Viraj Bhat on Friendships

In conversation with Viraj about friendships.

What is your definition of friendship?

A friend is simply someone you can have a casual conversation with, someone with whom you can speak your mind without being judged.

What is your definition of a good friend?

A good friend is someone who treats you as an equal, who doesn't judge you, someone who treats you with respect even while being casual, and most importantly, doesn't invade your personal space.

How have your experiences with friends been?

Most of my experiences were negative. Be they from schools, extracurricular classes or the housing society - no peers of mine truly respected me.

Do you face challenges in making friends and maintaining friendships? If yes, then what kind of challenges do you face?

Because I'm a straightforward person who cannot fake smiles, I struggle in behaving diplomatically when I'm not in a good mood.

Do you like to make friends or do you prefer to be alone?

Earlier I desired to be included amongst peers. But now that I realised that most of them are self-centered, I prefer to be alone.

Do you feel connected or lonely with your friends? Do you feel you belong or out of place with your friends? Do you feel accepted and understood by your friendship?

In most of my experience, I never felt connected, included or understood by my peers.

Do you face communication challenges with your friends?

Yes. It has often occurred that when a conversation is going on, I have a hard time understanding what they speak of.

Any other thoughts on friendships?

Man is a social animal. Friendship and association are important for him. No person in existence can be cent percent introvert. But people should think carefully before making friends. In my not-so-expert opinion, autistic people's personality is very malleable. Malleable as in, they are easily influenced by their association. This happens without them even realising it. This may sound blunt, but is better to be completely friendless than to be in a bad company. It is best to not associate with people who don't respect you, or with people you don't respect (for genuine reasons). Some people have the longing to be "accepted", which is good as long as they are not desperate for association.

~ Viraj Bhat

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