Social interaction problems - Number related? Thoughts?

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zer0netgain
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03 Apr 2009, 7:00 am

I had this thought. I'd appreciate insight.

I do try and participate in groups. With very limited success. I do this because I know being isolated isn't helping me develop social skills.

However, I've noticed the following.

1. I can meet most anyone one-on-one and talk about something with relative comfort. I typically do not form any type of intimate bond in this interaction.

2. I can interact with 2 or 3 others and gain emotional gratification from the exchange. I feel that I have gotten to a point where I can "balance" conversation so I don't dominate the discussion better than I ever used to. These interactions are generally rewarding for me.

3. When I'm in a group of 5 of more, that's where it falls apart. Typically, I notice people are drawn to those others with similar interests and personalities. When enough people get together, I stop being a participant and become more of an observer. Nobody spends any meaningful amount of time with me for me to get any sense of gratification from being part of the group. In fact, I typically feel like I should just be a potted plant sitting in the corner of the room for what good it does to be there. The other side is that if I try to participate, I'm clumsy in knowing how to jump in or what to do. Often, it's awkward and I tend to dominate.

My hypothesis is that interaction with 1-3 others at one time forces the others to include all others so that there is a social dynamic. Once too many people get involved, it is human nature to break down into groups of common interest and personality. This is less tolerant of those who are "unique" and results in exclusions of those who can't "fit in" with the group as a whole.

This is what makes me want to avoid participating in the groups to which I belong. If I get together with a couple of them, it is fairly rewarding. If it's a group gathering, I come away drained, depressed, disappointed. It makes me think of how some people will insist on going to a party with a close friend because the will have at least one person they know they can interact with as compared to chancing that they go and have nobody to talk to.



deadeyexx
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03 Apr 2009, 10:40 am

5 people? I used to have trouble even with 2 other people. Still have trouble not fading out of groups of 4.

Good observation though. I agree that when a group gets big enough to support multiple conversations, it begins to divide into sub-groups. When this happens, I think it's important to try to commit to one of these sub-group the best you can.

Aspies are generally bad at social interaction, & the best we can do is to hold our own so the conversation doesn't die & things get awkward. When enough people come in to help carry your load, it's natural for us to begin to phase ourselves out. If you commit sub-group of a size you can comfortably handle, you continue to remain a central part of the conversation.



Mysty
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03 Apr 2009, 10:52 am

I notice sometimes, a bunch of people at a table, and people tend to pair up in conversations, and so if there's an odd number of people, one person will get left out. And, yeah, that person can pick a conversation to listen in on and it's not rude, but, still not really part of it.



redplanet
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03 Apr 2009, 10:57 am

MR wrote:
I notice sometimes, a bunch of people at a table, and people tend to pair up in conversations, and so if there's an odd number of people, one person will get left out. And, yeah, that person can pick a conversation to listen in on and it's not rude, but, still not really part of it.


It always ends up being me that's left out - I've experienced this as far back as school :(



ScrewyWabbit
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03 Apr 2009, 11:21 am

I think its a matter of my comfort level with the individuals that comprise the group. I too have much more difficulty interacting in larger groups. Its very intimidating. But I do better with larger groups when the individuals that comprise the large group are people I am comfortable with - whom I have interacted extensively with in one-on-one situations or in groups of 2-3 extensively in the past.



zer0netgain
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03 Apr 2009, 12:35 pm

Exactly. My "interests" are very few and there be few that share them. When I get together with these groups, they normally start talking about whatever, but I don't share an interest.

Now, if there is just 2-3 other people, somehow I can keep a decent conversation going and somewhat enjoy it. My opinion is that with so few people, I can better track facial expressions and tone of voice to know how to better have "give and take." Once a large enough group emerges, there is too much going on to know where to begin.

It also is an issue that some people are naturally charismatic. They speak...everyone wants to listen. Some people just draw people to them. I have never understood how that works, and it is painful to know that I tend to repel people rather than attract them.

What made/makes me think about leaving the group is how I feel so "excluded" when I go to functions.

A good example is that I went to one summer rally at the end of my vacation Nova Scotia. Not one person asked about my trip. It's not that they didn't know, and granted, I did post up details and pictures online during the trip for those who wanted to follow it, but I was rather hurt and insulted that while people would listen to Mr. A talk about the latest work project he had or Mr. B about something that happened at his job, nobody cared about what I do at work (which is fairly boring) and nobody cared about something I just did that I thought people would genuinely find interesting.

So, I wound up sitting on the sideline watching others "have fun" while I twiddled my thumbs hoping to not be totally excluded. If there was only 2-3 people with me, it would be unusual for me to be excluded. Once there were 5 or more, it's like a dinner buffet where you can pick and chose what you want on your plate....and I'm the cross-contaminated salad dressing nobody want's to touch.

Maybe a part of it is that NTs (having no problem interacting with a group) presume that AS people are having a good time just by being there. What they don't get is that if a person with AS is present but not actively participating, they feel like the exercise is a waste of time because they cannot interact by passive methods (if there is such a thing). To a NT, just being part of a group is enough and "rejection" would require the group choosing to not want them present. To someone with AS, being present isn't enough, we need to be in the thick of things or we feel like we aren't even there.



