Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Single? Lonely? Gifted? Listen Up.


photo courtesy of STSci NASA

photo courtesy of STSci NASA

If you’re single and feeling lonely, listen up.

Because I know what you’re thinking. You’ve tried. Tinder. Plenty of Fish. Match. E-Harmony. The Church Barbecue.

Nothing works. You must be too much. Too much for love.

After all, you overwhelm your friends with your intensity. You’re too sensitive to shoot-’em-up-movies, to screeching leaf blowers, to wafting perfumes and to commas in the wrong place. You’re too curious about dark matter and too obsessed with how Americans waste water on golf courses.

You must be too much. Too much for love.

But what if that’s not true?

I can hear you now. “Well, obviously, Paula, you’re dead wrong. I’m single. SINGLE. There’s your proof. Obvious. Geez, Paula, you aren’t as smart as I thought you were.”

Let me explain. Think about it. When it comes to too muchness, where real love is concerned: You can never be too much. If your capacity to love is as large as your capacity to worry about the time when you were in 6th grade and you were mean to Mary Sweeney, your future partner has won the jackpot. Seriously.

Now, I realize that it’s not that simple. I’m going to give you a few tips so that you can truly embrace what I’m saying and then find your significant other (or s/he can find you) without further ado. Well, with some ado. A little ado.

I know that it could take some work for you to believe in yourself. And maybe you’ve closed off your enormous capacity to love. It could take some time to open that back up again. And you may need some suggestions about where to look for that lucky person. So, here are the tips:

• You all know that I suggest therapy every chance I get. I recommend it if you feel despair, powerlessness or terrified of intimacy. There are also support groups, journaling and mindfulness practices that can strengthen your sense of self. Journaling, in particular, can be useful for getting in touch with your fears and befriending them.

• Practice expressing yourself in your friendships: Tell the truth. Ask for what you really need. Show your quirkiness and your vulnerability. Geek out.

• Find ways to get intellectual stimulation that involve other smart humans. Take classes at a university, join a Facebook group of like-minds, create or join a meetup group in your town (you might be surprised at what’s already out there), learn a new language and travel, follow bloggers you find intriguing (ahem) and write to them, attend conferences on topics of interest. (Then, when you spot another rainforest mind, be brave and ask him/her to coffee, literally or virtually.)

• Embody gratitude whenever you can. It will improve your health, your confidence and your sense of well-being. (I know you hear this everywhere, but it works!)

And finally, my favorite tip:

Use your creativity to tap the Magic that’s in you and around you. One way to do this: Write a letter to your future mate telling him or her about yourself. Show who you really are through your letter. Be funny or serious or tender or weird. (Poems, stories, drawings, or collages are also possible formats.) Perhaps, you’ll sense that you need to write a series of letters. Trust your intuition. Then, feel deeply into the experience of knowing this person. Use all of your senses to imagine his/her presence. Be patient. Tell the multiverse that you’re ready and that you mean it. Give the letter(s) to your person when s/he shows up.

Note: Thanks to Anne Allanketner and Anne Gordon for their help with this post.


To my bloggEEs: If you’re single, are you seeking a partner? What do you think of these ideas? And for those of you already in intimate relationships, how did you find him/her? What do you suggest to someone looking for a partner?


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.

49 thoughts on “Single? Lonely? Gifted? Listen Up.

  1. At this phase in my life, I am content to be single.

    Liked by 6 people

    • That’s great, Jen. I hope no one thinks that I’m saying all single people ought to be in relationships! Because I’m not saying that. This post is just for the ones who are single right now and who would like to be in a partnership.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I feel you on that remark. I used to want to be in a relationship, but I shoved that out of my queue list and surrounded myself with learning and playing different instruments.

