Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Giving up on other people
April 6, 2014 8:11 AM   Subscribe

If you have failed at forming relationships (of any kind), is there a point where you should just accept you don't have the skills and are incapable of developing them?

The only relationships I have are with my family (whom I live with - though not one sister and my dad). We get along. I enjoy their company. But we aren't friends. I get along with my workmates. I have no problems with them, and genuinely like most of them. But we aren't friends.

To backtrack a little, I have Asperger's. I had friends in high school (about 5), but then I went to college and everything in my life fell apart. I didn't have the independant living skills, or personal relationship skills, and it was a very terrible stage in my life. I moved home. I've worked on being more independant, and I feel a lot better about that now. But all my friends grew up to be more or less normal, with friendships (I'm nearly 26 now).

But I don't have any friends. I don't have anyone to talk to about my bad days or my good days. I don't have anyone to go see a movie with or have dinner with. No one texts me who isn't my parents or siblings. No one calls me. No one adds me to facebook.

I've tried to rekindle with my high school friends but after a few months of me initiating everything it seemed clear no one really cared and when I stopped no one contacted me, not once. I tried to be friendlier at work, to random strangers. I smiled! I asked them questions! I conversed! The only thing that got me was being ignored or rejected (subtley, but still). I got so desperate I crawled back to my only boyfriend (we broke up quite a while ago, no feelings there, and we met on a forum so it's not I did something there that I can use to help me solve this problem), who also rejected me. I tried just having online friends, but yeah that failed too.

I just don't know what to do anymore. I feel like I'm acting normal, but there's an invisible barrier between me and the world. I've seen therapists (pointless and no one on my insurance works with high-functioning autistics). I'm someone who is so desperate for human connection, who while introverted really enjoys having people to share myself with. The problem isn't that I don't know how to meet people, it's that something in me that I cannot see is so wrong that no matter how many people I meet, no one wants to know me.

I am desperate. But maybe I've been wasting all these years. Maybe I should just accept being lonely. Maybe I should just stop trying to reach out to others. I try to exercise, and make some better nutrition choices, I spend a lot of time cooking, and that chases away my desperation in the moment but I cannot escape the underlying truth of feeling like an island unto myself.

I don't know whether after years and years it's clear I will always be a failure at this or if there's some chance if I keep trying one day I will have a friend again. That is my question: when do you know whether to give up on something you've wanted for a long time, and actually done things to help improve the situation but it hasn't worked?
posted by Aranquis to Human Relations (40 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
It is never, ever time to give up on making connections with people, if that's something you want.
posted by chaiminda at 8:18 AM on April 6 [12 favorites]


Don't give up! This is a common experience for anyone who is different. You just need to find people that are a fit for you. This can be difficult if you don't have a exposure to diverse people. That could be related to where you live, if you live in a smaller city for example, or just not tapping into the right group. Maybe you should consider moving somewhere where being different is more accepted. Moving back home can be weird and depressing regardless.

What are your interests? Try to find activities or groups to expand your social pool.

Also, I notice that regardless of why a person is different, or what's different about them, if people are given a quick way to understand and categorize that difference they feel more comfortable. It may sound cynical but a part of social skills is like branding. Not necessarily in a fake way, but people need something to latch on to.

Sorry it's so abstract, I don't really know how to give step by step advice on that, but if you can muster some confidence and come to accept yourself, you may find that so called "normal" folks will take you as you are and consider you their eccentric, interesting friend even if they don't connect with you on a deeper level per se, you will have activity buddies.

I am lots of people's weird artsy friend. I don't think you should accept being lonely, but you should accept and appreciate yourself as you are. Just because you can't find the right friends right now does not diminish your value.
posted by abirdinthehand at 8:34 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Have you considered spending some money to go outside your insurance and see a therapist who does work with high-functioning autistics?

And what went wrong with your online friends?

