One time, when my brother and I were discussing how we like our coffee.
I poked fun at him for putting more sweetener in it than actual coffee itself.
When I stated I liked my coffee black, he gave it right back to me with, “Yeah, like your soul.”
Of course, we were only joking about the other’s beverage preferences.
I thought I’d argue his statement, but to my surprise, I hesitated.
"Maybe he’s not wrong," I thought.
I do, after all, have the tendency to retreat from the world whenever I get the chance.
I’m a people person when I have to be, but not by nature.
I hate parties, forced conversations and superficial relationships.
True intimacy freaks me out on so many levels, and I've always been more of a loner.
I decided these things didn’t necessarily point to having a soul as black as my coffee, but they certainly made me different from most people I know.
In fact, I’m a relatively tender person who wants to love and be loved just like everyone else.
The difference, however, lies in how I prefer to give and receive that love.
Even though I struggle with giving and receiving affection, I still crave it.
I just can’t give or take it in the way portrayed by most social norms.
Over the years, I’ve noticed I’m definitely not alone in trying to navigate this difficulty.
The subsequent reflections and assessments of my needs when it comes to relationships — whether they’re pure friendships or romantically involved — have led me to conclude that those of us who require a bit more space than our PDA-happy counterparts aren’t always the easiest to love.
We demand a certain level of understanding in our relationships, and our personalities require more understanding with regard to space, both physically and emotionally.
It’s not that we’re not worth loving.
It just takes a certain awareness of our needs in order to love us in the best way possible.
If you find yourself on the brink or in the thick of a relationship with this kind of person, here are three of the most important things to remember:
1. We don’t necessarily want or need constant interaction in order to feel loved and wanted.
Love has the capacity for expression in so many ways, including words, actions, touch, gesture, gifts, spending time together and so on.
We prefer a love that doesn’t always need to be tangible.
That is, we don’t want or need you to be in constant contact.
It’s not that we never want to be acknowledged or touched.
It’s just that, sometimes, we’d rather not be.
Sometimes, we welcome the intimacy, and sometimes, we don’t.
Sometimes, it’s harder for us to accept that intimacy because it can be terrifying and demand a good amount of energy.
The reason we tend to keep to ourselves has everything to do with preserving that energy and recharging when it’s been exerted.
In order for us to fulfill your needs, we need the freedom to attend to our own.
This means we’ll already have an acute understanding of your desires for freedom, too.
2. Take your time.
Just to clear things up, we’re not totally antisocial hermits with minimal interactive experiences.
Still, this relationship business isn’t necessarily our forte.
For that reason, rushing into anything is a bad idea.
It will likely deter those of us who need space from pursuing the potential love any further.
Because this is already shaky ground for us to walk on — just being with another person most of the time — any signs of rushing will push us away from whatever possibilities exist, no matter how good they may seem.
This makes it all the more important to take our time in forming relationships.
That’s not to say we don’t respond to “hitting it off” with someone, but it might mean we seem a bit more guarded despite the evident compatibility.
Just give us time. Take it slow.
The fact we’re even making an effort is huge, and we’ll meet you at least halfway if we feel it’s right.
That said, if you’re not into taking your time (which is totally fine), we probably can’t meet your needs.
3. Don’t make us feel guilty.
While we absolutely want to know what your needs are in a relationship, trying to guilt us into feeling like we have “black souls” isn’t necessarily the way to do it.
If that’s how you truly feel, we probably shouldn’t spend time together.
It's as simple as that.
We understand relationships are difficult, even when you're dealing with the "normal" ones.
It’s all good if we need to go our separate ways.
But please, don’t tell us we’re cold and heartless.
That’s not very nice, and it's not necessarily true.
All relationships come with their demands, as each person comes with his or her specific needs.
You don’t have to text or call us 24/7.
We don’t always want to hold hands, and we see no need in doing absolutely everything together all the time.
Many will find our needs are incompatible with their own, and that’s okay.
However, just because we might seem a little “difficult,” that doesn’t mean we’re not worth a chance.
As with all relationships, the right person is worth taking the time to understand.
If you’re willing to put in that time, we’ll be more than likely to reciprocate that understanding.
Maybe it’ll work out, and maybe it won’t.
Either way, it’s always possible to approach this kind of relationship with understanding.
That’s just the way love works.