Tracy Fields Counselling

3 Mistakes That Highly Sensitive People Make in Romantic Relationships

As highly sensitive people, we love our people deeply and tend to be loyal. But in our deep love we tend to minimize our partner’s reactions if we are being treated badly. Sometimes we might not even see this until days, weeks, or even months later.

For many of us, our kind and empathetic nature has often been rewarded in some way. When this happens, we tend to do more of this. There are lots of great things about being kind and empathetic but if we only focus on others, it can create long-term problems for us in relationships.

Mistake Number One

When our partner treats us badly – ignores, yells (or other violent actions), agrees to do something but rarely follows through, we can be quite empathetic to their struggles. Often this behaviour is based on their own history of trauma and not always being able to control their emotions in a healthy way. And it is important to be able to understand why our partners might struggle.

But the piece that I often see missing is we forget to include how that makes us feel. If we skip over this part, it allows us to stay in a relationship that may not be good for us. My suggestion is, when you are offering your partner lots of understanding to also add the question: how does this make me feel?

You also matter.

Mistake Number Two

As highly sensitive people, we often become overwhelmed with our emotions. This can feel pretty awful so without being intentional, we start to avoid things that will cause us to feel this way. If we are upset with our partner for what they did or didn’t do and just the idea of talking to them causes overwhelm, we tend to ignore how we feel and therefore avoid any conversation and possible conflict.

The problem with this approach is that it works… kind of. It works in that it does stop the overwhelm but at some point, all that emotion that has been ignored will have to go somewhere. Sometimes this means a big blowout or for other people it looks like getting sick frequently.

Mistake Number Three

As highly sensitive people, some of us have experienced long periods of deep, seemingly never-ending loneliness. I remember being in this place and it’s so hard. Because of this experience, we might stay in a relationship that we know isn’t good for us but the thought of being that lonely again feels way too unmanageable.

So, we stay.
We stay and tolerate being ignored.
We stay and tolerate being told that our feelings don’t matter or are wrong.
We stay and we feel terrible.

And then maybe after awhile we start to notice that the loneliness has come back and that it might actually feel worse because we aren’t alone but yet we still are. One really important lesson I learned for myself is that if I couldn’t give something to myself, or make time for what was important to me, I wouldn’t be able to find those things in a partner.

What to do about this?

The first step is to notice how you might convince yourself that your feelings don’t matter and see how you put other people ahead of you.

Make a commitment to yourself to do one thing per week just for you. This can be something really simple such as reading for an hour, going for a walk, or to a favorite coffee shop.

The important work here is actually building tolerance to make time for yourself which is a really subtle and important way of telling yourself that you also matter. Because you really do.