No man is an island, and we all gravitate towards others who have the same interests that we do, or those we get along with. Along the way, as we get older, we both lose and gain friends, in different stages in our lives, but in the end, you know that there will be a handful of people whom you know will have your back all the time, and that you have their backs as well. For most people, making friends and maintaining these relationships is easy, however, for people on the spectrum, both making friends and maintaining them is quite hard.
This post is actually a response to a request on Facebook, in which I was asked if I could write about relationships. Since I have no experience with romantic relationships, I decided that I would write something about friendships this month, and I’ll write something about family relationships sometime in the future, or maybe next month.
For most people, even for people who are natural introverts, making friends come a little bit easier than for people on the spectrum, and in my case, for someone with Asperger’s.
First off, as we have a hard time reading social signals, sometimes, it is a little bit hard to tell if the other person is interested in what we are saying or not; and the fact that we have poor eye contact as well might put off most people.
Also, when it comes to interests, most of us on the spectrum have specific special interests. And when I mean specific special interests, it’s really specific. That already makes it hard for us to find people who have the same interests as we do. And then when we do find people who do share our interests, they may get put off because we can go on and on about that specific interest without knowing that the others are already getting bored and want to change the conversation, as we cannot read the social signals that they are giving out. So, because of that, many end up thinking that we are too one track minded, and too intense for them.
When we do have that friendship in place, more often than not, we can come off as too intense and too clingy.
So, in the end, we tend to up feeling alone, or we end up getting used to being alone, although we do still want to have friends.
When someone on the spectrum finally finds that friend, they are extremely loyal to them and are just so happy that they have been accepted by someone other than their own families. Because of this, we get too excited and be over-friendly, and yes, sometimes it does seem that we are obsessed and clingy to that particular person, but in reality, we are just so happy that we have made a friend who accepts us for who we are. Also, once again, sometimes, the fact that we cannot read social signals easily may be a hindrance, because we cannot tell sometimes that this friend of ours needs some space at times.
So, at times, many people on the spectrum, although they do want to have friends, end up just going it alone, because at least that way, there’s no heartbreak or complicated emotions involved, and we can enjoy what we like in peace.
Making friends and maintaining friendships as a female with Asperger’s is hard, and it was very difficult when I was a teenager.
Regardless of what gender you are, when you are a teen, all you want is to be accepted by your peers, and being on the spectrum doesn’t make that easy. Most of us end up getting teased or bullied for seeming to be “weird”.
Because of this, most female teenagers with Asperger’s cope by mimicking the behavior of their peers in order to become accepted, and to be part of a group, and I know that I did too.
I still liked “Star Trek”, Broadway and fantasy literature when I was a teenager; but I tried my very best to try to get myself interested in whatever my peers were interested in, to the point that I only openly pursued my special interests at home or tried to push it into the deepest recesses of my brain. Aside from this, I didn’t understand sarcasm and more often than not, I didn’t understand why we did certain activities. However, I did push myself hard to “fake it” a little bit even though I really didn’t like some of these activities or didn’t understand them at all.
Because of this, there have been many moments when I have felt extremely uncomfortable around particular groups of friends, because I never quite fully felt like my true self.
However, as the years went by, I have managed to accept myself more, and in the process, I have lost and gained friends, and I have also managed to maintain and strengthen my friendships with the few that I call my friends.
For me, maintaining friendships with them never meant hiding who I was, being honest, meeting up once in a while, and listening to them and supporting them when they need it as I know they’d do the same for me.
Until today, working on friendships does take a little bit more of an effort, but I’m glad that I’m able to have a few good friends. Making new friends, however, is still a little bit difficult for me, and it’s something that I’ll be working hard on for the rest of my adult life.
To my fellow aspies out there, did you have a similar experience? Any thoughts on this topic? Sound off in the comments below!
Also, I am always open to suggestions for topics I can write about in the future, so don’t be afraid to suggest in the comments below!