At first, the signs were just subtle but now that you’ve been dating for a while and have seen most of their quirks, you’re convinced you’re dating a highly sensitive person.
It doesn’t bother you the slightest. In fact, it’s the reason why you find them so endearing. If they’re not highly sensitive, you doubt they are the sweet, insightful, and passionate person that they are.
However, even if you think you’re sensitive enough (or else they wouldn’t like you), there are just moments that make you scratch your head and sigh.
They’re an enigma!
While understanding another person is hard enough, being with a highly sensitive person is twice the work. What’s great is that once you know how they tick, it’s twice as rewarding.
To help you build a good relationship with your HSP, here are some basic dos and don’ts you should keep in mind:
Things you should DO when dating an HSP
#1. DO learn more about them (because no, they’re not just dramatic)
Dating a highly sensitive person is quite challenging because the brain of an HSP is wired differently.
The parts of the brain for social and emotional processing are more active than that of non-HSPs. Because of this, they will have different needs and they might even have a totally different love language.
Reading this is a good first step but go ahead watch some Youtube videos or read books. It is the first step to having a happy relationship with a highly sensitive person.
#2. DO listen with both ears
Highly sensitive people want real intimacy and the best way you can give this is by listening.
But don’t just listen, truly listen. With both ears, not just one.
HSPs swim through their emotions daily and they’d feel loved just knowing that they can share these feelings and thoughts with you.
They live in a world of emotions and dreams so if they can’t share these things with their S.O., they’d feel like there’s something missing in the relationship.
The best gift you can give to anyone, but especially to HSPs, is genuine interest and undivided attention. They’d consider you a keeper if you know how to truly listen.
#3. DO ask them about their dreams
No, not dreams about the future (although that’s important, too), but the dreams and nightmares they have while they’re sleeping.
HSPs often have vivid and complex dreams so don’t be surprised if you find them staring at their ceiling for too long the moment they wake up. They’re still wondering what their dreams mean.
They might share with you the details of their dreams and when they do, treat them as something sacred. They know how annoying it is to some people when someone talks about dreams so they might be reluctant.
Do not cut them off and say “but it’s just a dream.” They’d feel hurt by these types of remarks. They won’t tell you of course because it would make them seem childish (and HSPs already feel ashamed for being sensitive).
For HSPs, dreams are maps to their inner world and they value it as much as reality. Besides, you’ll be delighted by the adventures they have in their dreams. They’re anything but boring.
#4. DO tell them you admire their sensitive side
Being sensitive is not a sickness or a weakness but some HSPs, especially men, are shamed for being one.
Since childhood, they’re made to feel like they’re just being overly dramatic. It’s a shame because sensitivity is a trait one should be proud of!
Many artists and poets are highly sensitive people and many of them became great precisely because of this trait. Without excessive amounts of sensitivity, Van Gogh might not have made those beautiful paintings.
It’s not to say that HSPs should produce works of art, it just means that if everyone possesses this special trait, the world would be a more beautiful, and probably more peaceful place.
#5. DO listen attentively when they talk about their painful past
Once you both get truly comfy in the relationship, your HSP will share their traumas and secrets with you.
There is a chance they were raised by abusive parents or have been with narcissistic lovers because empaths and narcissists attract one another. Listen and never use it against them.
HSPs are not only emotionally reactive and anxious not only because their nervous system is sensitive, but it’s also because HSPs have unhealed trauma.
Be the gentle hand they can cling on to as they walk down memory lane. Ask some questions but be sensitive enough to stop prying when they start to get uncomfortable.
#6. DO allow them to feel blue
When your HSP gets melancholic, don’t make them feel awful about it. They already know how annoying it is to most people.
Instead of making them feel ashamed and guilty for being who they are, make them feel safe to feel any kind of emotion. Go back to those times when you had to pretend you’re happy when deep inside you’re a ball of sadness. Do you want them to feel this way?
Even if you think something is trivial, even if it’s sometimes annoying how often they get blue, let them feel their emotions.
#7. DO try to jolly them out of their sadness
Blessed are those who know how to manage conflict with humor.
Make them laugh a little when you have arguments or when they’re feeling down. It takes a special kind of person to make an HSP smile and laugh when they’re feeling blue so if you’re this kind of person, they’d want to keep you for life.
If you can inspire an HSP to see the humor in every day, if you can help them laugh at themselves and at life, you both win.
#8. DO remind them how cute their quirks are
Of course, don’t just fake it. It just requires a little more attentiveness to notice the quirks that you absolutely love about your partner.
Find the things that you truly find endearing about their being HSP and tell them that.
It’s the simple things like the way they get sentimental while listening to a song or when they get startled when there are loud noises in the street or how their eyes blink fast when they are imagining something.
Most HSPs are creative and some of them are even quite eccentric.
Do you like these qualities? Tell them!