What are your interests? Most of my friends came through shared hobbies or work interests.
posted by freshwater at 8:35 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


My cousin has aspergers and he has a very hard time with relationships. He has gotten help and it has improved his interactions with others, his family is very poor (on public assistance) but they have found helpful resources.

It is very hard to find good resources, especially on insurance, however I would urge you to give it another chance. It's ok to need some help with this.

You might look into meetups for aspergers adults in your area for example one in my area looks like this. It might be nice to meet people who understand you as you are a little better and have practice helping other aspergers people into the conversation if they want. If you found a group like that it also might help to get referrals to quality or empowering therapists or other forms of support, and maybe some referrals to places that are very low cost or have sliding scale fees so you could choose somewhere off insurance.

You could also let your family know that the resources on your insurance don't seem to be helpful and if they would like to help you financially, you would like to find someone off insurance to help you with this. Then you might have more freedom and support financially to choose a form of support that would really help you on your terms and that really understands your experience of aspergers.

I found a place in my area that offers 10-25 dollar therapy visits and if you choose such a place you might ask for someone older who has a special knowledge of aspergers because many of the people are in training and at various stages of being helpful or not helpful.
posted by xarnop at 8:37 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


So okay here's my big number one tip for sociable introverts looking to make friends from scratch: become a regular. By that I mean, a regular at a store or cafe. Do you like comics? Comic book shop regular. Fiber crafts? Yarn store regular. Reading while drinking coffee? Coffee shop regular. Books in general? Used bookstore regular. If you like games you might try a different type that lends itself to casual in person interaction, like miniature strategy or competitive card games that game stores have regular weekly events for.

The key here is consistency. You become a fixture at this location, at a standard time. The employees come to know you but more importantly the people who are also regulars, who also have a similar interest to you, get to know you too. And you might not make a friend right away, but as a fixture of that place and that time you associate yourself with a positive part of people's days. It's kind of like back in school when you had situational friends in particular classes or clubs - you make casual friends because of proximity. Then, because you're genuinely looking for friendships, people pick up on that and respond to it (even if you don't). Because you're so easy to get ahold of - because you're a regular - it's easy for them to include you in their plans. And, if you don't make friends right away, you're still getting out of your house, and developing the specific social skills for that particular environment. It's not you meeting people, it's people meeting you.

As for your question, with regard to social connections and relationships in general, we are social animals. It's not something you can just give up on, like learning to play piano or eat super spicy food or read a dead language. It's not optional, you're always going to want it, like a roof over your head and clothes to keep you warm. It's great that you have family and coworkers that you can be around. Most people really only have a couple of friends, with a larger social circle. Maybe those friends you're looking for are already people you know? But we all need them.

I don't know you enough to know if telling you that your problem is incredibly common will be helpful or not, but it is. Particularly among people who aren't neurotypical, there's a huge gap in social knowledge that's often left open after the structures of childhood and school pass. It's incredibly hard to cross by yourself, and it's flat out ridiculous to expect someone to navigate without at least giving them tools. Excuse the terrible metaphor there, but what I'm talking about is therapy and more structured environments. A lot of people love gaming because there are clear rules for them to follow. If your earlier experiences with therapy were useless, put some of the energy you would have for friendships into finding the right therapists, and building some structure into your daily life.
posted by Mizu at 8:54 AM on April 6 [22 favorites]


I think you'll find that most people have actually gone through several sets of friends by the time they're even in their mid 20s, and that it is not actually considered failure for this to happen. It just feels more like it when you're already a bit sensitive and having a bit more trouble making new ones. You haven't failed at having friends; you've just had some friends who didn't stay friends forever, which is normal, and have not yet made the new friends who will be your next crop. You've met people you liked online, you will meet other people you like online if you just keep trying and don't beat yourself up too much. All the other advice is still good, I just think it's important to remember that it's relatively uncommon to make one set of friends as an adolescent and stay friends with that set of people for basically the rest of your life.

