This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post. Click the image for the original article:
Your partner is sensitive in pretty much every way it’s possible for a person to be sensitive. She’s sensitive to the feelings and energy of people around her. As a child, adults called her “shy”. She has a vivid imagination and rich inner-world. She may even be sensitive to food and caffeine.
Over the years she may have had to do a great deal of mindset work in order to stop viewing her sensitivity as a curse or an embarrassment - especially in a world where logic and rationality reign supreme.
Highly sensitive women are deeply attuned individuals - particularly when it comes to emotions: theirs, their loved ones, even strangers. They are mercurial and enigmatic; desiring of deep, intimate affection one minute and complete solitude the next.
They approach relationships with a combination of extreme empathy, honesty, and fear of losing themselves in the other person.
Because of all this, they may at times feel deeply alone or unseen or that their uniqueness will forever keep her from being truly known by those they love the most.
This can be a source of endless frustration for their partners who struggle tosupport the women they love but find them becoming distant due to bad timing or missed subtle cues.
On the other side, highly sensitive women tend to approach romantic relationships with a deep, sincere desire to share themselves body, mind and soul on a level their partners may have never experienced before.
Here are some things to remember when you’re in love with a highly sensitive woman:
She sees the world in Technicolor.
Sounds that you don’t even notice can make her hair stand on end. While you can fall asleep with all the lights and TV on, she needs complete darkness and silence or she will toss and turn all night.
This is because her sensitivity creates an experience of the world that’s amplified — sometimes to an incredibly overwhelming degree.
She recharges by unplugging from the world.
Because the world can be such an overwhelming sensory experience, she relies on her ability to retreat into herself in order to recharge her batteries. This can look like spending an hour journaling to get it all out on paper, meditating, or going on a Gilmore Girls binge with the cat.
When she’s stressed, people may perceive her as uncaring or disinterested.
Though she may appear cool and collected when the s—- hits the fan, under the surface she feels like a duck paddling furiously to keep her head above water. Her cool, calm, collected demeanor is simply a way for her to maintain a semblance of control.
She’s incredibly creative - when the conditions are right.
Highly sensitive women are known for their works of art, scientific innovations, and spiritual pathfinding. Their creativity makes the world a better place and knows no bounds — if it is properly nourished and supported.
Know that she needs the support and encouragement of her loved ones as much or even more when she’s in a creative space. She is built up by recognition of the beauty of her creations and also craves time and space to engage in her creative process.
Closeness is what she both craves and fears most.
She is deeply ambivalent about closeness and distance; love and fear. She craves connection more than anything and yet at times is also at times terrified of losing herself in you.
This applies especially when it comes to physical connection.
Social situations are hard for her.
She may desire deeply to fit in, but feel awkward or even inept with groups of people - especially those she doesn’t know well. She may also question the value of spending her time with people and situations that feel artificial to her.
She despises being defined by others.
Adults may have called your partner shy as a child, but they didn’t understand that it just took a while for her to get to know people and feel comfortable around them. Friends may call her a wallflower, but they don’t understand that she just likes to observe a situation and understand the energy and cultural norms before opening up to strangers. You may call her “super-sensitive,” but you doesn’t realize that she just feels intensely and fiercely.
Being misunderstood is deeply distressing for her because her deepest desire is to be seen. When someone - especially someone close to her- labels her as something she knows she’s not, she feels wounded.
After all, if you don’t get her, what chance does she have for the rest of the world to get her?
She attracts (and finds herself attracted to) outgoing people.
Since people are often drawn to others with opposite and envied strengths, your partner may find her life filled with people that are warm, expressive, and sociable.
This can set the stage for situations in which the outgoing person continually tries to get closer to her while she, feeling smothered, keeps moving farther away.
It’s not that she doesn’t care for other people and love connecting with them, it’s just that she is protective of her personal and emotional space and knows that poor boundaries will only lead to feeling overwhelmed and resentful.
Creativity is key for her.
When she’s not engaged in a creative endeavor, she can’t seem to get the thought that she could and/or should be out of her head. In fact, no matter how much she tries to talk herself out of it, she can’t help tying her creativity and her self-esteem up in her mind.
She sees her creative pursuits as the purest form of self-expression that exists, and so, if it’s not well received, she sees it as a jab at the very core of her being.
Now that you understand where’s she’s coming from, here’s what to do:
1. Don’t assume she’s exaggerating when she tells you the music is too loud or that the cup of coffee she drank in the morning kept her up all night. Doubting her experience will only serve to make her feel belittled and misunderstood.
Instead, ask how you can help. If all that’s required is a small adjustment from you - like turning down the volume of your Van Halen record when she’s feeling overstimulated, don’t make it a big deal.
2. Give her space. If she gets quiet, don’t assume there’s something wrong. In fact it’s often quite the opposite: she is simply taking care of herself and reconnecting with herself. She’s doing what she needs to soothe herself when the world gets too loud or bright. Letting her know you’re there for her when she’s ready is all she needs to hear.
3. At the same time, highly sensitive women care deeply and can get stressed easily. When she’s had a stressful day at work, check in with her. Don’t assume she’s not affected during intense moments just because she doesn’t appear to be.
4. Notice the beauty of her creative endeavors and share yours with her. Telling her about your interests and passions and why they are so important to you will create a deeper, more meaningful connection with her because creativity is how she relates to the world.
5. Understand that when she needs space, she is trying to reassure herself of her safety and separateness. That doesn’t mean you have to tolerate constant rejection or neediness, if that’s what you’re feeling from her. It just means understand where she’s coming from and then communicating your needs with that understanding in mind.
6. Validate, validate, validate. Highly sensitive women are usually very aware of their internal reactions and are grateful for a place where they can express them without fear of judgment. If she’s ruminating about a conversation with a friend that didn’t sit well with her, let her vent and tell her you’ve been there - even if you can’t relate to her EXACT situation, chances are, you’ve felt the feelings before, and that’s what matters.
7. If you’re feeling shut out or ignored, address it directly with her. Her tendency to detach and need space is an addressable quality - not an insurmountable barrier in your relationship. If you feel it has gotten to be too much or is intruding on your need for connection, tell her. Let her know how you feel and what your needs are. Don’t criticize or accuse.
She is by nature extremely sensitive to the idea that she could hurt another person - especially someone she loves. Insinuate that what’s she’s doing, and her defenses will go up. Instead, let her know your needs, and she will do everything in her power to meet and exceed them.