Reasons why people with Aspergers make great friends

Disclaimer-this blog post is based on my personal experiences of Aspergers Syndrome and thus will not resonate with everyone but I thought a positive blog post was needed so decided to write something on the theme of friendship. I know that the below list is not true for everyone with Aspergers because we are all different but it is true for my particular symptoms of Aspergers and those of several people with Aspergers who I have met offline.

As mentioned before in a previous blog post, Debunking The Myths, it is often assumed that people with Aspergers do not make good friends. The media has a tendency to portray us as self obsessed and boring but, in my experience, this is not the case and I am going to make several brief points as to why people with Aspergers can make great friends. 

1. A lot of people with Aspergers are incredibly loyal and stick by their friends through the good times and the bad. We genuinely appreciate the beauty of friendship because we struggle with making friends. Friendship is serious for us, not something that can be abandoned at will.

2. We may struggle with making friends but, a lot of times, we have no problem in keeping them. We may need more alone time than the average person and we will have days where we feel overwhelmed by life and may shut ourselves off from those around us but we will always come back to our friends.

3. People with Aspergers have a tendency to be honest, straight talking people. We will give you our honest opinions and help you out wherever we can. We can be trusted to always remain true to our friends.

4. A lot of people with Aspergers love deep conversations. We enjoy researching our subjects of interest and can often have expert knowledge on our chosen specialist subjects. This is NOT boring-it can open up other people’s minds to niche subjects that they have probably never even given consideration to. We are passionate about our topics of interest-I can easily pass three hours or more talking about various neurological conditions and disabilities. I personally love seeing people so passionate about a subject-this world needs more passion and enthusiasm,

5. We understand the need for alone time and personal space so will have no issue with leaving people to their own company when they desire it. We won’t press you for an explanation-we will just accept it and leave you be.

6. We see the world from a unique perspective. Accepting our friendship means you can begin to understand that perspective a little better.

7. A lot of people with Aspergers have a strong sense of justice. We like the world to be fair and will always ensure that we treat our friends the way we would like to be treated.

8. We have a tendency to keep to strict routines and arrangements. Therefore, we are unlikely to change plans at the last minute and let our friends down.

9. We tend to have a quirky sense of humour so can introduce our friends to this too.

10. We tend to have good long term memories so won’t ever forget what our friends have confided in us.

This is not, of course, to say that you have to get on with us because we have Aspergers. That would be a foolish thing to say. All I am saying is, if you meet someone with Aspergers and fancy getting to know them, don’t let the Aspergers put you off. It is only one facet of what makes our personalities so try and make that friendship work and you may be pleasantly surprised at how good we are as friends.

The Comfort of Familiar People

Like a fair number of people with Aspergers, I don’t particularly enjoy meeting new people. I do it out of necessity as the way the world works means that you have to meet new people now and again in order to progress in life but it’s not an experience I find pleasant. This is not because I am in any way “cliquey” or stand offish but because the fact that I don’t know what their personality is like or how they will behave terrifies me. 

I take a great deal of comfort from knowing how the familiar people in my life behave. Obviously I am aware that this is likely to differ on occasions due to emotional states but, generally, I know their personality and their boundaries. I have learned from the previous times I have interacted with them how they interact with people and I find this security comforting. I feel safer with these people. Meeting somebody for the first time takes me out of this comfort zone in a huge way. I know that lots of people out there, with and without Aspergers, get shy around people they don’t know but this process is a little more than that. When I meet someone new, my mind is firing dozens of questions that whirl around my head but are not spoken. “What is their personality like?”, “What will they think of me?”, “Will they think I’m rude?”, “Will they think I’m weird?”, “What should I talk to them about?” and even more questions similar to this. Even in the supermarket, I always try to use the self service machines unless I absolutely have to be served on one of the manned tills. Communicating with professionals is easier than communicating with random people because I have an idea of how the conversation will go. I know what I need to ask them and I have some idea of how they are going to respond but it is still very nerve wracking. Making small talk is what I dread most though. I can do it but I don’t like to. I prefer deep topics of conversation and fail to understand why talking to 15 or 20 different people for a couple of minutes each is seen as being more worthwhile than speaking to one person for an hour. 

I hope I am not giving the impression that I don’t see the point of widening my friendship circle. I envy people who can make new friends with ease and can chat to people who they’ve just met completely naturally. However, I know that that’s not the way my mind works. I rely on knowing how the familiar people in my life interact-it keeps my anxiety levels down. Once I get to know people, I socialise with them in a manner that is comfortable for me but it is the initial “getting to know someone” process that I find so nerve wracking. Please, if you know someone with Aspergers, don’t just assume that they are anti social and don’t like company-there are people with Aspergers who are happy being on their own but there are lots of us who do like company but need safe, familiar company free from confrontation and drama. It may take longer than usual to get someone with Aspergers to trust you but persevere and you will see that a lot of us do make good friends in the end.