I recently conducted a social experiment. I admit it – it probably wasn’t ethical. I know it wasn’t approved by the National Psychiatric Association. It’s not accredited.
However, it is accurate.
Let’s start with a premise: Once your Aspie develops feelings for someone, those feelings are incredibly strong. This is any emotions – friendship, love, dislike. All of it.
For me, it started with a break up. As I have stated previously in this series: My permanent partner and I are polyamorous and open. There are a couple reasons for this. 1) I am diagnosed hypersexual. My sex drive is off the charts. I cannot get enough and my permanent partner would like to do things other than engage in sexual activities with me. I understand that. 2) I am into BDSM. I have developed needs that she cannot meet and remain true to herself. I would not ask her to… I love her for who she is.
I started a BDSM relationship with a young lady. She and I managed to last for a long enough time that I developed feelings. I will not go into specifics as to why the relationship ended. Suffice to say – it had become toxic in a very real and profound way, and it was best for both of us and everyone who was involved with us.
Even if I had not developed deep feelings for this individual, breaking it off was change. Change is painful, but I cared. A lot. And as such I was torn up inside.
So… I reached out to people I considered friends. Some were just friends, some were people I considered INCREDIBLY close and a couple were the best friends I had. Almost none of them were up to the task. very few of them responded to my cries for emotional support and succor. Still others told me that they didn’t have time for my emotional turmoil. One of them actively denied emotional support after I had been there for them through some tumultuous emotional events of their own.
I managed to get through it – largely on my own, but with a large heaping helping of care from my primary partner.
This took a couple months during which I was largely inactive amongst my friends. I still went to class (managed to get straight As this semester), and interacted with the friends from my classes. But that was pretty much it. As I healed, I noticed that I was the one who routinely reached out to my friends.
Autistic Spectrum Individuals tend to communicate using the dictionary definitions of words. A friend has been defined as: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Urban Dictionary defines it as: people who are aware of how retarded you are and still manage to be seen in public with you. people who make you laugh till you pee your pants. people who cry for you when one of your special items disappear. when you don’t have enough money to get a ice cream, they chip in. knows all of your internet passwords. who would never make you cry just to be mean. I have taken these definition to heart.
I reach out to my friends out of respect and mutual affection. Therefore, it was just possible that they weren’t reaching out due to the fact that I was doing it before they could… OCD can be like that.
So… the experiment was this – I stopped reaching out to those people I considered friends. I waited to see who would reach out to me. I don’t know if the results are surprising, but I know I was shocked. A small fraction of the people that I cared about reached out. There are a couple that are the most important to me that did not let me down… but there were a couple that… well, they are (or rather, were) terribly important to me that did not.
It’s painfully fascinating. While my sample size is incredibly small, I believe that your Aspie may feel more strongly for the people in their life than those people for them.
Interpersonal relationships can be a minefield for Autistic Spectrum Individuals. It can be incredibly difficult to get to know us. It can be difficult for us to let people in… but when we do, we care. As previously discussed, we have very little middle ground. We are creatures of extremes… we either love it or hate it. The same can be said for the people in our lives. They exist in one of three states – 1) We don’t know them, and as such have no opinion. 2) we don’t like them 3) or we care deeply. People are so complicated that very few people can reach number 3. So… when they do not demonstrate the same level of regard and caring… it hurts.
You may have to comfort your aspie because… well, let’s face it… people suck.
What’s worse is that… even though it was toxic and the individual I was involved with gutted me emotionally… I miss her from time to time.