Is social interaction actually bad for most of us?

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Sherry221B
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16 Dec 2013, 7:37 am

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What do you think? Do you think that for most of us on the spectrum, it is better to hide most of the time?


Better to hide all the time because no one will want to accept....



NemiXX
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16 Dec 2013, 8:08 am

I don`t feel the need for social interaction. Im married and content with being social with my husband.
I have tried for 34 years to be social, fit in, make friends etc, because that`s what you`re supposed to do.
Well, it does not work for me.
I had to quit working because the stress wore me out, I had a complete meltdown.
If I have to go to social gatherings it stresses me out weeks before, and afterwords I`m completely drained.
So I found that the best thing for me is to avoid people as much as I can.
I don`t have the need to be around people, and almost everyone annoys the hell out of me.
I`m content with my dog and my cats, and my husband of course.



Eureka13
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16 Dec 2013, 8:54 am

WaraFujiAng wrote:
When interacting with the right people, my negative thinking goes away. But most people drain me. It sucks, but I think you have to learn how to overcome bad interactions in order to find the right people.


This is how it works for me, too. There are a few people at work I can socialize with where it doesn't suck away all my energy. But if I have to, for example, go to a meeting with people outside of my "comfort circle" it drains me for the rest of the day.



Sweetleaf
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16 Dec 2013, 6:54 pm

I am frusterated about past social experiances and my lack of any close friends or friends in general....I do desire positive human interactions outside of my close family. I think more positive human interaction would be healthy for me, but I am endlessly frusterated trying to figure out how to meet people in the first place.

So no I don't think social interaction is inherently bad for people with AS, negative social interaction is, but negative social interaction is bad for anyone. I also know if I isolated myself and avoided being around people at all I would go completely insane, no I do not desire a solitary existance.


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FluttercordAspie93
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16 Dec 2013, 10:28 pm

I wouldn't really say that it's bad for all... I guess it just really depends on where you are at and what kind of situation you're in.


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Asperation
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17 Dec 2013, 12:48 am

hurtloam wrote:
I don't know. I gave up trying because I was so stressed out by trying to fit in, but now I think I'm going crazy from lonliness.



I feel the same, damned if you do damned if you don't.


For me social interactions can be extremely destructive if I come away from that interaction after a negative experience. That negative experience can create so much anxiety I am exhausted for quite some time afterwards. Not only do you have to deal with the initial panic attack but the subsequent added strength to the negative belief or schema, confirming that I am a social failure. It depends on the situation. Social interaction can be counterproductive if the people you a mixing with a highly likely to be critical towards you.

On the other hand social interactions that have gone well can be quite motivational. When on the rare occasion I come away from a social encounter in a positive way I feel energized. This gives me some hope and motivation to keep trying and find like minded similar people of my ilk.

For me it's not necessarily the social interaction in itself that can be detrimental. I think its the type of social situation and the type of people present.


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17 Dec 2013, 1:40 am

hurtloam wrote:
I don't know. I gave up trying because I was so stressed out by trying to fit in, but now I think I'm going crazy from lonliness.

Yeah, that.

While there were occasional positive moments, overall, it was thoroughly negative. The positive stuff never became more frequent (always decayed into nothingess). It also gets old seeing people going off with their real friends (who don't want you around), especially when you've never had that.

Loneliness seems to be bothering me less than when I was younger, though. Maybe it's the meds, or maybe now that the time for various social mileposts are long past I don't dream about some kind of normal existence, anymore. Just give me the internet and a cat and I'm good.



zer0netgain
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17 Dec 2013, 9:52 am

Social interaction is like getting married.

If you marry the right person for the right reasons, it can be great. Otherwise....

Being a loner doesn't mean you wouldn't benefit from being more social, but if the social contacts aren't right, you will not enjoy them and gain nothing from them.



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19 Dec 2013, 11:37 am

Well it has been bad for me. It just makes me so tired. I put so much energy into interactions (work, random day-to-day people) and get nothing enjoyable out of it. It's hard when I want to discuss something interesting, but other people just want to babble and look at facial expressions. In fact, sometimes I get stress from it depending on if I think I messed up.



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23 Dec 2013, 9:50 am

tjr1243 wrote:
There is a lot of hype out there about how close social relationships are correlated with happiness. People who have more friends / close connections are happier.

Thus, even those of us on the spectrum are encouraged to try interacting with people, in the hopes that we will gain social skills and meet this universal human desire.

However, I'm quickly learning that this desire is not universal, but not sure how well most of us would do with no human interaction at all.

