I’m Writing A Book On Love — For Sensitive, Deep Thinking, Creative, Curious, Smart, Persnickety Humans

A big thank you to all of you who have written to me so far with your thoughts, experiences, and questions. This is exciting! I want to encourage more of you to write and I am going to provide a few more guidelines for those of you who need some prompts. (If you have already written but have more to say, please do.) That said, if you do not need guidelines, please write what you need to say, want to say, must say, don’t want to say, or are afraid to say. And do not worry about length. (Email is preferred. paula at rainforestmind dot com) A few of you have told me it has been therapeutic to write about your present partnerships, your past relationships, your search for love, your single life, what love looks like in your life, how you define love, how love in the rainforest is different, and more.

(photo by brigitte tohm, Unsplash)

A couples counselor friend of mine has shared some of her questions for you. (Sorry. She is not taking new clients.) She has identified certain issues that come up when giftedness is part of the equation in a coupled relationship. So here are some questions to contemplate. Looking at the questions, you will get a feel for some of the issues couples bring to her. Pick the ones that fit for you or skip them all and just pour out your heart. I’m listening. (And let me know where you are from. I am hoping for wide multicultural representation.)

  • How do you handle your sensitivities when you are in relationships? Do you have trouble setting boundaries? What types of boundaries do you set? What happens with self-care once you are in a couple? Do you notice any concerns around control or rigidity? What are some strategies you have tried?
  • If you are both in high powered careers, how do you negotiate personal time, free time, job opportunities, and child care? Are there compromises or career choices that have been missed or lost? Is there resentment or frustration? Competition? How do you deal with the stress levels?
  • With your advanced levels of empathy, do you watch each other too closely? Is it hard to know what is intuition and what is a reaction based in anxiety, overwhelm, or past trauma? Are there ways you have learned to talk about it? What about introversion or extraversion?
  • If someone is a perfectionist, is that pressure placed on the relationship? In what ways? How do you talk about it?
  • How do you deal with the frustrations that come with coping in a world that often feels slow, insensitive, underwhelming, overwhelming, frightening, unaware, and selfish? Are you able to provide a safe haven for each other? Does the disappointment and despair create tension between you? What are some ways you cope?
  • What are the advantages when one person is gifted and the other is not? Disadvantages? What if one of you is RFM while the other is gifted but in a more linear-sequential form? What about being twice-exceptional?
  • How have you used your sense of humor to manage your challenges? What other rainforest traits have been helpful?
  • If there is trauma, abuse, neglect, bullying, racism, or anti-Semitism in your past, have you noticed the impact on the relationship? The patterns that are being repeated? Have you been to therapy? What has that been like?
  • What are your experiences of love outside of the traditional model of partnership? With animals? friends? children? Spirit? God? nature? self? passions? your life’s work? emojis from your readers? fan mail?
  • Are there resources you would recommend that have helped you? Books, podcasts, websites, films, music, hobbies?
  • What question did I forget to ask? Answer that one!

What do you want the book to include? I envision a kind of handbook, guide, or journal that has a sense of humor and includes some of my own personal relationship escapades, catastrophes, and searches. I also want to write about the many places love exists outside of partnership so please tell me about the creative, nontraditional ways you give and receive love.

And, for starters, I am sending you love. Right here. Right now. You have my big blog-love comin’ atcha.


To my bloggEEs: Of course, you can answer some of these questions in the comments. But if you have quite a lot say (you know who you are), best to put it in an email. So many of you are so eloquent, I hope to quote you in the book, not identifying you, of course. But, you do not need to be eloquent. I repeat. No eloquence required. And, don’t procrastinate! I’d love to hear from you SOON. Let me know if you do not wish to be quoted. Thank you, my sweet rainforesters! And more love coming as we navigate the appalling developments in Ukraine. (Here is an excellent article on this by Rebecca Solnit.) Finding your authentic voice and your purpose(s) is one way to send love and healing to the planet and to all of us.