      Liked by 3 people

      • same (tho I got into different hobbies lol). I think for some of us, we feel somehow defective, and because our culture is so fixated on romantic love and sex, we take our singleness as shorthand for us being entirely unwanted and somehow Wrong. It’s such a relief to realize that isn’t the case, and to feel happy as a singleton! 🙂 it also helps when you make friends who really understand you and give you unconditional love. Sometimes it’s not a romantic relationship we really want so much as that deep emotional connection.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I’d have realized this years ago!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Love, love, love this post Paula! I wrote a letter to my past self last week as a blog post. I wish I had realized sooner that the list of potential mates as an extremely rare rainforest bird plus a specific religious subspecies within the category would be challenging, but not impossible. I was so used to hanging out with more common birds, I thought I was destined to settle for one or go extinct. During a time of year where every commercial seems to advertise jewelry and made for TV movies show snuggling couples in front of roaring fires, it can be difficult to hush the fears. My family was amazed when they met my future husband, and said, “He’s like the male version of you. I didn’t think that was even possible. ” I didn’t either. It’s been one of the only times I’ve been happy to be proven wrong. 10+ years of marriage, and 4 brilliant boys later, I am grateful everyday that we have each other.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have the romantic relationship sorted, its friendship I struggle with. In recent years, attempts at being honest, open and myself have led to some tremendous smack-downs and I just can’t find the courage or the hope at the moment to be very open with anybody in person. So tired of offending people with who I am, with caring too much, too much enthusiasm, etc. I’m not reliably tolerable to clever, creative, unusual people, I have learned, repeatedly. There are amazing people around me, but they’re busy and have their own lives and friendship circles all sorted out and I just don’t have the optimism to try and claim any space there, nor am I together enough to be able to bear another slap-down.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, sweet Nimue. It sounds like it’s been so painful and that you need some time to recover. I suspect that you are quite rainforest-y, having read some of your blog. Do you get any satisfaction from friendships online? From people who read your books? Being so exquisitely sensitive can make everything so difficult. I’m guessing that when you feel ready that one of those amazing people will be delighted to cultivate a friendship with you. Congratulations on having the romantic part sorted out. How did you do it?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, when you’re too rainforest for the general population, but not academic or quick enough for the people you consider to be intelligent, it’s hard to know where to go.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, hard to know. One idea for you to consider is that academic intelligence is one way to be smart. Sometimes gifted folks don’t do well academically because of the way the system is run. They may also not be fast thinkers if they’re deeper thinkers. So don’t write yourself off as not intelligent enough for the intelligent people!


      • That’s the one, yes! But, that means there’s 2 of us, and where there’s 2, more than 2 is always likely.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When it comes to romance, think: Location, location, location. (And of course, money). My psychiatrist told me I need to get the hell out of here because I will never fit in. MY PSYCHIATRIST said that. lol

    I live in a place where even the smart women who claim money is no object eventually show their cards by growing tired of being with a poor man, mainly because making money here is pretty easy for anyone who is willing to give up on their inherent gifted passions and talents and instead get a “real job” as part of the prevailing local industrial machine 😛 ).

    I jest, but only to make light of the fact that it is hard to not become jaded when every woman I have been with told me at first that they didn’t care about money, only for the relationships to eventually fall apart for that very reason. because it turned out they secretly thought my talents were going to make me very successful. Which is doubly confusing, since I never could figure out if I should be flattered they had faith in my ability to become successful, or disgusted that they saw me as a potential goldmine?

    Whatever the case, I was extremely lonely for a long time until I made a breakthrough: after being single for several years I stopped thinking “oh man this is horrible — I will never have a relationship” to thinking “HEY! You made it this far on your own and you didn’t die of loneliness or a broken heart so you now know that if you have to, you can live this way for the rest of your life if you have to. And it ain’t that bad!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I’m so sorry Mark. It sounds so painful. I think it’s important for all of us to create fulfilling lives and to find happiness and meaning in solitude and as a single person. There can be so much pressure to be part of a couple. And yet, someone was telling me the other day how satisfying making art was, and how it was as thrilling as having great sex!


      • Thank you! Making art IS a great feeling, and is also an important therapeutic tool. I am sure I mentioned before the (assumed) connection between making art and the ancient practice of shamanism where the shaman — the prototypical artist — uses their creative powers to heal both themselves and others, with most shamans claiming that is they stop their practice they will become ill again.

        Speaking of making art and therapy, this is a bit off topic but I think worth sharing: I became a musician relatively late in life. While learning an instrument can be frustrating at first (especially for those of us who always expect to be good at whatever we do!), there is something about the immediacy of making music, its completeness in the moment, that IMO beats all other forms of art for its ability to calm and heal. Pick up an instrument, randomly play a note and you can be instantly transported to another place and state of mind. Recent science back this up.

        For anyone who does not play an instrument I cannot recommend it more highly, even if it means banging sticks on pots and pans or whatever! Becoming skilled at making music in a traditional sense need not be the destiny.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This post really resonates with me. What makes my situation even more difficult is that I am also looking for a same-sex partner. I’d love to meet someone naturally at the types of activities, but my odds are even lower that I will be successful!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, I am with my husband for ten beautiful years now. He is extremely intelligent without the intensity. My extreme sensitivity does get on his nerves every once in a while but he loves me anyway. He said something the other night when I was fussing with my hair because it was touching my face. “The things that bother you sometimes don’t bother other people”. So I know he kind of gets it, he is actually way more patient with our highly sensitive and gifted five year old. Anyway, we met because a mutual friend introduced us, she luckily figured out that we would be perfect for each other. So making that one friend and her acceptance of my individuality led to ten years and four lovely daughters. I was also at the point in my life now when I was sick and tired of hiding my gifts and trying to be normal. So I also credit my ability to be honest with finding those connections we need so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been taught (in theory, and by practice) that magic is a three step process. The first step is desire. The second step is binding the desire with some kind of ritual. The third — and the most important, and hardest — is letting go. In a religious context, you could phrase the last two as “earnest prayer” followed by “letting go and letting God.”

