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Source: The Obvious Friend

Every once in a while, I realize how clueless I am when it comes to social situations.

I have been taking a communication class, and one of our readings was about relational messages. Basically relational messages are the clues people give that tell what type of relationship they are forming. It includes things like body language and showing interest. It was pretty eye opening for me because I am terrible at communicating like that. I am not very good at giving people clues about how I feel about them. That is one of the reasons why I write letters so often. I don’t understand how to let people know how I feel about them without explicitly stating or describing those feelings.

Up until I learned about this, I also did not know how to tell how people felt about me without them explicitly stating their feelings, which hardly anyone ever does. I realized that some people in my life have consistently shown me their willingness to be friends or their level of commitment through relational communication, but I completely missed the cues because I had no idea what they meant. Looking back at my interactions now, I can see quite obviously the clues I was given by certain friends. It seems almost ridiculous that I did not think certain people were my friends when they obviously showed me through their actions that they were indeed my friends.

No one ever taught me what to look for in a friendship though. No one ever explicitly told me cues people give when they want to be your friend. For most people, no one ever has to tell them, but as someone with autism, I was not able to learn this on my own. I needed someone to tell me that when someone talks to me consistently, that means they enjoy talking to me. I needed someone to tell me that when someone hugs me, that means they care. I needed someone to tell me that when someone listens to what I say, that means they value my opinion. I needed someone to tell me that when someone is excited to see or talk to me, that means they feel happy about our relationship. I know these may seem obvious, but to me they were a foreign language that I did not understand until I learned what they meant.

I can’t explain how much of a difference it makes to be able to notice signs of friendship. All of the years that I spent feeling lonely and isolated don’t seem so dark now that I can look back and see the many friends that were there. I wish I knew then how to tell that someone was trying to be my friend. It would have made me a much better friend in return. I would not have degraded myself for being unable to make friends. I would not have hated myself as much as I did.

It is still hard. I can see the actions of others that show friendship, but I am still working on learning how to show those actions myself. I am still working on learning how to show interest and how to communicate with body language. In the meantime though, I hope my friends understand how I feel about them. I hope they know that I care about them. I hope that my communication is enough to let them know I want to be their friend. And I hope one day I can learn to communicate how I feel about others in more ways than explicitly stating my feelings.

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3 Replies to “The Obvious Friend”

  • *AspieGirl* 4 years ago

    I wish I had discovered I was aspie, when I was in middle school. It would have saved me so much pain. Since I was not diagnosed as a child, I had to learn how to do everything on my own…
    Growing up, girls and boys make friends in different ways. The ways girls make friends with each other is more subtle, more psychological, more emotional. Boys make friends with each other based on activities and hobbies. I know boys can be bullies in a more physical way, but girls bully in a very emotionally cruel way.
    It is really interesting to learn about “relational messages”.
    With my friendships, I have so much intent and emotion towards them, I want to be friends, be friendly, be a good friend, but then I just don’t really know HOW. My NT female friends think I am so flaky, and weird… but really I am TRYING. I just don’t know HOW to be the friend they want. I am not NT, and they don’t know I am aspie. I think most of them would freak out and it would ruin the friendship that we do have…
    I am being more authentic and telling new people, though. It’s working well. I am starting to surround myself with creatives, artists, writers, geeks, nerds, aspies, etc… The new friendships that I am forming are so much more real and balanced.

  • Nothstar22 2 years ago

    I’m 38 and an aspie. In high school I was a loner and never minded. Now the loness is crushing and I struggle to make a change for the better.
    I try to make conversation but it’s hard to know if I’m doing it right.Is there anyone out there thta realy “hears’ what I saying?

  • ButterfliesBirdsNBlooms 1 year ago

    I can relate. I considered myself a loner, or introvert, but keeping busy it never bothered me. Over the years it seems to be more difficult though, and at times it has been very isolating. In general, I have found life to be a struggle, for many years. I don’t even know how to put it into words, other than it seems like there is a disconnect. Why does it always seem like there are groups of people that are hanging out and then I am the oddball standing alone? Most times I want to be alone, because they get on my nerves so bad. School was torture, I got “peopled out” by the 2nd class, and the noise levels gave me headaches so I couldn’t wait to go home to an empty, quiet house. As an adult work places have been so uncomfortable it was as if the tension could be felt in the air. I have always looked forward to going home for some peace and solitude, you couldn’t pay me to go to a happy hour, and the networking events I had to attend were awful, I felt like a mouse scurrying through the tall, loud people, never managed to network at all and couldn’t wait to get the hell out of those functions. Of course it is unfortunate but one cannot stay home where it is safe and peaceful all of the time, we must go to school, go to work, be forced to socialize to some degree, and it’s always a loud place where if you do want to be heard you have to practically scream, it is ridiculous. Then there were always those occasions where we were forced to work in groups. To this day, when in a group and they’re talking on and on about whatever, and I am thinking what the hell are they even talking about, it is so stupid. There are times I’ve tried to make an effort to participate, and feel as though I belong, either I can’t even think of something decent to say to chime in, or if I do say something it must be the wrong thing to say because it is completely ignored, as if I never said a word, why is that? I also find that something I may think is hilarious, most don’t even think is remotely funny. Or something they are laughing over so hard they’re practically doubled up, I don’t find humorous at all. Do you ever feel like you’ve come from another planet? Life has been so damn frustrating in all aspects. It seems to be an “extrovert” world where we do not fit in.

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