How can social interaction become enjoyable for us?

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Mona Pereth
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11 Mar 2020, 12:31 am

Here, in the separate thread I'm no longer proud to have Asperger Syndrome:

Callisthenes wrote:
Autism is a disability (in social interactions among other things). NTs derive great amounts of joy from social interactions but not us.

Actually, while some autistic people really don't desire social interaction at all, many of us do desire it and would be capable of enjoying it in the right circumstances. Problem is, for many of us, the right circumstances just don't happen very often, if at all.

For example, for me, the right circumstances (which I personally am fortunate enough to have experienced at various times in my life), include: (1) The other person must fully accept me, weirdness and all, i.e. I must not have to mask. (2) The other person must enthusiastically share at least one of my interests, and must both enjoy talking about it and enjoy listening to me talk about it. (3) The interaction must take place in a setting where there are not a lot of distractions.

For many of us, our biggest social problem is simply finding people who will accept us. See the following recent Scientific American article:

Autistic People Make Great Social Partners If You Actually Give Them a Chance
Style, not substance, drives negative impressions of the social life of people on the autism spectrum.
By Scott Barry Kaufman on March 9, 2020
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/be ... -a-chance/

Many autistic people try to fit in by masking. Problems: (1) Masking is exhausting, which is one of the main reasons why social interaction is so tiring and unpleasant for many of us. (2) Precisely because masking involves forcing oneself into an extremely difficult and utterly unnatural mode, those who do it still are often a little "off," thus still unappealing to most NT's.

Judging by what you said in the post quoted above, I gather that you wish you could enjoy social interaction.

If you wish you could enjoy it, then I would guess that you probably are indeed capable of enjoying it under the right circumstances. But perhaps you have not yet even managed to envision what those right circumstances might be for you, much less figured out how to attain them?

Does that sound like it might be true for you?

I would be interested in the comments of other WP members on the above question too.


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11 Mar 2020, 5:02 am

Right. Masking... If I can mask I can make it. I can't really de-mask if I need to go to some event, but I can certainly lessen the effects of attending an event.
It is hard to attend events which do not interest me and many I just can't really go to.
If I can't mask I struggle to go in or I am quiet and try to stand by the door or sit somewhere at the edge of an isle. Not always easy! Sometimes my Mum tries to get me to be social and help by standing in a queue to get someone some food and the stress of doing this drains me of energy and I only just manage to get the food to the person, but then I am not able to get my own food, so then I get many coming to me asking why I am not eating... And I can't tell them that to stand in the queue is difficult. I wait until the queue goes down to nothing and everyone is fed to see if they ave anything left.
But often I have to go outside to walk around to de-stress, but if I am seen I am sometimes grabbed to help outside... At the very time I need to de-stress! No one is trying to make me stressed. It just happens. I am too well known to the family who set up the event! It can be an exhausting marathon of a day!

The last two really large events I attended were relating to model railways. One was a sales fair where I sold enough trains to part exchange my last car so I could get Mitsi. The other was a rather large model railsay exhibition I attended a couple of years ago.
The toy and train fairs are easier in a way as they are smaller events and if I am there to sell things, I am behind a table which acts like a shield. Ido struggle to hear what people are saying though as I find being in a hall with lots of people around and lots talking tends to make it difficult to pick out the persons voice who is talking. The event starts for the traders and people like me who are not traders but we have some of our collection to sell (They started off being called swapmeets where people gathered together and swapped trains etc to get the ones they want). For the traders and sellers it is an early in the morning start. I think 0730. They have work to do to get their items ready for display. The traders also love looking at the displays of people like me because they can buy attractive items to sell on if they offer a price whichnis acceptable. For example, I had a crate full of wagons. They probably sellat around £3.50 to £5 each. I sold the lot for a value of somewhere around £3 each and we were happy. They had wagons to sell so hoped to gain a small profit (If they didn't sell there they attend other such fairs) and I had less work to do to sell my surplus collection. (I still have lots of items I could sell as I changed scale).
Then after a couple of hours of setting up the hall is opened to the public. This is when the panic sets in for me! A sudden flood of people all wanting to talk at the same time (Or it seems like that!) Trying to focus onone thing and one persons coversation is not easy! And no, I could not do it without masking! It is why when I have gobe through burnout, I can't attend any social event even though I love trains because I am in a mess if I am not able to mask. (Have you noticed how after burnout is the very time when people not just invite, but include you in their plans of setting up social events? I could not attend and fortunately this time round I did not upset too many people and fortunately this time round my Mum realized the state I was in, as before, if I said no, they would invite my Mum knowing I had to drive her to the event. In the past I have been told off for sitting outside in the rain because I could not go in. (I was given car park duties instead! Why do people ignore what they are told to do when it comes to where to park their cars? Frustrating!)
Anyway. What I do find is while after burnout and before I have recovered, I find I can't attend any social events, but when I have recovered I can... But it is draining. It saps me of energy. It can easily throw me into partial or even a full shutdown.
But it is not that I can't enjoy events. It is more that how I am able to cope can dictate how much I enjoy the event. If I can sit in a quiet corner preferably on my own by the door I am ok, as long as I can sit quietly and observe. It is when I am asked to do things for people is when I get the issues. Is unexpected and sudden, and also even though it looks like I am sitting there doing nothing, I am only doing that to prevent myself from havig any energy draiing issues. I am not sitting on my own because I have nothing to do.
It is like when I was in my youth attending church, and they wanted me to join in with all the energetic actions of a lively song assumbing because I was young and had cycled to get there that I had endless energy... I wanted to sit there quiet at the back and observe. I didn't want to be lively. I enjoyed watching others be lively! But by sitting there at the back with my smiling mask on (A coping mechanism) I was able to cope and I started to enjoy. But trying to include me in the lively side of things and I am somewhat terrified and my energy just leaves my body...

