If you ever feel like you’re feeling ALL the feelings a little more often than those around you, it’s possible that you’re not just “sensitive” — you may be what the counseling community officially classifies as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). We all know that emotions tend to run high when we’re in a situation with a significant other, and an HSP is likely to experience that to an even greater degree. But before you decide that your highly sensitive nature has ruined you for life and love — read on!
We spoke with Jean Fitzpatrick, a NYC-based psychotherapist who is an expert on highly sensitive people, to find out what it means to be an HSP. “A highly sensitive person has a sensitive nervous system, notices subtleties in his or her environment and can be easily overwhelmed in highly stimulating surroundings,” says Fitzpatrick. These factors also affect the way a highly sensitive person processes their emotions and reacts to people around them because they are constantly taking in so many cues from the people and things around them.
Approximately 20 percent of the population could be classified as highly sensitive. If you’re part of this percentage, Fitzpatrick advises that your best bet for maintaining a successful relationship is being aware of your temperament and using your HSP “superpowers” to your advantage whenever possible. Here are some tips for the highly sensitive among us that will help keep you and your partner on the same page and your relationship from turning sour.
1. Understand your strengths. Stop seeing your sensitivity as a weakness! Learn to embrace all the ways it benefits you both as an individual and in a relationship. An HSP is empathetic, comforting and loves hospitality. Gain confidence in these traits so your partner will fall in love with them too.
2. Make sure your S.O. understands where you’re coming from. While being an HSP is not a disadvantage, it will affect the way you communicate with your significant other. Set yourself up to be better understood down the road by talking about your sensitive nature, so that your partner knows ahead of time that you are likely to feel things a little extra deeply and react a little more strongly to situations.
3. Pace yourself. Because you are such a soulful person, you may feel overwhelmed if you’re dating someone and they suddenly dial up the emotional intensity before you’re ready for it. Don’t be afraid to set the pace for your relationship in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Hopefully, your new flame will follow your lead so you can skip the freak-out.
4. Focus on managing your own stress. Whether it’s work, friends or family that’s putting you on edge, as an HSP, your personal stress may be extra likely to impact your relationship. HSPs can be easily irritated, so minimize your chances of getting annoyed by working through your stress at the gym or happy hour — or with some stress-fighting nutrition.
5. Work on your ongoing communication with your partner. Learn to be open with your S.O. about how you’re feeling. Unless your bae is also an HSP, it may be hard for them to understand why you react to things the way you do. As a highly sensitive person, you probably have a lot going on in your head at all times. The more you learn to communicate those inner thoughts to your special someone, the less you’ll have to explain it later on if they come to the surface in a tense situation.
6. Don’t be afraid to press pause if you’re getting upset. If you sense a heated conversation coming on, take a deep breath and consider removing yourself from the bad vibes for a bit. If you’re an HSP, you tend to feel the fight coming before someone who is not highly sensitive. Don’t jump right into the argument, because your S.O. may not even know an argument is about to happen!
Do you think you’re a Highly Sensitive Person? Tell us what it’s meant for your relationships! Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)