Christine McGuinness says dating with autism is ‘petrifying’

Christine McGuinness has said dating is “petrifying” for someone like her “who doesn’t like change” following her autism diagnosis.

Last year, the reality TV star split from her husband, Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness, with whom she shares three children.

In a new interview, McGuinness reflected on starting a “new chapter”, admitting that she doesn’t know “what it’s like to date” after being with Paddy for 15 years.

“I can’t imagine being with anybody else,” she told The Times. “I don’t know what it’s like to date; I can’t remember what it’s like to be single. I am going into a new chapter on my own, which is petrifying for someone who doesn’t like change.”

Following her autism diagnosis in 2021 at the age of 33, McGuinness has filmed a new BBC One documentary about the issue of women and girls in the UK going undiagnosed.

In the documentary, McGuinness explores how her autistic traits led her to stay in her “unhappy” marriage to Paddy.

“I didn’t want my family to ever fall apart and that’s why I stayed married,” she said. “As an autistic woman, I like to stay where I’m comfortable, I like things to stay the same.

“I understand myself better now because that’s where I was comfortable just knowing that it was me, Patrick and the children– but sometimes change has to happen.

The former couple, who married in 2011, confirmed that they had separated last year in June. Their children, Felicity and twins Leo and Penelope, have all been diagnosed with autism.

McGuinness said she felt it was important “to show my children Mummy is independent and works”, reflecting on her decision to separate from Paddy.

She explained: “I want them to know that when they are older and in a relationship that it needs to be a loving, happy relationship and no one should stay where they don’t feel that it’s 100 per cent right.”

Christine McGuinness: Unmasking My Autism airs Wednesday 15 March at 9pm on BBC One.