Burnouts are the things which really effect my ability to be social on a major scale. They prevent me from masking where I glitch between a semi masking and an unmasked child like state where I get stared at!


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11 Mar 2020, 6:08 am

Sorry. I went off on a tangent.

If we can socially interact with our special interest, then it makes things easier as we can talk in depth and not feel embarissed.


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rick42
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11 Mar 2020, 10:41 am

Seem the only place where we wouldn't really have to "mask" our condition is by support groups with other Asperger/Autistic people.How many NT'S and even other ND'S not on the Autism Spectrum would really accept people on the Autism Spectrum without masking their condition?Can't find many examples,atleast in my area.You did mention Autistic like people who are not on the Spectrum.I never seen a Autistic like person not on the Spectrum in real life,but I would guess they very similar to odd/weird Neurotyicals. How can you tell if the person is Autistic like without being diagnosed? Considering that the Autism Spectrum is far more inclusive compared to say 30-40 or more years ago,how wonder many Autistic like people not diagnosed really exist? Is it possible that they would just blend in with the NT population anyway since they seem to be very similar to the"odd/weird" portion of the NT population?



Last edited by rick42 on 11 Mar 2020, 10:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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11 Mar 2020, 10:52 am

It's a bit of a hit or miss for me. Sometimes it's enjoyable, but even when it is I often end up wondering afterwards if things would be better had I said this or not said that. The most enjoyable way to socialize for me is to talk about my special interests with someone who is also interested in it. Doesn't need to be as much as me or know as much as me, nor do they need to be interested for the same reasons. They just need to be in to it and be willing to talk about it, though the kind of talks I like the most varies a little with which interest it is.



darkwaver
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11 Mar 2020, 8:43 pm

Some ways social interaction could become more enjoyable for me are:
1. Accept that I am a quirky, awkward person - don't expect perfection! (Although if I do or say anything that makes anyone uncomfortable, tell me so I can change it.) I have a sense of humor about myself too - no need to walk on eggshells.
2. I prefer interacting in a quiet, uncrowded environment. Lighting that's not too bright helps a lot, too.
3. Activities make interaction more enjoyable for me - playing a game, taking a walk, etc. I'm not as good at just sitting there and making conversation for long periods of time.



Callisthenes
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11 Mar 2020, 8:47 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Here, in the separate thread I'm no longer proud to have Asperger Syndrome:

Callisthenes wrote:
Autism is a disability (in social interactions among other things). NTs derive great amounts of joy from social interactions but not us.

Actually, while some autistic people really don't desire social interaction at all, many of us do desire it and would be capable of enjoying it in the right circumstances. Problem is, for many of us, the right circumstances just don't happen very often, if at all.

For example, for me, the right circumstances (which I personally am fortunate enough to have experienced at various times in my life), include: (1) The other person must fully accept me, weirdness and all, i.e. I must not have to mask. (2) The other person must enthusiastically share at least one of my interests, and must both enjoy talking about it and enjoy listening to me talk about it. (3) The interaction must take place in a setting where there are not a lot of distractions.

