X + X = Friendship

When I imagine what it would be like to be “neurotypical”, I imagine that I would meet people and we would make this connection and mutually seek each other out in a true friendship.

Although, I do consider myself blessed to have friends in my life, I don’t often see them, partially due to my own routines and anxiety. I also often feel like it is not a true friendship. It is almost more like a fondness due to sympathy because of my Aspergers or just someone I’ve known for a long time and somehow sort of got stuck together.

I do not understand how scientists can say that people with ASD do not have empathy, because I feel like it is the opposite, maybe I am just seeing it wrong. I try so hard to see others perspectives by asking them and when I see someone cry, I often cry too. Seeing someone in pain causes this intense sense of pain within me too. But I think this too is actually a problem.

Because when I find people that I want to be friends with, it is often not mutual. It has always been this way and I have always been told “Just let it go” or “Not everyone is going to like you” but do they know what it feels like when it often seems that is the majority of people I seek friendship in?

I am extremely blessed to have an amazing wife who understands me in a way I am not sure anyone else ever could. But I often think of how many times I have tried so very hard build a friendship with someone only to find out they simply weren’t interested and were just trying to be nice.

I think people need to not use the word friend as lightly as they do. When someone calls me their friend and then walks away, I always blame myself.

So here I am in 2014 – new year same struggles and wondering how do I know if the other person is interested in being friends? I am tired of exhausting myself. I am tired of going in circles.

How does a typical person know if the other person wants to be friends when I don’t get that natural chemistry feeling like neurotypicals? Help?

About Gretchen McIntire (formerly Leary)

I am 34 years old, I live in the Raleigh area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to X + X = Friendship

  1. merelyquirky says:

    Same here. I didn’t realize it was different until a guy in high school I considered a friend said “We’re not really friends though, since we never see each other outside school.” I felt my world-view lurch.

    Fast-forward 20 years: tonight I was supposed to go to a housewarming, but I cancelled, vaguely saying I didn’t feel up to company. I consider this couple to be friends, but I rarely see them unless you count facebook, meh. I would like to see them without the press of 50 people around with drinks in their hands. (The flip side, however, is that one-on-one is too much pressure in a different way.)

    I abstractly wish things were different, but for specifics, I don’t know what I would change.

    • I wish I knew how to sense that someone was I interested in being friends because I so often mistake common courtesy or someone being patient with me as a hint that they want to be my friend. This has caused a lot of heartache because it seems as though I cannot tell genuine sympathy from genuine friendship. Is it a facial expression? The words they use? Is it it they don’t seek me out? I can’t seem to find a solid pattern. Then there are those who seemingly want to be my friend out of pity or wishing to change who I am. That’s where it gets even more confusing.

  2. I really felt this way a lot when I was younger, because every single person I wanted to be friends with didn’t want to be friends with me. And in the end I asked an adult to be friends with me because nobody my age wanted to, and someone eventually had to tell me that that wasn’t actually friendship and the adult was only friends with me because she felt I was cute and she felt a bit sorry for me. But even now, I still seek friendship from people who turn out to be just not interested, and a lot of times I think I’m building a friendship when they’re just being polite.

    I am a ‘typical person’ but I still haven’t figured out how some people just know if the other person wants to be friends. I do have a very, very close friend (gateway friend?) who is quite good at that and I usually ask her when I’m not sure how to read someone’s behaviour, because I really can’t tell.

  3. brian miller says:

    its cool that you have the wife you do…that makes you feel the way you do..fate turns us lucky that way eh? making friends is not always easy and a fumbling thing most times for anybody…as to the ones you want to be friends with not wanting the same…you are probably better off without really…when we do find those good friends we need to hang onto them because they are a treasure…

    hey you…happy new year…smiles.

    • Hi B! I am definitely grateful. My issue is figuring how how to tell if a person is genuine without getting hurt constantly or how to tell general politeness from actual intent to try to be friends. It doesn’t “just happen” for me except on extremely rare occasions and even then I wonder…

  4. I can definitely relate to this! I don’t really have many friends at all. In the past, I often thought people were my friends, but they were often taking advantage of me… for instance because of my willingness to watch their kids for free or loan them money… and were not really interested in spending time with me.
    It is also hard for me to know if someone actually enjoys my company. I remember there was one person I worked with, and we would sometimes talk after work, mostly about dogs, which was a common interest. I thought she was so awesome and I imagined us being friends. But I later found out she thought I was annoying and she had no interest in being friends with me. 😦

  5. merelyquirky says:

    I thought that swallowing my pride and saying “I’m not good at reading people, are you just humoring me?” would help, but they say no, of course not and wander off. In my head I can tell myself they thought they were being nice but meant “go away”, but I feel like I get such mixed signals I don’t know which to ignore.

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