Making friends

March 06 2015

How do you make friends?

It's something that people do all the time, and it amazes me. I'm no good at it -- never developed the knack, never developed the skills.

I don't know how to become friends with someone.*

I know it can be done -- people do it all the time! But I don't know how to do it myself.

Let me talk about me a little, so you'll have a better idea.

I'm autistic, of the high-functioning aspergers variety, which for me essentially means I don't really have an emotional/social language. Because of this, I've somehow managed to grow up** without developing empathy. I've managed to cobble together a working replacement; if I'm paying attention, actively thinking about it, I can see what people are feeling, how they're doing, but I have to stop and work it out. If I don't focus on it, because I'm distracted or because it's hard to remember to think about something all the time, I am blissfully unaware that people have feelings.

Which doesn't mean that people don't matter to me, because they do. It just means that it's very helpful for me if people announce their feelings. I'll happily take them into account! It's just a lot of work for me to figure out what they are. There are a lot of emotional/social rules that I don't know, but I know they're there and sometimes it feels like EVERYONE knows what they are except me. So I tend to go quiet rather than transgress.

And when I do have strong feelings, I rarely have the words to be able to explain them to someone. No emotional language, after all.

But all this means that I will only know that someone likes me if they explicitly say so. The thing where two people talk and realize they like each other? Never happens to me. Arguably *can't* happen to me. But I like talking to people -- I'm particularly good at bantering. I banter so well, I could be in a Joss Whedon story and everyone will think "Yeah, that guy really fits in here".***

This isn't a pity party: I've got a good life. I somehow acquired a wife, and she came with a social group and community and I'm happy to be part of both.

But I still want to know: how do people make friends?***** How do they make friendships grow?

[email protected]

*Besides "Click on Add Friend beside their name on facebook."

**My credentials as a "grown-up" are entirely due to age, and not at all due to maturity.

***And then I'll die dramatically, because Joss Whedon story.****

****Since it appears to be a contractually necessity for a listserver email to contain some well-meaning life advice, here's mine: "Don't be a character in a Joss Whedon story; Or GRR Martin, that'd be even worse."

***** The facebook joke wasn't funny the first time, either.

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