For many of us, our biggest social problem is simply finding people who will accept us. See the following recent Scientific American article:

Autistic People Make Great Social Partners If You Actually Give Them a Chance
Style, not substance, drives negative impressions of the social life of people on the autism spectrum.
By Scott Barry Kaufman on March 9, 2020
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/be ... -a-chance/

Many autistic people try to fit in by masking. Problems: (1) Masking is exhausting, which is one of the main reasons why social interaction is so tiring and unpleasant for many of us. (2) Precisely because masking involves forcing oneself into an extremely difficult and utterly unnatural mode, those who do it still are often a little "off," thus still unappealing to most NT's.

Judging by what you said in the post quoted above, I gather that you wish you could enjoy social interaction.

If you wish you could enjoy it, then I would guess that you probably are indeed capable of enjoying it under the right circumstances. But perhaps you have not yet even managed to envision what those right circumstances might be for you, much less figured out how to attain them?

Does that sound like it might be true for you?

I would be interested in the comments of other WP members on the above question too.


I agree with much of what you said. I can still enjoy social interactions under the right circumstances. I feel, however, that the right circumstances would be very rare with the average person. I find that most people wear masks but they are better at wearing them than our kind. For us it's exhausting as you said.

One thing I do notice though is that even when I enjoyed social interactions I rarely went out of my way to experience them. Even if there is a person out there similar to myself (personality and interests) I don't think I would want to go out my way to meet them very often. Seems like too much effort. I would prefer to do most things by myself. At the same time I do experience loneliness but the hassle of social interactions is a greater inconvenience.

I used to be more social in the past, but even then, most of the time, when I went out of my way to meet friends I felt slightly depressed at the end, like time was wasted (does not feel quite right). I think the best forms of social interactions for me have been in University. You don't go out of your way to meet people but attend the same courses and can discuss various subjects in detail, but there is no pressure, you can tune out if you like and let other people talk. I guess more generally it can be good to spend some time with people if the aim of being together is some common (preferably mandatory) activity rather than just begin social.

If I became rich overnight and could do anything I wanted with my time I believe I would go back to university and become a researcher of some sort. I don't think I would want to spend my time being social. I dropped out of first year university due to not liking the program and spent about 7 months mainly at home by myself. They were blissful. I feel at peace in deserted places, don't know if you feel the same way. My best dreams are actually of deserted places with no one in sight, little noise and little light. That just feels right. Don't know if this is an Aspie trait or just mine though.



Last edited by Callisthenes on 11 Mar 2020, 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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11 Mar 2020, 8:50 pm

darkwaver wrote:
Some ways social interaction could become more enjoyable for me are:
1. Accept that I am a quirky, awkward person - don't expect perfection! (Although if I do or say anything that makes anyone uncomfortable, tell me so I can change it.) I have a sense of humor about myself too - no need to walk on eggshells.
2. I prefer interacting in a quiet, uncrowded environment. Lighting that's not too bright helps a lot, too.
3. Activities make interaction more enjoyable for me - playing a game, taking a walk, etc. I'm not as good at just sitting there and making conversation for long periods of time.


Agree with all of this.



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12 Mar 2020, 4:50 am

Asocial, yet is capable of enjoying social interaction and got a lot of fill of it.
So it's not about social drive or 'wanting'.
Pushing me to do so will cause the opposite reaction than encouragement.


No walking on eggshells, compatibility and willingness of both parties -- that's mostly just what I'd need.

Intentionality is also huge in more ways than one, where I can truly able to level for someone just as this someone does without having to put up too much with accommodating the norm. Actual give-and-take, the freedom and ability to gauge timing and how to adjust without too much strain.

The rest, even the environment, interests and sometimes the situation along with the lack of conseqences of social hangover is optional.


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12 Mar 2020, 6:31 am

darkwaver wrote:
Some ways social interaction could become more enjoyable for me are:
1. Accept that I am a quirky, awkward person - don't expect perfection! (Although if I do or say anything that makes anyone uncomfortable, tell me so I can change it.) I have a sense of humor about myself too - no need to walk on eggshells.
2. I prefer interacting in a quiet, uncrowded environment. Lighting that's not too bright helps a lot, too.
3. Activities make interaction more enjoyable for me - playing a game, taking a walk, etc. I'm not as good at just sitting there and making conversation for long periods of time.

