Love can be challenging at times, even when you are not a highly sensitive person. So how is it possible for a highly sensitive person to really love someone and to be loved back authentically? In this blog, you will discover the world of the highly sensitive person in love.
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Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
After reminiscing about my relationship with my fiancé Riny, I felt inspired to write this article. I am a highly sensitive person and Riny is not (although he is sensitive in his own way).
As an HSP/Non-HSP couple, we had to find ways to deal with our differences. Consequently, our journey (of 6 years) has resulted in many insights that I would like to share with you in this article.
No worries, I did not base these insights solely on my own love relationship, as that would be quite subjective. Therefore, I went down the rabbit hole into the experiences of other highly sensitive people with regards to dating and being in a love relationship as well.
Here’s What You’ll Learn:
- 3 Common Love Relationship Issues For The Highly Sensitive Person
- Love Advice: How To Date A Highly Sensitive Person
- Can A Highly Sensitive Person Really Love Someone?
- What To Do During A Conflict With Your HSP Partner?
- Relationship Advice For The Highly Sensitive Person Dating A Non-HSP
- Some Final Words
3 Common Love Relationship Issues For The Highly Sensitive Person
When Riny and I first started dating, we soon discovered that we experience the world differently. Hence, this resulted in a fair share of disagreements and conflicts. Don’t get me wrong, we love each other like crazy. However, these problems could cause quite some drama in our relationship.
Especially in the beginning, when you get to know each other, these challenges can feel overwhelming. At times we even thought they were dealbreakers. However, once you become aware of the recurring patterns, you can start to address them.
After identifying these patterns, we discovered that these issues are common for the highly sensitive person in a relationship. So what are some of the common relationship issues for the highly sensitive person?
1. Emotional Love Relationship Issues As A Highly Sensitive Person
The highly sensitive person feels deeply. This is a scientifically proven fact. However, this can result in a major relationship challenge for the highly sensitive person; feeling emotionally overloaded.
While feeling deeply is a gift when good things happen, it feels like a curse when conflict arises. Especially in a relationship conflict, emotions can take over for both parties, but especially within the highly sensitive person.
When this occurs, the highly sensitive person may struggle to listen to what their partner is saying, because they are overwhelmed from the upsetting emotions within.
Moreover, things may be said during the ’emotional Tsunami’, that the highly sensitive person regrets afterwards. Further below in this article, I provide practical advice on how to cope with this challenge.
2. Taking Things Personally
Because of our depth of processing, the highly sensitive person tends to overthink. Therefore, it may happen that we overthink things others (and especially our partners) say to us. This may sometimes result in taking things personally.
As we not only hear the words, but also process the subtle body language, energy and non-verbal signals communicated along with these words, it can be hard to not take things personally.
The highly sensitive person oftentimes hears phrases such as ‘You are too sensitive’ or ‘Don’t take things so personally’. I feel quite itchy when I hear those phrases, as I literally can’t help it. As highly sensitive people, we are doing our best. However, it is not possible to ‘just turn it off’, as it is a difference in our brain that does not have an off switch.
Hence, we may face the challenge that we take things personally every now and then. As a non-HSP partner, it is important to understand that this is a challenging pattern you may discover in your relationship.
3. Extreme Empathy
Many highly sensitive people are also extremely empathic. You may wonder, why I listed the empathy of the highly sensitive person as a challenge within a relationship.
True, it is a gift to feel it all. However, because we feel it all, we also feel the emotions and energy of our partners. As a result, we sometimes mirror our partner, even if our partner is not aware of their own emotions yet.
I have discovered this in my own relationship, but also heard it from other HSP friends who are dating. It can be a true challenge to feel the emotions of your partner when he or she is not ready to process or express them yet.
Here’s a common situation I as a highly sensitive person face with my fiancé every now and then:
Me: “Is everything okay?”
Him: “Yeah sure, nothing’s wrong.”
Me: “Are you sure? I’m picking up on something.”
Him: “Yes, I am sure.”
*Weeks go by*
*Him finally expressing what’s been bothering him*
*Me acting surprised, but not being surprised because I sensed it weeks ago*.
Does this sound relatable? This is what I mean with being extremely empathic. You may sense that your partner is struggling, but sometimes the person is not ready to talk about how they feel yet.
It can be hard to not act on your empathy immediately because you want to help your partner resolve their challenges. Hence, this may result in conflicts. After all, you as a highly sensitive person don’t want to feel their pain all those weeks before they are ready to process them.
