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Comment has me self conscious

30 replies

Neurospicyy · 17/09/2022 11:53

Context, Ihave struggled for years with various behaviours and know that I display clear signs that I am neurodivergent (I have worked in SEN for 8 years). I have raised concerns with my GP several times who have told me it’s 6 years wait for an adult assessment so I am none the wiser what condition I have. I suspect, based off my own professional experiences, that it is ADHD with sensory issues and possibly autism.

Anyway, I was out with friends last night and was speaking to someone who I don’t know very well. They made a comment about how I do not look at them in the eye when talking. I said quickly I struggle with eye contact and reiterated I am listening. But they persisted ‘yeah but you aren’t looking at me, you’re looking everywhere else etc’. I did say I know but I am listening I just get over stimulated and my eyes can wander but tried to change the subject. Eventually they dropped it.

but it’s really knocked my confidence. I know I don’t look people in the eye much and my closer friends know this and are used to it. I know this person probably felt ignored but surely after I had quickly explained they should’ve dropped it. Now I am wondering how often other people are thinking this about me and it’s the first time I’ve experienced being called out on something I struggle with. I don’t even have a solid answer for them. AIBU to let this bother me or should I accept that this is how my life is as long as I am displaying symptoms of neurodivergence? I spend so much time advocating and defending children on their behaviours but never had to do it for myself before. 😔

OP posts:
TooMuchToDoTooLittleInclination · 17/09/2022 12:01

(((HUG))) feel free to bat it out the way if unwanted!!

she was incredibly RUDE, it's such a forward thing to say to someone, even someone close, let alone someone you don't know well!!

Not everyone is comfortable with the intensity of eye contact, ND or not. I guess maybe not being comfortable with it is a sign of being ND but actually I believe we're all on the spectrum... & it really doesn't matter. You're allowed not to be comfortable with it!! You be you and she can FO with being so rude!!

If other people notice or not doesn't matter & if they do, very very few people would consider it an issue.

you were engaging in conversation, not ignoring the daft bint!!

GobbolinoTheWitchesCat · 17/09/2022 12:05

Completely agree with pp, thry were so rude!!

Lots of nd people who struggle with eye contact find it helps to focus on the point between the brows or to look at someone's mouth instead.

Glamorgans · 17/09/2022 12:05

Bloody hell they were very rude for mentioning it, I'm sorry that happened.

Please don't let it bother you (impossible, I know) but remind yourself you were just being yourself and there's nothing wrong at all with that.

They were being a knob.

TheKingsInk · 17/09/2022 12:17

If they don’t understand your response then that is their issue for being ignorant. If they didn’t understand they should have asked what you mean, so you could explain.

Do Not think of their ignorance as a reflection of who you are

Neurospicyy · 17/09/2022 12:26

Thank you all that’s really kind of you to say. I feel a bit invalid sometimes because I don’t have a concrete reason for why I do some of the things I do. It feels like without a diagnosis I’m a bit of an imposter to be the way I am.

OP posts:
Oncemoreforluck · 17/09/2022 12:36

I have to know someone really, really well in order to make eye contact. And even then I don’t like it and have to make a conscious effort to do so. I find looking at someone’s mouth is much easier and still gives the impression of listening carefully to someone. It was once picked up on by someone and I just said that I had slight hearing problems, so found it easier to partially lip read, especially in a noisy environment. Apparently being slightly deaf is much more acceptable.

Aquamarine1029 · 17/09/2022 12:40

Whoever this person is, they're an insufferable, rude prick. Ignore their stupid comment.

Ponoka7 · 17/09/2022 12:41

I tell people that I am on the spectrum, but I'm in my 50's and no longer give AF, thanks the way my autism presents, I never really did tbh. My adult DD also tells people. I know others who just tell people that eye contact makes them feel uncomfortable. What you are self conscious about is your differences. Work on acceptance.

Halli2020 · 17/09/2022 12:48

You don't need to explain yourself to anybody, continue to be you

squishee · 17/09/2022 13:03

I'm sure there are comments you could have aired about that person too, OP. But you didn't, because you're not an ignoramus.

ldontWanna · 17/09/2022 13:05

They were very rude to point it out to begin with, and even more so to keep going after you explained.

I think you're looking at it the wrong way. You haven't "failed" because you didn't make eye contact. This person,especially if NT, failed to notice any other cues and body language that told them you were listening. They failed to accept it when you actually told them you are listening and explained the lack of eye contact. You navigated a social situation,even when it got awkward well. They didn't.

Don't take other people's mistakes,flaws or failures on your shoulders, just because you're so aware you have some difficulties.

couchcritter · 17/09/2022 13:27

This isn't what you asked OP, but I've found it helps to look at the middle bit between someone's eyes. They can't tell you're not looking directly at them and it's not nearly as intense for you, it's worth a try next time?

Unfortunately I think many people will think it's rude if you never look at them or are constantly looking away - it's a subtle thing where it can feel like someone isn't paying real attention or is on the lookout for more interesting people to talk to. Sort of an unwritten social conduct rule.

