Patreon Subscribers had access to this video on Aug 22, 2022. The video’s public release will be October 26, 2022.
I’m covering a reader question: “wondering if you could cover the topic of connecting with other people, and building friendships while on the spectrum.”
Everyone Lyric here, and this week I’m covering a reader question: “wondering if you could cover the topic of connecting with other people, and building friendships while on the spectrum.”
This is a fantastic question. If you’d like to know my answer, please stay tuned.
One thing I wanna say about developing relationships, as an Autistic Person, is before I knew I was Autistic, I struggled a lot more with all kinds of relationships.
Also, before I found out I was Autistic, I struggled with boundaries in relationships with other people, which meant I attracted the wrong kinds of people, people who benefited from violating my boundaries.
A big thing for me, in having better relationships with people, as an Autistic Person, is learning how to be firm in understanding what my own wants needs and desires are, and realizing if I am doing things for the sake of other people, and not because it’s actually what I want.
That was a big thing for me, learning what I really want, and getting better at speaking up for my needs, and being firm in my boundaries.
The next thing that’s really important to remember is “quality over quantity”.
I have a small friend group, a very small friend circle, but the people in my circle are people that I absolutely know I can trust, and are real, true, friends.
Something else that’s incredibly important, for me, as an Autistic Person, and my relationships with other people, is:
I need people in my life to be willing to accept me for the whole person, my strengths, my weaknesses, all of my identities, my Autistic traits, my me being a Queer Person. All of these things have to be okay.
The people in my life can’t be people who need for me to put parts of myself away, when I’m around them. People who do that to me are not my people.
On a similar note, I’ve learned to pay attention to when I am masking more heavily, or people I feel that I need to camouflage my Autistic and NeuroDivergent traits or tone parts of myself down.
I can’t mask as well as I once did, and I’ve learned that when I am masking, it is because I don’t feel safe. So if I am in a place, situation, or around people who cause me to mask, that means I don’t feel safe around them; and that’s something that I need to be very aware of, and pay attention to.
People that need me to be a different version of myself are not people that I keep in my close inner circle.
Something else I’ve realized about masking is, before I knew I was Autistic, and I was masking heavily, I struggled to develop relationships with people, because I wasn’t bringing my most authentic self to the table. I was presenting to the world, the version of myself that I thought the people around me needed, or wanted, me to be.
This really got in the way of me getting to know other people, and made it so that other people really couldn’t get to know the real me, because I wasn’t sharing it with anyone.
Learning to let the most authentic version of myself out, and finding people that love me for that version of myself, has been something that has really helped me in my ability to develop relationships with other people. Engaging with others, in an authentic way, has allowed me to develop more authentic relationships… or, as the old saying goes, “letting my freak flag fly” has helped the others, who are like me, to find me.
The higher I fly that flag, the more of the right kinds of people I tend to attract.
Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t attract the wrong types of people from time to time, unfortunately. Over my life, I’ve realized that people who have bad intentions, if I trust them, can be really dangerous to me.
I have had to learn to watch for red flags, and signs that people might lie, or manipulate, or cheat, or twist the truth around me. I have to have a very small tolerance for lying and manipulative behavior.
Often that is one strike you’re out, with most people. Because of my own vulnerabilities, I cannot allow people who lie, or manipulate, around me. The first time I see it, I have to say “no, that, that that’s not okay for me. Bye bye!”
Honesty is something that I prioritize in my friendships. People who are really straightforward, and honest, and to the point. I’d rather someone be brutally honest with me, than tell me sweet things that aren’t true, because I like to know exactly where I stand with someone.
I tend to take people I trust for what they say to be what they mean, and people that’s actions and words don’t match up- that’s not okay for me.
Something else, for me, in developing relationships with other people, is: I struggle with networking, or talking, just for the sake of talking about nothing.
Even though I can ramble on about, what seems to be “nothing” to other people, actually, I can ramble and talk about topics or subjects I’m interested in.
What’s been good for me is finding people that have interest, and care about, the same topics. It doesn’t sound like I’m talking about nothing, if we are sharing a communal interest, and talking about something we are both interested in. So for me, bonding over common interest.
Growing up, I found peers in art classes, for example, or doing other activities that I enjoyed doing. As an adult, met people, doing circus arts and hoop dancing, bonding with people over similar hobbies, tasks and, interests.
If you’re into drawing, maybe go to an art class, and you could meet people at your art class, who also like art and things like that.
The other thing that’s really important, for me, in relationships is that people understand, and respect, the ways in which I communicate.
For example, if someone texts me, I am not going to respond right away, and if someone emails me, I’m not gonna respond right away either.
I sometimes need extra time to process something I’ve read and to formulate a response, and I need people who are willing to respect that everyone will respond when they are capable.
If you need someone, that’s gonna write you back, as soon as you send a text message, that same day or within the hour- that’s not gonna be me.
If that’s gonna be a problem… it’s, it’s just not gonna work out, because I, I’m not gonna be available to anyone 24 hours a day.
In modern society a lot of times they want you to be available all the time, and other than, my nesting partner, that I live with, I don’t even talk to my best friend, very often.
Like we see or speak, a couple times a month, at best, and that that’s a best friend of mine that I’ve known since high school, and I’m really close with.
I need people to understand that I- I’m not as plugged in, or as responsive, into communications, as some people are, and I sometimes lose touch, and lose track of time, and don’t realize it’s been months and we haven’t spoken.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It just means time and space is weird in my head, and I need people who understand, and won’t take it – take it personally if I drop off the face of the earth for a while.
Similarly, my phone always has the ringer off. I, literally, don’t answer phone calls that I’m not expecting, unless you are my grandma, or my mom, or David.
Even my close friends know that we schedule calls, in advance, and my ringers likely not on, and my phone may not be on me, and I have all the notifications silence on my phone, and I’m not available for surprise anything really. I don’t, I don’t do surprises, and that, that has to be okay with people who wanna be in a relationship with me.
So I’d love to ask my audience: “what advice would you give for the reader who had the question about how to develop relationships as an Autistic Person?”
I’m sure you have some brilliant gems of wisdom that I’ve left out, and I’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.
Thank you all so much for hanging out. If you are still with us, at the end of the video, hit that thumbs up, so I know I didn’t lose you in transit to this point.
Thank you everyone, who shares your experience, and also your answers to this reader question. This was such a great question! Thank you, of course, to my reader, as well, who offered this question.
Thanks to all of my readers, who are always offering your questions as well. I’m really appreciative and grateful.
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I will see you all next Wednesday.
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