The Gifted Adult’s Guide to Finding Friends

photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle, Unsplash, CC
photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle, Unsplash, CC

You’re sensitive. Empathetic. Funny. Generous. Smart. Adorable. And yet, you have trouble finding friends.

I’m here to help.

I’ve gathered my five favorite posts on relationships here so that you don’t need to go searching for them. I’d suggest that you read them all to get my comprehensive take on this topic. You’ll be able to pick and choose from the many suggestions and you’ll see that the reason you’re lonely is not because you’re a hopeless weirdo slacker ne’er-do-well. But because you’re gifted.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started:

If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely  (This one has a link at the end to more posts on relationships written by parents of gifted children.)

Gifted? Lonely? Learn The Argentine Tango  (You won’t want to miss the quote from Maria Popova.)

Lonely? Find Your Pips  (This one has a link at the end by a different group of parents of gifted kids, also on this topic.)

Lonely? Find Your Pips–Part Two  (This is where I get all spiritual on you.)

Single? Lonely? Gifted? Listen Up  (I’m not saying here that you shouldn’t be happy if you’re single!! Nooooo. I’m just saying that if you’re single and want a partner, here are some ideas. And this post also includes ideas for finding friends, too, so don’t skip over it.)

One more thing: When you’re clearer about who you are, you’ll be better able to spot other rainforest minds. If you’re doing something you love, at work or at play, and you spot one who has potential, be brave and initiate a conversation. Ask them questions about themselves. They will thank you! If they lead a busy life, don’t let that stop you. You may have to do the work to build the relationship at first. But if your intuition says they’re a good one, keep at it. Eventually the person will reciprocate and the relationship will be more balanced. I know that this works because it’s how I created my lovely circle of dear rainforest-y friends. But you have to be patient and persistent. OK?

One last thing: Don’t forget the online groups. Also, my book has a chapter on loneliness with even more suggestions. And, if you want to hang out with rainforest minds on a daily basis, well, become a counselor/consultant for the gifted. Start a blog. Write a book.

You’ll be so glad you did.


To my bloggEEs: How have you found other rainforest minds? How do you deal with loneliness? Thank you for being here and for opening your hearts.








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Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

35 responses to “The Gifted Adult’s Guide to Finding Friends”

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  1. What Do Rainforest-Minded (Gifted) Humans Want? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] written about how to find other humans who leap effortlessly and who catapult you. This post. And this one. On friendships. And this one about your/my quest for partnership. I know there is more that you […]

  2. The Loneliness Of Not Being Seen In All Of Your Multitudes | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] then, do you find others who also see all of the colors, hear all of the notes, feel the range of emotions you feel so that […]

  3. You Agree, You Are Gifted — Now What? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] And even when you find one, they may not be quite right for you. I have written about it here. And here. One basic strategy: Take what you know about rainforest-mindedness and look for others while doing […]

  4. Are You Ready To Admit You Are Gifted? Yes? What, Then, Are The Benefits? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] You will be better able to find appropriate friends because you will not try to fit in where you do not belong. You will let go of forcing yourself to […]

  5. Lori Avatar

    Hi, I’ve stumbled across you. I’m a very lonely 58 year old woman. Husband is husband in official terms, though we share a large house and have remained ‘friends’ me because our two sons are very unusual, gifted, also lonely and I found out 2 years ago , they’re also both gay at 19 and 22. My husband doesn’t know, I can’t share this knowledge with him until my son’s are ready to. I feel devastated about my son’s both being friendless and lonely. I feel emotionally exhausted. I feel totally sad about my failed marriage situation and afraid of being even more alone in the future. I really need some help myself, I regularly help others but they can’t help me. I’d be so grateful for a little support.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hope that this post is helpful for you, Lori. It is pretty common for rainforest-minded types to struggle with finding friends and partners. Keep reading other posts. You might find some good resources and just a sense of belonging that will help.

    2. bethplanetbethcom Avatar

      Hi Lori – you are NOT alone. It is such a common struggle we all share, being so highly intense in multiple ways, that we tend to alienate most everyone, and that makes finding fulfilling connections with others, too rare. I completely understand your mode of helping others, while not receiving the kind of help YOU need. We tend to have an almost paranormal ability to read people’s emotional states, well at least some of us do because of our depth of emotional perception. And often we want to help, it’s in our nature. Again just another example of what can often feel like getting the short end of the stick. Have you research giftedness online, or read any books? Because that can be very helpful in validating the kind of person that you naturally are, and that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you. I recently had some interesting conversations with Mr. Willem Kuipers, his website is Go and read it over. Hang in there.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Thanks for the link to Willem’s work, Beth. Good to hear from you.

  6. Finding Meaningful Friendships When You Are (Annoyingly) Perceptive And (Excruciatingly) Sensitive | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] look and you will have to take the initiative and make the first moves. I have specific suggestions here. And, here. (With adjustments for the pandemic. Sorry, no tango […]

  7. Gifted And Lonely In Belgium | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] are all safe and healthy. Tell us about your loneliness or about how you have been found. Here is an older post about ways to find friends, although it was written before the pandemic so will need to be adapted. […]

  8. A Gifted Teen In Malaysia — What Is Normal? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Finding other RFMs can be difficult. Like Maria Popova said, “…most of my friends are dead people.” […]

  9. What Are The Challenges Gifted Adults Have In Common? — A Therapist’s Perspective | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Relationships, Sensitivity, and the […]

  10. Now Would Be A Great Time To Start Appreciating Super Smart People | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] have to convince you. You are aching to find them and experience their brilliance. Because. You are lonely. You are one of these super smart people. We might even say you are gifted, although I know you […]

  11. It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted — Part Two | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] make sure you look everywhere for other RFMs. I am living proof that they exist because I talk to them every day. My practice is thriving. They […]

  12. Relationships For Creative, Sensitive, Intuitive, Analytical Overthinkers — Where Do You Start? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] my bloggEEs: There are many posts on finding friends, partners, and relating to coworkers on my blog, just in case you were wondering. And, of course, […]

  13. Tracy Warren Avatar
    Tracy Warren

    Paula are you TAG.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think I’m somewhere on the TAG spectrum. I tell people that I’m BG. Barely gifted. It’s kind of a joke but it’s probably somewhat accurate. I’ve known so many gifted folks over the years so I know what it looks like. I’m not at the high end for sure.

