The big question that I don't understand about ASD

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Joined: 6 Dec 2022
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13 Jan 2023, 1:12 pm

So I posted before that my GF displays a lot of ASD traits that are a challenge for me being NT.
I'm learning a lot, especially about "masking". But one thing I don't understand is this:

If she masks towards me especially at the beginning meaning she knows she has to do certain behaviors to appear mentally engaged, interested in me, etc etc. So ASD people CAN recognize the needs of an NT person and then "mask" to meet them. And she did that all in the beginning. Then at some point she stopped a lot of her masking and settled into her normal mode; in her own world, less asking me questions, more time on electronics etc.

So the question is... if she realized before that she need to "mask" to emulate certain behaviors to meet my needs then if she stops doing them doesn't she realize that I am going to notice that and not get my needs met?

A great example is this...when we drive together in the car now, she rarely makes conversation with me. It's really hard for me to sit in silence for me and not be engaged. So sometimes, I joke with her and say HELLO! How are you? Tell me about yourself. But when a friend of hers is in the car with us she engages with that person, talks to them, asks them questions etc. She seems to KNOW that it would be rude or unfun for that person to sit there and have her ignore them. So why does she not do that with me? That is what I can't understand. If she realizes that her friend doesn't want to be ignored, doesn't she realize that when we are alone in the car, just her and me, that I don't want to be ignored either ? It's bizarre.

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Snowy Owl
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13 Jan 2023, 7:22 pm

She isn’t ignoring you. She just isn’t “making conversation”.

“Making conversation” is weird. And exhausting. Either I want to talk to you or I don’t. Either I have something I want to talk about, or I don’t.

If you have something you want to talk about - talk. If I like you I will listen. Unless you are someone in my inner circle, in which case I might literally say “I’m sorry, but my ears are tired. Is this important?” Because: my ears are tired. It is physically uncomfortable to listen to human speech. BUT if this is important to you, I will listen anyway.

Have you tried something like “you know, you used to talk to me when we were riding in the car, and it made me feel important. I really miss that because sometimes when we ride in the car and you don’t talk to me, I feel like maybe I’m not important to you anymore.”


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13 Jan 2023, 7:38 pm

You said you are NT? Is that accurate? Why do you frequent this forum?

I bet she wants to talk to you. All the time. I would if I had a BFF. But she refrains maybe because you are not there irl and she doesn't want to enable you to continue living so far away, because you don't seem to need to be with her. So she might wonder if you really mean it, or if you are just playing pretend. LDRs would be okay but you need to see each other for it to be real. That's how women and men usually work.

Are you avoidant? That might make sense. Your needs are different. So if she means a lot to you, you will have to find a way to overcome that distance barrier and see her in a compromise. If you cannot do that, why should she talk to you? At least her friends/acquaintances see her.

Just my hunch. Call it feminine intuition. :P :wink: :heart:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.~Philippians 2:3

Last edited by MissMary227 on 13 Jan 2023, 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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13 Jan 2023, 7:39 pm

Have you asked her these things? What does she say about them?

I'm not her. I can ramble on about why I would do those things in relationships...and I do those things in relationships. But that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Just because I'm dx'd with an asd, doesn't mean her reasons would be like mine.'s my two cents...

I might do that to a partner if we live together. Once I start living with someone, I get so little time alone to decompress and hit that metaphorical reset button that I end up doing things like being silent in a car trip, or sitting on the couch at the end of a long's the only time I have to unwind and recollect those spoons... if someone wanted me to fill all those spaces with conversation, I'd burn out and shutdown. If they kept pushing, it would land me inpatient. I know I am on the extreme end of needing alone time, but it is hard to practice self care when you have to care for your partner to.

Another reason I might do that is because I'm comfortable with my partner and trust them. I might know that it's okay for me to have needs and to take care of them and they won't take it personally and when that happens, omg, that is amazing. To me, there is nothing better than having someone you can sit down and shut up with. Holy perfection, batman. Seriously. For me, silence can be a huge compliment.

In the beginning of relationships, I can bring extra chatter and attention. But as things get more serious, and people are around more frequently, it gets harder for me to rest and recharge. I take those moments to do so when and where I can because if I don't, I crash and burn. Most of my ex's would commiserate with you. They found my silence not only irritating, but hurtful. Even when I tried to explain it wasn't them and that I cared, they never did believe me.

But like I said, that's just me.

What does she say about this?


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13 Jan 2023, 7:57 pm

johnnyflowers wrote:
But when a friend of hers is in the car with us she engages with that person, talks to them, asks them questions etc. She seems to KNOW that it would be rude or unfun for that person to sit there and have her ignore them. So why does she not do that with me? That is what I can't understand. If she realizes that her friend doesn't want to be ignored, doesn't she realize that when we are alone in the car, just her and me, that I don't want to be ignored either ? It's bizarre.

Doing masking extracts a price in both mind and physical energy.
(and sometimes extracts a price mental health overall)

Which is a thing that could be in play where she is going to spend far less time with that friend in the car that day than she will with you during the run of the week and masks with friend for short duration.

Could merely be a case of falling in to old habit when around old friend.

Could also be that even though the person in the car is a friend, the energy to apply to masking comes from the anxiety of having that extra person there.

With the flip side of that being that she is no longer anxious around you and hence feels no further need to protect herself by masking around you.

All of that masking and not masking can be done without conscious thoughts on the matter.

"There are a thousand things that can happen when you go light a rocket engine, and only one of them is good."
Tom Mueller of SpaceX, in Air and Space, Jan. 2011


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13 Jan 2023, 9:17 pm

ASD is the most complicated thing ever, even I don't get it and I've had it since I was 4 years old.


Tufted Titmouse
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14 Jan 2023, 8:08 am

I've noticed the same with me ASD-boyfriend. He did more "masking" in the beginning, like we all do, ASD or NT. Not because people like to lie, but because it is impossible to only show your good side all the time. For my bf and me very concrete arrangements tend to work, like: He would be silent on a car trip from A to B, but we'll have intimate talk time at a specific date. It feels arranged, yes, but often works.


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18 Jan 2023, 12:17 am

Its easy, be explicit about your needs.

That means, don't hide your needs, but explain them in great detail.

Then be prepared to make some compromises in relationships and stick to what works.

Being explicit means you have to say even the things that are normally understood in NT relationships and not said.

For example you have to say you prefer talking in car, and that you like to talk randomly about random things and keep random conversation about nothing important and that you would like to do that with her inject some random sentences about nothing important. I know it sounds silly, but what you don't say may not be understood.

The fact she puts in the effort to mask just means she understands when and where its best to do it, but she may be not aware that this is something you prefer and like all the time.

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19 Feb 2023, 5:13 am

I resonate with you very much when you say that masking conversation is painful. This was my experience in retail--at times too in my relationship; some days, I just like cuddling together in silence or eating a meal, quietly, in peace. I also agree that I can listen at times but not wanting to speak--sometimes we've just got to be a soundboard for someone special.