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Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.

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Sensitive Introverts In Long-Term Love, It's Possible

The-Steady-Man

Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Reader comment on space2live

I, too, wondered if I was capable of finding and keeping love. After all, my marriage ended, I can be emotional, I need solitude to recharge and I have three children. Could I maintain a career, raise kids and have the energy to be a loving partner? Could anyone handle me? If so, would I like them? I had my doubts.

As much as I adore my solitary and creative time, I know I do not want to go through life solo. I am too into intimacy and connection. I crave them after stretches of aloneness. I am most alive when alone OR when in deep intimacy. Solitude and intimacy. They are my yin and yang. My polar pulls that guide me to heaven on earth.

Hitting bottom

Last September, I found myself crying in my mom’s kitchen. I was struggling to decide whether or not to buy the family home from my ex-husband. The kids and I were stressed from the uncertainty of not knowing where we were going to live. My mother was beginning to lose her ability to eat or talk. My heart ached for my mom and her ALS diagnosis.

The man I was seeing at the time could not handle all of this and backed out. I truly wondered if anyone could handle it.

I let myself wallow in pity for a week or so. I considered the ‘baggage’ I was carrying. It was heavy and I felt weak and worn out because of it. I felt broken and undesirable.

Bouncing back

It looked like I was going to have to be my own amazing boyfriend. So, I started to do things to make myself happy. I signed up for a ten-day tour in England in May with an introvert group. That gave me something to look forward to.

I made the decision to stay in our home. My former husband and I agreed on a price and it was done. Relief. No moving. No uncertainty. No more confrontational conversations about it. This was a huge weight off of my shoulders. My bank account suffered but my spirit (and my kids’ spirits) soared.

I signed up to do volunteer work delivering and preparing  healthy meals for chronically ill people.

Match.com I cannot resist you

I signed up for one month of Match.com. Yes, so much for fierce independence and being my own soulmate. I told myself I have one month, if no one lights my fire, then back to being my own love interest.

Goodbye Match.com

Enter my man.

He’d lived all over the world and experienced fascinating and terrifying things in his 22 years in the military.

On our second date he mentioned taking my boys fishing someday.

A few weeks in, I had to have a biopsy done for possible breast cancer. He held me through the night when I was most worried. The results were benign, thank God.

I started to believe this guy did not scare easily.

At a New Year’s Eve party we were asked to write a word that would describe 2015. I wrote steadfast because that is the word that came to mind when I thought of my man and our relationship.

Over the next year…

He told anyone who would listen about space2live. He read my posts and asked me questions.

We spent many hours lingering on the couch or walking around the lake having the most lovely conversations.

We learned each other’s sexual styles and figured out how to blend in the most sensual and satisfying ways.

He met my kids. Took them fishing, made sushi with them and danced with me in the kitchen in front of them.

I took him to meet my mother in her depressed and speechless state. He made her laugh and held me when I broke down in tears after walking out of her room.

He didn’t run. He didn’t make me feel small or broken. In fact, I felt stronger with him.

No matter what your woman says or does, give her love. Press your belly into her. Smile. Scream and then lick her face. Do whatever it takes to crack the shell of her closure, get your love inside that crack, and touch her heart. — David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

Time and time again he showed up. Steadfast. He said that’s what partners do. I was leery.

I had not shown him my full baggage-laden self yet.

Emotional types

In her book, Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, Dr. Judith Orloff describes four emotional types: The intellectual, The Empath, The Gusher and The Rock.

Intellectuals have a cerebral approach to emotions. Rational thought is their filter.

Empaths (me) are finely tuned instruments and feel everything. Intuition is their filter.

Gushers (also me?) know their emotions and were born to share them. They wear their emotions on their sleeves with little filtering.

Rocks are practical and emotionally strong for themselves and for others. They internalize emotions thus keeping a boundary between themselves and the world.

Finding a rockmy rock

Although he has characteristics of the Intellectual, my man is a Rock. My Rock. Exactly what I need.

When you’re reeling from emotions, rocks won’t lose their cool. You can sob, complain, rant. They won’t pull away or judge. They genuinely care about your delight and pain (you can curl up in a rock’s arms anytime) but don’t bear the brunt of these feelings…. Though they prefer life to be on an even keel, they won’t shirk difficulties.— Judith Orloff, Emotional Freedom

Rocks often internalize their own stress. They do not realize that examining their feelings will help. They are wired to keep on keeping on. They need to be encouraged to bring out their feelings. Empaths and Gushers are good for that.

