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relationships » Blogging AS an Aspie
Matt has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is writing this blog so that people can gain more of an insight into how people with the condition process thoughts, feel emotions, react to situations and generally handle life.

07 Apr 08 Spicing it up

I always watch BBC One’s Holby City on a Tuesday evening, and last week was no exception to that. What struck me was Joe Byrne (who shows a lot of Aspie traits) asking his manager (and fatherly figure) Elliot Hope for some advice; he implied to him that he was having trouble in the bedroom, and not being able to make, you know, it last. Even better was Elliot’s metaphorical analogy of it being like cooking. I could see where he was coming from, but couldn’t really relate to it; for me, the kitchen door has yet to open!

Elliot was talking about how you need to achieve certain things, for example following the recipe, having the oven at the correct temperature, and cooking for the correct amount of time. He went on to say that, with more confidence and experience, you go on to adapt the recipe, perhaps by adding some extra spice, or a little bit longer cooking.

Being a typical Aspie, I like to examine every little detail, and take things to the nth degree. So, my analysis of the metaphorical cooking:

Firstly, you have to gather all the correct ingredients. Just as you can’t make a sandwich without bread, you shouldn’t attempt sex without protection (be it in the form of a condom, femidom, pill, IUD, implant, etc). Not only are physical ingredients, but the emotional ones are much more valued: love, trust, passion, and most importantly – mutual consent.

Secondly, you should follow the recipe, particularly if you’ve made the meal before. Just as you don’t add the margarine to the flour in a cake, you don’t start with consent and try and add the trust to it. You need to start with your firm base of love, and then gently work up the trust on top of it. Once you have that, you can start adding some passion to the mix, and top it with consent. Of course, every recipe tells you the temperature of the oven, and this is no exception; sex simply does not cook on a cold heat, you really need a hot oven to get things going.

Thirdly, you need to cook the mixture for the right amount of time. Too little time and you’ll have a floppy pudding, too much and you’ll burn yourself out. Get it just right, and you’ll have created a sensual delight hard to beat.

Finally, it’s no good spending all that time in the kitchen to serve something that looks awful. A good chef always puts as much effort into the presentation as to the cooking. You’ve got to present your meal in the right way, with lots of thought going into the setting, the atmosphere, and the build up. Nobody likes to go straight to dessert, so you should have a good, simple starter planned, followed by an enjoyable main course. Only then can you go on to show your tempting masterpiece.

If you’ve done well with all your cooking, you should be able to finish off with some squirty cream!

The above post is written very tongue-in-cheek, and should not be taken literally!

24 Mar 08 Weird conversations

Sometimes, I really do get drawn in to such random and weird conversations with people. They can go from being a plain boring conversation one minute, to being really quite dirty or personal the next. Conversations on MSN or Skype are generally much worse, simply because you can’t see the responses all the time!

So, as it was, I endured three hours of such a conversation over Easter weekend. Except that this time, it was with two people I was close to, and one person I probably shouldn’t have been speaking to for my own protection. I didn’t think of that at the time, I had been drawn into it. And, I felt as if I had something to prove to myself. I wanted to prove that I could cope in an emotionally demanding (for me) conversation, and that I could appear normal.

During the chat, I felt an idiot the entire time; I thought I was coming across as somebody who didn’t know what they were doing. I was wrong, despite being on an emotional rollercoaster internally, the two people I was close to both told me I coped really well. One of them realised what I was going through, and had a side-chat with me, allowing me to express myself more freely, as long as I didn’t “cross the line” about things. He kept telling me I was doing fine, and gave me prompts when I appeared to be struggling. He really is a fantastic mate.

Having done all that, everything else seems easy now. Too easy, in fact. I’ve changed from the unpredictable unable-to-cope person that I once was; now, I’m somebody who can cope well, and accept the help of my friends.

20 Mar 08 Keeping it level

I had a lesson with the friend I mention in Caring & Boyfriends, and yet again I managed to impress myself. This time, it was a lot to do with my new found ability to self-control more that it was her being nice to me. Although she was really nice and understanding, despite me feeling I was slightly more withdrawn from her than normal?

The first thing I did when I saw my support staff was to give her my notes from last night to read, at least she’d know what had gone on. And although she wanted to help, we had a problem, there is no on-call system for the holidays, and she isn’t aware of anything to do with me & my friend, and how I feel about her. So effectively all she could do was take notes, and give as much generic advice as she had at her disposal. Don’t you love it when a single academic service provider manages to screw up so badly it is the only educational establishment in the country taking the Easter holidays at a different time to everywhere else?

