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Mona Pereth
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07 Aug 2021, 4:12 pm

I would be very interest to hear other WP members' general thoughts about friendship. For example, in your view, what is friendship? Do you personally have friends or desire to have friends? And, if so, how do you personally go about cultivating friendship,?

Last year I wrote, in a blog post on The ingredients of friendship:

Quote:
I think it’s useful to think of friendships as having several ingredients, each of which can be cultivated.

Foundations of friendship:

1) Companionship: Enjoying each other’s company. Companionship has two main aspects: (a) liking each other as people, and (b) one or more shared interests: activities you both enjoy, or topics you both enjoy talking about. A shared sense of humor helps too, and for many people (not everyone) is an essential part of companionship.

2) Emotional sharing / intimacy. Emotional support, sympathy, mutual understanding, and freedom to be (relatively) unmasked: These are often major areas of difficulty between autistic people and NT’s, due to the mutual empathy problem. On the other hand, meeting other autistic people in a support group can give us a head start, with each other, on this dimension of friendship.

3) Doing favors for each other: Favors should be small at first, small enough that you won’t feel ripped off if it’s not reciprocated. Favors can gradually get bigger as the friendship deepens.

4) Comradeship: An emotional bond formed by facing common challenges together. Extreme example: war buddies. More common example: Teammates on a sports team. Another example: Political activists working closely together for a common goal. Many autistic people have never experienced comradeship. Many of us tend to be clumsy, hence were never wanted on anyone’s sports team.

Close friendship additionally requires:

5) Caring about each other’s well-being. The more you both care, the deeper the friendship.

6) Trust. (Up to a point at least, but not total trust – e.g., one should never share bank account passwords! And one should never relinquish one’s right to mental privacy.)

Pitfall: Many autistic people have a tendency to be prematurely trusting. Upon getting burned as a result, some of us then go to the opposite extreme of jumping to nasty conclusions about people. What we need is the middle ground of “Love many, trust few”: Prepare for the worst, by taking reasonable precautions and asserting boundaries, but be slow to jump to negative conclusions about specific people.

Does anyone think of any other "ingredients of friendship" to add to the list?

Later I'll talk about some of the ways that the above-listed ingredients of friendship -- especially the ones I call "foundations of friendship" -- can be cultivated, in my opinion. I would be interested to hear others' thoughts on this question too.

My purpose in asking is to help me prepare for my upcoming support group meeting (via text-based chat) on Tuesday, August 10, which will have the topic of friendship.


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StrayCat81
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07 Aug 2021, 4:33 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
but be slow to jump to negative conclusions about specific people.

Question about this one, shouldn't be actually quick about negative conclusions? Just for the sake of quickly filtering out incompatible people?



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07 Aug 2021, 5:39 pm

I'm not exactly sure how to explain what friendship is to me, but I guess my friends have always been people that I can share my interests with and who are willing to share theirs with me, and who I feel comfortable talking to about a variety of topics. I don't always feel comfortable talking to other people about most things, or showing them my interests, so it means a lot to me when I can do that with people and when they enjoy doing that stuff with me.

I usually cultivate friendships by doing activities with people and trying to talk to them about their interests. If they have pets talking about animals is also helpful.

I also have an online friend I've talked to for years and I'd like to have at least one or two more friends.


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Mona Pereth
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07 Aug 2021, 8:15 pm

StrayCat81 wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
but be slow to jump to negative conclusions about specific people.

Question about this one, shouldn't be actually quick about negative conclusions? Just for the sake of quickly filtering out incompatible people?

I would say that -- under most circumstances -- one should be slow to jump to conclusions of any kind, positive or negative, about other people. We should be sensibly cautious about trusting anyone until we know them well. On the other hand -- under most circumstances -- we should be slow to make accusations or conclude that someone is definitely a bad person.

There are exceptions. There are situations where making quick decisions about other people really is of vital importance, e.g. on a battlefield, where one's life depends on making split-second decisions about who is friend or foe.

But most everyday encounters with other people are not like that. And most people are complex. First impressions -- good or bad -- are often wrong (and often bigoted).

As autistic people, we are often frustrated by other people jumping to unwarranted prejudicial conclusions about us, based on our body language, our tone of voice, or whatever. If we are going to complain about that sort of thing, we are hypocrites if we inflict the same frustration on other people (especially other autistic people) without good reason.


