I’m autistic, and I’ve learned to tease my friends as a social skill. I think it’s ok to tease your friends a little bit, but sometimes I think I go just a little bit too far.
My friends don’t say anything, though. The teasing has become sort of mechanical and ingrained at this point, but I want to learn how to not tease my friends so much.
Do you know how I can cut back on teasing my friends?
I think the most important thing is to make sure that your friends know you care how they feel. And to make sure that you’re paying attention to how they feel.
It’s ok to tease your friends so long as you’re both enjoying it. Making fun of one another in good-natured ways is part of a lot of friendships. What’s bad is to make fun of someone in a way that actually hurts them. If it hurts them, then it’s not friendly anymore, even if you didn’t mean to hurt them.
One rule of thumb is: don’t tease your friends about things they’re actually for-real painfully insecure about. That just ends up hurting.
It’s also important to pay attention to their reaction. If your friends are enjoying the teasing, they’ll likely respond back. If they’re not, they’ll likely not respond, or look upset. If they’re not actively looking like they’re into it, it’s a sign that you’ve probably crossed a line and hurt them. If that happens, back off and maybe apologize.
That goes double if your friends tell you it hurts them. A lot of people who either like hurting others or don’t care how people feel use fake-friendly teasing as a cover for being mean. When someone expresses hurt, they say things like “I was just kidding, don’t be so sensitive.” Don’t do that. If your friends are hurt by something you said about them, take that seriously and apologize. Everyone makes mistakes that hurt other people sometimes. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big deal.
It also might help to ask your friends what they think. Eg, by asking one of your friends something like “I think I’ve been going too far when I joke around. Do you think I’m upsetting people?”
Anyone else want to weigh in? How have you found ways to be kinder in your interactions with friends?