Sensitivity and Relationships – How to Survive When Everybody Hurts

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Have you ever heard that you’re “too sensitive” or “too emotional”? I certainly did and I must say that sensitivity doesn’t make my life easy, especially with how misunderstood I am by other people. The readings of my behaviors are often that I’m overreacting, sulking, lacking willingness to make up or even manipulating. The fact is, however, that I just have a strong  and relatively long emotional reaction to negative events and as much as I’d like to just “snap out of it” I can’t. For years I’ve been trying to suppress my emotions and hide them past the point of what others consider a normal reaction (and please remember, people are more generous when giving themselves time, much less empathic when someone else is involved). It is pointless, though. Such behaviors do backfire and with time you learn to embrace the fact that you are the way you are.

Sensitivity definitely makes relationships and dating more difficult. When I was still single I remember observing people in my surrounding and admiring the fact that they could get over things very easily. Some of these people where clearly in denial, but others were sad for a few days after a relationship finished and after that would jump back to the dating scene. People often ask you about your relationship status when you’re out and about so if I was currently single (and usually heart-broken) I’d say that I’ve just got out of something, even if this something was already a while ago. I knew, however, that anything past a month of regrouping was considered by others as dwelling. It’s not true if you still actively feel hurt and you certainly shouldn’t be jumping into a new relationship at this stage. What is true, is that sensitivity does tempt you into staying in a melancholic state for longer than necessary or good for you, but this is something one must learn for themselves instead of letting others set “recovery deadlines”. From my experience emotional pain often feels very much like a physical one. Therefore, others people expectation to “just get over it” as “the guy was clearly an asshole” is as helpful as advising a stab wound victim to please stop feeling the pain because the knife is no longer in their body.

Another danger of sensitivity is jumping into relationships without thinking about what one’s doing. As sensitive people feel things quite intensely it’s even easier for them than for other people to get into a relation because they interpreted lust as love. The thinking behind it is “If I feel so strongly about someone, how is it possible that it’s not love?”. It’s very possible. Attraction is a powerful thing and especially people with unresolved childhood issues are prone to feel strong sexual attraction towards people with whom they could recreate the abusive relationship they had with their parent(s). If someone is sensitive on the top of it, it’s a dangerous mix because of how intense the feelings get. Once a sensitive person is in a wrong relationship they’re on an emotional rollercoaster which affects them deeply. This is another example of when healing for such people takes longer. They go in too deep with a person who hurt them so they need even more time to get better. As many of sensitive people are also introverts they will emotionally hibernate and withdraw, trying to analyze what went wrong to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.

Last but not least, there’s obviously the happily ever after. The point when you’ve learnt the difference between love and lust, to observe who you’re dealing with before you jump into a relationship and when you are in the healthy relationship you wanted. Sensitivity also makes some things more difficult here. Being more in tune with what others feel sometimes makes you super conscious of the way your partner is and if you can’t make them feel better it can be difficult to let go. Accepting that some things which happen in their lives are beyond your control is challenging. Of course there are occasional disagreements too and it doesn’t make anyone’s life easier that sensitive people are so quick to feel hurt and to withdraw. This leaves a sensitive person with a lot of work on interpreting what the partner communicates correctly but also the partner has a challenging task of learning how to express themselves in a different manner. Fortunately all that is possible to work through with someone who truly cares. On the bright side, a sensitive person experiences all emotions stronger, including the positive ones. In my experience I can get very excited about little things and express my positive emotions towards my partner generously.

If I learnt one thing about being sensitive is that the trait irritates a lot of people. Many will try to change you, think you’re a wuss or that you’re overindulging yourself letting yourself feel fully. Steer clear of these people and keep them at an arm’s length. You can embrace their ideas about how you should be and be miserable or accept the fact that you feel a bit stronger than they do and let yourself be the person you are. No amount of wishful thinking and attempts to just “be stronger” will change the fact that you’re sensitive. Of course you should put yourself out there and try to get used to as many things as you can so it’s not so intimidating to go somewhere on your own or give a public speech. No one is telling you to avoid life here, but at the same time it’s okay to admit that you’re sometimes emotionally overwhelmed instead of beating yourself up. According to research around 20% of the world population has a heightened sensitivity so bear in mind that you’re not alone or crazy, just in minority.

Dear Rinsers, are you the sensitive ones? Maybe you’re on the other side, trying to make more sensitive people be your way? Is embracing the way we are overindulgence? Are we supposed to try to fit in even if it’s against our true nature? The comments section is all yours.


  1. I’m highly sensitive as well as not good with confrontation. Not only do I clam up at confrontation, it makes me physically ill. People think I’m faking as a cop-out, but I hate to be targeted in any way when it comes to arguments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for saying that you physically hurt when you fight! I experience that a lot and even my loved ones who really try to understand me (like my husband) struggle to get this particular things because it’s clearly not how he feels about these things. He hates fighting and avoids confrontations too but gets worn out by them without having such a strong physical reaction afterwards. It’s nice to know I’m not crazy and not the only one.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sensitive ??? I am the poster child of sensitive…Well I used to be especially in my 20’s through to my early 40’s I always worried about what others thought and any critizism was painful. I didn’t meet confrontation head on unless I had no choice meaning you had to bring the fight to me . I am getting better life has made me a lot less sensitive than I used to be. But yes just like Asha said I would always get ….why are you so sensitive as if it were a bad thing .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for an honest comment! I guess it’s probably more difficult to be sensitive if you’re a man because of social perception of how tough guys should be. I think as we get older we can create a more nurturing environment which doesn’t abuse our sensitivity.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the biggest problem with being highly-sensitive about things (worrying that you’ve done something wrong, etc, etc.) is that you leave yourself open for manipulation and you find the highly-sensitive one becoming a love sick puppy overcome with paranoia. With a bit of practice though, even highly-sensitive person can learn to see signs of people manipulating them and eventually figure out ways to walk away early before things get out of hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. I think that potentially sensitive people may end up forever heart-broken if they don’t learn to set their boundaries. Not everybody means well. We shouldn’t assume that we’re dealing with a bad person but if someone does hurt us there’s no point in letting them do this again by coming up with one million excuses why they hurt us (because they had a rough childhood, because they were hurt by someone else etc). We can be empathic but we should shield ourselves before the next blow comes.

      Liked by 1 person

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