Why do I need to share so much about myself?

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Dots
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22 Dec 2011, 7:08 pm

I've recently realized that I go about some friendships inappropriately.

I was talking with a psychologist about it, and she said that friendships get built slowly, that over time, we share little things about ourselves and the friendship slowly gets built like that.

When I consider someone my friend, I tend to go about it much faster, I'll share big chunks of things about myself. Heavy stuff, like my struggles with an eating disorder, or my diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

I always thought I was doing this appropriately, I never just interjected it into the conversation, I usually waited for it to seem appropriate, but thinking about it now, I don't go slow. I don't share small things about myself over time. I dump it all in one big chunk, quite early on in the relationship.

I haven't had very many friends. I don't think I ever learned how to build a friendship appropriately. The few friendships I've had tend to move quickly and burn out early, probably because of my pattern of sharing so much.

I talked with the psychologist about the distinction between therapist and friend. She said some people have trouble with the distinction and invite their therapist to graduation or a party or whatever, as if they were a friend. I said I have the opposite problem - I share my problems with friends when they would probably be more appropriately shared with a therapist, who could devote their whole attention towards solving my problem.

It made me realize that I still see only my side of my friendships. I don't tend to recognize that the other person has their own perspective and thoughts and feelings and problems. I wonder if it could be an ASD thing. I expect them to always be there to listen to my problems, and that's not really fair of me.

So what is ok to share with a friend? I wish there was a rule book that would spell it out for me. Where's the line? How do you balance a friendship so it's not always about you? I'm tired of losing friends because they think I'm too needy or too dependent.

And why do I need to share so much? The psychologist I talked to thinks I need to work on that with my therapist. For some reason I am pathologically needy and I hate it. I think that somewhere I feel like in order to prove my friends like me, they need to know my problems and then if they still like me, I know it.

(I'm also referring to face to face friendships. The rules for sharing over the internet seem to be different.)


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dianthus
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22 Dec 2011, 8:36 pm

I am kind of the same way, or I used to be. I've pretty much stopped trying to have any friends at all because it is just too stressful for me.

Anyway it was a little different for me, I wouldn't share too much in the beginning. I was the opposite, when I first became friends with someone I wouldn't share much of anything about myself. But once I felt really comfortable with the person, I'd start telling them everything. I have had maybe a couple of friends over the years who reciprocated the same way and told me everything about themselves too. But most times, the other person didn't share as much, not even half as much as I did and I didn't notice that. I should have noticed, because it was always a bad sign. But I'd just keep blabbing away about myself.

I don't have much of a filter. I feel like I need to tell everything, or nothing at all. I have a hard time deciding what to tell and what not to, what is relevant or not, what is too personal to tell, and what is just plain not interesting to the other person. It is not just sharing about myself but talking pretty much about anything. I get started talking and I just say too much. I had to learn to keep things to myself more.

Is it hard for you to filter information during a conversation? I think of it like all these packets of information are coming down a conveyor belt, and they are coming too fast for me to sort them out into different channels. So everything gets dumped in one big pile.



btbnnyr
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22 Dec 2011, 8:40 pm

I was told this as well, that socialization proceeds in small steps, back and forth. Unfortunately, this does not work for me at all, because I lack the whatever brain connections NT adults have to pick up those subtle social signals for this slow and gentle giving and taking.



Dots
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22 Dec 2011, 8:47 pm

I think it's being able to recognize the give and take that I lack, too. I have absolutely no idea how to build a friendship. I've said many times to therapists that I wish there was a book that outlined how to make a friend, and how to navigate the levels of friendship, and how to know which level of friendship someone should be assigned to - but therapists don't understand what I'm talking about. One of them even said that it's not that I don't know how to be a friend, it's that I am too needy and that overwhelms everything.

Yes, I'm needy. But I also have no clue how to build a friendship. Therapists discount that. My current one kind of listens, and is open to me seeing a specialist about an AS diagnosis, but she also doesn't really understand what I'm talking about. Once, she even said "No one has ever said that to me before."

Dianthus, I think I'm similar. I do wait until I feel like I am comfortable with the person before I share, but I know I do this very quickly, much more quickly than most people. And some friends do share back right away, but those are the friendships that move fast and burn out quickly. I feel like I have no filter - but even beyond that, I feel driven to share about myself. I don't know why I feel this drive to share. Maybe because I don't know how to have a real conversation, so I make the conversation about me?

I do find it hard to filter information during a conversation. I often forget personal details. I had social skills training once and the therapist remarked that I should try to remember personal details that the person says, like what they're going to do over the weekend, so I can ask them about it next time we talk, which shows that I care. The problem isn't that I don't care. I do care. I just can't filter out what's important and what isn't.