Like, I had friends as a teenager, but because I didn't go to college until late, I didn't really have college friends. But I made friends online during that period. I have friends online now, in my early 30s, but they are not the same friends from my 20s, because interests changed and life changed and that was just kind of how it went, and also a few friends from various other things I've been doing with myself, etc. Some of those friendships that I used to have did not end well, but I'm not a failure at making friends, that's just... how stuff goes, sometimes. It's like romantic relationships: Breaking up with your SO doesn't mean you're bad at relationships, it just means that one relationship didn't work out.

Yeah, it might seem a bit uncommon to have a period where you really don't have anybody, but don't attribute to social failure what can be attributed to a lack of opportunities (because you had to move home) and just the dumb luck to have had a bunch of things peter out at a time when you didn't have new contacts to be cultivating. Patience and persistence, that's all it really boils down to, it'll ease up.
posted by Sequence at 10:07 AM on April 6


The last time I made a friend was 5 years ago when I met my ex, so this isn't like some temporary dry spell. I've tried finding local groups but there is no match for my interests (cooking and baking. I'm not your typical aspie who likes computer programming and gaming). I don't make friends online. I did at one point, but it was like all my friendships - I put in 99% of the work and no one ever initiates anything, ever. No one has messaged me, and I can look at my past internet "friends" and see the typical obsessive aspie who doesn't realize they are monologueing, not having an actual conversation. I'm really looking for someone in my actual, physical life because it's easier for me to read when I'm getting too obsessed with someone who wishes I would stop talking to them. Also, the internet tends to feed into my depression and loneliness over these things. Sorry that's long, my point is staying at home reading the internet is not the kind of social interaction that fulfills me.

The one thing I can gather is that in high school you're just thrown together with people and I was lucky enough to find people who I had fun with (before that I was also friendless, I wrote at 12 about wanting to kill myself because I had no friends). However, people grow up but I feel so socially behind even though I know how to make eye contact, do other socially correct things, I don't stim, etc. I guess in high school you have more time and everyone is too busy now to have time for someone like me who seems weird and awkward when they have their own people.
posted by Aranquis at 10:31 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


If I were you I would do two things:

1) Keep a "social interaction" diary, noting when things don't go as you planned, and write down a) reasons why you think it didn't go as planned and b) things you think will help it go as planned next time. This will help you, among other things, pay special attention to social cues and how your nonverbal language (or even verbal language) affects other people.

2) Join a dating site, like OKCupid, and try to go on as many first dates as possible. It's a great way to learn to talk about yourself in a fluid way and practice first impressions - which turn out to be VERY important to establishing good long-term relationships of any kind (romantic, work, friendship, etc).
posted by 3FLryan at 10:34 AM on April 6


Something I’ve learned in life, which was very surprising and took a long time to internalize, is that the main difference between successful people and failures, between popular people and lonely people, etc., almost always comes down to persistence and accepting rejection. I know that sounds like a line, but I honestly believe it’s really, really true. I’ve had months in my life in which everything possible went wrong, none of it was my fault, and I had to try over and over again to get anywhere. Especially with social things, one month you can make an overture and be rejected and the next month you can make the exact same overture and be accepted because the stars aligned, and who knows why, the situation is different now. (Unfortunately that also goes vice versa, less frequently.) But you know what? I kept trying, and eventually, slowly, it got better, and I started getting somewhere. This applies to making friends just as much as painting or playing piano.

Almost every successful, popular person has a longer string of rejections in their past than you. Think about that. But they kept trying, and laughed it off (or cried it off, let’s be honest) and got back up on the horse again. Every athlete has fallen down, every businessperson has screwed up and risked too much, etc. etc. etc. This is just life as it is.

Luck, talent, beauty, money, connections, normal wiring and average interests definitely help, don’t get me wrong. Those things exist, and are unfair, and there’s not much you can do about them. But persistence is the real golden quality in life. Persistence, courage, and acceptance. I think I now value those above anything else in a person.

