When the conversation turns to relationships, I often run into some recurrent themes. Sometimes, people complain about the lack of empathy and respect they receive from others. Other people wonder if they will find someone who can tolerate their misophonia.
Some spouses/partners/family members are antagonistic or even abusive in their mocking and intentional goading. This is alien to me and it saddens me every time I read that someone experiences this. Bullying or deliberate triggering for amusement is not normal in a healthy relationship. While people with misophonia have to own their condition, they do NOT need to get grief for having it. And certainly not from the people who should be allies; friends, partners and family.
Misophonia is real – not made up. This may be part of the problem. A condition that makes a person overtly emotional over something as mundane as a sound can seem odd. To a person unfamiliar with sound sensitivity, such a thing may seem suspect. Awareness is crucial in resolving any conflict so familiarization with misophonia is important. With familiarity comes understanding and perhaps respect.
Interpersonal relationships are complex, so communication is vital. It may be surprising that the sound of one’s sneeze has caused another person distress. But most people completely understand that another person may be allergic to dogs. We can thank time and millions of dogs and dog-lovers for the knowledge we have about that fact.
Many people with misophonia are reluctant share the fact that they have the condition. This further complicates matters and presents a sort of catch-22. Without openness there is less chance of understanding. But with it comes an opportunity for discomfort. A bit of bravery and willingness to take a chance is necessary. Is it worth it? I think that it is.
Isn’t it wise to find out early in a relationship if the person you are with has the level of empathy you need? Again with the dogs, if you had a precious pet, you’d want to know soon on if your potential mate was allergic to it. The number of available empathetic people in the relationship pool is an unknown. But so is the number of dog-lovers. Lots of cat-people out there… but they say there’s a pot for every lid. I hope that’s true.
I can attest to the fact that many people with misophonia have successful long-term relationships. I’ve read about their healthy partnering and many of them have children. Sometimes people worry about having children in case the children trigger them. I’m sure that happens. But people make it work every day.
I have had two long-term relationships, one of 18 years and the other now going strong in its 24th year. We have two daughters and 2 grandchildren. Triggers? You bet! Yet, somehow we thrive and enjoy our lives just like people without misophonia.
Empathetic partners? They’re out there but they don’t necessarily come that way. Sure, there must be a seed of compassion in a person’s heart to be generous but communication and sharing are great teachers. Time is also necessary. Allow for trial and error and some bumps in the road. But always be open to the possibility of having the loving relationships you so deserve!Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.