Highly Sensitive Women in Relationships
When I was 12 years old, I fell in love with a boy named Mike at the middle school dance. As we rocked back and forth to some N’SYNC song on that fall evening in 1998, I realized this was a new beginning in my life, a time where life felt like a romance novel. I was convinced he was the boy I was going to marry and nothing could bring us apart. He kissed me by the lockers after school, my heart fluttered a mile a minute, he bought me roses, I saved them between the pages of my books, he called me every night at 8 o’clock, I would await the ring of the phone with giddy anticipation. When he broke up with me a few months later, I was devastated and couldn’t understand why. I couldn’t stop thinking of him and the time we shared together. I was hurt and having a hard time figuring out why I couldn’t just get over it.
After getting romantically involved with other guys throughout my middle school and high school years, I felt the same way. I fell in love, I would put every bit of myself into the relationship to make it work. Usually the guy would break up with me or I would break up with the guy if I lost interest or to protect myself from eventually getting hurt. It was a cycle that repeated itself no matter with which guy I was romantically involved. I had a long distance relationship my senior year of high school that I broke off a week before I went away to college. It was heartbreaking, yet I had this innate desire to be free and the relationship just didn’t feel right anymore.
My first few months away at school were liberating as I met new people and had some great experiences. It wasn’t long until I met another guy and “fell hard” into the romance of that relationship, letting the parts I loved about me get wrapped up in him. At first I didn’t really like him and I wanted to just be friends. He was charming though and he spoke Italian and had a nice family. I picked up on the language quickly and we even traveled throughout Italy, France, and England after graduating from college. This was an experience in which I “learned” to love this guy with all my heart and convinced myself he was the one for me while ignoring my own desires.
After college, I began the path to discovering who I really was since I spent so many years defining myself by my romantic partners or their needs. I started working in the “real world” and met new people. It wasn’t too long that I realized my relationship with my college boyfriend was ending. We were clearly going in separate directions and there was no romantic connection anymore. I decided to end the relationship and we went our separate ways. I was free again and it felt fantastic. I was 23 years old, partying with my friends, renting a townhouse with a friend and living life on my own terms. Although I was having a good time and partying a ton, this was also a time of great clarity for me. I always knew I was a highly sensitive person, yet I never knew how to embrace this trait in myself. I was also fed up of getting romantically involved with men just for the hell of it. I made a list to the universe writing down exactly what I wanted in my next relationship. I tucked the list away in my closet and didn’t think much of it.
Developing an Awareness of the HSP Trait in Relationships
I realized I needed to attract a man that was right for me. No soulmate is perfect but we often attract what we need in order to grow into our best selves. I needed a man that understood and accepted who I was to the core, bruises, bumps and all. According to Dr. Elaine Aron, the question for highly sensitive people is are we better off “flocking together” or better off with non-HSP’s who can complement our trait? When I met my now husband, we started out as just friends years prior to getting married. He is a non-HSP with the deep appreciation for my sensitivity. I always secretly wondered if I was worthy of a man that appreciated what I had to offer to the world on such a level that he did. I literally drew the line in the sand at the point I made my list to the universe. I realized I was worthy to receive the love I deserve from others and myself. I gave myself permission to receive this and to be authentic as a HSP.
Most Complimentary Partner for the HSP
Highly sensitive people can either date other highly sensitive people or they can date non HSP’s. Either way, the important factor is determining if the person accepts the trait or is at least open to learning about it. HSP’s (and anyone in general) should stay away from people that want them to change or to be “less sensitive.” As we HSP’s already know, it is impossible to change ourselves as we were born this way. Having an accepting partner, whether he or she is a HSP or not, is key to the success of the relationship. This unconditional love will allow the HSP to thrive and in turn, will allow her to be a better partner.
HSP Women, Men, and Women and Relationships
I will eventually write another article on this since there is so much substance to it. Women are naturally more emotional than men due to our hormonal fluctuations and our monthly cycles. Not to say this is true for all men and women, however in my experience, I definitely see more HSP women openly sharing a wider range of their emotions. Women in general, especially women that are HSP’s, have a strong desire to be seen and heard. This desire is a primitive and stems from the idea that women are natural gatherers and men are the hunters. Since men are wired to “hunt,” women therefore feel the need to be protected. So men do what they are wired to do which is physically protect her. This safety and security that men so wonderfully provide to women is often not enough for her because that security, from a woman’s perspective has deeper layers to it. The deeper layers include wanting her man to listen to her, love her, touch her, appreciate her, acknowledge her, compliment her appearance, etc.
HSP women especially have this desire and it is often magnified. What a HSP woman needs may differ greatly–some may want more affection, others not so much. Highly sensitive women also often have one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. What this means specifically is that she may want you to “go all in” with love and affection to satisfy her emotional needs and safety needs and the next day she may need space to be by herself and decompress for awhile. Highly sensitive women feel so deeply, she can give and receive lots of love, and provide great intuition and insight on many life situations. The important thing to remember is she can only get to this place when her own “cup” is full. Since HSP’s have the tendency to get easily overwhelmed, it is important to give her space when she needs it. The key here is it is not personal–just give her time to recharge and soon enough she will be back in a state of balance.
HSP Women Feel Deeply
As a HSP woman, I’ve learned to set boundaries for myself in my marriage. When I need space, I ask for it and my husband understands. Often I just need a half hour after work to adjust to my environment, take a few minutes to breathe and relax. Once I have the opportunity to re-set, I am more balanced, calm and able to be a better wife as a result. This definitely takes great awareness and practice. When I lacked these healthy boundaries in past relationships, I lost myself in the process. I fell hard for men, wanting them to love and desire me, yet I wasn’t fully loving myself. I ended up feeling unsatisfied and not knowing the key to freedom was always within me, not in the men that I desired. Seeking the “external” for an internal challenge never works out and until we do the inner work, the same patterns will keep repeating themselves in relationships.
For HSP women, we need to strike a healthy balance of being able to love deeply, set boundaries when we are feeling overwhelmed by all the stimulation in the world, and to know that the secret to strong relationships always begins first within ourselves. This awareness is love and is the key to a life full of freedom and balance.