What is a Friendship?
A friendship is a relationship, or special connection, between two or more people who like each other and enjoy spending time together. Some people think that autistic people want to be alone and have no interest in having friends, however this is not true! Some people can have lots of friends, but others might prefer to only have one or two really close friends instead and that is okay.
Friendships can take up a lot of your energy. Even if you have spent time with people you really like and you have enjoyed yourself, socialising can be really draining and leave you feeling very tired. Sometimes you might need to have time to rest and recover between doing social things.
Making friends can be a bit tricky, since it can take a long time to get to know someone and for you both to learn how you like to communicate and how you can support each other. You might find that you get on a lot better with others who are autistic too, as you may find it easier to connect and understand each others’ struggles.
One thing that can help with making friends is to find people who share the same interests as you. You could try going to groups or activities related to specific things you are interested in such as gaming, a LEGO or coding club, horse riding or an art club. This can be helpful because focusing on the activity can take the pressure off having to think of things to say and you already know you have at least one interest in common with the people there.
Sometimes it might feel difficult to understand how to interact and socialise with non-autistic people, but this doesn’t mean that it is just your job to find out how to communicate with them – they need to learn how to communicate with you too! This difficulty in understanding each other is called the Double Empathy Problem.
Making friends might also be hard if you have had a lot of bad experiences with friends in the past, or have been bullied by other people. Although you might really want a friend, don’t just settle for anyone, it’s important to find people who really ‘get you’ and that spending time with them makes you feel good.
What makes a good friend?
A good friend is someone who is kind, supportive, and fun to be around. They are someone who you trust, and who respects your boundaries. A friend might not necessarily be the same age, nationality, gender or share all the same interests and beliefs but they are someone who you feel you can be your true self with. Not everyone you meet is going to be good ‘friend material’ as everyone has their own likes and dislikes and ways they enjoy communicating. Sometimes people might not be ‘bad’ or mean, but they still might not be the right friend for you and that’s okay. It is normal to not get along with everyone you meet.
Even if you do get along with someone really well and you both care about each other a lot, you still might fall out sometimes. Nobody is perfect, and sometimes friends make mistakes or have disagreements. A good friend is forgiving and willing to work with you to solve any problems.