I Can’t Read Social Cues

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This is a follow up from several years ago on “I can’t initiate.”

Earlier this afternoon, something inevitable happened. I questioned my current friendships. This happens from time to time. Mainly because, as the title says,  I can’t read social cues. 

You see,  I left a local mom’s group I was in, in January. At the time, I freaked out about losing the friendships I made there. But the group had made some decisions I couldn’t accept. Others also couldn’t accept them and left as well. I freaked out because I can’t initiate. I have come up with work arounds. I can do a blanket request to get together. I can create events. All of those opt in situations. 

But I cannot bring myself to actually ask if someone wants to get together because opting out has other repercussions. Like, was this no for this time, or a general no? Does this mean this person isn’t my friends, only friendly? Sometimes, it’s easy enough to tell the answer (like our schedules didn’t connect, or their kid is sick, concrete answers). I’ve been doing OK with the opt in situations.

But as I get further and further away from the regularly scheduled weekly playdates in a single location, I’m struggling. Are these my friends? Am I only bring included when I ask if anything is going on? Do people not like me? Is that why we have nothing planned this entire Spring Break? Am I coming off as stand off ish? Anti-social? 

This has been my today. And I don’t want to accuse the people I see a s my friends of not liking me. But I can’t tell. I can’t read the situation. And asking bluntly comes across as an accusation usually. 

My track record isn’t great. Every time I think I’ve found friends, something happens and it falls apart. I’m pretty sure I’m at least partially to blame because it happens a lot. And I’m relatively certain on my end, it’s disability related. But damn, I cannot for the life of me put my finger on it. 

So instead, Facebook has gone away for the week. Because I don’t want to end up damaging my friendships,  if they are in fact friendships. But it’s going to keep nagging on me for a while, I know. 

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5 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    I see this with my Asperger daughter. She wants friends but doesn’t know how to make them or how to keep them. There are many many reasons for this – it’s normal for everyone to have friends come and go because life circumstances change. But, another problem, I think, for my daughter in any case, is her absolute demand for the ideal of friendship. In her head, a “friend” is so much more than friends usually are or even can be. It’s rare indeed for most of us to have a friend as perfect as she imagines a friend should be. I’m not Asperger’s and oftentimes am perplexed by friends that suddenly aren’t anymore or when I don’t know what to do. The world of neurotypics isn’t as perfect as it seems to someone outside it.

    • Melody Latimer says:

      I would say this is less an issue of not knowing how to make friends or maintain friendships. It’s about the nuance between friendly people and friends. Who is nice and friendly when you’re present, but not particular about whether you are there? And since leaving the group I’m in, I have to determine that. And I’m not ready for the disappointment for the people who are not my friends that I wanted to be friends with.

      • lisa says:

        can you not initiate contact and wait if someone contacts you first?

        • Melody says:

          I’m not sure what you mean. I can do a blanket initiating contact via like a wall post on Facebook, but I can only initiate with specific people if they’re an established friend. Waiting until someone contacts me yields far less favorable results. IE, I can only think of it happening maybe 2-3 times ever.

  2. Rachel Causey says:

    Thanks for writing this article! It really helped to give me insight into the challenges that my husband and daughter face in managing and developing their friendships. They are both autistic and have anxiety. Personally, I question my friendships all the time, just because of self-esteem and security issues. But while I’m questioning (at the heart of it) my own value, they both exhibit an inability to actually read social nuances which I assume is disability related. I’m allistic and read cues correctly, I just question if deserve the feelings/expressions/intonations I see. I especially see the struggle you described in my husband and I really appreciate the window into what they both might be struggling to understand or see in their social interactions with friends. My usual role with them both is to re-phrase either their communication with others to better depict what they intended (like in emails or texts or letters or when role-playing with my daughter) or re-phrasing what others have said to better help them understand what the implications are of whatever was said/happened. So thanks for sparking some ideas as to how to better break down the social interactions in a way they might understand better and maybe even develop some work arounds with them. šŸ™‚

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