I mean, yes, it is possible that you are doing something actually wrong in your basic social interactions that needs correcting, but you seem by your question to be a fairly stable, normal and not super terribly awkward person- you’ve gotten people to respond favorably to you, you’ve had friends in the past- they just flake after a while. That’s kind of the “hump” stage. It sucks, but I’ve gotten out of it, and you probably can too. Try using Craigslist strictly platonic w4w, I got upwards of 20 responses on it and couldn’t even reply to all of them. A lot of lonely girls out there who need nerdy girlfriends!

TL; DR: Fall down 7 times, get up 8.
posted by quincunx at 11:08 AM on April 6 [17 favorites]


It sounds like maybe you are a little depressed. Having Asperger's syndrome or any other condition doesn't make you un-friendable, unlikeable, etc. etc. It does work out sometimes that when someone is palpably unhappy people pick up on that energy and you may do better connecting with others when you are your most content self. Allow yourself to be your possibly awkward self and interested in whatever things you are interested in. Own who you are with the understanding that you won't be accepted by everyone (no one is). But when people kind of put themselves out there - let some of their imperfections show and just kind of come by it honestly - people generally love to be around those people, because it's refreshing to by reminded that we don't have to be a certain way to be fundamentally okay.

So anyway, you are probably the way you are for a reason and you probably have all sorts of interesting and beautiful qualities that you aren't really going to come into until you are okay being how you are. That's probably a little idealistic because the truth is that people with Asperger's/a certain level social awkwardness will be a little puzzling to a certain portion of people. But it doesn't mean you need to write off connection and friendship, or that you aren't as worthy of those things as anyone else. I say this as someone who doesn't have Asperger's, but is awkward and has friends who love me for it or in spite of it (either way).
posted by mermily at 11:30 AM on April 6


If you like cooking and baking, do you have a blog? If you don't, why don't you make one? It's a good way to reach out to other people. I'm not very good at making friends (with some exceptions) and this is how I've reached out to others.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:34 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Go to a class, or sports group, or any kind of meet up that you think you might be able to sit through. Doesn't matter if it isn't a perfect fit, because you aren't there for the class. In fact, if you know very little about the subject you have even more excuse to talk to other people and ask questions about a topic they presumably are interested in, and hopefully you won't have any material to monologue about (if that's a problem for you).

It's very difficult to make friends out of work colleagues at all, people just don't look to make real friends at work for some reason.

My local centre always has sugarcraft and sewing/knitting groups, and at this time of year they have holiday language classes. Maybe there's a frisbee group, or dance, or badminton, or something else that isn't insanely competitive? Or we have a community garden run by volunteers. Is there anything like that near you? Again, you don't need to actually have a burning interest in the topic. I can't guarrantee life-long friendships, but you'd get some more company and get out of the house.
posted by tinkletown at 11:34 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


No one texts me who isn't my parents or siblings. No one calls me. No one adds me to facebook.

Well are you texting anyone? Calling anyone? Adding anyone on Facebook? These gestures are not rewards for Getting Social Interaction Right; they are overtures. It is very difficult to make friends as an adult and I am not denying that. It means making high-risk overture after overture to move people from acquaintances to friends.

The only thing that got me was being ignored or rejected (subtly, but still).

Can you give examples here? Because you sound understandably defeated about this, but that can make you an unreliable or catastrophizing narrator. On top that, even the highest functioning aspies in my circle are not what I would call good at reading subtle behaviour.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:03 PM on April 6


@darlingbri - Yes I've tried. I added lots of people on facebook, I invited former friends to the movies, to hang out, I texted about stuff I know they are into but I tired of that after several months and no one initiated after 4 months of trying.

In terms of your 2nd question, a young man who I'd known for a few years (through a former job, though we were never friends) was upset at the loss of a job, I made him some food and texted him about it and he ignored me. I will post that I'm free this weekend on facebook and ask if anyone wants to see a movie and no one responds. It's true I avoid social after work activities because one of my colleagues made fun of me behind my back and he always goes.

