Highly sensitive people (HSP) are those who are extremely empathetic and make fantastic shoulders to cry on.
They feel things intensely, love deeply, and see the world slightly differently from the rest of us.
So what happens when you fall in love with one?
It’s not all just about the emotions (although they do play a big part) but many other factors come into being with an HSP.
If you’re lucky enough to be in love with one, educating yourself is the best way to ensure you have a happy relationship and we’ve got you covered with our 20 essentials below.
What is a highly sensitive person?
Even though they only make up roughly 20% of the population, chances are you’ve met a highly sensitive person at least once in your lifetime. If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you’re in love with one.
The term was first used by psychologist Elaine Aron, and she believed that HSPs are a subset of people who have sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS).
HSP isn’t a condition; it’s not one which is commonly diagnosed by a doctor. Most people who claim to be an HSP are self-diagnosed, mainly based on if they have personality traits such as being:
Sensitive to things like pain, sound, and light
Upset or disturbed by conflict or violence
Empathetic and caring towards others
Although HSPs can struggle when it comes to certain parts of life, they also have an amazing connection with their feelings and with others, making them great friends and partners.
But, an HSP may find some relationships difficult to stay in for a long time, especially if the other person has no idea about their sensitive and emotionally charged nature.
If you want to begin to fully understand how your HSP works and what you can do to make sure your relationship is fulfilling for both of you, read on to find out more.
How to love your HSP the right way
Every HSP is different, and whilst your HSP might not have all of the traits below, they’re sure to have some of them. By taking these tips into account, you can create a relationship where your HSP feels secure and you feel confident that you’re both able to thrive together.
1) Conflict is extra tiring
Although HSPs aren’t the same as empaths, they still feel emotions very deeply.
What might be a ‘normal’ argument to you could send your HSP in a downward spiral, leaving you confused and hurt.
No one enjoys conflict, but to an HSP it’s tough for them to move on quickly as their senses will have been overwhelmed and they need longer to recover.
Alternatively, they might even start doing everything possible to avoid conflict.
If you notice your partner keeping their opinions to themselves or always trying to keep the peace, it’s a major sign that they struggle with conflict.
In this situation, try to keep calm and create an environment where they feel comfortable and safe enough to talk to you about difficult issues.
2) HSPs need alone time
Don’t be offended if your HSP calls it a night before you do.
They’re not avoiding you, they just need time to recover and recharge from their day.
It’s completely normal for a highly sensitive person to retreat to a dark room alone, especially if they’ve had a busy day.
Whilst most people need some time to themselves, an HSP doesn’t just need it, they wouldn’t be able to function without it.
So instead of feeling left out or that your HSP doesn’t want to be around you 24/7, think of it as their time to reset so that they can come back a happier, reenergized partner rather than being exhausted and irritable.
3) Be kind with your words
Your words have a big impact on your HSP.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t say what’s on your mind, but it’ll help you and your partner if you think about how you say certain things.
Speaking harshly to your HSP can be highly upsetting for them, as they process things much more deeply than the average person does.
Not only will they be playing the conversation over and over in their minds, but they’ll also have picked up on every tone, stress, and intonation in your voice.
You’ll have a much better time getting your point across to an HSP if you think about saying things in a non-aggressive or hurtful way, as they’ll be able to process what you’ve said without being upset by your words or body language.
4) Check-in often with your HSP
HSPs are so in tune with how everyone else feels that they can easily forget to look after themselves.
They focus their energy on helping those around them which often results in them putting their own physical and emotional wellbeing in the back seat.
As their partner, it’s important to check in with your HSP regularly, reminding them to look after themselves and focus less on helping everyone around them.
Not only will your HSP be glad that you’re looking out for them, but it’ll also mean they’re less stressed and will have more time to spend on themselves and you.
5) They can tell when you’re lying
As well as being able to absorb other people’s emotions, HSPs are also highly intuitive.
They can pick up a lot about other energies, and they’ll detect the slightest change in your body language or tone of voice.
Not that it’s ever a good idea to lie to your partner, but it can be very unsettling for an HSP to know that their partner isn’t being truthful.
This is because even if they don’t confront you for lying, they’ll be overthinking it until you finally tell the truth.
So, even when it comes to little white lies which are told to spare your partner’s feelings, it’s best to just fess up and be honest.
6) You can learn a lot by being with an HSP
Being with an HSP person isn’t all just about caring for their needs, it can be a great eye-opener.
HSPs can pick up on other people’s moods from the moment they walk into a room.
They’re highly compassionate beings and feel deeply.
They also see the beauty in the smallest of things, they question life and they tend to be creative people.
With a little patience and understanding, you can be shown a whole different way of looking at the world, all whilst being in love with a highly caring person.
Not a bad deal, right?
7) Avoid calling them sensitive
If there’s one thing HSPs hate, it’s being called ‘too sensitive’ or ‘overly sensitive’.
HSPs can’t be reduced to just being ‘too sensitive’ because they have abilities that make them valuable people in society. They’re kind, caring, and thoughtful, and they’re often the first person you turn to when you have a problem.
If your partner is an HSP, avoid calling them sensitive as you’ll only push them away from you by using their abilities against them.
8) HSPs need a lot of mental stimulation
If you’re in a relationship with an HSP, you’re going to need to dig deep. They don’t do superficial or meaningless relationships.
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When an HSP is in love, they love hard and they want to be mentally and emotionally stimulated in return.
So, forget about chatting about the weather and be prepared to get deep into conversation. Enjoy seeing where the flow takes you both – this is the time to get to know your HSP and for them to know you.
