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Never truly taught how to socialize.

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by Illkurok, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. Illkurok

    Illkurok King of Isolation

    Feb 16, 2019
    I've always felt like in some way or form that I got shafted in the socializing/making friends area of life.

    Growing up I wasn't taught how to interact with others by my family, instead since I was diagnosed with autism at an early age, they lured me into video games and music, things to distract me from that world so they wouldn't have to go through the trials and irritations that come from teaching a child to be social. I was even told that by my mother about 7 years ago that they didn't want to have to worry about the stress of me having friends or of friendships breaking away.

    So now as an older and extremely isolated adult, the world of video games and music is still all I really know. Socializing for me is a very nerve-racking and stress inducing activity that I can normally only do for minutes at a time before shutting down. I find often that I don't have the same appeal as other people when it comes to their lifestyles or interests that make people attracted to them. I don't want to change just to be accepted either.

    It's very hard for me to want to be a part of someones life if we have nothing in common, to me that's a dead end immediately. I find it almost impossible to take an interest in someone elses just because of how my brain works around my own interests, I can pretend to be interested, but apparently in order to make friends in this world it takes more than just pretending to care about someone else's interest, you have to in some form make it your own as well, which is a concept that blows my mind.

    I am not present on social media because I don't live a life that justifies being on those platforms. So many people have told me that just being on social media alone would eventually flood my world with friends, even I know that was a lie and I've never even immersed myself in it.

    I wish I knew the secret to overcoming severe and crippling social anxiety and just getting out there and meeting people, the world makes it seem so easy to meet people and have the time of your life with those you meet, but that is often a false reality in my opinion. I've been trying though little by little each day to get better at getting myself out there, even if it is just going to the post office or the grocery store.

    Sometimes I wonder if anyone else was brought up the way I was, I often think no one else suffers from my problems, maybe it's just from the people I've encountered that have it better. I don't know.
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  2. tducey

    tducey Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2018
    I was allowed to socalize as a child and had friends. As to you I suggest you look into joining a club based on your interests.
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  3. Dadwith2Autisticsons

    Dadwith2Autisticsons Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    May 21, 2017
    Being a parent of two Autistic children, and having had extreme, crippling shyness, social anxiety and related social fears into my twenties, I can relate to many things you say.

    Once I got older, I admit I did resent my parents, for thinking they caused me to not talk, fear everyone, have no friends, and to have extreme anxiety trying to even utter a single word, much less having any confidence to approach others. I admit though I later changed my attitude about that.

    My situation then as a child though was not because of myself being pushed into video games or music, nor was it because of parental belief they were trying to protect us, by purposefully not having us socialize with others, but because our parents were just so abusive, neglectful and were in their old worlds to care.

    We came home from school, did our homework, ate and went to bed, waiting for their next huge fights to occur daily with each other, and waiting for those harms to us, which turned us each time more inward, anxious and fearful, of them and all. I had zero social skills, huge social related panic attacks, and no friends, throughout high school and college even.

    About 12 forum posts ago, that I posted earlier, I detailed in one post what worked for me, with those 8 specific steps I mentioned. So, if you want to research that post, you are welcome, as it would be repetitive to mention it again here. But, any success depends on your own social or other goals, and motivations there. In one way say you do not want to attempt change to fit in, but then you say or suggest you wish much you were more social.

    In order to be more social, it would require a plan and motivation and continued effort to reach that goal, and to want to be social for yourself, too, and not just to please others or fit in. For instance, if you feel any needed efforts to be more social and those resulting anxieties or pain is not worth any pleasures of being more social, it could be harder to succeed there.

    In other words, you have to very strongly want something, and have a sound plan, to have the energy, and motivation to reach that which you understand may take some time, and focus on those sustained efforts in a positive way, more than focus on the negatives, the anxieties or efforts in trying to achieve that. Regardless, if it is therapy, medication, or self-help plan you attempt, you have to believe in what you are doing.

    With regards to our Autistic sons, both gravitated to technology. They both love their IPads, and our oldest loves gaming and music, too. Both are homeschooled not for sheltering reasons, but as school systems are not the best to educate our sons, as we saw they would not individualize needs and would not teach in the best way for each child, but teach to the masses.

