A blog advocating autism through my own personal experiences and insights.

Posts tagged ‘relationship’

Fifth Level of Freedom: OMG! It Happened!

It’s certainly been a busy fourth term at the university of waterloo. I’ve been very busy with school work recently, which is why I haven’t updated for a while. But I’ve now thankfully found a little time to do so. Anyway, it’s not just been busy academically either. What’s changed? More of a social life yet again! This time there’s quite a story behind it so I’ll tell how it all happened.

Eight days after flying back to waterloo to start another term here, something very interesting happened. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been using dating sites as a means of talking with girls. I know not everyone thinks that such means of communicating with others is that good, but I’ll tell my story how it is and let you be the judge. Of course, it’s certainly not the only means of communication I’m using to talk with others.

Out of the blue, a girl messaged me on one. Her message (as I remember it) read “I’m just going to be forward about this and say I think you’re the most adorable guy I’ve ever seen! Please message me back!”

I thought, oh wow. So we messaged each other a little on there. It turned out she was unreachable as far as physical distance though. Due to confidentiality, I can’t say anything about the girl on here, other than that she was 100 km away, but love to read and write and appreciated math! I’ll admit I was pretty amazed. And to add to the amazement, she was very pretty and actually liked me, not just in a friend way, but in a romantic way as well. We talked, we flirted (something I’ve never done before in my life), and we laughed.

We soon messaged each other on skype and then on our cell phones. We talked a lot about ourselves and our lives. I thought a miracle had happened! This girl just came into my life from out of the blue with no warning and no expectation. We texted on our cell phones daily helping each other through our days. For five and a half weeks this continued until late October. By this point, we were like the best of friends and had developed a connection I had hardly felt in my life before with anyone.

Only something happened. While we were talking a lot, I said something, well, a bit controversial. I had revealed so much to this girl by this point that was very comfortable around her and said something that she found very off-putting. I won’t go into what I said and at any rate it doesn’t matter what it was. This girl then lost interest in me.

It was more than painful. I won’t pretend otherwise. I’ve been rejected by girls before, but good gravy, this was the first time I was rejected by a girl who had actually liked me. It took a few days for it to lesson to a tolerable level and even then it was difficult to deal with. I did talk to this girl again, but we soon agreed that we should each go our separate ways. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and I’ve been going back at life ever since.

Looking back, however, I don’t regret this experience a bit even if we weren’t meant for each other. It was good to interact with a girl in a romantic way even if it was short regardless. And if I may be a bit blunt at least now I know that there are actual girls out there who think I’m hot! The right one will follow eventually. Mind you she may take a while to show up. Why not enjoy being single and try to have fun putting myself out there in the meantime? Now that I’ve had one experience of having mutual feelings for a girl that didn’t go well, I may have others and that I realise I shouldn’t get so attached to one. Mind you, attachment is good, it’s how relationships form, but too much too fast isn’t good. Like with everything, it’s about finding a balance. I’m learning more and more as I navigate through the dating world. Let the learning continue!

And how have I been going back at life? Well, if there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that it’s worth the risk to becoming more sociable. I sat at tables with undergrads I didn’t know when going to the meal hall for supper, I’ve sat down beside a girl in a coffee shop and talked to her and even spoken to girls in my zumba class. I’ve even spent a bit more time with my fellow math students. It was the above experience combined with my aunt’s advice that the social world is indeed vague and that I’m free to socialise in whatever ways suit me that have really made me get out of my comfort zone. I really can’t believe I’m doing all this! I’ve had similar experiences almost a year ago, which I tell in this post: Taking Action.

The girl that I talked with certainly helped me see the vagueness in the social world. For example, we were talking about cuddling and how she cuddled with her girlfriends and she talked about how she thought it was appropriate for a guy and a girl to cuddle even if they were just friends. I pondered this and decided to ask a few girls that I knew about such a situation. Some thought it was okay, others not. Again, just more evidence of the vaguenss of the social world. My opinion on the matter is that yeah I would definitely cuddle with a girl as long as were clear beforehand that we are just close friends and there isn’t anything romantic going on.

Combined with the second and third level of freedoms that I don’t need a girlfriend or friends to make me happy that I tell about in these posts: Second Level of Freedom, Third Level of Freedom I can now live without any fear. I used to be a person with a lot of fear and expectations of others. Now I have no expectations on anyone and the fear is gone. To this, I’ve uploaded a video on youtube that tells of my experiences living with autism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s1OpaVJo00&feature=youtu.be.

