Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | February 9, 2012

The Post That Started It All

For today’s post highlight, I would like to pull up my very first post, and the namesake of my blog and alias: The Third Glance.

I wrote this essay while trying to figure out what a good “first post” would be. What would be an introduction to the world that is my mind. And after about 6 or 7 hours of failed attempts during which I listed all of my autistic traits trying to prove to the blogsphere that they should read my blog, I came up with it. For all my life, I have struggled with something I call the “3-week friendship”. 3 weeks (give or take a few days or weeks depending on the person) is usually about how long it takes for people to realize that I’m “to different to associate with”. When I’m in a new situation, I’m shy and quiet, but I usually have interesting things to say if I’m asked. I’m nice to everyone (it’s how I was trained, plus, golden rule – I want to be treated with respect too) when they interact with me. People like me. They decide I’m “worthwhile” to become a friend with. Then they spend some time with me, and those feelings disappear. They start to notice my quirks that were there when they first met me, but that they ignored in favor of “new situation, meet new people”. This is the first glance. And they begin to resent and sometimes even hate them. Then the whispering starts, followed by behind-my-back exclusion, and eventually is usually leads to someone saying “we don’t want to hang out with you, you’re too weird, you will never have friends, don’t bother us again” directly to my face. The second glance is where it goes to pieces. But there are a few people in my life who value those quirks. They treat me well and respect me, and I have a meaningful friendship with them. They stuck out those “3 weeks” and decided that despite my quirks (and often because of them), that they wanted to have a friendship with me. And thus, the concept of “The Third Glance” was born. It’s an anti-bullying plea, as much as an Autistic self-advocacy piece. The concept can be applied to anyone in your life, regardless of their neurotype, mental health status, ability, color, gender, orientation, or anything else. Because everyone deserves to be seen and valued for their whole person. I always try to take the “third glance” at people, and hope that in doing so, they will return the favor.

So please read “The Third Glance”. If you like and agree with the message, please comment, and share it with your friends. Spread the idea around, because everyone deserves a third glance.

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This is a series of posts that are going up while I’m recovering from a nasty battle with mono. I’m feeling a little better today, but I also have a fever and sore throat coming on so hopefully tomorrow won’t be too terrible. I thought telling the story behind some of my posts might be interesting… I always like to know the thought process that comes behind what people say and do. Hope everyone has a fantastic Friday and weekend! (Yes I know today is Thursday but I figure by the time people actually see this it will be Friday or the weekend.)

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Responses

  1. It was the first post I read on your blog and it made me like the blog straight away (I still do).

    Anyway, now it makes me reflect the other way around.

    There are times when someone wants to be friends with me, and I think I may like them after getting used to them. So I tolerate some habits that confuses or puts me off a bit in the first place (and sometimes I do get used to them over time).

    Some people are nervous and need time before they relax and are ‘themselves’… Developing a good friendship can be a slow long term adjusting-to-each-other process… The person can also be a neighbour or school mate who I want to be on good terms with, so I want to be friendly and welcoming although I don’t really want to be close friends.

    That’s the first glance …

    Then after some time it falls apart because I realise that I am incompatible with the person’s communication style, the person may want a kind of friendship I don’t understand/like, it goes on my nerves and because I no longer believe a better mutual understanding will develop. I end up feeling drained, overloaded and depressed after each encounter and begin to dread meeting the person although (paradoxically) I may still like the person overall, just preferably as an acquaintance.

    That is the second glance…

    I think incompatibility is a fully valid and unavoidable reason to withdraw from a developing, but stressing friendship.

    What I don’t understand is why anyone would behave mean to someone who has been friendly to them. Like whisper behind their back and say ‘you will never have any friends!’ Why would anyone want to say such things? Even if it was true (which, obviously, the person is not in a position to know) it is in no way a useful piece of information. It appears to be designed solely to hurt. Why?

  2. Thanks for the comment. 🙂 I do agree, incompatibility is a perfectly valid reason to withdraw from a friendship. My point, however, is that incompatibility is often not actually incompatibility, but simply a tendency to judge too quickly. The third glance is simply a plea to judge more slowly and be more forgiving and open to people who are different from you.

    And some of my twitter “acquaintances” have brought up a good phrase to go with this… us Aspies/Auties are “acquired taste” friendships… we take some getting used to, but once you like us, we’re some of your favorite people.

  3. I completely understand where you’re coming from. Since I have CP, I understand how hard it is to keep friendships. More often than not, it hurts when people can’t take it. When they just feel uncomfortable. I’m just so happy that I have people in my life who have looked past my disability and loved me no matter what.

    • Hi Amelia Claire! Welcome and thanks for the comment. 🙂 And yes, those who look past (and actually really, look right at and accept at face value) disability (and ability) are the best friends anyone could ask for. 🙂

  4. I agree that it is bad to judge people too early.

    However, incompatibility is very real.

    For example: I don’t cope well with communication habits like relentless talk, elimination of small breaks in conversations (some people feel awkward about silence in conversation and eliminates it – but I need them to think), constant or dominating eye contact, dramatic face expressions with expectations of me to respond to the person’s shifting dramas all the time, e.t.c. While some people love to undertake a talkative, dramatising, hyper interactive* communication style I tend to perceive it as invasive, and the effect on me of enduring that for a few hours can best be described as PTSD-like.

    They are not bad persons but I find their communication style unbearable because of how my mind works. Trying to tolerate intrusive* communication is comparable (in discomfort) to e.g. ongoing painful rubbing on one patch of skin, or relentless loud annoying beeping, or being washed in a washing machine – it is confuses and drains and feels pointless.

    Discontinuing an incompatible connection has nothing to do with hating a person or judging too early or not forgiving … it is about anticipating the stress level of the future interaction and trying to avoid exposure to unbearable discomfort.

    I would always be happy to give a person a second or third or forth change, but if the person’s communication style is incompatible with mine, that would require the person to change, and that is not a fair / realistic expectation.

     

    *Please note that my perception of ‘intrusive’ communication habits is in no way objective and I use the word not as a judgement of people but to express my subjective experience.

    (other people may have other incompatibilities)

  5. (Hi E, this is a reply to your comment February 10. 8:11 am, not sure why it ended down here…)

    • Ps. Sorry about all the grammar mistakes, I wish there was a way to post-edit comments on blogs because I always make them… (non-native English speaker + change things half through sentences)


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