Integrating an Aspie-ish significant other into a friend group?
January 19, 2014 6:26 PM Subscribe
My wonderful, kind, sweet, smart boyfriend has, I think, a few Aspie traits. They're mostly noticeable when we're socializing with my friends. Bringing him into my friend group is causing me a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety. What can I (we) do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I love my boyfriend-- we'll call him Dan. He's cute, sweet, smart, makes me laugh, and treats me wonderfully. When we're together, just the two of us, we have a great time. We originally had some communication problems due to our different styles, but we worked them out and now have a really easy rapport about communication differences. He used to suffer from a lot of social anxiety. (FWIW, he's not officially diagnosed with Aspberger's-- my therapist suggested it based on my descriptions. And a lot of the traits don't ring true at all.)
The problem comes when we're socializing-- especially with my friends. Things that we've worked out between the two of us get fired way up. So I notice Dan doing things like monologuing, talking very rapidly, interrupting others, going off on unrelated tangents. I see my friends' faces go from interest and welcoming, to curiosity, to confusion, to bewilderment.
We recently hung out with another couple-- I thought the two guys would get along great as they have a lot of common interests. But Dan ended up firing questions at and interrupting my friend's bf-- for two hours-- while I sat there trying to silently block and tackle. Dan reached out to the bf after to follow up on the conversation and never heard back.
Now, my stress levels rise whenever we make plans with my friends. I feel like I'm bringing a bull into a china shop.
I've talked about it to my therapist, and she says I need to be more understanding and think of these things as differences, not problems to be solved or corrected. She also says that the friends that are real friends will learn what a great guy he is in time. And I get that. And I agree. But I still feel super anxious and stressed about the social dynamics that are going to ensue whenever we socialize.
I know this is probably the wrong tactic, but does anyone have experience having a really direct conversation about something like this? Is that even appropriate, and what would I say? Is it something we can work on? I can work on? He can work on? For me, community and social support systems are really important-- and I want the person in my life to be able to be a part of that. I'm very sad thinking about how my desire to be with him and my desire to be with my community might not be compatible.