@ms. Moonlight - I do have a food blog but no one has ever commented in about a year of posts.

@everyone - I don't understand how continuing to try to meet people helps. They will still ignore me. Going to a club or group meeting doesn't change that.
posted by Aranquis at 12:26 PM on April 6


> I feel like I'm acting normal, but there's an invisible barrier between me and the world.

I have often felt this way myself but I suspect many, many people have had the exact same impression - maybe not all the time, but still. I don't know if that's going to be helpful or not, but just try to imagine that some people are just as worried about you not liking them as you are about them not liking you.

Could you find a support group of some sort? A place where you can share and vent? Another therapist, maybe?

Please don't give up. Social interactions can be really hard, but you don't have to be perfect to have friends, I promise.

PM me if you want to talk.
posted by SecondSock at 12:31 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Keep doing what you enjoy- not to meet people but because you enjoy it. Be mindful of the interactions you get out of it but modulating your expectations would probably help you a LOT in terms of feeling rejected.

Find more "evolved" things to do with your time. You know, other than FB etc. Waiting for people to 'comment' or 'like'. No matter how many "friends" people seem to have, you will really, truly "connect" with few people in your life, those who stand by you in the worst storms, who will truly be your friend, even when even those may not respond to every single invitation from you. Not casting every "no" as a personal, all-encompassing, devastating rejection will be of a HUGE help to you, I think.

Find some goals in life outside of your career (colleagues) and social life (partner/friends) that you can seed, water and grow in your life. You dont have to fit yourself ("Aspie", is it?) or what you like in a box and constantly compare it with others (outside frame of reference). You've got only so much time. You can either use it to pursue things all your life and find/not find it or you use it to enjoy what you have at the moment, without labeling it as good or bad.

And no, outright dismissal or rejection of any of the comments above in the thread without actually trying something for 4-6 months is not helping you.
posted by xm at 12:53 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


. It's true I avoid social after work activities because one of my colleagues made fun of me behind my back and he always goes.

Every group of people has a member who's a douche. If you always avoid groups of people because one person among them is a jerk, you will never hang out with anyone.

You need to start doing things in the offline world that interest you and make you feel happy. And that will lead to situations where you are around people who also enjoy the same things, giving you a chance to socialize.
posted by deanc at 1:02 PM on April 6


I do have a food blog but no one has ever commented in about a year of posts.

That's great that you have a food blog! I can at least help here: have you tried visiting other people's food blogs and leaving comments about their posts? This almost always results in reciprocation from the author and readers finding and commenting on your own blog.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 1:13 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


You know, if you just need permission to give up for a while, I give it to you. If you need to be angry at the world, everyone who has ever let you down, and stew and heal and lick your wounds, that's totally understandable. So yes, you're allowed to do that. Thinking of yourself as broken forever is probably not going to be healthy, though. But taking a break is fine.
posted by quincunx at 1:26 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


I think xm has a really helpful idea here: Keep doing what you enjoy- not to meet people but because you enjoy it. Be mindful of the interactions you get out of it but modulating your expectations would probably help you a LOT in terms of feeling rejected.

I go to lots of events at which I do not make new friends. And as long as making friends was not my primary objective but something that might be nice, that is absolutely fine. I don't get sad about it, and it's easy to go to the next event and be friendly and polite and open. Like some stars are easier to see when you don't look directly at them, some things are easier to accomplish when you focus on an objective off to the side.

Even if you can't afford to see an out-of-network therapist who specializes in Aspergers it may still be helpful to see someone in-network. It seems you are feeling depressed and isolated, and that's a very general human problem that most therapists have some familiarity with.

I think it's good that you want to meet people IRL, but it might be helpful to supplement that with an online support group for other people with Aspergers (assuming that it may be hard to find an IRL support group in your area).

Lastly, if you did not see the Charm Hacker thread, you might find it interesting.
posted by bunderful at 2:25 PM on April 6


The last time I made a friend was 5 years ago when I met my ex, so this isn't like some temporary dry spell.

