Few/No Friends at 29… Am I doomed to be old and lonely?
First post on here, not sure if this is the right area.
I’m male, 29, diagnosed Asperger’s 20 years ago. I’m gay, in a stable relationship and have a stable, full time job. I should be happy, right?
I’m not happy. When I was at school, I was bullied and ostracised for most of it, years 2 - 12. One of the jibes I always used to get was “no friends Nigel”, coming from large groups of students pointing and laughing at me on my own. I never had a single friend throughout school, I never got invited to parties or gatherings.
After school ended I thought things would get better. But the group I fell into made me the butt of all jokes. This pattern has continued in the workplace. I’m nearly 30, have no solid friends and never get visitors. I’m always calling, messaging and asking to visit others. No one ever asks me to go out or invites me anywhere
Do I have a huge tattoo on my forehead that says: “Hi, I am a vulnerable dickhead and I want you to hate me!” !?!
I still get haunted by intrusive memories and I can still hear the boys from school laughing at me. Not anyone from school has contacted me in the 10 years since graduating, yet they all get together regularly.
My point is, I was a social reject for a decade at school during my formative years. Am I now cursed to always be a social reject, no matter how hard I try to change it?
and before you say “have you tried going to a psychologist?” I can’t get any appointments because normal healthy people have all of a sudden thought they need psychology. Now all psychologists and psychiatrists are closed appointment books, or cost an arm and leg to have my time wasted repeating the same story for no gain, again and again and again. I’m not paying $200 a session, including Medicare rebate for someone to sit there an nod their head, instead of doing their job and solving my problems.
Making friends in your 30's is hard, especially maintained and meaningful relationships, I had a similar problem when I moved 8 hours from my home town, I found attending groups and classes surrounding my interests introduced me to a lot of people I shared more in common with than simply the hobby (It seems certain types are attracted to certain activities).
Being the person who invites people and organises the gatherings, dinners, outings ect is a good way to find interested people, you'd be surprised how many of us are in similar situations and will leap at a chance to be sociable.
Hi. I was a bit like you in high school. I was the outcast of my grade. I had a few friends in high school, but not many. I used to hang out in the library most lunch times.
I used to have a best friend, who was like my sister in primary school and high school, but for some reason in our early 20’s she decided she outgrew me or something.
It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started to have a solid group of friends. I started to go to a Jewish youth group and it facilitated a good group of friends. Do you have any particular interests or hobbies? Maybe you could go to a church group or a gathering for people who have similar interests to you and that could facilitate a friendship group? Just some examples.
I really wish you luck in this! I really do know how hard it is to make new friends. I live in Melbourne now and all my friends are in Sydney.
Hi AlwaysAlone & welcome!
I'm sorry you're having this trouble, kids at school can be ruthlessly horrible to anyone remotely different, but it's a shame it's happened at your work as well.
I think there are online meetup groups for people on the spectrum, I wonder if it's worth Googling around for these? They might offer some online companionship and support. I know it's just online, but talking with others in a similar situation to you might be a real help.
Have you tried meeting people with similar interests? That can be easier as there is less small talk involved and you have something in common.
There are some utube channels that talk to (and are by) people on the spectrum and these might help make you feel less alone, as being bullied and having few friends seems to be fairly common. People don't try to be understanding of anyone even slightly different! There is an Australian guy who with Aspergers who does Utube talks.
You're not doomed to be a social reject, you just need to find the right people; even just one or two good friends can make such a difference & mean you're less lonely and isolated. It sounds like your experiences at school have had a bad effect. Kids often don't understand anyone different, they're too young and immature.
I'd try online meetup/interest groups for people on the spectrum, they might also be able to give you some ideas for things to do/ways to meet people.... and help you to understand this kind of bullying/rejection happens to so many great people - not that that makes it any easier when people avoid you/leave you out/are unkind to you.
If you have Asperger's you most likely can come across slightly differently to what some people are used to, you might be a bit too direct for them perhaps, or have an interest they don't share. I think we neurotypical people can be tricky to deal with sometimes for people on the spectrum: I've had friends in the past with Aspergers and I got along brilliantly with them because I liked that they didn't gossip or bully - I was used to women being nasty behind my back, and forming nasty bullying little cliques, and the people with Aspergers didn't do that, so I felt comfortable with them & we always had great conversations about things that interested us. So don't give up! You just need to run into the right people who will enjoy your company and appreciate your strengths.
So welcome, and I hope others will come by and offer you some ideas and support!