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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.

20 responses to “I’m Writing A Book On Love — For Sensitive, Deep Thinking, Creative, Curious, Smart, Persnickety Humans”

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  3. Ana Avatar

    Hola¡ Soy Ana, y escribo desde las Islas Canarias.
    Mi experiencia en el amor ha sido una montaña rusa. Provengo de una familia negligente, y en mi caso, volqué todo mi amor fuera de mi: en amigos, trabajos, amantes y naturaleza. Bueno, he disfrutado intensamente, y también sufrido en la misma proporción, pero siempre he tenido la sensación de salir ganando.
    Hace 17 años, entablé la relación con mi esposo, que me ha transformado: encontré otro ser imperfecto, inflexible, rígido e intenso, (más que yo en algunos aspectos¡) pero leal, honesto, y de corazón bondadoso, que ha permitido que sigamos juntos, y permitiera junto a mi terapia, sentir por primera vez en la vida, que me aman con todo lo que soy. Es un camino duro, que continúa siendo difícil, pero la terapia (insisto) es fundamental.
    He aprendido a establecer límites (antes no sabía ni que tenían que existir), a amarme y darme en la medida que siento la necesidad de darlo a otro (en esto estoy aún en el camino. Me olvido de mi, pero estoy trabajando y veo maravillosos resultados). Esto ha sido todo un descubrimiento: perderme en las necesidades y deseos de los demás, es mi especialidad, y una de las cosas que más me ha costado entender. Sentía que en el afecto, entraba en una habitación a oscuras, llena de hilos interminables que todos veían, entendía, y manejaban, y yo ni sabía que existían¡¡. Ciega hasta hace muy poco… Ahora aprendo a leer las señales, a interpretarlas, y a atender lo que necesito de ello.

    Y, el mayor, mayor, mayor amor: mi hija. Todo, absolutamente todo mi amor, lo he volcado en mi maternidad. A veces pienso que me va a estallar el pecho, de amor, o de preocupación, o de miedo.. Si cogiera todas las emociones que experimenté en mi vida, y las juntara, ninguna se acerca a la intensidad de esta. No hay célula de mi cuerpo que no sienta…Y esto ha sido maravilloso, y espantoso para las dos. He aprendido más del amor y la vida, de la ansiedad y el mindfulness, de la luz y la oscuridad, del terror y la entrega, en estos 8 años, que en toda mi vida.

    Pero, cogí todo mi miedo y terror, todo el no aprendizaje, todo las resistencias que me he puesto, y les estoy plantando cara. Amor, terapia, ejercicio, dieta (muy importante), paseos por la naturaleza. Y respirar, y volver a respirar, y aprender a Confiar, en mi, en la vida. Retomo todo lo que me hace feliz: bailar, chocolate, vino, playa, escuchar música, amigas.. Y cuando me pierdo, vuelvo a retomar la lista. De momento, me ayuda a encontrar la paz

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Ana. I used Google translate. 🙂

  4. Georgia O'Brien Patrick Avatar
    Georgia O’Brien Patrick

    Great idea for a Paula Prober book. Love is so universal and gifted is not everybody. I am intensely curious about what that intersection looks like, feels like, and informs us. First, I’m putting my hand up to help in any way you identify as welcome and useful. Next, are you seeking individual stories from your clients, subscribers, and others who can write to your prompts and questions?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you,, Georgia. Yes, I am seeking stories from any RFMs. They will inform where this goes, along with my own experiences and insights over the years. I am just getting started.