    I struggled a lot through my forties with partner-finding, and as I approached fifty, after numerous romantic catastrophes (I should write a book), I threw in the towel. I crafted a mantra for myself: I will have only those women in my life who are good TO me, and good FOR me. If that happened to be none at all, well, that was just fine — after all, if there aren’t any women in the world who are going to be both good TO me and good FOR me, who needs them? It was a powerful melding of the second two steps: binding the desire with a very clear ritual statement, and then letting it go to work out however it would.

    Within a matter of months, my current wife showed up in my life: we met by purest chance of where we happened to set up our tents at a mountain festival in Colorado. She’d also recently written off romance and men, and gotten herself a dog. She moved in with me seven months later.

    That was 2004, and she’s still the best woman in the world, in my eyes and heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am sure there are many who will find this article valuable. There are some of us who are single, whether by choice or habit, and manage to not worry about it. The constant repetition, though the media, that there’s something wrong with being single or how vulnerable you must be, has the, no doubt unintended, potential to undermine anyone’s confidence in being single.

    There are degrees of separation and, for some of us, that angle is greater than for others. Not all of us mind being ‘the odd one out.’ That may be because it’s all we have ever known and after a while you get used to it and realize it’s really much better than suppressing your own interests and passions and interpretations that simply do not intersect with almost anyone you have ever met.

    I occasionally find someone who shares a small subset of my interests, always women here, unlike back home when it was more likely men, and we can connect now and then but there are always issues. For example, I love music of all kinds and purchase my tickets as soon as I hear about an event that interests me but the few people I know who like one kind of music have zero interest in other kinds and, of course, they insist on waiting till the last minute to buy their tickets. LOL!

    I enjoy reading your posts even when they aren’t applicable to me. I’m used to that too. One of the things I am most impressed by you is your willingness and commitment to responding to everyone with all of their different concerns and abilities, including those who have quite obviously strayed into your group by mistake. Thank you for that. Best wishes for the holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I needed to start this post differently if I gave the impression that I believed that it wasn’t OK to be single. That wasn’t my intention! I was just writing to the single people who wanted to be in a partnership. I certainly am not saying that being single is not a fine way to be. I’ve been single much of my adult life! I totally agree that there’s tremendous pressure from the media and everywhere we look, to be part of a couple. So sorry to leave the wrong impression. I know that one can have a life full of meaning, purpose, love and joy without following a path of partnering. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.


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  12. After a few years single or dating wrong people – and thinking it was time to start dating a “normal” guy -, I’ve just found a beautiful rainforest minded guy and… Guess what? I’m very excited and soooo scared! The good part is that, despite we barely know each other, he is totally aware of this “condition” and seems very excited too, but the bad part is that we have the same struggles and he seems scared/confused/overwhelmed as well. I fear all this overthinking may end up in one of us losing interest. Do you have any suggestions? Kind regards from Brazil 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was looking at one time or another, but now I’m just making plans for being single now. I did have one relationship but we broke up a while later.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Seriously this meant alot to me to read… recently I have been going thro alot. Others around me just shrug it off or tell me not to do this or that but I’m not the same as them. I feel way more intensely and love and heartbreak are 10 times more than anyone else could understand…I also started realizing how many internal emotions I had my dealt with that honestly I was scared for a minute there were starting to drive me to actual Insanity…that is until I found the root cause it went away.Thankyou for writing this cuz assurance helps

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. I needed to read this once again. Thanks for still being there ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Is there a Facebook group for rainforest minds to virtually meet others, I wonder? I looked but couldn’t find one. I don’t know if I am gifted (my kids are), so I don’t really want to join a gifted adults group (imposter syndrome, anyone? 🙂 I’m an “intellectual introvert” type living in the suburbs that became single this year so I think I could benefit by one especially during this pandemic. If not I’d be willing to start one, but not sure if “rainforest mind” is trademarked, or otherwise protected?

    Thank you for this blog, Paula. When I first encountered it years ago, I had one of those a-ha (crying) moments that helped change my relationship with myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a couple groups that I’m aware of. There’s (not called RFM, but for gifted adults) They have a FB group (I think they charge for it) and articles and classes. There is lots of valuable information on their site. The FB group called “Gifted Adults” can have a political right-wing flavor that I’m not comfortable with (again, they’re not called RFM although they sometimes share my work). There’s a therapist in the midwest in the US who runs a FB group for her clients called rainforest minds. The therapist asked my permission before she started it and uses my books in the group.

      Rainforest mind is not trademarked. I’d actually like it to be used freely and catch on as a description for giftedness. That said, I do appreciate it when people give me credit and mention my work when they use the term. So, you can start a FB group if you like. I know others have asked me to do it and I don’t want to do the work of monitoring a FB group. It takes a lot of time! What I ask is that you have an explanation that’s pinned at the top that the group is NOT run by me. And you link to my blog. I know I can’t control how people use the expression or how they run the groups. But I’m hoping that you would run it with integrity in mind! Let me know if you decide to do it, jxtr66. Thanks for asking.


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