But all I can say with regards to this experience is OMG! It Happened!

 

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A Third Level of Freedom

Today marks the anniversary of this blog! That’s right. Exactly one year ago, I made my first post on here. And given that this is my 34th post, I think I’ve done pretty well! It hasn’t always been easy to come up with new interesting things to say and updating a blog on a regular basis does take time and discipline (although my interesting in writing novels certainly developed discipline in this regard). The topic for this post, however, was easy enough and elaborates on a new way I’ve learned to look at friendships.

Well, a third level of freedom! What have I discovered now? My first post on freedom was about the aftermath of my first term at grad school and how given the intensity of the work, I learned to get rid of academic perfectionism. My second level of freedom occurred just over a month ago when I decided to stop looking for a girlfriend and decided to just keep doing what I love and let the girl follow. Romance happens when you least expect it. (For convenience I’ve created a new category Freedom where I’ve placed these three freedom posts and where I’ll place more if more come). What I’m going to elaborate on now relates to this (indeed it can probably incorporated into it, but given that it didn’t automatically follow and it took a month to do so, I’m going to treat it distinctly). And what does it involve? Well, it involves not just “letting the girl follow”, but also just “letting friends follow”. In other words, I’ve decided to not put so much energy into getting closer friends, but to simply do what I love and let any friendships develop naturally.

There are various levels of friendship. In my third post on my blog On the Difference Between Friend and Acquaintance I described (at least how I see it) what being a friend entails and it requires more time than being a mere acquaintance with someone. The time factor is key, especially when it’s outside of anything formal like courses, a job, clubs, societies, etc and you spend a lot of time with someone in order to be close friends with them. But in order for you to develop such a connection with someone, requires more than just the two of you being nice people. Two relatively nice people who see each other on a regular basis because of, say, school or a job can become acquaintances fairly easily. But in order for them to become close friends, they need to spend a lot of time with each other outside of this. But in order for them to get to such a level of close friendship, they need to have a “special connection” between them.

It’s because of this “special connection” that the vast majority of people that we interact with in our lifetime don’t become close friends. It isn’t because we aren’t nice people. We are. But you also have to share a bond. The number of people that a person has a “special connections” can be very small as a result. I’m really beginning to see and understand that this is how friendships basically work and it has caused me to re-evaluate my methods for obtaining friends. For example, in my undergrad university Acadia, I knew two philosophy majors who are a great example of this. At least one of them was certainly an introvert. The other I chat up on facebook every now and then and when I was talking to her about the difficulty of obtaining friendships just over a year ago, she actually said that while she did have friends, she hadn’t really developed any close friends except for that other philosophy major and they ended up dating.

This has caused me to revise my own methods in a lot of was. I no longer to into a social situation whether it be with one person or a whole bunch of people with the mindset that I’ll develop a really good friendship with someone, but let the “special connection” happen naturally like it should. Such a method automatically has a lot of advantages (similar to how I explained in a previous post that I’ll “let the girl follow”). It means that I don’t have any expectations on anyone or that anyone will end up treating me as someone more than an acquaintance or a friend I see only every now and then at best. Thus I no longer feel disappointed in anyone.

Now obviously the optimal situation is where I do develop a “special connection”. This is why I do what I love. People who have more in common with each other have more of a chance of developing a friendship, which is partly why I’m going to start a writing club this fall (I have gotten four other students interested in this!), as well as an autism support group. The realm of writers and autistics are certainly two potential groups for making friends (though like I said above I hold no expectations). I’ve also met a girl who lives in Waterloo on a dating site and she’s an introvert as well and we text/chat on a regular basis (and we aren’t dating, we’re just remaining friends).

There you have it! The solution to friendship and loneliness. Now I just have to run with it…

A Second Level of Freedom

This weekend that just passed, I’ve had another epiphany (I just love having those!). It deals with my feelings toward finding a girl to date, wanting romance in my life, and putting an end to my sexual frustration. I must admit that during the past few months, my sexual frustration has rather increased than where it has been over the last few years. And after all my fruitless attempts at trying to find someone, it’s starting to really exhaust me. And so I have done the only thing I can do. I’ve just let it go. I’ve decided to stop looking.

