When I’m tired I no longer have the energy to care what people think. I no longer have the mental bandwidth to process what’s going on around me or read the unspoken meaning behind what people say. The feedback loop I rely on has stopped working and I lose the ability to modify my behaviour to make others feel comfortable. In short, when I’m tired people get offended by me.
It turns out when I let my guard down my natural state is one that many people find inappropriate at best and horribly offensive at worst. Not that long ago I went travelling with a few friends. One night, toward the end of the trip, I was absolutely exhausted. My ability to be alert and interact was severely reduced. We finally arrived at the hotel and then all went out to find some dinner.
I was actually really happy, really peaceful. We’d had a great day, just an exhausting day. It was obvious to the group that I was very tired. I was only participating minimally in conversation, speaking up only if something particularly interested me, or if there was a question asked of me. On top of that I was doing things like putting my head down on the table and closing my eyes for several seconds at a time. I was asked if I wanted to go back to the accommodation. I responded immediately and effortlessly, eyes still closed, head still resting on my arm sprawled across the table, “but then I wouldn’t be with you guys”. I missed the hidden meaning. The question had nothing to do with concern for what I wanted.
Then it happened. We were at the restaurant. We’d just ordered food but it hadn’t come out yet. I thought everything was ok and I’m peacefully lying on the table when one of our group suddenly exploded. The next thing you know I’m being shouted at from across the table. I was shocked, stunned, speechless. Where did THAT come from?! She’d clearly been holding it in for some time!
The message was clear. I make her uncomfortable and she thinks I should leave. You can imagine my poor stunned brain trying to make sense of that! My lack of comprehension only made the situation worse. In my bewildered state I said “OK”, and proceeded to calmly clarify what she wanted me to do. “So… I’ll take the key and go back to our accommodation?” I made a classic mistake. I listened to the words of a highly emotional person. She didn’t mean it literally. The words were just an expression of her frustration. She went on to tell me how I was behaving so irrationally and then stormed out. Meanwhile, I’m still sitting there stunned and speechless.
I had no brain power to process all that. So I didn’t. A second or two later I stopped staring at the empty doorway and returned to my exhausted, peaceful state. I turned to my other friend, we ordered a beer, and carried on with dinner as if it never happened. I couldn’t care less what the restaurant staff were thinking, or if people were staring at us. They can do what they like, so long as they don’t bother me about it.
If I had to summarise, when I’m tired I don’t react. Happy, sad, emotional, it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t affect me. I’m already overloaded so it doesn’t sink in. Maybe this is what people find so offensive? How dare I be so callous and uncaring?
I work so hard sometimes. It’s actually a great feeling to have nothing left to give and therefore be forced to take a break. I’m happy and peaceful, and I love to relax enjoying the company of others….
So what’s the problem? The problem is that when I’m tired OTHER people get offended.
17 thoughts on “Offensive Aspie Behaviour: When I’m Tired”
i get like this too
Hi, thanks for your blog. I recently met a guy from a dating app who I think is Aspergers after 3 dates,he just has lots of the traits described including special interests amd uncommon behaviours at times, which I really like and aren t an issue at all, he is really smart, cute, sweet..I think I reacted badly when he was assuring me he wanted to hang out and was exited to see me but seldom contacted me and went days in silent mode. I assumed he wasn t being honest and reacted hurt and frustrated and sent hurt angry emails… and he hasnt answered. I am really sad don t know how to fix it and also I don t know for sure if he s Aspergers…some advice? I don t want to make him feel imtruded upon or that I am being invasive…also I don t want to humiliate myself if eventually his lack of communication has nothing to do with aspergers and more with having lied to me.
Sounds to me , this “friend” overreacted , if she was chewing you out in public for not having the appropriate reaction to her drama or whatever her problem was, that’s on her.
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The problem is, with your looks you attract beautiful women who expect for men to pay attention. These girls cannot handle being ignored. Have you tried dating a less attractive girl?
So true – happens to me at work – I basically shut down. I keep my thoughts to myself and go about my work robotically. I’ve worked with the same people for a while so they tend to, ahem, give me some space (avoid my prickles). It’s so, so hard to even maintain that level of normalcy. Great post.