What do you know? I am what my man needs.

The final straw?

Eventually, drama arose with my ex-husband, I was low on solitude and my schedule jammed up. I stressed out, lost sleep, focused on the negative and lashed out at my man.

This time he left.

He left.

I pushed him too far. I knew I would.

Give up or fight?

But this guy was worth fighting for.

I couldn’t just cry and let it end. It was my turn to work and be steadfast. I emailed him with explanations for my behavior. I called him to try and earn his love and understanding back. I admitted I was too sensitive about some things. I desperately explained how I interpreted his words and why I was so on edge (over-stimulation). I explained the differences in our way of thinking and communicating. Him, more logical and practical. Me, more feelings and values driven. I wanted him to understand me so badly.

I had to show him how much and why I loved him.

Through several rounds of difficult conversations we made headway. We broke through the gridlock and grew emotionally. I felt heard and better understood. I think he did too. Through it all, we always had each other’s backs. I never wanted to hurt him or win the argument. I just wanted us to know and accept each other.

What I have learned about relationships is that they involve growth, support and appreciation. All of which are earned through challenges. You have to find someone who stands next to you steadfastly through the challenges. If you don’t, then be your own amazing soul mate until you do.

Is your partner a rock? An empath or gusher? Do you know what you bring to the table in a relationship? Do you know what you need?

If this post resonated with you, please share it with others who may enjoy it as well.

Thank you so much,

Brenda

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22 Comments

  1. aliessep January 25, 2018 at 3:46 am - Reply

    Thanks for posting this again, Brenda. I love hearing your story, which gives me hope for the future. Are you still in a relationship with your “rock” in 2018? I’m currently single (soon-to-be divorced, raising 2 kids) and sometimes feel a little desperate about ever meeting my soulmate at age soon-to-be 46. Reading about you and other INFJs makes me feel better about myself and how I function. I too crave solitude as much as intimacy.

    Love from Lyon, France!

    • Brenda Knowles January 26, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      Hello! I am no longer in a relationship with the gentleman I referred to as my “rock”. We broke up in the spring of 2016. I met my current partner a few months after that. I am the happiest and most content I have ever been in a relationship. It took me a while to learn what a loving and secure relationship looks like, including how I need to contribute, but it was worth it. I highly recommend the book, Wired for Dating by Stan Tatkin. It taught me why people act the way they do when intimate with someone and how to make others feel secure and loved. Best of luck with your search for a loving partner. Enjoy the ride! 🙂

  2. […] Sensitive Introverts in Long-Term Love, It’s Possible – space2live […]

  3. Minuscule Moments September 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Loved this post, it took me many years to find my soul mate. I am an Empath and I think he is too. Sometimes we share the challenges one will be strong the other need a helping hand. One thing I do know meeting my soul mate in my late thirties taught me to never take someone for granted. That relationships need constant work and respect is a word I would use to describe our world. Laugh lots in the face of our challenges and lets face it we all have them. I never lost site on the type of man I wanted and I would prefer to be alone than with the wrong partner.

  4. Jen September 13, 2015 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    I found this to be an interesting read, as I do all of your posts. I’ve wondered before how you manage a relationship with being a sensitive introvert, and to an extent I can see how you make it work.

    But.

    I wonder if maybe you’re the exception to the rule? Or maybe I am. Mid-thirties, introvert, HSP, nerd, and never dated. My early thirties were really difficult as I realized that my plans of being a wife and mother were likely never going to happen. For the most part, I’ve made peace with it. I’m busy with work and volunteering and activism. I practice self-care. I help take care of my parents (now just one parent as of a few weeks ago). I honestly wouldn’t have time for a relationship anyway, nor would I know how to behave in one. I know this.

    But sometimes I still wonder why there’s so much “wrong” with me that I can’t have what so many have so easily.