  5. itssue42 Avatar

    For me, I would love to see a book that talked about RFM romantic relationships that work; really work. I would love to feel like somebody loved me for me, and understood me, and was there for me. As has been mentioned, a lifetime of always being there for other people leaves a person sometimes despondently thinking ‘why can’t somebody take care of me just once?’
    Would love to read about encouraging ways that us RFMs can, if we truly can, find that soulmate that really works. Just seems like such a tough niche to fill when you’re running with an RFM. I have had just 2 dear dear friends in my life who accepted me for me, and gave me greeting cards, like “Merry Xmas to my favorite Weirdo”. We were there for each other no matter what. But with a twist of fate they both died of cancer.
    Sorry I digress, yes a book would be wonderful to guide us into pathways that might help us find our soulmate, for those that want one.
    And on the topic of worrying about telling someone you love them and being misinterpreted, I have finally said oh heck with that. I’m just trying to be me, and that’s me, so sometimes I just blurt out “I just love you” to someone who might look askance but I figure if they don’t understand what I actually mean, then they just better be honest and ask. With the empathy that many of us RFMs have for everything around us, including people, when you get to know someone and feel like they’re an important part of your life and you really enjoy them, then if they choose to misinterpret me, c’est la vie. I figure that’s one advantage of not being 25 any more… I can get away with ‘eccentricities’ or ‘quirks’ 😀
    After all, happiness makes the world go round. I agree, let’s have more happy!!

    1. keithkenobi Avatar

      Right on to that!! Wow…

    2. Ian Avatar

      Unfortunately, it’s not as easy for me to say, “oh heck with that”, because I’m male, and some other men have a history of behaving very badly.

      I get arguments like the following swirling in my head: “You’ve got to be very careful, because a minority of men abuse the right to be sensitive, so we have to tarnish all ‘too sensitive’ men by association, because that’s life, life is unfair, the minority have to spoil it for everybody else. Yes, it’s unfair that women can say they love their friends and men can’t, but double standards at the expense of men are justified with, ‘Life is unfair’. Quit whining like a man-child, man up and check your privilege. Men only feel obligated to their wives and children. It’s a stupid rule, but rules are rules, life is full of stupid rules and that’s life, and men have to endure the rules with a stiff upper lip, because the rules say so. It’s not going to change, because others have more power than you and they say so. Whether you like it or not, you have to conform to these masculine norms to make other people comfortable.”

      These are internalised versions of things that others have said to me over the years, some of which have been exaggerated in my head over the years. Even when I do get the courage to act in a loving and compassionate way, I tend to do so tentatively because of the mass of conflicting feelings that I get around it. This can ironically contribute to me being “creepy” because I end up sending out a confusing, conflicting mix of messages. Thanks to arguments like the ones I described above, I have anxiety disorders relating to this which generate a particularly intense fear response when I even contemplate telling people that I love them.

      I don’t know how to get around this, sometimes I wish I could carry around a female mask with me so that I could be a female version of myself when I want to tell people that I love them, and then take it off when I want to do more “masculine” things. Even when I have formed very close friendships I have never had the courage to tell my friends that I loved them.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Keith and Ian and others. I hear you. Highly sensitive men who don’t fit the stereotypical masculine profiles can experience rejection, ridicule, all of these things you are writing about. It’s astonishing that in 2022, we are still doing this. I suspect in the UK it is particularly difficult because of some of the cultural expectations, Ian. Maybe other countries, too. You might look up the work of Elaine Aron. She has had some men write about HSPs and I believe she even has started some groups for men. Thank you for sharing. Imagine if men were allowed to be more openly loving and sensitive, what a better world we might create.

      2. itssue42 Avatar

        Hi Ian — You are so right about double standards, which abound in ‘human’ culture. This is probably a naive suggestion, but is it possible to express your fondness in a caring way that doesn’t risk others not understanding what you mean? Maybe by telling them you’re really glad that they’re part of your life, or you really admire their ability to do (whatever) etc? Sort of start out with little expressions of caring etc and work up. If people are truly your friends and value your friendship, it may be just the excuse they need to tell you how much you mean to them.

        My very best friends in life have always been guys who weren’t afraid to express their affection and their sensitivity. But I know that many other people thought they were ‘not normal’, when in fact they strike me as so much more well-adjusted than your typical insensitive male. I think, a while back, in the U.S. males could get away with showing more affection in various ways without being misunderstood. Unfortunately, a lot of that ended when the “me too” movement went so destructively overboard.