Although the relationship issues stated above may worry you, please do not hesitate to date a highly sensitive person. Every relationship has its own challenges, whether you are highly sensitive or not.
Love Advice: How To Date A Highly Sensitive Person
If you are currently dating a highly sensitive person or suspect your love interest to be an HSP, here’s some useful advice on how to date him or her. This advice is based on the experiences of countless HSP’s from different communities for highly sensitive people.
- Build An Emotional Bond
First of all, it is important to understand that a highly sensitive person craves a deep, emotional bond with their love interest. There has to be a sense of authentic connection, before a highly sensitive person wants to enter a relationship with someone.
Smalltalk and chitchat about shallow things do usually not interest highly sensitive people. Especially in a relationship, HSP’s often crave a deep connection with their partner.
Therefore, it is important that you also enjoy deep conversations every now and then. Otherwise, chances are likely that you will not meet the needs of your HSP partner and he or she eventually will be bored.
- Understand The Differences Regarding Sensory Processing
Another aspect that is important while dating a highly sensitive person and love, is to be aware of the differences when it comes to sensory processing.
Highly sensitive people process external input such as smell, noise, touch and light more deeply compared to non-HSP’s. Therefore, some situations may be more overwhelming to them.
Loud, busy crowds, places with intense fragrances or bright lights may cause a highly sensitive person to feel exhausted within minutes. Therefore, it is important for you as a non-HSP to learn to respect their boundaries and to not push them into these stimulating experiences too often.
This does not mean that HSP’s should be avoiding all situations that overwhelm them, but rather have enough time to process these situations.
Also, you may discover that your highly sensitive partner is acting more reserved in these stimulating situations. Please do not push them to behave differently or ‘better’, as this may cause them to feel extra overwhelmed.
- Ask Your Love Interest What He Or She Needs
As not all highly sensitive people are the same, it is important for you to ask your love interest what he or she needs. Instead of assuming, clarify what their sensitivities are.
For example, you may discover that your highly sensitive partner does not like busy crowds, but won’t mind crowds of people where there is enough space in between each person. Or you may identify that he or she is mostly sensitive to smell and therefore avoids certain smelly places like soap shops.
When you show empathy towards their sensitivity and try to meet their needs, chances are likely that your HSP partner is more willing to meet your needs as a non-HSP as well.
- Listen Without Judgement
An important factor when talking about your partner’s high sensitivity, is to be openminded and avoid being judgemental. The HSP trait is a scientifically proven personality trait that occurs within 15 to 20 per cent of the world population and is common within more than 100 species.
Therefore, be kind and respectful when learning more about your partner’s sensitivity. Try to be empathic while understanding their way of experiencing the world.
When you meet your highly sensitive partner with a nonjudgemental, loving behavior, this will deepen your relationship.
- Subtle And Kind Communication
Another tip when it comes to dating a highly sensitive person and love, is to be kind and subtle when you communicate. As highly sensitive people notice subtleties rather easily, there is no need to shout, use strong language or emotional manipulation to get across your point.
Highly sensitive people are less likely to become emotionally overwhelmed when you approach them with a kind attitude. Therefore, if conflict arises or you are unhappy about a specific situation, try to use kind, calm language. This helps you to resolve conflicts with less drama and more love for each other.
- Be Authentic
Finally, dating a highly sensitive person involves being authentic. While this is important in every relationship, this is an absolute must for highly sensitive people.
Why? Highly sensitive people detect immediately if you are not being authentic. Due to their depth of processing, they know when something is off. If the HSP has established a healthy amount of self-love and self-respect, he or she won’t accept lies from you.
Therefore, only date a highly sensitive person if you are willing to share your vulnerability with them and be open about your intentions (and past).
Can A Highly Sensitive Person Really Love Someone?
A question that is being asked often, is whether a highly sensitive person really can love someone. To me as a highly sensitive person, it was surprising to see that many people google this. HSP’s are not that different from non-HSP’s; we only process our surroundings more intensely. This should in no way limit us in loving others.
In fact, our trait may even cause us to love more deeply, looking at the fact that we experience everything else more intensely too. However, I can imagine that non-HSP’s may wonder about this, as they do not experience the world the way we do.
After all, a highly sensitive person who is not aligned with their gifts and who does not respect their trait, can come across as intense or irrational at times.
I myself have had moments where I certainly was acting irrational and would come across as careless. However, these were moments where I was not grounded in my energy, overwhelmed to the max and not aware of the term self-care yet. Also, I hadn’t learned how to work with my emotions yet. Looking back at those moments, I can imagine that others would think of me as a careless person.
