A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You Are Sensitive and Smart — Part Two

In part one we talked about the importance of self-love and how there are many kinds of love, including: authentic love, higher love, generous love, divine love, music love, book love, tango love, friend love, nature love, doggy love, bloggEE love,...you get the idea. Now, we travel to the wild world of partnerships. The comments below were sent to me from you, dear readers. Thank you!

(photo by Justin Follis, Unsplash)

A few sample dating challenges:

…”It’s harder to reciprocate when you’re so bound up calculating whether you can say this or that without scaring them off. It’s hard to build a meaningful relationship around a fraction of yourself…”

“…let’s pretend like you found someone that said, ‘Huh … I never thought about that,’ less than 15 times through the course of The First Date. This one has potential! And there are bonus points offered if they can spell ‘potential’ correctly!…”

“… I’ve lost track of how many times someone has said, ‘You know, you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met, I’m worried I won’t be able to maintain your interest.’ I find it too easy to manipulate others into doing what I want while thinking it was their idea all along. (I do feel bad about that one, though.) I see trends well before anyone else does and get bored waiting on the sidelines for everyone else to catch up.

“…There are times when my passion for life, learning, and instinctive desire to form deep, meaningful connections freaked out women who thought I was ‘too serious, too soon.’ Wait, what? Too serious, too soon? What’s that? I was just being me…”

What you may be looking for:

“…Someone that can remember to pay our bills on time (one of us probably should?) … but finds the way that I can both forget my birthday and remember the square root of 12 endearing. (It’s 3.464101615137755.)…”

“…I would love to find someone that challenged me intellectually – or, at the very least, just doesn’t tell me that I ‘overthink everything.’ I want to have a reason to learn about something this special human is into that I didn’t even know existed, yet is endlessly fascinating when they tell me about it. I want someone emotionally capable of listening to me reason through the 18 different ways any given situation could resolve. And then, I would love it if they could show me a flaw in my logic that negated 16 of those paths..”

“…What is really important to me in the other is that they are open to engaging in prolonged 1-1 conversations about anything and everything; they are open to changing their worldviews and challenging mine; they see and accept me – and themselves – as different, not special (i.e. moving beyond notions of superiority/inferiority). With my partner, this is all true, and the bonus (as we discovered during extended periods of lockdown in different parts of the world) is that we appear to be compatible in the smallest, everyday things. On conflict, he is naturally more conflict avoidant, I am naturally… not; but, with both of us being aware of our natural tendencies and having a shared goal of how we want to navigate conflict, our disagreements usually turn out to be healthy, robust discussions in which each side airs their point of view, feels genuinely listened to, and we end up dealing with the heart of the matter…”

“…I do still see a reason for her to be with me. My wife is simultaneously a fighter and a lover of humanity. Loves dogs and cats more but still, she loves the beauty of humanity a good bit. In me, she gets a hyperactive smart alec sans filter who loves to poke fun and call out silly things people do. She sees that I view life through the kaleidoscope eyes of a fly so end up picking up subtle clues about people and situations that allow me to infer greatly as to reasons why and the impacts of situations. I do Big Picture well as I absorb and synthesize details to understand and have a truly childish (childlike at times) joy at learning new things which I believe is infectious. I think this part contributes to why she stays…” 

A RFM with nonRFM:

Version One: “… I have been sharing my life with a non-RFM person for 35 years now, and what I have grown to understand is this: the efforts must come from both sides. He needs to understand, respect and accept my differences and limitations just as I need to understand , respect and accept his. Because we ARE different. Being different does not mean that we cannot share life nor love each other. It is crucial for my partner to understand and live with the fact that I am much faster than him and that my brain works differently from his. But as long as this is not clear to myself, I cannot explain this to him. For many many years, I walked around totally blind to my own needs and to my own RFM nature, because I had had no guidance to what a RFM is. I was 48 when I realised I am a RFM, so I can clearly see a “before” and “after” in my relationship with my partner. Things are much clearer now between us. My partner needed me to explain what the RFM means to me, over and over again, until it became a fact, a fact that we now can joke about (oh, the ego is a mighty enemy!!). But he needs my help to understand how I work. So first of all, I needed to figure it out myself, I needed to accept myself as a RFM and also understand how I work, who I really am and what my specific needs are. If I know what I need in my relationship, it’ll be easier to express this and to help the other one understand and respect my needs. And no, my partner does not love everything in me as I don’t love everything in him, but we can talk about it and find compromises – joke about our specificities, and be tolerant. Because what unites us is much stronger than what separates us!..”

