5 Signs You’re Living With A Highly Sensitive Person (Or You Are One).

Consider this a roadmap to finding out if you’re living with a highly sensitive person, what to know about a highly sensitive person in relationships, and how to support them. Or, to finding out that you are one, perhaps. Either way, I will be guiding you through the 5 signs as if we were conversing in real life, over a nice cup of tea.

Table of Contents
What is sensitivity and who are highly sensitive people?
5 Signs You’re Living With a Highly Sensitive Person – Or You Are One.
-1 We adore staying at home or going back home as soon as possible.
-2 Violence makes us sick, conflict is a big enemy.
–Personal anecdote
-3 We are moved to tears by music, art, nature
-4 We withdraw often, aka we disappear.
-5 Please, have snacks handy for us at any time & place.
Conclusion

What is sensitivity and who are highly sensitive people?

Before looking into the signs that will tell you if you are living with a highly sensitive person, I am going to share are a few essential science backed facts on sensitivity. 

Dr. Elaine Aron, who has studied HSP (which stands for ‘highly sensitive people’) since the mid 90’s, will reassure you and anyone living with HSP that it is not a disorder. 

On the portal The Highly Sensitive Person, she explains that sensitivity is a trait, which means that it is innate. Particularly, it can be found in 15-20% of the population, as she notes: “too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.” 

Many of them are introverts so there are good chances you’re living with a highly sensitive person who is also an introvert. Or you are one, if you find out you relate to the signs below.

Either case, this article is for you:
-introverted and highly sensitive;
-best friend, sibling, parent, partner to one.

If you realise that you are actually living with a highly sensitive introvert, you will gather useful knowledge on your partner as well as what to expect in general from a sensitive person in relationships. 

If, on the other hand, you discover highly sensitivity applies to you, then: welcome, my friend! You are not alone. Let me remind you right from the start that you have every right to using information as a way to become quietly empowered and lead a more peaceful, rewarding life.

By the way, if the phrase ‘high sensitivity’ sounds completely or almost new, don’t worry. You certainly aren’t alone. Highly sensitive people themselves don’t know either, often not until they’re adults. I found out not too long ago as well and there’s still quite of a learning curve to it. 

Dr. Aron herself admits sensitivity has been long misunderstood even though it is by no means a new discovery. “Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extroverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.”

One more science fact.

Before moving on to the signs you might be living with a highly sensitive person – or are one – it is worth reporting that about 50% of the differences in sensitivity between people can be explained by genetic factors, whereas the remaining 50% are accounted for by environmental influences.

Which means, according to Sensitivity Research, that “Although […] sensitivity has a genetic basis, research has shown that it is equally shaped by people’s environment and experiences across their lives. Differences in sensitivity are in part genetic but also shaped by the type and quality of our upbringing and environment.”

Thus, the behaviour of a highly sensitive person in relationships will vary – better still, their display and degree of sensitivity – according to the environment they were brought up in. Think of loving and safe vs unsafe and unstable: it’s probably impacting your partner’s life quality in major ways. Probably, yours too.

Bonus fact shared in Sensitive Introvert? Here are 3 science facts on sensitivity (you are not alone or weird). While researching for that article, I learned that even some animal species share sensitivity to varying degrees. That is, just like us, human beings.

“In fact, biologists have found it in over 100 species (and probably there are many more) from fruit flies, birds, and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’.” The Highly Sensitive Person.

Yeah, yeah. But… What is it like to be living with HSP? How can you tell? Let’s dive right in.

5 Signs You’re Living With a Highly Sensitive Person – Or You Are One.

The following list of signs will put you, potential HSP, on the ‘right’ track, perhaps enticing your curiosity. Whereas it will educate you, probably living with a highly sensitive person, with precious information. 

This knowledge reveals a twofold goal. Firstly, to look at the other person with more compassion and sympathy. Secondly, to relieve any tension resulting from misunderstandings, which that are quite likely when living with HSP.

Misunderstandings or friction are inevitable (unless one is willing to share their inner world and the other is open to listen).

Trust me, I know firsthand the struggles of a highly sensitive person in relationships, let alone if that person is introverted. Not the most open, expansive, talkative combo, am I right?!

For this reason, I will be guiding you through the 5 signs as if I were having this light bulb conversation with my partner or best friend.

1 We adore staying at home or going back home as soon as possible.

A home is our nest, a place we become one with. It nurtures our physical and emotional well-being. It represents a place we must return to after being out in the world too long — the definition of which is entirely up to us, of course!

If you’re already living with a highly sensitive person, I’m sure you have noticed their urge to rush home when you’re out. Or a tendency not to leave it unless they believe it’s going to be absolutely worth it or necessary. 

