Making a second friend, having made one friend.

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CocoRock
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30 Nov 2011, 5:40 am

As someone with Asperger's, I find a major difficulty in making a second friend, after making one friend. It causes me a lot of anguish and depression. Please read on if you relate to this and let me know if this describes your situation too and maybe how you try to overcome it.

It's not easy to make friends full-stop for many with AS, myself included. It can take years. But when that miracle happens and you find you have eventually made one, the obsessional autistic trait makes me intensely long to be friends with that person and it's gruelling to attempt to make a second friend.

Let me explain, I am not talking about 'fancying' a person here. I am married, heterosexual and I'm talking about making mutual friends of the same gender (in my case, girls.)

I feel I am hardwired to have one favourite or 'main' friend and to feel that a new friend replaces the first. At 25, I have managed to make a real mutual friend for the first time, over the last couple of years. She is an ideal friend for a person with AS, but does not have AS herself. I now wish to make a second friend, because it's tough to be so intensely 'attached' to just one friend.

I have learnt that in theory, I can like two friends by liking them differently - allowing for their different personalities. This way, you can like two (or more) people just as much, but not in exactly the same way. It sounds simple enough - in theory. However, whenever I attempt to put this into practice, I am swamped by depressive pain. I feel that the new 'friend' is an imposter - a threat to my existing friendship, because she will 'replace' the existing one. Rather than having a bunch of close friends, I have a line of successors, each one replacing the next.

Unfortunately, a similar thing happens when my friend spends time with her other friends. I feel terrible. I feel I have been replaced for that time. Having no experience of it myself, I cannot imagine how my friend can have multiple friends at the same time!

I try very hard to explain to myself the truth that two or more friends can co-exist. I experience a lot of mental pain and feel I am battling against my hardwiring. I understand the concept of 'more than one friend at a time' for a while and then I lose that understanding again.

Is that a common AS experience? Do you experience this? Any ideas for how to overcome it?



Ettina
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30 Nov 2011, 10:12 am

I haven't had that experience myself, no. But it seems like an extension of the same trait that makes most autistics have only one intense interest instead of multiple interests.

A couple thoughts. Firstly, why do you need more than one friend? Is your one friend finding you a bit too obsessive, are you worried about losing that friend and becoming friendless, or is it just a sense that people 'should' have more than one friend. If the latter, remember that making friends is not about 'should' - it's about finding someone you enjoy spending time with, who provides you with a valuable emotional relationship. There is no one way that friendship is supposed to work. It all depends on the individuals involved in the friendship. Now. you'd still want to work on recognizing that just because you don't want more than one friend doesn't mean your friend doesn't.

If you want to try to form two different friendships anyway, one thought is to try broadening your horizons in order to make your two different friends more distinct in your mind. For example, you could befriend someone of a very different age to your other friend, such as a child or an elderly person. Or maybe you could befriend someone with a significant disability - there may be volunteering options in your area that could put you in contact with people like that. The nature of the friendship you'd have with someone like that would be very different from an ordinary friendship, so you may find it seems less like it's competing with your existing friendship.

Another thought, in sort of the opposite direction, would be to try to befriend one of your friend's other friends. That way, the three of you could hang out together and it might almost seem like one friendship with two people instead of two friendships.



pastafarian
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30 Nov 2011, 11:46 am

CocoRock wrote:
As someone with Asperger's, I find a major difficulty in making a second friend, after making one friend. It causes me a lot of anguish and depression. Please read on if you relate to this and let me know if this describes your situation too and maybe how you try to overcome it.

It's not easy to make friends full-stop for many with AS, myself included. It can take years. But when that miracle happens and you find you have eventually made one, the obsessional autistic trait makes me intensely long to be friends with that person and it's gruelling to attempt to make a second friend.

Let me explain, I am not talking about 'fancying' a person here. I am married, heterosexual and I'm talking about making mutual friends of the same gender (in my case, girls.)

I feel I am hardwired to have one favourite or 'main' friend and to feel that a new friend replaces the first. At 25, I have managed to make a real mutual friend for the first time, over the last couple of years. She is an ideal friend for a person with AS, but does not have AS herself. I now wish to make a second friend, because it's tough to be so intensely 'attached' to just one friend.

I have learnt that in theory, I can like two friends by liking them differently - allowing for their different personalities. This way, you can like two (or more) people just as much, but not in exactly the same way. It sounds simple enough - in theory. However, whenever I attempt to put this into practice, I am swamped by depressive pain. I feel that the new 'friend' is an imposter - a threat to my existing friendship, because she will 'replace' the existing one. Rather than having a bunch of close friends, I have a line of successors, each one replacing the next.

Unfortunately, a similar thing happens when my friend spends time with her other friends. I feel terrible. I feel I have been replaced for that time. Having no experience of it myself, I cannot imagine how my friend can have multiple friends at the same time!

I try very hard to explain to myself the truth that two or more friends can co-exist. I experience a lot of mental pain and feel I am battling against my hardwiring. I understand the concept of 'more than one friend at a time' for a while and then I lose that understanding again.

Is that a common AS experience? Do you experience this? Any ideas for how to overcome it?


You sound like you have a good friend because your feelings are so strong. Thats wonderful.

Perhaps look at it this way.....
Have you got kids? Can you imagine having two kids?

The first you adore with all you heart, you love them so much, exactly as they are, theres nothing left inside you to love anymore. You and they have unique stuff together. You being you, them being them, the combination is unique and untouchable.