Version Two: ..I think the fact that we both chose to enter the relationship with each other at a point in our lives where we were more or less contentedly single and had both done plenty of inner reflection definitely helps. If I had to put my finger on what works in our particular rainforest-coniferous case, it would be that… he accepts me exactly as I am (the reverse is still a work-in-progress for me) and his sense of self-worth isn’t threatened by the way that I am. What enables that (apart obviously from his amazing innate character) is that I do a LOT of explaining about what’s going on in my head, which helps him to understand me better. I ask him for his point of view. And he never fails to respond, helping me to understand – a bit – what’s going on in his head (he reminds me that I have a relatively unusual capacity to articulate my inner workings, and that he and many other people function quite differently). His concern is about not being enough, mine is about being too much. But we’ve talked about this since the beginning of our relationship, and check in often, supporting each other on our own personal growth journeys. Part of accepting me as I am is accepting what he calls my ‘special needs’, which have consequences for our everyday life – regularly going to bed early at around the same time; quiet, low-stimulation evenings; limited background noise (e.g. TV/radio); living more ethically (no meat, no car, a LOT of research into material objects before purchasing, volunteering, donating a percentage of our income, working in the for-purpose sector). What are the challenges? I think they mostly centre around me learning to become less judgmental and more compassionate. My wilful inner moral compass means that I have a LOT of opinions about everything and get so frustrated about ‘people who should know better’. I’ve learnt over the years to be much more diplomatic externally, but not with those in my innermost circle. This means that sometimes I end up saying things that can make my partner feel ‘less than’, for example, when I don’t understand why he is fascinated by football results, or playing video games, or why he is not into reading THIS INCREDIBLE BOOK that I just took pages of notes on. And what makes me feel even worse is that he is so supportive of my idea of fun – taking a multitude of online courses, listening to behavioural science podcasts, reading ‘challenging’ books, writing this email to you 😊. I don’t know why or how he manages to be so understanding of my less-than-ideal character traits, but he is, and I am truly blessed that he came into my life, and decided to stay…”

Version Three: “You have a lot of fights about finishing his sentences because he talks too slow and you know what he’s going to say already anyway.” 

Version Four: “…My partner is emotionally and intuitively very smart but he is more ‘down to earth’ and practical than I am – which helps me a lot as well for example when I am overthinking and in analysis paralysis (this usually happens when I am on vacation and my brain has not had its usual complex problem-solving activities. That’s my theory – when I do not give my mind complex tasks it uses the power elsewhere on its own, creating a lot of mess in my head) So when I get like that, my partner helps me to come back down to earth and just chill. What I absolutely love about our relationship is that my partner treats me like a normal human being. I have had people crushing on me because ‘You are so smart I cannot even be at your level’ -this has created a lot of pressure in my life already since I am a kid (like I have to fit some kind of a smart person role) and behave differently and not like ‘superficial’ things for example. Yes, my partner recognizes my giftedness but to my partner, I feel, it is the same as me having long hair – just a characteristic that is only a part of the whole picture. We share the same core values, the vibe of life and the need for a lot of personal freedom. That, I think, is the glue in our relationship. Our communication also works very well – we talk things through if something is bothering and we analyze our problem together from both points of view…”

And so, these are some glimpses into how some of you rainforest-y types navigate relationships and what you are looking for. Part Three will include examples of RFM with RFM partners, the views of a happily single multipotentialite, and resources for more information! Stay tuned.

_________________________________

To my bloggEEs: I know this is not a typical post. How was it for you? What was it like to read these examples? Did some of them resonate? What might you add? What are your thoughts, feelings, and questions? Thank you, as always, for being here. Sending you as much love as I can muster. I have Covid right now, but not a terrible case. So there is still a lot of love to muster. And having you to join me, during the Covid-ride, is a blessing for sure!


Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label “gifted” is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They’re also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I’ve been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore. 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, was released in June 2019.

