This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
According to Psychology Today, about 15 to 20 percent of the population is considered to be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Therefore, you’ve probably met an HSP or have one in your life currently. They are extremely empathetic and make fantastic shoulders to cry on.
But what happens if you happen to love a highly sensitive person?
Loving On a Highly Sensitive Person
Written off as odd for much of her life, Angela, a work-at-home mom, comes to realize she’s a highly sensitive person (HSP). All her life she felt “different,” and she was told that she was too sensitive. From a young age, things around her felt overwhelming. From bright lights and loud noises to large crowds and overwhelming emotions, they all triggered her and made her feel overstimulated.
The older she got, she realized she felt things deeper than others and that she was highly empathetic oftentimes even taking on other people’s emotions. She enjoyed being around people and attending events but found herself feeling emotionally and physically exhausted afterward. This was something she observed, especially if someone was sharing about a painful situation where she felt their pain herself. She would have to spend some alone time afterward to recharge.
One day, she shared with her doctor how she was feeling. Her doctor listened, asked lots of questions, and officially diagnosed Angela as a highly sensitive person.
Finally, Angela had an answer, and she began to see that being an HSP wasn’t such a negative thing. In fact, there were so many positives to being an HSP – she found that she was creative, empathetic, and intuitive. And she also had a deep understanding of the world around her.
Once she started living her life more mindfully as an HSP, she began enjoying life more than ever before. So, continue reading on to learn everything that you need to know about loving a highly sensitive person.
What Is a Highly Sensitive Person?
HSPs are known to be highly observant, intuitive, thoughtful, compassionate, empathetic, conscientious, loyal, and creative. In fact, managers consistently rate people with higher sensitivity as their top contributors. But what exactly are people referring to when they call someone a highly sensitive person?
A highly sensitive person is someone who is greatly affected by social stimuli, such as other people’s voices and facial expressions. Psychologist Elaine Aron developed the concept of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) to describe those who display notable sensitivity to various forms of stimuli.
Said another way, a highly sensitive person is someone who is more aware of and more affected by their environment than the average person – like Angela in the story above. HSPs are more prone to anxiety or depression, and they often feel overwhelmed in busy or chaotic environments.
HSPs are often misunderstood. They may be seen as shy, introverted, or even aloof. But the truth is, HSPs are simply more in tune with their surroundings and emotions than others – in other words, they are very intuitive. They’ll often pick up on things that other people don’t seem to notice such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.
Types of Highly Sensitive People
A highly sensitive person is someone who completely immerses themselves into feelings like love. Understanding what this means can help you in your relationship with a highly sensitive person. While there are several different types of highly sensitive people, some persons fit into more than one type. There are 3 primary types of highly sensitive people:
Aesthetic Sensitivity (AES)
This type of highly sensitive person is most impacted by things that they find aesthetically pleasing. These are people who need to have art and music to find true peace, being deeply moved by these things.
Low Sensory Threshold (LST)
A highly sensitive person who fits in this category can become overwhelmed very easily by stimuli that they find unpleasant. This type of highly sensitive person needs to decompress when they experience sensory overload.
Ease of Excitation (EOE)
This is a type of highly sensitive person that can really be impacted by their diet. This is because EOE types become overwhelmed by both external demands and internal demands. For instance, getting hungry can cause them additional stress.
What You Need to Know about HSP
The first thing that you should be aware of is that being highly sensitive is not a mental illness. HSP isn’t a disorder or a condition, but rather a personality trait that’s also known as sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS). It’s a healthy trait that comes from a gene some people are born with.
While some people with bipolar disorder are also highly sensitive people, highly sensitive people aren’t always bipolar. It can be exhausting being a highly sensitive person because there is so much that goes into everything that they feel. But there is no cure for being a sensitive person; that is who someone is and what makes them so special.
In order to survive, a highly sensitive person will need to make sure that they not only practice mindfulness but also eat a special diet that can help them better make it through every day. This section will take a closer look at everything you need to know about highly sensitive people to make your relationships with them strong.
Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person
Knowing the traits of a highly sensitive person can help you not only determine if your partner is a highly sensitive person but also if you are one yourself.
Some traits of a highly sensitive person include:
- Extremely empathetic
- Likes reflection
- Tends to take things personally
- Get very anxious when under pressure
- Introverted thinker
- Difficulty dealing with criticism
- Overthinks decisions
- Extremely kind
- Likes being a problem solver
- Detail oriented and notices things that others miss
- Easily overwhelmed
- Prefers to work in places where they can control stimuli, like working from home
- Seeks purpose and meaning
These are just some of the common traits that you can see in a highly sensitive person.
Caring for A Highly Sensitive Person
If you’re in a relationship with one of the world’s deep feelers, thinkers, and processors, here are 11 ways you can support them.
HSPs tend to move through the world more slowly than others. They like to take their time making decisions, and they need time to process their emotions. When you’re dealing with an HSP, it’s important to be patient and respectful of their pace.
Help Them Manage Their Stressors
One of the best things you can do for an HSP is to help them identify and avoid their stressors. If they’re constantly being bombarded with noise, help them find a quieter place to live or work. If they’re always rushing from one commitment to the next, help them simplify their schedule.
