If you are a highly sensitive person (HSP), relationships are not a walk in the park for you.
You do want to be in a relationship. Or else, you are bound to feel lonely, the odd one out among friends, and left out of the whole dating scene.
Finally, you meet the right person and you are happy to be in a relationship. This doesn’t mean happily ever after. You are not exactly happy and content. You keep searching for these feelings and find them eluding you. The worst part is you can’t figure out why.
Does this seem familiar to you? Don’t worry. You are not alone. This is one of the setbacks you have to endure for being a highly sensitive person.
Again, can you do anything about this?
The simple answer is, yes you can.
Before we go into that let’s see how it feels to be a highly sensitive person in a relationship. In this article, you will find suggestions about how to overcome these difficulties and how to be less sensitive in a relationship.
How does it feel to be an HSP in a relationship?
Being highly sensitive is not a choice, it is a personality trait that has genetic origins. Whether you are a highly sensitive partner or your partner is an HSP, it is unfair to point fingers or bring guilt and shame into the picture.
For a highly sensitive person, all sensory experiences are amplified. The intensity of this amplification depends on the severity of your condition. This means everything you hear is too loud, see is too bright, smells are too intense, taste too pronounced, and touches are too harsh and uncomfortable at times.
There is a scientific reason for experiencing such extreme reactions. Your nervous system processes external stimuli more powerfully and intensely than others. So, there is nothing you can do about it. All you can do is learn how to cope with the intense sensations in a better way.
Here are some examples of how a highly sensitive person feels in a relationship.
- Hugs, kisses, and physical intimacy may not always be pleasant.
- Displays of affection may elicit a strong response, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.
- Pain threshold may be lower than that in others.
- Keen observers. Almost nothing is missed.
- Naturally curious and pursue things until satisfied.
- Personal space is guarded with zealously.
- Find it hard to balance displays of affection and the need for space.
- Small gestures are more meaningful.
- Personal boundaries are disregarded as you lose yourself in the relationship.
- Tend to display motherly/fatherly affection towards your partners.
- Intentionally disregard your sensitivity in an attempt to be normal.
- May suffer from rejection sensitivity.
10 ways to stop being sensitive in a relationship
Being highly sensitive, you can’t help many of your reactions. However, you may feel ashamed or guilty about the way you treat your partner. You want to change the way you behave but are confused as to how.
Here are some suggestions that you may try to stop being sensitive in a relationship. It is a good idea to get your partner on board in this attempt. They can help you in many ways.
1. Understand yourself
As an HSP, you tend to think about others more than yourself. Dig deep within your heart to know more about your needs, wants, dreams, and priorities. There is nothing wrong with having conversations with yourself to get to know yourself better.
Not knowing your desires and goals in life can lead to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Learn how to process your emotions instead of keeping them bottled up inside.
2. Embrace yourself
When you don’t understand or accept yourself, it would be too much to expect the same from others. You indeed come with a few quirks. Look around. Others may not have the same idiosyncrasies but they may have some others. Just accept that everyone is peculiar in some way or the other.
This means you are not an aberration. Being too sensitive is not a bad thing either. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In fact, you are better than most people as you sincerely care for others. Just embrace yourself as you are and move on.
3. Set clear boundaries
One of the things highly sensitive people ignore is the need for setting boundaries. You cannot blame others for getting too close to you or not asking for your consent when you have not defined any boundaries.
Rest assured, your partner won’t mistake it as an act of betrayal or aggression. Nor would they misconstrue it as a sign of aloofness. For your mental health and the health of your relationship, personal boundaries are vital.
4. Own up
Being highly sensitive, you spend your time and energy taking care of others, all the while ignoring your needs. For a change, turn inward and get to know yourself better. You need to understand that you also need to show love and compassion to yourself.
And, unless you learn to love yourself with all your imperfections, you won’t be able to love your partner in the true sense.
5. Curb that urge to help
It is not always up to you for setting things right in a relationship or making marriage work every time something goes wrong. Neither do you need to rush to the aid of your partner every time they need you. You are entitled to take care of yourself and pursue your goals even when you are in a relationship. This won’t make you less loving or loyal.
Also, you need to understand that you need to step back and allow your partner space to grow and figure out their lives. You can offer help if asked for but you don’t need to smother them with love and attention.
6. Stay wary of spongers
They don’t want to help themselves. They tend to lean on you and suck every last ounce of love, kindness, and energy out of you. They want you to do everything for them. If your partner is a sponger, you would make a perfect pair – you want to help and they want help. However, this is not a healthy situation.
Set your boundaries and learn to enforce them. There is no other easy way out.
7. Avoid nagging/complaining
You may feel that your partner is not appreciating or respecting you as an individual. Try to find time to sit down and have a conversation with your partner about this. Tell them clearly what you want and how you feel. If they are not showing any evidence of change, maybe it is time for you to move on.
8. Identify the trigger
If you are looking for ways to bring down your sensitive reactions, it would be best to explore the reasons behind the reactions. Keeping a watch on your behavior can help you identify the triggers. Daily journaling can also help in figuring out why your reactions are so sensitive.
9. Assert yourself
As an HSP, you try your best to avoid confrontations. Every time things flare up, you find yourself trying to calm down and placate your partner. Your people-pleasing behavior is taken as consent by your partner to walk all over you.
Apologize if you are in the wrong. Else, calmly make your stand clear and leave it at that. In case your partner starts throwing tantrums, walk away from the scene until things have calmed down.
10. Love yourself unconditionally
There is nothing wrong with giving yourself your love, attention, care, and time. Loving yourself is not being selfish or narcissistic. Do understand that nobody can love you the way you can. And believe that you fully deserve it.
You need to love yourself to love others and for others to love you. Only when you love yourself, can you make yourself happy.
Here are some tips to get a grip on your emotions.
- Learn to communicate your feelings to your partner without censoring them.
- Understand that not all problems are not for you to solve.
- Give yourself time to heal from hurtful episodes and emotional wounds from the past.
- Forgive yourself for your past mistakes.
- Enjoy some me-time without guilt or remorse.
- Take good care of yourself.
- Teach yourself how to receive as this is an alien situation for you.
- Stop your tendency to ponder and overthink.
- Pause for a few moments before you react.
- Seek professional help.
Tips for dating an HSP
A highly sensitive person is the most kind, compassionate, and deeply giving person you would ever come across in life. They are always trying to help others, unconcerned about their own needs.
Even when you want to help, it would be a hard task to get them to accept it. Highly sensitive people thrive on the feel-good feeling they get by helping others. In the process, they tend to ignore their needs as well as inadequacies.
As the partner of an HSP, you need to understand that the extra effort is worth it. Every little accommodating act of yours is returned manifold with love and gratitude.
Don’t feel ashamed or guilty that you are sensitive. As long as you manage it within limits, sensitivity is a desirable trait. You can make use of the suggestions listed here to stop being sensitive.
Remember that in a healthy relationship there is no need for you to sacrifice your desires to prove your love and commitment.