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Facts vs. Feelings with Neurotypical Partners

As a therapist deeply immersed in the intricate dynamics of neurodiverse relationships, I've often found myself in the middle of the age-old debate:


What holds more value, facts or feelings? 🤔


Picture this: one partner, with a furrowed brow, insists,


"The facts clearly show I'm right! You are completely overreacting! You shouldn't feel that way." 😠


While the other, with a sigh of frustration, counters,


"But you're missing how all this makes me feel, which is just as important." 😞

This isn't just an argument; it's a vivid illustration of two fundamentally different ways of experiencing the world, each with its own language, trying desperately to be heard and understood. 🗣️

The Deep Roots of Emotions 🌱

A deeper dive into the nature of feelings reveals that they are often rooted in past experiences rather than the present moment.


This is particularly true for individuals who have endured trauma.

For them, current events can act as triggers, invoking disproportionate emotional responses that seem incongruent with the actual situation. 


It's akin to a geological fault line; when the present bumps against this line, it causes tremors that reverberate through our being, manifesting as intense emotions. 


Understanding an Outsized Reaction 😲😡😥😖

This understanding of emotions sheds light on why we might react strongly to certain situations that, to our partner, might seem minor.


It's NOT the present circumstance that's solely responsible for our feelings; instead, it's our past experiences casting long shadows over our current perceptions. 


This shift from present to past can lead us to erroneously believe that, if only our partner would change, our emotional turmoil would subside.


However, the key to mitigating these disproportionate reactions lies in having compassion for the underlying trauma, thereby recalibrating our emotional responses to better match the realities of the present. 


The Autistic Mistake: Dismissing Emotions ❌🧠

Unfortunately, autistic partners often make the mistake of arguing facts over feelings. 


The wiser path is acknowledging the reality and significance of feelings, while setting facts aside for the moment. 


Emotions are indicators, messengers that convey important insights about our inner world and our relationships.


The Allistic Mistake: Equating Emotions to Truth ❌🔮

On the other hand, the mistake that an allistic partner makes is to elevate these feelings to the status of incontrovertible truths, allowing them to unjustifiably indict others or dictate our actions.


This misstep can lead us down a path of misunderstanding and conflict, both with ourselves and others. 


Take a Pause: From Primal to Thoughtful Response ⏸️💡

One of the most effective strategies for navigating emotional triggers is the practice of pausing before reacting.

This pause, a moment of intentional breath and reflection, allows us to move from a primal, reactive state to one of thoughtful response. 


It signals to our body that we are safe, enabling us to engage the more rational parts of our brain.


Learning to pause and respond rather than react can result in a monumental shift for a couple. 


Feelings are Essential, Not Truth 💖

Feeling our feelings is essential.


Resisting or denying them as an individual or a couple only amplifies their intensity and can lead to greater internal turmoil. 

Feelings are transient energies, constantly in flux. By allowing them to flow through us, they lose their power to overwhelm.

Yet, remembering this truth can be challenging in moments of acute emotional distress.


Ultimately, honoring our feelings while also recognizing that they are not infallible truths is a delicate balance to achieve.


Feelings provide valuable insights into our emotional landscape, but they must be interpreted with caution and context, particularly when they stem from past traumas. 


For neurodiverse couples grappling with facts and feelings, the support of a neurodiverse couples specialist can be an invaluable step towards healing and equilibrium.


In doing so, we learn not only to honor our feelings but also to ensure they serve us in constructive ways, guiding us toward healthier, more informed choices in our lives.

With heartfelt guidance and support,


Dr. Motro is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist #53452 and the Founder/Clinical Director of the Neurodiverse Couples Counseling Center.


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