I realised quite quickly that the less I thought about my friend being in a relationship the easier it was going to be for me. I know she said she’d talk to me about it, but that needs to be at an appropriate time, and one of her choosing! Of course, really good theory, until a rather loud friend said “Paper based presents (homework) are the best thing I can do at home” which was replied from another student with “You need some sex mate!” My mind simultaneously focussed on three things, firstly it thought of my friend in the relationship – although, frankly, her sex life is none of my business – and my heart just sank that little bit lower. Secondly, it reminded me of my virginity, and as I looked round the class, and thought of the people I liked, I sharp realised I was probably the minority. Finally, my mind kindly told me I was not in a relationship, so that rules out all sex for a while. Although, as I then thought, it’s not the sex that I was bothered about; it was me being single, and my friend being in a relationship that hit me.

For a lot of the session, I felt as if I could just run away to somewhere and cry, exactly as I’d predicted earlier. However, I was able to maintain my usual happy presence, particularly as I was sitting next to my friend, who effectively told me to be my normal self because she didn’t want to be happy/hyper on her own. Awww, I thought that has some level of sweetness in it.

I was quite nervous for most of the lesson, assuming that according to my behavioural trends, I would end up making a mess of things with my friend. I do wish I could just be myself, but I am thinking way too much about how I should be acting that I can’t even manage that. Right now I hate having AS, but as my friend reminded me last night, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have it, would I?

In addition to all that, I have butterflies filling my stomach, because I know I haven’t told my friend everything about how I feel about her. I’ve told a manager with the service provider about my feelings for this friend more than I’ve told the friend herself. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this, it’s to tell somebody how you’re feeling while you have the chance, things can change ever so quickly, and that chance may be gone forever! I won’t tell her know however, she’s happy with her boyfriend, and I don’t want to say anything that might upset her or make her feel guilty.

One small irony: as I wrote this the song “Stay the Night” by Ghosts came on, and I smiled at the line “If it’s a question of timing, I’ll wait.” I wish I hadn’t waited earlier, but now I will…

20 Mar 08 Caring

I should name this post ‘Boyfriends 2‘ because it’s an unplanned sequel to Monday’s early morning post. When I wrote that post, I didn’t realise the social situation I was thinking about was, at that point, inevitable. I didn’t know she was in a relationship. So it came as a shock to me, when we’d effectively been flirting by text half the night, that she mentioned something that implied she was seeing somebody. My response was following protocol to the letter: assess the situation, make a cup of tea, sit down, and take a couple of deep breaths.

I clarified what she meant. She meant she was no longer single. Since when? Who? Whilst these questions raced through my mind, my physiological response had already begun. Unfortunately, it was as I predicted. And I’m not surrounded by support staff. ‘Crisis without immediately available support’ drills immediately in effect, and I went into autopilot. I’m at home with my parents presently, and I’m not going to cry in front of them. As I awaited her response, I done what the drill tells me, write everything down, keep detailed time-stamped notes, and log all my emotions and their reasons.

I almost cried as I was doing that. Of course I did, my illusions had been shattered, and I was heartbroken. There was no hope, or so it seemed. I rang my mate from the same class, he fancies her too, and was as shocked as I was at the news. Nothing anybody could say would make me feel better. Saying that, my past behavioural trends say a lot at this point. Had I been in halls, I would have been 1:1’d immediately, and no doubts my phone would have been confiscated. Damage limitation; let’s get Matt so he can sleep for at least some of tonight.

Then the questions that have no point. What if? Maybe… If only I’d…I wish I could’ve just… What if I had told her how I really feel “a few weeks” ago, and had the confidence to ask her out?

Ok, notes made. Next step is to analyse my thought processes and emotions; this is so that I can use these to write immediate action strategies so that I can stay focussed all tomorrow, and I will still be able to seem fairly normal. I’m not in a position to do any of this. Contingency plans are being thought of as I fight the tears, yet I still don’t know what to do. At this point, I believe I won’t be able to get a strategy in place for tomorrow, so I use some of my own crisis limitation techniques: I text her, asking her to read this blog; hoping it will explain why I will not be my usual self.

When I ring her to help her understand me a little more, she hadn’t read all of the blog. As I tried to explain that I didn’t feel I could be my normal self tomorrow, she gave an off-hand comment that made me smile and laugh; anybody else this would have made me burst into tears because they didn’t get it. She didn’t, but she did; I know she wants to understand, but sometimes doesn’t link everything together. She made me want to cry a second time, but this time it was through happiness.

