Do you sometimes struggle with how sensitive your boyfriend is?
Things are great most of the time. You love how he seems to ‘get’ you better than other guys you’ve dated, and how thoughtful he can be. But other times, his insecurities and his need for attention can get too much.
How do you reassure him you care when you aren’t as comfortable talking about your emotions as he is?
Men who are in touch with their emotions don’t fit the stereotypical masculine mold, and being sensitive is something to encourage and celebrate in your partner.
If he’s more in touch with his emotions, he’s likely to be more understanding of yours, and more mature in working through the ups and downs of a relationship.
If miscommunication and misunderstandings are plaguing your relationship, keep reading to see how you can navigate life with a sensitive partner.
14 Tips For Dealing With A Sensitive Boyfriend
Please note: not all sensitive men are the same. Some of the tips or scenarios discussed here will not apply to your boyfriend. Read the FAQs section that comes after this list for advice on more specific situations.
1. Take his feelings seriously.
You might think that he’s being dramatic or too sensitive, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there to support your boyfriend if he needs you to.
Although you may deal with your emotions differently, he doesn’t deserve to feel as though he is in the wrong or not listened to just because he’s more open than you.
For a sensitive person, feeling as though they aren’t being taken seriously or heard only exacerbates the situation.
Your boyfriend’s feelings are valid whether or not you agree with how he expresses them. Try to find ways to reassure him that you care rather than shut him out.
2. Don’t make him feel as though sensitivity is a bad thing.
Having a boyfriend who is sensitive means he’s in touch with his feelings and has a deeper level of empathy. This is good in the sense that he can better understand you and your feelings.
It may feel too much at times, but having someone who is more sensitive to their emotions is better than having someone who is shut off to them.
Find the positives in the fact you can celebrate the highs together and feel supported during the lows.
Being vulnerable with our emotions takes courage and trust, so don’t make him feel as though you don’t appreciate these things in him.
Someone should never be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed of sharing how they feel, so try to embrace the sensitivity of your partner and appreciate it rather than stamping it out of him.
3. Talk about your method of communication.
If your boyfriend is comfortable in the way he expresses his vulnerability, he might be expecting the same level of openness from you. He might get confused when you can’t show your feelings like he can.
If you are less sensitive than your partner, try having a conversation about how you feel when he asks you to share your emotions and how uncomfortable that makes you. If he’s expecting you to show the same level of vulnerability as him and you can’t, he could take this as a lack of trust between you.
Let him know how you prefer to communicate and feel most comfortable expressing yourself.
You don’t have to approach things in the same way; you just have to be understanding that you do things differently and work at being more accepting of that.
4. Prepare to open up.
As much as you might try to avoid opening up about your own feelings, it’s something you’ll need to get more comfortable with if you want this relationship to last.
If he wants to talk about something you’re not comfortable talking about, and you keep refusing, he’ll start to see this as a slight against him.
Being vulnerable with your partner is a way to build trust between you. Take inspiration from him and try to open yourself up to sharing more, even if it’s just little steps at a time.
5. Don’t mess him around.
If he’s a sensitive guy, he’s not in this relationship to be messed around. If he’s more in touch with his feelings, he knows what he’s looking for and won’t want to play games when it comes to a relationship.
You may notice that he doesn’t respond well to insults or being ignored in an argument. As a sensitive person, he’s more likely to be a straight talker and want to get to the root of the issue, while trying to get you to understand his point of view.
Don’t play with his emotions if you’re annoyed at him, and don’t string him along. Antagonizing him will only cause him more pain and make the situation between you toxic.
6. Be patient.
There will be times when you’ll be sick of hearing about his feelings and being expected to talk through them with him. This is all part of having a sensitive partner and something you will have to get used to.
Let him have his say and be respectful of what he has to share. Over time, you’ll learn how to move past an argument and how best to reassure him when he needs it. You might even become more in touch with your own feelings because of it.
Although it may feel like hard work sometimes, the up side is you have a boyfriend who is willing to listen to you, support you, and work on your relationship – that’s something to hold on to.
7. Be affectionate and supportive.
It’s nice to hear a complement or be shown affection from your partner, but it’s not just the men who should be the givers here.
Your boyfriend deserves to be complimented and shown how much he means to you just as much as you expect the same from him.
If your boyfriend is more sensitive, he’ll appreciate the effort more than most. Sensitive people take actions and words to heart, so by being more physically affectionate with your partner or telling him he looks good, you’ll be giving him the confidence boost he needs to feel good about himself.
