Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Conversation and friendship

I recently read something about conversations leading to friendship that really resonated with me, I apologise to the author, I will mention  him/her when I can find it again!

I have always had problems knowing what to talk about when I meet someone. But I have worked hard at it, and learned to ask questions, try to prompt people to talk about themselves and their interests, even make some small talk. All this makes the first conversation with someone a lot easier. My problem is that with most people I meet, every conversation feels like the first one, I just cannot manage to follow up on the first time we met.  Thus every time I meet that person, I feel more awkward and have less to say. For this reason I feel more at ease among strangers than people I have already met.

Other people seem to just have conversations and this eventually leads to friendship or at least feeling somewhat comfortable with each other. I wish I understood this process. I am very grateful for the few people in my life who persevere and somehow ignore this awkwardness. I am glad to say that I do have friends. Not that I ever call them to chat, or drop in for coffee or share much -  even thinking about that makes me feel anxious - but they are people who accept me and my aloofness and keep talking to me and inviting me to visit them.

I believe I can be a very loyal friend, I can be very accepting, forgiving and not judging, and will never gossip or intentionally hurt a friend. I just have a difficult time with friendship 'maintenance' - the calls, chats, gifts, visits and the intimacy that I imagine friends usually experience.


  1. I think first and follow up conversations are awkward for most people (at least I assumed they are as they are for me).

    There are very few people for me that I just click with and everything flows, actually all of my close friendships took time and perseverance to build.
    I am also bad in the maintenance side of things unless they are close enough for me to visit in person (and I can count the friends I feel at ease visiting with on 1 hand).

  2. I am labelled as being an extrovert and do NOT normally have a problem with keeping a conversation going, or with being awkward or something similar; I too have a problem with friendship 'maintenance' as you describe it - merely because I become busy with my own thing and don't make the time to call or otherwise. Yet my (true) friends do not judge our friendship by the amount of calls or gifts or chats or visits; they judge it by the amount of love we feel for one another - everything else flows from there. So whether you're awkward or whether you're less chatty or aloof, the knowledge that you love me (as I know you do) is enough for me.... I SO enjoy your blogs!

  3. I've also wondered about this process - how you go from run-of-the-mill smalltalk to an actual connection / affection. Whenever I'm in a coffeeshop and I see two female friends talking animatedly, I always try to eavesdrop to try and figure out what 'normal' people talk about to their friends!

  4. This is also familiar to me, but there's something else too. I have days when I am unable to do even the initial chit-chat, and I feel like hiding under my bed, it feels like regression, and it usually has to do with something having gone wrong that is too personal to talk about. I'm not talking about an embarrassing moment (I have lots of those), but when I am upset about something I feel unable to frame it or put it in perspective for a time. If it's an ongoing problem, I will stop socializing altogether, and I don't know how to get back to equilibrium.

  5. This resonates with me... i have trouble with the 'keeping things going' thing too. A lot of friendships with NTs have failed becos of it, i believe. I just don't know how to do the 'drop in' thing, or invite them to do something together, etc etc. It just feels foreign and awkward to me.
    Having said that, i do find friendships with other aspies much easier to maintain, as they don't expect me to do all that, or even keep in touch on a regular basis. If we don't talk (properly, as opposed to facebook that is!) for some time, it's okay, we just pick up where we left off, pretty much. I think if we have friends, on the spectrum or not, who are willing to do this for us, then we are lucky, and should treasure those friends.

  6. @Barb
    I do realise it can be awkard for most people, but for me most conversations with most people most of the time stay awkward. That is why I talk to people less and less.

  7. @Louie Crafford
    Thank you for reading and being interested - it means a lot!

  8. @Mariette
    I've done that many times too. But I still think I am not aware of most of the important aspects in such animated conversation. Because the mere exchange of words are usually not that interesting - there must be something more?

  9. @eaucoin
    Could it be that when you have to work through something in your mind that it uses so much energy that you cannot face doing the social dance as well? On days like that I hide in my house, and when I have to go out, I avoid eye contact and conversation as much as I can. I have also found that the longer I hide, the harder it gets to go out again.

  10. I can also relate to this a lot. Even with someone who is a friend, I usually feel awkward and unsure of what to say.

    I do find that forcing myself to have small conversations with people is helping me to get better at it even though it still makes me quite nervous. Of course, some days I can handle more than others - I think that's just part of the ebb and flow of life.

  11. I recognise myself in this post and the comments. I too find that my conversation dries up quickly and I tend to rely on the other person to keep things going. And yes, I have some days when I can handle it better and others when I'll just sit there silent. I handle some topics better as well: I have a lot of trouble expressing emotions and tend not to contribute much when the talk centres on how people feel about something.