Life in a Mixed Marriage, the curse of good manners, or how to be rude nicely
One of the sessions Teresa and I run is titled:
How to lie with grace, and be rude nicely
We think this perfectly encapsulates the sort of problems encountered between autistics and neurotypicals.
From an autistic point of view, not being brutally honest (as the NT might think it) is to ‘lie’, and for me that is wrong and confusing.
For an NT, being polite, offering a white lie here and there, is what makes the world go round. To do otherwise would be rude.
Why is this a problem? Well, speaking as an autistic, one of my challenges is to understand the unspoken language that occurs between NTs. It is much harder for us to read, if indeed we read it all. Think of being literal, not understanding nuances such as tone of voice and facial expression; think of all the things I described in my article on the Imitation Game (LINK). You, the neurotypicals, say one thing in words (usually the polite version) and the truth is communicated in other ways, but we don’t see those other ways, all we have are the words
Herein lies the language problem. As an Autistic I have had to learn to ‘lie’ and, even worse, accept lies with good grace. Teresa has had to learn to be ‘rude’, blunt and what she considers to be unpleasant in how she talks to me, and to accept me being ‘rude’ and horrible when talking to her. That’s not a conventional recipe for a successful relationship.
Between us we try to understand the other’s language and try to find something in-between. The trick is not to be offended when someone behaves in a way that is true to their nature, whilst also expecting them to make an effort to “tone it down” when they can.
Understanding and tolerance are the only solution. It is harder for Teresa, she has a lifetime of good manners to overcome; it is easier for me because I’ve had a lifetime of trying to learn to ‘lie’ and be ‘dishonest’ (by my standards). Neither of us is good at it and it takes a lot of effort and correcting of each other (with love, patience and understanding), but it can be done.
So, Teresa, I do love to see your inner bitch.