Freeing Yourself from a Tag-a-Long
I wrote this in the hopes of getting your advice regarding a person I know.
This person is called Kevin, and he is autistic. I've known him since late middle school, but I wouldn't call him a friend. You see, Kevin didn't really have friends, and because my mom knew his mom, he essentially latched onto me and would follow me around in and outside of school.
Other people didn't particularly like him, and because he always followed me around, my highschool friend group was small. Kevin had a tendency to talk a lot about things he really liked, and would often interrupt me in conversation (and the things he liked were video games and cartoon TV shows, which he very regularly derailed conversations to).
Fast forward to the end of high school, and I now saw Kevin less. I came into my own more as a person and my friend group grew larger, which was great. Kevin was still around of course, having not made friends in high school. His mother seemed to sense a distance growing between us, and would often invite Kevin to events or excursions I was planning without my permission. For example, Kevin was dropped off by his mom at a hike myself and some friends were about to start. As it wasn't TV or video games, Kevin complained during the whole hike (admittedly, he wasn't hugely active either, having zero interest in sport or exercise). This reached boiling point when one of my pals said to his face "shut up r****d". I was so embarrassed.
This brings us to now. I am currently attending college in Ireland. I love it over here (despite the constant rain) and my roommates (who are all Irish) are probably the friendliest people I've ever met.
Recently though, I started getting messages from Kevin's mom. They started harmless enough, asking me what it's like in Ireland, what my accommodation is like, etc. However, Kevin's mom started asking questions I didn't like. "Do they offer games coding courses in the college?" "I heard there's a spare room in your apartment, is that right?" "They have a games club on campus don't they?"
Kevin's mom wants to send her son all the way to Europe just to bunk in with me and my roommates. I did not leave the Midwest just to end having to deal with Kevin again.
I haven't responded to these messages, but even my own mom agrees that this idea is beyond ridiculous.
How do I respond? What do I do? I'm not Kevin's babysitter and he's not my friend. I want nothing to do with him anymore, and he needs to find his own friends, and not follow me around the world.
All the best,
* * *
You are clearly a kind person, being so tolerant of Kevin all this time and being so sympathetic to his situation. As you know, autism is not a mental handicap but, really, an emotional one in which the autistic person has a hard time dealing with social situations. They also don't like unfamiliar places and they don't like change. You represented familiarity because your mothers were friends, and so that felt comfortable to him. I am, frankly, amazed you allowed this to go on for years even though the two of you have nothing in common. His mother foists Kevin on you because she wants her son to have a friend, even an unwilling one.
You are under no obligation to be Kevin's friend. Kevin's mother is extremely rude and presumptuous to try and keep pushing Kevin on you. The proposal that he should follow you all the way to Ireland is worse than absurd. It's completely outrageous. You should, frankly, get a medal for putting up with this for so long, but at this point, they are using you so hard that it is almost criminal. You have a right to your own life and your own friends (and kudos to you for finally getting that in Ireland).
I had something similar to this happen to me in high school when this dorky kid with whom I had nothing in common followed me around, making me quite uncomfortable. What I did was, basically, ignore him and refuse to acknowledge him until he eventually got a clue. I didn't do this very gracefully (being young and inexperienced), but it worked.
I don't know if you have ever said "No" to Kevin or his mother, but it is time you start. You don't have to say anything so inept as, "I don't like Kevin. Bugger off." But what you can do is simply say things like, "There is no room for him here." Do not offer any contact information or, Lord knows, addresses. Tell your mother not to give out such information. If that doesn't work, it is time to start ignoring him and his mom. Don't answer phone calls or texts. Give them deafening silence. If you don't put your foot down now, you will be living with Kevin for the rest of your life. He is not your responsibility. And you are 100% right that he needs to start making his own friends back in America.
Don't let them push your sympathy button. Don't allow them to make you feel guilty. Kevin's happiness is not up to you. You deserve your own life, friends, career.
If your mother tries to guilt you, tell her what I said. Tell her to not give Kevin and his mom any of your contact information. If that causes a rift in the friendship between moms, then so be it. That is not your problem either. Kevin's mom is a user, and users are to be avoided at all costs because they can seriously destroy your life and happiness and make you feel guilty while they do it. It is the worst kind of passive-aggressive behavior.
I think you already know this. I hope it helps you that you have a bear here who agrees with you and is telling you that you are not a jerk for finally being free of Kevin.
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