Fawning. This word makes me very uncomfortable, perhaps because I found Bambi unwatchable, as a child, and perhaps because, in novels, it’s usually used as a way of describing how women behave around men. Actually, however horrible the term, it’s a really important aspect of masking to be aware of. On the up side, it has given me a good excuse to post a very cute photo of a fawn, so it’s not all bad.

If you’re reading this in alphabetical order, it would probably help to skip to masking before you read this.

Masking, one of our social survival mechanisms in this neurotypical world, takes the form of fawning if we find ourselves acting in a way that we know will make those people around you find your behaviour more palatable, non-threatening, super-accommodating. A horrible name for something that we shouldn’t even have to do. And, chances are, fawning leaves us feeling that our needs and identity are not being respected.

This could be something as simple as going to the GP and not feeling able to say the speech that we’ve mentally rehearsed for hours, probably days. Instead we thank them profusely for ignoring our attempts at trying to tell them our views and off we tiptoe, like a compliant and non-threatening little fawn. This is likely to be an unconscious act that we have learned to do throughout life.

Essentially, it is a trauma response and our desire to fit in, to be accepted, outweighs our need to be heard and seen, often because we just don’t have the spoons to do otherwise (if this seems like an odd way to finish a sentence, find about more on Spoon Theory here).