“Our relationships are a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves.” ~Iyanla Vanzant
Looking back at my life I see that all of my romantic relationships up until now suffered because I didn’t recognize or value my sensitivity.
For much of my life I thought there was something wrong with me. I was too quiet, too shy, not interesting enough in group settings, too easily hurt, too easily overwhelmed and stressed. I judged myself for being irritable when I didn’t feel rested. I was easily bored with surface conversation and craved deep intimacy, but thought maybe that was silly and unrealistic.
For years, all of this made my love life challenging and downright difficult to navigate.
Though I did find a good match in my first husband, eventually my own self-contempt and inability to accept and honor of my own qualities—the guilt and shame I walked around with much of the time—along with my lack of insight into how to work with my trait, led to my first marriage’s demise.
My ex had the exact same experience within himself (I happen to know this because we are still wonderful friends). As you may have guessed, we’re both highly sensitive people (HSPs).
HSPs often reject themselves, as my ex and I did. When we don’t understand our trait well enough, we tend to not value ourselves.
This is not a surprise, really, because our culture doesn’t yet fully recognize and celebrate us for our strengths—it actually does the opposite—so why would we know how to value ourselves?
The heart of most relationship problems for everyone—HSPs and non-HSPs alike—lies in a sense of insufficiency on some level. To have thriving, loving, healthy relationships we need to deeply love and accept ourselves.
It took me some hard lessons and some real courageous work on myself, but now I am so proud of who I am, and my partnership reflects that health. I have a joy-filled, fun, deep, lovingly connected relationship with the man of my dreams.
When I look at what enabled me to feel so sure of myself as a wonderful person and wife, I know the key was learning to see, appreciate, and honor my sensitivity.
Because we HSPs are amazing. We make the very best partners when we take our well-being seriously, rid ourselves of our insecurity, and feel deep down good about ourselves.
I’ve made it my mission to help other HSPs accept and nurture their trait so they can have the relationship they really want. I want you to see your own value and beauty!
Here are some of the many ways you make an amazing partner, when you are healthy, centered, and honor your trait:
~You are naturally conscientious, compassionate, and very caring, so you are great at being supportive or loving when your partner needs it. You want the best for them. They feel and appreciate this.
~You are aware of your partner’s feelings and subtly attuned to what they’re experiencing (almost as if you can read their mind, sometimes before they can!). You easily pick up on their subtle cues, which helps them feel understood and cared for. With good skills in place, this ability can also help de-escalate conflict quickly, keeping your relationship harmonious.
~You see the best in others, even the subtle beauty and goodness that others easily miss, and you believe in that part of them strongly. Because of this you can draw out your partner’s gifts and be a great source of confidence building and affirmation for them. They will feel very loved.
~Your love of meaning and beauty in all forms enriches your partner’s life. You point out and expose them to beauty and depth they may have missed otherwise (including their own inner beauty).
~You are loyal, great at listening, creative, and dynamic. You are complex. This makes you a fascinating and safe person to spend one’s life with.
~You experience love and joy intensely, as well as other positive emotions. You are full of life and share that with your partner.
~You are a loving, calming, grounding presence. You emanate this to your partner and it nourishes them.
~Though it can take a long time to make choices, you are so thorough and intuitive, when you finally do reach a decision it’s usually a good one that benefits both you and your partner.
~You reflect and work things out inside yourself at length. This can lead to great self-awareness, which can enhance your ability to grow and flourish in your relationship, especially as you learn to be honest and open with your partner.
~You like to process what’s going on in your relationship and get to the heart of the matter with your partner, which you do well because you are deeply insightful. This helps you both better understand yourselves and your relationship.
~You have a knack for seeing the big picture—all sides of the coin. This gives you strength and perseverance to work through things when relationship challenges arise.
~You thrive on depth and complexity. In a love relationship this means you will be dedicated and willing to work hard at creating truly meaningful connection, making it more likely to have a rich and healthy committed relationship!
See how amazing you are? I could go on and on…
You really are worth celebrating and loving deeply. Right now, pause for a moment and just take that in. Let it fill you with a sense of pride. Let it touch and start to wash away old pains of not being good enough.
It’s essential to believe in ourselves. We must do this so thoroughly that we can honestly look at and accept the less ideal parts of our trait, as well. From there we can muster the courage and commitment to address those more challenging aspects and work with them wisely.
Otherwise, we risk bringing out our worst side: someone who can be grumpy, judgmental, intolerant, demanding, anxiety riddled, resentful, picky, needy—someone our partner needs to walk on eggshells around, which is a death sentence for intimacy.
When we do honor and manage it well, we show up beautifully.
I interviewed my husband one day about what he loves about me. As you see, most of what he said has a big connection to my sensitivity:
“With you I feel so cared for, seen, and loved for who I am. I feel you really get me. You are so kind, loving, and caring; you sparkle with life. You are so compassionate. I’m in awe about how deep we can go in conversation and how in tune we can feel. Life is so meaningful with you, and being with you makes me not just want to grow into a better and better person, but to really do what it takes to actually do so.”
I feel so much love. The tenacity and effort it took to get here was more than worth it. I would do it over and over if I needed to. Because, as an HSP, being in such a flourishing, deeply loving relationship is so fulfilling.
**This post was originally published in February, 2019.
About Hannah Brooks
Hannah Brooks is a love and marriage coach for sensitive women (and their partners). She helps them create the supportive, loving, light and connected relationship they really want. Don’t miss her podcast, Highly Sensitive, Happily Married. For further tips and guidance grab her free guide, The 7 Most Powerful Phrases To Deepen Connection in Your Marriage. Find her at lifeisworthloving.com.