Meeting new people, making friends and dating is easier said than done. You know what you want to say. You feel the words are on the tip of your tongue, but somehow they just don’t come out the way you had planned. Throw some good old-fashioned nerves into the mix, along with the challenges that an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and/or a learning difficulty can present and hey presto, you may have quite a challenge on your hands.
Whilst people without any particular neurodiversity could perhaps get away with a few nervous giggles and flirty eyes, the same isn’t necessarily true for folks who are playing from a different hand of cards. Outcomes can also vary so much from person to person when presented with the same scenario – there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to making a special connection with other people. However you tackle it, this is a serious issue and can be really frustrating for those with communication barriers who want to build friendships, relationships and develop meaningful connections with others. But with the right direction and some fresh ideas, the possibilities are endless. Read on to find out more!
Tips to get you started
Make eye contact. Looking directly at the person you’re in a conversation with comes as second nature to a lot of people. But for some of us, it requires a bit more attention. Making some eye contact lets the other person know that you’re genuinely interested in talking with them and hearing about their interests too. But it is still okay to let your eyes wander from time to time, full-on staring without a break may feel quite strange! When you’re talking or listening to the other person, try to relax and occasionally take a moment to breathe and break your eye contact, maybe to take sip of a drink or look out of a window for a moment, before looking at the person you’re chatting with again. We don’t think it is a deal breaker as people who like you will like you if you are able to give a little or more eye contact anyway!
Ask open-ended questions. Generally, questions starting with what, how and why will get a good conversation started. These are known as ‘open-ended questions’ as they invite the person to reply with a detailed answer, rather than just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In this way, you’re more likely to be able to engage in some good back and forth dialogue and get to know more about the other person. Some examples include:
● Tell me about your family?
● What do you like to do in your spare time?
● Why did you choose this coffee shop?
● How do you see your future?
● If you are looking at pics - can you tell me about the people in this photograph?
If you’re feeling particularly nervous, you could practice on someone you’re comfortable with. Whether a family member, carer, or friend, take some time to go over some topics and see what works for you. You’d be amazed what a difference this can make to your confidence and how you make the other person feel at ease and ready to open up too.
Listen up! Listening is probably the most underrated skill of all. Most people are so busy trying to impress the other person they don’t take proper time and attention to truly listen to what they’re hearing. Plus, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, taking a moment to just listen is an excellent way of taking a pause and gathering your thoughts. You may find out some interesting facts and things you have in common. Giving the other person space to talk shows you’re willing to share time with them in a mutually beneficial way.
Nice 2 Meet Ya is all about providing a safe space to meet and connect with new people. We will tell you about potential matches who share interests and relationship goals, which is already a step in the right direction. All you need to do is sign up, choose a plan that works for you, and you’re good to go.
Remember, making new friends and building meaningful connections is all about seeing if you’re a good fit with other people. One of the best ways to start is to talk and share stories and experiences with each other. The more we can openly talk about things and listen carefully and with interest, the more likely we will identify connections and make those all-important friendships that were built to last.