A friendlier February?

My son asked me recently, “How do you make a conversation keep happening?

A few suggestions for topics like the weather, or strategies like taking turns, didn’t cut it. He was searching for what gives momentum to a connection; the mysterious essence that makes others want to engage with you in that lovely upward spiral of mutual interest.

Of course, I couldn’t give an answer that was likely to work, much less teach him the formulae he hoped might exist.

Social impairment (or, as many prefer, social difference) is a feature of autism, and despite having a very busy life full of people who care about me, I can’t deny that it’s something I have to work at. I can forget the simple things that others need in order to feel valued, which can bring on shame and inadequacy, often followed by massively over-compensating in order to soothe any hurt feelings (including my own). So I could hear the tremor in his question, and badly wanted to help.

I’ve been on the lookout for resources I can share with him, rather than passing on my wonky strategies of masking, people-pleasing, or isolating.

This month, Action for Happiness are offering a “Friendly February” calendar, with a suggested activity each day to help build connection. They all look nicely achievable. And much as I hate taking instruction, or admitting I need help… some of these hadn’t occurred to me. Time to put on my humility pants and take some good advice.

I could pretend that we’re doing it for my son, but hell, I need to get better at this stuff, too.

So it’s going on the fridge. Let’s see who scores a full house, and where it takes us…

2 thoughts on “A friendlier February?”

  1. I don’t think there is a trick to connection. If anything, the key is in not trying – which is harder than it sounds. Acceptance, allowing… There are few in this world you will ‘fizz with’, and that’s ok. Be open to sparking with someone, and accepting that this is rare. Most of all, be prepared for most people to be quite bland and boring!
    Also… In youth work I used to get young men asking me all the time – “how do I get girls to like me?” My answer was always – ‘don’t’! Get you to like you instead. Learn art, a second language, music, travel, anything, for your own sake. By exploring the world you’ll accrue knowledge and skills – which will make you a more interesting and attractive person. It will also bring you into contact with the kind of people you WANT to be attracting.
    Conversation is the same. Rather than study how to have a chat, learn stuff that excites you so that when a ‘chat opportunity’ arises, you have things to bring to it.
    As with so many things in life, we should not aim for the thing itself (the girl, the job, the lifestyle) but simply follow our passions and curiosities, accepting that all the rest will come as a natural by-product.
    Most of all, we have to accept that if we are to become ‘fully ourselves’, then a lot of people will not like us, and that’s ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, nicely put! I’ve heard the “rule of thirds” applied to being ourselves – a third of people will get you, a third won’t, and a third will be indifferent. Also, I enjoyed this tale about someone who asked for advice about intimacy on Reddit… https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/bjpzem/reddit-gave-a-teenager-with-autism-a-shockingly-helpful-sex-ed-lesson?fbclid=IwAR1tE-VtY8RJ96IsVNlMhccv40CYzIM4uvHvQWnQGRGNqIy7mi_MlZaWJ14

      Liked by 1 person

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