My theory is that for those of us who have failed so far and have at least 30 years of failure to show for it - there comes a point where it is counterproductive to keep trying. Simply because, the human interaction we do get if we DO try, is mostly detrimental.

In other words, I believe that being around people does me more harm than good, because I simply don't get enough acceptance from others.

A minority may like and accept me, but I've never enjoyed a close relationship, so the gains would not be worth the upsets.

What do you think? Do you think that for most of us on the spectrum, it is better to hide most of the time?


I don’t think it’s bad for us at all. Negative interactions are negative for everyone.

Other than family members (but I’ll exclude them for the purpose of this post) there have been no-one IRL I have felt very close to, felt like were my friend.

In the 3 different daycares I went to there were children I got along with better than others, but there was only one other child I can say I actually liked. In my preschool years I called the ones I played with playmates, all the rest were simply ‘children’.

In elementary school I was into activities for the sake of the activity itself, not for the children involved. At that age you could have changed the children I played with with other children, robots or anything else, and it would have made no difference for me, because it was all about the activity or game for me. In elementary school I thought children I occasionally played with during recess or at the off occasion after school, were friends because we sometimes had fun together, and I had no other words for them, as I thought of playmates as something younger children have. But playmates were what they were. I played with them when they started a fun game (and allowed me to join, which was most of the time; only occasionally would they shut me out, and ironically they would usually shout the rhyme about how no-one else could join when I was just passing them and had no intention of joining them), and in the school yard I left the minute I was bored. (I didn’t just leave if it happened when we were together after school though.) I had no emotional attachment to them.

In junior high my perceptions changed somewhat. I sought out specific individuals. There were a few girls who used to claim that we were friends. I had fun with them in school but lacked the wish to be around them in my sparetime and the attachment I felt to them was very weak, no more than people would feel for a friendly acquaintance. It was the typical aloof interaction really, in for the fun, out the rest of the time. They must have known that at some level, because it did make them upset at times and I didn't understand why. Now I get it but I couldn’t feel what I didn’t feel, I wasn’t deliberately not feeling the same way. I never meant for them to feel bad!

In high school there was no-one I was close to. The same holds true for my adult years.

There were plenty of people in school I liked well enough. With that I mean that I could have fun with them and liked interacting with them, but I didn’t truly care about them. I wasn’t attached to them, despite some of them claiming to care about me (in junior high).
But despite the lack of emotional closeness on my part, I still very much benefited from the interactions. They brightened my school days and the school years, and the school years I remember best and with most joy are the ones where I had classmates I liked and got along with and was in touch with throughout the day, which means 5th-9th grade mostly.
When I weren’t in touch with them in school I sometimes missed it, but I rarely thought of them outside of school, and it never came with a wish to be together. It was just reminiscing.

In the years I didn’t have that kind of relations, I wasn’t miserable for it, but I was happier in the years when I did. And if I ever get employment, I would hope to have that kind of relations with my colleagues as well because it makes the day go faster and it makes me feel better.

For me, those relations never extended to me wanting to spend time with them outside of where we knew each other (school), so when I was invited to get-togethers I seldom wanted to go. I was always talked into it which made them say I played hard to get, which I didn’t, I just wanted to do my own stuff, but caved when they got upset. I was never miserable when I got there and I never regretted going, but it just wasn’t my first priority. I wasted so much time on school as it was, I just wanted to spend my free time on my interests and my pets. Looking back I wonder why they wanted me to come at all, I sure wasn’t very likeable.
I never put in much effort at all. It was pretty much down to them.

When I started going on different forums in my early 30’s I had the same relation with people there at first. Plenty I liked but none that I was attached to. I liked interacting with them and I had fun playing forum games with them.

Then over the course of 2010 and onwards some online friendships developed. I found that the difference between interacting with acquaintances and friends was like night and day. I had never thought playing games with people could be so much fun! I had never thought I could care so much about people I wasn’t related to! I had never thought interactions could feel so wonderful! I had never in my wildest dreams thought that people could matter so much to me...

