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The friend who just doesn't get you. Ever.

Sometimes people are honest if they don't like you. If you are lucky, they come right up and tell you they don't like you. This is good, honestly, because it saves you ever having to care what they think and you can just delete them from your inventory.

Other people do not like you at all but they continue to act like a normal human being to your face, leaving you either with the feeling you are imagining a strange atmosphere or, far worse, imagining you have a friend.

Others do not get you. They want to, they do, because people they value like you and talk about you in glowing terms, so they want to find out why their friends are your friends. Your conversations will be peppered with thoughtful pauses, confused looks, unspoken questions, misunderstood questions and, the summation of someone who doesn't get you, the open mouth.

I like the spirit of the people who don't get me but try. I appreciate their effort and faith in their friend's choices. But really, if you don't get me then is it worth me tilting your world until it rattles and still finding we have nothing in common? Let's just smile and say hello the next time we meet.

Worse than those who try to get you and don't are the ones who don't get you one tiny bit but think they do. Please, for the love of cake, save us from these ones.

They think they understand you, they think they know about you, they think they can talk to you and put you at ease - failing to see you were much more at ease before they waded in. They laugh at your jokes without ever realising you weren't joking. They laugh at jokes about you, knowing you have a sense of humour and can laugh at yourself. They think, because you are friends, you can be jostled at the elbow, grabbed on the shoulder, patted on the back and kissed at seasonally-appropriate moments and parties.

To complicate the whole liaison, these people often really like you. Yes, it's genuine. They like you! They like being friends with you. They think of you as a person who they want to talk to and include in their lives. They think you are as one, riding the same wavelength, even sharing the same surfboard.

In reality, they haven't noticed you fell off at the first wave and have been dragging yourself out of their undertow ever since.

The person who doesn't understand you but completely believes they do is almost inevitably jolly with you. I have no idea why this is so. I think they are so keen on being a friend that they play the part of the friend until it becomes true.

Again, I cannot just brush aside this attempt at friendship. Botched as it is, how can it be a bad thing to have someone who wants to be your friend and is so willing to include you?

Well, this is true except for those moments when you need a friend, when you need someone who does understand you. When you mention something you've had on your mind and need someone to say they understand or even to say nothing, but still know. The person who thinks they understand will launch in with their world view, usually at odds with yours, and tell you how to fix it, or what you should be doing.

Major life decision? Easy! This is what you do (because that is what they would do).

Small life decision that feels major? Well, what are you making a fuss about? Stop making a fuss, stop being silly! This is what you do, this is what everyone does!

And there is the difference between your friends who know you and the one who thinks they do: the depth of understanding when it comes to difficulties. If something is difficult for you, then it is difficult and it doesn't matter what everyone else does. It doesn't matter what your non-getting-you friend does either. What is fine and easy for them is out of your reach and is not brought within reach by calling is simple.

So however keen this friend is and however many times you are included in their lives, if they cannot or will not see your differences, they are not going to become close to you. It may feel like they are close - to them there may be no distance at all between you - but if someone just does not get you, then how they can be close? There will always be a barrier of misunderstanding.

Be aware, some friends who misunderstand can be made to understand by seeing you in action (or inaction) and by having your point of view explained to them. This is the growth of friendship, it is what helps people to come closer.

In some cases though, your friend can have it explained to them many, many times, along with pictures, diagrams, videos, books, articles, shouting matches in the supermarket and heated discussions online. All of this can happen and some friends will still not get you. They will be proud of having listened to you and proud of their ability to talk to you about Aspergers. It's simply that the next step of real understanding is never taken and you are left forever on the periphery of a true friendship, wondering how many times you need to explain something for it to be understood.

Whether revealed over time or revealed instantly, with an offhand comment or action, the friend who does not get you is someone you should regard carefully. All their words are tinted with a view of you which does not actually exist but is how they think you are or should be. Let them be your friend by all means, but let others be the ones who speak when your heart breaks.


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