Friday, October 28, 2011

Tips for the Aspie Female

What I Wish My Aspie Girlfriends Knew About Friendship

1.  I wish all aspies would read Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People.  And take notes.  And work on applying what they read.

Applying the principles in Carnegie's book will draw people to you. It teaches you how to show interest in another person. It focuses on making the other person feel appreciated. It teaches you to shut up and listen. And to ask questions about what someone else is interested in. People are by nature very interested in themselves. So if you act sincerely interested in them, you will be showered with attention.  People will like to be around you!  But a meaningful female friendship takes even more to sustain than Carnegie's book delves into (it was written by a man, you know). 

2.  I wish my aspie girl friends would accept that a close friendship involves mutual sharing.  This is give and take.  This includes asking about the feelings of others.  It also includes sharing your own feelings.  But maybe feelings talk is beyond you.  Okay.  Mutual sharing of some sort is still required.  At least habitually ask something about others.  And habitually share at least a little something about yourself.

Some of my aspie girl friends never ask anything about me.  They talk about topics of interest (that is, topics of interest to them), but never ask about my life, my thoughts, my health, anything.  These are very superficial companions--and it is very hard to feel close to these aspies.

And then I have a few aspie girl friends who ask a lot of questions about my family, my health (no, not about my feelings--are you kidding?), but do not share anything about themselves.  This gets old.  Because friendship should be give and take.  Give of yourself by asking about others, yes.  But the give also involves letting the other person "in" to your life/thoughts/feelings as well. Because too much "giving" of yourself in the realm of mere asking about others . . . can seem like "taking" too much from the other person.

The asker-only aspie can come across as an intense counselor or may even make the NT feel as if she is standing before the Inquisition.  It can be downright frightening at times to be the "special interest" and focus of a female aspie!  These are often the aspie females who will never respond to your questions via email, either.  "How are you?  What did the doctor say?  Are you okay?"  C'mon, aspie girls.  If someone asks you a question it means they care about you.  Please make the time to answer it.  Answering questions about yourself and voluntarily sharing at least a little something about yourself (on a regular basis) is necessary fodder for a solid female friendship.

Sound tricky and confusing and way too difficult?  Not to an NT.  It comes naturally.  Your turn, my turn.  You share, now I share.  I give, now you give.  It's a dance and NTs assimilate this naturally on the playground as wee bairns [children].

If you truly care (and you keep saying that you do) about sustaining friendships with other females, it will take very hard work.  Stop throwing your hands in the air and whining about how you always try and it never works.  Keep trying and keep working.  Read books on friendship. Get interested in the study of friendship.  Make it a scientific research project and determine to master this subject area with the dedication of a PhD student completing a thesis.   Ask questions about others.  Respond to questions via email (quickly).  And share a little something about yourself.  And keep doing all of these things.  Over and over again. 

You can do it.  And we can be friends.


  1. Thank you for recommending a specific resource. That is very helpful. I already have it on hold for me at the library!

  2. You might not realize this but your requests are basically saying, I wish aspies could behave/think/feel like neurotypicals. It's a nice wish but it's possibly a little one-sided.

    As an aspie, I dislike being asked about me. I'm happy to share but if I have something to share, I just blurt it out. That's what we do...

    I find it weird and perhaps a bit annoying that neurotypical people feel like they have to;

    a. Wait to be asked about their day before they'll "spill the beans". If it's interesting, just blurt it out... I'm listening. You don't need an invitation.

    b. Ask me about my day. If I haven't blurted it out, then it's not interesting - not worth discussing. Even worse, I find it offensive? when I'm asked about my day, I tell and then 5 minutes later I get asked again by the same person. It's obvious that they're not interested and not listening. They're just following NT discussion rules.

    It's terrible to think that I have to talk "small-talk" to my wife. Surely our relationship is much deeper than that?

    Do you think that small talk needs to be part of relationships?

  3. Hi Gavin,
    I always appreciate your insights. I was responding to a female commenter who says she really wants to have NT friends, but doesn't know how to make it work. The NT is often working and feeling it is all "one-sided." To each contribute to a working relationship both the NT and the aspie have to cross the line 'to the other side', at least a few steps, REGULARLY. You learn and speak a little bit of my language and I'll learn and speak a little bit of yours.

    If "small talk" is important to your wife, by golly, learn to do it out of love for her. And if holding back some of the incessant questioning is important to the aspie, by golly, we ought to honor that.