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dianthus
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22 Dec 2011, 8:48 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I was told this as well, that socialization proceeds in small steps, back and forth. Unfortunately, this does not work for me at all, because I lack the whatever brain connections NT adults have to pick up those subtle social signals for this slow and gentle giving and taking.


Same here, and I not only lack the ability to pick up those signals, I just find it hard to only give part of myself, even if I know only a small part is welcome or expected in the situation.



btbnnyr
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22 Dec 2011, 8:53 pm

dianthus wrote:
btbnnyr wrote:
I was told this as well, that socialization proceeds in small steps, back and forth. Unfortunately, this does not work for me at all, because I lack the whatever brain connections NT adults have to pick up those subtle social signals for this slow and gentle giving and taking.


Same here, and I not only lack the ability to pick up those signals, I just find it hard to only give part of myself, even if I know only a small part is welcome or expected in the situation.


A lot of NTs probably know just which parts of themselves to share, depending on who the other person is and the social context. I have no clues to guide me. None at all.



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22 Dec 2011, 9:25 pm

Dots wrote:
I feel like I have no filter - but even beyond that, I feel driven to share about myself. I don't know why I feel this drive to share. Maybe because I don't know how to have a real conversation, so I make the conversation about me?


I feel that drive too. I even wrote a poem about it when I was a teenager (a really stupid poem rhyming "share" and "dare") the point being I recognized it in myself even then, I needed to share about myself. I go so far as to even feel like I'm being generous with other people when I talk about myself. I have learned that other people don't always see it that way though.

Quote:
I had social skills training once and the therapist remarked that I should try to remember personal details that the person says, like what they're going to do over the weekend, so I can ask them about it next time we talk, which shows that I care. The problem isn't that I don't care. I do care. I just can't filter out what's important and what isn't.


I barely even register those little details people mention. That's my adhd, it's like it just goes in one ear and out the other. I will vaguely remember they said something about something something kind of like something something something but I really have noooo idea. In writing I can actually see what's being said so it's a little easier that way.

But I really just don't know what to say in response to things other people tell me. I know if I say whatever comes to mind, it will more than likely be the wrong thing and they will look at me like I have bugs crawling out of my ears. And a lot of the time, nothing really comes to mind. Sometimes I have just tried to say the things I thought the other person wanted to hear, and I don't mean in a deceptive way just to keep the conversation going.

The last time I remember feeling really awkward with a new friend, she was seeing this guy and kept telling me these little things like she was going to see him, was waiting for him to call her or things like that. And I'd feel like I had to comment because she was telling me so it was important to her, right? But I'd think and I'd think and all I'd come up with was "...........?" in other words, nothing. I just could not relate to her situation at all. So I'd just say these feeble things like "well I hope you have a nice time" or "hope he calls soon" or whatever and the conversation would kind of fizzle out.

I think I know how to have a conversation, if it is about things I can relate to, but when people talk about things I don't relate to, I draw a blank.



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22 Dec 2011, 9:57 pm

i wouldnt know where to start ironically because of the classical feature of asds you mentioned, theory of mind stuff i think? i am the opposite. It takes me a very very long time to share anything, and there are very few people who have stuck around me long enough that i felt comfortable divulging my deeper parts. That is the way i am, and i cant really understand what makes other people different. my wife is much more open than i am, some of the significant conflicts we have occasionally had were in regards to our contrasting tendancies, her openness, my 'secretiveness'. I dont really consider my secrets secrets, i am just over concerned that people will not understand certain things, so i find it simpler to keep them to myself. actually my few experiences in breaking this mold have reaffirmed that most people will not understand.
sorry to be so vague . . .



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23 Dec 2011, 6:09 am

dianthus wrote:
(...)
I barely even register those little details people mention. That's my adhd, it's like it just goes in one ear and out the other. I will vaguely remember they said something about something something kind of like something something something but I really have noooo idea. In writing I can actually see what's being said so it's a little easier that way.

But I really just don't know what to say in response to things other people tell me. I know if I say whatever comes to mind, it will more than likely be the wrong thing and they will look at me like I have bugs crawling out of my ears. And a lot of the time, nothing really comes to mind. Sometimes I have just tried to say the things I thought the other person wanted to hear, and I don't mean in a deceptive way just to keep the conversation going.

The last time I remember feeling really awkward with a new friend, she was seeing this guy and kept telling me these little things like she was going to see him, was waiting for him to call her or things like that. And I'd feel like I had to comment because she was telling me so it was important to her, right? But I'd think and I'd think and all I'd come up with was "...........?" in other words, nothing. I just could not relate to her situation at all. So I'd just say these feeble things like "well I hope you have a nice time" or "hope he calls soon" or whatever and the conversation would kind of fizzle out.