Equally, if you don’t show him affection, he’ll notice. He might struggle with confidence and anxiety as a result of being more self-aware and perceive your lack of attention as rejection.
Don’t be shy in telling your boyfriend how you feel about him and you’ll be rewarded by seeing your boyfriend at his best.
8. Don’t rise to the bait.
With sensitivity comes emotion, and sometimes, when we are emotional, we don’t express ourselves in the right way.
Stress, fear, anxiety, even hunger can all contribute to our emotions getting the better of us and cause us to take them out on our loved ones.
If your boyfriend is emotional, he might read into and pick apart the things you say or do when he’s feeling overwhelmed, making you irritable and angry.
As hard as it can be to not retaliate when you’re being baited, remember that the real issue probably has nothing to do with you – you’ve just become the focus of his negative emotions.
Do your best to give him the reassurance he’s looking for. Having someone there to hug and support you when you’re feeling down is often all it takes to diffuse a negative situation.
Your feelings are still important and you may need to set boundaries if you’re feeling hurt by your boyfriend’s actions or he is developing a noticeable habit in picking fights. Try to find some coping mechanisms to prevent you both getting hurt in similar future situations.
You both deserve respect in the relationship and to be supported by one another. But try your best not to fight fire with fire and be the safe, comforting presence he needs.
9. Try to avoid conflict.
Conflict is somewhat inevitable in a relationship, and it can have its positives in terms of learning more about each other. But that doesn’t mean conflict is enjoyable – it isn’t.
And it’s even more difficult for a sensitive boyfriend who feels their emotions keenly. Conflict will have a deeper and more lasting effect on him. You might be able to move on from an argument easily, but your boyfriend won’t.
If you have an argument, ignoring the situation won’t make it go away. Your boyfriend will need the sense of resolution in order to be able to move on.
If you can, try to avoid conflict before it happens and spot the signs early that you’re headed for a fight. Try to dissipate spats quickly by acknowledging how your boyfriend feels and any actions you’ve done to cause his hurt. If you need to, take some time and space to calm down before approaching him so that you can stay as calm and level-headed as possible.
Whatever you do, try your best to stop things escalating before they reach a full blown argument. You’ll save a lot of hurt by doing so for both of you, not just your boyfriend.
10. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
If you have a sensitive boyfriend, he will listen to you and take what you say seriously.
Be careful if you make comments on your relationship. Don’t rush into saying ‘I love you’ or committing before you’re ready, because if you say it, he’ll believe it, and will be crushed if you go back on your word.
Be conscious of any comments you make about him. He might be able to take the odd joke, but he’s more likely to take your comment to heart in a negative way, even if it was meant innocently.
It shows you he respects what you say by taking your word seriously, but just make sure you are careful that what you say in jest isn’t taken the wrong way, and don’t make any promises you can’t keep.
11. Don’t play games.
In any relationship, mind games and passive aggressive behavior is manipulative and not to be encouraged. It should never be about ‘winning’ an argument against your partner; it’s about learning how to deal with difficulties together to have a stronger relationship overall.
By giving your boyfriend the silent treatment or refusing to resolve an argument, you’ll just be prolonging his pain and will eventually lose him as he distances himself from the hurt you’re causing him.
12. Make quality time a priority.
Just because you see each other regularly or even live together, doesn’t mean that the time you share together is enriching to your relationship.
If your boyfriend is sensitive, he’ll quickly feel unappreciated or ignored if you aren’t spending quality time with him and these feelings can manifest in insecurity and a lack of confidence.
Sensitive boyfriend or not, it’s good to work at putting time and effort into your relationship to keep the spark alive. The smallest gesture can go a long way to reaffirm how you feel about each other and make sure your boyfriend knows how much he means to you.
13. Be prepared for lots of physical touch, but set boundaries if you need to.
Many sensitive men have their primary love language as physical touch which means they demand a lot of cuddles and other physical affection. If you’re less touchy feely and value your own space, this could prove a sticking point in your relationship.
You have to find a balance between giving him what he needs and not getting ‘touched out’ or feeling like you are being stalked because he follows you around like a puppy whenever you’re at home together.
You should express your need for alone time carefully because he may see it as you not wanting to spend time with him. You need to reassure him that it’s not him you’re trying to get away from, but that your need for solitude is as important to you as his need for touch is important to him.