Do you want to read more about the highly sensitive person in love? I highly recommend you to read the book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You’. This is a book written by the famous HSP researcher Dr. Elain N. Aron and the best book out there about understanding highly sensitive people in love and relationships.
What To Do During A Conflict With Your HSP Partner?
When you notice irrational behavior within your partner who is a highly sensitive person, try to understand the reasons behind it from a perspective of love. Did your partner face a great amount of stress in the weeks before showing that behavior? Or did he or she perhaps face an overwhelming situation prior to the lashout? Before drawing conclusions about their overall intentions, try to clarify these factors.
Talk about it at a later moment, when the emotional wave has passed and things have calmed down. Try to work towards a solution in a calm and loving manner.
Of course, high sensitivity is no excuse to act irrationally towards others continuously. If you as a highly sensitive person notice these tendencies within you – like I did a couple of years ago -, you may want to work with a HSP coach.
On this page, you can find a list of experts who work specifically with highly sensitive people.
Relationship Advice For The Highly Sensitive Person Dating A Non-HSP
If you are highly sensitive person in love with somebody who is not an HSP, here are a couple of useful tips for you two:
1. Respect And Honor Each Other’s Differences & Needs
As mentioned above, it is important for the non-HSP partner to respect the needs of their spouse who is highly sensitive. However, this also goes the other way around. Also highly sensitive people need to be loving and respectful towards the needs of their partners.
We process the world differently, but that does not mean that we cannot find a balance between meeting each other’s needs. Just like a non-HSP shouldn’t be required to be quiet all the time, a HSP shouldn’t be required to hide their sensitivity.
Both can co-exist alongside each other. How? By being respectful and openminded at all times. Therefore, communicate the different needs with your partner. Try to meet each other in the middle.
2. Process Emotions Before Trying To Resolve Conflicts
Here is one of the biggest wisdoms I have learned throughout relationship counseling. Let your emotions pass by before trying to resolve a conflict.
In the past, when Riny and I used to fight, he would ‘build a wall’ around himself and have trouble with responding towards my emotion. I on the other hand, became more and more emotional from that behavior.
At some point, I would not be able to listen properly anymore. Also, I found it difficult to express how I truly felt (due to the emotions). This resulted in me having emotional outbursts where I would cry and say stuff I would regret afterwards.
Our relationship coach advised us to step out of emotionally overwhelming situations. To step away for a couple of hours before trying to resolve the conflict. This was a real game changer for us.
Now, we are able to resolve eventual conflicts in a calm and peaceful manner with less frustration. Do you face similar challenges in conflicts with your non-HSP spouse? I highly recommend you to try this method.
3. Clarify Your Partner’s Intentions
Another way to reduce the emotional overwhelm in relationships, is to clarify your partner’s intentions. As highly sensitive people tend to overthink, this may reduce in interpreting things differently compared to what your partner intended.
Therefore, before drawing conclusions, ask your partner, why they said something specific. Whenever Riny says something that initially hurts me, I ask him, why he said that. 9 out of 10 times, my mind created its own story line which does not align with what Riny intended.
This happens not only within love, but in all types of communication. Our brains are extremely automated and therefore quickly draw conclusions based on earlier input that is comparable to the current experience.
Simply by asking ‘What was your intention behind saying this to me?’, you stop the story line at the beginning. Also, the amount of emotional overwhelm will reduce quickly when you do this.
4. Discover Each Other’s Love Languages
If you haven’t heard of the five love languages yet, you are in for a treat! This knowledge is going to revolutionize your relationships. When it comes to spoken language, our mother tongue usually is the language we speak and write the most perfectly. Similarly, we also have a primary love language, which we understand the most.
A love language is the way in which we truly feel loved by others. There are five love languages in total: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch.
For instance, you may always feel like you show your partner affection by buying them gifts, but your partner may still not feel loved. That may be the case, because you are not showing them love in their main love language. You are literally speaking a foreign language towards them. You need to learn and speak their love language when showing them affection.
In the book ‘The 5 Love Languages‘, you and your spouse will discover how to speak each other’s love language and create a more fulfilling relationship together. If you want to improve your relationship significantly, I highly recommend this book. You can purchase the book through this link.
If you want to learn more about the 5 love languages right away, this is an interesting video for you:
Some Final Words
After reading this article, I hope you feel motivated and inspired to improve your relationship and take it to a next level. As a highly sensitive person, it is possible to feel deeply in love with and deeply loved by someone. Hopefully, this article inspired you and your non-HSP partner to find ways to create a deeper connection and understanding with each other.