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StrayCat81
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07 Aug 2021, 10:02 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
But most everyday encounters with other people are not like that.

While people you meet every day can't kill you due to laws, they still want your money. Or rape you. Or at the very least, they want to waste your time. So while rarely matter of life and death due to my priviledges, people encounters are still a threat and have to quickly assert level of that threat.

Mona Pereth wrote:
As autistic people, we are often frustrated by other people jumping to unwarranted prejudicial conclusions about us, based on our body language, our tone of voice, or whatever.

Umm, nope, I'm definitely not frustrated by that. While miscommunications can be mildly annoying, people assuming things about me is actually a life saver most of the times. This is how I avoided being bullied for example, because I've learned to pretend I'm not as weird as I really am. And basic masking is relatively easy exactly because of those prejudices. I would be a prime target for bullying if only people knew how vulnerable I am. But thanks to their prejudicial conclusions, they left me alone and went looking for easier targets.

Another example, I'm quite big, so people at first assume I'm dangerous and can be scared of me. Again, it's super useful in adult life, because it discourages them from trying to cause trouble. Hurray for prejudicial conclusions! :3


If someone want's to get to know me, they are free to ask, I'm open. If someone doesn't want and prefers prejudices, that's their right. I might as well be frustrated by rain... :3



Mona Pereth
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07 Aug 2021, 10:38 pm

StrayCat81 wrote:
While people you meet every day can't kill you due to laws, they still want your money. Or rape you. Or at the very least, they want to waste your time.

IMO these threats are best dealt with not by making judgments about individual people, but by taking standard categorical precautions, e.g. not being alone with a man I just met.

I simply don't trust my first impressions of people. So, instead of relying on those first impressions, I have a standard set of rules for dealing with people I just recently met. And this, I think, is my best protection from highly manipulative people, who often are good at appearing to be "safer" than they really are.

On the other hand, I've also known people who didn't make a particularly good impression on me at first, but who then ended up becoming good friends.


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 07 Aug 2021, 10:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

StrayCat81
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07 Aug 2021, 10:52 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
I simply don't trust my first impressions of people.

Heh, guess we have opposite first impressions then, because my first one is always "eek, a human, get it off me". So I think it's pretty safe to go with this one?

The problem is, how do I check quickly if my first impression is incorrect and they might actually be safe? How long does it take before spending time with someone becomes actually pleasant, or at the very least, not threatening?



Mona Pereth
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09 Aug 2021, 9:28 am

StrayCat81 wrote:
Heh, guess we have opposite first impressions then, because my first one is always "eek, a human, get it off me". So I think it's pretty safe to go with this one?

The problem is, how do I check quickly if my first impression is incorrect and they might actually be safe? How long does it take before spending time with someone becomes actually pleasant, or at the very least, not threatening?

For most of us at least, there isn't a good way to "check quickly" -- that's my point.

What's necessary is to have, somehow, an efficient way of getting to know people over a period of time, while continuing to hold them at arm's length, and without spending a huge amount of time and energy on any one person during the process of getting to know them.

That's one of the main things that a regularly-meeting group is for.

Alas, to one extent or another, most of us have difficulty functioning in groups.

So the problem, for autistic people, is how to find -- or create -- a regularly-meeting group that one is capable of functioning well in without tiring oneself out too much, and that is likely also to contain at least a few good potential friends.

Other than groups of people with shared interests and/or values, other possible places to get to know people over a period of time are one's workplace (if any), one's school (if any), and one's neighborhood. But these are all, in my opinion, much less likely (especially for autistic people!) sources of good potential friends than a group of people with shared interests and/or values. The workplace is also a more dangerous option than the other possible places, due to potential repercussions on the job if things go sour.

So we're back to the problem of how to find, or create, regularly-meeting groups that we can function well in.

And that, in my opinion, is one of the reasons why it's so important for us to build the autistic community as an organized subculture, including not just support groups but also hobby-oriented groups, career-oriented groups, etc. -- and find ways to make all these groups autistic-friendly. (See my Longterm visions for the autistic community.) Hence also the need for leadership self-training groups.


