“And you, Brutus?”
One of the most complex topics l have always had and experienced problems with is ‘Friendship’. As a single item, it is very easy to both understand and comprehend, and yet, it is filled with uncertainty, misinterpretations, misunderstanding, hostility, manipulations, bullying and confusions and these ‘flaws’ are on a good day! It is very similar to trying to navigate through a minefield!
It is not that l don’t have friends, l do, l just don’t have many ‘really close friends‘. I have had both friendships in the past, but also ‘Friendwrecks!’ in fact l have had more of the latter than the former!
These days, well as of writing, l cannot count down my entire left hand of really close friends, people that l would rely on in an emergency or that l would place my life into the hands of. And as for both hands holding the quality of friends within, completely out of the question, it’s that simple.
My partner – my other half is on my left hand, l do trust her implicitly – she knows me and 95% understands who l am as a person, and this is much better than those who think they know me, because the reality of that, is they don’t! They know maybe 45% of me if that and that is not enough to endear my safety to. So they are on my right hand, they are friends, and in truth they are about as close to close friends as close ’ish friends could ever hope to get to, so that’s not bad!
I don’t even carry friends from years previous to where l am now sitting and typing this post, l have no friends from my school or college days, or from early careers and so on, l just don’t carry people. I know people from all of those time windows, but if they are not in constant contact with me, l sort of forget them. Which in truth makes me a terrible person to know l should imagine! They are just not important enough to me, if they are NOT there, there and then, then they are not there! Are they?
My partner has friends from over twenty years ago, and l am often astonished at this feat, how amazing to know people from that long ago and still have them as close friends, not just acquaintances or just friends, but really close friends – how remarkable
I can’t even do that if l tried, if people fall out of my 6, then they are no longer in my socially selected zone on a regular basis and this means, that we have stopped communications, and if we have done that, then why are we friends?
People l have known over the years have always expressed concerns and confusions because l have moved on from them. If we have not been talking for a certain period of time, then it stands to reason that our time together is done and we have nothing left to discuss, and if this is the case, then surely it is best to part ways whilst there is no conflict?
I have mastered the art of walking away from people, equally as much as l have skilled myself up in learning to NOT become burned to a crisp by the more manipulative of so called ‘friends!’ The secret is quite easy, but it IS NOT for everyone, and it is most assuredly not for those who fear their own company, dread being alone and get lonely and that is to not have that many people, or in the very and much more important least, know as many people as you want, but NEVER exceed more than five on your left hand as ‘’’close’’.
Social media platforms fool people into believing they have loads of friends, when they don’t – and yet slowly and surely both people are learning this equally as many whom are falling foul of it every year. If you purely treat the platform as a sort of two way radio or traffic zone then in fact they are ideal. I used to use Facebook, then moved to Twitter and only recently walked away from Twitter completely. The only account still active is for Scrappy so she can garner followers to her stories and the interviews.
I have returned to Facebook, but use it vaguely and with no enthusiastic lustre. I have had a Facebook account since 2009, and still as of today only have 46 friends. but these are people l have known not just from the creation of that account, but some of them l have known for twenty odd years, but we are not close, they are friends per se, more of acquaintances, or colleagues and some are old clients from the business days. Of the 46, l have met personally 40 of them. Of the 46, perhaps 4 are what l consider ‘close’.
Twitter was initiated for the tee shirt business, after all Twitter was supposed to be excellent for business, but alas is simply filled with way too many bots, trolls and drama llamas!
When l was younger, my Father was with the military services and always moved around, so l was never able to concentrate on developing long lasting friendships even if l had wanted to never mind the fact that the unknown Aspergers was present. So in many ways and not nor ever experiencing loneliness having very few friends didn’t bother me. I could escape as l quite often did into my own little bubble, was content with my own companionship, or if needed could negotiate a conversation with my teddy bears and as l got older my pets.
To this day l have a stronger affinity with my dog than l have had with another human being, aside from my current partner. For even previous partners turned against my friendship due to either ‘not knowing of the Aspergers’ or of ‘actually knowing of the Aspergers!’ My partner now would not contest the fact that my Aspergers or autism can be quite challenging!
Over the years l have fallen victim sadly to both foes and Frenemies, those who maintain they have been my friend for me to discover all too late that they were quite the opposite, and this has come at the most dreadful annoyance and disappointment as much as it has upset me at times, especially when younger when kids would basically bully me or take the piss out of me for whatever reason they thought appropriate at the time.
As l aged, l would become treated with more disrespect, abused by more bullies and worse manipulators – the true fakers amongst so called friendship. Those who would support you openly but equally as much stab you the moment your back was turned, atypically similar to like the fallen Caesar ‘Et tu, Brute?’
Friendship is no longer an easy affair, it’s complicated. I am an approachable chap apparently, people like me, they like talking to me, they even like being my friend – but l am always confused as to why. Getting older, thankfully finally means l am getting a little wiser and l have learned to accept that some people like you for you and for your humour, the way you talk, act or are as a person, but this was a very big problem for me to understand as little as two years ago when l walked away from a group of friends for what some may suggest the slightest of errors they caused.
But l have no tolerance any more of people, and l think that is the way things are going. Bullying is up, cyber bullying is up, social community is down and dropping, kids don’t do the things that kids used to do. Kids now stare at screens constantly, be this in mobile phones, computers, x-boxes, whichever and whatever – everything is dominated now by the Internet and screens.
I used to give people the benefit of doubt, l would trust them, l would confide to them and l would talk to them, but life and the complexities of a modern friendship gets in the way of the simplest of things at times and because many friendships these days are not long standing but are motivated by social media and can be victim to misunderstanding or the wrong emotions, or misinterpretation to someone’s grammar – making true friendship a hardship for not just those of us on the spectrum, but everyone l feel.
I do feel however that as a subject it needs to be examined very closely and maybe even properly discussed with some autists – l wish l had received some worthy advice somewhere during the years about so called ‘friendship, friends, foes and frenemies! There is so much controversy surrounding this subject, that in some ways society has made it taboo, and that shouldn’t be the case, as with many other topics, it should be stigma free and talked about.
I have very few ‘closer’ friends as l said at the start, although l do have a few ‘close’ friends of sorts, l have a handful of ‘just friends’ which might be classed as ‘good friends’ but not ‘just good friends’ as that suggests an air of familiar casualness to them and that wouldn’t be right, they are ‘friends’ and they are ‘somewhat good at that’. With the arrival of Twitter l have many acquaintances and some exceptional acquaintances that are also starting to become ‘friends’.
Someone asked me the other day, what made for a good friend? I looked at them, and said l honestly didn’t know, but l knew someone who might, when they asked who? I said “Google of course!”
This is what Google suggests!
What makes for a friend?
Supportive to your needs
Fun to be around
A good listener
Equal to each other
Respectful of your opinions
Knows and accepts your limits and boundaries
So these are the traits that make for a good friendship, what do you think? What have you encountered with ‘friends and your autism, or during mental health problems or … let me know below.