    • Brenda Knowles September 14, 2015 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Dear Jen, If you lost a parent recently, I am sorry. Having just gone through that, I know the grief and emotions that go along with it.
      Your comment really moved me. I started space2live as an outlet for me, a place to say how I was feeling as an introverted sensitive woman within a family of five. At the time, I felt like I was drowning and not able to handle my roles as mother and wife. I also felt I was not understood or respected when I was my true sensitive self.
      I do think I have a higher tolerance for socializing than a lot of introverts and sensitive people, but I still am highly susceptible to energy depletion and emotional overwhelm.The best thing I did for me was remove myself from socializing that did not fill me up. I work from home by and for myself. I do very selective volunteering and I have amazing close friends who understand I am not available for constant socializing but when we do get together it is high quality time. I have read every self-development book available that could help me maintain my integrity within relationships. I had to. I had children to raise. I had to learn to deal with and flourish with other people.
      You sound like you have good self-awareness and I love that you practice self-care. Work and volunteering are great places to put your energy if they give you satisfaction in return. I would love it if you could reframe your thinking regarding your potential for a relationship.Stay open to it.Do you know what you are looking for in a relationship? What does your ideal mate look like spiritually, intellectually and socially? Don’t underestimate how many introverted HSP nerds are out there, if that is what you want.;) I think many HSPs, introverts and deeply feeling people feel like you do, in that they can’t sustain a relationship. I am constantly adjusting my schedule to incorporate work, family, friendships and my intimate relationship. I constantly take my emotional temperature. I found a partner who is willing to work with me when I am uneasy or feeling overwhelmed. He loves that I am a kind, warm person who generally sees the good in others. We communicate openly. We learned each other’s love languages. We figured out how to meld together physically. It all took effort and tears, but… we did it. I would start by seeing yourself in a beautiful positive warm light. It all starts with you. I learned this. Feel strong and confident about who you are in the world and what you have to offer. What do you love? Where do you shine? Start with these kernels of light and then let yourself glow. Your light will attract others who are strong and glowing. Be gentle on yourself when things go awry, because they will. This is part of the process. Relationships are where we grow and learn. That is their purpose. Take one small step today. Smile at someone out of the blue. Compliment someone you admire. Hold your head high and most of all know there is nothing wrong with you. You are just different than the ‘extroverted, can-handle-anything’ ideal our culture pushes. It is a false ideal. Very few people can live up to it.
      Perhaps the loss of your parent and the responsibility of caring for them is a door opening for a new relationship to enter your life. Sometimes we have to lose something or create space in order for something good to come in. I’m cheering for you because I’ve been you and I know things can spiral up if you are courageous and work at it.

  5. slj88 September 13, 2015 at 5:49 am - Reply

    I always luv reading your blog, it’s always so insightful. It’s like an instructional guide to navigating the waters of “Life as an introvert.”

    This post made me cry. When I got to the part where you spoke of your mother it reminded me of the situation with mine. She has Parkinson’s disease and although its manageable, she is a shell of her former self.

    I cried because of that and because I’ve never had anyone in my life to be able to shoulder the hurt I’m dealing with.

    I’ve always been the rock but many people don’t realize that the rock can crumble when so many people are leaning on you.

    But I’m still i’m optimistic that my man is still out there somewhere.

    • Brenda Knowles September 13, 2015 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      I am sorry you are going through a similar situation with your mother. I know how difficult it is to watch them decline and lose their vitality. Sending you strength to comfort her and take care of yourself. Rocks get to crumble sometimes. I hope you find a compassionate companion who adores your steadfastness but also knows how to show you love and tenderness. Stay true and optimistic. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  6. Melanie Marttila September 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing.
    I’ve always contended that the person you will be with, long term, comes into your life equipped to handle your shit, your unique brand of crazy. When my man and I started dating, I had given up on meeting anyone like that. I was going to focus on finishing my university degree and become the best writer I could be.
    The heart wants what it wants, though, and through the match-making efforts of my best friend and his dog (a long story I will not bore you with here) we hooked up.
    I was also very sensitive at the time, as we introverts tend to be. When he and his mom, or me and his mom, had an argument, I ran. I couldn’t handle drama and conflict. He came after me, though. A year later, he proposed.
    Not long after we got married, I was at one of the lowest ebbs in my emotional life. It was touch and go for a while as to whether he really was equipped to handle my unique brand of crazy. Then, I started figuring out how to handle it myself, because, in the end, I can’t give that burden over to anyone else. That’s when life started getting good for both of us.
    We’ve both grown over the years, and grown to have a fulfilling relationship. This past summer witnessed our 21st anniversary. We’re best buds as well as partners, and two happy introverts.

