Sometimes you have to marry two unrelated problems to solve them
I have no friends. At all.
I used to have them.
I remember from my childhood that I had 3 friends. Three boys that lived on the
same block, whom I called friend. But I don’t remember if I spend much time
doing things with them.
When I was almost 12 we moved house and I lost my friends.
In my late twenties early thirties I got a few friends again. Again three friend
but now in succession. Every one of those friendships lasted for about 2 years.
And every one of those friendships felt like a lot of work.
The first two guy visited me ones every 6 to 8 weeks. But only if I invited them.
In between visits we never talked to each other. It seemed as though it was up to
me to contact them and make the arrangements.
The third came every week. Although I liked it, it seemed a little too much.
I would have liked it better if he had come every two or three weeks.
After about 2 years he stopped visiting me and I was relieved.
It was only when I found out that I’m autistic that I learned that there is a
difference between the needs of people with autism and NT‘s.
I’ve been told that the relationships of people with autism is more shallow as
compared to NT’s.
Maybe that’s true. It’s not something I can check.
What I do know though is that I’m not interested in about 90% of what NT’s talk
about. And that I need far more “me” time then NT’s.
Two autistic friend of mine moved in together a few years ago.
To do so they bought a house containing a living room plus three bed rooms. Of
which they converted two to personal rooms.
They agreed that if one of them withdrew into his/her personal room. The other
would leave him/her alone.
In a relation I too need that amount of personal space. Which makes it difficult
to be in a relationship with an NT.
The only way I could ever get in a relationship is when I find a gay autistic guy
But what are the odds of that happening?
In one of the episodes of Star Trek Generation Wesley Crusher is tasked with
learning to lead men. He isn’t very successful at it and the men go off and do
their own thing.
Trying to figure out how to command men he asks Commander Riker “What gives me
the right to tell people (twice my age) what they should do?”
And Riker answers “If you figure that out you’ll be able to lead men.”
I always found this kind of a strange episode because I have almost the
I’ve been leading people for the last 15 years.
First in my volunteers work later in my job.
Most of the time I lead by example but some times I ask people to do something
and usually they do.
But I too don’t know the answer to the question “what gives me the right?”.
So it would seem that Riker (or the person who wrote the story) is wrong.
It is possible to lead people without knowing the answer to that question.
Or at least that’s what I’ve been thinking for years. But recently I’ve
found that isn’t entirely true.
I’ve always used my ability to lead people to reach goals that where clearly
in the best interest of everybody. Improving the way the work was organized.
Teaching people how to do their work more easily. Improving the mood at the
I never used it for personal gain. Although it’s clear to me that you can
improve your own life by the way you lead people I’ve never done that.
I’ve never dared.
A few weeks ago a colleague mentioned Paul and told a story about something
stupid he had done.
Paul is a colleague who visited me ones a few years ago. I liked the guy
and was dreaming about getting friends. But it didn’t happen.
Most of my colleagues have problems. But I was surprised and shocked by the
number of problems that he had. And the kind of problems. Stupid problems
that he should be able to fix himself. But apparently he wasn’t.
For a year I thought of inviting him for a second time. But I never did.
After hearing his name I found myself doubting my decision never to invite
He is a nice guy. Even if he needs a lot a care.
Around the same time I took a few days sick leave. My department was
planning a move. We had to leave the space we where in, but it wasn’t
clear were we where going.
I can’t deal with that kind of uncertainty. And, so I found, neither
can some of my colleagues.
One of them told me that he resented me leaving them in such a stressful
And so I found myself thinking about friendship and about leadership at
the same time. And a few things became clear.
The answer to the question “what gives me the right?” is responsibility.
People follow me because I improve their lives. I take care of them.
Which means that it is possible to lead people in a way that will improve
my life, but only if it also improves their lives.
The second thing I realized is that it is possible to get friends that
are not autistic. The only thing is that it’s up to me to make sure that
they behave in a way that I feel comfortable.
Which means that I will have to lead them and take responsibility for them.
So now I’m thinking about inviting Paul again. What kind of care does he
need. Something I can give him?
I think so.