    These days, I would not trust any school official with our young children. They could hide their abuses and any bullying against them, and even if they acted out, of course they would blame the parents for their wrongs. Teachers and administrators never see themselves as wrong. I as a parent, am my worst critic, and I know our children best. I will make sure their needs are met.

    For instance, we gave a reasonable chance for all types of treatments for each child after diagnosis, giving each child several months of two to three times a week sessions, despite the extreme inconvenience and sometimes extra expenses involved, and despite the disruption to their schedules and routines. We were willing to take one step back, if it meant two steps forward. The treatments resulted in two steps back.

    Also, regarding socialization, aside from any good genetics, I learned from the mistakes of my parents. I am an extremely positive, energetic, motivated, caring, analytical, and empathetic person. I know of the importance of balance, and in parenting in a middle of the road style, and the importance of social skills, and having our children regularly in the real world, if able and desiring of such

    Our oldest, in between educational teachings and homework activities, we get him out daily to play with other children at malls, parks, and entertainment play areas. And he meets adults daily, and sings in public often. He fears nobody. He socializes with everybody, and loves initiating that, and has confidence in his social skills. The difference between him and I as a child, with regards to social skills and anxiety, was a lot.

    I do think your parents care, but just maybe either just assumed you liked those activities more, and worried you would be rejected or critiqued more because of the people in this world who can be crueler. If you went to a public school supposedly socialization occurs there, but personally I think just as much harm can occur from bullying, peer pressure, etc. I and my wife were never helped by public school systems, as anyone who acts, feels, or looks different will usually have many more bad experiences with school.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
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  4. Trophonius

    Trophonius Active Member

    Sep 8, 2019
    When I was a child I was forced to be in many social situations, which caused me considerable stress. At some point, a psychologist I was seeing years ago pointed out that being pushed into social settings probably only exacerbated my social dysfunction, therefore, increasing my present isolation. My social skills are close to null, so I doubt being pushed to socialized helped in any way.

    I think teaching an child on the spectrum to acquire social abilities requires a skillful professional, and none of our parents had the skills or knowledge to do it, but they tried their best with the knowledge that was available to them.

    Now as adults, we can look for help if there's something we don't like about ourselves. Maybe asking a psychologist that specializes in social anxiety, or a psychiatrist. I believe professional help is the fastest way to get the results we want.

    In regards to finding ways to socialize, you could try meetup.com and look for something you like. I don't have friends, nor many interests, but I've attended to a local book club and it's been an interesting experience.
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  5. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

    Aug 10, 2016
    On one hand, I sympathize with alot of what you're saying, being in a similar boat. But on the other hand, I've learned that some things arent quite as you might be seeing them here.

    I want to quote a couple of things you said:

    "I find often that I don't have the same appeal as other people when it comes to their lifestyles or interests that make people attracted to them. I don't want to change just to be accepted either."

    First of all.... if you dont want to change, then dont! Believe me, it's not worth it. Aside from being a source of unending stress and frustration, if you forcibly change yourself.... or "mask" as alot of us here put it... then when you DO make friends, those friends wont REALLY be yours. They'll be the friends of this fake identity you've created. Wouldnt it be so much better to meet people who would simply like you for who you REALLY are?

    And that goes into another important point. What you see people doing on social media or in other places, getting big groups of friends and all that... that's all often fake. When you see someone online with 100 "friends", do you seriously think they're ACTUALLY friends? They arent. Most likely, the person with that huge friend list doesnt know any of them at all. Alot of people will "friend" others on social media not because they like that person, but because it allows them to feel like they now fit into an actual group. This happens offline, too. People forming up into arbitrary groups, doing things that they clearly DONT want to do and have no interest in, but because of the bizarre and frankly nonsensical desire to "fit in", they do it anyway. Incidentally, those people often end up being extra miserable. Stressed out and constantly frustrated.

    But also... keep in mind that what you see online is often not even the truth. Let's say someone shows off some big shiny new car they have, to impress their friend list. Well... how do you know it's ACTUALLY their car? Even if they're standing in the photo next to that car, that proves literally nothing at all, aside from the fact that they got close to the car long enough to take a photo. Same with people that show themselves smiling at some event. It doesnt mean they actually had a good time; it simply means they made that expression at the time the camera flashed. Social media relies on you NOT realizing these things. That's a huge part of how it works and why it's so popular.

