Can anyone please advise on how someone who struggles with social situations, can form meaningful friendships and relationships without being kept firmly in the ‘acquaintance box’?
I don’t think there is a simple answer to this, but wanted to acknowledge its tough and something I spent a lot of my life thinking about. And I think I always recognised (and my default assumption) was that ‘that sort of thing’ would never happen to me. And there is a sort of grieving that I had to do over the idea of that loss. I don’t think we talk enough about how painful it is to feel that sense of isolation from romantic relationships but also the sort of deep friendships that seem prevalent in our culture, but I struggled to develop.
The first and only (and current!) relationship I really had was in my mid thirties. And I think that happened for a few reasons, I was more confident and settled in myself, I was open to it, but I also lucked into finding someone who shared my values and who thought I was funny. But I think that relationship developed because I learned how to talk about my feelings and be vulnerable, and those aren’t things that are always easy to practise as an autistic person. I had to learn pretty fast.
I don’t know if you are asking for specific advice, I think most of the advice I would give is the same for everyone. If there is a lot of pain and sadness in side of you, then you may want to do some work to heal that. And that healing is possible. If you want to connect with people then you might want to look in places where you are your most comfortable, most you version of yourself. No point necessarily throwing yourself into situations that already raise your stress levels. It was helpful for me to accept that I don’t like bars, and didn’t want to date in them for example.
Happy for you to PM me if you want to talk more.