Masking is a word used to describe the behaviours by autistic people in order to ‘hide’ their autistic traits.
As well as causing anxiety and exhaustion, another consequence of masking is that other people do not get to see the true person. This is a very sad situation to be in because it can ruin an autistic person’s relationships. If an autistic person is never themselves around someone then it leads to the other person building up a false idea of their personality. This makes the other person have expectations of the autistic person that they are unlikely to be able to meet or maintain over the long term. In the end, the relationship is a great stress for the autistic person.
In order to have a sincere and meaningful relationship with an autistic person, a neurotypical person could try doing some things in order to encourage the autistic person not to mask, and to help them “come out of their glass jar” a bit. Here are some strategies that I suggest: