Ah, catching feelings. A tiny bit terrifying, but mostly exciting — falling in love can be pretty damn magical, no matter who you are.
And for highly sensitive people (HSPs), those oh-so sweet feelings in the making are often all the more immersive.
Let’s back up a second. High sensitivity is a completely normal and healthy genetic trait. And when I say completely normal, I mean it.
Elaine Aron, the clinical psychologist who discovered the trait back in the late ’90s, found that a whopping 15 to 20 percent of the world’s population is highly sensitive. Yup, even those who pretend otherwise.
Possessing a rich inner world, the HSP nervous system processes external stimuli more thoroughly than others. In super casual speak, I like to say it’s kind of like turning up the volume on your average life experience. The intensity of every sensation is heightened, from emotions to sexual attraction, and everything in between.
Put in the necessary work to understand and nurture your own sensitivity, and it can become a beautiful strength rather than a burden. Because, HSP or not, it’s our relationships with ourselves that ultimately determine the quality of our connections with others.
What I’m trying to say is: The melodic — and occasionally confusing — dance of falling in love is different for every single person, no matter what traits they identify with.
These are a few revelations from my own love life as an HSP.
Once you’ve crossed the threshold from flirty fling to “oh sh*t are we falling in love?” territory, expect the average HSP to have you on their mind often.
Even with little actions, like the playlists we make or how long we toast bread for breakfast, our partners are always a consideration.
Personally, I don’t fall for people easily. It takes a well-balanced recipe between time, trust, and attraction on all levels. But, once I do, I end up taking mental notes of all the little things my partner cares for, factoring it into my day-to-day.
It’s one of many joys to come about during that sweet slope into feelings of deep connection.
While being considerate is a healthy part of relationships, HSPs have to manage their expectations of others. It can be easy for highly sensitive folks to feel disappointed if their consideration isn’t reciprocated.
If this happens, speak up. It’s easier said than done — trust me, I know. But it’s wholly necessary. Your partner won’t know what you need unless you express it.
As most people in love would likely agree, catching “The Feels” gives even the most normal days that extra bit of spice.
If a honeymoon phase could drink 8 cups of coffee, falling in love as an HSP would kind of be like that. It’s exciting, energetic, and probably gives you the urge to dance all over the place. At least, that’s how I feel.
It’s undeniably an awesome feeling. Balance is needed, however.
Many HSPs seek a healthy intersection between personal space and affection, allowing us time to recharge in our own solitude. So, finding someone whose company you absolutely adore can pose a bit of a challenge when it comes to finding your new groove.
I mean, hey, falling in love can be a bit scary regardless of how sensitive you are (or aren’t).
When it comes to the “I’m gonna pretend to be a mind reader” game, consider HSPs Olympians. For better or worse, we have an innate curiosity about the way others think — not just about us, but about life in general.
We’re often speculating more than Sherlock Holmes, contemplating the smallest nuances in body language and communication.
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It’s not all the time, though. In between quizzical sprees, feelings of love can keep us wildly present, soaking up every joyous moment and pleasurable touch. Those moments of pure and utter love-induced stillness are nothing short of divine.
Evaluating every potential avenue and outcome, as many HSPs do, extends to our love lives as well. That same careful consideration for every detail can make us great decision makers and leaders — but it can also complicate our outlooks.
Once in a while, our “what ifs” might get the best of us.
During my first relationship, I was hung up over the fact that I was so young. I would think things like, “I’m too young to be with someone for the long haul, so what am I even doing here?”
I overthought the future — hardcore — since I hadn’t yet learned how to manage that part of my emotions. And, boy, did it backfire.
As HSPs, we need to give ourselves space to feel all the things and try to avoid being self-critical. A little overthinking is a natural part of growth, whether on your own or with a partner. And remember: Take it one step at a time, my friends.
An HSP’s deep thought processing and strong emotions can turn the volume on the passion dial waaay up. Sensitive, sensual, seductive… There’s a reason those words sound similar. *wink*
Sometimes, I still fixate on the big “where’s it all going” question. But, honestly, who doesn’t?
Relationships are pretty much a choose-your-own-adventure novel. And to HSPs, each new page is freakin’ exciting — even if we’re curious about the rest of the plot along the way.
To quote Aron, “I am deeply moved by things. I’d hate to miss the intense joy of that.” I couldn’t agree more.
Sarah Lempa is a writer and creative media strategist covering the joys (and challenges) of travel lifestyle, mental health, and solopreneurship. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, VICE, and SUITCASE Magazine, among others. Currently based in Indonesia, she’s called multiple countries home and has ventured across six continents along the way. When she’s not chipping away at a piece, you’ll find her jamming out to groovy beats or riding a motorcycle. Keep up with Sarah on Instagram.