Being Alone – The Autistic Phase

In the sense of an “autistic phase,” we are alone whenever we are not in a relationship. This does not mean that we have no relationships, but rather that we have not said “yes” to a special person, that we have not committed to a partner and the risk of a relationship.

In the autistic phase, we have clear self-boundaries and largely feel ourselves to be an autonomous individual. We are more important to ourselves than to others.

But different kinds of difficulties may arise here: for example our relationship with our parents may turn into a surrogate relationship, where we feel responsible for their well-being. It is also possible for us to carry on long-term more or less platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex. If this is the case, it should be cause for thought. While it is true we are not in a relationship, if we do get involved in one it might not be simply between two people; there would be a third, or even a fourth person involved. Over the long-term, they will become an unwelcome guest in the relationship, something that is almost sure to spark a conflict later on.

Another possibility is to regard the autistic phase, or being alone, not as a passing phase but rather as a dogma, to turn it into a belief which some have called free love, but which in this case is nothing more than a fear of commitment and an escape from intimacy – from those things which develop only in a relationship.

As the saying goes: “You had better shop around” – you can stay stuck in the autistic phase for a long time.

Often, the autistic phase is a pause in relationships after a break-up. A space for mourning, but also for personal growth, a time of self-realization in which we can lay the everyday work of a relationship to the side.

In every case, this stage is dominated by the “I”: It stands at the center of attention, searching for and discovering itself.

This search, however, is not just an inward one, but as the autistic phase lingers, one which directs itself more and more outwardly.