Equally noteworthy: since we’re more aware than others of subtleties, we absorb so freaking much of the environment and people we interact with. Therefore we need to wash away – figuratively, most of the time – all those intricate impressions in a safe place. The goal: to get rid of that which is not ours.

2 Violence makes us sick, conflict is a big enemy.

Don’t be too surprised if we walk away halfway through a movie as soon as a gory scene comes up. The same happens when we hear violent stories while watching the news, TV shows covering cruelty of any kind. Such is life for those who are or are living with a highly sensitive person.

So, please excuse us if we leave you alone on the couch or mute the TV, switch channels, look away… Being exposed to cruelty makes us physically sick and will stick with us emotionally far longer than you would expect. 

Remember, we get easily overwhelmed, so it takes quite a while to process intense emotions, good or bad.

Personal anecdote.

I recall witnessing the following scene for a few seconds, one minute tops, as a little girl. I was in the car with my parents and probably some other family member. We were driving out of an underprivileged area when a big woman caught my attention: she was shouting and beating, probably with a stick, something or someone inside a van, while what seemed to be a child’s cry was coming loud and clear from within that same van.

Can you believe how clear it is after all these years?

I still remember the fear, physical discomfort and sadness I was overcome by.

I will never know for sure what was going on there. However, what I saw and heard has stayed with me since. Besides, I didn’t share any of it with my family as I was too shaken and honestly quite unsure of what to “do with it”.

3 We are moved to tears by music, art, nature.

Living with a highly sensitive person means we will try to let you into our sense of wonder as we stand before incredible sources of beauty.

Whenever we make such attempt, please don’t dismiss our excitement as childish. We are experiencing deep emotions, excited to be listening to our all time favourite song or moved by a piece of art.

Yves Klein’s blue, for example, gets me every time. I cry ecstatic, silent tears of wonder every single time I walk by one of his blue pigment pools.

Bear with us; also, be aware of the fact that we love you. Otherwise we wouldn’t dare step out of our perfect, inner worlds to share a fragment of it with you.

4 We withdraw often, aka we disappear.

It should be quite clear that we have super complex, wildly rich inner worlds. We also have a number of interests we like to cultivate mostly by ourselves. So, don’t take it personally.

Living with a highly sensitive introvert entails leaving them enough — erm, plenty of — space to live out their fantasy worlds, elaborate emotions, do their favourite things.  

Well, we need an infinite amount of downtime (and we don’t make a convincing case for it since we are not great communicators) because it’s the only time where we are able to do our thing, recharge, reconnect with ourselves, detox, connect with our spiritual practice… You name it.

Again, it’s not you. It’s us, lol. We crave it, need it, we function better afterwards.

A highly sensitive person in relationships craves a little extra alone time. Living with HSP is like this. Learn to flow with this critical side and you’ll receive unexpected signs of gratitude. 

We will adore you for respecting our idea of boundaries.
We will be more grateful to you for letting us be who we are.
We will love you more intensely after being alone, being left alone, only to be welcomed by loving arms.

We know that caring for and living with a highly sensitive person isn’t too easy. We often don’t have full understanding of it ourselves.

5 Please, have snacks handy for us at any time & place.

This is so crucial for both of your moods!

My boyfriend and my sister always make a joke about me becoming super cranky or eating as often as a newborn. 

We get seriously hangry… What does it even mean?
Well: “HSPs tend to be sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels, so they may get quite “hangry” (hungry + angry) if they haven’t eaten in a while.” Highly Sensitive Refuge

Remember: if you’re living with a highly sensitive person, you should be warned that they shut down or withdraw if they get suddenly hungry. They’ll even give you the silent treatment. Hence, hangry.

The truth is, at least personally, I cannot think straight when I’m hungry. I do my best not to talk too much so that I don’t come across as rude, over emotional, hysterical even.

You’d think they would tolerate their craving until you grab a bite on the go or enjoy a home-made meal. Nope. They wouldn’t! By then, it will be too late.

A highly sensitive person in relationships wants to rely on their partner for this, too: tolerance, patience, alone time, life-saving snacks.

Always hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Living with HSP= having quick snacks handy at all times. 

Conclusion

Living with a highly sensitive introvert requires a little preparedness, some compassion, and lots of patience.

If you have found out you are one, then you will need those qualities towards yourself.

Your life quality will improve, trust me.

I am snuggled on our couch typing this after a day of back and forth from home: at 5 pm I decided that was it. I wasn’t going grocery shopping or having aperitivo with my boyfriend and a friend. This is a time to just be and process a day that has been quite full, personally.

If you want to learn more about this subject, I recommend checking out the links added throughout this article as well as 16 Small Difficult Things About Being a Highly Sensitive Introvert.

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