After 44 years on this planet, I’ve come to a startling conclusion:
I really suck at making friends.
It’s not that I don’t have friends. It’s just that I haven’t been good at making close friendships.
You have to understand something when it comes to people with Aspergers- since we miss social cues we basically fly into relationships of all stripes blind. Where others can make friends easily, it’s an uphill climb for me. It’s like having to play a piece of music, without seeing the notes.
How do I act around a person? Do I try to be more at ease and blunt? Do I just stay on the fringes, keeping quiet?
I do think my confusion when it comes to friendships and acquaintences have led to some unfortunate encounters which also have an effect on my job. What was my attempt to be honest and blunt have been interpreted as disrespect and malice. I was also criticized from others who saw my reserved nature as proof that I didn’t care about their pain.
It’s frustrating; because of my misses, I’ve kept myself from really having close friendships. I don’t want to piss someone off again- it’s far easier to just remain back and protect myself from making another mistake that is interpreted into something far worse.
British Aspie blogger Ben Forshaw* wrote a wonderful blog post a year ago about a rare close friendship. Like me, he has faced his share of social difficulties. He writes lovingly about the joys of having someone that is patient enough to want to understand you:
To my friend: we first met at work; you were friendly from the start, you had been told about my condition and had taken the trouble to understand – that meant such a lot to me. You were explicitly approachable and made the effort to make me feel part of the team. I always felt that I had your support and after only a matter of weeks I came to trust you.
You have never given me cause to doubt that trust.
Maybe at some point I will figure this all out. I’m glad Ben was able to find someone to confide in and relate to. As for me, it’s going to be a long stop and start process. Maybe I will form a significant friendship. Like a lot of things in my world, finding strong friendships will result in trial and error.
*Since I wrote this post Ben Forshaw came to realize he is transgender and now she goes by Alex.