But equally most people would never say out loud that they find it rude, so the other person broke the unwritten rules too. And you've developed lots of close friendships, so you know this isn't a big problem. Don't beat yourself up over it.

ThisIsM · 17/09/2022 13:52

I'm so sorry this happened OP, they were incredibly rude. I know so many people who don't give eye contact ND or not, so you are not alone, you are fab how you are. Keep on being a lovely you.

SlouchingTowardsBethlehemAgain · 17/09/2022 13:55

Fuck them, bloody rude of them. I had a colleague for many years who never looked anyone in the eye. I was aware of it but I never thought anything of it - just everyone is different. They must be ignorant as fuck to mention it. Don't take it to heart, I am sure most people don't even notice, they will be too busy thinking about the impression they are making.

iekanda · 17/09/2022 14:11

If you were speaking to someone you didn't know that well and they started complaining about your lack of eye contact, they are seriously socially inept. Not you.

Ignore the rude asshole, get on with your life.

Regarding a diagnosis, it won't be a magic wand. Just be yourself. You sound very decent, unlike the rude idiot you spoke with.

Mumspair1 · 17/09/2022 14:13

Yanbu, that is so rude. You don't bring it up in the first place let alone persist after someone gives you an explanation. Don't let it get to you, that person needs to work on their manners .

AndTwoFilmsByFrancoisTruffaut · 17/09/2022 14:18

I think loads of people find eye contact can be uncomfortable. I had to talk to a midwife for 90 mins straight at my booking in appointment when I was first pregnant. I went home totally and utterly drained by the intensity of one on one constant eye contact. I’m fine for a short while, and it depends on the person I’m talking to (some people make me feel more comfortable than others). SO RUDE that the person pointed out your lack of EC. Perhaps they are also on the spectrum!

BudgetBlast · 17/09/2022 14:21

Agree with other posters. Put it this way that person clearly has social difficulties of some other kind that they thought that was an appropriate thing to say. I’m sorry they did that.

I was going to say the same as another poster. Looking at the bridge of a person’s nose fills most people that you are making eye contact.

BudgetBlast · 17/09/2022 14:21


TabithaTittlemouse · 17/09/2022 14:30

I would probably have replied that I was looking for someone more interesting to talk to 😂

Ds has asd and his lack of eye contact has been commented on many times. He usually just says ‘I can’t look at you and talk’.

MattDillonsEyebrows · 17/09/2022 15:17

Oh I feel you OP, I'm also on the waiting list to be assessed and struggle with eye contact and it was my (now) husband who pointed out to me that I look at people's mouth's not eyes I'm talking to them. I hadn't realised but I have always been dreadful at remembering people, so this would make sense!

However, I'm going to go against the grain here not assume your friend was being deliberately rude. It's definitely the sort of thing I'd blurt out without thinking but I'd be mortified to upset you. I'd probably think I was being helpful or something. I know, that's ridiculous when we talk about it here, now, but in a crowded bar, with a lot of sensory stuff going on, I'd likley find it off-putting if someone keeps looking away and wouldn't necessarily be thinking about the reasons you might be doing it.

If the person is generally a decent sort, try not to jump to conclusions that they are being rude, and remember there are a lot of us undiagnosed out there.

Dilbertian · 17/09/2022 15:31

If steady eye contact is overwhelming, try bending your head slightly towards them with your head slightly turned away. As if you are trying to listen more carefully to them. Maybe give the occasional nod or affirmative "Mm!" to acknowledge what they've said. Intersperse it with looking at or towards them.

Some people find lack of eye contact as disconcerting as others find excessive eye contact. It's not a judgement of you, but an expression of her confusion.

Dilbertian · 17/09/2022 15:56

Neurospicyy · 17/09/2022 12:26

Thank you all that’s really kind of you to say. I feel a bit invalid sometimes because I don’t have a concrete reason for why I do some of the things I do. It feels like without a diagnosis I’m a bit of an imposter to be the way I am.

You're not an imposter. You're you.

I get overwhelmed by loud noises. Not a loud noise, but too many different loud noises together. (Some people call it 'music'.) This is common among people with ASD.

I do not have a diagnosis of ASD. So am I an imposter when I take ear plugs to concerts? Am I an imposter if I turn the music off while reversing?

GobbolinoTheWitchesCat · 17/09/2022 16:30

You're not an imposter.

If anything, I could infer from what you wrote that this person was particularly intense to be around - what she's said was so rude and demanding, I wonder if she's one of these people who demand so much attention when you're with them that they make everyone feel awkward.

Think about what you would tell a friend if they came to you feeling the way you do now. Lots of us are ND and so many women are being diagnosed in mid and late life - are we all imposters?

It can take time to grow your view of yourself to include a potential ND diagnosis and it can make a mental review of the past a bit confusing. Ultimately though, you are who you have always been. People still love, like and respect you and you mustn't let one person who is rude and insulting derail your entire sense of being.

cherrysthename · 17/09/2022 16:35

Was it a man? 'Look at me when I'm talking to you!' vibes. Urgh. Horrible of them regardless.

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