Wedding Woes
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You're finding acquaintances, not friends, LW.

Dear Prudence,

The short version of this question, I guess, is “how do you keep in contact with friends?” Here’s the long version. I’m a grad student with developmental disabilities, including autism. A lot of people take this as me being “bad at making friends.” But that’s not true! I’m great at making friends. When I see someone a lot, in class, at a work shift, at school events, I always find someone to hang out with and talk to. The thing I can’t seem to figure out is how to stay friends when we are no longer in close proximity. What always happens is this: Classes end, or work shifts change, or people move. I exchanged phone numbers with someone I thought I was pretty close to. I text them a couple times a week, nothing major, books I think they’ll like, a meme about one of their favorite bands, etc. Almost every time I get a response about two weeks later saying “sorry I’m bad at texting!!” or someone reacts to the message with a thumbs up or a “haha” in the chat.

I do get that people are busy. I don’t expect immediate response or constant communication. But I really value these relationships and they always fizzle out once we don’t see each other every week because they’re “bad at texting.” I went through extensive special ed social skills training as a teenager. I was always taught that if people don’t respond to you, or minimally respond to you, you’re being annoying and you should pull back. But I find myself always pulling back because people never respond! I guess what I’m asking is: When the primary form of communicating with friends is texting, and everyone is “bad at texting,” how do I keep in contact with friends? Most of these people also hate phone calls (not that I would ever call someone without asking first), so that’s out. Everyone else has friends they don’t see a lot. What am I not understanding?

—Too Good at Texting

Re: You're finding acquaintances, not friends, LW.

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    It's true that there are people who are legitimately bad at texting, but it sounds like they're just bad at texting you. Are you only seeing these people at work/school and then expecting to stay connected once you're no longer in class/working together? Because that's networking, not friendship. Making friends means you're intentionally spending time together outside of school. A few attempts at that would probably give you a clearer picture of how people see your relationship.
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