#9. DO give them all the time they need to get over something
HSPs need more time to truly process things.
They might still be grieving when the character of their favorite show died a week ago. Never say “get over it”, even in a joking manner.
Why do we have to rush these things anyway?
There is no contest. As long as it’s still a healthy kind and healthy amount of grieving, let them.
Don’t show any impatience, don’t make them feel like a burden. All of us process things differently and you really don’t want someone, especially someone you love, to dismiss your feelings.
Show your HSP some respect by not rushing them to be okay.
#10. DO give them all the time they need to get in the groove
HSPs are not the most flexible people. They can’t switch in a snap.
This also applies to your new relationship. They could feel very deeply about you but it takes them some time to really get used to the fact that they’re actually in a relationship with you.
This isn’t a bad thing because once they’re in, they’re 100% in.
Warming up an HSP takes longer than usual but it will be worth it.
#11. DO share your deepest secrets, too!
You’re in love with a highly sensitive person because they’re deep and introspective.
You like listening to their insights and stories. Guess what? That’s what HSPs want in return, too!
They want to feel connected with you. It should be a give and take because that’s how relationships should be.
#12. DO try to be the “mature” one (but call them out when needed)
If you’re with someone sensitive, it’s almost a given that you should be the one who’s more patient and level-headed.
Accept this role and be prepared to weather the storm with them when challenges arrive. However, you should know when your relationship is turning toxic already because of their behaviour and call them out.
Tell them gently but firmly that you need their cooperation to maintain a good relationship.
#13. DO let them have their alone time
As Rilke once said, love is when two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.
HSPs love being alone. Don’t just allow them to have their “me time”, encourage it.
Imagine experiencing heightened sensations and emotions daily. On top of that, you also get a lot of thoughts and worries floating in your head. It’s not too easy! So be easy on your beloved.
When they get home from work, instead of talking about your day right away or asking them questions, give them 30 minutes to an hour to just decompress.
Give them a cup of tea or a bottle of beer. Good music would be cool, too.
Don’t do these things when dating an HSP
#14. DON’T pry too much too soon
When they share their deepest wounds and secrets, just let them do most of the talking. Well at least at the beginning of the relationship.
You have to learn how to be an empathic listener to your sensitive HSP especially when it comes to their feelings and sensitive topics.
The best tip is to listen and ask some questions but nothing too heavy too soon!
If they share about their abusive mother and you ask about every detail like you’re a detective, they might be transported back to that memory they wanted to forget. One question might trigger a bad memory and you don’t want that.
You want to have a relationship with respect and good boundaries. Tread carefully and just wait for them to open up.
#15. DON’T let them get stuck in dreamland
As much as you want them to float in their vivid dreams and imaginations, sometimes you gotta pull them out of it, but very gently, please.
Sometimes HSPs need some gentle nudge from their partners to remind them that they’re still on Earth (and with bills to pay and dishes to clean).
They will thank you for it.
#16. DON’T ever say they’re “too sensitive”
There are many intense problems HSPs face in relationships but this one has got to be the most annoying.
Yes, they’re sensitive and they already know it. They’ve probably heard it a thousand times before — from their parents, teachers, friends, and lovers.
For HSPs, that phrase stings partly because it’s true but mainly because it’s as if they have a big flaw.
Once you say these words, even if you mean no harm, they could bring out bad emotions. Never ever let those words escape your mouth even during the most heated argument.
#17. DON’T be overprotective
Come on, you’re not their mama.
You’re an adult, they’re an adult.
They’re highly sensitive alright, but they’re not weaklings and they don’t need your guidance and protection, just your understanding and love.
They don’t have a disorder. They just have too much on their plate because all their senses are absorbing and processing things more than the regular folks.
You have to trust them that they can handle the hard knocks of life because in case you need reminding: before you became a couple, they’re perfectly fine without you.
#18. DON’T share bad news too often
HSPs are empaths and they get easily affected by bad news so you have to learn how to protect them from negative energy.
Their heart aches when they hear about children suffering or whales being killed.
You can’t shield them from these things but there’s a way to lessen them. You may want to change the channel when something so depressing is on the news, for example.
Simple things like these help a lot.
#19. DON’T overwhelm them with your worries
If you’re going through something, don’t keep sharing your fears and sorrows with your HSP because they will carry this burden and it’s always heavier for them.
Sure, tell them about your worries and problems but try to have a good disposition after some time or else you will have a pity party for two.
I know this might seem like you’re not being “real” to your S.O. by “hiding” things from them, but it might be better to just share your woes with friends.
Their heart aches when they hear sad news on TV, but seeing their loved ones, especially their S.O. suffer, is a hundred times worse.
A good rule is to ask for emotional consent before sharing your problems, especially if you’re with an easily-overwhelmed HSP.
#20. DON’T try to give advice as if you know any better
We know good intentions could go wrong when talking to a depressed person and the best approach is to simply listen.
