Friendship : An Autistic perspective.

A friend, according to the Oxford Living Dictionary, is a person with whom ” one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations” 

Mutual affection ? 

Now that’s the bit I don’t get. Affection, defined as a “gentle feeling of fondness or liking” seems to me to be wide of the mark. 

Unfortunately friendship relies heavily on feelings and emotional attachment and that’s something I really struggle with. I can’t say that I’m fond of anyone because that’s a word that conjures up a cosy image of friendship that I don’t recognise. 

Of course I like people but I like them on my terms and liking a person doesn’t make them my friend. 

Difficult isn’t it ?. 

The flip side of the coin is that, because I’m hopeless at recognising how people feel about me (and that’s me as a person not me who does everything at work and sorts it all out for them!) I don’t know whether they feel genuine fondness towards me or they’re just grateful that I do their work!. 

I’ve never had friends. I’m not sure what to do with them ?. Yes there are people I like but I don’t think of them as friends and that’s regardless of any mutual affection going on. I work with people I like but I have little to zero interest in taking that relationship outside of the workplace and forming social friendships with them. Apart from an occasional meal out with my partner and two work colleagues that’s it, no office parties or Christmas gatherings. 

They aren’t people I share interests with, or do things with. They are just people “that I know”. 

Does that sound bad ?. 

I’m not good at small talk. I mask and feign an interest as it’s kind of required in the work environment. Of course, if people I know are ill then I like to know that, I want to know they’ll be okay; I’m not a monster. 

Another thing I find very difficult is knowing what friendship entails. I don’t know what people expect from me. What is my part of the relationship ?. Moral support, wacky humour, cold hard logic, money ?. I don’t know what I’m contributing. 

And I don’t know why anyone wants to be my friend. Again I mean friend in a context other than “Patrick’s my friend because he knows work stuff and sorts stuff for me at work!”. 

Yes, that’s partially an esteem issue. Why would anyone want to be friends with an admittedly odd 51 year old who dresses for comfort not style, isn’t trendy in the slightest, knows zero about technology, doesn’t have an iPhone, doesn’t drink, loves Snakes, Wolves, travel, the occasional video game binge and KFC, doesn’t do small talk, isn’t really interested in anything other than his topics of interest, has occasional meltdowns, embarrasses (occasionally and apparently) his partner by exhibiting strange behaviour in public and who switches off when anxious (so, 90% of the time then!). 

So, hardly an attractive “friend” then ?. 

Being on the spectrum has its advantages and I wouldn’t want to be neurotypical in the slightest, not full time anyway. But just occasionally it would be nice to really understand what concepts like friendship mean to them. What they do, why they do it, what are the benefits (or not ?). 

Friendship ?. 

I just don’t get it. 

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