A lot of aspies, including me, have big, big issues with trust. We generally start out in life very naïve, wide-open and totally trusting, taking people and situations at face value, and willing to believe whatever people say. Lying and deceit don’t come naturally to us, and it never occurs to us that others might do it. In consequence, we have often been used, abused, tricked, deceived, maltreated and betrayed, over and over again. At some point, we realize this blind trust of ours is misplaced, and become extremely wary. Many of us come to view people in general and NTs in particular with a great deal of suspicion, resentment and anger. We can even become so hyper-sensitive that we jump to conclusions and see slights, rejections and betrayals that aren’t in fact there.
The ‘pop psychology’ on such betrayals is that we should ‘forgive and forget’, move on and let it go – after all, it’s in the past, right? But for us, it’s not ‘in the past’. It’s ongoing. Our memories stay uncomfortably vivid. We find it hard to ‘just forget’ things, and don’t do forgiveness well. Moreover, we have extreme difficulty in letting go past betrayals because we usually just can’t process them, can’t understand why they happened, whose ‘fault’ it was, or even, often, what happened, exactly. Reeling, confused, we only know we’ve been kicked in the guts, and it really, really hurts.
And even if we can somehow let go of past incidents, that’s not the end of it. Some of us are still enmeshed in ‘betrayal of trust’ circumstances. But even if we aren’t, every day, we must go out into the world and face again situations we can’t judge accurately, people we can’t read properly if at all, and thus, we know, the potential is always there for more betrayals, more abuse, more dumping of other people’s crap on our heads. We can come to trust pretty much no-one, because we are so bad at figuring out who can and can’t be trusted. The whole thing becomes a bewildering morass, and it never really ends. Each day, consequently, can be a nightmare of trepidation. And the more we have to do with the world, the more likelihood there is that these betrayals will happen, simply because of what and who we are.
Some aspies I’ve encountered claim they’ve always been suspicious, and mistrusting of others. I think it’s possible their betrayals happened so early, they’ve forgotten the times before. Others, like me, remember all too well their earlier naivety, and the pain of the repeated betrayals and loss of trust.
Either way, there really isn’t any ideal solution, for me or for autistics in general. The world is what it is, and we are what we are. No amount of ‘social skills training’, no amount of struggling to learn how to ‘read’ other people, is going to alter the fact that just about all of us will get taken advantage of sooner or later.
Each and every autistic individual has to make their own choice, as to how much and in what way they interact with the world/other people. If we become total recluses, we may be safe (in some ways), but this can mean we become very lonely, and cut off from those who do or might love us, and who could be trusted. On the other hand, being totally ‘open’ to the world means being a target for bullies, abusers, scammers and all manner of undesirables. We all need to find our own midpoint, between total reclusiveness and total openness. That midpoint will be different for every aspie/autie, and no-one has the right to judge another’s decision on this.