Something like that is one of the reasons one of my friends suggested I might be on the spectrum – to me, just being in the same room as someone I feel comfortable with / someone I know is enough to satisfy my social needs (at the very minimum), so I would go to public places where I knew my friends hung out and just sit there in silence, minding my own business. (Since uni is tiring enough that I was tired most of the time.) I was told I was making others uncomfortable by behaving like that the following day and asked not to do it again. (But that’s a good thing after all – I wasn’t aware I was negatively impacting others, so now I can choose not to do that when I have the energy AND I’ve finally figured out why I was so different from everyone my entire (20 years of) life, which made self-acceptance possible.)
I don’t think you did anything wrong there, in my own social experience people would smile affectionately at that and let you decide whether you wanted to stay or not. Your response was really sweet about not being with them. I think the woman who ‘exploded’ had the issues, not you. Most people in my experience wouldn’t react the way she did.
I love when NT people accuse aspies of not behaving rationally, when there’s usually a clear and simple rationale. Sorry we didn’t layer up our rationale with all the extra indirection and excuse-making NTs are so addicted to.
Yeah pretty much most things I do make people uncomfortable despite my good intentions. People think I’m creepy and weird just because I struggle to maintain that facade of normalcy. And yet, when I’m around some people I am completely fine and am very good at being social. It’s a shame because I want to be social but I struggle to communicate how I feel inside to people.
I am dating an Aspie and we’ve been together for 16 months. I have felt similar to the woman across from you but not in that extreme. The problem is that I am learning and it’s taking time to understand him. We spend a very limited time together and when he’s feeling depleted then I had to learn that it’s not about me. He’s happy being with me but he’s also struggling to keep engaged while with me. It’s a learning process and sometimes it’s a challenge. Like any relationship, it takes time, work, patience, understanding, giving and love. I’ve never known anyone like him and I feel fortunate to have this Aspie in my life. Thank you for your videos as you’re teaching me a lot and I also share them with my Aspie. It’s good for him to know that he is not alone! 🤗
Wait, so NTs don’t experience it? How can one always have the energy to care and interact with other people, even when extremely tired?
As far as I can tell, they never (almost never) get SO extremely tired that they cannot interact at this level (or interaction at this level just requires very little – if any – energy for them)
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Perhaps NTs may also be getting so energized from being around other people that it overcomes any fatigue that they might be feeling at the time?
In this particular case, it seems to me that you did nothing wrong, and your friend is having some emotional problems. MAYBE if you were only the two of you I’d be a little more understanding, but in a group? That was an absolute, unadulterated, unqualified, A**hole behavior on their part. Period. nothing to do at all with ASD
I think it was impolite, but understandable, for a person to ask you to leave because your head had been down. I think it was not very acceptable to then yell at you when you offered to leave. You were not expected to “grasp” that the person was not literal in this situation. You made no mistake here, I think.
I wonder….does this go along with what I consider a ‘myth” that I hear from a lot of males about women? The myth is this “She does not want you to offer her a solution, she just wants to tell you about her problem”. I never talk about a problem without welcoming someone’s ideas of what I can do about it. If they have no ideas, there sympathy and listening is likewise welcome and I have no pre-judgement as to whether they will respond with a proposed solution or with sympathy/listening.
Could it be that thinking this female did not mean what she said literally was in part because she was female? – No criticism here – the average male and average female do have differences – but just wondering.
I just learned I’m on the spectrum, diagnosed at age 36, female, in the US. I relate to this so much. I once had a friend pull me aside and tell me that I shouldn’t come out to social events if I have issues talking to people because it’s just plain rude… I was undiagnosed at the time and didn’t know why this would happen to me. I was working in hospitality at the time, and decided to drop by a social event after work because I didn’t want to “miss out” even though I was incredibly drained and didn’t think I could even do it. Talking to people at a restaurant all day was challenging, but at the same time I was able to use scripts for most interactions. When I started to get tired, it became much more obvious that I was scripting… if someone asked me, “Hi, how are you?” I would almost shout in a monotone voice, “I’m fine how are you” as more of a statement rather than a question… with zero inflection. Occasionally it would get to a point that guests would complain about me or ask the manager if something was wrong with me.
From the sound of it, it seems that the person who the group would most reasonably have been offended/embarrassed by is the one who started shouting and then stormed out. That is inappropriate/offensive behaviour.
Your behaviour sounds completely logical to me, and especially given the context I can’t see how it would be offensive or problematic at all.