Navigating and understanding differences

So, I was raised very different in a lot of ways than any of my friends, I am also the oldest of my friends being I just graduated, and my friends are still in school. Because of this there’s some things that are hard for me to understand, i also recently found that I’m slightly autistic and have bpd so I’m trying to relearn what ‘healthy’ boundaries and relationships look like, while navigating the whole crippling fear of rejection and having a now known reason for why I’ve always needed people to be more literal and why it’s difficult for me to understand tones and body language.

As i was growing up "alone time’ was a very common thing in my family. My mom, dad, and sister all liked and needed time just for themselves (which is understandable) but it was always a thing where for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours a day my sister and mom would go to their rooms, my dad would take the living room and I would be stuck alone in my room, and i had no real say in it. So i got really used to the idea that i was in the way because that’s how it felt, so whenever anyone was really quiet around me i felt like i did something wrong and asked if they just wanted time to themselves. This has stuck with me and translated to something i still do.
For example, i was supposed to be at a friend’s house for the night right now, but after we got off work, he seemed quite so i asked if i did something to upset them and if they were actually okay with me staying over or if they just wanted time for themselves tonight. And well, i’m alone at my house again, this is like the fourth or fifth time in the last 2 weeks. My problem isn’t that he’s taking time for himself, i’m happy that he sees that he needs to, what i struggle with is that i’m the only one of his friends who asks and gives him that opportunity to take time for himself, in turn meaning i’m the only one he ever really cancels plans with, and even when i know its not because i did something wrong it still kinda hurts to see him always follow through on plans with everyone except me.
I’ve talked to him about it, and he says he feels bad that he only cancels plans with me and he doesn’t think its fair to me, but especially since no one else does he thanks me for giving him a chance to have time for himself. I want him to take the time he needs, but I’m worried that if i’m the only one who gives him that opportunity, I’ll just kinda stop seeing him because he’ll always need what was gonna be our time for himself. All of this is just a way for me to get to saying that i don’t understand why my friend is comfortable enough with me to ask to be alone but he’s not with anyone else, especially given I haven’t known him as long as anyone else.
I don’t want to sound selfish or tone-deaf. I’m just scared of losing a friend and I don’t know what we could do to compromise at this point. I guess i’m maybe just writing this because i’m hoping it will help me process or something, i’m not sure.


From: twixremix

hi luca,

thank you for reaching out here and sharing this piece of yourself and the struggle you’re going through. i think it’s a really considerate move to ask if your friend needs time to himself. your understanding, support, and sympathy towards your friend’s needs is admirable; you’re a great friend! however, it’s also understandable how it can get frustrating when it’s only you being an understanding friend towards him and his need for chill time.

whether it’s you easing up on the frequency of times you ask if he needs alone time or suggest to him that you’re okay with just chilling together watching shows or listening to music together. now that he knows you’re okay with declining plans, would bringing it up less often make it less of an opportunity to turn down y’all’s plans? wishing you all the best in this, luca, you got this!


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From: Lisalovesfeathers

Hi Friend, Thank you for your post, I does sound like you are carrying a lot of things from your past with you as do we all and these things do tend to weigh heavy on us as we go along in life, meeting new people, making friends, relationships etc you sound like you have grown in to a wonderfully kind person which makes for a fabulous friend to have however sometimes a person can be overly kind and maybe in this circumstance your kindness has not gone in your favor, I think maybe now you have asked your friend numerous times about taking time for themselves and having a discussion about it you can safely assume that they are aware that they can inform you anytime they need a break from now on so you can stop worrying about that and start thinking about enjoying time with your friend, they can book time with you and book time with themself, we can all manage our own schedule. Maybe even say to your friend, Let me know when you are free and we can do something. that way they have the opportunity to choose rest or time out with you. You are such a thoughtful person but think about yourself too friend. Much Love Lisa. x

From: Dr Hogarth

Hi Luca,

As someone who is also Autistic, I can completely relate with those ruminating thoughts over social interactions, and how much they can dominate your thoughts. It can be really hard.

From my perspective, a true friend is someone who I would feel happy just to be quiet with; without the pressure of having to talk or entertain them. I understand though that being treated differently by someone can make you feel singled-out and uncomfortable. For you, I can imagine that those feelings you experienced with your family of being “in the way” are also in the back of your thoughts. I absolutely don’t think you are in the way at all, but I can see why your brain would take you there.

Having the dialogue open with your friend about this is fantastic; that can’t have been easy to start talking about. Perhaps you could plan something where you both can just be quiet in each other’s company (?) In any case, continue to be honest with them about your worries and feelings. How you feel is completely valid. x

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From: eloquentpetrichor

Hey, Luca :hrtlegolove: I wanted to start by saying that you are an amazing friend for recognising that people need alone time and offering that to your friend. Your family is spot on that some alone time is good. I just hope you all have some together time as well. Do you still live at home and this still happens? If it does and you don’t want to hide in your room do you think your dad would mind if you sit in the living room with him? He still watches what he wants but you are in the room on your phone or reading a book or watching the same show. That way you are still by yourselves but you don’t feel like you are shunned to your room. I say that to segue into my next thought on how you might be able to compromise with your friend.

Have you two ever tried being alone together? It is a wonderful thing to have friends you can be alone with. You each do your own thing but you are still together in the same place. Either just veg out watching a show or movie together or really doing whatever activity while in the same room but not really interacting. You still get quality time but don’t drain yourselves having to be “on”. Especially if you and this friend usually hang out after work. Work is so draining and I know I usually want to just lay around and do nothing or be alone afterward but after doing that I will feel like some socialisation sometimes.

Maybe he needs something like that. So you could ask him if that seems like a good thing to try if you want to. I know that I do that with coworkers after work sometimes. They come over and we collapse on the couch staring at the TV and dozing off to recharge then go to an arcade or play games or whatever once we get our energy back.

I’m glad that he is willing to talk about it and that he has told you he doesn’t like canceling on you but appreciates how understanding you are about his needs. You both seem to be the kind of friend you cherish and keep around even if the amount of time together isn’t as much. I always tell my friends I rarely spend time with that it is “quality over quantity”. Good luck finding a way to spend time with your friend and thank you for sharing with us. :hrtlegolove:

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