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A good friend is now my "obsession". Help with a DM.

I play online games (hence my username). And I've found a handful of equally weird people from around Europe who I play with on an almost daily basis. (Mostly undiagnosed/NTs)

Whenever anyone of us is in distress for whatever reason, one guy usually steps up. He's our voice of reason, and he's earned the nickname The Therapist. He is a very calm and collected guy, who we all trust enough to share our thoughts with. Even when there's drama in our little group of misfits, usually because of misunderstood jokes, both parties independently of each other, turns to him for advice on how to proceed. And he's just there being neutral. The "more adult" adult. The voice of reason.

However, recently I've begun to think of him way more than I used to. And not in a romantic way. More of a: "I need to know everything about you. Everything!"
So I took to Google, to see if people could become a special interest, and lo and behold, they can.

My concern isn't that he has become my obsession. But the fact that I told him as much earlier. And now I'm afraid of pushing him away.
I'm considering writing him a DM, but I got nobody else to turn to for advice on my message. Like is this appropriate? Will it be misunderstood? Will he understand what I'm trying to tell him? And so on..

So I'm going to paste the message here, and just redact the personal stuff. Please let me know what you think, and if this seems alright.



Sorry to DM you this late, I really hope that I don't wake you up.

I just can't stop overthinking what I told you earlier, and I decided to do some research. Not on you, but on Autism Spectrum and having people as a special interest, as I never actually talked with my therapist about that, when I was still seeing her.

And after reading blogposts and forum posts about this, I've come to realise something... It's creepy as HELL for the person in question.

Especially this quote really got me to think:
A special interest is an intensity of focus. It can be a subject, a person, an object or collection of objects, a book, a game, a shape, just about anything.

What happens is, there is an initial curiosity, followed by the desire to learn more. Which grows into the desire to learn everything and fully understand it.

When a topic becomes a special interest, you'll study it, read everything on the internet, enjoy talking about it. I have this with cellular biology.

When an object becomes a special interest, you'll collect it, notice them, seek them out. I have this with pens and old, gilded books.

When a person becomes a special interest, you'll think about them a lot, enjoy interacting with them, want to know everything about them... want to be them...

As mentioned in the above posts, the person category of special interests needs to be handled with care. Being interested in something is refreshing to us, special. We often don't see anything unusual about curiosity. But bizarrely, neurotypicals don't have this level of curiosity or focus of intensity. To have someone give their FULL attention, specifically an aspie, is unnerving and uncomfortable.
Can a person be a special interest?

You are a person (duh) and not an object. Which means that you are entitled to privacy, not answering questions, and a sense of security in your private life - just like me and anyone else.

I am sorry if my questions and attention has caused you any discomfort. And while I usually don't like making promises, since they can sometime be hard not to break by accident, I will promise you the following:

I promise that I will do my best at NOT scouring the internet for any information or details about you or your life. And if I, at any point, fails at this, I will inform you immediately about what I've done, what I've read/seen, and where I found that piece of information.

If you're wondering about exactly what I know about you so far, it's only really what you've told us.

Your name is [NAME] (some generic and common [ORIGIN] last name). You live in [COUNTRY], about 15 minutes from [PLACE OF HOBBY], which is located in the Southern part of [COUNTRY], and about 15 minutes from [WORKPLACE] where you work with [STUFF]. You drive a car, and you own a house. You're [NUMBER] years old. You're blonde and you have a beard. You're a calm and down-to-earth guy, despite having seen/experienced something (you never said what it was). You are licensed to operate some [BIG THINGS], which is also one of your interests. You also live close to your parents, whom you have a good relationship with. You're not a big fan of cooking, but will do so to stay fed. And you played [THING] as a kid.

This is all the info I could think of at this point. And if this is all you want me to know, I will respect that.

I don't want to push you away, because I value our friendship. So please let me know if I've crossed the line. I am sorry for being weird and not understanding social rules. Please let me try to do better!



