7 challenges for emotional people in a relationship
Intense and sensitive people see and feel the world differently. A relationship with an intense person can be emotionally overwhelming due to their heightened sensitivity. Here are some of the obstacles intense people face in an intimate relationship, or the lack of one.
Dating and dating an intense person presents unique challenges. These problems in a relationship can include emotional difficulties, misunderstandings, boredom, and the frustration that comes from not being able to set someone who is a good match intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually .
One of the greatest and most painful challenges for highly sensitive, intense, and gifted adults is that they find it difficult to release a partner who understands their over-excitability. In this article, you’ll find eight common Highly Sensitive, Intense, and Gifted adults who break free in relationships, and four pieces of advice on what you can do to deal with them.
Highly sensitive, intense, and gifted people can get out of step
Many of the problems of highly sensitive and gifted people stem from being out of touch with the rest of the world. These gifted adults see and feel the world differently from the start. But this deviation from the norm also brings challenges.
Just like in their childhood as gifted children, sensitive and gifted adults feel alone in the world. Because you’re wired differently, it’s always been hard to find true like-minded people. You have a lifelong longing for a soul mate.
A romantic partner can seem like an “obvious” answer to the gaping hole in your soul, but reality can disappoint you. Even when you’ve found or befriended someone with whom you have a reciprocal connection, you grow beyond them. It would be best if you had a steady partner who can grow with you, but not all of us are lucky enough to free such a person.
As a gifted adult, you’re not the only one struggling with romantic relationships in our fast-paced world. However, being intense and sensitive also means you are more likely to face the following challenges.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and ask yourself what constitutes the existence of the universe. be curious And no matter how difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and achieve. The important thing is that you don’t just give up.”
– Stephen Hawking
8 Challenges Highly Sensitive, Intense, and Gifted Adults Face in a Relationship
Here are some of the issues for highly sensitive, gifted adults to resolve in their intimate relationships, or lack thereof:
1. Boredom, impatience, loneliness
Highly gifted people often feel bored and impatient in a relationship. When your partner doesn’t find your intellectual rigor and emotional depth, you feel understimulated and alone, even with yourself. In addition to being sensitive, you are enthusiastic, irritable, and passionate. You bring a lot of energy and ideas to a relationship, but you can’t feel like your contribution will be reciprocated.
Dating an intense person is difficult as she finds it challenging to break free from someone she is romantically or attracted to and who can also connect with them emotionally and intellectually. They are eager to seek adventure and discovery – physically, psychologically, intellectually, visually and sensually.
However, her partner may not be able to accompany her in her activities. Gifted adults’ partners or potential partners may simply be content with the ‘known’ world and are not very curious. The partners should not yet be able to keep up with the processing speed of gifted adults and do not share their thirst for knowledge.
As a result, the gifted adults are often frustrated by their partners’ lack of curiosity, and the partners feel overwhelmed by the gifted’s enthusiasm. Many gifted people are also fed up with always having to be the “leader” in a relationship.
Some gifted individuals may try to fill the gap through friendships and acquaintances, but remain jealous of other couples who appear to be “soul mates”. As they progressively refrain from interacting with their partner, their frustration may take the form of sarcasm, irritation, sneaky criticism, or verbal attacks that they later regret.
It is in the nature of gifted adults to want to experiment, learn and change things for the better; painfully, they can free themselves from one partner at a time.
2. You carry the pain of the past into the present
The fact that you are gifted and intense may have made you misunderstood, judged, labeled as too idealistic, too sensitive, too serious, too busy, too impatient all your life… Perhaps you were bullied at school and internalized the feeling that the world is not safe.
Perhaps you were caught up in an unhealthy family dynamic that afflicts empathetic and sensitive children — such as being parented, scapegoated, or attacked. These childhood traumas leave scars that don’t go away over time.
As a gifted adult, you are empathetic, confident, and have a deep capacity to love and care. But your sensitivity is also the reason why your painful past can traumatize you for a lifetime. When you blame yourself for what happened, you also harbor toxic shame and low self-esteem.
In a way, as an intense person, the problems you have in dating have the same root as people who aren’t as gifted. Usually, an intimate relationship is where all of our old wounds and needs come to the fore. When we get close to someone and feel safe, our inner child senses that it can finally find its needs.
All of our hunger for love, attention, understanding and all the things we needed but were never there surfaced. Unconsciously, gifted or not, we hope that our current partner can fill the void left by our childhood.