        If it helps, hugs are offered and an ear if you want. It pains me so much when society has ‘standards’ for behavior that have so little to do with reality. You shouldn’t be suffering because you are a more enlightened and well-rounded human than many others!

        1. Ian Avatar

          Personally, I don’t think the likes of #MeToo are the main problem here, it’s how society reacts to them. In the UK (and I see a lot of evidence that the US is similar), the culture is increasingly risk averse and preoccupied with reacting to tragic incidents and bad behaviour by tightening rules and regulations, taking preventative measures and appearing to be strict. There’s a growing fear of litigation should authorities fall short of doing this, which is exacerbated by a popular tendency to overestimate how litigious the British culture is.

          When we saw increased awareness of child sexual abuse, the dominant reaction was to clamp down against men’s friendships with children, in particular stopping all affection between men and unrelated children. #MeToo has done a good job of raising awareness of sexual abuse between adults, and so we’ve seen a similar reaction against men’s friendships with other adults, especially cross-sex friendships. Nuclear family ties tend to be arbitrarily exempt from all of this, hence the issue of highly sensitive men only becoming more accepted within the role of husband and father.

          I’ve got deeply involved with the Highly Sensitive Person concept since late 2016, I’m seeing a male counsellor who deals especially with the trait, and I was once in a HSP Meetup group (but it sadly disintegrated). My relationship with my parents improved dramatically after they became aware of the trait and took it seriously, as they recognised that many of the things that they kept telling me were wrong and needed correcting were common HSP traits. It’s hard to undo all those years of negative conditioning though, and the fear of being caught out by this risk aversion.

          I actually took the opportunity to tell one of the two aforementioned people in my Meetup group that I thought she had become a genuine friend tonight (although I didn’t take the risk of saying I loved her), and it went down well.

          1. Paula Prober Avatar
            Paula Prober

            That is great news, Ian!! The progress with your parents, the HSP therapist, and reaching out for a genuine friend!! You will inspire others, I’m sure.

    3. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, Sue, to lose 2 dear friends! I am so sorry. Keep looking for those deep friends. They are precious. With RFMs, one person is unlikely to fulfill all of our needs for deep connection, intellectual stimulation, love, etc. Have you heard of the work of Esther Perel? She talks about that for everyone, not just RFMs. We put too much pressure on our partners to be everything for us. That said, I get what you are saying about your longing for the person who gets you for you and who is able to reciprocate the kind of love you are capable of giving. Thank you for sharing!

  6. keithkenobi Avatar

    I have had very similar experiences as Ian. I love many people and luckily I had parents that nurtured that, I love my parents and family life. Most my friends growing up were not like that. From as soon as I knew what a girl was, I wanted to be with the “girl next door” for the rest of my life. They do NOT teach you how do find someone on the same page.
    I am very affectionate and when dating, I would scare them all off with my intense compassion, affection etc., sometimes just taking their hand while walking down the street!
    In elementary school, I was in a program MGM, Mentally Gifted Minors.
    I guess I fall in love too easily. I believe there are many people for everyone, it is just a matter of enough spark, and acceptance and putting yourself in their shoes, and doing things TOGETHER, understanding their passions, and EMPATHY.
    In today’s age, I cannot even have a conversation people about prejudice etc because when the discussion gets to the nitty-gritty, they just say; “Well, you could not possibly understand because you are just a “Privileged White Heterosexual Male”, WTF? That is just as bigoted as calling someone a derogatory term. HEY, they should add that to the end of the LBGTQ list! PWHM.
    Yes, do not even think about a relationship with someone X years in age apart, nor being in deep love with more than one person even if they are identical twins! I am rambling, more in a constructive email using your above bullet points…. Keith

  7. Ian Avatar

    I love all sorts of people, objects and places. Unfortunately, my experience has been that, for me as a British man, it is only socially acceptable for me to love romantic partners and immediate blood relatives and pets. I can openly say that I love my parents, and can just about get away with saying that I love my sister or her dog, but that’s all. Otherwise, I am held back by an intense fear of being misinterpreted and considered creepy. As so often in these situations, when I raise this issue with others, they tend to say “That’s life”, which is essentially the British version of Japan’s “Shikata ga nai”, and I’ve heard it so often that it’s been hard not to internalise it and accept defeat.