My question to you guys is the following:
1. Is this even appropriate?
2. Would an NT misunderstand this?
3. Is it clear what I'm trying to tell him clear?
- That I value him as a friend.
- That I respect his private life.
- That I will NOT try to find out more about him, and if I forget and accidentally do - I will notify him.
4. Do you think this will improve his view of me, keep it neutral, or make it worse? (As long as it doesn't make it any worse, I am happy)
5. Is there anything I should add, rephrase or remove to meet the above criteria?


This is a long post, so thank you so much in advance!
 

Prometheus

Active Member
1. Wouldn't know
2. Wouldn't know
3. Oh I'm sure they'll get the message
4. Probabilities would say...no
5. Wouldn't know

Just try it and see what happens. That's what I normally do.
 

Lysholm

Negative Nancy
Dude don't send this.

Very basically, the DM you have proposed crosses all sorts of social boundaries normal people need to feel safe when dealing with others. An NT would absolutely misunderstand this and find it incredibly inappropriate, and they would not take any time to read your reasons or intent, instead they would instantly break contact with you altogether. So would most functioning autistics, BTW.

I want to be crystal clear that you are not doing anything wrong by thinking these things or contemplating and collating the information you have on this person. We all know tons of random, personal information about people we regularly interact with. However, how you interact with others shows them how much you respect their autonomy, personal space, and feelings.

If you keep all of this information to yourself it shows that you respect normal social boundaries and his autonomy, and you can be relied on to interact in a consistent manner. If you blurt out any of the above information it shows you cannot be relied on to obey social boundaries and you are unpredictable in social interactions, which is obnoxious or dangerous, and the de-facto way to deal with this is by him removing himself from your company.

I'm guessing you are enthralled by his capabilities and personality, and you hope you can learn a lot from him and mimic some of his traits. This is perfectly normal. But it's not normal to persuade someone to be a mentor by proving some fanatical dedication you have by memorizing everything that could identify this person IRL. I mean, does it make sense when I say it like that?

My advice would be to ignore what you've already said to him because most people will forget about these little social hiccups, especially if he knows you're autistic. Play it cool moving forward and don't get too personal or too pushy. Most vitally, do not trust your intuition on what constitutes a display of respect or reverence - your intuition on this matter is not compatible with good social relations. If you find yourself questioning anything you want to say to this person, simply do not say it. It's much better to not express a feeling than it is to say something you cannot take back.

Lastly, I've met enough impressive people to understand most of the awe we see in others is our illusion of them. We fill in the blanks about others lives with whatever our brain needs to justify how we feel about them. This guy may be cool AF, but he's just a dude, and you should avoid holding anyone in high enough regard to become "obsessed" with them in the first place.
 
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Gerontius

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I would be very careful about doing this one, but that's nice that you're realizing that his privacy is important. He sounds like a very nice person & people like that make anyone's circle of friends a lot nicer place to be.
(for clarification's sake let me backtrack & say I'm with Lysholm on this one -- dude don't send this.)
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
My question to you guys is the following:
1. Is this even appropriate?
It doesn’t seem appropriate to me. It is appropriate to say you have been overthinking what you told him and it is appropriate to apologize for any discomfort you fear you have caused.

2. Would an NT misunderstand this?
I don’t think an NT will have the understanding of “special interests” that is helpful to you. It would be very easy for anyone to misunderstand this.
3. Is it clear what I'm trying to tell him clear?
- That I value him as a friend.
- That I respect his private life.
- That I will NOT try to find out more about him, and if I forget and accidentally do - I will notify him.
No. It is not clear. It would make me feel extremely concerned to receive this message.

4. Do you think this will improve his view of me, keep it neutral, or make it worse? (As long as it doesn't make it any worse, I am happy)
Will not improve his view. It feels very intrusive and not okay.

