The Mighty Logo

Why It's Difficult to Trust People as an Autistic Woman

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

In a society which can be dominated by self-righteous and inconsiderate people who tend to put their feelings before others, it is very challenging to find individuals who care enough to follow through. Compared to most people, I consider myself to be more trustworthy and respectful than those who only choose to care when it seems convenient. I question why people only pretend to care when really they should look at how they’re treating you and think about how you feel for a few moments. As a woman in her early 20s, I feel many men are especially condescending and patronizing. They treat me as if I am less than girls who are so-called “normal” and non-autistic.

I feel that too often people are looking for the easy way out. If they make a commitment and do not wish to follow through, they have someone else communicate that they would like to bail, or just don’t bother to show up. In my opinion, that is never appropriate to do to someone. I always try to remain cordial and respectful, even if I feel someone is being unkind. But what happens if selfish and pompous individuals take the time to actually think about how they are affecting others around them? When does being rude and ill-mannered become too overwhelming?

Being let down emotionally exhausts me. I lose hope that I will ever find a friend or boyfriend who will respect my time. I don’t want people to feel bad about disrespecting me. I just want them to be able to learn from their mistakes and realize they’re letting me down by not sticking to their word. Most of the time, I’m very firm in my decisions and don’t change my mind. However, everyone is allowed to reconsider. I just prefer to stick to my choices and not play games. I think that we all deserve honesty and that lying is never beneficial. I’ve learned from experience that being honest and upfront about things is crucial. Hiding behind lies and failing to be truthful only ruins your reputation. Unless you want to be notorious for being a liar, I suggest you remain kind and courteous.

It’s way easier for me to trust someone who is blunt than someone who only chooses to tell the truth when it seems convenient. Most of the time I’m very honest. Yet, sometimes I may tell a couple little white lies so I don’t hurt someone’s feelings. It’s not something I’m proud of, because I know how difficult it is to get rejected and to be judged based on something you cannot control, such as having a disability. Treat others how you would like to be treated and you’ll look like a respectful person.

I’ve got a lot to say about people who do not follow through and have a large amount of advice to offer, so writing about this topic seems to be beneficial for me. I just hope individuals who have difficulty keeping promises will think before disappointing someone and try and see both sides of the situation. Yes, it is good to follow your heart and back out if you’re feeling uncomfortable. But also make sure you think about how the other person will feel if you jam on them.

We can only be in charge of our own actions and not those of others. If you find that someone has violated your trust too many times to keep track of, you should probably look for another friend or boyfriend. I like to use the three strike rule, but most of the time, I find I’m walking away after just one or two. I don’t have a lot of patience with people, and that’s something I can improve upon. You won’t know whether or not someone is trustworthy until you actually get to know them.

I find that people are often too afraid to open up to each other. I try to be friendly to all individuals unless someone does something to hurt me. Fortunately, most people in life are nice so I shouldn’t be too concerned about being judged or ridiculed. I strongly believe that as someone with a disability, you automatically get mocked and teased by society once you reveal your learning challenge. Whether or not you disclose, some individuals are still going to be able to figure out that you have a disability. Once you fully confide in someone, they may begin to ask questions and or say hurtful things. Sometimes when I tell people I’m autistic, they assume I’m “stupid.” That’s definitely not true. I just think differently and I’m not good at social interactions. I won’t let words of hostility define me and discourage me in my everyday life.

Here are five reasons why it’s important to follow through:

It makes you look like a sincere person

I think everyone wants to be thought of as nice. But in reality, not everyone is kind. Sometimes we wear many disguises and only choose to be polite in certain circumstances. I think it’s best to remain neutral and not be negative. Even though I tend to dwell on things I cannot control, I know it’s best to keep your head held high and be positive. If you don’t have good intentions, it probably means you are not thoughtful enough to put my feelings first. Treat people well and they will do the same. A sincere person doesn’t bail on you in time of need; instead, they follow through and show up to meet you.

I’ve had my fair share of disappointment throughout my life. I think that’s why I always make a huge effort to be someone else’s friend. However, if you’re not getting the response you want after repeatedly asking your friend, boyfriend or relative to be more considerate of your feelings, at some point you have to give up if they aren’t listening. It’s better just to walk away than to keep bothering someone.

