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ASD And Stringent Rules around Friendships


New Member
Hi There,
I need some help/advice on what is "normal" when it comes to friendships. I have found myself with very few friendships, and I'm holding on by a thread with the remaining connections I have. I have realised that I perhaps have a different set of expectations than others and maybe the neurotypical's will never understand?
I am highly emotional and value connection with others over all things, so I put 110% effort into any potential connection - I find I have to accept people won't put in that same level and that often leaves me feeling a lack of value to them.

I also need people to actively show they want to be my friend on a consistant basis. For eg. If you don't talk to me for over a month. I automatically assume you are no longer interested in being my friend and in turn, the connection is over.

I often find myself a bit resentful when someone just carries on with life and stops talking to me, which makes it hard to trust others.
I've heard many people can not talk to someone for months, and then pickup like they see each other daily...and I feel like a failure because my brain simply cannot do this. Could this be to do with my ASD? If I had it my way, I would literally speak to everyone, every day. Even if it's just a quick hello.
Yeah, weirdly it seems like some people can pick up after a few months of radio silence, possibly even longer. I feel like I'd forget about the person or not know how to re-engage smoothly at that point, and I've even had a few relationships go that way, where I just feel like they're not even interested anymore so I stop trying. Or worse, they just genuinely act weird toward me as if we didn't have a history together. Like I'm a stranger, almost.

I can only speak for myself, but I think for me the issue is RSD, which might be more common in others as well. If I feel like someone isn't interested, it makes me withdrawn... and when put together with reading signals poorly, I can get the wrong idea for almost no reason. It seems like some people with ASD might have similar dynamics going on, possibly with other things in the mix, leading friendships to not always last as long as they'd want.

(Obviously some people with ASD don't struggle in this department at all, and we're all different, but I've noticed that the incidence of RSD can be pretty high for those on the spectrum)
I think a lot of people tend to rotate hanging out with different parts of their social group. I tend to just want to interact with a small group of people at a time. I can get overwhelmed if more than one person texts me at the same time.

When I've made new friends in the past I tended to instinctively focus on that friendship. I'd lose touch with my other friends somewhat because I can't deal with lots of interactions. I think this lead to me focusing on the new friendship and I unintentionally spent too much time around that person.

The irony is that if I had done what I'd preferred, I would barely have hung out with anyone ever. The problem was that I would instinctively stay around my new friend/friends, when they would want flit between different people in their social group.

I didn't really realise my error, but it basically turned out that I was supposed to do the same. I guess I would follow my friend around mainly because they were familiar (plus I didn't want to be rude) and I was oblivious to this "social cue" that this was my time to mingle with other people.

I think some people mistook my social anxiety for an obsession for them or being "clingy" and they began to avoid me. I have no doubt this was probably a boost to their ego too though. Primate psychology I suppose.

The "trick" it seems, was to limit the time I spent with a friend or group of friends. But really when it came down to it I kinda thought to myself "Huh, ok, well if that's what they think they've really got me wrong. Either way, I think I'd rather stay at home and record music or do some electronics."

When I allowed my hobbies to compete with socialisation there was only ever going to be one winner. It's been 17 years now since I last experienced any issues, if anything people probably feel like I'm aloof, but I think that's a better situation really :)
Interesting post. I am currently visiting a town I lived in for 10 years 30 years ago.
I know that if I were to make connection with one or two people here I would be able to pick up from where we left off last time we met - which is also years ago. It is not that we are in touch in the interim.

However, I do not regard these people are close friend who I see regularly, but close friends who I see irregularly.

Not that I know what that means in terms of friendship - but I suspect you are thinking of something different.
I highly agree with @MildredHubble with regards to spending time with people. My wife, for example, has had friends for 40+ years. She isn't texting and talking on the phone with them every few days, but she does make time to go out and do things with them every 4 weeks or so. It's something they plan and look forward to. She has her nurse friends that she has had since the university days, she has a church group that she spends time with, and with family, she has an on-going group text with our boys, and then another with her father and her brothers, and we make time to see each other.

There is a balance when it comes to maintaining friendships. If you are communicating every day, make sure the other person is wanting to reciprocate, otherwise, one or the other comes off as "needy", and it will destroy the relationship. In my experience, people have their own busy lives and life can become rather monotonous, so interacting with friends should be something special and something to look forward to. Make plans on the calendar, not to sit in the same old coffee shop for a few hours, but rather DO something, share an experience, take a day trip to the beach, the mountains, a botanical garden, a play, a music concert, deep sea fishing, skydiving, whatever, something that years from now you two can look back and say "Remember when we did this, and that happened,....?" Make those moments a special bonding experience.
Maybe it helps to breakdown what your definition of a friend is, with what could be closer to reality. Like in HS, l was at my friend's house everyday. Now a adult friend is a lot different. You may or may not talk to them everyday. It's a different set of expectations. It's great to find one true friend, than have 10 sorta fake friends.

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