Relationship Advice For The Intense, Sensitive, And Gifted Ones
1. Reflect on the difference between a life partner and a soulmate.
It might be useful to differentiate between your need for a ‘life partner’, versus your desire to meet your ‘soulmate’.
It could be invaluable to have a companion who is trustworthy and dependable. They could be your co-pilot in handling life-tasks such as shopping, working and parenting. They might be your best friend and supporter. You may not have an electrifying spiritual connection, but they make you feel calm and supported. This companion is your life partner.
On the other hand, you crave an intense and soulful connection with someone who could meet you on multiple levels— emotionally, spiritually, sexually. These are the soulmates who ‘get you’ intuitively, and you never feel tired or bored by interactions with them. When you meet them, you feel exhilarated, instantly understood, and communication is effortless.
The theory of love in traditional psychology differentiates between companionate love and passionate love. Companionate love involves feelings of mutual respect and trust, while passionate love involves intense feelings and ‘a state of intense longing for union’ (Elaine Hatfield). Typically, the former is what we have with a life-partner, whilst the latter is what we feel from an infatuation with a soulmate.
Some intense people are lucky enough to have found a soulmate to be their life partner. But we could also spend our lives searching for a soulmate— someone who is the ‘perfect match’ for us in all aspects — only to be disappointed every time. We may find that soulmates come and go, and are not meant to be there forever. As the saying goes, people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
If we could separate the role of a life partner from that of a soulmate, we could then reflect on our unique needs and priorities, and design our life accordingly. Some of us may be content with having a life partner 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 children. Some of us may make it our mission to search for our soulmate and refuse to compromise on a lifelong partnership with anyone else.
There is no right or wrong; it is a matter of honoring our truth. Being able to be clear about what we want and the course that we decide on, however, could save us from many resentments, internal conflicts, and wasted energy.
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting.- TS Elliot
2. Be mindful of shielding up as a protective mechanism.
Having been hurt and betrayed before, either in childhood or in previous relationships, you might have built a wall or a shield around yourself. This is usually not a conscious action but an automatic protective mechanism. Just like the protective barrier switch in an electric circuit, your system shut down when the pain got too much.
Somehow, you have installed the thought patterns that say, “I don’t need anyone”, “People are not dependable’, ’It is risky to trust someone’, ‘People can hurt me, and I may not survive it this time’. Your shield could manifest in different ways, such as emotional detachment, feeling numb and empty, social avoidance, a facade of being aloof and arrogant, cynicism, and the tendency to over-intellectualize everything.
You may numb your heart via keeping busy, drugs and alcohol, addictions of all kinds, or building a sociable facade while keeping all exchanges with others superficial. You curb your passion and guard your feelings. You stop yourself from falling in love and be sure not to be overly vulnerable with people. You run your life on auto-pilot, make sure that you do your daily tasks, show up for work and fulfill your responsibilities. Deep down, however, you feel empty and dead.
Your mask might have temporarily allowed you to feel safe and more in control, but ultimately, it leaves you in a lonely, arid place devoid of human warmth and love. This is not a sustainable pattern. Freezing your capacity to love is a childlike way of defending against life. It is ultimately not sustainable. Relationships come with their risks and perils, but they are a worthwhile journey overall.
Breaking out of your numbness requires a gradual process of compassion and self-love. Rather than seeing your need to close up as your enemy, be kind and tender towards it. Becoming aware is the first step, then you can investigate the root cause of it. Perhaps you were once traumatized, but now you are much stronger than you once were, and while you may still be disappointed and betrayed by people, you will be able to get past it.
“You can pick all the flowers and you cannot stop the spring.”