She made me want to cry a third time; she sent me a text, saying how I deserve somebody who cares about me as much as I care about them. Ironically, she needed to care about me quite a lot in order to send me that comment, I mused. I know she cares, because it’s not the only time she’s sent me that type of comment; I don’t think she realises how much she actually cares! I smiled, and almost cried. I don’t know how, but I know, for the present time, that I’m happy for her as long as she is happy. If (or when) things change, I’ll be there for her because I sincerely care about her. No matter what happens between us, I will always be eternally grateful to her, she has managed to (without realising) change my behaviour much for the better. I know I’ll be there for her no matter what, I only wish I’d talked to her about this sooner…

What have done that was so RIGHT?

17 Mar 08 Boyfriends

I’ve been thinking, about relationships. The trouble is, not much bothers me about them, and it’s just there is this one social situation I envisage that really does.

My relationship history is not very impressive. I’ve had one “serious” relationship when I was 8; one internet relationship when I was 15; and one relationship with another Aspie & AD/HD when I was 17. I have never “gone all the way”; though have had one encounter that caused quite a bit of embarrassment. So, relationships in themselves are social situations for which I do not know the ‘protocol’ (as a manager put it).

I flirt, a lot, with many girls (it’s been said way too often that I could flirt for England). Some I know have boyfriends, some I know are single, and some I don’t know much about anyway. None of this bothers me. Maybe it should, but it doesn’t. I know I flirt, and for the most part, it’s harmless; at least I think it’s harmless. I don’t think I mean anything by it, at least not most of the time.

The internet relationship I had when I was 15 broke apart for a simple reason, we never saw each other! Since then, I’ve seen her a few times, and it’s complicated to say the least. I flirt with her, but that’s normal for me. Neither of us knows exactly how we feel for each other, and that’s only the start; I don’t think we’re going anywhere, and I believe that would be for the best. I know she’s engaged to somebody, and that doesn’t bother me. I know it should, in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t.

It’s well-known I fancy/have-a-crush-on some of the young female members of staff at the specialist college I’m at. I know I’ve got no chance whatsoever, and that there’s no point even dreaming. Yet I still flirt, mainly because it’s fun, and because I know I can mostly get away with flirting. I would never take things any further, and I would never make any kind of advances. It doesn’t bother me, but so far nothing has!

Then there’s this young lady, who I feel is really special to me. She’s the only female (outside of those compelled to, like staff) that likes me as a person, is a good friend to me, and (I at least think she) cares about me. She’s the only young lady I can honestly say I like & fancy, but have so far not ballsed-it-up with; normally I would have became obsessive, stalked her, continually complimented her, or otherwise harassed her. There’s something about her that makes her special to me, but I can’t describe it. She is the closest friend I currently have. By empathotypical standards, I am unsure whether it counts as a ‘close’ friendship or not. She’s ‘hot’, but of all the young ladies I’ve thought are ‘hot’ and tried to befriend, she has the weakest personality; yet she is the only one who has managed to keep me appropriate around her. She’s not a weak character, I know she’d stand up to me if I annoyed/harassed her, yet when asked by my support worker, she apparently said my interactions were both good and appropriate. As far as I am aware, she’s single. But I haven’t asked her out, either directly or indirectly (as in “would you like to go for a coffee?”); because I lack the confidence. I have thought of lots of ‘engineered scenarios’ that would remove the need for me to be confident and just to ask her; yet every time I try to set one of these up, I lose bottle and stop myself at the last minute, and end up looking a slight fool thinking quickly of something else to say. The saddest thing of all: none of that bothers me!

To ensure I do keep myself appropriate, I sometimes think of social scenarios I could find myself in with her, and plan my response, her counter-response, and so on. Then, I decide if they were good or not, and think of alternates that could be better. There is one scenario which keeps coming up in my head very often; it’s the ‘her saying “I’ve got a boyfriend”‘ scenario. Every time I think about it, I have the same response; I try to hold back tears, run away to somewhere quiet, and cry for some considerable time whilst I think about how I’m feeling. Of course, I think about the alternates like trying to smile and talk to her, or making a sensible reason to leave and walking away until I can deal with it. But nothing stops me from wanting to cry there and then. That bothers me, it bothers me a lot.

I know I should be happy for her. And it’s that fact that bothers me, that simple fact of know ing how I should feel, but not being able to make myself feel it that bothers me. Her having the boyfriend does bother me, but the level of bother is insignificant in comparison. Sometimes not knowing why one can’t feel the way one should, and knowing that one would not even be able to act in that way can make oneself feel rather low.

Now, I know this entire blog post has effectively been a total waste of time; she likes me as a friend, and not as much as I like her. I respect that. If I had the confidence to ask her out, I’m not so sure that I would. Problem is, I don’t know how ‘close’ we are in terms of empathotypical standards, and I certainly have no clue as to whether we are getting closer or more distant. I know people and their feelings change, what I also know is that they change for both better and for worse. I don’t know if I’ll ask her out, of if she’ll say yes if I did. Maybe, just maybe…