I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was in high school. I remained in denial about that diagnosis for the next decade of my life. It was easy for me to accept that I had depression and anxiety—those were no-brainers—but now I was being told that in addition to all of that, I was also weird and socially awkward. It was a hard pill for me to swallow.
I had plenty of friends when I was younger. It was only as I got older that I started to lose them. Usually my friends and I would have a falling out over something stupid. I always regretted whatever moronic thing I had said that caused the fight, and I would apologize. But my former friends never wanted to rekindle our relationships. They’d had enough of me.
I learned that Aspies have a tough time holding on to friends. We usually annoy the hell out of them. They get sick of having to defend us to other people who think we are totally crazy. They don’t truly “get” us, and eventually they become tired of trying to figure out what makes us tick, so they give up on us.
It’s hard for neurotypical (without Asperger’s) people to understand what goes on in our brains. Our brains are literally wired differently than theirs. Social situations are difficult for us. We come on way too strong. We have trouble with social boundaries. We blurt out inappropriate things. When I meet someone new who is kind to me, my Asperger brain says, “Look, I made a new friend! It’s totally cool for me to tell this person everything about my life!” That tends to terrify these poor people. They’re thinking, “Why is this total stranger telling me all of these personal things? What a freak!” Then they decide to steer clear of us.
It’s even worse when it comes to dating. This takes the “coming on too strong” concept to a whole new level. Here’s a good rule of thumb for neurotypical people to remember: If you think we’re flirting with you, that’s usually just us being friendly. If we’re making you feel weird and uncomfortable, that means we’re attempting to flirt with you. Nobody can make a potential date run for the hills like an Aspie can. Trust me, I’ve freaked out a staggering number of guys.
We also require a lot of alone time. We need this time to ourselves to decompress. Having Asperger’s makes being around other people an exhausting experience. When we’re around company, we have to try to be “normal.” We feel pressure to make people like us. When we’re alone, we don’t have to worry about being weird. We can just be true selves.
The important thing for everyone to remember is that having Asperger’s does not make us freaks. We have real feelings. We get horribly lonely. We desperately long to connect with others. Unfortunately, it’s much harder for us to do that. For all of you neurotypicals out there, please be patient with us. We’re doing the best we can.