Uncertainty and same day appointments [thinking aloud/adv]

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Uncertainty and same day appointments [thinking aloud/adv]

Post by Hirundo Bos on Wed Jul 27, 2016 2:24 pm

This is going to be a long post, with a lot of information that is mostly me thinking aloud... I'm keeping that bit, but also compressing it down to a short version, that people can scroll down to if the long version becomes too long.

The long version
I've been thinking a bit about my feelings and reactions around uncertainty around appointments. I think it's particularly about same day appointments. Uncertainty takes some effort for my autistic brain to cope with, especially when it has to do with scheduling... when I don't know how long something is going to take, or whether it's going to happen at all, it tends to make me anxious and confused.

Having someone else suggest a same day activity is fine. Sometimes I'm up for it, sometimes I'm not, and I'm able to say no when I need to. Being the one to suggest it though, is harder. For many reasons, but the uncertainty before I get a reply is one of them. The mental image of the evening becomes a confusing, double exposed image, I can't relax, can't get much done, and if the appointment doesn't come through, I have a hard time finding something else to do instead. So most of the time when I propose getting together, I suggest a day or three down the road.

Some of my friends though have it the other way around... they aren't very good at planning and strongly prefer same-day appointments... and I try to meet them halfway, but I'm afraid I'm trying a bit too hard sometimes... promise more than I can keep... get impatient when I've assured them before that it's okay...

There are probably some practical solutions to this... like, inviting people along to events I would go to anyway, learning how long to wait for a reply before I start making other plans, have some backup plans in store... but right now, what I want to talk about is the emotional reactions, the impatience, the way it's interfering with my social life.

It's happened a couple of times these last months.

One was someone who has a hard time knowing ahead how many spoons they'll have on a certain day, and prefer making same day appointments for that reason... so one day I said hey let's do something, and they said they'd considered going to a thing but didn't know if they were up for it, and I sat waiting for a decision, feeling tied up and unable to start doing anything else, until finally I suggested we did something another day and they could decide whether or not to go on their own. A good decision on my part I think, the problem is that I haven't made any more suggestions since that day, I haven't managed to gather the strength for it, and I'm worrying that 1) the chance to get to know this person is sliding away and 2) that I've disappointed them because I had given the impression that I'd their needs and be the one to take social initative.

The other was the person I've been sleeping with this summer, and she has cognitive and communication issues that are a little similar to my own. She doesn't like planning ahead because she's afraid she'll end up getting cold feet. I said earlier in the day that I was considering inviting her over, and the communication from there on veered between talking about the hypothetical evening together, and talking about completely different things, and it became very unclear to me it this meant a soft no or if she just had trouble keeping her mind together. My guts told me that the latter alternative was the case, and that she was in fact expecting to be invited over, but I didn't feel completely sure.

As it was growing late, I told her I was uncertain and asked for a clearer indication of what she wanted, and got another reply I couldn't quite interpret, and then gave a little voice to my annoyance. She told me later that she'd picked up on my annoyance and interpreted it as impatience, which is not a sentiment I want to bring across when talking about sex. She had been interested in coming over though, and we had quite a nice night together once she did.

The short version
I prefer planning ahead but have friends who strongly prefer making same day appointments, and I sometimes to meet that preference. But when I do suggest to do something the same day, I get vulnerable about uncertainty, and anxious while I'm waiting for a reply, and if I have to wait too long I react with either drawing away or expressing annoyance. And I'd like to learn some ways to cope with those feelings, to limit those reactions, to keep evolving my relationships with the people in question.

The question
Anxiety, confusion, and impatience are pretty straightforward reactions, I can see where they come from. But there's another feeling in there, going deeper, that I suspect is a case of me misattributing my own emotions. I've done a lot of that before – I used to have pretty low emotional awareness and would be very confused about what I really felt.

In this case, the feeling I get when I'm uncertain about an appointment is similar to the feeling I get when my boundaries have been breached, when my personal space has been invaded. It feels as if something is being done to me, and so I withdraw or express annoyance in response. But of course, other people counting their spoons or struggling with concentration is not something they do to me... and it's probably causing a lot more worries for them than it does for me...

so, I'm not exactly sure what I'm asking here. (When have I ever been?) I think mainly, I'm trying to figure out why it feels like I'm being attacked... and then, what other emotions would be more fitting...

And what to say to someone when I've first assured them that it's okay if they take their time, or if I have problems keeping up with their train of thought, or whatever the issue is, and then after a while get to a point where I need clarity after all... how do I avoid getting in that situation or deal with it once I do?

Hm. That did become rather a long post, much as I suspected. Maybe just having written about it will help me to work things out...
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Re: Uncertainty and same day appointments [thinking aloud/adv]

Post by ElizaJane on Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:11 pm

I can't give a lot of advice, but I can empathize with you. I have the same problem, where I'll ask someone to do something and then freeze up in a panic of not wanting to do anything else until I have a definite response. It ranges from "Hey, do you have a minute to talk?" at work through "Hey, do you want to grab dinner tonight?"

I, too, really like knowing what my schedule is going to look like, and nothing bothers me more than existing in a state where I don't have a definite picture of what happens next. I am most comfortable when I am in control of a thing ("Okay, I'm done with this. Time to move on."), but having a clear schedule ("This will end at 1!"), is second best. Not having any idea when someone will respond, or even if they will, is physically painful.

You're not alone.

A few minor(?) tips:
1. I have just had to stop trying to make plans with the people who prefer same-day planning, and stop telling people they can have as much time as they need. It sounds like they need to not make plans in advance, and you need to not propose the same-day plans. Are they not as willing to accommodate your needs as you are to accommodate theirs?
2. If you put an end-cap on the response window, it may reduce the stress. I've been known to say things like, "Hey, do you want to go see Ghostbusters tonight? Let me know by 4 so I have time to get tickets."

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Re: Uncertainty and same day appointments [thinking aloud/adv]

Post by Enail on Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:52 pm

I second the idea of a response window with a set end time! I' I find it a lot easier to not get resentful if I know that there's a point at which the uncertainty ends and that I'm not on the hook indefinitely, can make other plans or start looking forward to an evening on my own, etc.

For flaky people, I find "let me know by X time if we are on, otherwise, I'll assume we're not" works better than "let me know either way by X time," because that way we both know what the deal is if they don't let me know by that time.
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Re: Uncertainty and same day appointments [thinking aloud/adv]

Post by Hirundo Bos on Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:44 am

Thanks for replies... and for empathy. Though I know I'm not alone, it's nice to hear it. And to hear things so omnipresent in my life expressed in the words and experiences of others.

Having a response window sounds like a good idea. Now if only I can find a way to communicate "please let me know before X" or something similar in my language.

Still chewing on tip #1... I do want to be able to make plans with same day-people... I would ideally like to have a broad range of plan-making skills, just as I'd like to know a broad range of people. And I have a... thing. About accommodating to other people's needs. A deep desire to do so (together with low willingness/ability to carry the cost, so I think I have a bit to unpack here).

But I think maybe the resentment I've been wondering about may come from that accommodation. Are they not as willing to accomodate my needs as I am to accomodate theirs? And when they know that just making same day proposals is hard for me, do they have to make it even harder with uncertainty?

Additionally... the physical pain of waiting for response may contribute to the feeling that something is done to me, even when it's really not.
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Re: Uncertainty and same day appointments [thinking aloud/adv]

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