Very good list. And not so hard to make it so!
I like making music with other people. We also have drawing-based fun activities. Or a party based on making a cake (and eating it in the end). I really think making homemade art is underrated by current society of consumers.


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28 May 2020, 2:14 am

Well I'm 25 now and slowly but truly coming to an answer for myself after years and years of getting to know new people and cutting them off afterwards. It was a long fight, damn... I NEED social interaction, at the same time I mostly didn't enjoy it AT ALL. I thought I would enjoy it, I thought I HAVE to. Like "everybody else". HA-HA-HA...

And yes, I would agree that it would work on the right circumstances. The other thing I've learned is to have social interaction over a shorter period of time. Instead of 5 hours straight, only 1 hour. That's it. And in my experience, the more I got used to people, the more I can endure them without having a huge loss of energy. And with certain people it is the exact opposite. If they can't give me mental or emotional stimilation anymore, it's done. I'm still trying to figure out, if I will ever be able to have a relationship with someone which I actually enjoy. Enjoying to spend time with someone...

The cruel thing is, that I feel very lonely all by myself. I wonder how other people with AS handle the loneliness... Me personally, it makes me literally insane, depressed and sick.



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23 Jun 2020, 3:03 am

LunaticCentruroides wrote:
Well I'm 25 now and slowly but truly coming to an answer for myself after years and years of getting to know new people and cutting them off afterwards. It was a long fight, damn... I NEED social interaction, at the same time I mostly didn't enjoy it AT ALL. I thought I would enjoy it, I thought I HAVE to. Like "everybody else". HA-HA-HA...

And yes, I would agree that it would work on the right circumstances. The other thing I've learned is to have social interaction over a shorter period of time. Instead of 5 hours straight, only 1 hour. That's it. And in my experience, the more I got used to people, the more I can endure them without having a huge loss of energy. And with certain people it is the exact opposite. If they can't give me mental or emotional stimilation anymore, it's done. I'm still trying to figure out, if I will ever be able to have a relationship with someone which I actually enjoy. Enjoying to spend time with someone...

The cruel thing is, that I feel very lonely all by myself. I wonder how other people with AS handle the loneliness... Me personally, it makes me literally insane, depressed and sick.


You want companionship - someone to sit beside you and keep you company. You do not enjoy long hours of talking to get that person to stay with you nearby or on the phone. Your mental energy and logical thinking runs out talking for so long, but your desire for someone to just keep you company remains. Once, I asked my AS friend to keep me company while I cleaned my car.. he sat on his phone and we had occasional word exchanges.. it gave me energy to work whereas by myself I would not be able to do it. Maybe you can directly ask for someone to keep you company, maybe that person can read a book or sit on the phone while doing it.



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23 Jun 2020, 6:00 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
I must not have to mask.
Are there older members like myself who find it difficult to know where the mask ends and their true self begins? I've been masking for so long, the line is kind of blurred. I think I mask, or at least partially mask, all the time now.



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24 Jun 2020, 8:50 am

Having a conversation while riding in a car (as long as the other person is the one driving) is not too bad, depending on the person you are with (for me, it has to be someone I am already pretty comfortable with) because you can't look at each other anyway, so you don't have to worry about eye contact or making the right facial expressions. It's not ideal but frees you up to only worry about the talking and listening.

But as far as having a social interaction without masking, I can't even imagine what that would be like. I would just talk randomly about things that interest only me, and spend long periods of the conversation not talking. I don't really see how that would work, except with a long term partner who already knows what to expect.



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24 Jun 2020, 9:00 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
How can social interaction become enjoyable for us?
I used to be very uncomfortable with socializing until I discovered role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.

Suddenly, instead of being a physically clumsy and socially awkward 20-something, "I" was a half-elven fighter-mage with a faerie dragon familiar, wilderness survival skills, a +2 Bow of Accuracy, and a Ring of Elemental Command (water).  The others relied on "me" (as my character) to go toe-to-toe with everything from Aarakocra to Zombies, and they actually supported "my" efforts!

I gained confidence and a better understanding of "normal" human behavior through D&D, and have contributed to several on-line lists entitled "What I Needed to Know About Life, I Learned from D&D".


:mrgreen:


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24 Jun 2020, 4:35 pm

Fnord wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Suddenly, instead of being a physically clumsy and socially awkward 20-something, "I" was a half-elven fighter-mage with a faerie dragon familiar


More power to you man.
I played D&D back in the 1980's and had a blast.


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