Disclaimer: When you’ve met one allistic (non-autistic), you’ve met one allistic! The communication quirks and difficulties my allistic counterpart presents may be totally different than the communication quirks and difficulties another allistic counterpart may present.
My allistic counterpart and I recently unearthed another communication issue in our marriage.
When I ask a question it’s because I want or need an accurate answer to the question. I’m looking for helpful information. When counterpart responds, he tends to give the response that he thinks the person wants to hear. This leads to extremely frustrating exchanges that don’t give me any helpful info and that feel to me like a waste of time and energy. Then I often also end up feeling lied to if the response was only intended to be what he thinks I want to hear and then he can’t follow through with it.
We’ve talked at fair length about this, so I know that this isn’t a malicious thing on his part, even though I assumed it was for many years. I experience untrue responses as lies (which makes sense to me) and would call them out as such for most of our marriage.
To him, lies are more deliberate and ill-intentioned and he was often very upset about me calling his statements lies because to him he was telling me his intentions, which were intended well, not lying in order to hurt me.
So, it’s more complicated on his end that simply lying. He’s only recently really understood that I need to know as soon as possible if plans are going to be different so that I can make alternative plans as far in advance as I can.
In the past, he would hope that things could happen as planned and give me responses that reflected his desire for things to go as planned. Then, when he would miscalculate and plans would have to change, I’d be upset that he hadn’t given me any indication that might have been a possibility in the first place.
My upset reaction was interpreted by him as being upset with him for not being able to do what he’d said he’d do, which was only a very small portion of what caused my upset. Really, the most upsetting thing for me, was not having time to prepare for a change in plans.
His untruths would leave me feeling as though I couldn’t trust him to give me a straight answer about anything important as I reeled from not having any transition warning time. They would leave him feeling like he’d failed at basic human-ing since he hadn’t been able to follow through on what he’d said.
If I’m going to the trouble of using my energy to ask a question it’s because I need an accurate response. I need the information for some reason, usually in order to plan things out in a way that both works for me and works with the circumstances of the day.
If I can’t plan, if I don’t have accurate info to base a plan of off, this can easily lead to a meltdown. Especially if I’ve been as clear as I can be about the information I need and receive the opposite – a placating response that gives me the least helpful information possible.