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Neurodivergent conversations: verbal and nonverbal invitations

GUIDE: How to know if you’re invited to a friend group's activity (without having to ask!)

As promised: see this post! I made this (very detailed) guide about a year ago for a friend, an aspie. I wrote it with the intention of helping my friend figure out if they’re invited to some group activity, in various scenarios—without them ever having to ask for clarification. I went back and edited it today to post here. Btw, I’m stickying this post for a bit (in place of the Open Discussion Thread, since the ODT is pretty dead right now anyway).

Situation 1:

A friend goes up to you and says, unprompted: “Hey, we’re going to [place] later!”. It’s safe to assume that you are included in the ‘we’ and invited to hang with the group. The same can be applied to iMessage/DM/texting: if a friend randomly texts you (or your group chat) about group plans later, then you are implicitly invited to come with them!

Situation 2:

You’re speaking with a friendly acquaintance (i.e. you like them, but you haven’t really hung out) and, totally unprompted, they mention: “Tonight, [mutual friend #1] and [mutual friend #2] and I are going to [place].”

If they don’t explicitly ask you to come with them, then they’re probably just making conversation—especially since they're just an acquaintance and you haven't hung out before. So tell them their plans sound cool and leave it at that. (Personally, I think it’s kinda rude for someone to randomly divulge their friend group’s plans without inviting you as well…but whatever, I digress.)

***The main difference between Situations 1 and 2 is who it is and when they tell you about their group plans: if they’re a close friend and open the conversation by excitedly detailing what you’re all doing later, then you’re almost definitely invited! You can ask for specifics, e.g., what time you should meet them. But if it’s like Situation 2, then don’t prompt for an invite unless you really, really want to go.

Situation 3:

You ask a friend if they’re doing anything fun after school/work. Your friend tells you that they (and your friend group) are going to get drinks later.

In this situation, you asked about their plan; they didn’t randomly offer this information to you. So tell them that their plans sound like fun and leave it at that.

But a lot of times, they’ll follow up with: “Do you want to come?”. By asking you this, they acknowledge and accept the possibility that you’ll agree to come. Whether it’s a genuine invitation or just a formality depends on how close you are with the friend group. If you were definitely unwelcome, then they wouldn’t have extended the invitation and instead would have simply agreed (“Yes, it is fun”).

***The main difference between Situations 2 and 3 is whether they offer the info about the group plans, unprompted, or if you ask. In both situations, it’s best to wait for them to extend the invitation prior to assuming that they want you to come with. Situation 4 (in which you ask for an invite):

This one’s weird. So in the middle of a conversation, your friend casually mentions that their (your) friend group has made plans to see a movie later. You like this friend group, and you want to see this movie with them, but you can’t tell if your friend is trying to invite you or simply making conversation. So you ask, “Can I come, too?” —“Yeah, if you want.”

This situation is ambiguous for everyone. Not just autistics. My advice? It’s probably best to not go lol. Not because you’re decidedly unwelcome, per se; I just think it’s preferable to hang out with people who are indubitably enthusiastic about your presence. Go if you genuinely want to see the movie (or whatever they're doing), or if you’re closer with the other members of the group—but if this ‘friend’ really wanted you there, then the situation would've played out either like Situation 1 or they’d have said something nicer (like “Yes!” or "Obviously!" and not “Uhhhh if you want to”) when you asked. Situation 5:

Your friend group (of at least 3 people) is making plans in front of you. This is an in-person conversation, not a groupchat (if it's a groupchat, then you can assume it's just Situation 1). They're all excitedly making plans, but no one is asking for your input. This is fine! They're probably just excited, not intending to leave you out or anything. Also: this is your friend group, with whom you've hung out before—not just some random friend group you're crashing.

So, if they're all making plans in front of you like that, then it must be implied that you're invited, too! Ask them questions or offer your input if you'd like. However. In the event that you're not invited, then these people are not actually your friends. Seriously—good friends don't make plans in front of other good friends without inviting them. Assuming that you're invited and then being struck down is not you misreading the room—they're just mean people. Go find a nicer friend group. ---------------------------------- TL;DR: More often than not, when your friend group informs you of their plans, the invitation is implicit. Just assume that you're invited and ask for details if you'd like. If your friend group tells you about their plans and you’re not invited, then that's rude and they aren’t your friends. When in doubt (e.g., when speaking with an acquaintance), just say "That’s cool!” or "Aw that sounds fun!" and wait for them to extend the invite in response—if they genuinely want you to come, they'll tell you! Hopefully this’ll help someone out; I know I really could have used it in middle/early high school lol. Cheers!


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