should end the relationship so I can heal. She honestly believes (thanks to her ex) that she is worthless and has some serious lack of self confidence. Any time I give her a compliment, she questions and doubts and asks for explanation. she constantly asks if I love her, and if I am going to leave her. She says she can't tell if I love her, even though I take care of her and care for her and show her, both by words and actions, that I love her. It makes me sad that she can't tell I love her.
At this point, I'm having trouble deciding whether or not I should stick with her because I like her and try to work towards healing her, or if I should end it here and hope she can recover by herself. I have no doubt she loves me, and I've always heard about how difficult it is to find someone who truly loves you so letting this go seems, at times, foolish.
How can I talk to her about how she should forgive people, starting from herself, and that it's okay to give people second chances and to hang out with others in a group if she doesn't like one? I get no chance to talk about all this because she withdraws into herself every time I attempt.