Relationships are one of the most complicated and prominent features of our lives. I have had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time living with a spouse, as well as experiencing the world as a single person. Having Misophonia, the entirety of these years have been clouded with uncertainties. The typical thoughts one may have growing up have a darker filter running through our minds-“Who will I marry?” sounds more like “Who will want me?”
In a world where personal insecurities are bountiful there is an added feature to our flaws: burden. As much as we may want to keep it to ourselves, it will find a way to manifest itself into our interactions. In an effort to suppress our trigger reactions we sacrifice our natural expressions and alter the way we act. Misread signals and lack of communication breed tension and all of a sudden everyone around us is wrapped in. We are left having to explain ourselves and the damage is done. They are affected.
We often feel immense guilt bringing others into our world. We feel that we can be a bother, something they’ll have to “deal with.” There’s extra pressure surrounding this ordeal when it comes to dating and relationships. I believe that we have an added level of hindrance when it comes to searching for a partner due to the fact that Misophonia is a widely misunderstood and un-heard of condition. Dealing with day to day stress, feeling like your nerves are shot and not having anyone to turn to can leave us feeling disheartened. After coming out of a long-term live-in relationship I remember having an overwhelming fear that I would never be able to find someone who would adapt the highly accommodating lifestyle I had developed with my ex. Hearing that there are ‘other fish in the sea’ offered little encouragement knowing that not just anyone will have the patience for my bothersome disorder.
Misophonia should not limit who we meet or connect with, but some essential things may be considered when becoming more heavily involved. This is someone we could end up spending a majority of our time with, or potentially sharing our entire lives with. Their actions, opinions, and overall attitude will play an integral role in the partnership. Some of the most important aspects that a healthy relationship with a Misophone include are acceptance, cooperation, and fulfillment. Acceptance is understanding that this is a true disorder, never placing guilt on the other person for something they cannot control. It is not just a quirk. They may not be able to relate but they must realize that Misophonia is part of our package-deal. It most likely isn’t going anywhere and although it does not have to define us, it is a part of who we are. Cooperation is the willingness to help lessen the other’s pain. This includes making reasonable accommodations to ease the suffering so that both are happy. For example, my ex used to turn the TV volume up and eat dinner in another room when we were at home so that I could have some peace. It was not traditional but it made sense for us. Fulfillment refers to having plenty of other things to focus on together so that the disorder doesn’t control the entire relationship. Venting about triggers is therapeutic, and frustrations can be shared but should not dominate every conversation. It is absolutely beneficial, if possible, when a couple is able to find some trigger-friendly ways to spend time together. It is very easy for negativity to flourish when these things are out of balance.
A healthy balance may take time but can be built when both parties are on the same page. It can be difficult to imagine the right person for the proceeding. So does Misophonia limit who you actually date? It’s possible. Some people won’t be able to get on the same page. They may be able to empathize, but struggle to accommodate. On the other hand, we may be pleasantly surprised at how well it works out with others. We’ll only know through experience. Knowing what we can tolerate, while remaining patient and positive, we can decide for ourselves relationships to pursue and which to walk away from.
By Danielle Waterman