As a result, we bring our past into the present. We can overreact when we feel abandoned, rejected, or humiliated. When we get triggered, we feel and behave like little kids again. We become distressed, make unreasonable demands, or throw tantrums, only to regret it when we’re back in adult mode.
In a previous article, we discussed the three types of longing we project onto our relationships: the need for reflection/attention, idealization, and twin relationship. If you find yourself constantly being triggered by seemingly small events or overreacting to things your partner says or does, you can break free with the information in this article.
3. You need a lot of space for yourself
Intense people are passionate, creative, and have a rich inner life. You are inspired by art, music and all sources around you and are constantly filled with new ideas and insights. You function best when you follow your muse and do something to turn your inspiration into action.
You could be tackling multiple projects at once—either real or imaginary projects. Deep down you know that you have it in you to create something big. You live in an existential state of anxiety because you never have enough time, can’t implement your ideas, or fail to reach your full potential.
Elizabeth Gilbert describes this very well in her book The Big Magic. She claims that creative ideas are all around us, always looking for human partners. When an idea knocks on our door, we have to respond to bring it into the world. When we are preoccupied with our own dramas, distractions, and duties, our inspirations go away to free up another comrade.
Ideally, when you’re dating an intense person, the partner should understand that intense people don’t always follow conventional norms. The time commitment of a conventional relationship is enormous – there are societal expectations about how much time you spend together and what kind of activities you do together. Although an intense person may initially enjoy these demands, they eventually liberate themselves from these expectations with their dream of being alone.
When you’re inspired, you work flat out, and turning off the lights at night may not be what you want or need. You may fall into eating or sleeping habits that seem unhealthy in your partner’s eyes. You can focus on your inspired project for long periods of time and enjoy the challenge. In contrast, you can increasingly identify the time you spend with your partner as unattractive.
You feel trapped at the movies, resentful that you have to go to a dinner party, and would rather be at home and at work. Without understanding what is happening, you feel guilty and ashamed or assume that something is wrong or unhealthy the way you are.
Creative and entrepreneurial endeavors require solitude, space and dedication. These are things that are often neglected in a solid partnership. You can try to negotiate with your partner, but he or she may not understand your needs and the unique challenges you face in an intense relationship.
Instead, they feel left out, marginalized, or ignored when you try to find your own needs. Both of you could become resentful or even passive-aggressive, creating unhealthy relationship dynamics.
4. Your partner doesn’t understand your sensitivity and needs
As a gifted, intense, and sensitive human being, you have myriad physical sensitivities and a unique need for a balance between stimulation and recovery. The challenges of dating a highly sensitive person often overlap with the problems faced by people who identify as highly sensitive (HSP).
You are particularly sensitive to stimuli such as noise, visual images, strong colors, caffeine, smells and rough surfaces. You can become overwhelmed by things that arouse your partner and as a result are unable to do things or attend certain events together.
You may find his/her music too loud, his/her humor too harsh, or his/her perfume too overpowering. Your sensitivity does not equate to weakness. It just reflects your innate urge to optimize your environment so you can focus your energy on better things.
If your partner doesn’t understand your needs, they may criticize or shame you. This doesn’t help you, it only makes whatever problems you already have worse. Worse, once you internalize the allegations, you begin to edit and limit yourself and lose the ability to express yourself freely and authentically.
You can feel like a burden and would rather hide your true likes. This leads to an unsatisfactory life and burnout, and the resentment inevitably builds up.
5. You are looking for a deep meaning in the modern world
The psychological literature states that intimacy in relationships develops “through a dynamic process in which a person reveals personal information, thoughts, and feelings to a partner, receives a response from the partner, and interprets that response as understanding, affirmation, and caring” ( Laurenceau , Barrett, & Pietromonaco, 1998, p. 1238 ).
This process takes time, patience, and a willingness to go beyond a superficial exchange. However, our modern dating culture is fast-moving. With a million possibilities just a swipe away, people are always looking for the next best thing. Physical intimacy becomes something that could be compared to fast food.
Research has found that social pressures are causing people to portray their “ideal self” rather than their authentic selves online. Research has even found that people tend to lie on dating sites. (Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs, 2006; Toma & Ellison, 2008). Your need to be understood and accepted for who you are and the dream of truly knowing the other person mean internet dating may not be worthwhile for you.
The problem is that your values are often not appreciated in the world. Reality falls short of your expectations, and what you consider “normal” is considered “overly idealistic.” When you date as an intense person, you look for purpose and meaning behind everything you do.
