As far as partners go, there are some definite perks to dating someone who is highly sensitive. These types are usually emotionally intelligent, super thoughtful, and always down to chat about life's little problems. They are good at feeling feelings, and it makes them awesome to be around.
But your SO's sensitive ways can also make navigating your relationship a bit of a struggle. Their feelings are often so easily hurt that fights can erupt over just about anything. It might even feel like you have to walk on eggshells. And in some ways, you do.
"Sensitive people tend to personalize statements more often compared to other people," says Kim Chronister, Psy.D., in an email to Bustle. "A sensitive person can carry with them pain, anger, and resentment for life." This will be evidenced when your partner gets upset over that thing you said six months ago — the comment, joke or remark that didn't seem like a big deal at all.
While it may seem like an over reaction, you can't really fault your partner for being who they are. Some topics and comments simply strike a chord with the sensitive types, and are better off avoided. Read on for some examples of what likely won't sit well with your partner.
1. Don't Call Them Out On Their Sensitivity
It can be tempting to call your SO out on his or her sensitive ways. And yet it will almost always come off as hurtful and judgmental, instead of eye-opening or helpful. "Phrases like 'you take things too personally' can feel like a significant dig," said deputy healthy living editor Lindsay Holmes, on HuffingtonPost.com. Better to just keep these observations to yourself.
2. Reign In Your Over-The-Top Sarcasm
Of course you can joke around with your SO, but do keep in mind that sarcasm can be easily misconstrued. "Whether or not someone is sensitive, it is critical to tread lightly with sarcasm or negative remarks," Chronister says. "Humor often has a flavor of truth." And your partner will very likely pick up on that.
3. Resist Telling Them To "Loosen Up"
Let's say you two are out at a bar. It's better to marvel at your partner's willingness to go somewhere loud and overwhelming, so don't pressure them to do more. And definitely don't pressure them to drink. "Non-sensitives may find the drunk feeling to be pleasurable, but for sensitives it’s more like a headache," said lifestyle writer Sophia Borghese on ThoughtCatalog.com.
4. Be Cool If They Need To Cry
I'm totally someone who can tear up during a touching commercial, so I know first hand how embarrassing (and awful) it is when someone notices. If your partner does the same thing, just stay calm while they let it all out. "It’s important to know that in loving a sensitive person, you will learn to love their tears," said lifestyle writer Victoria Cox on Lifehack.org.
5. Avoid Mentioning His Or Her Triggers
As dating expert Ben Neal said on ThoughtCatalog.com, "... we all have our share of wounds and 'soft spots,' things that can trigger a powerful emotional response in us. Usually negative." And this is especially true for sensitive types. So if he hates talking about his parents, or she can't stand chatting about her boss, then better to leave those topics untouched.
6. Don't Try To Rush Them
Most people are ridiculously indecisive, but it's so much more true for sensitive people. "Remember, [they're] processing more information more thoroughly than most," Neal said. If you can relax and let your partner choose a restaurant or movie — at their own pace — they'll really appreciate it.
7. Resist Being Discouraging
While part of being in a relationship is helping to better each other, do take it slow when bringing your sensitive partner into new situations. "Sensitive people oftentimes avoid other people, especially those with whom they are not familiar," Chronister says. Give them points for getting outside their comfort zone, and keep all other comments to yourself.
8. Don't Tell Them To "Snap Out Of It"
Sensitive people get in their heads, and will likely come off as apathetic, or distant, or spacey. While this isn't true, it can be tempting to tell your SO to "snap out of it," but resist the urge. "Just let them do so for a couple minutes, and they will resume to reality," Borghese said.
9. Keep Criticisms To Yourself
I'm not saying you should pretend your partner is perfect beyond measure, but do know that pointing out their flaws can be slightly (and painfully) redundant. "Being so in tune with themselves means that they are usually their own worst enemies, so anything negative you have to say will likely already have been realized by themselves," Cox said. Best not to compound their own self-judgment, lest you make them feel worse.
10. Remember, They're Not Judgmental
Your sensitive SO is likely going to point out all sorts of things — that you look sad, that you look like you've "got something on your mind," etc. They can't help but notice, so don't take it the wrong way. And definitely don't call them judgmental. "Let them make observations," Borghese said. "This is how they make sense of the world around them."
If you can keep these things in mind, you'll really help your sensitive partner feel understood. And what could be better than that?
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