In my experience, most individuals are intimidated by honesty and bluntness. They know it’s not OK to ditch someone, so when you call them out, they already know they are at fault. Instead of continuing down that cycle, find someone you enjoy spending time with – a person who actually cares about how you feel. A sincere person doesn’t just say they’re kind and reliable – they show you with their actions. I strongly believe actions speak louder than words. I would much rather someone show me they’re sorry then express that verbally. I stick to the three strike rule. If you keep warning someone their behavior is inappropriate and you’re contemplating whether or not you want to be friends, this is their one shot to change for the better. I’ve found most people ignore these kinds of requests because they think they’re not doing anything wrong. I feel as though there are always two sides to the story. If you’re in conflict with someone, it’s both of your faults and you need to figure out a way to resolve your argument.

You may lose friends if you break promises

No one wants a friend who is a promise breaker. People confide in you for a reason. It’s a test to see if you’re a trustworthy person. I think most people try to be trustworthy, but some feel a need to betray others because they have been let down themselves. Two wrongs definitely do not make a right. It just forms a pattern of inconsistency and lack of concern for others’ emotional feelings. I don’t think it’s ever OK for someone to disregard what you’re trying to tell them. They may not care to understand, but it’s still nice to allow someone to talk.

There are times where I break promises and change my mind on a decision. However, I try not to make a habit of it. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to have someone promise to text you back or call you and then fail to follow through. I always wonder why they back out and why they change their mind. It’s really easy for someone to just send you a text message or call you if they don’t want to hang out. But in person, sometimes it’s different. For example, you probably wouldn’t tell someone you don’t want to be friends with them because they’re autistic. Chances are if you’re in public others will stare or overhear. It’s important to figure out which things should be discussed in private and which are OK topics to talk about over coffee or tea.

I advise people to keep track of when they’re meeting up with their friends. Put the dates on a calendar so you don’t end up forgetting that you’re supposed to meet someone at a particular date and time. I always set reminders on my phone so I don’t forget about my plans. If you do need to change your plans around to accommodate hanging out with someone, you should decide which events are the most important. For example, you would probably put visiting your grandparents for dinner above up meeting a guy for a second date or going to the bar with your friends.

I feel like no one really takes the time to think about how high of a priority it is to see someone or not see them at all. If the individual doesn’t even fit into your list, that’s a strong indication you don’t want them to be in your life. When people slowly distance themselves, I usually stop asking them to hang out and don’t text them back. Why give someone the attention they don’t want or deserve when you could find someone else? You can’t be best friends with everyone, and not every person you meet in life will want to have a relationship with you.

It’s important to try to schedule hanging out with your friends or significant other around your work shift and prior commitments. If you know it’s your grandmother’s birthday on Sunday, but a date calls and asks you out for dinner and a movie, reschedule. Don’t just leave your grandma hanging. Your grandmother is family and this potential suitor doesn’t even fit into the friend category yet. The clock is ticking; she’s not going to be around forever.

How would you feel if someone backed out on you?

This is one of the most crucial questions to ask yourself before you end a friendship or cancel plans when it’s avoidable. If you treat people as if they are disposable and worthless, others will probably treat you the same. Don’t give people permission to walk all over you and just be your friend when they think it’s convenient. True friends are the people who stick with you through thick and thin. They don’t abandon you just because you get in an argument over some guy you both like. But if you do decide to hook up with your best friend’s boyfriend behind their back, then you probably deserve to get tossed out the door. Some things you can be forgiven for and other choices you should be punished for. I haven’t had a friend hook up with a guy I like. However, if I did, I think that would be the end of our friendship. I would toss the guy out the door as well.

No one deserves to have someone back out on them. I truly believe all people should be treated fairly until they do something extremely unacceptable and disgraceful. Most people want to be in the good column and not have people despise them due to their lack of respect.

Life can be hard enough for autistic people such as me. We go through so many challenges no one really understands. I know there are certain things in life I cannot control. And it’s scary knowing some individuals feed off my negative energy and enjoy getting a rise out of me. That doesn’t mean I’m going to fight back with vengeance and hostility. I may let someone know I’m upset because they broke their promise. But eventually I’m going to get over it.

I’ve faced disappointment throughout my life, and I’ve let people down as well. But I care about whether or not I hurt someone’s feelings. It takes courage to put yourself out there when you know the world isn’t exactly accepting of autistic individuals. I choose to jump through these hurdles because I believe one day they won’t be so hard to overcome. I’ll find true friends and people who are willing to follow through. I just need to remain calm and try and let people into my life.

I’m the boss of my own feelings and actions. I choose to trust people and put faith in them. Now I’m waiting for someone to do the same for me — to be strong and fearless and brave enough to follow through with their decisions. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. I’m honest and I’m truthful. And I’m committed to keeping promises. It’s time for others to rise up to the challenge and get their head in the game.

Getty image by Mango Star Studio.

Originally published: May 22, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home