You can expect a little pushback when you want to spend time without him, and he may ask you what’s wrong. Tell him that nothing is wrong and that you’ll be back before he knows it. And be consistent with this – don’t give in to his demands for you to stay if you need to go, otherwise he’ll think he can guilt trip you into staying every time.
14. Go to regular couples counseling.
Whether you struggle with vulnerability or your boyfriend’s emotions stand in the way of constructive communication, seeing a relationship therapist together is a great way to have those important discussions.
Having someone to guide the conversation is invaluable because it ensures that the right questions are being asked, the answers to those questions are expressed in the best way possible, and emotions are generally kept in check.
It can be easier to lower your defenses and have your boyfriend lower his when someone else is present. This takes some of the tension out of the conversation and allows you to get to the important parts of it without having things descend into heated arguments.
We cannot recommend this enough – you’ll start to notice the difference in how you communicate after just a few sessions, and through continued commitment to the therapeutic process, you’ll build a stronger and healthier relationship in a matter of months.
Give it a try. You can do this from the comfort of your own home by signing up to the services provided by Relationship Hero. You’ll connect with one of their relationship experts who will guide you and your partner toward resolutions to your problems.
If you’re ready for a better relationship, click here to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When I try to express my thoughts and feelings, my boyfriend gets very defensive and plays the victim. What should I do?
First, it may help to understand why your boyfriend reacts the way he does. His sensitivity may be linked to insecurity and self-worth issues. What you may see as a fairly innocent comment, he may see as an attack on him as a person or criticism for how he does something.
Him playing the victim is his way of getting reassurance from you by having you backtrack on what you said or apologizing for being so harsh (in his eyes). It’s his way of protecting what self-worth he does have.
That being said, it’s not a very healthy way to approach your honest thoughts and feelings. It can make you feel like you can’t express yourself for fear of upsetting him.
You might want to try a compliment-comment-suggestion speech pattern when trying to express something that you think might trigger him. The compliment will help to disarm him so that you can make your comment, while the suggestion is a positive solution to whatever the issue is.
For example, perhaps you want to go away with your friends for the weekend and your boyfriend sees this as you wanting to get away from him. He sulks and asks why you can’t just stay with him. You have every right to do things without him and to spend time with your friends. So you might say something like:
“I adore spending time with you and appreciate how great company you are. But I don’t want to drift apart from my friends, and these little trips keep our friendship going, so I’d really like to go. Why don’t we plan a trip of our own for one weekend next month?”
The first part gives him a little boost and confirms your commitment to him. This softens the blow of wanting to spend a whole weekend away from him. The second part makes your feelings crystal clear and positions them as a completely reasonable request. The final part gives him another little boost by giving him the certainty of being able to spend a whole weekend of quality time together in the near future.
Don’t worry if you don’t get your wording quite right – just focus on trying to support his fragile sense of self-worth whilst stating your wishes or feelings as clearly and as kindly as possible.
My boyfriend gets upset about little things and I then feel bad about it. What should I do?
If your boyfriend gets upset easily, you can find yourself walking on eggshells just to avoid upsetting him further. The problem with this is that you won’t always know what might trigger him, and you can’t spend your life hiding the real you away like this.
For instance, you might cook spaghetti bolognese one night because it’s a favorite of yours. But because he’s less of a fan, he gets upset and says you never consider him when making decisions. Which, of course, is not true because you always think about him, and often put him first. You just feel you should be able to enjoy a meal that you really like and that you know he’ll tolerate rather than always having what he wants. You end up wishing that you hadn’t bothered and this breeds some ill-feeling toward your boyfriend.
Or perhaps you enjoy teasing the people in your life and poking fun at them from time to time – all in good spirits, of course. But you would never be able to do that with your boyfriend because he would freak out and feel destroyed by it. And then you’d feel guilty about upsetting him.
The truth is, as much as it is right to take your boyfriend’s feelings and wishes into consideration, you can’t be the one to make all the compromises just to appease him. You should feel comfortable having things your own way sometimes and being who you are rather than hiding it. And your boyfriend will just have to accept that.
Be willing to hold your ground at times and accept that his feelings are not your responsibility. If you feel you are being reasonable, it probably means that he is not.
You don’t have to add fuel to the fire when he gets upset. You can show him gratitude when you get your way on something, for instance. Or you can give him power over some other decision to show that you are equal partners.
