Are You Yourself In Public?

Are You Yourself In Public? How do you see the world? How does the world see you? As we are products of our childhood we see the world through the eyes of that young child. Our parents did the best they could in raising us but, they too, are products of their upbringing. Depending on what your inner child experienced, it’s the ability of our functional adult to manage the good, the bad and the ugly feelings so we see the world more objectively and with some perspective.

Are You Yourself In Public?

Who do you let the world see when you leave the confines of your home? When you return home who do you become? Are they the same person. We can wear masks to emulate a persona that fit into specific situations and environments. We tend to hide behind them so we fit in and are accepted.

If you are on the Autism Spectrum (have Asperger’s ) you may “mask” where you behave in ways that emulate neurotyical behavior at your work environment or relationships to appear “normal” and to fit in. Masking is a complex and costly survival strategy for autistic people. It generally involves intentionally learning neurotypical behaviors and mimicking them in social situations. Sometimes masking focuses on hiding behaviors that people feel won’t be accepted.

Are You Yourself In Public?

Masking can include behaviors like these:

  • forcing or faking eye contact during conversations
  • imitating smiles and other facial expressions
  • mimicking gestures
  • hiding or minimizing personal interests
  • developing a repertoire of rehearsed responses to questions
  • scripting conversations
  • pushing through intense sensory discomfort including loud noises
  • disguising stimming behaviors (hiding a jiggling foot or trading a preferred movement for one that’s less obvious)

People may mask autism for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • feeling safe and avoiding stigma
  • avoiding mistreatment or bullying
  • succeeding at work
  • attracting a romantic partner
  • making friends and other social connections
  • fitting in or feeling a sense of belonging

I work with women married to men with Asperger’s who state their husband appear quite normal while dating. Some even dated as long as three years. Once married, the odd behavior manifested its way into the relationship creating more transactional communication. Without the masking (as it resembles acting) the relational piece waned therefore creating discord in these wives marriages.

Are You Yourself In Public?

Women with Asperger’s tend to do a lot more masking than men as females tend to want emotional connection. Masking is fine as long as the neurodiverse couple learns tools for communication as they speak different languages.

Masking is quite tiring as it takes a lot of effort in being someone other than their true self. Masking often times creates the need for more down time to recharge. My neurodiverse couples say they both need to be mindful of how much down time they each need to manage the ongoing relationship challenges.

For more information about masking and neurodiversity in your relationship please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or through my website




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