  14. Advice for Gifted Adults Living in a Not-So-Gifted World | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] understand is how to communicate with other humans. How to manage in your workplace. Where to find friends. How to find a suitable partner. How to be authentic. How to live at 95 mph when everyone around […]

  15. Tips for Aging Well When You Have a Rainforest Mind (And Overexcitable Hair) | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Create a strong network of friends. You may need to work at this because your rainforest mind makes friend-finding complicated. Start […]

  16. The Lonely World of the Gifted Adult — Too Smart, Too Sensitive, Too Emotional, Too Curious | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] can read these other blog posts. I’ve written about this before. There are things that you can […]

  17. You Are Not Complaining. Being Gifted is a Gift. But It Can Also Be Terribly Lonely. | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] This is my collection of posts on ways to find living friends. […]

  18. The Gifted Extrovert | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] mind and then use your charm and verbal skills to find your pack. They are out there! Here are some suggestions on how to find them. Another source I’ve found recently is The School of Life based in the […]

  19. Super Sensitive? Super Smart? Super Lonely. | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] some great suggestions, if I do say so myself, read these posts. Start your own Meetup group or find one. They’re all over the world. Attend or start your […]

  20. Finding Your Soul’s Mate, Your Authentic Voice, and the Right Hair Products | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] you’ve had trouble over the years just finding friends because of your rainforest-y traits, read these posts. And, of course, you may prefer the single life! There’s some good research out there about […]

  21. Who Were You Before You Learned That You Are Supposed To Be Normal? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Find and nourish important friendships. Tend those friendships with people who are truly supportive, are not threatened by me, and who […]

  22. How Can I Be Authentic When I Overwhelm Everyone? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] whom you can be your deep, sensitive, complicated self. I’ve written about where to find them on other posts. Remember the silent reading party? There are ways to find others who live in the rain forest. You […]

  23. Linkables  – The Questing Child

    […] Finding friends […]

  24. Mark V Avatar
    Mark V

    I’ve written about this before, but I grew up and live in a conservative, working class part of the country. This is a place where being different could get you a free ticket to the hospital courtesy of the local rednecks who drove around town hunting “freaks” for sport. It has gotten a bit more multi-cultural, cosmopolitan and tolerant than it was in my youth and early adulthood, but it still has a long way to go towards being a place that attracts more gifted and talented people than it repels. So… yeah, finding friends here is tough, especially ones that have not let this place completely crush their personal weirdness and wild, pretentious dreams.

    But anyway, my own experiences coping with being different among what seems like a majority who dislike the different is simply a lead-in to share my recent accidental discovery of a great little book called “Pretentiousness: Why It Matters” by Dan Fox.

    I assume pretentiousness is a crime that many gifted have been accused of, but the author makes a great case for pretentiousness. It has reminded me that my many lofty, crazy, artsy-fartsy dreams scare me mostly because I have let others convince me that they are scary, so I highly recommend it.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks Mark. I’m always interested in the next book suggestion as I’m sure many readers here are, too!

      1. Mark V Avatar
        Mark V

        Thank you! In case you hadn’t noticed, I am trying to sharpen my storytelling skills, hence the little personal preamble. 😉

        I thought I would share the little book (it really is a long essay as stated on the cover) because it aims at a problem that may be particularly prevalent among gifted people. Who among us hasn’t been accused of thinking ourselves better than others due to the natural use of our gifts?

        For the curious this short review explains the book better than I have:

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Thanks, Mark. I will check it out.

  25. Beth Avatar

    Paula, hey there. I’m having trouble playing your webinar… as in, I can’t see it anywhere!!! Funny, I watched some of it this morning, but now at home after work, I am unable to. Any suggestions? I was so looking forward to watching the rest of it!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh dear. I wonder what happened. You can find it on the intergifted site if it won’t play on my blog. Here’s the link: Let me know what you think!

  26. Lucinda Leo Avatar
    Lucinda Leo

    Thank you for linking all your inspiring posts on this important topic together, Paula. Your book helped enormously in clarifying my thinking about myself and how I relate to others, and since then I’ve been experiencing other people differently.

    Especially helpful to me are your reminders about making an effort with other people. As a sensitive introvert it’s easy to feel rebuffed and then not bother pursuing a relationship, but when I look back, all my most meaningful friendships started because the other person took a risk and reached out to me (who probably wasn’t giving out many positive signals and was very busy!).

    I had a wonderful experience recently on a 3 day course with my cognitive hypnotherapy organisation (the Quest Institute). I didn’t know anyone else on the course beforehand except the teacher and his wife. But I felt known, loved and accepted by everyone there from the moment I walked in. I think it was because the values of Trevor and Rebecca (whom I’ve known for many years) cascade down through everyone they’ve ever trained and their entire organisation. It was an utterly transformational 3 days and I know I’ve made at least one friend for life. Now I just need to make the time to stay connected. 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think it’s particularly hard for the sensitive introverts among us to reach out. It’s so important to “make the time to stay connected.” Thanks for this example, Lucinda!