Hi Hanna3, thank you for your response.
I always was “different” and honest, blunt and direct. I was much more aggressive and prone to rages when I was younger, many embarrassing meltdowns still stick out in my memory for some reason. I managed to “grow up”, and start to understand the more basic social norms, taboos, do’s and don’ts, albeit much later than most. It’s sarcasm that trips me up to this day, and it’s hard to explain as a near 30 year old I struggle to understand it.
I’ll look into some of the groups that have been mentioned, there’s no harm in trying.
Hi always alone Irish,
I had a similar experience to you in childhood. At first my parents got me to join netball when I was young. While I loved the game and was good at it, a girl in the team decided that she would exclude me from everything, and so training used to be really embarrassing. I’d always be off on my own and I didn’t understand what I’d done wrong. Primary school was good and I was happy there but was then made to go to a different high school than all my friends. At high school I never really found “my people”. I went out with a boy for a little bit and then ended it, and all his friends and him teased me mercilessly for years after that. Until he asked me to the school formal 😕 I remember feeling alone and embarrassed a lot. The moral to the story is that some people are dicks, they always will be. They might get on with other dicks. But you don’t want to be friends with them anyway. There are good people in the world, your partner is clearly one of them, but you just need to keep trying to find your people. I have recently moved to a new town and so need to make new friends. And I am 38, so you most certainly aren’t too old at 29! Find some things that you love doing and start saying yes to things, or if you click with people ask them to catch up for a coffee.
Re therapy, fair enough,
It sure is hard to find someone decent, I pay a lot less than that though, and some charge less if u are on a low income.
There are a few good ones out there, and that can include social workers or peer workers.
Re bullying, it sounds like u may have been traumatised, have u considered or looked into ptsd or cptsd treatments?
I'm laughing at the tattoo suggestion, so true and well put.
I feel like I has that tattoo as well, low self esteem from bullying, then led me to enter into friendships and relationships that were toxic. It felt Safe and being so close to harm felt oddly thrilling, sick, but that's trauma.
You sound open, kind and interesting,
As a socially isolated person, I've found groups online or in person pretty good, if there's a common goal like art or an educational topic, it can feel less pressure.
Just sharing space with others is something I think of as a muscle, we excercise it and get better at it.
Judt wanted to say I relate to u, and Ur not alone.
Hi again AlwaysAlone,
Depending on where you live there might be an Asperger's Support Group, it might worth checking out. Someone to assist you with social norms and networking might be useful.
Don't worry, sarcasm can be difficult for anyone to get at times! So often we rely on voice tone and facial expression when we're engaging with other people, I can imagine it must be very difficult at times to find the correct way to respond.
Neurotypical people aren't given much information about people on the spectrum and some are just plain judgemental of anyone who doesn't quite conform to social expectations anyway.
I admit I struggled to understand some things about my Aspergers friends until I read up on it and then felt bad about the times I must have made things difficult for them because I didn't understand why they reacted, or didn't react, to things.
So it can be a learning experience for everyone!
I had to learn to be careful about surprising my friends, talking too fast or too much, to understand why they didn't want to talk on the phone or be in crowds, and to tell when they might be getting upset and I needed to back away and give them space and quiet time to recover.
So it helps if you can understand that sometimes people may just be a bit confused by your reactions and may not mean to be rude or unkind.
Others however are going to be unpleasant unfortunately, and this is overwhelmingly due to ignorance I think. That doesn't excuse it, but it might be helpful if you can understand they have never had the opportunity to learn how to deal with people who are a bit different.
I'm really sorry you've had a bad time with people around you. I'm sure some assistance from a support group or service could be beneficial and make social interactions easier for you and help you make some good friends.
You sound nice!
I'm thankful my Aspergers friends have given me lovely friendships and taught me to understand how difficult and anxiety-provoking it was for them to mix in a world with so many neurotylpical people who didn't "get" them!
Hi Kim1988, thanks for your warm response
I haven’t looked at any interest or hobby groups yet, and I really should. I think some inner anxiety is holding me back, and also partly my deliberate forgetting of what I used to be passionate about. One of the many things I got bullied about were my unusual interests that few people are interested in. I also might go back to religion. I was raised a catholic, but I do not agree with catholic doctrine. My sexuality is one of the main reasons.
I live in Brisbane, my only sister lives in Tassie, my mum has been in hospital since the start of the year and my dad lives a while away from me, which is a large factor in my feeling of isolation. Support groups are very much looking like the answer I’ve overlooked.
Once again, thank you for your response