    "It's very hard for me to want to be a part of someones life if we have nothing in common, to me that's a dead end immediately. I find it almost impossible to take an interest in someone elses just because of how my brain works around my own interests, I can pretend to be interested, but apparently in order to make friends in this world it takes more than just pretending to care about someone else's interest, you have to in some form make it your own as well, which is a concept that blows my mind."

    It aint just you. Alot of us here on this forum are the same way.

    I know I am. In my case, I dont even bother pretending. If someone is not talking about something interesting, I dont bother trying to be part of the conversation. What's the point? Any "interest" I could show would be quite fake. And it's the same with someone trying to fake an interest in something I am into. I can hear it in their voice, that lack of actual interest. I know they're faking it, so I'll try to put a stop to the conversation ASAP. And I'm not going to try to forcibly acquire an interest either. ALOT of people in my life have a major interest in politics, for instance. But you could not get me to touch that topic with a 2000-foot pole. It aint happening. No, I dont care that it would allow for more conversations between me and them. It... aint.... happening. It's that freaking simple. Not interested, not going to pretend to be interested, particularly when it's a topic I outright loathe (and there are many such topics).

    The idea of having to pretend to be interested, or of having to force yourself to take a new interest, is one of those things that society says you must do not because it makes anything resembling logical sense, but instead simply "because that's how it's done". If you really think about it, you might find that alot of things common society wants you to do have that same braindead reason.

    "I am not present on social media because I don't live a life that justifies being on those platforms."

    Considering how much sheer fakery is on social media.... this isnt a bad thing.

    People that dont NEED to fake are the ones actually living interesting lives. They're out there DOING things, they are out there BEING THEMSELVES, they are not on Facebook pretending to be something they arent. Those that spend all their time on social media? What is it you think they're doing that's so fascinating? Taking photos and spending all of their times combing the ether for those "likes" they want so bad? Does that sound even remotely interesting to you? Sure sounds bloody boring to me. I know some people that do that IRL. They can constantly be found with those stupid phones glued to their faces. Rarely do I see any signs that they are ACTUALLY enjoying what they are doing. It's a soulless activity.

    Keep in mind: Social media was not created to bring people together. That's what it's SAID to be about, however it is a complete lie. The ACTUAL reason why social media is there is to make big corporations big money. Seriously. That's it. That's the true reason behind Facebook and Twitter. They exist to addict, to get that dopamine flowing, to get people attached, and expose them constantly to ads and services. It is not and never was about ACTUAL socializing. I daresay it's the opposite.

    Honestly, I can tell you from LOTS of experience that you seriously can just be yourself and get somewhere. Me, I'm freaking weird. I know I'm freaking weird. I'm a gamer myself (PC, mostly), a total geek, a cosplayer, and I have gender issues. I carry a 3-foot-long keychain everywhere (it only has one functioning key on it, too). Why? Because I bloody well can, that's why. It's the first thing anyone comments on. I dont even remotely try to hide any of this. I even LOOK a bit off. It's immediately apparent to anyone that they're not dealing with someone who is whatsoever "normal". But that's fine by me, because as far as I'm concerned, "normal" is really boring.

    And beyond that, one thing I learned is that instead of trying to fit in by going to places society says I should (like bars or sports events), I simply sought out places that, you know, actually made some freaking sense. Since I'm a total geek and generally bizarre, I looked for places where being a bizarre geek was par for the course. And that works out so much better. I go to conventions, for instance. Everyone is freaking weird at those. Yet at the same time... if I dont feel like actually socializing, I simply dont. Even at a con I can go the whole weekend without directly interacting with anyone. If I dont feel like it, I aint gonna do it. And that's fine. It's fine to do things on your own. It's fine to not jump in and enter conversations all the freaking time simply because someone else says you should.

    Instead of worrying about fitting in or trying to transform yourself into something you arent... stick with what you DO like, and go with what YOU want to do. Even if you're trying to find friends. Seriously, true friends accept and like you for who you REALLY are... not for some fake mask you put on. If you meet people and they dont like you when you're not pretending? Then they wouldnt have been good friends anyway.... move on, because you arent exactly missing out by getting away from them.

    You're into games and music? Meet people who are into games and music specifically. Go to places made for those. Or... just keep to yourself, if you'd like. Society always says that everyone MUST fit in and MUST join groups, but that's a big blob of crap. You dont have to do any of it if you dont want to.