Not only is it annoying even to the most patient person, but there is also a chance you could be giving lame advice!
HSPs are so used to getting advice left and right and sometimes they just want to share without much lecture or help. You’re not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Remind yourself this often when you’re about to blurt out advice.
Just be there for them and offer soothing words. But if you really can’t help but give your two cents, keep it short and acknowledge that you could be wrong.
Most of all, watch your tone.
#21. DON’T tease them too much (at first)
Be careful with teasing HSPs. Some innocent jokes could push some buttons.
If you want to make them laugh, come up with jokes that are very mild at first to see how they react.
You can then slowly add a bit of darkness and playful insults to your jokes as your relationship progresses. It will be a hit or miss at the start as you find the perfect balance but it will be worth it.
HSPs aren’t all serious people but there are some jokes that highly sensitive people don’t find funny but it still depends on the person.
The important thing is to determine their limits when it comes to jokes and try not to push the wrong buttons.
#22. DON’T make fun of other people
HSPs care so much about the world.
They want everyone to be okay so if you throw a racist joke or laugh at someone’s suffering, you can be certain that you will not be their favorite person in the world.
They will not only get turned off by you for being insensitive, but they’ll also probably start questioning why they’re with you in the first place. HSPs can have a satisfying relationship with anyone but they try to stay away from people who are tactless and insensitive.
They won’t have the patience to fight and teach someone to be more sensitive because sensitivity is an innate characteristic.
If they know someone is an insensitive prick, they will slowly lose interest in that person, even if they’re the richest, sexiest person alive.
#23. DON’T walk on eggshells
You’re ½ of the relationship and you can’t walk on eggshells forever.
Besides, your HSP partner can tell it right away when you’re being too cautious and won’t like it one bit.
If you won’t share your honest thoughts and feelings just to protect them, you’d start to lose interest in the relationship. They will feel this and they will start to lose interest in you, too. It’s not a good way to have a relationship.
Every HSP wants to make their partner happy and the last thing they want is another special someone telling them they can’t be with them because they’re too sensitive.
#24. DON’T drop a bomb without any warning
If there’s something that could shock them — terrifying news, a surprise visitor, life-altering events — make sure you prepare them emotionally beforehand.
If they seem stressed from work, allow them to relax a little before you tell them your news.
In fact, even if you think everything seems cool because they’re smiling and singing their favorite song, you still have to prepare them mentally and emotionally before you tell them bad news or something potentially shocking.
Again, ask permission if you can talk to them about something that might upset them. This will allow them to gain the strength needed for a serious talk.
You see, sometimes they might look happy on the outside but it’s hard to tell if they’re really okay deep down because most HSPs are good at managing their emotions so they won’t bother others.
Ask permission. Prepare them emotionally. Drop the news very gently.
#25. DON’T rush them to make decisions
Unlike regular folks, HSPs tend to overthink.
They don’t look at things at face value. Instead, they analyze things from many angles and always try to go deeper and deeper until they get lost.
They always ask why and would get to the root of things. This can lead to overthinking.
Try to be very patient. Pressuring them to make up their minds faster won’t do either of you any good. It can lead to decisions they might regret later.
Most of all, it could ruin your mood and your relationship.
#26. DON’T sweat the small stuff
Your HSP already sweats the smallest of stuff so try to be the chill one in the relationship.
When you have an argument about who will do the laundry, about where you will spend the holidays, about them always sleeping when you watch a movie, calm down. These little annoyances aren’t important!
If you try to argue and nitpick all of these little things, you’ll put unnecessary negativity into your relationship and once the HSP has an overload of this negativity, it will greatly affect your relationship.
They might even break up when things get too heavy so they can save their sanity.
HSPs are already overwhelmed. If you’re obsessive and overly critical, you’re doomed.
Try to be better so your relationship won’t go sour.
#27. DON’T ever try to change your HSP
Look, if you’re with an alcoholic, go ahead and try to change them.
If you’re with a gambler, a verbal abuser, a flirt, a criminal…please go ahead and try to change them although it might not be a good idea because we all know that no one really changes unless they want to.
However, being highly sensitive isn’t a bad trait. At all!
There are so many people out there who see their value and won’t even make them feel bad for feeling more intensely than the regular person.
Some see sensitivity as a gift, some see it as a curse. If you’re one of those who see it as a curse, do them a favor and just break up.
Highly sensitive persons are a rare breed and if you’re with one, count yourself lucky because you’re in for a beautiful ride.
They let us see life in a more meaningful way. They ask interesting questions that make us go “whuuut?”!
They express their thoughts and feelings through their art, their writing, their conversations with you, and even in the way they drink their tea.
If they’re your S.O., rest assured that they will love you deeply. Plus, they’re fiercely loyal because they want to believe in real love, in goodness, in the beauty of everything.
Take care of your HSP because their love is anything but ordinary.