Amicitia
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03 Apr 2009, 1:57 pm

I may be pulling this out of thin air, and I can't believe I'm using a chemistry example, but... covalent bonds. It could be the case that NT satisfaction with socialization increases with increasing number of participants, but only up to a certain point (say, four other people). So, if there are five or fewer people in the group, an NT can maximize his enjoyment by interacting with all of them (as long as none of them are completely repellant). As soon as there are more than five people in the group, the NT gains no additional benefit by trying to include the extras, so he can ignore the surplus people and not lose any enjoyment. The NT is going to interact with the four people who seem most interesting/congenial, for reasons that should be fairly obvious, and ignore everyone else. This leads to the subgroups people have mentioned, as everyone decides who it would be most fun to talk to. All fine and well, unless no one picks you as one of the four most interesting people present. In which case you become the odd man out.

Solution: Interact in small groups, or in large groups where at least some of the people think you are fascinating.



zer0netgain
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03 Apr 2009, 5:50 pm

So....you're saying I'm a free radical...or one of those atoms that has a full set of electrons so it won't bond with other atoms. :lol:



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03 Apr 2009, 6:19 pm

zer0netgain wrote:
So....you're saying I'm a free radical...or one of those atoms that has a full set of electrons so it won't bond with other atoms. :lol:


I've thought of this chemical structural (molecules of people and free radicals) analogy also myself.
Oh the joys of social chemistry lol :lol:

Have you lot been inserting spy cameras into my brain? 8O

I can only interact successfully interact with a group of strangers/friends containing a maximum of 3 people. Any more than that and I clam up, especially during formal group work projects.

Coincidentally, I've lived in a house with 3 other people all my life.

Wait...maybe that isn't such a coincidence if you think about it... 8O


When I talk to relatives, it's much easier, but then again they're pretty predictable, and don't mind me taking time out to find my own space or switch between groups of relatives. It's pretty relaxed really. They don't expect me to say all that much because they know me and what I'm comfortable with. They don't try to force me to do stuff that I don't want to do and make allowances. The sense of familial camaraderie is there and they're all a bit quirky anyway.

Even then, I never talk with groups of more than 3 relatives at a time even if the group itself is 7 or more. It's mostly one to one or one to two discussion anyway. When we all sit round the table it's sometimes hard to know when my turn to speak is. This is also true if I'm on the phone.



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03 Apr 2009, 6:27 pm

redplanet wrote:
MR wrote:
I notice sometimes, a bunch of people at a table, and people tend to pair up in conversations, and so if there's an odd number of people, one person will get left out. And, yeah, that person can pick a conversation to listen in on and it's not rude, but, still not really part of it.


It always ends up being me that's left out - I've experienced this as far back as school :(


Make that College for me as well.

After High School, the teachers tend not to be as sympathetic, since they think you've "grown up", intelligent and therefore can find people to work without help. This just isn't true. There are some of us who'd love to know how it's done, but just haven't been told how to.

This has caused me major assignment and accommodation finding problems.

It's the most horrid and embarrassing feeling when you're going round different groups asking if places are free and no one even tries to help, while all the while your teacher is looking at you like you're being deliberately awkward and uncooperative. But the reality is that you're trying your best and there's no support anywhere.

This is the main reason why I experienced depression.

Feeling left out sucks, not just for academic, but for social fun activities too.



elderwanda
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03 Apr 2009, 6:54 pm

I'm the same way, only I don't think the group has to be as big as 5 for me to feel lost and left out. Generally that happens in a group of three or four. I've often had experiences where I'm talking to someone, and we seem to be having a good conversation, and then someone else, who knows the person I'm talking with, comes up to join. Next thing you know, the conversation is about some topic that only they know about. Eventually I just walk away.


I've only recently begun to think of these things, really. All my life I have felt that way, but as a kid it didn't matter. If I felt uncomfortable in a group, I would just go home to my room, line up my stuffed animals, and listen to records, which is what I usually wanted to do in the first place. As a teenager, I had a thick bubble around me, so I was never in a group at all. In early adulthood, I was aware that I didn't like bigger groups, because I did tend to get left out. It's not so much that I wanted to be included all that much; I'm generally content to be an observer, but sometimes people would say something that implies that I SHOULD be in the middle of everything, and yet no one would be talking to me or looking at me.



Amicitia
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04 Apr 2009, 8:53 am

zer0netgain wrote:
So....you're saying I'm a free radical...or one of those atoms that has a full set of electrons so it won't bond with other atoms. :lol:


Congratulations, zer0, you're a noble gas. :D

AmberEyes wrote:
Have you lot been inserting spy cameras into my brain? 8O


Better put your tin-foil hat back on. :wink:



zer0netgain
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04 Apr 2009, 10:41 am

Amicitia wrote:
zer0netgain wrote:
So....you're saying I'm a free radical...or one of those atoms that has a full set of electrons so it won't bond with other atoms. :lol:


Congratulations, zer0, you're a noble gas. :D


That's the term I was thinking of....thanks. :lol:

AmberEyes wrote:
Have you lot been inserting spy cameras into my brain? 8O


No, but I make no assurances about what the NSA is up to. 8O