5. Is there anything I should add, rephrase or remove to meet the above criteria?
Start over.

Sorry for the harsh criticism here, and it is nothing on you, because I do understand where you’re coming from. Treating an actual person as a special interest though is creepy in its own regard, and it must be handled very delicately and with extreme respect toward that other person. Put yourself in his shoes and try to think what it would feel like to have someone say they would try their best not to scour the Internet about information for you, but at least they would let you know if they did. This is very inappropriate.

Maybe we can help you in this thread, talk this over and find a new approach.
 

phantom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I don't see what you are doing as immoral. Maybe not so good for your own mental health in the long term but other than that it seems fine to me. I don't think there is any need to apologise for anything.
 
Thanks for your replies. I won't send anything, and I will sleep on it. Almost 6 AM here anyways..

I'm just so afraid that I did something bad without realising it, and I don't want to push him away. I'm not good at trying to see things from others perspectives, so it's very easy for me to do something completely stupid and mess everything up, without even realising what I did wrong. And when I finally realise what I did, I feel so awful and sad.
 

AutistAcolyte

Well-Known Member
my rule of thumb is "if the message includes 'sorry for sending this so late' it's best to rethink sending it and you should run it by someone"

speaking from personal experience, it's almost always a better idea to not send someone an important message late at night, partly because you don't want to wake them up, but also because you probably aren't thinking clearly. again, i'm speaking from my own experience, not a criticism towards you.
smart move to ask about sending it!
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
I’m astounded by how harsh some of these replies are.
I agree with the overall sentiment of everyone else’s posts, but I will try to be more sensitive.

Still, I agree that you shouldn’t send the message, because yes, it will get misinterpreted. I know you’re not coming from a place of trying to be immoral, creepy, or aggressive, but it might still come across in a much less friendly way than you meant it.

I can see both sides of this situation because I have been both a very attached friend (although not in this way), and on the reverse side I have had actual stalkers.
But I do not think OP intends to be a “creepy stalker.”
However, it is very important to respect boundaries in friendships, which would include not trying to gain access to private, personal information about a friend (online friend or irl friend.) Friends have done exactly that to me, and I was very upset because they found things out that were completely out of context and misinterpreted. I actually don’t even give out my phone number to most people.
So please respect your friend’s privacy and don’t go digging for information that he hasn’t made publicly available. You never know what could be really upsetting for someone, and it is very clearly crossing a boundary.

It will absolutely not improve his view of you either, it will probably overwhelm him and he might need to take some space for himself (which you will have to respect.)

And if he has ever told you that anything you did was not okay and made him uncomfortable, then a simple apology is best. Straight to the point, not in excessive detail.
Something like:
“I’m sorry if I have overstepped any boundaries or hurt you in any way. I will be more respectful and compassionate going forward.”
And leave it at that.

@AspieGamer91 Please allow yourself lots of time to think about this before sending a DM that could send the wrong message and jeopardize your friendship with this person. I’m not saying this to point out that you’ve done anything horrible or bad, I don’t want you to get hurt either. This friendship is clearly important to you.

In the meantime, is there any support available to you in your real life? Like a friend or a family member, or a counselor? Someone who knows you in person might be able to give you better guidance on such a personal matter.
I also 100% agree with Phantom that this is not good for your mental health in the long run. It would be good to talk about these feelings with someone who can provide access to more support and resources. I know that dealing with mental health issues is not easy and it’s okay for you to ask for help.

I hope that whatever decision you make is the best decision for both you and your friend, and that you allow yourself a lot of time to process this before acting on any feelings.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
I’m astounded by how harsh some of these replies are.
I agree with the overall sentiment of everyone else’s posts, but I will try to be more sensitive.
You’re right, @Luca.

@AspieGamer91, especially since you’re new here, at least for my part I do think it would’ve been better to take Luca’s approach and offer more kindness and support. As she said, the sentiment remains and the message could use some reworking, but at least for my part, answering your list of questions in that way was not very nice, especially for a new member.
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
You’re right, @Luca.

