status: seeking a publishing solution

I found the meaning of life while I was in college. Okay, technically I realized that meaning was a specific interpretation of sense data that the brain projected onto my experiences, but I was able to figure out what most commonly prompted those “meaning tingles.” It was my connections to other people, my interpersonal relationships. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at them. I tried to be – I worked very hard at improving – but it always felt like I was missing something. And this puzzle flummoxed me for years, right up until my wife sussed out the missing piece, I was autistic.

Now there were two ways I could have reacted to that information: I could have thrown my hands up and leaned into the autism as an excuse. I could have said, “Well, that’s that then. Good effort, but most people will never understand me, guess I’ll limit my pool of potential friends to fellow Aspies.” Or (and this is what I chose) I could say, “Well, now that I can clearly see the issue, it’s time to develop some strategies to bridge the gap between me and the rest of humanity.” Those strategies ended up becoming The Good Friend Protocols.

After a few iterations I stumbled across a surprising realization. Despite their natural advantages, Neurotypical people (people who don’t have diagnosably odd brains) were not inherently better at friendship. Their ability to feel echoes of others’ emotions is certainly useful, but so is my ability to not get pulled into someone else’s emotional state. Everyone can benefit from being more intentional with their relationships, and when I had my second conversation in which I explained two Neurotypicals to each other, I knew I had to write my methods down.

Before you get too excited, I will warn you that you cannot become a great friend simply by reading a book. This book is a tour of the mental scaffolding I built to make better connections with other people. My goal is that, by the end, you will understand how I built my habits so that you can build your own.

At its core, this book is a self-help book. It is the book that I wish I could go back in time and hand to my lonely and confused teenage self to show him that he wouldn’t be alone forever. He wouldn’t become me overnight, that teenaged boy would still need a few years of practice, but I like to imagine that he could get to where I am now in one-third the time. In essence, I feel comfortable explaining friendship to you because I had to explain it to myself first.

And, because everyone likes free samples, here are three excerpts that stand on their own:

  1. Just a basic assumption I introduce in chapter 2. Finding the Function
  2. Chapter 6 is all about trying to understand other people. Finding the Function
  3. If you want your friends to benefit from advice you should remember: Finding the Function

Good luck out there!