Did you know that 20% of the population (same number for men as for women) are considered to be HSP? Being highly sensitive has many benefits (rich internal life, creativity, empathy, psychic gifts etc) but HSP’s are often made to feel their sensitivity is nothing but a curse in love (especially the men) because they are misunderstood in relationships with people who do not share their sensitivity. However, it is not just up to the other person to try to understand the dynamic and what makes the HSP tick. The HSP has to find a way of communicating how they are different to the other 80% of the population.
One of the drawbacks to being a HSP is being more prone to over-stimulation and stress than the average person. Stress makes it difficult to detach and can create drama in the relationship. Here are ten tips that will allow you to enjoy dating and keep your relationship firmly on track:
1. Know thyself. The more self-aware you are, the better you become at keeping things real with your partner and the less likely you are to generate unnecessary drama. The best way to become self-aware is to practice meditation regularly. This also lowers your stress levels. HSP’s are more stress prone than your average person and the more stressed you are, the more reactive you become.
Emotional reactivity can cause some real, irreparable damage in the relationship. Self-awareness increases objectivity and decreases reactivity. Also, the more self-aware you are, the less you project your shadow (in the Jungian sense) onto your partner.
2. Don’t abandon your friends. HSP’s usually have to put a lot of energy into forming and maintaining friendships and it can be very tempting to let them slide because you want to focus all of your energy on your beloved. However, nobody gains by you allowing your friendships to wither and die. Your friends are part of what keeps you unique and interesting.
If you keep your relationships alive throughout the relationship, you have a network of friends there for you if the relationship doesn’t last. Starting over again after a break-up can seem so daunting to a HSP that they instead choose to isolate themselves completely, making it more difficult to recover after the break-up.
3. Keep your hobbies and interests alive. Much for the same reason as you shouldn’t abandon your friends. If you allow your own interests to die in order to try to fit your life completely around your partner, you will become a less vibrant version of you.
4. Exercise together with your partner. Couples that sweat together experience higher happiness levels, more emotional intimacy and a better sex life. Setting fitness goals together will create a support group of two and will make reaching those goals more fun. Like meditation, exercise also keeps your stress levels down.
5. Never EVER read between the lines. Yes you are highly sensitive and empathetic. Yes, almost ALWAYS ‘get’ the other person thanks to this… but guess what, just like nobody likes a smart ass, nobody likes a ‘mind reader.’ Ask. Talk things through. Clarify. ALWAYS err on the side of caution when it comes to this. Remember, as a HSP you are an excellent listener – use this skill to your advantage!
6. Do not take your partner for granted. You may think you know them because you can feel them deeply but the truth is your partner is not standing still. They are constantly growing and changing too. Make it your goal to get to know them afresh every day you are blessed to spend together.
7. Speak up for yourself. You are not defective in any way just because being a HSP makes you need more down-time. For instance, your partner may like to party every weekend where as you can manage maybe one night out per month. Make them understand your basic temperamental difference so that this does not become an issue every time.
It is very common for the HSP to feel a strong need to justify (and even apologise for) their choices, so as to not hurt the other person. However, in a solid relationship, based on mutual respect for each other’s differences, there is no need for justification.
8. Help your partner understand your sexuality. Sex is an all-consuming, mystical act to a HSP. Arousal can be triggered by a subtle verbal or visual cue and the act itself is almost never taken lightly. Sex is never just about the physical act itself to a HSP; engaging in physical intimacy with someone who does not understand this will lead to crossed wires, emotional pain and drama… so be very clear about your needs!
9. Help your partner understand your need for a good night’s sleep and make arrangements accordingly. Many HSP’s struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeping close to someone who snores or moves about could be a nightmare. It is far better to sleep in separate beds if this is the case.
10. Understand that it takes two to keep the relationship on the right track. If your partner sees your sensitivity only as a handicap rather as an asset, you may be with the wrong one.
HSP’s are often psychic and experience that which neurotypical people cannot perceive with their five senses. If you are with someone who ridicules you for your extrasensory perception and constantly chides you for being over-sensitive, you are probably better off without. Respect has to be a corner-stone in any love relationship and respect cannot live where one partner ridicules the other.
What you want and deserve is a partner who says, ‘Oh my God, you are so sensitive!’ with utter delight in their voice.