You are looking for authentic relationships and attach different meanings and weights to dating. All your life you long for connections with people with whom you can develop a deep relationship. Relationships that remain on a superficial level are unlikely to last very long.
The more intense and intelligent you are, the more likely it is that you are an independent thinker and aware that your beliefs and values are at odds with those of the crowd. Perhaps you’ve tried to conform, playing by the rules of the modern dating book, only to find you’re sacrificing your integrity by conforming to a society that feels “primitive and confused” (Dabrowski).
For many gifted adults, the pressure to conform not only violates their integrity, but also hampers their development and prevents them from reaching their full potential. Even when they realize that the problem is in the culture and not themselves, they feel helpless because they can’t fix the situation overnight.
6. You perceive everything
Many gifted people are very empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others. As an empath, you are very perceptive and intuitive. Many of the problems intense people face when dating or being in a relationship stem from their inherent ability to see inconsistencies, absurdities, and dishonesty in interpersonal relationships. If your partner is lying, you will feel it.
When their partner is lying, they feel it. At the same time, they care about the truth, so they feel compelled to confront and correct others even when their actions would cause conflict. Their hyper-empathic tendency means they accept other people’s feelings. Being close to someone means they almost always feel what others are feeling.
The problem with this is twofold:
1. Taking in all the subtle emotional cues in the room creates information overload and is overwhelming for gifted adult partners.
2. Your partner feels threatened because they are constantly being “checked out”.
When you’re an empath and you’re constantly embracing the feelings and energies of others, you can feel drained, but you don’t know how to stop. The situation is especially frustrating when your partner denies or denies their feelings and unloads on you.
The process of feeling your partner’s feelings on their behalf is called projective identification. In a relationship, the person who is emotionally more evolved and has a greater ability to feel things would take on feelings that the other person is in denial or unable to admit to themselves.
For example, your partner may complain about their boss and tell stories about being mistreated themselves without being able to admit their anger. Instead, you feel anger on her behalf and express it for her. Or you feel anger at their abusive parents while they remain emotionless and deny the problem.
7. You suffer the consequences of parentification
Many sensitive, intense, and gifted adults were parented in childhood. This is the cause of many of their problems, which affect them at work, with friends, in the family and in their partnership. Parentification is a “role reversal” between parents and children at home.
You could be your parent’s confidante, counselor, or emotional supporter, or you could play the role of parade adult and take care of your siblings. The fact that you are a parent affects our attachment patterns and how we behave in relationships as adults in many ways.
Even without the influence of parenthood, by default, as a gifted adult, you are highly sensitive, identify strongly with others, and are able to empathize deeply with others. The fact that you were a pseudo-adult at home and had to take on adult emotional responsibilities even as a young child compounded this.
Growing up in a volatile and abusive home, to protect yourself, you trained yourself to be hypersensitive to the nuanced shifts in other people’s motives and feelings. As a result, your nervous system is chronically agitated and you are constantly in a state of hyper alertness.
Even when you’re dating a partner or in an intimate relationship, you may have trouble separating your own feelings from your partner’s and their needs from yours.
It can feel like an autopilot response because you’re used to adjusting and responding to the needs of others before your own. When you notice your partner’s needs or moods changing—often before they do—you take action to fix things.
If your partner is vulnerable or needs your physical or emotional nurturing, you can do so at a personal cost—you’ll spend less time with friends, give up your own hobbies, and be less focused at work. This pattern of behavior encourages codependency and causes both you and your partner to lose confidence and esteem.
8. You have a tendency to “overfunction” in a relationship.
Sensitive, intense, and gifted people tend to “overfunction” or become an overfunctioning partner in a dependent relationship. A lot of the problems in dating an intense person stem from their tendency to over-exert themselves and drive themselves into a state of burnout.
Because of their natural speed and competence, they take on above-average responsibilities at work, at home, and even in their own relationships. This can leave them stuck in an over-functioning-functioning addiction cycle.
It is hard for someone who is over-functioning to see other people making mistakes or not functioning at their best. They can’t help you offer the “better way,” and they have a hard time not absorbing other people’s feelings or letting things go.
When it comes to household chores, they often find it easier and better if they do everything themselves rather than delegating. Unfortunately, your efficiency, independence, and reluctance to let go can be the start of a dependency cycle in a relationship, even if you mean well at first.
As the hyperfunctional partner, you also tend to do anything. You have never been able to rely on anyone else – to solve problems, share feelings, help you. Even in times of crisis, you might still keep problems to yourself without sharing them with your partner; as a result, he feels frustrated or left out.
