So another thing I learned from a fellow Aspie at the last Houston Aspie Info gathering was that something I believed is just common sense and common courtesy is not always viewed that way by NTs. Namely, someone shares with you a terrible experience they had and how badly they feel about it, etc. What I do, what I think many Aspies do, is search our memories for a relevant, comparable experience that we ourselves went through that might lend insight, or at least let the other person know that we know at least a little bit of what they’re going through.
Or apparently not; According to a fellow Aspie friend, this sometimes gets turned around on an Aspie by an NT who becomes angry that you’ve shifted the focus away from them an onto you. And I guess are mad that you aren’t holding their hand and letting them vent and feeling that emotion alongside them first.
This just leaves me at a loss for words…the former is the natural Aspie expression of concern and empathy. The hostile reaction described by my friend just leaves me baffled and thinking “Wow, what a dick move to respond to my kindness that way…” and “jeeze, pity party much?!” I had assumed that all sane, rational people would understand that someone trying to commiserate with you by sharing from their own grab bag of hard knock experiences counts for something universally. That this would not be so is literally incomprehensible to me.
I’m not physically capable of sharing that kind of immediacy of empathy with someone that many needy NTs seem to want and can only get from each other. And it’s wrong of them to write me off as unfeeling or uncaring because I can’t…I express my empathy in my own Aspergian, more logical way; you shared an experience with me, seems only right that I should share a meaningful story with you. Some Aspies may have difficulty in judging if an experience is roughly equivalent or not–I don’t think that I do, but that’s a separate issue. I think I’m pretty good at gauging comparable experiences and I’ve yet to actually experience a negative reaction like my friend describes, but I think I’d be desperately confused and upset if I ever did. I’d probably be angry and resentful that someone whom I’m trying to help is lashing out at me. I’d probably just give up in frustration and incomprehension and just leave.
Sometimes people need to be left alone, it’s true. I know I do. But probably in past relationships I’ve opted to leave someone alone when really what they wanted was my company and emotional support and they think I’m being cold & indifferent, while I’m just applying my interpretation of “The Golden Rule”, albeit with less than optimal results at times, trying to give them space because that’s what *I’d* want in their shoes but it’s not actually what THEY want. But I do need them to VERBALIZE what they want/need, especially if our relationship is new-ish and we don’t know each other intimately well.
Anyway, just wanted to write these impressions down before I forget them.