    But we each gotta give a little. Daily.
    Great to hear from you!

  4. I agree with Gavin (and I read your response to him but I wanted to respond anyway). You make it sound so easy, but it actually isn't. It's not as easy as "read a book and learn about it." There's more to friendship than mechanics. I can read something and then apply it, but all that does is allow me to disguise myself as an NT that much more (something I already do rather well). I've studied people engaged in conversation for years. I've watched movies and television shows where people are talking to try to figure out how it works and what's needed, and it's still a mystery.

    Everyday I walk around as if I'm a tourist in a strange land. I don't know where "here" is, but I can tell you that I constantly have the feeling that I don't belong. I know the intricacies of the language; I'm a grammarian. I understand the words that are being spoken but I don't always get the context in which they are meant. But also beyond that, my struggle comes in the give and take of the conversation. I often interrupt because I cannot interpret the timing. If I'm not doing that, I'm struggling between blurting out too much information or not enough. I see NTs around me all the time at the school yard having a wonderful time talking to each other. By the time I get home, I'm exhausted. Trying to pass as an NT takes every bit of concentration I can muster.

    When I escape into my daydreams, when I choose to be quiet rather than divulge about myself, I'm protecting myself from a few things - exhaustion, invasion of privacy, etc.

    I agree that friendships have to be two-sided, but how about an NT tries to bend to me for a change rather than me always having to bend to an NT? When I talk to them, I look calm, happy and attentive, but the entire time I'm thinking, "Am I showing enough interest? Has there been too much eye contact or not enough? Oh no, she asked me a question. How should I respond - honestly or tell her what I know she wants to hear?" I grow so weary of it that sometimes I (dare I admit this?) sometimes wish I didn't have NT friends that want to spend time with me.

  5. You guys just cannot (?) see that we are bending all the time, can you? We are working. This entire blog is about how painfully hard we NTs try to make a relationship work (rather than running away and saying FORGET IT which the majority do). Our struggles are internal. We are suffering, excrutiating emotional pain, trying to reach out to you, understand you, and love you.

    Marisa, your sharing this is fascinating and very, very helpful to me. I'm realizing my particular aspies really don't CARE to have relationships, or to work on them. Go into the cave and stay there if that's what youw want to do. Be alone and be happy if that's what you want.

    But if you are WANTING more in a relationship from NTs, you have to ACCEPT that we are working really really hard (even though you don't 'see' it or comprehend it) every single day.

    YES, you have to follow the mechanics. Just follow the mechanics, okay? That's better than nothing. And it's foundational. Don't throw away the foundation because you THINK there are more important things to focus on.

    You can't read until you know your ABCs. Aspies should just focus on the ABCs and not try to read yet. Focus on not drowning by dog paddling before you jump into the deep end, thinking you know how to swim. Yes, ABCs get boring. Dog paddling is tiring.

    If you care about relationships with NTs, you'll keep doing these things. If you don't, you won't.

  6. Apologies if I came across harshly; I did not intend to do so. When I read your blog posts I encounter truths that are both important to know and equally painful to accept. It's like the end of an age of innocence for me. When people (particularly my husband) would express frustration about my antics, I would just think to myself, "What's wrong with him? It's not my fault." But after following your blog for months, I am coming to a realization that I AM doing something to provoke that kind of response from him (and a few of my NT girlfriends). And while this information is freeing, it is also difficult to accept because I feel like a new responsibility has now been put on me due to this newly found awareness. I can no longer continue down the same path because I know better. And because I now know better, I need to try harder - which requires me to come out of my comfort zone. Of course I could choose to stop reading, but I believe that ignorance is not bliss when it comes to this situation. I keep hoping that with the more I learn perhaps one day I will finally get to the point where I feel like I belong here rather than as an outsider looking in at a secret club I've got no hope of ever joining.

    I do appreciate all the hard work and sacrifice that NTs do to relate to people like myself. I will be honest - the fact that they struggle too has never even occurred to me, not even a little bit. I have trouble seeing what isn't said to me. So if someone doesn't say, "I'm having a very hard time dealing with X behavior of yours," I just assume everything is going perfectly on their end and I'm the one with the trouble. That was an eye opener.

    Again, apologies if I appeared snippy. I was feeling particularly worn out and probably shouldn't have posted when I felt that way.

    Wishing you the best,

  7. HUGS MARISA!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing all of this! Your comments are very eye-opening to me as well.


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