    I resort to sitting on my own on an evening, thinking of my friends and saying to myself, “I love you, X”. Sometimes I find myself doing that when I rapidly form connections with people but I’m not sure yet of whether or not they’re set to become genuine friends or false starts (there have been two recent examples of this in my local Meetup group, one of whom I’ve only met three times). I sometimes find myself doing it with famous people that I don’t know personally, but who inspire me, and with some people I encounter online, including some on this site and over at Third Factor (I won’t mention names as, again, I fear I’d be misconstrued). Sometimes I do this with places and animals as well. For example, my sister has a dog that I love, and I currently love the cathedral city that I’m living in. It’s fair to say that I love some weather types as well, particularly sunshine, thunderstorms and snow.

    The cultural constraints on who I can and can’t love have other negative impacts, e.g. I get a similar fear of being misconstrued when others are suffering, or have suffered in the past, and I feel I can’t react compassionately. It’s often acceptable for women, but unacceptable for men, and gendered double standards are usually dismissed as “That’s life” when they are at the expense of men. Unfortunately, some men’s lack of love and compassion for others can on occasion have particularly tragic impacts – I can think of some events that are happening out in the world right now that starkly illustrate this…

    I’m pretty sure that some of my friends do love me, it’s just not socially acceptable for them to say it, so they find indirect ways of communicating it. This creates distance and adds to the difficulty making and keeping close friendships. But I have so far found ways of partly subverting the culture’s insistence that I must practise love in a narrow way. I remember one experience of being understood when I was having a hospital operation, my mother was talking to one of the nurses and lamenting about how society’s norms limited me to practising love in a narrow way, and the nurse said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could just all love each other?”.

  8. clignett Avatar

    What if I’m not really interested (at the moment, you never know in the future) in a relationship? Do you have any suggestions or questions about that for your book?
    The reason is because of repeated abusive relationships, I have been in therapy for that (different therapies), but not one of those have provided me with enough trust (or have confidence that it will be okay) someone else to even contemplate a relationship. Any questions or prompts how to address that, with the rainforestmind and 2e (or 3e) as well?
    I’m happily single, not feeling that I’m missing out. I value friendships more now than a relationship, I guess.
    And I have Indie, of course 🐶🥰. Although he loves company, he’s also happy when they leave again (secretly, he pretends that they shouldn’t leave, but the moment the door closes, I sit down again, he just crashes next to me and sleeps 😴😴😇).

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, yes, clignett. Did you see the question about ways to feel love outside of a coupled relationship? Friends, animals, etc?? That would be the one for you. There are many ways to feel loved for sure. Partnering is only one.

  9. keithkenobi Avatar

    Well, after a 3rd failed long-term relationship (I never had any short-term ones, nor “sowed my oats”, I suggest you help us figure out how to find someone compatible. For me, they said all the right things, in the BEGINNING. Then later all they want to do is complain, argue, compete, belittle me etc. They forget all the great things we have and it is ME who always has to convince them to be positive. I always have to take care of THEM. What about ME? I get taken advantage of because I am able, why? I love taking care of my spouse, family and friends, how do I find someone LIKE ME so we can take care of EACH OTHER? The whole world is filled with bickering, fighting pissed off people,,, they are so STUCK. I need a T-Shirt; “Why can’t they just be HAPPY?” I will email more…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you keithkenobi. I will look forward to reading more.

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