Do you identify as an HSP or an empath? Do you find that this part of your personality affects your relationship, or your chances at a relationship?
Being so highly sensitive to what’s happening around you can feel like a hindrance. If you’re living with such intense emotions, how can you have time for anyone else?
Luckily, there is a way forward. It just takes some readjustment and self care.
What’s the difference between HSPs and empaths?
You may think that you’re both an empath and HSP at the same time, but they’re actually very different.
An HSP, or Highly Sensitive Person, is deeply affected by the environment and energies around them. They are sensitive to subtle changes. That means that they can become overwhelmed when they find themselves in highly stimulating environments.
An empath, on the other hand, is deeply affected by the emotions of other people. Think about the last time your friend or a partner was happy. Did you feel happiness with them?
That’s what empaths experience every day. Of course, it also means that they feel the negative emotions too, just as deeply as the other person does.
Both types of people, though, are highly tuned to the world around them and take on the emotions that are surrounding them.
How does being either affect relationships?
Being an empath or an HSP means that you can be highly in tune with your partner. This can be a great thing, as a couple who can understand each other’s emotions and energy can get along together, easily. However, it can also have its downfalls.
If you’re still in the dating scene, you may find it difficult to find someone who truly understands you. You may have been labelled ‘over sensitive’ by others. At this point, it may feel as though there’s no one out there who really gets you.
If you’re already in a relationship, your nature may be causing arguments or problems with your significant other. They may not be able to understand your nature, and find it annoying or distressing.
Whichever is true for you, it’s important to remember that it is possible for empaths and HSPs to have passionate and fulfilling relationships with others.
Here are six ‘must dos’ to assist you in developing a healthy and happy relationship.
1. Recognize the difference between emotional and cognitive empathy
When it comes to empathy, there’s actually two different types. When you can understand a person’s emotions, without taking them on yourself, that’s known as cognitive empathy. When you feel those emotions yourself as if you were that person, that’s emotional empathy.
There is a place for both in a relationship, but you need to be able to recognize them both. When you start feeling low or inexplicably happy, ask ‘are these my emotions or my partners?’ Being able to tell the difference will save you a lot of pain.
2. Listen to your partner’s views, but know you don’t have to take them on
An important part of any relationship is communication. Your partner will have views, and sometimes they won’t align with yours. If they feel strongly about something, you may find yourself agreeing with their viewpoint. This can happen even if what they say goes strongly against your own values.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t listen to your partner. You should listen, and value what they have to say. As you do, though, remember that you don’t have to agree with them if you don’t want to. Disagreeing doesn’t mean you love them any less.
3. Pay as much attention to your partner as you do your pets
It’s a well known fact that empaths and HSPs have a natural affinity with animals. The relationship between an empath and their pet is an incredibly close one that no one can break apart. The problem is that, sometimes romantic partners feel as though they come second best to your pets. This can make them feel unloved and unwanted, when you don’t mean to push them out.
Make it clear to your partner that you love them just as much as your beloved pets. The love you feel for them is probably different, but no less valuable, than the love you feel for your pets. Be sure to tell your partner this. It will put their mind at ease and show them you care about their feelings.
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Being so highly sensitive can be exhausting. As you’re so receptive to what’s going on around you, it emotionally drains you. The same can be said for relationships. As much as you love the other person, you need to be able to take time apart and regroup.
How you do this will be personal to you. Perhaps you like to meditate, hang out with pets, or watch your favorite TV show. Whatever your method is, make sure you have time and space to do it.
Also, talk it through with your partner. Let them know that you love them dearly, but you need the space to make sure you’re staying true to yourself. If the relationship is healthy, your partner will understand that you’ll come back to them when you’re ready.
5. Don’t crowd each other out
In every relationship, both people involved need some space from each other. When one of you is an empath or HSP, it’s doubly important. Spending every moment together means you’re picking up on their vibes and emotions 24/7. That’s not healthy for either of you.
Work out how much space you need to keep yourself emotionally healthy. Do you need a room in the house you can retreat to when things become too much? How about sleeping – do you need to have a separate bed from your partner?
Your needs will be unique, so think them over carefully. When you put them to your partner, again be clear that you care about them. These boundaries are to be drawn because you want to keep your relationship healthy.
6. Take constructive criticism, but be wary of being asked to change
In every relationship, there needs to be some give and take. Your partner may offer you feedback on how they feel you’re treating them. To an empath or HSP, this can feel traumatic.
If they’re offering criticism, they must be unhappy, right? Not so. If your partner is offering this feedback, the chances are that they want to work on your relationship and keep you both together. Try and take on what they’re saying at face value, without worrying too much about what it means for your relationship as a whole.
However, be wary of people who may try and change you. You may feel things very deeply and cry easily, but that is who you are. Some people will try and ask you to stop doing these things to make themselves feel more comfortable. If they do, don’t give in. Your empath or HSP nature is yours, and no one should try and change it.
In a relationship, you need to set the boundaries needed in order to be happy. You also need to take care of yourself. Don’t change yourself for anyone, and make sure you have the space you need to keep yourself healthy.
This way, you can be the best romantic partner you can be. Now, put these skills into practice and you’ll see just how successful your love life can be.