Social Observations From an Aspie: Different Kinds of Promises

With Anna

Meeting Princess Anna who also has problems with promises

“But you promised.”

That is one of the resounding thoughts in my life. I am constantly disappointed because someone promises to hang out with me or give me a present or be there for me but he or she fails to keep to what they promised.

Time and time again, these types of situations have popped up in my life. My mother cautioned me to not expect too much out of others and expect people to feel the same sense of urgency in commitments. However, I did not listen. After all, if someone says she will do something, that is a promise that should be kept. Right?

This week, I really wanted to hang out with someone who realized later other plans had been made already. At first, the phrase repeated itself. “But you promised,” my mind whined.

Then, I realized that she had not. All that had happened was she said “Yes” to doing something and then realized that would not work. That is not a vow or even a promise. It was more of a hope and plan.

Most people realize this social phenominon. However, Aspergers makes it more difficult. I tend to take things as absolutes. You are coming at 3:00? Then come at 3:00! You will be with me forever? Then be there! We can hang out Saturday? Then you will drop all else to do so!

That might sound selfish. Maybe it is. However, it is more about planning and being ready than anything else. Not being prepared is scary. I want to know what is going to happen in my day. Floating through it and making plans on the go is so terrifying! Scheduling and order are needed to keep me calm.

Slowly, I am learning not to expect promises. If one is made, I try not to hold it too closely to my heart. It might be meant with the best of intentions, but even those are forgotten quickly.

A promise to a neurotypical person differs from that from someone with Autism. That is not bad or wrong. Both have good elements. One must simply learn how to decipher

through both.


9 thoughts on “Social Observations From an Aspie: Different Kinds of Promises

  1. Cheryl-Lynn says:

    What a beautiful post filled with insights…bravo!! May I reblog this to share with others?

  2. Cheryl-Lynn says:

    Reblogged this on Stop the Stigma and commented:
    A refreshing post of someone who is always on the path of self-reflection and discovery shared with much humility.

  3. 80smetalman says:

    Good post, but I tend to be the opposite. I assume they’re not coming until they actually show up.

  4. Anna says:

    I have failed to keep many promises. It especially tends to happen to promises that aren’t very specific, hands-on or planned out to start with … they just never happen and then just wither away over time. E.g. I may have said that I would write about a certain topic within a vaguely defined time period, and was 100% certain when I said it that I would do that, but whenever I tried, then other things came in the way or I couldn’t work out how to do it, or in many cases: started but couldn’t finalise it, and that way a lot of promises that I’ve made just never came true. The broken promises make me feel like a failure and a terrible person, and really want to change (I have not really given up on my promises, it is more like a really clogged-up pipeline of way too many things that have never happened yet although I said they would).

    In the same time, I tend to expect others to do exactly what they’ve said, and get confused when they don’t. I keep waiting for things to happen that they said would happen, and get increasingly confused over time when they don’t… So I’m hypocritical in regard to promises.

    For me too, hanging onto perceived “promises” is mostly about needing to be mentally prepared for events ahead, and staying prepared & waiting as long as they have not been explicitly cancelled.

    It depends what it is, though… For some kind of things, I can easily understand that what may sound like a promise is more like an expression of intentions or goodwill of the moment. Other kind of “promises” I take much more at face value and keep waiting if they don’t happen, increasingly frustrated and confused about when they are supposed to happen and what I’ve misunderstood since they don’t happen et.c.

    Ps. You post is very well written and spot on.

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