Guide to life with a HSP – 9 tips to understand your highly sensitive spouse

A highly sensitive person, whether a man or a woman, is almost like a different species. We may not be from Mars or Venus, but at times it feels that we do have our own inner planet we live on. I don’t think one can ever fully understand a Hsp just because I’m not sure if we completely will ever understand ourselves. Nevertheless there are things that a Hsp’s spouse or spouse-to-be should know. Our sensitivity is a powerful force and a magnificent, positive feature that can bring good things into a relationship if only you can appreciate it accordingly.

In the beginning of our relationship, my husband just didn’t understand me. No wonder though. How could he have understood a person who, he felt, was speaking a totally different language? I appreciate him immensely for the effort he put in to try to make sense of me, my reactions, feelings and my rollercoaster moods. However, the results just weren’t there, not until we discovered that I was a highly sensitive person and realized what exactly did it mean for us. I am a weird one, even with the sensitivity aspect put aside. 😀

If you have never met a Hsp, the qualities we have may seem overwhelming and difficult to wrap your head around. Thus, since me and my husband have happily sailed through the labyrinth of misunderstanding and understanding, I decided to create this list for all you Hsp’s spouses or spouses-to-be, who are still wandering on the planet of comprehension and astonishment.

All of these 9 tips may not be accurate to every single Hsp, since we are all individuals. However, there are similarities within the highly sensitive community. To think of it, it might be that I am the only odd one here and other Hsp’s don’t live a life I do. 😀 Still, I am pretty sure that at least a few of the points below are recognizable to those people who are living a life with a Hsp on their side.

1) I am not a stalker, I am truly concerned

Highly sensitive people are typically overly concerned for others. We want to make sure that our loved ones are safe and happy at all times. Occasionally this leads to situations that a non-Hsp might interpret as stalking. This is never our intention, we just truly, genuinely are concerned.

Let’s try an example. You have called your lovely highly sensitive spouse to tell him or her that you are leaving the office and heading home. It so happens that you run into a colleague on the parking lot, start chatting and it takes an additional half an hour until you actually sit in your car. In the meantime, what is your spouse doing? At that second you called, they calculated the minutes your commute usually takes and the time you should be home. Since you didn’t arrive at that time, the Hsp has grown sick of worry and thought of all the ‘death-traps’ aka locations your car might have slipped from the road. He or she has also started to wonder whether they should call police, ambulance or fire department if you are not home in 5 minutes and to which direction should they urge the authorities to start the search.

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2) My mind races at lightspeed

Hsps think a lot. At the same time, we think at an incredible speed. At least that is how it is for me. My mind races like a high speed train or more accurately, like USS Enterprise or Millenium Falcon.

Do you want to know what goes on in Hsp’s mind when they ask you about your day? Before you have answered a simple question, the mind of a Hsp has raced million miles further. Within a nanosecond a Hsp has gone through every single possibility for your answer, analysed your mental state, mindset, facial expressions, feelings, gestures, your gestures and expressions from yesterday, the moment you took their hand in yours last week, the beautiful sunset two weeks back, the moonlight walk on that beach on last year’s holiday and planned out probably around 5 years of your future together. That said, I hope you’ll no longer be at lost next time your ‘I’m okay’ -answer causes your highly sensitive spouse to raise their eyebrows and start a long conversation about your future plans.

3) I analyse you all the time but I mean no harm

If you have read this far, you are probably by now aware that Hsp’s mind is a bit different to yours. One of the most typical characteristics of the highly sensitive is to analyse and especially overanalyze – to gut things. We analyse everything around us, our spouses included, but never do it to irritate you or drive you mad. We simply can’t turn it off very efficiently.

Please forgive your wonderful highly sensitive spouse for texting you after just talking to you on the phone, only to ask you what is wrong. Hsp senses even the smallest changes in your behavior and analyses them to their best ability, whether it’s certain words you used, your tone of voice or your way of ending the call. This is automatic to us and to stop it is extremely hard. You might wonder why it is necessary to text you in the first place. Well, we could simply let it be and not text, but then we go full circle back to the point no 1, stuck in the overconcerning. I have noticed (and my husband has too :D) that it is way easier to ask than to get caught up in the analysing and overanalysing again and again. Especially when, at times, there is no reason to worry in the first place, your tone of voice may only be a sign that you are, in fact, busy.

4) I know how you feel even before you tell me

Highly sensitive people are usually extremely empathetic, intuitive and aware of their senses. This is why we normally are very aware of our surroundings and the state of mind of people around us – whether we are at a grocery store, at the office or at home. I firmly believe that for the most part, this is an asset in a relationship.

Since a Hsp notices things easily without too much effort, they can change the lighting in the room, fix your pillow or make you a sandwich before you realize you needed it. Also, don’t be amazed if your sensitive spouse gives you a hug or comforts you before you even tell them you’re sad.