The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, but indifference. The opposite of belief is not heresy, but indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference.”
– Elie Wiesel
Relationship Advice for Gifted Adults
Think about the differences between a life partner and a soulmate
Many of the problems intense people have in dating and relationships can be solved or alleviated by narrowing the gap between their expectations and the reality they encounter. To achieve this, it can be helpful to differentiate between their need for a ‘partner for life’ and their dream of finding their ‘soulmate’.
The modern philosopher Alain De Botton has pointed out that many of us are influenced by romance and believe that there is a “soul mate” that we need to find that will fill the gaps in our soul and fulfill all of our needs. This is reinforced by fairy tales, Disney stories and other Hollywood films. According to De Botton, this expectation is a disaster.
So the suggestion is that they should learn to distinguish between a “partner for life” and a “soulmate”.
To live in this world, having a partner who is trustworthy and dependable can be invaluable. You can be our co-pilot in accomplishing life tasks such as shopping, working and raising children. They are our best friends, practical support and our closest relatives. You may not be dealing with an electrifying spiritual connection, but they make you feel calm and supported. This companion is your partner for life.
On the other hand, you long for an intense and soulful connection with someone who finds you on multiple levels – emotionally, spiritually. These are the soulmates who intuitively “get” you and never make you feel tired or bored when you are with them. When you find her, you feel elated, understood instantly, and communication is effortless.
The theory of love in traditional psychology distinguishes between partnership love and passionate love. Companionate love is about feelings of mutual respect and trust, passionate love is about intense feelings and “a state of intense desire for union” (Elaine Hatfield). The former is typically what we have in a life partner, while the latter is how we feel when infatuated with a soulmate.
Some intense people are lucky enough to release a soulmate as a partner for life. But we can also spend our entire lives looking for a soulmate — someone who is “perfect” for us in every way — only to be disappointed every time. We can break free from the fact that soulmates come and go and aren’t meant to be there forever. As the saying goes, people come into our lives for a reason, for a period of time or for a lifetime.
Separating the role of a life partner from that of a soulmate allows us to reflect on our own needs and priorities and shape our lives accordingly. Some of us can settle for a lifemate who is not a soulmate and seek our needs for intellectual stimulation, emotional connection, and spiritual union elsewhere.
After all, your soulmates could be your friends, your teachers, even your own family members and your children. Some of us can make it our mission to search for our soulmate and refuse to enter into a lifelong partnership with anyone else.
There is no right or wrong; it’s about honoring our truth. However, being clear about what we want and the path we are choosing can save us from a lot of resentment, inner conflict and wasted energy.
“I said to my soul: Be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong cause; wait without love, because love would be love for the wrong thing; there is still faith, but faith and love are all waiting.” – TS Elliot
Remember that shielding is a defense mechanism
If you were hurt and betrayed in your childhood or in previous relationships, you may have built a wall or shield around yourself. This is usually not a conscious action, but an automatic protective mechanism. Just like the circuit breaker in an electrical circuit, your system shuts down when the pain gets too much.
Somehow you installed thought patterns that say: “I don’t need anyone”, “People are unreliable”, “Trusting someone is risky”, “People can hurt me and I can’t survive this time”. Your protective shield can express itself in different ways, e.g. B. through emotional detachment, a feeling of callousness and emptiness, social avoidance, a facade of aloofness and arrogance, cynicism and a tendency to intellectualize everything.
You can numb your heart by being busy, using drugs and alcohol, turning to all sorts of addictions, or by putting on a sociable facade and still keeping interactions with others superficial. You curb your passion and preserve your feelings.
You keep yourself from falling into love and take care not to be too vulnerable with others. You live your life on autopilot, making sure you complete your mundane chores, show up for work, and meet your commitments. However, deep down you feel empty and dead.
Your mask may have given you a temporary sense of security and control, but ultimately it leaves you in a lonely, dry place where you won’t find human warmth and love. This is not a permanent pattern. Freezing your ability to love is a childish way of resisting life. Ultimately, it’s not sustainable. Relationships have their risks and dangers, but overall it’s a rewarding journey.
Breaking out of your freeze takes a gradual process of compassion and self-love. Instead of seeing your need to close yourself off as an enemy, you should be kind and tender towards him. Becoming aware of this is the first step, then you can explore the cause of it. Maybe you used to be traumatized, but now you are much stronger than you used to be, and while you can still be let down and betrayed by people, you will be able to overcome it.
