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KaleidoscopicMagpie
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21 Feb 2022, 3:38 pm

I don't understand why I have to make ALL the effort in a friendship. People feel happy to talk to me about their problems, because I listen and validate their feelings. But for some reason, it never works the other way around. If I try to open up about a problem, I scare people away. They change the subject, or don't reply to my messages. I find it really difficult when someone doesn't reply to a message, I get very anxious. But I can't talk to anybody about that problem, because for some reason, nobody wants to hear me and I don't know why. I spent my whole childhood keeping secrets and being afraid of letting people know how I felt. Now I know why. I can't take this constant rejection, it makes me want to go back inside myself and not bother with relationships. I'm sure if I wasn't so lonely it wouldn't matter so much. But I feel like a second class citizen. I feel like the worst person in the world and I hate myself. Is that why?


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Mona Pereth
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22 Feb 2022, 2:56 am

Maybe you've been trying to make friends with the wrong kinds of people? Where, how, and under what kinds of circumstances have you been trying to make friends?

Luckily you live in the U.K., which has a better-developed autistic community than any other country in the world, as far as I can tell. Hopefully you can find a local autistic adult support group and maybe make a few friends there.


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blazingstar
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22 Feb 2022, 5:54 am

Back when I was much younger and still interested in friends, I noticed the same dynamic. I was the supportive listener, but no one wanted to listen to me talk about my problems. Analyzing this and other imbalances in relationships is one of the reasons I eventually decided friends were not worth the effort. (This would be NT friends, before I knew anything about autism.)


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HighLlama
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22 Feb 2022, 6:27 am

KaleidoscopicMagpie wrote:
I don't understand why I have to make ALL the effort in a friendship. People feel happy to talk to me about their problems, because I listen and validate their feelings. But for some reason, it never works the other way around. If I try to open up about a problem, I scare people away. They change the subject, or don't reply to my messages. I find it really difficult when someone doesn't reply to a message, I get very anxious. But I can't talk to anybody about that problem, because for some reason, nobody wants to hear me and I don't know why. I spent my whole childhood keeping secrets and being afraid of letting people know how I felt. Now I know why. I can't take this constant rejection, it makes me want to go back inside myself and not bother with relationships. I'm sure if I wasn't so lonely it wouldn't matter so much. But I feel like a second class citizen. I feel like the worst person in the world and I hate myself. Is that why?


I definitely relate to your experience. There were times I really lowered my standards for friendships and relationships, because I was just so used to the sh***y behavior. Now I'm way more selective. There are people out there who will really listen and want balanced friendships/relationships. They are just rare. Most people want what's flattering to them, not what's real.



KaleidoscopicMagpie
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22 Feb 2022, 6:58 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
Maybe you've been trying to make friends with the wrong kinds of people? Where, how, and under what kinds of circumstances have you been trying to make friends?

Luckily you live in the U.K., which has a better-developed autistic community than any other country in the world, as far as I can tell. Hopefully you can find a local autistic adult support group and maybe make a few friends there.


Maybe I have. I've tried to make friends at work mostly. I work at a special needs school. The friend I'm thinking about at the moment is someone else who works in my class. I don't know how to explain what circumstances; we have a lot of things in common, and she talks about some difficulties she had in her past a lot, especially with her mother. I have a difficult mother, so I thought that was a something in common we could discuss. She also has some autistic traits, or at least talks about them, and definitely a good dose of anxiety. She is often kind to me, says nice things about me, but she doesn't want to really 'hear' me. Nobody ever does, and I still can't understand why.

I went to one a long time ago, but there was an older man there who made me feel uncomfortable so I stopped going. Then the man (a different one, who helped me out a few times) who set up the group died, and that made me very sad and I haven't been back. I could try to find a different group perhaps. Or go back and see how it is now, though that might be hard.


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KaleidoscopicMagpie
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22 Feb 2022, 7:02 am

blazingstar wrote:
Back when I was much younger and still interested in friends, I noticed the same dynamic. I was the supportive listener, but no one wanted to listen to me talk about my problems. Analyzing this and other imbalances in relationships is one of the reasons I eventually decided friends were not worth the effort. (This would be NT friends, before I knew anything about autism.)


Do you find that autistic friendships are better?