This is rather analogous to how I was feeling about my studies last fall. Last fall, my academic perfectionism gave me such a painful experience that I did the only thing I could do then. I let go of it. And it let to a wonderful new sense of freedom, which I’ve illustrated this experience in a previous post Freedom. Now we can replace academic perfectionism with sexual frustration and that pretty much sums up how I’d describe what went through me this weekend. Letting go has indeed led to a whole new sense of freedom, much like how my school experiences last fall did for me. Now instead of experiencing freedom in the academic sense, I can now experience it in the human relationship sense as well.

In stopping looking for a girlfriend, I don’t mean I stop talking to girls entirely. In order to have romantic success that’s certainly a requirement. It’s basically my approach and attitude that’s changed. Whenever I meet a girl, I no longer look at her as a potential girlfriend. I don’t care how beautiful she is, whether she loves math, philosophy, writing, or has autism, etc. If she has or is none of these things, some of these things, or all of these things it really doesn’t matter at the start because there are millions of girls on this planet and it’s not like the Earth’s population is decreasing. Chances are there’s another girl out there that I would be just as compatible or incompatible with (and I don’t think I’d want a girl who was to too much like me. We’d probably get bored of each other). If I find I enjoy talking with this girl, then I see her as a friend. I’d probably only consider her as something more if things developed in a natural way. Like if it became obvious that she liked me romantically. And if she started flirting with me and I was interested, then I’d definitely flirt back and so we’d develop something.

And just because I’ve stopped looking, also doesn’t mean that I’m not pursuing a social life just as rigorously as before. Indeed, if I’m to meet someone then having an expanded network of friends will certainly help with that. My strategy will simply to be to get involved in things I like, meeting potential friends, and go on from there. And then simply let the girl follow. Such a strategy I think is beneficial in a lot of ways. It avoids feelings of depression and helplessness if I don’t find someone very soon. It also avoids feelings of obsession over a particular girl and will allow me more control over the crushes that I might find I’m developing for a particular girl. I can also be myself when I’m talking to girls. I can relax and not worry about rejection because I find a girl incredibly beautiful or perfect in some way. As my Aunt Linda pointed out, it’s good to be a “me” before I become a “we”. Finally, I feel more complete by myself. My feelings of inadequacy of never having a girlfriend are vanishing and I’m left with a peaceful feeling of being single. The trite phrase “you complete me” makes absolutely no sense. You have to feel complete before you enter into a particular relationship in order for it to be successful and to not have your happiness or adequacy be dependent on the actions of another person.

Another thing I like doing (as long as it doesn’t become an obsession though I don’t think it will) is to imagine what the girl who I will eventually end up with is doing at any particular moment. What is she doing now as I type these words down? Is she brushing her hair, enjoying some delicious meal, reading a novel, or enjoying a movie with some friends? I love to speculate and it keeps me excited.

I’ve wanted a girlfriend for 11 years now and have been trying to get one for the last 9 years (If you want full details see Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 1 and Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 2). That’s nearly half the time I’ve been here. And unless it takes me until I’m 34 to find one, I think it’s safe to assume that I’m most of the way through the journey by now anyway. But I think I’ll give the world a chance to work its magic, instead of me trying to do it all myself. Whether it’ll take a month, a year, or 10 years, the right girl will eventually come my way.

Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 2

I will now continue the discussion from my last post, that is, how my autism has impacted my ability to date and find romance. I ended by admitting my ignorance of such matters when I was in junior high and how I didn’t really know what to do when I started developing crushes on girls. Moreover, I wasn’t sure how to react with my classmates finding out I had a crush on a particular girl and how some of the little advice I got from them was next to useless. I wasn’t about to ask for clarification from anyone either. This idea may have been somewhere in the back of my mind, but I never really seriously considered it. If you’ve read my first post Settling For What I Had you know that I found it (and maybe still do to a certain extent) extremely difficult to confide in anyone, especially my peers, about what I actually thought and to try to become closer friends with them.

I was also a little bit frustrated with what I was learning in school at the time in health class about relationships and sexuality. While I do think that when kids reach their teen years, they should be taught how one should know of all the risks and STIs that are out there when two people are trying to decide if they should have sex, you should know how one gets into a relationship to begin with. I remember touching on the various levels of seriousness that relationship can be, but I don’t think there were any specific instructions on how to achieve any one of those levels. I have a very structured and logical mind and love things to be precise. Yet what I learned about relationships in class was far from this. As well, while math class was enjoyable, it also frustrated me that I had to listen to stuff that I had already learned on my own. Why did things I already know have to be reiterated to me, while certain things I didn’t know, simply weren’t taught in the classroom?