For what it's worth, 5 years definitely counts as a temporary dry spell in my mind. I am pretty sure that's how long ago it was that I met my most recent friend (apart from my boyfriend, which was an internet stroke of luck).

Part of this is in fact just adulthood; people meet people via work and volunteering, and for every hundred people they meet, maybe ONE person sticks around.

I have a wide circle of colleagues and acquaintances--and it sounds like so do you, by the way. But I only have probably 5 real friends, and only three of them live in the same state. When I'm not in a relationship, I usually don't have anyone to go to the movies with. My facebook count hasn't budged in years.

And when I am clinically depressed? I feel exactly the way you feel right now. Like all of the above is some horrible, perpetual, eternal judgment on my shitty self, and nobody will ever love me, and the cat will eat my bones, and give up, give up, give up, I'm a failure and damaged and separate and foreveralone.

When I am not clinically depressed, I can see it all for exactly what it is: a pretty typical adult life for a single person in a kind of isolated culture.

I am not a psychiatrist, I can't diagnose you over the internet. But the kind of spinning, hopeless, arguing-with-everyone's-helpful-suggestions-because-nothing-will-ever-help that you're doing here? That's what a lot of people do when they are very depressed and in need of therapy or medication. I think you should try to find a therapist, ideally one who does address your Aspergers, but really just one who's specializing in depression.
posted by like_a_friend at 2:33 PM on April 6 [14 favorites]


I am powerfully introverted, probably somewhere on the very mild autism spectrum. I have a few friends, but I have spent literal years of my life not talking to anyone, and not wanting to. However my job requires social skills and interactions, so I have that whole skill set, although it may not be as good as some of my colleagues'. I also have a unique skill set, in that I am very conscious of what is being done correctly and incorrectly in a social situation and what those actions are communicating, because I have had to consciously learn every single element of it. It did not come naturally to me.

Here's the difference between making friends and just performing all the social skills adequately enough to get along and be accepted. It's love. Not necessarily in a romantic sense, but in demonstrating that you care about what happens to a person. What they are thinking and feeling, and then you share part of your life with them. You share your experiences of joy, or --less frequently-- sorrow, and you share your time. (Don't misunderstand me, these are casual conversations about how you spent your weekend, not heart-rending monologues of great import) You invest in them, their well-being, and their interests. And then you do again. And then you do it again. And you do it with them, more than your do it with other people, because they are special.

When you care about others, they are drawn to you. If you do it correctly, you will never spend a moment alone. Not one. Which why you have to be cautious with it, and pick who you care about carefully.
posted by 517 at 2:51 PM on April 6 [18 favorites]


I've tried finding local groups but there is no match for my interests (cooking and baking.

Then look for groups centering around your next-favorite activities. There must be other stuff you like to do, but maybe don't know as much about? Which is a great reason to go DO those things, in order to learn more about them. Maybe you want to get better at chess? Plug your zip code into meetup.com and join everything that looks like something you could possibly enjoy.

Meetup may surprise you. I joined a book club that appeared to be the standard thing where a group meets to discuss a book they're reading together. That's not totally my idea of a good time, but I figured I could stand it for the sake of meeting a few new people. Once I joined, I was then able to see details only visible to members, and turns out they do all kinds of other things that sound way more fun to me, like going to book signings and readings, seeing movies, etc. So there may be more options available to you than it appears - but only if you really go looking, with an open mind.

As others have said, go with the aim of enjoying a fun activity among other people. If personal connections also happen as a result, that's a bonus, but may not happen every time, so it's best not to have that be your one and only goal.

Volunteering can also be a great way to participate in worthwhile activities alongside other people, and conversations and friendships often spring up from that.
posted by jessicapierce at 2:56 PM on April 6


This is going to sound nuts, but do you like animals? Have you considered adopting a dog? If you have a dog, and you walk her outside or go to the dog park, it's kind of an instant icebreaker/connection with other people--they comment on your dog, ask if they can pet her, etc.--and it kind of takes it off you, because, you know, the dog. You could even meet up with other people with dogs for play groups. If you rescue a particular breed you could join an association for that breed.