The only boyfriend I ever had was also on the spectrum, but things went pretty badly. While I was in the relationship, I felt anxious all the time because he would get angry over very specific things and everything was my fault. He took over my bank account to order his Star Wars toys and other things on Amazon. He was obsessed with the countdown timer on Amazon to get things delivered next day and wanted to wait until the last second. But if I distracted him by talking and he missed it, he became really angry. I think he also had some narcissitic traits.


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Officially diagnosed with ASD Oct. 2013
Interests: Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Arthur, education, names, geography, detective fiction, animals, especially dogs.


KaleidoscopicMagpie
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22 Feb 2022, 7:04 am

I definitely relate to your experience. There were times I really lowered my standards for friendships and relationships, because I was just so used to the sh***y behavior. Now I'm way more selective. There are people out there who will really listen and want balanced friendships/relationships. They are just rare. Most people want what's flattering to them, not what's real.[/quote]

Is this just what most people are like? Being autistic, I just blame myself and think there must be something *I'm* doing or something wrong with me. I never considered it might be them.


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Interests: Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Arthur, education, names, geography, detective fiction, animals, especially dogs.


Mona Pereth
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22 Feb 2022, 2:34 pm

KaleidoscopicMagpie wrote:
Maybe I have. I've tried to make friends at work mostly.

It's probably not a good idea to share intimate details of one's life with people in one's workplace. I wouldn't try to make close friends there.

On the other hand....

KaleidoscopicMagpie wrote:
I work at a special needs school.

One type of organization that is desperately needed, in my opinion, is a professional association of neurodivergent special ed teachers. Hopefully someone will launch such an org soon. If so, I would suggest that you get involved in helping to build it, or at least helping to build an informal network that could eventually become such an org. That would be an excellent way to make friends.

Such an org is needed, both to (1) make it safer for autistic and other neurodivergent special ed teachers to be open about their neurodivergence and ask for any needed accommodations and (2) make it more respectable for neurodivergent special ed teachers to invoke their own lived experience to advise the special ed establishment on better ways to teach neurodivergent children of various kinds.

The autistic community on Twitter tends to be U.K.-dominated, and includes a fair number of special ed teachers. So I recommend trying to connect with other autistic U.K. special ed teachers on Twitter (using a pseudonym to protect your privacy, which fortunately Twitter allows, unlike Facebook). See my list of hashtags frequently used by autistic people on Twitter.

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She is often kind to me, says nice things about me, but she doesn't want to really 'hear' me. Nobody ever does, and I still can't understand why.

Probably a lot of us have experienced this sort of thing.

Hopefully you will feel "heard" by at least a few people here on Wrong Planet. Welcome to WP!

To make it easier to find potential friends here on WP, I recommend that you edit your profile to add a signature line, in which you mention (1) that you are a special ed teacher and (2) your hobbies, if any.


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Mona Pereth
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22 Feb 2022, 2:45 pm

KaleidoscopicMagpie wrote:
Do you find that autistic friendships are better?

The only boyfriend I ever had was also on the spectrum, but things went pretty badly.

Different autistic people are different. Some of us have had good relationships with other autistic people, and some of us have had very bad relationships with other autistic people.

KaleidoscopicMagpie wrote:
While I was in the relationship, I felt anxious all the time because he would get angry over very specific things and everything was my fault.

Was he also clinically depressed, as well as autistic?

Many autistic people are also depressed, which, if untreated, can be a major cause of problems in relationships. Depression in men often manifests as extreme irritability and grudge-holding.


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Mona Pereth
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22 Feb 2022, 3:26 pm

KaleidoscopicMagpie wrote:
Is this just what most people are like? Being autistic, I just blame myself and think there must be something *I'm* doing or something wrong with me. I never considered it might be them.

Might be a little of both. Are you familiar with the double-empathy problem? (See Double empathy, explained by Rachel Zamzow, Spectrum News, 22 July 2021.)


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HighLlama
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22 Feb 2022, 4:07 pm

KaleidoscopicMagpie wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
I definitely relate to your experience. There were times I really lowered my standards for friendships and relationships, because I was just so used to the sh***y behavior. Now I'm way more selective. There are people out there who will really listen and want balanced friendships/relationships. They are just rare. Most people want what's flattering to them, not what's real.


Is this just what most people are like? Being autistic, I just blame myself and think there must be something *I'm* doing or something wrong with me. I never considered it might be them.


It's my experience of most people. Or at least how I'd describe it. I've met few people willing to really listen. They will certainly talk and share, though, I think because they're not used to being able to do that without feeling judged. It never occurs to them that you might also have stress, problems, and a need to vent.