You can accept all flowers, but you cannot stop spring.
Know yourself and accept yourself
If you’ve been at odds with others your entire life and have internalized all the “too much” criticisms (too serious, too intense, too complex, too emotional, etc.), you can have a hard time loving yourself.
Many dating problems as an intense and sensitive person are compounded by not standing on your own side and sometimes criticizing yourself even more when others hurt you. If your upbringing hasn’t adequately supported your sensitivity, you won’t know how to embrace it. When you’re used to being there for everyone, it can be hard to stand up for your rights.
The goal of life is not to perfect ourselves but to perfect our love for ourselves. It’s not how we look, how much we do, and who we attract that makes us worthy of love. We are inherently worthy and meritorious because we are a creation of nature. Just as every tree and flower has its own shape and size, it is our birthright to shine as we are.
You can consider doing shadow work to learn to love yourself completely, including your positive and negative traits, the charming and annoying things about you, whether you’re romantic in the world or not.
Loving yourself starts with knowing yourself. You can take time to sit down and clarify what is important to you – your values, beliefs and priorities. The clarity you gain through self-reflection gives you a solid sense of self that allows you to connect with others without losing yourself.
It is of utmost importance that you allow yourself the right to express yourself. If you’ve stepped into the limelight in the past, you may have drawn envy and attack, and your early life experiences may have taught you to trade authenticity for security.
Maybe you’ve spent your life hiding, conforming, and keeping quiet. This protection strategy has now expired. You no longer need to hide to be safe. The only way you can find people who match your intensity is if you show up with her. Please do not rob the world of your light – someone like you is also looking for you and can only set you free if you show yourself as you are.
Stop trying to control the outcome, take each day as it comes
The problems faced by many gifted adults, not just in a relationship but in all areas of their lives, can be alleviated by relinquishing control. As an intense and competent person, you are used to being in charge. However, when it comes to a relationship, the law of effort and outcome does not apply. We have little control over who we find, when, how it happens, and what comes next.
When it comes to something as intangible as love and relationships, you should engage in practical exercises that Buddhists call “beginner’s thoughts” or “not-knowing thoughts.” Stay curious and open as much as possible.
As we look back at our lives, we know that we never know what will happen—what we rejected may prove to be a gateway to happiness, and what had enchanted us may turn out to be the beginning of an inferno. We so often want what we don’t need and neglect the gifts that are right in front of our noses.
See if you can let go of your attachment to the outcome. You can set an intention and have a dream, you can work towards freeing the love you want and keeping the love you have, but try to avoid falling into the illusion of control. We must simultaneously maintain our power to act and a willingness to let go of fixation on a specific outcome. It’s a balancing act.
If we wait for romance to happen before we start living our lives, we could wait forever. Life is not a waiting room. Even if you’re not entirely happy with what you have right now, remind yourself that you will only have this moment once, and that you will miss today later.
Invoke gratitude for what you have instead of dealing with prejudice and judgment. We must not deny some phases of our life and push away other parts if we do not want to live a one-sided life.
We should remember that every moment in life, including the waiting, the loneliness, the breakup, the longing, and the heartbreak, is a glorious and important piece of the tapestry.
Accepting the present moment does not mean surrendering to inaction. It means embracing every moment of your life with loving awareness, so that in the end you know you lived fully, no matter what happened.
If I could give you only one piece of advice, my dear sensitive soul, it would be to never sacrifice your vitality and passion for a false sense of security.
You may have been hurt before; you could have been dreaming and fallen into it, you could be in despair and have lost all hope. It was painful to be hurt, betrayed and abandoned. Maybe you never really recovered from that third degree burn. But the light penetrates through the cracks.
Your true nature is passion, ferocity, bravery and love. When you remember who you are, you can always get up and love yourself anew. Embrace the full spectrum of your experiences – the love, the hate, the pain and the joy. The tenderness and the ecstasy are all part of this glorious journey called life.
Regardless of the severity of your pain, it is temporary. When you deaden your soul, you’re selling the devil time you’ll never get back. Life is a dance between darkness and light, joy and pain, trust and betrayal. It’s the same with love.
Danger and risk follow you wherever you go, but you also have the infinite strength to weather any storm. There is no absolute security in life, and yet you are infinitely secure.
love, and fall in; get up and love again. You can even expand the circle of love. You don’t love just one person, you love yourself, your enemy and all of humanity.
On the last day of your life you will look back and realize that it is the ups and downs that make this journey worthwhile.