5) If I cry, it can mean anything

One of the most common trait of Hsps’ is the intensity of our emotions. We feel things extremely deeply, whether they are good or bad. A completely nonsignificant, everyday subject can cause immense feelings in us and be a source of great joy or unbearable number of tears, anytime, anywhere.

That said, If you see a Hsp cry, try to remember that for us, it is completely normal and pretty common. Highly sensitive people typically cry a lot. Our crying doesn’t always mean that we are sad though. We might cry during a film, watching the news or reading a book but on the other hand we might also cry because you wrap your hand around our shoulders, we see a beautiful sunset, or a song has beautiful lyrics. I’m pretty sure I have cried more than most people cry in four lifetimes and I am only 32 years old. Tears are a everyday thing for me, they are a way to cleanse my mind, whether I’m crying over warm socks, a delicious piece of chocolate cake or the fact I’m missing my loved ones. To find out what is making your spouse cry, the easiest way is to ask. It is also useful to remember that, at times, we cry just for crying, without any particular reason.

6) I want to help with everything I can

We Hsps want to help, all the time with everything we possibly can. Since being emphatic is in our nature it is also in our nature to help those who seek help. And those who we think are seeking help. If a Hsp has trouble in his or her own life, they still typically help others first, before helping themselves. In my opinion this is far too much criticized. For me, helping others helps me to put my own problems into the right perspective. So, in a way, by helping others I am also helping myself.

Our desire to help might sometimes be a bit heavy on our spouses. It may feel like we are forcing our help especially if you don’t feel like you need any or are accustomed to do things yourself. Nevertheless, I encourage you to take a positive approach when it comes to your spouse’s desire to assist you. At least you can be sure that there is always one person ready to help you if you ever decide you need a hand.

7) Your mood is my mood

Do you what is sponging? Sponging is the moment your beloved Hsp is harvesting your mood and storing it in themselves like an endless sponge. Shout out to my husband for the sponging-term, in my opinion it is quite accurate. 😀 In other words our ability to be empathetic might go a bit far and we tend to make our loved one’s moods our own. We in fact mirror our spouses.

To give you an example of sponging, here are a few. If you are in a great mood, your empathetic spouse is probably in seventh heaven. The whole world seems open to them and they feel like anything is possible to achieve. If, on the other hand, you are experiencing stress, your Hsp is likely to breathe more heavily and is struggling with stress and anxiety. If you get out of bed on the wrong foot, it is very much a possibility that your spouse’s morning is everything but sunny.

What makes it all more difficult to understand, a Hsp’s mood can go back and forth in a few seconds, just because they breathe the same air as you do. My husband has often wondered how I can analyse his stress levels just by staring at his back and even more so, to sponge his mood even if he hasn’t said a word. On the other hand, at the precise moment his stress is relieved, I become Mrs Sunshine. For us Hsps, the most important thing is that our loved ones are happy. That is why we keep sponging ‘til we know for sure that everyone around us is truly happy.

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8) I long for deep, meaningful conversations

I met my husband in Tinder a few years ago, One might think that in an app like Tinder, openings like ‘Hey, how’s your evening?’ would be a proper way to start a conversation. Even though at that time I did not yet realise that I’m a highly sensitive person, I was always missing and looking for deep and meaningful conversation. This to my future husband’s delight 😀 I’m sure he did not exactly jump out of joy when I used the first half an hour explaining him thoroughly what is, to me at least, a good way to start an interesting conversation and how to keep it going. Let alone why ‘yo, how’re you doing’ -type of comments are not at all personal nor interesting and whether we should actually start the whole conversation over again with a more unique opening line. The interesting thing is, for some reason, he still did not bolt 😀

Okay, to the point then. A large part of Hsps are introverts. Whether your spouse is introvert or extrovert, I bet he or she is not a huge fan of small talk. Since we think and feel so much and so deeply, we have a constant need to ponder upon the big questions of life and universe. Thus, we are struggling with small talk and feel that the time used talking about today’s weather could be used more productively. So, I pledge you to try to understand your spouse’s need for long, late night talks about the meaning of life. Even though your answer to life, universe and everything is 42 and you could not care less how an infinite space could expand, try to participate in your spouse’s wonder about the world around us. At times these conversations may lead to surprising realisations, at least in you Hsp’s opinion.

9) I might be odd, but it makes me wonderful

As I said before, it may seem that Hsps come from another planet. These 8 previous charasteristics are just a scratch to the surface of the huge world you will learn to know as a Hsp’s spouse. Highly sensitive people live through their feelings every day and every moment, they love deeply, take care of you and others, analyse, interpret, wonder, help and are there for you every way they can.

Even if your highly sensitive spouse might seem totally, incomprehensible different, being in a relationship with him or her can bring your life a depth and happiness you didn’t even know existed. We are weird, yes, but in our own way we are also wonderful. The only thing is, you need to learn to understand us and adapt a proper way to handle us. We are not made of glass, we won’t break. We are sensitive and that’s what makes us strong spouses to our strong spouses.

 

– Kati

 

Ps. If you are interested to read more about Hsps in a relationship, I highly recommend Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person in Love.

 

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