Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSSNow that you’ve learned about high sensitivity, you may feel like a weight has been lifted off you. You feel more accepting of yourself and realize you aren’t alone. Hooray: you aren’t weird!
But how do you share this information with the most important person in your life?
It can be hard to explain a concept like high sensitivity, especially to people who are skeptical.
In this Episode 7 of the HSP Podcast, I have an imaginary conversation with a partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend to try to explain HSP in an easily-digestible way.
Related Posts on This Blog:
- FAQs for non-HSPs (people who aren’t highly sensitive)
- A conversation with your non-HSP partner
- Should you tell people that you are an HSP?
- Interview: “My Partner is a Highly Sensitive Person”
- How do you explain to your partner that simply being around people takes energy?
- How to Explain Being an HSP to Your Partner
- Starter Kit for People in a Relationship with an HSP
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Podcast music attribution: Bust This Bust That (Professor Kliq) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
I’m a non-HSP married to an HSP woman. It’s not easy. The most difficult thing for me in listening to your podcasts is the sense that you think you are the way you are and that can’t change and that doesn’t need to change. HSPs feel a little selfish to me and in some ways need to toughen up. This 2009 review of the Highly Sensitive Person in Love on Amazon articulates the problem with the concept so well!
“The book is well-written but not entirely convincing in its premise that this is the best way to understand this brand of sensitivity. While there is merit in promoting acceptance by OTHERS of this and other personality types, there is an underlying defeatism here that advocates against challenging ONESELF to grow socially and adapt to or overcome the various difficult realities of the world. Personally, I started off pretty shy and sensitive, but over time I gained greater confidence, forthrightness and assertiveness, but without any loss in empathy or creativity or awareness of subtleties. In my case, this was through joining the army reserves, martial arts, theater, public speaking, socializing, contemplating my sensitivities to various things and making the decision that I wasn’t going to be limited or shut down by them.
*** Anyone who wants to challenge themselves, grow as a person, and get something done with their lives, ought to be wary of labeling themselves in this way. ***
Though it is useful to try to understand one’s tendencies, this understanding is best used for the purpose of self-improvement rather than as an excuse to avoid intimacy and challenge and living.
Highly sensitive people may take a bit longer to acclimatize to intimacy, to noise, to difficult situations, and ultimately to mastery of difficulties, but without the recognition that this capability is within reach, the author virtually condemns HSPs to an ongoing and pitiable state of emotional incapacity.”
I COULD NOT HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF.
Thanks for the comment, Mario. Balance is important. And also important to remember that high sensitivity is not the same as social anxiety (i.e., avoiding people, not wanting to talk to others, fear of public speaking). I actually enjoy public speaking. But yes, HSPs should not use the label “HSP” to avoid improving themselves or growing. But getting some understanding from others about the way we are can alleviate SO much anxiety and worry from our brains. You say that HSPs sometimes seem selfish–well, there are times I absolutely hate the way I am and get really down (ok, I’ll say it…depressed). That kind of thinking can impact one’s life negatively in a *serious* way. Having the knowledge that I’m not alone and I’m not crazy or weird was life changing, and helped me stop….well, hating myself (sometimes). And that’s really important, you know? Hating yourself SUCKS. As a partner to a non-HSP myself, his understanding of how I am is a lifesaver sometimes, and takes away so much stress and anxiety. But you are right that we shouldn’t let it become a crutch.
However, I take a little offense to the statement that we need to “toughen up”. That is a phrase almost every HSP has heard ad nauseum and it still makes me bristle. How about instead of us “toughening up”, maybe other people should be more sensitive? Which is the “correct” way?
Anyway, this is a worthwhile topic to explore and I should write more about this–Thanks for bringing it up.
I’ve been in a relationship for almost a year with a man who just shared with me that he is an HSP…..and now the puzzle pieces are making sense. I love him more than I’ve loved anyone else but I don’t know if we’re going to make it. Our life together revolves around his needs. We eat what he needs to eat (which is a very limited diet due to all his sensitivities), watch movies that he can tolerate, I’ve stopped wearing perfumes I love, don’t go to crowded/noisy places, etc. I’ve done all of this because I love him but I can tell that i’m starting to resent it. His idea of perfect happiness would be to live in a very remote area with a dog. I would die being so far away from people, the stimulation of the city and all its activities, etc. Which I know is exactly what he wants to run away from. I’m heartbroken to think that this is what our life will become. Getting those needs met by my friends isn’t the same. We would essentially be living separate lives. Would love to hear more about how HCP and non-HCP couples make it work.
Hi Janelle, thanks for sharing. Wow, your comment hit me hard. I am an HSP in a relationship with a non-HSP, so I worry about some of the things you mention. I highly recommend reading Elaine Aron’s book A Highly Sensitive Person in Love. It is important to give-and-take both of your needs. If he doesn’t like, for example, going to a bar, but you love it, then some weekends you go to a bar and other weekends you don’t. You both will have to do things that you don’t like–it can’t all be one person who is compromising. I hear what you are saying about wanting to live in isolation vs. city. I yearn for a quiet place but my husband loves action and activity. Perhaps you could look for a place that has both–maybe you live in a quiet area but you are just a short drive from a city (or vice versa). Does your partner realize how you feel? Don’t forget to tell him. 🙂 And good luck. I know it is hard.
In the podcast you mention something briefly about the notes and discussion on telling friends, family co-workers about your trait. Where can I find that info? I just started listing to your podcasts and really enjoy them so far. I am struggling with that idea and reading through a discussion could really help.
Thank you, Monica
Hi Monica! Thanks for the comment and question and sorry for the delay in response. On the bottom of this page http://highlysensitiveperson.net/episode7/ it says “related posts” and those should have some of what you’re looking for. 🙂 This might be the most relevant: http://highlysensitiveperson.net/telling-people-you-are-hsp/
I wonder if anyone might comment on intimacy avoidance among HSPs. The couple of HSPs that I have interacted act with avoided intimacy, I believe, due to their sensitive natures. I found them cold, incommunicative, and unsupportive friends and partners, perhaps due to their feeling overwhelmed by their emotions. Although they may have felt something different, their behaviors did not indicate that they were empathetic or attentive to their friends’ or partners’ needs despite a non-judgmental and less than normal level of pressure from their friends and/or partners. I also did not find them self-aware of the reasons for different behaviors due to their avoidance of emotions associated with them.