Connections

I’ve been having a lot of angst and frustration and other unpleasant feelings lately about friendships, connections, socialization, and such things in that realm. I am very isolated in my life, and I don’t want to be. I mean, I need a lot of isolation compared to your average extrovert, but I currently have too much even for my introverted, sensory defensive self. I want to socialize more, I want friendships, and quite frankly, I want emotional intimacy. More than anything, it’s the lack of that last one that eats at me. However, I am going to speak more broadly than that for the purposes of this post.

There are a number of things that are obstacles to my social success. The constant threat of sensory overload which restricts the sorts of things I can do, my finite social energy which places limitations on how much I can interact with people, my difficulty understanding social cues and non-verbal communication… it’s not an easy thing. There is one thing in particular that I want to talk about, though. Something that is far more subjective and internal.

I have a lot, and I mean a LOT of difficulty forming connections with people. Or, at least, connections are very rare. I don’t mean strong or significant connections here either, I mean ANY connection. Actually feeling, however faintly, a sense of connection to another person is absurdly rare for me, and I tend to cling to whatever few connections I can feel because they are so very special.

It’s really hard to write and post this because I am extremely scared that someone will come along and tell me that it’s like this for everyone, or otherwise totally invalidate what I’m trying to say and what it’s like for me. So, to that currently imaginary person that I really hope never materializes, no it is not like this for everyone. I watch people, and they form weak connections all the flippin’ time. Now, I would imagine that only a few of those weak connections turn into strong connections, but the weak connections themselves are relatively plentiful.

This is an obstacle I have yet to figure out how to work with. I can be careful about where I go to manage my sensory input. I can choose when to socialize in order to best manage my social energy. I am forever working on understanding social cues and non-verbal language. Connections, though… I can’t make them happen. I either feel a connection or I don’t, and usually I don’t. Almost always, I don’t. When they do happen, it’s erratic and unpredictable. Sometimes I feel a connection to a person right away. Other times I can know a person for years before I actually start to feel a connection. As it is, there is often imbalance between how important I view a connection, and how important another person does. We may both feel a fairly casual, mild connection, and to the other person it’s just one more mild connection among so many others. To me, it’s a precious, rare substance deserving of careful handling. While I have learned, the hard way, to do my best to not cling to connections as that just drives people away, I do tend to be more careful with my connections than other people seem to be.

The whole situation is a frustrating one for me. One that I have not figured out how to manage beyond, well, just living with it and accepting that I cannot form connections easily or often. Sometimes I think I just wish other people, those few who I feel even a faint connection to, know that small circle they are in and, well, care. But that starts to get into my own sense of unimportance which is not what this post is about. In any case, I sometimes wonder if there are other people out there who are like me, finding even slight connections incredibly difficult to find.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Connections

  1. Yes, I can very much relate to this.

  2. Dan

    I don’t connect easily either, and I’m alright with that mostly, but I do need some connections. Being a Christian aspie, I get the best results with other Christians, almost exclusively at church.
    As an aspie, the first benefit of connections at church is that I can control my rate of interaction: if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I don’t go (my wife is very understanding.) Also, I know the schedule; being able to plan and prepare for interactions that begin and end at relatively certain times is of high value to me.
    Of course I don’t go to church just because I’m an aspie, but it was nice to know when I recently moved to this new community, that I would have kind people with whom I could begin making connections when I arrived.
    In this little church of about 50, there are at least two aspies besides myself; a significantly higher proportion than one would expect from the population. I suspect it’s the caring.

  3. Trudy

    I also find it hard to make connections. It’s not that I don’t want them, just that sometimes someone who might have been a good friend comes along at a time when I am not in a good headspace. And I am not good at keeping in touch with people – for me, interactions need to have a purpose, and just saying ‘Hi’ is not a purpose in my book. So I have found my best way of making connections with my limitations, is to join clubs around things I enjoy doing, like photography and cooking. That way my conversations with people are centred around something I am interested in, and therefore have a purpose. As I get to know a person at the club better, we can start talking more intimately about other things in our lives, and a stronger connection is formed. Works for me, anyway! I don’t need a lot of interaction with other people before I am ‘full’.

  4. Just me

    I think anxiety, overthinking and overstimulation are all big barriers to feeling connected. They take a person out of the immediate moment and put an emotional distance between people. For connection to happen, a person has to be reasonably relaxed and, ultimately, feel comfortable being vulnerable, and this means figuring out how to reduce anxiety, analyze situations less and find ways to cope with overstimulation. These are challenging tasks, indeed, but, I believe, doable with time, practice and the right supports.