Another disappointing social event over the weekend.
I've had enough of them to expect as much. Still, each time an occasion presents itself, a small part of me hopes that this time, things might go well; that Ethan and I will enjoy an evening socialising with friends - and just sometimes we will. Saturday night though, wasn't one of those times.
Things started off promisingly. We arrived early so there were limited people to converse with. As a result, Ethan found himself, naturally enough, speaking to the bloke next to him at the bar. For twenty minutes or so, all seemed to be going well. Then another guy joined in the conversation, then another and, for Ethan, that was the beginning of the end. Within a few minutes, the linear exchange between Ethan + 1 had turned into a back and forth free-for-all. Ethan had no chance. For a while, he made a valiant attempt to keep up, to remain focused. But he was over-stimulated, lost and even if he could have identified where and when to interject, the noisy surround sound of 50+ people all talking at once in a pub function room meant his over-stimulated brain couldn't focus or decipher a word of what anyone was saying. A couple of times, Ethan told me later, someone seemed to specifically say something to him (he knew from the way everyone looked at him waiting for a reaction) but Ethan had no idea what they'd said so just smiled. It's these kind of accounts from Ethan that make me shrivel inside. What must they have thought?!
I try to keep perspective. To remind myself of the many great qualities that Ethan has, to tell myself that the ability to partake in intelligent, humorous social chat isn't a requirement of a decent person or the main ingredient for a happy marriage. The problem is that, right or not, it is one of the ingredients, for me at least.
I want to able to go for an evening out together with friends without worrying about whether Ethan will be OK and what kind of impression he's making on the people around him. Relationships shouldn't be all about hard work. I want to have fun with him. I don't want to have to look after him, worry about him or do the socialising for both of us or, alternatively, go to events on my own. It might be shallow but, if he had friends and could confidently walk into a room full of people and socialise effortlessly and in a way that entertained people, I would fancy him more. The person looking disconnected and slightly pissed off standing silently at the edge of a group of men who are all laughing and chatting together easily, isn't the guy I'm drawn to (well it is, but for all the wrong reasons!).
The fact is though, I was drawn to him - perhaps because he is different, because he is vulnerable, perhaps - in all honesty - because he doesn't have all that, sometimes exhausting, frothiness of social engagement. What the rest of us take for granted, he really, really struggles with. Going out to a party or a night in a crowded pub for him is, at best overwhelming and hard work and, at worst, painful and humiliating. And yet he keeps putting himself through it - and trying to get better at it, for me. Because he knows that, to me, it's important. Like I said on my last post, it's not very often that I would put myself out for him in that way. And so, although it might be hard to feel attracted to him sometimes when I'm at a party surrounded by confident, funny men conversing easily, I do continue to love him.
Would be great to know how you all cope with social situations in your NT/AS partnerships. What works for you? Should we keep on trying to pull our AS partners kicking and screaming into our social worlds, or would it be easier to go to social events on our own? And, if so, what effect does this have on us as a unit - how do we avoid living separate lives? Post your thoughts under the General natter Talk Topic in the Socialising as couples thread of the Different-together website
Blimey, these blog posts have been a bit depressing of late. Will try and come up with something lighter for next week!