@AspieGamer91, especially since you’re new here, at least for my part I do think it would’ve been better to take Luca’s approach and offer more kindness and support. As she said, the sentiment remains and the message could use some reworking, but at least for my part, answering your list of questions in that way was not very nice, especially for a new member.
I wasn’t specifically trying to call anyone out by the way, please don’t feel like it was just you! I was overwhelmed by most of this thread as a whole.

But thank you so much for hearing me out and taking the care to respond sensitively to the OP. This shows a lot of humility and strength of character.
There are a lot of people who don’t take responsibility for their words so it really speaks volumes that you did. Thank you again.

And to add, I am also incredibly guilty of having said some not so nice things to people on here. You live, you learn.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
I wasn’t specifically trying to call anyone out by the way, please don’t feel like it was just you! I was overwhelmed by most of this thread as a whole.
I didn’t feel that you were doing that, but in what you said, I identified myself as one of the harsh responses. You are absolutely right and it is important to hear that when we have become a bit careless in lacking kindness. I think you know that is one of the most important things to me.

Especially in reading your response, I could see how lovely your approach was and we essentially agree. So it’s not that I feel called out at all, it’s just that I really appreciate what you said, how you said it, and as you know, your presence in general.
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
I didn’t feel that you were doing that, but in what you said, I identified myself as one of the harsh responses. You are absolutely right and it is important to hear that when we have become a bit careless in lacking kindness. I think you know that is one of the most important things to me.

Especially in reading your response, I could see how lovely your approach was and we essentially agree. So it’s not that I feel called out at all, it’s just that I really appreciate what you said, how you said it, and as you know, your presence in general.
Thank you <3
That was very well said.
You know I appreciate your presence too!
 
Again, thank you all so so much for your replies. I don't believe any of you were trying to berate me, but only trying to make me realise that what I was about to do might end up hurting me in a way that I simply just couldn't foresee.


I've never had any real friends, but now I feel accepted and part of a social group which is completely new to me. In 32 years, nobody ever seemed to have wanted me as a friend, so my only personal connections became teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists and the like. People who were paid to spend time with me.
This means that besides me not understanding social rules and cues due to ASD, I never had any real practice with friendship. But finally feeling accepted and being included by people who are NOT paid to spend their time with me is very special to me. Which means that I am so afraid of doing anything wrong. That I accidentally misread a cue, or say something inappropriate. I am also a people pleaser, so whenever something do go wrong, I always assume it's my fault.

I'm going to give this one a long hard think, and step 1 will be to try and see if anything has changed between us. If not, then it's all fine.

As for therapy, I do not have the money to pay for it, and my municipality effed up the contract. So for the foreseeable future, there's no therapy for me.

Would you think that posting something more general in a group chat with all 5 of my friend be more appropriate?
Something along the lines of:

As some of you know, I never really had any friends until I met you awesome people. This makes everyone of you very special to me. I've never had any practice with friendship, so I'm really afraid of doing something wrong that might make any of you back off. So please if I ever do something like that, let me know. You're all very special to me, and I really don't want to lose any one of you. So thanks for being my friend!

So if I ever did something to push this guy I wanted to DM away, he now has to opportunity to DM me first? Would that be a lot less creepy, and way more appropriate?
 
What did you say to him that you're worried about?

I can't recall exactly what it was, so I'm not going to accidentally misquote myself.

It was roughly something along the lines of this:

That I've become overzealous in the past with seeking out information about people I care about. But after one episode a few years back with a therapist, I know now to not be a creepy online stalker.
 

Lysholm

Negative Nancy
I can't recall exactly what it was
If you can't remember then I doubt he remembers. He probably wouldn't remember any part of that conversation if asked.

I say let it go. If you did legit spook him and he's pulled back a bit, then he's testing to see how you react. If you do nothing different or "weird" then he'll forget about it. If you post a diatribe - private or public - then all you'll do is prove you are indeed weird and he's likely to break contact. (And he's probably not "testing" you in a conscious way or thinking about his next moves - instead he's feeling his way through this. Your job now is to not introduce any bad feelings or pressure. Basically, the less you do proves yourself more.)

