Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
Your boyfriend could have Asperger's Syndrome, or a number of other things. I would suggest hunting for an online Asperger's test, Wired has one that seems to get a lot of use. That's how both my son and I found out we had the characteristics. It was actually a relief for us, because we finally had an answer, and a direction. I called a counselor's office where I had been before and asked for someone who was an expert in Asperger's. Most counselors help in a general kind of fashion, but an Asperger's expert helps our specific glitches. We are "normal" to ourselves. We don't know what we need to learn, because we don't know we are missing anything. So when conversations go "wrong" we don't have the slightest clue what happened.
I was a mass of strong emotions inside, but had no words associated with the feelings, and no "scripts" to verbalize them. People accuse us of having no feelings, but what most of us have are feelings so strong they scare us with their intensity. We don't give typical people the feedback they are "expecting", because we don't know what they are expecting, so we are perceived as "unfeeling" because we aren't playing the "communication game" correctly. We understand "logic", but not necessarily how it makes you "feel".
We can learn over time, but it still won't be done the same way typical people do it. For example, for many situations, I learned that "Situation X" generally causes people to feel "this way". So, if a friend encounters Situation X, I can say to her "you must be feeling sad/frightened/angry", or whatever I have learned. I appear more "normal and caring", but from learned behavior, not from the inner knowing or intuition a typical person may have. As long as I keep my mouth shut that it was a wild guess, the other person doesn't seem to care. It keeps the "conversation game" going the way they "expect" and keeps me out of hot water. And people wonder why it is so hard for us to be around social situations!
If the self-administered test shows nothing, at least he can look in a different direction for help.