I still have a hard time connecting to people and it’s a rare thing that I do, but when it does happen, it tends to happen pretty quickly, and the ones I do care about, I care about deeply, which greatly surprises me. I really thought that it was a part I didn’t have, a switch that wasn’t turned on in me, and I thought all the talk about the importance of friendships were exaggerated, until I experienced it myself. I can’t even begin to describe what it means to have someone you trust, someone you can confide in, someone you want to spend time with, someone you don’t have to pretend around. Another thing I could never have predicted was the difference between having fun with friends versus having fun with acquaintances.
To put it in words all aspies will understand: it’s like the difference between enjoying a special interest and a random okay interest. It just makes all your interactions with them so much more enjoyable and emotional.
I never would have thought it made such a difference. I’m so aloof and asocial I thought I had social anhedonia. It turns out I don’t when it comes to the right people.
I’m still not social. I don’t need people, but when I have friends I need specific individuals. I prefer solitude to people in general. I prefer those few I like to solitude. I never miss having people around, but when I’m not in touch with specific individuals I miss them.

Of course, it’s hard to keep them. Over the last 3 years there have been 7 people I have considered my friends. 6 of them aren’t currently in my life and 5 haven’t been for more than a year. I have learned to never expect anything, never take anything for granted and just enjoy what is while it lasts.

I noticed that some posters mentioned only wanting to interact with other aspies. I can’t say that I necessarily find aspies easier to understand than NTs. It’s only a matter of what part of them I can relate to. I’ve come across both aspies and NTs I can’t understand at all, and I’ve come across aspies and NTs I can relate to in varying degree. I conclude that neurology is only one of many aspects of what make us who we are, and that alone won’t make me click with someone.


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24 Dec 2013, 12:01 pm

Willard wrote:
I think it depends entirely on who you are socializing with. If you have friends who are also on the spectrum, you can have a great time hanging out with them.

I think the idea that throwing an autistic person into an NT gathering and believing that is going to cause them to improve their social skills is utter BS. You cannot change the wiring of your brain just because you wish for it to be so.

Even at my peak functionality, when I was surrounded by NT types who accepted me at face value, I was still the wallflower who stood silently in the corner and watched everyone else having a good time laughing and interacting with each other. I remained invisible, even when I wasn't being actively rejected, because being PRESENT did nothing to grant me that magical NT ability to INSERT MYSELF into the social activity. They knew who I was, they knew I was there and were fine with it, but I was still never one of them.


This was applicable to my situation last night. My friends went to a bar last night and I'm not super keen on bars. I had just finished a very stressful 6 hour bus trip from Champaign, IL to Louisville, KY, I wasn't in a good mood and I didn't want to deal with a lot of nonsense. They also had 3 other people that I wasn't super familiar with, so on top of the atmosphere, I had to figure out how to interact with these folks and deal with 3 of my friends pressuring me to get a beer. I like beer, but if I don't feel like drinking, I won't. After getting sick of them grilling me, I bought a beer so they'd shut their faces and they still kept trying to force me to interject myself in their conversations.



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25 Dec 2013, 5:36 pm

I prefer to not socialize in real life at all, because it's stressful and does nothing for me. But I do enjoy having people to talk to online, so I just stick with that! :)



sacmk
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27 Dec 2013, 4:35 pm

drivingstickshift wrote:
I have had to learn the hard way that the more I associate with people then I start having problems, for example I used to live in a house that was an employee type housing, one day the cable tv went totally out in the house and all my roommates/coworkers all accused me of hacking the cable tv system in the house, also no one had their facts straight on the matter and I wound up getting fired for something I didn't do and loosing my housing, the other part of it is right now my current job I am going to have to start taking breaks alone because once I start associating with people I start having too many problems its almost like I have a target on me.

My neighbors where I currently live I notice they keep their distance from me and its only hi and bye most of the time, the only time I don't have problems is I have learned if I keep to myself, also I don't want to be view as a loner but its out of choice because of too many things that have gone on in the past.

Also as far as being in a social group of NT I do feel like I am invisible to people, they will talk to me but then everyones talking and I am off to the side not having any social interaction.



You know.. that's part of life... (i hate that part by the way). I've felt "left out" many times before, I think that even if social interactions are hurting you, you can always learn something from it, and become stronger. I am NT and was never the "coolest kid" but the grown up I am today is waaaay different then the kid I was (shy and secluded) because I stopped hiding, and started faking that i was confident... hopefully this helps :)



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10 Jan 2014, 12:11 am

Ashariel wrote:
But I do enjoy having people to talk to online, so I just stick with that! :)


Yeah, the net FTW! I seriously don't know where I'd be without it.


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14 Jan 2014, 11:54 pm

I agree and think it depends who you socialize with. I have a lot of bad experiences with people too and feel paranoid around a lot of them. I get rejected a lot too so I stay away from them unless they seem like someone I can trust. Most of the time it seems like I feel most comfortable around people older than me, but it just depends on the person.