Social skills for autonomous people
note to fellow feminists



We need to stop assuming that women who are nonfeminist or antifeminist are just stupid and brainwashed by men.

They are women who disagree with us.

Feminism ought to be about respecting women. Not just women who agree with us. Feminist attitudes towards women who disagree with us can get really sexist and belittling really fast, and that’s not ok.

We don’t have to agree with everything other women believe; we don’t have to respect every opinion just because it’s held by a woman.

But we do need to respect other women as people who have opinions and think for themselves. They are not patriarchy objects. They are *people*. People who have beliefs and opinions. Even when they are wrong.

snow-anne said:

Well said. Plus, some women want patriarchy gone as much as any feminist, but don’t feel welcome in feminism because it only serves certain kinds of women.

realsocialskills said:

That’s true too. And if you’re dismissive of women who don’t identify as feminist and assume that they don’t think for themselves, it becomes damn hard to hear the women who have really good reasons for that.


cardboardcommunist replied to your post “reply about driving”

I’m sorry, that was not really a helpful or thoughtful response on my part. I will definitely take your comments into consideration and not overlook non-driving folks again. Thanks for the correction.

realsocialskills said:

It was a good reply in other ways, which is why I posted it. There were helpful ideas. I just wanted to add that they aren’t going to make it possible for everyone to drive.

I’m glad you’re going to be more careful about that in the future, but I don’t want you to feel like you have to shut up about this stuff just because you made a mistake on one reply to one post.

Plans, changes, anxiety, depression, and conflict
I have anxiety and depression and probably some other shit I get very scared and panicked when someone says “I’ll be right back” and walks away from me and if I’m supposed to meet someone and they are late or don’t show up. I guess it’s abandonment.
So my question is: how do I keep from flipping out on my boyfriend when he accidentally distresses me, like when I’m supposed to pick him up but he finds another way home. His phone is off so he can’t tell me.
And I guess my other question: is it fair for him to get frustrated and angry with me when I tell him that doing this is inconsiderate? He said he thought he’d get home before I left to get him so it wasn’t intentional, but I still feel disrespected.
realsocialskills said:
This doesn’t sound to me like it’s just a depression and anxiety problem. It sounds to me like either something is going wrong with your communication with friends, or people aren’t treating you well, or a combination of both. It’s hard for me to tell which from a distance.
Having anxiety and depression does not mean that you are wrong every time you are upset about something. Sometimes, you’re going to be upset because something is actually wrong. 
It is not unreasonable to want people you make plans with to either show up or let you know that they’re not going to make it. It is not unreasonable to want people to tell you if they are going to be late. It is not unreasonable to want people you’re supposed to pick up to let you know if they found another ride. Those expectations are normal, and not something unusual caused by mental illness. Most people would be upset if others habitually made plans and failed to show up.
(It might be unreasonable to expect people to refrain for saying “I’ll be right back” and walking away, depending on the context. For instance, that’s sometimes a euphemism for going to the bathroom. So if you’re, say, eating at a restaurant and someone says that, it’s probably not reasonable to object.  But if they’re, say, leaving you in the middle of a crowded park without any clear plans for how you’re going to reconnect, that’s a problem. There are any number of configurations for that; it’s hard for me to tell just based on the phrase.)
It is entirely reasonable to want people to care that they flaked in a way that was distressing. Even if they did it for a reason or thought it would be ok, they should care that they flaked on you and apologize if it caused you distress. They should also be willing to think about how to avoid that problem in the future. In close relationships, people make mistakes from time to time that cause one another inadvertent distress. If someone gets angry and defensive every time you feel upset about something they did, something’s going wrong.
That said, it’s not ok to regularly flip out at people close to you for making mistakes. It’s hard for me to tell from your description if that’s what’s happening. Like, I could see a few possibilities:
Possibility #1: You’re actually flipping out in a way that’s not reasonable. Eg:
  • You: WTF?! Why didn’t you show up?! You’re a terrible boyfriend. You always do this. Why don’t you respect me?
  • Him: I thought I’d get home first. I’m sorry.
  • You: That’s not good enough. You’re awful. Why can’t you be considerate ever?

If this is what’s going on, you flipping out may well be part of the problem (but not the whole problem, because wanting people to either keep plans or let you know that they’ve changed is entirely reasonable even if the way you react is not.)

If actually flipping out on people is part of the problem, then it’s important to learn how to distinguish between how it feels to have anxiety triggered and what someone actually did. If you’re freaking out, it might be best to hold off on talking about what’s going on until you’ve calmed down. It might also help to say explicitly something like “I’m not rational right now; let’s talk about this in a few minutes.” (This is also the kind of issue that a lot of people find therapy helpful for. I don’t know if you’re someone who would find therapy helpful, but it might be worth looking into.)

But even if you are doing things that look like flipping out, that may be misleading. It’s possible that he’s intentionally provoking you in order to make you look unreasonable to avoid dealing with the problem. That brings us to possibility #2:

Possibility #2: He’s accusing you of flipping out as a way to avoid dealing with the thing you’re complaining about. Eg:

  • You: I went to pick you up and you weren’t there. What gives?
  • Him: Chill. I thought I’d be home by the time you got here. Why are you flipping out on me?
  • You: Can you please call me if plans change?
  • Him: Why are you accusing me of being inconsiderate? I didn’t do anything wrong.

