Do you know if you're being a bother?

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bee33
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19 Apr 2024, 1:03 pm

So, we're told that to maintain friendships you have to reach out to people now and then, like calling them or sending a message, and sometimes inviting them to do something, like going out to dinner, but I can't tell if I'm being friendly or if I'm being a bother. During personal interactions I have that concern too, whether I am making conversation or annoying them with questions or by talking about an uninteresting subject. I think NTs are better at picking up on cues and adjusting their actions accordingly, but I feel like I am flying blind. Sometimes I'll ask people if I'm bothering them, but they seem a bit annoyed by it, and who would say yes in any case, even if it was true?



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19 Apr 2024, 2:52 pm

No, I can't do this either.
Generally I assume I'm bothering people and if I decide to reach out to someone, I just have to overcome a lot of anxiety that it'll bother them (even if it's just one message).
Sometimes it makes me feel better to include "I'm sorry if I'm bothering you." However this usually leads to apologizing so often that the apologies bother them. (People have said to me "You can stop saying sorry." My response: "Oh. Sorry.")
My instinct is to say try to contact someone about as often as they contact you, but this rarely works for me because I'm usually either dealing with a) other autistic people who may well be doing the exact same thing or b) people who have WAY more friends than I do and don't have as much attention to focus on me as I do them.
If I'm being honest, most of the times I do reach out to people, it's after my therapist has repeatedly assured me that it won't bother them. And I still have to include the "sorry".
So I don't have a whole lot of advice but I hope at least something here is helpful. If not, sorry...


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ToughDiamond
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19 Apr 2024, 3:07 pm

No I don't, so I usually err on the side of extreme caution, which is probably why I don't have tons of friends. People are usually too polite to openly push others away when they're not wanted.

I've also got a bit of a phobia about people feeling I've abandoned them, so it's a scary thing to me whether I reach out or don't reach out.

The only solution I've found is to try to take reasonable risks. Also to compromise by "putting out feelers" rather than coming on dangerously strong. But my default behaviour is mostly to do nothing. It's remarkably stubborn against my attempts to re-educate myself with good advice.



DuckHairback
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20 Apr 2024, 8:45 am

utterly absurd wrote:
Generally I assume I'm bothering people and if I decide to reach out to someone, I just have to overcome a lot of anxiety that it'll bother them (even if it's just one message).


That's my tendency as well. I don't know if it's a self-esteem thing or whether it's just that I'm often bothered if someone interrupts what I'm doing so I assume others would be too.

There's been many occasions in my life where people have shouted at me, or (back in school) hit me, because I've been annoying them and I haven't noticed them getting annoyed.

So not much advice from me either. I don't know how you do it.

I'm terrible at maintaining friendships, I just forget to contact people and then notice that years have passed and it seems weird to contact them after so much time. But it works both ways, they don't contact me either so I guess they weren't all that interested.

When it comes to asking people to do stuff, I think I usually apply a 3 strikes rule. If I ask 3 times and there's an excuse each time then I won't bother asking again.


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Harmonie
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20 Apr 2024, 10:23 am

I feel this, so much. :cry:

A long time ago back when I was in early high school, I was bubbly, chatty, thought I was good at making friends, but then started having them avoid me and then say I'm "annoying". Not only was I devastated by the constant loss of people I thought were friends, but I was perplexed. I didn't know how I was being annoying and I also couldn't figure out when I was being annoying. The only thing I could do was completely tone myself down and try to let other people come to me instead of me coming to them.

It's been two decades of this now. It hasn't worked out very well for me. I have a circle of friends of which I try to establish some kinda balance. Unfortunately, letting people come to me doesn't really work, as a lot of them don't reach out to me, and the ones that do don't do it often at all. So at some point I have to take action... (and not taking action at all is seen as letting friendships go??) Some of them I reach out to on occasion, others I reach out to extremely rarely. Either way I'm just trying to strike a balance so I don't become annoying, but I fail at this because my "occasional" reaching out makes me feel like I'm being too pushy (although when I say "occasional" I do actually mean so, I don't mean like every day), whereas my "rare" reaching out makes me feel like I'm being neglectful. Like for some people, I do incidentally reach out to them when I have a question related to their workfield or something and then that just makes me out to be that person that only reaches out to you when they need something... but reaching out to them more regularly feels like I'd be annoying...? UGHHHH. Why is socializing so complicated??? :wall:

I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to properly maintain this balance. I don't know how to read when people find me annoying unless they just straight up say it (or if they're being very obviously avoidant, like my ex was with me in the end). I have had outtings with my friends lately where they tell me I'm not annoying them, but then how I do know they're not just being nice? The fear that they're just being nice is right there in the back of my head, no matter what. Also if I read that positively then I feel like I can talk to them more, but what if it's actually that our current small level of interaction is what's keeping them from finding me annoying? :huh:


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