Hello online world been a while but I’ve been super busy, 4/5 week nights I’ve been out a new record for me. So anyway I agreed to go speed dating. Now this isn’t bonkers because I think there is something wrong with it. It’s bonkers because speed dating combines all the difficulties autistics face all at once; social awkwardness, sensory overload, the unknown, change… But this is my year for doing new things. I’ve found a stable group of people that I can trust to help me through these new experiences. It’s good for me. I’m at the stage of my life where I either give in to the things I find difficult or I face them head on.
Anyway so I’m sitting there with two people from work on either side of me waiting for this evening to start. I’m going through all the tips people were giving me:
- Make eye contact
- Don’t make too much eye contact
- Have questions in your mind
- Let the conversation flow
I’m also thinking oh my am I really doing this? I’m thinking I would never have seen myself doing this in the past. I never thought I’d be out in the wide world thought I’d be like a recluse. So I’m sitting there and the first guy sits down. He’s…well just not might type. But I’m actually making conversation. I had some tools up my sleeve, I say tools I mean go to sentences and topics. Here’s were the phrases that got me through the night:
- Had to fill out a card each time with the person’s name and like a unique number so I’d say “let’s get the logistics/pedantic stuff”
- I would ask “how’s your day/week been?”
- When asked if I worked with primary/secondary children I’d say “secondary, I couldn’t work in primary wiping snot and teaching ABCs”
- I’d talk about work.
- Also a bit of a random one I’d talk about recently seeing the lion king musical.
I found that I got into a routine with the speed dates. This seemed to keep me calmer because I knew how I was going to start and roughly key phrases that I would say if I was struggling. What I didn’t like was when someone threw me off that. I didn’t feel like I could start the date without getting their name but a few went straight into talking. I kind of had to interrupt them so that that bit was out of my head. During the speed dates there was also tons of background noise obviously with like 40 other people there. I found it hard to hear at times because I can’t really filter out sounds. But I only with 2/21 dates I had to ask them to repeat what they were saying, though there was one where I asked twice and on the third time I said “I’m sorry I don’t know what’s going on with my brain.” I found maintaining eye contact one of the biggest challenges of the night. I wanted just enough to look interested (because I know I have a very disinterested resting face) but also not too much like I was trying to hard. I got through to around the 15th guy and my eyes felt like they were on fire. I thought if the guys look hard enough they’ll see the flames in my eyes. I kept randomly closing them, darting around the room. Who knows what those last few guys must have thought?
One of the more awkward moments was with this one guy when I spoke about working with students with special educational needs he mentioned his brother had autism. Now I didn’t know whether to “out myself” or just let it slide. He said “oh I’ve made this a bit heavy” and I said “well if it makes you feel better I’ll tell you something personal about me, I’m autistic”. Now I’m not good at reading people but I think he got a bit uncomfortable, maybe doesn’t want to deal with another autistic so yeah oh well I’m just too honest I guess.
Now it’s a waiting game. I mean most were NOs but I’ll put a few Yeses just because I was intrigued by a couple. I mean for me this wasn’t about the dating tbh. It was about putting myself in a new situation one of the most uncomfortable I can think of. But I survived it. I got through and had an okay time. Didn’t die of fear, hyperventilate or panic. I got my routine down and from there it felt like a game. I think that’s what got me through taking the emotional side out of it and looking at the mechanics, what strategies I needed and how to navigate it. Don’t know if I played it well but I didn’t loose a life. So we shall see. Wish me luck.
Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it. Peace out.