22 responses to “A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You Are Sensitive and Smart — Part Two”

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  1. keithkenobi Avatar
    keithkenobi

    It appears that “acceptance” is key for the people who are in good relationships. (vs being constantly told how different I am and that we should not be together).
    That gives me hope I can find someone to share my life with.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Acceptance of the other and of the self…so keep up the inner work, too, Keith. Right?


  2. Carol Avatar
    Carol

    My partner is intelligent and creative, like me, but my mind does move faster, and I don’t dabble in the mega bs of the world – I do NOT watch/ read the news, for example. I can’t. It’s too much. I am very deeply and intuitively in touch with the natural world, and he, fortunately, cares for loving beings and nature a great deal. But I’m always a little afraid he thinks I’m slightly bonkers. I do explain myself a lot, and share how certain things make me feel. He seems to be on board with it all. He actually seems to have opened up more about himself because of it. We’ve known each other for years, but I’ve only recently been open about my Rainforesty self. We don’t live together yet, but when we do, I believe it will be okay.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad you are opening up about your rainforest mind, Carol. And, anyway, a little bonkers keeps things lively. 🙂


  3. Stormy Avatar
    Stormy

    Paula, I am glad to hear your Covid case is mild, at least. Best wishes for a good recovery. I hope you can get some rest. As always, thank you for these posts.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Getting plenty of rest, Stormy. Too much. (So boring!) Thank you.


  4. clignett Avatar
    clignett

    I hope you get well soon, Paula! It’s no joke, this Covid, even a mild version (I had a mild version as well, fortunately, but it still took me about 4 weeks to get it all out of my system. And combined with hay fever, it looks terrible 😷🙄).

    The ones that resonate with me on all levels:
    “…I would love to find someone that challenged me intellectually – or, at the very least, just doesn’t tell me that I ‘overthink everything.’ I want to have a reason to learn about something this special human is into that I didn’t even know existed, yet is endlessly fascinating when they tell me about it. I want someone emotionally capable of listening to me reason through the 18 different ways any given situation could resolve. And then, I would love it if they could show me a flaw in my logic that negated 16 of those paths..”

    What a joy this would be!! To have someone in my life that could match my thinking, not really the speed, but the steps. And then indeed show me a flaw in my logic! Or maybe two 🤣.. (usually there are none, 1. because I “see” every path with its bumps, 2. I’ve lost them halfway path one..)

    “… So first of all, I needed to figure it out myself, I needed to accept myself as a RFM and also understand how I work, who I really am and what my specific needs are. If I know what I need in my relationship, it’ll be easier to express this and to help the other one understand and respect my needs…”

    This is so true.. I’m still in the “figuring out” stage, so I’m just staying single with Indie. And he is such a mirror for me, such a confrontation with myself! He reacts to my moods, staying his happy self, but ignores me completely when I’m irritable or confused or any other kind of mood. When I’m calm and laid back, he responds to me, comes when he is called, listens to me. So, I need to check my own mood first before I get impatient with him… (doesn’t always work that way, of course, he’s still a Beagle that will go his way and NO other way.. 🐶)

    Version Three: “You have a lot of fights about finishing his sentences because he talks too slow and you know what he’s going to say already anyway.”

    This is the fight of my life.. when you get to know someone, know their minds, how they tick, whether it’s in a relationship or not, I still “know” what they will say. And sometimes it takes them forever to get to that point in their story, it just takes everything I have not to finish it for them straight to the end or the question.. (of course I can have this same issue myself, when I’m thinking aloud talking to someone, and they just can’t wait for me to get to the end.. but then again.. 18 or more paths to follow from start to finish, simultaneously of course, so I’m rambling, in their minds. I get that the other person gets bored or confused or just fed up..).

    And in my “dating time”:
    …”It’s harder to reciprocate when you’re so bound up calculating whether you can say this or that without scaring them off. It’s hard to build a meaningful relationship around a fraction of yourself…”

    I’m always testing the water first, trying to find something that will tell me that the date in question is willing to share deeper conversation than just the usual chitchat (which I’m terrible at and hate for dear life). Some topics will get a better response, which gives me hope, but then they end up saying something “stupid” and they’ve lost me altogether. Again a no-go. For me. They want another date.. eh.. we were at the same date, weren’t we??