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A_minor
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09 Aug 2021, 10:41 am

I'd add this to Foundations of friendship: Accepting, forgiving (and eventually understanding) each other's oddities and faults.

Myself, I only have two real friends (both NT), and they are close friends that I've known since my teens. I've always known they could potentially become close friends even though it took a couple of years for both sides to realise we had grown close. You could say I've carefully selected them.

I have no need for shallow friendships, they mean nothing to me, if I don't feel they could potentially become close friendships I actively let them bleed dry.


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09 Aug 2021, 11:01 am

Some Random Thoughts on Friends & Friendship

• You learn that the friendships you took for granted as a kid actually fall away pretty quickly if you neglect them and that even if you don't, time has a habit of changing people and your best friend from school is different since he got married or that guy you did a bunch of blow with at university never really got the hang of stopping that and isn't as much fun anymore.

• Online friends are not real friends.  Most of them could not possibly care less about you in your times of great need (i.e., homelessness, joblessness, poverty, et cetera)

• You don't have as many friends as before: As you progress through life, you just won't have as many friends as you used to.  Your friends' interests may change, your interests may change, and those friends you still have will likely forget all about you once they become successful or you become poor.

• You cannot always rely on friends: You will need certain life skills when nobody else is around. In this way you can rely on yourself to get out of trouble.  It is a sad fact of life that we cannot count on other people most of the time.

• Don't think that people will always be there when you fall or fail. The phone will go silent.  Many friends will suddenly be very busy with their own problems.  When I was recovering from a divorce and layoffs, not one person in my former circle offered to help me with housing, employment, or medical expenses.

• One person cannot be popular with everybody.

• The whole dynamic of friendship and making new friends really does change drastically after college.

• You almost certainly have friends without whom you'd be better off -- maybe even close friends.  Ditch them.  They are keeping you down.


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09 Aug 2021, 11:07 am

Back to the topic...

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/commu ... eople.html

Evan West wrote:
10 Traits of Likeable People -- 2019/05/06

Imagine walking into work and you're greeted with smiles and enthusiastic hellos from all of your co-workers; while you make your way through the building you feel like a rock-star. You shake everyone's hand, get pats on the back, and you being there leaves the entire place feeling more uplifted. You're friends with everyone and your boss loves you.

This is an every day occurrence, if you're a likeable person. If this seems like something that could never possibly happen to you, then I'd like to remind you that social skills, like any skills, are completely learn-able; and with a little practice you too could be the talk of the office, and be going home with a thriving social life.

Here are several traits that likeable people share. If you cultivate them, you'll join the ranks of those who spend their weekends with friends, their evenings at dinner parties, and their days surrounded by coworkers that love and respect them.

1) They Are Secure: Likeable people don't come from a place of insecurity. They go into every interaction thinking "I bet me and this other person would get along great, I should really get to know them better". And then the likeable person moves on from there. Start from a positive place and others will notice. If you're not there yet, faking your confidence will help put your insecurities at ease.

2) They're Genuine: Likeable people never try to be something they aren't. If you don't know something, admit it. If you don't agree with a statement someone else has made, don't grin and bare it. Instead, honestly admit that you don't see it the same way as the other person. Don't put them down. Simply try to see where they're coming from, and strive to understand their point of view.

3) They Don't Judge: When you are judgmental, people can sense it. Even if you smile and hide your negative feelings, the people around you can sense that you have just formed a poor opinion of them. Rather than seeing others as good or bad, try to understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, choices, and mistakes. Likeable people make this their philosophy and, as long as no one is getting hurt, they never pass judgment on the value or morality of another person.

4) They're Positive: Negativity abounds in our world. We have negativity in the news, on our homepages, and it appears on the Facebook and twitter feeds of our friends. Even a lot of the novels I read end up with negative endings! Be a positive voice in a world where everyone sounds a little like Eeyore. Being positive will make you a pleasure to talk to and more people will want to talk to you.

5) They Don't Compete: Conversations aren't competitions. Likeable people never story-top or one-up in a conversation. Instead, they view conversations as an opportunity to connect and create deep relationships with others. If you want to be more likeable, enter every conversation with the goal to make the other person feel liked and respected. This will change the tone of the interactions you have, and make everyone involved more likely to enjoy it.