If you say something innocent and he takes it as a personal attack, you shouldn’t feel you have to apologize all the time. You don’t have to explain yourself either. You can just minimize your own emotional response to his response by using a calm voice and acting normally around him. Let him deal with his emotions himself – you can’t deal with them for him.
My boyfriend can’t handle upsetting me and goes into a shame/guilt spiral. What should I do?
If your boyfriend upsets you and immediately descends into a spiral of shame and/or guilt, it points toward an issue with low self-esteem and anxiety related to that. This is especially true when the upset he caused was minor or even imagined by him despite you not expressing any hurt.
He is punishing himself for not living up to his own standards. He is feeling bad about himself and likely thinking unkind thoughts about himself.
This is a tricky situation because he might not be receptive to you saying that it isn’t a big deal. Even if you aren’t that offended by what he did, he will likely still see it as a big thing.
The best thing you can do is to suggest that he seek professional help for his self-esteem and anxiety. If it’s affecting him to this extent, it’s not something you can really help with, other than being supportive in his efforts to get a handle on these things.
It’s also important to recognize that he may be subconsciously trying to stop you from expressing your feelings when he does something to upset you. He might not realize he’s doing it, but by reacting this way, it’s sending you a message that you shouldn’t be upset with him in the first place. He may be open with his emotions, but that doesn’t mean he has healthy ways to cope with them.
You should be able to say when he does something you do not like. That’s part of improving a relationship and understanding each other better. So you shouldn’t bite your tongue over something he has done if it bothers you that much. He needs to know what is and is not acceptable. If he can get help for his issues, this will become easier for him with time.
How can I show more vulnerability around my boyfriend?
If you find it difficult to break down your emotional walls and let others in, you may find a relationship with a sensitive guy unworkable, even if you are compatible in other ways.
But there are things you can do to be more emotionally vulnerable around him. First of all, speak your truth even if it leads to difficult situations. Honesty is at the heart of being vulnerable. Don’t try to sugar coat your thoughts or feelings.
Take it slow at first. With every baby step you take, you’ll feel more comfortable with the next step. Notice what happens when you are vulnerable – how does it feel to show that side of you and what sort of reaction does it provoke? Quite often it will be liberating, though uncomfortable, and will lead to positive moments of connection with your boyfriend.
You don’t have to start off with anything too heavy, either. Share positive things such as your hopes and dreams and talk about things that make you excited. This is just as much vulnerability as discussing struggles you’ve faced or expressing big emotions.
You don’t have to cry if you don’t want to, but neither should you try to hold back the tears if you feel like they might be coming. Crying in the presence of your boyfriend will endear him to you greatly and give him more confidence crying in front of you.
Will he become less sensitive as the relationship progresses?
There’s no telling how your boyfriend might change in the future. Insecurities, anxieties, and self-esteem issues don’t tend to disappear by themselves, but being in a stable and loving relationship might help reduce the impact these have.
You boyfriend is, to some extent, going to remain a sensitive person for his entire life. It is a part of his nature and not something he should feel he has to change. Being able to express his emotions, enjoying lots of physical touch, wanting to connect with people on a deeper level – these are not things to run from.
What he does need to face up to, however, is the challenging – even toxic – behaviors that result from the underlying issues he may have. That’s where the help of a professional therapist will come in, and even a relationship counselor to better understand how to maintain a healthy balance with regards to his needs and those of a partner (you, in this case).
Won’t pandering to his sensitivity make things worse?
Yes and no. Sometimes you have to accept that he is a sensitive guy and he will always be that way no matter what you do or don’t do.
But there are also situations, some of which are described above, where changing your behavior to soothe his sensitivity can make his behaviors more likely and more extreme.
He does need to understand the impact of his behavior on you, just as you are trying to understand the impact of your behavior on him. He can’t have everything his way because no healthy relationship involves that level of one-sided compliance and sacrifice.
It all comes down to understanding your boundaries and expressing those so that he understands what you will and will not tolerate.
Is a sensitive boyfriend high maintenance?
Sensitivity is a broad spectrum and no single man should be labeled as one thing or another just because he is open with his emotions.
Some sensitive men will demonstrate needy and clingy behaviors, whilst others will not.
Some sensitive men will demonstrate emotional extremes that are hard to deal with, whilst others will have more level emotions that are just expressed openly.
Being sensitive does not necessarily equate to being high maintenance. It can, but then so can many other traits a person might have.
Treat you boyfriend as an individual and be respectful of his particular character traits just as you would expect him to be respectful of yours.
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