    “…There are times when my passion for life, learning, and instinctive desire to form deep, meaningful connections freaked out women who thought I was ‘too serious, too soon.’ Wait, what? Too serious, too soon? What’s that? I was just being me…”

    This sums it up quite nicely as well.. You want to get to know me, right? That’s why we set up a date (after messages and messages going back and forth for a long time) in the first place.. now I’m lost again.. can’t wrap my head around this one..

    As well as the reaction from Carol, I don’t read newspapers, I watch no news, it’s really too much. I have a news app that gives me headlines and let’s me decide if I want to read it. Mostly it just stays with the headlines.
    People judge me on that too, I’ve discovered. “Did you hear about this or that? It’s horrible, don’t you think??” “Eh.. I have (add luckily in my mind) absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.. is it something that I should know, in mean is it something that happened here, in our community? No? Ok. I’ve heard enough.” And the looks on their faces.. as if I’m an alien.. 🤣 👽

    What I’m missing:
    In the dating “section”: how many people are just there to have “fun”. Many of the reactions I got were just gross! And unoriginal.
    And, as a newly profile ad a woman you get 500+ reactions a day.. eh.. help!!! Deleted them all. Waited three weeks to see if it got less. Nope.. 4 weeks then. Hm, slightly less. Ok, so after six weeks I get the “serious ones” or the “desperate ones”.. After 7 actual dates, I deleted my profile completely. Maybe I should try a dating app designed for 50+ or something? Then again, when I’ve finally figured myself out, it could become a dating app for 60+ 🤣🤣

    I love these blogs as well, Paula! They’re insightful and hopeful that maybe, just maybe there is a partner for me out there. Who accepts me for who I am, with all my RFM qualities (and handicaps for not understanding NON-RFM people). Time will tell..

    Thank you for you, Paula! And sending much love back, with healing, and Indie sends many hugs, paws and wiggly tails! 🥰😘


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for filling in so many details here, clignett. Hugs to you and Indie.


    2. keithkenobi Avatar
      keithkenobi

      Clignett, I hope there ARE others that will meet us on a level of acceptance.
      I am back in the “dating game” after years of abuse and lack of connection.
      It is very SCARY.
      Please let them finish in their own way. I have been cut off so many times by folks who “thought” they knew what I was going to say and they were wrong.
      When you meet your match, it will be intriguing and you will be able to listen to them “think”, no matter how long it takes them.
      I am scared also, about being so honest and open. On one date I reached out and took her hand and was met with the most horrible shock.
      You won’t scare off the right person…
      But who am I to say,,, I have not found her yet. ha ha
      Thanks for sharing, it is refreshing to hear others experiences.


  5. Sheep’s Wool Avatar
    Sheep’s Wool

    Paula, I wish you lightness and courage as you get through your dose of Covid (courage for the self-isolation part).
    It’s a beautiful time of year, and perhaps especially so where you are, with nature all a-bloom. This delight will be there for you when you come through the time being ill.
    Much love and get well soon. We’re keeping you in our thoughts.

    P.S. What I am realising recently is that I would like (or maybe need) a partner that I can be comfortable with on an empathic level. It’s hard to know how to explain this but some people I just feel comfortable to “be” with energetically while others I can’t relate to on that level at all although we might click mentally or intellectually.
    Sensitivity and emotional empathy or intuition are not all that common and they make a huge difference for me in a person I interact with.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Good to know that about yourself, Sheep’s Wool. I think we all need to know what our particular needs, desires, and flavors are. Thank you for the well wishes. Better today than yesterday.


      1. Sheep’s Wool Avatar
        Sheep’s Wool

        “Flavors”, yes – I like this word, Paula, and hadn’t thought of it this way before. Thank you 😃


    2. keithkenobi Avatar
      keithkenobi

      Sheep’s Wool, that is how it is for me. Being empathetic to those around you is very important.
      Even more important than all the intellectual stuff.
      That base core of acceptance is the foundation of being close.
      I was accused of being “needy” when I just wanted affection. (crying).
      I always try to put myself “in the others shoes”. It is enlightening to think from their perspective.
      I would like the same in return. (that is hard to find).
      You (we) need that kind of connection.
      It is like; I could lay down in their lap and share ANYTHING. “That” is what I want and NEED.
      With that kind of trust and closeness, I can ten-fold for those around me.