Even if the dog didn't help you with relationships with people, you would have the companionship of the dog.

I think any sort of pet could be helpful, but you don't walk other animals so there's less social opportunity, and while cats are easier to care for, they're not empathic to people in the same way.

Of course, your job and your living situation may not be appropriate for dog ownership, and no one should get a dog if they can't properly care for it. I'm just throwing it out there.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:11 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


If you have failed at forming relationships (of any kind), is there a point where you should just accept you don't have the skills and are incapable of developing them?

Get a notebook and a pencil. At the top of the paper write the lines I quoted of yours above. Now draw a line down the middle. Write "advantages of believing that" on the left, and "disadvantages of believing that."

Now write down all of the benefits believing that has for you. And on the other side write the downside to believing that.

Do that every day for a month.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:12 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Congrats on reaching out. As someone on the spectrum, this is really difficult. Sent you a MeMail
posted by PinkMoose at 3:15 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Find 2 or 3 Meetup Groups that are about topics legitimately interesting to you. Sign up and go consistently for 6 months. Have no expectations, but be as involved and present as you can. Worst case, you've done activities for 6 months that were interesting to you.

But keep at it and go consistently. Consistency is at least 50% of forming a friendship.
posted by the jam at 3:41 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


I'm a volunteer coordinator for onebrick.org We get quite a few volunteers who are socially awkward and people who are going through difficult periods (divorces etc.) We are kind to everyone and I think it's a really good thing to do if you need to practice your social skills a bit. I really truly believe that folks who volunteer are good and decent and will be understanding about social awkwardness. I've been volunteering for 8 years now and I've never seen anything but positive interaction and I've seen almost every kind of social issue.

So try one brick or another organization.

Also have you tried a social group just for folks with Asberger's.
posted by bananafish at 7:16 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


I will post that I'm free this weekend on facebook and ask if anyone wants to see a movie and no one responds.

You have to ask people one on one. No one would respond if I did that either and all my Facebook friends are IRL friends. So don't give up, that's a bad example!

Mid 20s is the worst. Friend groups are shifting, people are looking to upgrade their friendships as they move into careers, other people are failing at their first stab at adulthood and having quarter life crises (sp?) people are coupling up and everyone is just so judge-y and competitive. That will chill out a lot as you age, don't worry. In the meantime you might try to hang out with some more mixed-age groups, ideally doing something like volunteering that gives you something to talk about.
posted by fshgrl at 9:33 PM on April 6


You are being hard on yourself. While I appreciate that you do not have the social circle that you hope for, you have experienced and participated in Successful relationships. You have a relationship with your family and you have had friends and a boyfriend. While the latter examples aren't current, that doesn't make them failures. And having a positive relationship with your family is not something everyone can attest to. You have contributed to each one of those relationships. You are capable!
posted by man down under at 12:32 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Spend more time interacting with people on a more superficial but nonetheless meaningful and rewarding level: join some club, volunteer for a charity, take up a new hobby. Meet lots of new people with common interests. You garden or hike together. You attend museum talks. You help with a local archaeological dig. You help at a daycare center. Work or play together at least once a week and maybe one or two of these strangers will become your friends.

But make sure these activities are things you really want to do, even if you were to do them alone, so you'll get satisfaction regardless of whether you make friends.
posted by pracowity at 1:37 AM on April 7


Please don't give up. It can take time to find a group of friends who works well. Yes, I know five years seems like a long time. But each time you try you get a better sense of what does and doesn't work and get one step closer to finding your group of friends.

Nthing the suggestions to volunteer. I like that because the focus is taking off of socializing, but socializing still occurs.