    • Brenda Knowles September 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      I love your stories Melanie. You have wisdom because you’ve been through the crazy and crappy. You are right. It does come down to handling your own shit yourself. I am learning how to do that through relationships and self-development. I know I am responsible for my own happiness but it is wonderful to have someone to share the challenges. Thank you for sharing. I really, really enjoy hearing how you triumphed.:)

  7. Beatriz September 12, 2015 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Hello Brenda from Spain.
    Do you know what you need?
    Now yes. I´m divorced and I have a son. When I was younger I thought that finding a partner was the most supreme experience in the world. The romantic love. Nowadays my mind changed. After having a difficult and a painful time during my divorce, this time has been illuminating. I feel I don´t need a partner in my life. I don´t believe in perfect couples (they always finish) because only one is the perfect tandem. I have suffered a lot in couple as a highly sensitive person and empath. Now I feel I´m better alone with my son. My priority is my son, having a satisfactory job and learning more about conflict resolution with my ex partner and having a nice co parenting. And it´s working. I don´t like when people think about having a partner because they don´t want to be alone or die alone. It´s selfish, it´s not romantic. But I know that love exists. I´m very happy seeing people in love, specially in a long time. I´m happy for you Brenda.

    • Brenda Knowles September 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      You know what you need. That is awesome Beatriz. I, too, believe it is possible to be content on your own. Life is what you make it. Children, careers and social circles can all be very fulfilling. Empaths and sensitive people often do have a hard time in relationships. I know I have. We are so in tune with everything and everyone (especially ourselves) it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If you are thriving without a relationship, go for it! Enjoy every second of this one life you have.:)

  8. Sherrie September 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    you give me hope… and belief in possibilities… once again. So, once again, thank you for all that you share!

    • Brenda Knowles September 12, 2015 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      Keep the door open Sherrie.:) Take care of yourself and keep your heart open.

  9. Orange Rhino September 11, 2015 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Brenda,

    If you start lifting weights seriously, at a gym where competitive lifters train, you will find single guys of all ages. (At 68, I’m not the eldest). Almost every one of them would give a LOT to have a girlfriend who lifts. Virtually none of these guys will ever cheat, because training is almost a full-time job and, since they don’t get paid for it, they still have to work to make a living.

    As a side benefit you will get a body that will stop traffic.

    No, lifting heavy weights will not bulk you up like a guy. Women do not possess enough testosterone to look very manly. Those who do are taking steroids, and you won’t want to get into that scene. Instead, you will look like a female gymnast, only taller.

    Guys who lift seriously come in all sizes, from 114 pounds bodyweight to 275+, with an almost infinite variety in between. When they get done training, they are mellowed out, and are not aggressive or controlling. Over 75% of them are single; our sport gets almost no spectators beyond wives and mothers, who come to meets, sit and talk to each other, and pay almost no attention to what is going on. God bless them, anyway. At least they show up!

    • Larry September 12, 2015 at 3:18 am - Reply

      Dear Sir I can say that “my” Brenda has a body that can stop traffic. Moreover her brain and intellect will mesmerize you. I am a gym rat and understand what you are saying. Brenda is not just a body she is a seriously passionate and compassionate person. She takes care of herself in so many ways. I’m sure you are enamored with her and her words as I am. Thank you for following her and giving your input on many subjects.

      • Brenda Knowles September 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm - Reply

        I’m glad you appreciate many aspects of me.:) I appreciate and love your layers as well. Multi-faceted is the way to go.
        We did get asked last weekend if we were bodybuilders. A nice ego boost.;)

    • Brenda Knowles September 12, 2015 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      That sounds like a very driven and focused culture. I make fitness a priority but writing is my passion outside of family and relationship time. I couldn’t keep up with the long hours required to be a serious weight lifter but I understand what you are saying about men appreciating a woman who enjoys the same kind of workout and who has a killer body.
      My man and I both enjoy working out. We don’t workout together but we may in the future. I just remembered. A woman at a party last weekend asked us if we did weightlifting competitions. We don’t. It was a nice compliment.:) We have other common interests that bond us like cooking/dining and traveling.
      Maybe some other single women on space2live will benefit from your recommendation. Thanks O.R.:)

    • Eros September 14, 2015 at 11:46 pm - Reply

      It’s nice to hear there are men like you who lift but I believe your perspective may be age related.