  6. Sheep’s Wool Avatar
    Sheep’s Wool

    Keith, you are describing something beautiful but it strikes me that many people cannot handle that level of connection, do not know how that operates or what that is. And seeing this in someone can maybe scare them. I might be wrong on that – and please forgive me if I am.
    However – and this is the big however – there are people out there who will be on your wavelength, who will feel instinctively that you are one of their type of humans (animals too, such as beautiful cows, communicate wordlessly, knowingly, gently). Then a relationship can grow and it can be something special. Maybe we need to move with a little bit of caution in the early stages though to protect our hearts by getting a good feel for the other person.
    Thank you for your honest post. I feel a little tear too. I think your words have reawakened something in me that existed a long time ago concerning relationships but that I quietened down – or silenced – through experience with “the real world”.
    By the way, I don’t know if you see yourself as a HSP as well as having a rain-forest mind, but I would like to salute you for this if you do. I’ve had some beautiful HSP male family members and I treasure their involvement in my life, something incredibly special to me.
    P.S. Paula, good to hear you are starting to feel a little better. Get well soon.


    1. keithkenobi Avatar
      keithkenobi

      Sheep’s Wool, thank you for that.
      Well I pretty much got a 12 out of 12 on the HSP “test” here; https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/highly-sensitive-person-rainforest-mind/
      However, on a few items I had to think of different examples, Like I don’t really get “irritated”. I notice things, like someone’s chewing, but that does not bother me because I accept them and everyone has their special qualities. And noises and color of the room are noticed but accepted as uniqueness’s. I do get frustrated why things are not made with stainless steel vs the crap that is going to rust away in a few years. And why we have not found an alternative to Prisons and the massive waste there. And why we don’t have a High-Counsel of “us types” vs a President. And a United Nations made up of the same from each Country.
      I long for meeting someone who can delve into things like these 12 items and really share back and forth!


      1. Sheep’s Wool Avatar
        Sheep’s Wool

        I am rooting for you, Keith, that you will have good fortune and meet a person who will see and treasure you for all that you are. Recently, I have been spending time journaling with the aim of getting to know myself better. This has been lovely and has been helping me. I am hoping that maybe possibly eventually I might meet someone who themselves has grown and will be capable of understanding or meeting complexity in another.
        Good wishes to you.


  7. Me Avatar
    Me

    yes, acceptance and respect for each other are so important!
    I have been told that I am too smart, too much, overthinking too much aso…. in the end that all is a lack of respect and acceptance, right?
    and then there was that one human being that smiled at me, said that I am weird and kissed me… offering the acceptance I have longed for. even if the partner does not understand everything (when do we understand everything anyway) respect and acceptance build the foundation of a relationship.


  8. keithkenobi Avatar
    keithkenobi

    I wish, that -years- ago, I could have understood myself as this describes. Amazing how sad, and excited, I am to read this;
    https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/secrets-dating-highly-sensitive-person/


  9. Sandie Avatar
    Sandie

    Thank you. This explains so much about my first marriage.
    The too fast, too busy ,too much, scatterbrained judgements very much crushed me. When really I was just doing what my brain needed to function. I tried to slow down and fell in the pit of despair.
    I’m fortunate to have found another rfm and he sees my hyper fixations coming before I do .. gives me space and applauds the results.
    I watch my children trying to negotiate friendships and it hard to see them being ‘too much ‘ in the eyes of their friends, the ones they want to trust. I tell them their people are out there, but the search feels long and painful and so lonely.


  10. A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You are Sensitive and Smart — Part Three | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] part dive into love and relationships! Part One, looked at self-love and the many kinds of love. Part Two, ventured into partnerships. Part Three continues with partnerships, and then provides resources to […]


  11. Randye Spina Avatar
    Randye Spina

    Hi! Where can I find part one? 🙏


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It’s the post right before this one and part three is right after! https://yourrainforestmindbbwpc.wpcomstaging.com/2022/05/27/short-guide-to-love-and-relationships/

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