For more on that kind of dynamic, see this post and this post.

Possibility #3: You’re responding to a pattern, he’s insisting that you treat it as an isolated incident, and that’s pissing you off. Eg:

  • You: I went to go pick you up and you weren’t there and didn’t call. Can you please let me know if plans change.
  • Him: Oh, sorry, I thought you’d come home first and see that I was already here.
  • You: Ok, but this happened last week too. Can we figure out how to stop it from happened?
  • Him: That happened last week. That’s over and done with.
  • You (raising your voice): This keeps happening! I need it to stop!
  • Him: Why are you flipping out? I *said* I was sorry.

Possibility #4: You both mean well, but you’re setting off each other’s berserk buttons inadvertently. Eg:

  • You (visibly close to melting down): You weren’t there?! You are here? Why weren’t you there?
  • Him (freaked out by the idea that he did something seriously upsetting, also visibly close to meltdown): I tried to be there! I did! I thought it would be ok!

If that’s the problem, finding an alternate way to communicate about problems might solve the problem. For instance, it might mean that you need to type instead of speaking, or use IM in different rooms, or talk on the phone. Or it might mean that you need ground rules about how to communicate in a conflict without setting each other off. For instance, some people need to explicitly reassure each other that this is about a specific thing and not your judgement of whether they’re a good person (sometimes judging people is appropriate and necessary. This kind of reassurance only help if that really *isn’t* the issue).

This is not an exhaustive list. There are other patterns of interaction that could be going on here. But whatever is going on, it probably isn’t just your depression and anxiety making you unreasonable. It is ok to expect people to either keep plans or let you know when they have changed.


lillerina answered to your post “question for y’all: driving”

I drive. I have exceptional spacial reasoning and good muscle memory. I struggle sometimes with reading other road users’ intentions.

shanhammer answered to your post “question for y’all: driving”

allistic but i struggle focusing and anxiety driving and have to have music on and try to drive routes i know or with a passenger? :s
reply about driving

cardboardcommunist replied to your post “question for y’all: driving”

I am autistic and have mental illness disabilities. Admittedly, my spatial reasoning can be a bit crap, and I don’t drive when the m illness is really bad, but I do drive. My suggestion is to find someone who is really understanding and take it slow.
Also, give yourself lots of time and space in which to practice, and see about any assistive technologies that might help you drive, be aware of hazards, navigate, etc. Learning to drive is tough but doable!
realsocialskills said:
Those are all good suggestions, but probably not a solution for everyone. Some people can’t drive. It can be hard to figure out whether someone has the kind of difficulty learning that can be overcome with good teaching, or whether someone is impaired in ways that make it unsafe for them to drive at all. Both exist.

howling-gail answered to your post “question for y’all: driving”

I got my licence when I was 33 after professional driving lessons. Way less stress for me with a good teacher who didn’t yell

perkigothii-geekius answered to your post “question for y’all: driving”

I don’t drive because I have a tendency towards mental tunnel-vision and there are way too many things to focus on. It’s not safe. yay buses


question for y’all: driving


Anonymous said to :

I want some information about people with autism and driving. Google helps me with NOTHING about info from actual autistic people, of whatever age and driving level, on their experiences. -.- as usual
realsocialskills said:
I don’t…

chavisory said:

I haven’t driven in a long time, but I can, I was good at it, and I enjoyed it.

The best I can probably say is to start slow, and get a lot of practice in relatively easy/safe areas—parking lots, long straight country roads, low speed limit neighborhoods, places like that.  

You can’t learn to drive by trial and error, no, but you can build up your comfort with it very, very gradually.  You probably need a teacher who is non-judgmental and above all, calm.  The kinds of perception and judgment you need will likely gradually improve with practice…like they do for any new activity.

I seriously doubted that I had the kinds of coordination necessary to drive, but you learn the rhythm of it.  There’s a mental “zone” to it.

realsocialskills said:

I did learn the rhythm of it eventually, but it was so exhausting to hold together that it pushed me into shutdown. I might make more attempts at some point, though.

question for y’all: driving



Anonymous said to :

I want some information about people with autism and driving. Google helps me with NOTHING about info from actual autistic people, of whatever age and driving level, on their experiences. -.- as usual
realsocialskills said:
I don’t drive, because thus far I have not figured out a way to do it safely. I have unreliable motor skills and weak spatial reasoning and poor executive function. These have all caused me trouble in my various attempts to learn to drive safely. I think I probably could learn to compensate for this kind of impairment with sufficient support, but I don’t want to learn driving through trial and error because error could involve crashing cars and killing people.
Have any of y’all who’re autistic or otherwise disabled learned to drive safely? How?

fire-gender said:

I drive, and well, but the way my autism works out and my long history of playing video games and being a professional artist my hand-eye is very good/I’m very attentive/ect ect. I very much second the suggestion elsewhere to play racing games, my drivers ed teacher was actually a really strong supporter of those. I did initially have a lot of problems with other cars on the road, but for two years before getting a car/actually driving I started up urban biking and that helped soooo much, and by the time I started driving again after seven years it was really easy. But that’s a whole other can of worms.