Then you have another kid, oh my god, you adore them with all your heart. Exactly as they are. New love got made for them! You and they have stuff together that is unique and untouchable, and does not hurt your first relationship not one single bit.

Every child is completely different. Every person is too, and mixed together they make unique unilateral relationships that actually have nothing to do with anyone else. They are no-one elses business. They exist in a bubble, or their own little universe.

I'm quite sociable so I have a few good friends but I know exactly what you mean about your first friend. I am very happily married to an amazing bloke and I have one extraordinary friend. This closest friend in all the world is a wonderful man and he has gone out tonight. He is single and is probably going to try and make the most of an opportunity to lure a lovely woman into bed, or towards a relationship at least.

I dont want my friend sexually, but I am troubled by the part of that new relationship that will be a friendship. For heavens sake, I am his best friend!

We can read each others minds so I needed to tell him to go for it. I texted "Just promise me that the new stuff you have with your new friend won't have anything to do with us, and wont take anything from us, you and I are in a bubble". He knows exactly what I mean.

Now to me that feels fine. It doesn't take away from me.



CocoRock
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30 Nov 2011, 5:17 pm

Thank you both. I appreciate your replies very much.

The reason for wanting more than one friend...I'm not entirely certain! This calls for a list...

1. There are other people in my social group who deserve to have people make an effort to befriend them and I think I should try.

2. I worry it's 'weird' to be so attached to one person. I imagine it being uncomfortable for my friend. But, she has always been understanding and cool about my autistic quirks and ways so, perhaps I am putting myself under more pressure than necessary.

I think your suggestions for making friends with either very different people, or the same mutual friends, are good thoughts. I will think about that some more.

Thanks very much.

pastafarian wrote:
You sound like you have a good friend because your feelings are so strong. Thats wonderful.


Thanks. That's kind.

pastafarian wrote:
Perhaps look at it this way.....
Have you got kids? Can you imagine having two kids?

The first you adore with all you heart, you love them so much, exactly as they are, theres nothing left inside you to love anymore. You and they have unique stuff together. You being you, them being them, the combination is unique and untouchable.

Then you have another kid, oh my god, you adore them with all your heart. Exactly as they are. New love got made for them! You and they have stuff together that is unique and untouchable, and does not hurt your first relationship not one single bit.

Every child is completely different. Every person is too, and mixed together they make unique unilateral relationships that actually have nothing to do with anyone else. They are no-one elses business. They exist in a bubble, or their own little universe.


This is a useful way of looking at it, that helps me understand. I don't have children but I have heard parents talk about their love for second children being as strong, but different. Thank you very much for that analogy.

I suppose then, that when my friend is enjoying the company of her other friends, I can be reassured that my relationship is not replaced, because each relationship is unique. Similarly, when I attempt to make new friends, I cannot possibly accidently create a replacement for the existing friendship, because any new relationship will be different. That's reassuring.

I'm fairly sure that the AS trait of having a narrow, intense 'special interest' is the same trait that is occurring socially, applying itself to people as well as objects or topics of interest. I have a very strong 'special interest' and very strong attachment to my friend. I hope though, that making a new friend is not the same as attempting to introduce a new 'special interest' - which would be difficult, if it's even possible.



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01 Dec 2011, 9:41 am

If you decide to try, don' worry too much about the outcome.

It may work/it may not. If it feels wrong, slow down and don't let it hurt you.

You already have a great friend so if its works well it is a bonus, and you have learnt that you can be different. If it doesn't, well it was always gonna be a bonus, and you have your good friend still.

Your friend sounds nice, do you talk to her about this? She most likely will be pleased to hear her friendship is important. She will probably pull your leg affectionately if you just can't sort it.

If I were her I would want you to be successful but I would be privately flattered if you weren't.
Win either way.



CocoRock
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01 Dec 2011, 4:46 pm

Thanks again. It helps to keep it in perspective. I am infinitely grateful for having made a friend in the first place and another friend would be a bonus, but perhaps not something to fret about. I have put pressure on myself to achieve 'two friends at the same time' because everyone around me seems to manage it. But the pressure is from myself - not anyone else - and it's not helping! If you feel pushed to be 'closer' to someone than you're ready to be, it's uncomfortable and makes you want to back off. I think I'm causing this for myself!

There's a new person in my social circle who moved from another town and deserves people to make friends with her here. So, I decided to try to make her my second friend. I think I will continue to be friendly and try to enjoy the time I spend with her, but allow feelings to happen or not, without stressing about it. That will give friendship a chance to develop naturally, but if that doesn't happen, then I'll have a genuinely friendly but not-so-important relationship and nothing is lost. I won't pretend to be close friends, because that would be un-genuine, but I'll genuinely make an effort to be kind etc.

You've really helped me think this through. I was feeling really sad but now it seems simpler, I'm ready to try again, but try less hard this time!

I always worried that my existing friend would be uncomfortable with me having her as my autistic 'favourite' - on a par with special interests. But I've always been very open about that and looking at the evidence, she has not shown signs of being uncomfortable.



TheTigress
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01 Dec 2011, 5:35 pm

I seem to have this EXACT same issue. I have one friend who is my everything and more like a soul mate to me. I almost feel like I'm "cheating" on that friend if I hang out with someone else, and I know this sounds terrible, but I'm also wishing that I was really with my main best friend instead. This is also why I don't have very many friends at all. None of the others can truly compare to my main best friend.

I also feel the same way when she's interacting with her other friends. I get this awful jealousy streak and fear of replacement even though she has told me countless times that I am the best friend she has ever had and that I have changed her life and that no one can replace me. I suppose I'm a very rank oriented person.