6) They Provide Value: When you're in a conversation with someone and they complain that they don't know what to get their mom for Christmas, do you lament how awful that must be before going into a story of your own? Or do you recognize that they have a problem they may need help solving? People everywhere have problems they wouldn't mind help solving. But as people, we tend to be self-involved and not notice. If you take notice and help people solve their problems, you'll create friends for life.

7) They Don't Settle for Small Talk: Small talk doesn't develop long lasting friendships, and small talk won't make you likeable person. Likeable people avoid small talk by transforming it into deep conversation. They do this by being genuinely interested in others, asking honest questions to help further their understanding, and relating to what they're told, briefly, before gathering more from the person they're talking to. Don't settle for small talk–do everything in your power to move the conversation forward to more personal subjects.

8) They Touch People: Patting shoulders, shaking hands, and (in some cases) hugging other people makes people more comfortable around you. Touching eliminates the physical barrier of distance, and so it eliminates the emotional barrier that the distance represents. Touch is an art, and the first few times that you attempt it it may seem awkward, but practice makes perfect and the art of touch is important if you want to become more likeable.

9) They Don't Shy Away: Likeable people have tons of friends! This isn't magic–it's because they intentionally befriend tons of people. They meet people; they get those peoples' contact information; they befriend those people and spend time with them; and then they go meet more people, never losing touch with anyone they've gotten to know. You can't be more likeable and not meet new people. You have to get out of your comfort zone and build lots of relationships if you want to become more likeable.

10) They Genuinely Like People: I know what you're thinking: But people suck! It's true, everyone has moments when they act rudely and everyone can be annoying from time to time. But deep down, most people are really nice. They care about others, and unless they're having a bad day, they're easy to get along with. Likeable people know this, and so they like people. They want to get to know other people, and they enter every interaction expecting a positive experience. If you only remember one tip from this article, it should be to develop the attitude of liking people. If you do that you'll become more likeable in no time.

Likeable people were all less likeable at one point in time. They simply decided to work at becoming more engaged, more respectful, and more likeable. Now they seem to work magic and develop friendships wherever they go. You can seem like that too! You simply have to develop the habits I've outlined above and you'll have the social life, the career, and the life that being more likeable brings you.


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StrayCat81
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09 Aug 2021, 11:52 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
For most of us at least, there isn't a good way to "check quickly" -- that's my point.

Guess I have to find a way then... Hmm, probably by asking questions that I would like to be asked, but humans would hate. What kind of questions normal people find the most offensive?

For example, what if I asked what kind of monster someone is? If I got asked that, I would find it fun conversation starter, it would be interesting to compare and neat test for honesty. And I think that question would offend most humans, because it would hurt their huge egos, so good way to filter them out fast?

Of course this is definitely not good question for group or face2face talk since humans turn violent easily. But as a online conversation starter?

Fnord wrote:
Evan West wrote:
10 Traits of Likeable People -- 2019/05/06

Imagine walking into work and you're greeted with smiles and enthusiastic hellos from all of your co-workers;

This sounds like a nightmare already... Last thing I need are enthusiastic hellos from bunch of random creeps :3



Mona Pereth
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10 Aug 2021, 4:37 pm

I just now came across the following, on a blog called Real Social Skills:

Quote:
Autistic people can have friends

One reason I started writing this blog is that I got tired of seeing social skills programs teach autistic people that they have to become normal in order to have friends.

It’s not true. There are a lot of autistic people who have friends without becoming remotely normal. Oddness and friendship are entirely compatible.

You can be autistic, seem autistic, and have friends who like you and enjoy your company.

Some people won’t like you, and that’s ok. Not everyone has to like everyone.

Some people will dislike you because they are bigoted against autistic people. That’s not ok, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Ableists don’t speak for everyone. Those people aren’t your friends. Other people can be.

You’ll probably always face ableism. Trying to be normal probably won’t make that go away; accepting yourself probably won’t make that go away either. You don’t need to change the whole world in order to have friends.

You can have friends as the person you are, in the world as it is now.

I agree with this.

I've never been much of a masker, but I managed to make quite a few friends when I was in my twenties and thirties. (Alas, most of them were 10 to 20 years older than me, and my best friends are no longer living.)