Most people, generally speaking, are very aloof about small social misunderstandings because they happen so often. It's fairly easy for ND's to get caught up in trying to follow social rules even when they don't exist. Lol.

I know you think you've damaged something and want to do all you can to fix it, but this isn't like gluing a broken vase back together. It's more like healing a cut, where the less you bother it the faster it heals. Perhaps that's a bad way to put it but I hope you get my drift.

whenever something do go wrong, I always assume it's my fault.
Don't do this. By and large people are not looking for objectively moral outcomes, but outcomes that make them feel good. If you assume blame and say as much, others will gladly let you take the blame for issues that you did not cause. Or, they will let you take their part of the blame and the ire of those offended. You make yourself appear weak and people will take advantage of that.
 

Gerald Wilgus

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
There are too many landmines in what you want to communicate for me to enumerate, so please do not send it. You may communicate in small ways that are respectful. It is even OK to mention that you respect him for his reasoned and kind advice. keep the focus on his actions, not the personal.

I made people a special interest when I wanted to be social, especially learning and practicing nonverbal communication.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
Again, thank you all so so much for your replies. I don't believe any of you were trying to berate me, but only trying to make me realise that what I was about to do might end up hurting me in a way that I simply just couldn't foresee.


I've never had any real friends, but now I feel accepted and part of a social group which is completely new to me. In 32 years, nobody ever seemed to have wanted me as a friend, so my only personal connections became teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists and the like. People who were paid to spend time with me.
This means that besides me not understanding social rules and cues due to ASD, I never had any real practice with friendship. But finally feeling accepted and being included by people who are NOT paid to spend their time with me is very special to me. Which means that I am so afraid of doing anything wrong. That I accidentally misread a cue, or say something inappropriate. I am also a people pleaser, so whenever something do go wrong, I always assume it's my fault.

I'm going to give this one a long hard think, and step 1 will be to try and see if anything has changed between us. If not, then it's all fine.

As for therapy, I do not have the money to pay for it, and my municipality effed up the contract. So for the foreseeable future, there's no therapy for me.

Would you think that posting something more general in a group chat with all 5 of my friend be more appropriate?
Something along the lines of:



So if I ever did something to push this guy I wanted to DM away, he now has to opportunity to DM me first? Would that be a lot less creepy, and way more appropriate?
I understand a lot of what you’re talking about, and don’t worry, you are in good company here. It can be difficult for others to understand the intentions behind our words, and not everyone takes the time to fully understand what we are saying. It seems like a lot of nuerotypical people tend to hear a quick version and process things immediately, whereas once they have processed it, we are still explaining the situation.

I agree with Lysholm on the idea that perhaps less is more in the situation. I have the tendency to over apologize and then the person is left even more confused and it puts too much blame and guilt on me. Maybe your initial message wasn’t as weird as you were thinking it was.

I think it will be a difficult thing for most people to hear that someone is intensely interested in them and wanting to learn everything about them. It is important to consider how much we indulge this interest, and see if it may be possible to make it more appropriate.

If you are feeling interested in this person, perhaps you could just increase the frequency of conversation around common interests, like the game you play together. Not in a sneaky way, but focus your attention on him on the already existing friendship and put your efforts into responding to things that he says or shares with you directly.

It was a really good idea to sit on it for a little while and that shows great impulse control. I know when there’s any question in a relationship I have, I want it solved immediately and I want answers that will make me feel better as soon as possible. Others just take time, no and are likely not thinking about your words quite as much is you fear that they are.

Lastly, I would say it sounds like you have a real connection with this person and that has been a rare thing in your life, as with many of us. So possibly spending time with us here and working on building other meaningful connections could help to keep things in perspective and spread your focus out a little instead of directing it all toward this person.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Obsessing over any number of things is "par for the course" for those of us on the spectrum.

Though I can only point out IMO that obsessing over actual persons can be precarious, often ending abruptly and badly. Conversely it might end in love or marriage or some other kind of partnership. Proceed with extreme caution.
 

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