I can relate to what you're saying.
I also feel that way, that at times even being understood to me is more important than being loved. If I don't feel understood in any way, I tend to feel at the loneliest.
That being said, I feel that my current significant other (INFJ soulmate) is the only person who sees the whole of me. No one else in past/present does it better than him. Yes, I have exes who glimpse through my 'soul' and understand it during numerous times - enough for me to share my relationships with them in the past. I know a few people who are kind hearted, great and understanding, they see my deepest vulnerability and several layers. However, I'd say my boyfriend is the one who sees through me, pretty much all the time. We have a certain unique kind of sharing in terms of how we share energy, values, connections - almost like we're imprinted well on each other and like he's my second internal voice. Hence I understand about the 'energy' combined, I feel that we simply can go anywhere together and do anything together. He is the one person in my life who makes me feel completely understood, respected, admired, loved - all in one package and for that, I know that he is my soulmate. Even during arguments and rough patches, we never stopped saying,'I love you.'
I think it 'just is.' There will be a few/several people or one person who simply just knows how to see right through you, who simply connects with you on that level..And there are others who don't, but you can still love and respect them.The three people who have seen me: An ENTP, INTJ, and an INFJ. What were the types of the people that made you feel known? Did they have a complexity of their own? For my soul-seeing trio, they were all complex in their own way. Please be willing to share any insight of your own.
Is it simply a matter of us taking off our mask? I don't think so, because the mask is as much a part of me as the face that breathes under it. I also feel that someone pushing for it to come off, would only fasten it even tighter in place. But I think being seen goes beyond my face, it is bigger...it's almost so beyond understanding, we are able to be in awe of it together. I think vulnerability is part of it, but I think the vulnerability has to be equal...not only them showing us who they are, but us showing them too. Is it a matter of them wanting to see?
I wonder, does it have more to do with me making myself easy to understand for them, or their capacity for it was able to align with my complexity? I think we subconsciously foresee who has the potential to understand and who does not. When I see a spark, or feel a warmth...I crave to follow it, to set it on fire, to show them my true self. I crave the deep relationships that make me grow, let me explore myself, let me be myself.
Deep down, I feel every human interaction carries the potential for us to witness the truth of ourselves, but we hold back because we are afraid...afraid to see it, or afraid to show it.