    Be yourself, do what YOU want to do, and do your best not to fall for the tricks that social media... and society in general... throws at you. Those things are rarely what they seem to be... and a waste of time at best.
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  6. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

    Sep 22, 2018
    I socialized a LOT as a child and it sounds like I ended up pretty much the same way as you. Maybe you would have too. And I socialize with the help of medication.
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  7. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

    Feb 12, 2019
    As a parent, my child constantly had get-togethers during elementary school. Then she had a rather unconventional friend because they both ate and lived Pokemon which was fine. Then she completely regressed and went into her turtle shell as a teenager until she found a school that helped her in so many ways, despite her mom and herself walking with abuse from family life. So it really doesn't matter how social you were or weren't , a different age brings out different situations with different results. So you can't really go back and blame your past.
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  8. Rasputin

    Rasputin ASD / Aspie V.I.P Member

    Oct 16, 2019
    Growing up I seemed to be traumatized around age four, when my father left. My mother attended a university to qualify for a job, and left me with her parents. There were no children near where I grew up, on my grandfather’s farm. I did not know how to interact with children in schools, and was viewed as a freak. That did not change until I was in college, and I had such anxiety that I could not even talk to a girl I was attracted to. That motivated me to work on myself to overcome anxiety, and to make myself attractive. I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, but I was already viewed as attractive. Getting a job helped in developing social skills, and the anxiety was lessened. However, even now at age 61 I struggle with anxiety when there is conflict. I can count no more than five close male friends that I have had during my life, but find it easier making friends with females. But even so, I have probably had no more than 10 girlfriends - two of which I married. I am married now, and have been the past 27 years. It is a struggle at times, but you can learn to socialize with motivation and determination.
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  9. Eclipse14

    Eclipse14 Member

    Apr 30, 2019
    You're right about social media, it is all a lie. I had Facebook for a while but deleted it permanently last year and never looked back. It's not worth it.

    My parents never stopped me from socializing with people like yours did, but I was still a pretty lonely kid because other kids didn't really like me. I had no friends at all for a while in my childhood and I used to cry a lot because of it. I escaped to video games and what-not as a replacement for the loneliness.

    I've made many friends over my life but most of them have left me in the end, and I only really have one friend in real life now who I've had since early high school. I barely get to see him though, I mostly talk to him online. I have some other online friends too, but that's about it.

    I've always been bad at socializing and always had bad anxiety like yourself. For a period when I didn't have a job after leaving high school I was pretty much isolated in my bedroom and my social skills got worse because of that. A few months back I finally landed a job though, and over the past couple of months I've learnt to talk to people better as I have to communicate in my job quite a bit. It was nerve-wracking at first but I've gotten used to it and more confident with talking. I don't really like talking though, it still exhausts the hell out of me as it always has, but I guess I've just learnt to really put on an act now.

    I don't really know what advice to give. Getting a job kind of helped me, though I'm still awkward but I don't think anything can help that. I think it's best when you don't overthink and just kind of let conversation flow naturally. That probably sounds like bad advice but that's what I tend to go with and I think I do an alright job talking to people with that idea in mind. A simple "Hi, how are you?" can go quite a long way with talking to people I find. Slowly getting out there with the things you were saying, like going shopping and to the post office and what-not, might help you ease into everything. Baby steps is good. Just don't give up and lose hope, because I think it is possible to learn how to communicate with people and it sort of just comes with first-hand experience I think.
  10. Bronzelincolns

    Bronzelincolns Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2018
    it's a skill you have to develop like anything else.

    it'll be harder for some to acquire this skill than others based on various factors. those on the spectrum will have to be more intentional about developing this skill. if you're willing to put in the work to improve yourself in this area than you can change things.

    me, i'm satisfied with my own company and don't require social interaction. I can take it or leave it.
  11. WoodWorkingJoel

    WoodWorkingJoel Active Member

    Feb 2, 2020
    Holy Crap, Did you grow up in my house?
    Seriously What you wrote here applies to me 100%.
    I remember being really annoyed my parents didnt teach me how to talk to people but had secretly taught my siblings. (I was a dumb Kid)
    If you find a manual on how to make friends or just survive like this as an adult let me know.
    So now you know there is at least 1 person out there the same.

    All the best,