I'm broken and i cant tell if anyone cares

ok so a little background i guess. im autistic. this means that it’s hard for me to pick up on social cues, but it also means- and this is the hardest part for me personally- that i literally cant tell if anyone cares about me. i miss a lot of the little gestures that my friends and family use to show and reciprocate affection. this makes the occasional argument or disagreement even harder, because i kind of dont have a counterweight that shows they’ll stick around regardless, if that makes sense. this feeds perfectly into the fear of abandonment i’ve had since forever. i’m so tired of feeling like this and burdening and worrying the people i love with all my heart just with the way that i am. i just want to know i matter- not to strangers, but to people i care about.
and if they’re trying to tell me, what should i look for?

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Hey friend @brokenwillow I’m sorry that you’re going through this, I can’t imagine how hard that is.

When I know that people care about me I can usually tell by how they act. I’d look for the things they do, like do they reach out to you and talk to you? Do they straight up tell you they care? People’s actions can say a lot about their thoughts, since we can’t read people’s thoughts we have to look at what they do, which can be really hard for some people. If the people around you cared and know that you struggle with this, they would more than likely understand what your going through and reassure you. That’s a good way to tell, even if they don’t completely know what you’re going through, they try their best to understand and support you.

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Hey @brokenwillow,

It can be hard to have the assurance that people care about us, especially if we are struggling and especially if social cues feel a bit out of reach. You’re not weird for feeling that way though, and it’s really positive that you’re aware that, right now, this might be one of the need that you want to address in your life.

Something that could eventually help you would be to learn about the different love languages. There’s a psychological theory about types of love that acknowledge the fact that, as human beings, we can express love in different ways. And for each individual, we tend to favor some love languages in spite of others, just because it’s more meaningful to us.

Examples of love languages are the following ones:

  • Words of affirmation: the person uses words to express their love (loving words, compliments, positive affirmations, expressing our admiration or respect, acknowledging someone’s qualities, skills, talents…).
  • Physical touch: hugs for example, or holding the hand of the person you love, kisses, cuddles, etc.
  • Acts of service: it’s about helping someone, doing something for someone. You give your time, your energy or talents to someone so you could help them and show them that you care.
  • Gifts: basically the act of giving something to someone as a way to say that we love them!
  • Quality time: it’s about spending time with someone we love, doing something we like. For example: playing video games with a friend and having fun. No one forces anyone to do it, yet friends do that because they appreciate each other and like spending time together! Just an example between so many others possible.

The idea is that only one of those love languages is actually about wording our affection. But for many people, love and care is expressed, as @ofmiceandben said, through actions such a helping someone or giving a hug.

In times of doubt, maybe something that could help you would be to have some kind of box with physical objects that are reminders of the love that your friends and family have for you. It could be letters/printed messages, or gifts, or photos, or even good memories you would write down. You could also keep some kind of list of positive moments you’ve spent with people you love. Those could be physical reminders to keep with you and lean on when you’re not sure about their love or not.

Another suggestion could be to try to think about what are your love languages, and see which one you can identify for the people around you. Or even ask them directly! This could eventually lead to an interesting discussion for both you and them. :hrtlegolove:

@brokenwillow
Hi and thanks for sharing what are a painful experiences for you.
I would encourage you to be honest with your family and friends about your fears.
Often we want to ‘appear’ like we’re okay, but we’re not, and when that happens we’re so focused on keeping up appearances we lose focus on what is important in the moment. When you’re in these ‘moments’ with people, I’d encourage you to ‘check-in’ with them. You obviously want to be an attentive and caring family member and friend, so enlist their help in developing practices that allow you to grow your social skills. It’s only through practice that we gain ground in what we’re trying to learn. As you progress in learning new skills, perhaps your fears will lessen too. Peace.

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