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Whenever I am my true self, I feel embarrassed and ashamed. How do date?

anoldmantoday

New Member
I'm "on the spectrum" but I am highly functional and have a convincing public persona that takes a lot of energy to maintain.

Since my divorce, I have discovered I cannot be in a meaningful relationship and fake who I am. It's not fair to me or my partner.

My problem is I am middle-aged but my true self is a sort of philosophical Tigger who acts more like like a ten year old boy. I'm 100% sincere and much happier being that Me, but I find the more natural and at ease I feel when I am my true self, the less emotional intelligence I seem to have in terms of what impression I am making upon others.

When I realize I've been being inappropriate, I feel a crushing blow that makes me want to hide away forever.

I do like the dating apps because I can put myself out there more honestly and endure rejection without even knowing it. But where I live there are just so few single women even in my age range that it almost seems pointless.

Obviously I cannot be Tigger in my job, but I need to be who I am when I am by myself or in an intimate relationship.

As I type this, I remember people telling me to learn self-love. I cannot love my fake self, but I can love my real self. And if I can learn to allow myself to be present but also throttle certain behaviors and learn new ways to thinking about how I may be affecting others, it could allow me to integrate myself and be present with less risk of rejection or misunderstanding.

Does this ring a bell with anyone?
 
It certainly rings a bell with me.

When I was diagnosed, the psychologist explained to me that one of the common characteristics I shared with a number of late diagnosis Aspies was that I tended towards the 'youthful and exuberant', particularly when stressed or out of my comfort zone, and that I might find that troubling when I became aware of these behaviors. He was right, I did and always had.

His point though was to embrace that as a crucial part of who I am, and that while sometimes it can result in being seen as inappropriate, that's only a social construct I can learn, whereas finding the 'glee' (as he put it) in the world around me was often just me putting back into it what others have lost.

He encouraged me not to try so hard to disguise the real me, but to work instead at harnessing it. In effect to blend the professional me I was masking as, with the real me. It has worked pretty well, and I much more like who I became after that.
 
10 year old exuberance, or 10 year old bull in a china shop? My future spouse found me enchanting with my exuberance over finding salamanders in the Smoky Mountains. I will make no apologies at taking joy in little things.
 
It certainly rings a bell with me.

When I was diagnosed, the psychologist explained to me that one of the common characteristics I shared with a number of late diagnosis Aspies was that I tended towards the 'youthful and exuberant', particularly when stressed or out of my comfort zone, and that I might find that troubling when I became aware of these behaviors. He was right, I did and always had.

His point though was to embrace that as a crucial part of who I am, and that while sometimes it can result in being seen as inappropriate, that's only a social construct I can learn, whereas finding the 'glee' (as he put it) in the world around me was often just me putting back into it what others have lost.

He encouraged me not to try so hard to disguise the real me, but to work instead at harnessing it. In effect to blend the professional me I was masking as, with the real me. It has worked pretty well, and I much more like who I became after that.
This is wonderful and so comforting. I am copying this to my notes to re-read it often. Thank you and your psychologist!
 
finding the 'glee' (as he put it) in the world around me was often just me putting back into it what others have lost.
I agree wholeheartedly. I find those who have lost a joie de vivre to be hopelessly dull. Sometimes seriousness is important, as it has been in my work, but one must let it go at times. But then there is the stupidly drunk obstreporousness that some mistake for exuberance and I'll avoid that party crowd.
 
Your mask doesn't have to be "100% on" or "100% off".
If you need as third setting, create it.

(Yes - quite a lot of work - but probably worth it).
 
I'll add a somewhat cynical note. You really can't be your complete, true self in a relationship. The only place you can be 100% your true, genuine self is when you are alone. Now, I realize that will cause people in relationship to protest, but hear me out.

In any close, committed relationship, there are roles you have to play -- boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife (or brother, sister, parent, etc.). All of those roles have expectations that go along with them. And many of those role expectations involve compromises in authenticity, to some degree. I'm not saying there is anything "wrong" with playing roles or having role expectations. We play roles and adhere to role expectations for a variety of reasons -- mainly because they facilitate the relationship. But we need to acknowledge, sticking to the role expectations does involve a compromise in presenting who you "really are," at least to some degree.

Here are some random examples, off the top of my head. If you want to be a good husband, you should not come home and dump all your frustrations about work on your wife (or vice versa). If you want to be a good boyfriend or girlfriend, you should not just "let loose" and express negative emotions impulsively. If you want to be in a lasting relationship, you should not stop making efforts to be physically appealing to your partner (in terms of appearance or fitness). On a more silly level, if you want to be a good husband, you should not let your farts rip loudly in front of your wife, unless she finds that funny. Those are just a few random examples. There are many more (e.g., related to affection, sex, consideration, interest, attention, birthdays and holidays, etc.), but I won't belabor it.

The point is, people (including me in the past) sometimes think they can find a relationship where they can "be my real, true, authentic self." Well, no, actually, that's an unrealistic goal. The only place you can be 100% yourself is when you're alone. If you're in a relationship, you have to play a role (at least, if you want it to work out), and there are role expectations that involve, at least to some degree, compromises in "who you really are." It's just part of the bargain.
 
Are you open to casual connections? If so, this could help satisfy future physical cravings you'd have.
Also, maybe consider attending conventions for several days and see if you can match up with people that way.
 
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