9) They also need a lot of physical touches
HSPs are easily stimulated, so touch can be a great way to get intimate and close with your partner, but it has to be respectful and consensual.
Touching your HSP too aggressively or on a part of their body that makes them uncomfortable is a sure-fire way to kill the mood.
It’s important to talk to your HSP about this before becoming intimate, as they might feel strongly about being touched in certain ways.
10) Your mood plays a big role in their life
As with all relationships, we’re easily affected by our partner’s mood. Unless you have an invisible shield of some sort, your partner being grumpy can often lead to you feeling down too.
Whilst most of us can push past this and continue with our day, especially if we know we aren’t the problem, HSPs have a much harder time overlooking these moods.
They’ll be preoccupied knowing that you aren’t happy, and they’ll be fighting their natural urge to step in and help.
There’s not much you can do about this one, as everyone goes through good and bad moods, but being aware of how it might affect your HSP can help you understand why they might react to certain mood changes.
11) They reach their limit quicker than you do
Is your HSP usually ready to leave the party way earlier than you? Do they get super tired when you’ve had friends over?
This is normal, and it’s something that HSPs simply can’t change. They’re easily worn out because they’re so responsive to stimulation.
Lights, loud noises, and lots of people can easily drain an HSP, so, naturally, they’ll reach their limit long before you do.
In these situations, learn to compromise with your partner. If you want to stay at the party longer and they want to leave, respect their wishes, and work out a plan which suits both of you.
12) HSPs struggle with harsh criticism
Criticism is a hard one to deal with, but for HSPs it can signal possible conflict which might make them upset or avoidant because they don’t want to deal with an argument.
Even light criticism can make an HSP feel bad, so whilst you shouldn’t hold back on your opinions, it helps to think of constructive ways to criticize your partner.
Think about your body language, the tone of your voice, and how your partner might be feeling when you’re about to deliver criticism.
13) They get ‘hangry’ easily
Hungry + angry = hangry.
We’ve all got our limit when it comes to being hungry, but for HSPs it may be even harder to control. According to PsychologyToday:
Those with high levels of SPS display increased emotional sensitivity, stronger reactivity to both external and internal stimuli—pain, hunger, light, and noise—and a complex inner life.
Whilst there isn’t much evidence of this from a scientific point of view, there are plenty of accounts online from HSPs dealing with their hunger issues.
So, if you’ve exhausted all other options and your HSP is still irritable, try feeding them.
Sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective.
14) HSPs appreciate small efforts
It’s really important for your HSP to feel like you truly care about them and appreciate them for who they are.
Small gestures like making time for them or listening to their needs will be greatly appreciated and a sure way to earn you some brownie points.
HSPs are always thinking of others, so to know that their partner thinks about them is a great way to show them your love and commitment.
15) They’re super responsive to their environment
Consider your environment when you’re with an HSP.
Distracting lights, loud music blaring and uncomfortable seating can all be majorly off-putting to an HSP.
So, if you see your HSP appear uncomfortable or agitated, check that where you are isn’t the cause of it.
HSPs feel disturbances quite deeply, even wearing an uncomfortable piece of clothing can make them irritable.
If you want to soothe your HSP, create an environment that is calm, relaxing, and safe so that they can relax and focus on you and not on their surroundings.
16) Accept them for who they are
HSPs can’t control how they feel or how their bodies naturally react to the stimuli around them, and trying to change them will only heighten these emotions.
If you’re with an HSP, you’re with an empathetic individual who sees the world in a beautiful, caring way, so make the most of it and enjoy their company.
By trying to change an HSP, you’ll only drive them away and they won’t feel comfortable around you since they can’t be themselves.
17) Travelling can be hectic
HSPs, in general, don’t do well with change.
Their bodies take longer to adjust, and they can’t relax until they’re back in a familiar flow so being on holiday can be a stressful experience.
Whether it’s the lines and hoards of people at the airport or the hotel room which doesn’t smell quite right, your HSP will be alert and aware of every little thing.
18) They’ll love you deeply if you let them
Given the chance, your HSP will go above and beyond for you. Their love will run deep and they’ll take any chance they get to support you.
Most people make the mistake of thinking that loving an HSP is hard work, but in reality, all it requires is a little patience and understanding.
And in return, they’ll let you into a world of passion, emotion, creativity, and intense, joyous love.
19) They scare easily
Remember the thrill of jumping out at your friends or family from behind the bathroom door?
Well, keep it for your friends and family and leave your HSP out of it, for your sake and theirs.
Scaring them unexpectedly won’t be received with laughter and promises of revenge.
Instead, your HSP might get seriously shocked and unsettled.
Because they’re more sensitive to stimulation and have a high startle reflex, being jumped out at can scare them down to their core and they may need some time to recover.
20) A bit of research can help you ‘get’ them
Since you’ve read this far into the article, you’re off to a good start.
To better understand your HSP, all it takes is a little research and communication with your partner and you’ll be good to go.
Most HSPs will be extremely grateful that their partner wants to understand them better, and by knowing beforehand how they react to different situations, you can avoid unnecessary conflict and misunderstandings.
Being in love with an HSP can be highly rewarding. Every relationship goes through its ups and downs, and we all have personality traits that are good and bad.
The most important thing is that there’s plenty of love, understanding, and compromise.
With HSPs, it’s the same. But you can minimize the misunderstanding and heartbreak by being aware of how HSPs may act in relationships, and how they need things like alone time or mental stimulation.
And who knows, maybe by being in love with one, your world gets opened up to new emotions, empathy, creativity, and a whole different way of seeing life.