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11 Aug 2021, 2:34 pm

This is a great discussion and I have had lots of experiences of a friend.

A friend is
1. Someone who will be there for you through good and bad times
2. Respects your boundaries and takes no for an answer
3. A real friend will not only just focus on themselves
4. Accepts you for who you are
5. They will be supportive no matter what
6. They will correct you and be honest with you to protect you from making bad choices
7. They will be kind, gentle, genuine
8. They are interested in the lives of those they call friends
9. They offer good advice
10. They are excited to see you
11. They are humble
12. They celebrate your accomplishments with you

Someone who is not a friend
1. Someone who constantly criticizes
2. Someone who give just to get in return
3. Disrespects your boundaries
4. The relationship is one-sided
5. They gossip all the time about other people and their friends
6. They run the other way when their friends are going through a rough time
7. They constantly hide their true feelings behind other people
8. They pretend to be your friend so they can use you for things
9. They constantly insult you, talk down you
10.They are jealous of you
11. They are competitive and constantly on on up you for things
12. They are not excited to see you but they are excited to see other people
13. They dismiss your accomplishments with short responses like "That's cool"
14. When you invite them to things, they make excuses about not having the money, etc. Then you see them on social media hanging with other friends



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12 Aug 2021, 10:03 pm

A_minor wrote:
I'd add this to Foundations of friendship: Accepting, forgiving (and eventually understanding) each other's oddities and faults.

Is it okay if I quote or refer to the above and credit you on either my website or my blog?

I'm not sure I would regard it as a distinct "foundation of friendship," though. It overlaps to some extent with #2, "Emotional sharing / intimacy. Emotional support, sympathy, mutual understanding, and freedom to be (relatively) unmasked."

Indeed, "Accepting, forgiving (and eventually understanding) each other's oddities and faults" seems to me to be a prerequisite to emotional intimacy. People are not likely to feel "emotional support, sympathy, mutual understanding, and freedom to be (relatively) unmasked" if they are worried about being judged by the other person.

Perhaps #2 combines too many things and needs to be split up into a few separate foundations of friendship. I'm not sure how best to do that, however.


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Mona Pereth
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12 Aug 2021, 11:30 pm

Summer_Twilight wrote:
This is a great discussion and I have had lots of experiences of a friend.

A friend is
1. Someone who will be there for you through good and bad times
2. Respects your boundaries and takes no for an answer
3. A real friend will not only just focus on themselves
4. Accepts you for who you are
5. They will be supportive no matter what
6. They will correct you and be honest with you to protect you from making bad choices
7. They will be kind, gentle, genuine
8. They are interested in the lives of those they call friends
9. They offer good advice
10. They are excited to see you
11. They are humble
12. They celebrate your accomplishments with you

Someone who is not a friend
1. Someone who constantly criticizes
2. Someone who give just to get in return
3. Disrespects your boundaries
4. The relationship is one-sided
5. They gossip all the time about other people and their friends
6. They run the other way when their friends are going through a rough time
7. They constantly hide their true feelings behind other people
8. They pretend to be your friend so they can use you for things
9. They constantly insult you, talk down you
10.They are jealous of you
11. They are competitive and constantly on on up you for things
12. They are not excited to see you but they are excited to see other people
13. They dismiss your accomplishments with short responses like "That's cool"
14. When you invite them to things, they make excuses about not having the money, etc. Then you see them on social media hanging with other friends

These are great lists! Just a couple of minor disagreements/caveats:

Summer_Twilight wrote:
14. When you invite them to things, they make excuses about not having the money, etc. Then you see them on social media hanging with other friends

Obviously, hanging out on social media costs less money than whatever they didn't have the money for, so it doesn't invalidate the excuse.

Also, autistic people generally tend to have very limited energy for in-person social interactions, so, among autistic people, I wouldn't consider wanting only very limited in-person interaction to be necessarily a sign of a bad friend.

Also there is quite a bit of gray area between:

Summer_Twilight wrote:
A friend is
[...]
4. Accepts you for who you are
5. They will be supportive no matter what
6. They will correct you and be honest with you to protect you from making bad choices

and:

Summer_Twilight wrote:
Someone who is not a friend
1. Someone who constantly criticizes


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