It’s a symptom of entitlement, narcissism and lack of empathy. It’s a sign that they think they and their own enjoyment outweigh any discomfort they might cause others, that the rest of the world is an audience to their show or NPCs in their game and other people's feelings or needs do not matter. I work in academia and see this behavior so, so much, disproportionally from men.
And before someone starts with “That just goes for neurotypical people! They might be autistic and truly not notice! Stop being so ableist”. I am on the spectrum myself. We may not be born with the “social cues”-manual present in our heads but every halfway functional autistic person is able to learn and draw conclusions from situations. We have been doing this all our lives just to function and most adults have built a pretty good baseline to judge everyday social situations.
It may not be instinct, but “Doing A makes mom sad/angry/uncomfortable. Mom being sad/angry/uncomfortable is not something I want, so I will not do A” is a calculation even a dog or cat can make. If they wanted to (e.g. avoid behavior that bothers someone they care about), they would. Even if they are on the spectrum. Really. It’s exhausting and often uncomfortable and we sometimes mess up, especially in new or high-pressure situations, but it is entirely possible.
I grew up with the phrase (I don’t know how well it translates) “Autism is an explanation why some things are harder for you than for others. But it is never an excuse for doing things you know bother or hurt other people if you can avoid them.” Sometimes I misjudge a situation. Happens to everyone. But there is a difference between apologizing, learning from it and trying to avoid making the same mistake again in the future and basically saying “I’m autistic and can’t read a room, so deal with it.”
Who doesn’t know these situations:
- You have paid half an hour ago and are the last guests in the restaurant, the servers awkwardly hover because they want to clean up and go home but can’t kick you out, but your date/boss/friend is completely oblivious and keeps monologuing like they have all the time in the world?
- The store is extremely busy and customers are lining up and the person in front of you is taking their sweet time and unnecessarily drawing out their transaction and making something that could have taken 30 seconds take forever just because they feel like it
- Someone is clearly uncomfortable or bored with the current topic of conversation and even trying to politely change topics or end the conversation but the person speaking just keeps going
- Someone is clearly in a hurry and doesn’t have time for a conversation but the other person doesn’t care
- The speaker at an event has been going on for almost twice their allocated time now and people are getting restless, shuffling their feet and the organizers are starting to panic a little and give signs to stop but get ignored
…those are red flags. If you notice behaviour like this from a date, drop him. It's going to get worse in private.