In brief – socializing is complicated! That’s about all I really want to say, but I like to write so I’m going to continue.
I tend to liken socialization to a dance. It has moves and flow and rhythm, but it’s all stuff that you’re supposed to pick up on subconsciously as you grow up. I occasionally talk about this to an NT friend of mine, and from what I gather, most people aren’t even aware of the dance as they’re doing it. It all becomes so automatic that they think they aren’t doing much of anything at all. As an aspie, I know otherwise. The dance is very complicated, and subtle changes to the rhythm can have huge effects in ways I can’t even begin to describe.
So my social dance is significantly simplified. I never do parties, because I just can’t seem to learn that dance. Even if I could, I imagine it would always be stressful and unpleasant. I also do not socially network. I do not have a large network of acquaintances and people I know and such. Hell, I don’t even text. Ok, I do text sometimes, but it is not a form of social contact for me. For me, ‘friend’ is synonymous with ‘close friend.’ If a person is not really close to me and vice versa, I do not consider them a friend. They are an acquaintance or friendly acquaintance. Relatively recently I have started using the word “buddy” to indicate a person that I enjoy socializing with if I happen to see them, but otherwise do not seek out. It’s only pretty recently that I’ve learned how to have that level of social contact at all.
For me, keeping connections with people takes energy. If I’m not getting more back than I am spending to keep the connection alive, then it isn’t worth having. I gather with most people it’s the other way around – connections to people give them energy, rather than take it. It’s a very strange thing for me to ponder, but I guess it takes all kinds.
In any case, to me, even my form of social interaction is fairly complicated, even though it’s still much simpler than the dance that most people do. In conclusion: socializing is complicated!