Now, to be fair, I liked all my teachers and I’m sure they were following the curriculum. Also, I think I was the about the only one in class who was autistic and had these kinds of difficulties with relationships and friendships in general. So who knows? Maybe my kind of specific instructions on how to get into relationships would’ve bored the rest of the class much like math class was for me! Again, it all comes down to us all having unique strengths and weakness and how a utopian world where everyone could be accommodated 100%  isn’t exactly applicable.

Everything came to a hit in my life when that crush I had on that girl that everyone found out about grew even deeper to the point when I actually started calling her from my house. This was after classmates had encouraged me to ask her to a couple of dances, which I did, though she couldn’t because she had other plans. It broke my heart after all this when I discovered she already had a boyfriend for almost as long as I had known her. Though I had considered this possibility before, I was so sure that my classmates’ encouragement made this seem rather unlikely and it came as a sort of blow. From this experience, I derived two new rules for dating:

Rule #2: In junior high at least, even if classmates encourage you to approach someone you have a crush on, even if they are your crush’s friends, does not make it any more likely that your crush is single.

Rule #3: It is perfectly permissible, in junior at least, for a boy and girl to go to a school dance together as prom dates, but for the girl to have a boyfriend who’s not the boy she’s going with to the dance.

Even though the girl never went to the dances with me, she wasn’t sure at first so I know there was still the possibility of her going with me so it’s for that reason that Rule #3 was still obvious to me.

Along the way, another rule that became evident to me was the following. It wasn’t evident to me until the end of junior high. The reasons for this aren’t exactly clear in my head, but involved some reflecting on my experience in junior high, reading a YA novel that portrayed dating, and my crush on that girl developing so rapidly, I was willing to try anything.

Rule #4: In order to get a girl to be your girlfriend, you had to ask her out.

I wished I had known this rule for when I first met the girl. If I had, there might’ve been a chance I could’ve had a relationship with her before her boyfriend did. But while this new piece of information could be put to use, it led to an error in thinking about relationships, particularly where I have a precise black/white logical mind. It led me to the erroneous notion that relationships were basically like an on/off switch. You want a particular girl to be your girlfriend? Okay, go ask her out. That’s all there was to it.

Which I perfectly well know today is pretty far from the truth when it comes to relationships and only started becoming evident to me when I looked up dating in my high school library and actually read a little more about it. Right before then, however, I actually asked out a lot of girls whom I had become acquaintances with and got all negative replies for reasons ranging from ‘already have a boyfriend’ to ‘simply not interested’. I’m also not exactly proud of the fact that my ‘on/off switch’ thinking actually got me to ask out one or two girls whom I had hardly talked to at all beforehand. While they simply rejected me, I’m glad there were no further consequences to this mistake. Hence when I looked up dating in high school library I learned another rule:

Rule #5: In order to ask you a girl you have a crush on, get to know them more than a little bit first.

A sixth rule that I learned about dating is the following:

Rule #6: Two people who are dating usually do not tell each other “I love you” unless their relationship has reached a certain level of seriousness.

You’ll laugh the way I figured out this rule. It partially came from a book publisher. Let me explain. When I had written my first novel, I was actually lucky enough to meet a publisher face-to-face three summers ago when I was doing some labor work in a town. He agreed to look at my manuscript and several weeks later, he returned it saying I was very talented writer, but couldn’t publish the book because of a few things he thought were wrong with it. The book featured two teenagers who while trying to find out a connection between their families fall in love and end up dating. The publisher thought the relationship developed too fast and that he doubted even tweens would say ‘I love you’ before holding hands. Then the message finally clicked in when I was watching The Big Bang Theory over a year ago and I was watching an episode where Penny was making a big deal about Leonard telling her “I love you”. I then revised my novel so that the relationship in it developed at a slower pace.

So what have all these years of trial and error taught me about dating relationships? Here’s a list:

  1. If you develop a crush on a girl, get to know her more first.
  2. Ask her to go on a date. If she says yes, great. If she says no, move on.
  3. Go out on more dates and let the relationship develop at its own pace.
  4. Never tell your partner an “I love you” until you are very emotionally intimate.

It has been a kind of adventure in a way and it’s certainly not at its end. While I do wish I could’ve learned some of this in a classroom-like setting instead of bumping my way around in the dark, I’ve actually come to like the adventure and in the meantime be happy with myself as a single person. I’ve made a few mistakes and I expect I’ll make more in the future. After all, it’s like what Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.