Be Aware of Their Need for Alone Time
HSPs have a need for personal space and alone time that may be different from yours. It’s important to respect their wishes and not take it personally if they need some time to themselves.
Give them space when they need it. Sometimes HSPs just need some time alone to recharge their batteries. Respect their need for alone time and don’t take it personally.
Help Them Find a Relaxing Outlet
HSPs may benefit from things like reading, spending time in nature, or listening to calm music.
Celebrate Their Sensitivities as Strengths
Highly sensitive people are usually deeply empathetic, creative, and intuitive people. Help them see their sensitivities as strengths rather than weaknesses.
Be Gentle with Your Words
Let’s face it, none of us like to be criticized, right? HSPs are highly sensitive to criticism and even well-meaning constructive feedback can come across as harsh. Choose your words carefully and avoid being judgmental or negative.
Having said that, this doesn’t mean you should tiptoe around them or you should avoid sharing what’s on your mind if something is bothering you. Just be aware of the words you’re using when speaking to them, your tone of voice, and even your body language!
Listen More Than You Talk
This goes right along with being gentle, highlighted above. HSPs are great listeners, and they appreciate it when others do the same. When you’re communicating with an HSP, make sure to give them plenty of opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings. Don’t dominate the conversation; let them lead it as much as possible.
Avoid Overwhelming Them
HSPs can quickly become overwhelmed by too much stimulation, whether it’s too much noise, too many people, or too much information coming at them at once. If you notice that the HSP is starting to look overwhelmed, take steps to reduce the amount of stimulation they’re experiencing. Turn off the TV, move to a quieter part of the room, or limit the number of people involved in the conversation.
Show Them Compassion and Understanding
HSPs feel things very deeply, and they need to know that you understand and empathize with what they’re going through. Whether they’re dealing with happy or difficult emotions, your compassion will mean the world to them.
Don’t Call Them Sensitive
HSPs are sensitive. And guess what? They already know it! More than likely, they have dealt with being told they’re “Too sensitive” or “overly sensitive” their entire lives. From teachers, parents, family, and friends – they’ve heard it too many times already – so just don’t say it to them. They’ll be grateful you don’t.
Validate Their Experiences
One of the best things you can do for an HSP is to validate their experiences. Let them know that their feelings are valid and that you understand what they’re going through. This can be incredibly helpful for managing their sensitivities.
Highly Sensitive People and Their Diet
Diet can have an impact on a highly sensitive person. They can notice an improvement by making changes to their diet. One thing that they need to do is make sure that they limit their caffeine intake. Caffeine can actually worsen your anxiety, which is why this should be avoided by someone who is a highly sensitive person.
Here are some foods that should be included in a diet of a highly sensitive person to reduce issues like anxiety:
- Fatty fish
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
- Citrus fruit
Tips for Loving a Highly Sensitive Person
Is your loved one a highly sensitive person? If so, this section will offer you the tips that you need for loving a highly sensitive person.
Lift Them Up
A major trait of a highly sensitive person is that they don’t take anything that they think is criticism well. This means that you need to be careful with your words and make sure that you are lifting the highly sensitive person up, not bringing them down.
Regularly Check In
A highly sensitive person might not be open about how they are feeling and whether or not they are hurting. They have a habit of bottling things up. Be sure that you ask them how they are doing, especially if you notice that they are acting distant. This shows that you have noticed the change and care about them.
Find out what your loved one is passionate about and take the time to indulge them. Whether it’s music or art or anything else, even if you aren’t interested in it, indulge them. They will get a great deal of enjoyment out of these things, and it will make them overwhelmingly happy.
Watch Your Vibe
Highly sensitive people are very empathetic. What this means is that if you are feeling sad or really stressed, your loved one will feed off of that and feel that way too. This is bad because they feel things more intensely than other people do. So, make sure that you watch out what vibe you bring home to them.
When you are loving on a highly sensitive person, there are things that might not really make sense to you. They can get overwhelmed easily and get emotional for seemingly no reason. Do not judge them or just assume that they have a mental illness. Understand that what may seem like a “little thing” to you is actually a “big deal” to them. Respect whatever limits they have.
Final Thoughts on Loving an HSP
Being a highly sensitive person can make you feel separate or different. However, being highly sensitive is not a disorder, it’s a personality trait. This isn’t something to treat or change; it’s something to better understand and thrive with. Being an HSP is exactly what it sounds like: being ultra-sensitive to sensory input, people, and the environment.
But there’s more to know!
Loving a highly sensitive person takes a little bit of extra effort, but it’s so worth it. These beautiful souls enrich our lives in ways that others can’t, and they deserve our patience, understanding, and compassion.
You simply must appreciate that the highly sensitive person is someone who is completely immersed in everything that they are feeling. This article has all of the information that you need to understand your partner and ways that you can improve your relationship with a highly sensitive person.
By following these tips, you can make sure that the highly sensitive person in your life feels loved and supported exactly how they need it.
HSPs, what would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.