I think I know how to have a conversation, if it is about things I can relate to, but when people talk about things I don't relate to, I draw a blank.

I quoted this part of your post because I can relate to it very much. I also have pronounced ADHD traits, so when others talk about details such as X in this position said that Y who is the head of A department wasn't appropriate on that meeting, I just let it go, I can't follow. I can't memorize and chunk together people names, bits of personal information, their relation, what they did and why... And a lot of these informations come in separated bits, one or two at a time, you have to figure out how they fit together after you forgot many of it... So, usually I end up coming off to others as I don't listen, while in reality I just can't.

I noticed that I do insert sentences in the conversation just like the way you do, and my friend whom I suspect being on the spectrum does it too, admittedly. If we are lucky, we don't come off as being so aloof and weird. :P



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23 Dec 2011, 1:46 pm

With the little details that people tell me, I have the opposite problem. I remember all of them, every single one that I heard, but I have no idea which one to bring forth and apply during which social situation. If X says this, should I bring out Detail 000000483 or Detail 000000092? Am I bringing forth too few or too many details? I tend to release a little too many of these details, and I have figured out that I actually sound creepy when I mention them. Knowing too much about the other persons seems to suggest that I am a little obsessed with them.



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23 Dec 2011, 2:21 pm

Dots wrote:
I've recently realized that I go about some friendships inappropriately.

I was talking with a psychologist about it, and she said that friendships get built slowly, that over time, we share little things about ourselves and the friendship slowly gets built like that.


Wow, I never knew how to describe how friendships happen to me but this is a very accurate way of putting it.

I don't really know what is ok to share with a friend and what is not other than that "it is ok to share what is appropriate to the situation". Up until a couple of years ago I hardly spoke so it never occurred me to tell someone who I am. (I told too little about myself actually and it's still something I got to work on because other people seem to want to know about me and get all weird and blah if they think I don't want to have anything to do with them.)

From what I can tell, forming a friendship is not about describing yourself to someone else but that it is about living with each other.

In course of spending some time of life together, a lot of things about yourself just get revealed "between the lines" and from the context bit by bit.

You know like... if you suggest having ice cream several times during summer, the other person would learn (on some not so concious level) that you are okay with ice cream and even like it quite a bit/totally adore strawberry ice cream. If you don't speak much about your feeling, someone who's suited to be your friend would pick up on that you're not exactly the type to go into a lengthy discussion about emotional topics.


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23 Dec 2011, 2:27 pm

You probably have ADD overlaid on top of AS. Sharing your darkest, most personal secrets with somebody you met 15 minutes ago & feel comfortable with is a very "ADD" thing to do.


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23 Dec 2011, 3:58 pm

I tend to say too much about myself and too little about myself. I try to go with the flow like share what other people are saying and share that part about myself. I don't tell people about my disorders because I feel it isn't anyone's business.

I am stuck at what to say or talk about or what to ask because I don't know if it be okay or not. I think everything is not my business so it makes it harder for me to socialize. That is what people had taught me by being unfriendly and I do think "none of your business" and ignoring what I ask is being unfriendly.



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23 Dec 2011, 5:09 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
With the little details that people tell me, I have the opposite problem. I remember all of them, every single one that I heard, but I have no idea which one to bring forth and apply during which social situation. If X says this, should I bring out Detail 000000483 or Detail 000000092? Am I bringing forth too few or too many details? I tend to release a little too many of these details, and I have figured out that I actually sound creepy when I mention them. Knowing too much about the other persons seems to suggest that I am a little obsessed with them.

Both problems can be quite frustrating... Which detail to apply when is always hard to tell. I noticed that sometimes I'd bring up a detail that's perhaps a bit too intimate or inappropriate in the situation and people would just freak out... Especially when they're not yet accustomed to my newly acquired 'friendliness'.



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23 Dec 2011, 5:39 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
With the little details that people tell me, I have the opposite problem. I remember all of them, every single one that I heard, but I have no idea which one to bring forth and apply during which social situation. If X says this, should I bring out Detail 000000483 or Detail 000000092? Am I bringing forth too few or too many details? I tend to release a little too many of these details, and I have figured out that I actually sound creepy when I mention them. Knowing too much about the other persons seems to suggest that I am a little obsessed with them.


That's amazing. What an incredible skill! I'm NT and mostly I get frustrated with others not remembering what I've told them about me. I appreciate this store of memories doesn't help you much if you can't put them into conversations in a meaningful way but to have the memories at all to me sounds like something that one could build on. That said, if this means you remember lots of negative details about people that could get a bit heavy for you - sometimes it's good to lose the odd detail.


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