Have you ever been to a Cuddle Party? I know, it sounds like a bit (or a lot) of woo, but a wide range of people attend them, from hippies to conservatives, business people, construction workers, students. Early 20s and 60s and 70s. All fairly open minded and all looking for contact (physical and emotional). I've just been to two but already have one close friend from it, and multiple people I'm friendly with.
posted by Matched plain socks at 6:28 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


The articles on Succeed Socially might be of use to you.
posted by xenophile at 6:30 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


Nthing volunteering! You like to cook so commit yourself to cooking at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen a couple of times a week! Other stuff you enjoy can lead to other venues for volunteering. Instead of staying home moping around the internet get out there and help people, or animals, or the environment, whatever appeals. You may find friends very unlike the friends you've had in the past: people of different ages, of different backgrounds. Set a reasonable goal, like volunteering at two different places for a couple of hours a week in each. Be patient if you don't enjoy it at first. Be patient if you don't make friends right away. Be kind to everyone you meet and don't overwhelm anyone with too much info about yourself.

In addition to volunteering do something physical in a group. You don't necessarily have to join a sports team; join a gym, go there regularly, and take exercise classes. At the very least you'll develop a much more positive body image and be more healthy.

Did you finish college? It's unclear from your question. If you didn't, try to finish by taking one course at a time. If you did, look into graduate courses, or continuing education courses in something that interests you.
posted by mareli at 7:16 AM on April 7


"Never break that connection with humanity, never fully isolate yourself, even if you're sure you're some kind of solitary mutant".

An old friend of mine, one of the wisest (and strangest) dudes I ever knew, gave me that advice, once. It's stuck with me. I think it's true.

There's always someone out there on your wavelength. Never stop scanning for 'em.
posted by Drexen at 7:26 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


I went through a milder version of what you're talking about in my 20s. I tried to talk myself into giving up on romance. Sometimes I told myself that's what I was doing, but I was lying to myself, and it never lasted very long.

You're not going to be able to give up needing human connection, even if you want to.

Keep trying. Try different things. Don't expect immediate success, or total success when you make progress.

Lots of suggestions here. Keep trying things! If you have any interest at all in medieval history, I suggest looking into your local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) group. These are weird people--but also more accepting of weirdness and social awkwardness. I wish I had given them a try in my 20s. Cooking is a specifically recognized activity with them, too.

There is a depressive tone to your writing (everything I do fails). Understandable, but perhaps something you can address independently of your quest for connection.

I agree with fshgirl that 20s are rough socially. 30s are rough in other ways (people get busier with family and career) but IMO people are less status sensitive and more accepting of oddness.
posted by mattu at 8:04 AM on April 7


Don't give up. I can feel that you are a good and interesting person just from the way you've written this post. If I lived near you I would be your friend. It sounds like you have a lot to offer to people, you just haven't found the right crew, as people have stated above. You just have to put yourself out there and play the numbers game. Keep at it til it works. Everyone goes through dry spells in their life in which they don't have friends. I'm in that stage right now but I'm trying to join clubs and pursue my interests and hope I find new people that way. It's just a matter of patience, which can be very difficult when you are fighting loneliness. I'm an introvert who needs a lot of social interaction so I can relate to your difficulties in building new friendships. It's difficult but you have to remain positive about yourself.
posted by spicynuts at 8:20 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


It sounds to me as if you are looking for rejection, and then finding it. Perhaps there is some comfort that comes from having your suspicions about yourself being unworthy continually confirmed.

I can relate. Here's one of the books on my wishlist on this topic.
posted by macinchik at 10:52 PM on April 7


To update: Tonight I'm meeting up with a women's AS group. They also have a social skills class (though it's a bit expensive, still cheaper than 8 sessions of therapy would be) I might apply for.
posted by Aranquis at 6:11 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


social group sounds amazing, remember to ask for the possiblity of a sliding scale.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:35 AM on April 13


« Older How can I make my fancy-ass He...   |  It is very difficult for me to... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments