Originally Posted by babblingbrook
I feel totally exhausted by trying to negotiate social situations, doubly so with my kids in tow. Confused by lots of social cues, social rules--I just feel lonely because it seems like there's this mysterious list of rules everyone else knows about, or like everyone else got the script except me. I'm 99% sure I'm on the autism spectrum (aspergers). I would love some feedback or help with understanding some things that would help me out with relationships/friendships.
Issue one--is it normal for most women to talk behind other women's backs, or complain about other women? I get confused a lot in friendships because it seems like everyone always talks smack about everyone else. Is it just a way to relieve stress? But it seems like everyone does it. And if they do, how can I trust people?
Issue 2--Compliments. Do you like compliments? They make me very uncomfortable because it feels like an evaluation. I just want to hang out and enjoy the moment. It's hard for me to get and give compliments. I do try to give compliments, but it always comes out very awkward for me.
Do you have any tips?
My husband has aspergers so we have some experience figuring out social situations. Of course you should take all of my advice/comments with a grain of salt and assume that anything I say is just my opinion.
Yes, it is normal for women to talk behind people's backs. Not all women of course, but it is really common. Partially I think people do it as a way of bonding. Most people need to feel some sort of "us vs. them" in order to feel really bonded and part of how they facilitate that is by gossip. Not all gossip is malicious and often even when the conversations sound really hostile they aren't really meant to be. It's not the best/healthiest way for humans to behave but I don't think it will ever change.
As far as trusting them goes: that's a hard question. I don't think it is possible for anyone to tell you how you should decide that question. For me, I tend to categorize stuff about me and my life into I don't care if everyone on the planet knows this/I only want people I can trust beyond the shadow of a doubt to know this. There isn't a lot of gray area for me. Stuff that I don't care who knows I talk about freely--luckily that is most stuff because I'm just not particularly shy.
The stuff that I don't want people to know about I am really picky with. I trust my husband. I trust a few very specific people who are mainly outside my social circle. I find that most of my truly closest friends don't know most of the people I know. It's a way of protecting myself. I have talked to my really close friends and they openly acknowledge that part of the reason that they trust me is also because it would be very difficult for me to break their trust if I wanted to. Who would I tell in their life? It's not a situation that works for everyone but it works for me. People I know casually I honestly just don't really trust much.
Compliments are a weird thing. Some people like them, some hate them. I realize that sounds unhelpful. You probably are better off trying to give them consciously. It will take practice for you to get used to how to do it and sound natural. It might be a good idea to practice with a friend/partner who understands that you feel awkward. As far as receiving them goes: smile, say thank you, and then drop it. That's about the best you can hope for.
Being spectrum means things will always be harder for you, not impossible... just harder. A lot of how my husband deals with things is by realizing that people are usually telling you things that they think you want to hear, not what they really want/believe/think. It's not a conscious decision on their part. He phrases it as, "People are usually lying." In my head, as a sometimes apologist, I think of it more as "People are not intentionally being dishonest" but I can't really say he is wrong. He points out that part of what people saying what they think you want to hear is: they are not really being as judgmental as you fear. Even when they talk about you behind your back.
He points out that if you are uncomfortable with how people talk smack to keep in mind that in some sense they are probably testing you to see how you will respond. If you refrain from being catty at all and you indicate some level of discomfort with you it will taper off around you. It will probably also increase the level of trust that people feel towards you.
I hope this helps somewhat.