“Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.” ~Swami Vivekananda
Highly sensitive people naturally bring some really beautiful, love-promoting qualities to their romantic partnerships. But these same qualities can sometimes end up undermining the strength of the relationship. This was true for me in my first marriage and led, in part, to it ending in divorce.
We HSPs are known for our caring, conscientious, and considerate natures. It matters deeply to us that we do our best to be loyal and caring in our relationships.
And because we tend to have high standards for ourselves, and work hard at being kind supportive friends and lovers, we often successfully create strong intimate bonds with others.
We also have a knack for being aware of the needs of others. Our ability to pick up on subtle cues makes them feel deeply understood and cared for. On top of all of this, we tend to think deeply about our love relationships, giving them much of our mental and emotional energy.
This is all really wonderful for the lucky partner of a highly sensitive person. It’s part of why they felt drawn to you and nurtured, safe, and loved with you. But, things can go downhill fast when our significant other doesn’t behave the same way.
It’s human nature to be unable to deeply understand what it’s like to live another’s experience. Though HSP’s tend to be quite empathic, it’s still nearly impossible to really see through our partners’ eyes. This can be the source of so much pain.
In my first marriage, I often wondered why I seemed to be the one to show more interest in the health of the relationship. I would ask myself things like, “How can he be okay with going to bed when things aren’t resolved between us?” “Does he even notice I’m sad?” “Doesn’t he want to help me feel better?” “What’s wrong with him that he doesn’t think to offer some kind words?”
Because those were things I naturally did for him.
Those high standards I had for myself about relationships? I had them for him, too. When he didn’t meet my ideas about how we should be with each other, I would think something was wrong.
I’d think his lack of consideration and awareness meant he didn’t love me as much as I loved him, that maybe I wasn’t enough for him. Thinking that really hurt.
That pain, unfortunately, only led to me acting far below my own high standards for myself. Because when we humans feel hurt, we say and do things we wouldn’t otherwise.
I’d complain, maybe curl up and cry, or give him the cold shoulder. I’d point out how he was falling short, question why —if he really loved me— he wasn’t more affectionate, more aware of my feelings, more interested in resolving issues—in short, more like I was naturally (well, when I wasn’t upset!).