Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Understanding Relationships: Benefactors vs. Leeches

I am sitting here after yet another failed attempt at anything. Funny, huh?

It's becoming apparent to me that Aspies have a unique sense of humor all their own. Mine borders on the line of childish, crude silliness that isn't directed at anyone's expense, to be vaguely put. I don't like offending people, so I veer towards always being the nice one, always being humble, quiet (to avoid blurting out something inappropriate that may offend somebody), generally being too sweet. It's both a blessing and a curse - I hardly ever hurt anybody's feelings, but at the same time, I struggle to maintain a friendship that lasts longer than a few weeks - apart from my few true friends, of course. 

Basically, I get boring, so people move on. Good for the office, bad for the social world. 

Because of this, the people I become associated with often fall into two categories: the nurturing, and the harmful. The relationship I have with the first group comes from a cycle of support: we exchange advice, take care of one another when the other one is sick, do favors for each other, provide the necessary pick-me-up in the case of a break up - you get the idea. This is the more traditional type of a friendship where everyone is the benefactor, though in my case it isn't so humor-based (unless focused pop culture and television). My closest friends all fall into this category, and I'm grateful for that - without such wonderful people in my life I would have nothing.

I am just beginning to understand why I attract the second group - they are cruel, manipulative, superficially charming individuals who look to suck the life out of us because we appear weaker than they do; They have their way with you and then toss you aside. I'm thinking this occurs in my case because I appear so reserved, and unfortunately I can't work a whole room on my own, if you know what I'm saying - I need to respond to others, it's just the way I am. 

Socializing is a process of filtering through people and keeping those who help you, and distancing yourself from those who don't - simple as that. If this is the case, then why do we attract so many leeches?

I'm noticing that a lot of guys who express a romantic (or at least sexual) interest in me fall into the second category - they get distracted, or will be excessively rude if they suddenly decide that they aren't interested after all. Perhaps this is the hooking-up culture spitting me in the face, for it is exactly what I don't want. Who knows, if I were the life of the party, maybe I would be this way as well. Having been described as a "fun drunk" I do particularly well with socializing at parties, but after the booze wears off and the sun comes up I'm left with only my shyness and a lack of anything interesting to say - hence, my weak point. Gotta love college, right?

Why do we have to countlessly be victimized by those who are more charismatic, more power-hungry than we are? Certainly there has to be something better out there! Sure, I'm surrounded by a number of immature young men, but is this just a generational thing, or will they be this way forever?

Until then, I guess we just have to recognize who is best for us... it gets easier, right?


Anonymous said...

I've also had the experience of the benefactors and the leeches. Fortunately, right now, it's all benefactors in my life. All my friendships have a good deal of reciprocity in them, as does my marriage. Reciprocity in any situation is a must for me. Otherwise, I'm in a relationship in which I'm getting the life drained out of me. Been there, done that, enough already, you know what I mean?

I have a big dose of Aspie innocence. It's not that I haven't learned from harsh experience. It's that all the harsh experience has not made me cynical, or greedy, or nasty. Cruelty never ceases to shock me.

I think the leeches see this innocence and think that they can siphon off my energy. I simply don't allow them to anymore. At some point, I put my foot down and told someone, "If you continue to bring all your problems to my door, my rate for psychotherapy is $75/hour." The leech was never heard from again.

It will get better, don't worry. The key is to decide for yourself what you will and won't tolerate. It's amazing what good people will show up in your life when you refuse to allow the other kind in.

Gavin Bollard said...

I have a few brilliant friends who are benefactors but nobody who I'd call a leech. I can't bring myself to consider anyone like that.

Sure, there are people who follow their own agenda and who lean on me when it suits them but I often find that I get just as much satisfaction out of helping someone else as they do from being helped.

I suppose it might be a bit different if the aspie is a female. I've heard some of the things that men have said and done in that department - the wrong sorts of people casually throw these conversations around when they're in "all male" company as if they think that I belong in their group too.

I don't. I've often said that I'm not offended by anything. I guess that's not true. People can say whatever they like as slang or fictional accounts, but when they're talking about real life deeds... then it can offend me.

One last point. The undesirable element is everywhere and one thing that everyone can do is reduce their unguarded exposure to it. To be intoxicated in a public place is to take a risk, particularly if you're by yourself or not with a 100% trusted friend. (I don't mean that your friend could be suspect, just that they may be lapse in their protective duties).

I'm not saying that it's your fault if someone follows their baser instincts but I think that everyone needs to take some steps to ensure their own safety.

Fortunately, since I'm older, my clubbing days are mostly over and I don't have to worry about such things.

Beastinblack said...

personally I dont think I fall into either category...mainly because I dont have any friends.

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