      I find men who lift (I lift) to be very externallly motivated, they dont see the passion and intellect us introverts appreciate. They are appearance based and seem to think that’s what everyone else should appreciate also. There’s so much more to a person (and most women would agree) that you could have the hottest man out there with little upstairs and you’ll lose interest (I know many men who also feel this way but not all).

      I am sorry but I think introverts who enjoy interaction on a more deeper level wouldn’t appreciate the BB’s I’ve encountered (and even worse are the guys on the gear).

      I think I know why 75% are single. They are narcissist, me me and more me. See you said it yourself they are seeking women who lift, what about the ladies who run on the treadmill, why not a woman like that. Muscular women are stunning as are think women as are abundant women. I’m lucky to meet men outside the gym who confess they are obsessed with curvy women (and when I say curvy, it’s a euphemism for overweight).

      While I attract my fellow gym freaks, I can’t handle their moods (when you’re low on calories and even water just before competition they become hangry people), the time they spend on themselves in the gym (and yes even in the mirror), the time spent on food preparation leaves very little time for the amazing fun you can have with a regular guy.

      • Eros September 14, 2015 at 11:50 pm - Reply

        I really should have proofread that before posting.
        Just for the record, I have 17% body fat and have been lifting for 3 years so I’m not bagging the scene.

        My comment may have come across as a little negative but my intention was to say good for you but it’s not for everyone.

  10. sheketechad September 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    I am so glad to hear that you both showed up to hold on to a good thing!

    Currently I am my own partner, and not doing such a hot job at that these last six years, LOL! As for what do I bring to the table? Hm. I often wonder that myself, honestly. As an INFJ with an Enneagram of Five, I imagine I confuse others with my hot/cold approach to things. Intensely passionate but with a mind made for detaching from emotions to examine things with logic, it’s probably a mixed bag that keeps others guessing (and me too, at times). My friends have at times described me as an intense empath. But as a five (Einstein, Nietzsche and Darwin), we can go so far into our minds that we become doddering mutterers and avoid people. I can feel this potential. What do I need? Most likely a Rock with a hidden soft spot that squeaks when pressed 😉

    I’ve made and continue to make small adjustments for socialization opportunities with people that have shared interests. Dating has simply been incredibly bad for me. And it isn’t just me; I see the same for many of my intelligent, working, female friends between 40 and 60. For a few of my friends, it has cast a terribly heavy pall on their lives and they’ve ‘given up’ or begin to question their value. So yes, it is good to hear of others successes!

    Be well,
    ~S

    • Brenda Knowles September 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      You sound like a good friend of mine. She is passionate and a great listener and she defers to logic often. She’s an engineer. As a friend, she offers me such clarity with her responses to my garbled emotion-fed thoughts. I’m sure your friends adore you. I know I get a lot of clarity and warmth from your posts.

      My guy is a rock with a hidden soft spot that squeaks. Gotta have that soft spot.;) Great description. Thanks!

      Dating can beat you up or feed you. I tried very hard not to make it a gauge for my happiness. I just enjoyed getting to know different people and going to new places. Dating fed my need for novelty and adventure. If I got attached, then I was learning a new dance with someone. The last man I dated before I found my ‘rock’, did crush my spirits. I allowed his departure to make me feel damaged. He just wasn’t the right one. I see that now.
      Relationships require work and understanding. So much work and understanding. Through dating, I learned no one is going to be effortless. It took me a while to find someone worth working for and willing to work with me.
      Intelligent and strong women puzzle a lot of men. They have choices and don’t ‘need’ a man. They aren’t easily appeased with impressive dates and material things. The mature men appreciate an interesting and independent woman who can carry on a stimulating conversation. You’re a hot ticket Ms. S.:)
      I know you know yourself well. You’ll know when or if you’re ready for a relationship again.
      I wish we lived near each other. We could share laughs and sighs over relationship stories.

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