10 Crucial Lessons About Dating an HSP

A couple having a picnic date

Relationships come with a different set of rules when you’re dating a highly sensitive person.

Are you dating a highly sensitive person (HSP)? Or do you identify as an HSP? Dating can be awkward, uncomfortable and downright worrisome, no matter who you are. If you’re a highly sensitive person, it’s tricky enough to navigate an overstimulating world, but adding another person to the mix is a whole new level. 

If this feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. It’s complicated, but it can be easily done and also be extremely rewarding. There’s a lot you can try in order to make dating as comfortable and fun as possible. The more prepared you are, the better. Here are some things to keep in mind when dating a highly sensitive person.

10 Things to Keep in Mind When Dating an HSP 

1. They will notice if you’re not being genuine.

HSPs have great intuition and can get a read on your vibe through tiny details, such as your body language and facial expressions. They just know. Something between the two of you will probably feel off if you try to get away with a lie or hide something from them. So being authentic, and honest, is always the best policy.

2. Communication is key — they value deep connections and conversations.

Does your HSP partner have any specific triggers you’re aware of? Do you have some, too? Letting each other know about them helps increase understanding. The more you know and communicate, the more you can be there for one another in any situation. 

This can also help you avoid unnecessary stress. For example, a moderately crowded café is probably relaxing for a lot of people, but some HSPs may be overstimulated by all the voices and noise in the room. After all, they’re sensitive to their environments, so plan accordingly. 

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3. Know that external stimuli greatly affects them.

HSPs will hone in on even the slightest sounds, smells, movements, and tastes that others don’t notice. This can be really overwhelming at times, especially when trying to focus on another person. But if things get overstimulating, a little support — and a lot of patience — can work wonders. If you’re not sure about a certain place and how it will impact the HSP you’re dating, just ask!

4. Remember that they feel emotions intensely, their own as well as yours.

One major highlight of being an HSP is the feature of being highly perceptive of emotion. An HSP might be moved to tears by a sad song, a TV commercial, or something sweet you say to them. So keep this in mind when picking your next date — or date night movie. 

However, this doesn’t mean you have to avoid any potentially emotional situations. Just as with any sensitivity, it can be just as beautiful as it is frustrating. Handling these feelings in productive ways can help bring the two of you closer together. 

5. It’s usually best to plan dates ahead. 

If you took your date ice skating as a surprise, you’d probably let them know to bring a jacket, right? You can think about sensitivities the same way. A little communication and preparation will help the date run a lot smoother. 

For example, if you’re going someplace loud, bring headphones along. If there will be a long car ride involved, maybe a fidget spinner or object can help, as well as listening to their favorite podcast. Resources such as social media and good old Google can help you think of the evening of your dreams, too. And, then, plan accordingly!

6. Give them time to adjust to the location or event.

For highly sensitive people, nearly any (and every) change can feel disruptive and scary. Even the change of seasons affect some HSPs more so than non-HSPs. So you can imagine how jarring sudden changes can be. If your partner doesn’t seem relaxed in a new place, or even in a new relationship, they are likely still feeling things out. Just give them time… 

7. You will probably learn a lot of new things (if you listen closely).

Does your HSP partner tend to notice new and interesting things throughout the day? Do they remember things that others don’t because they are so detail-oriented? 

Highly sensitive people take in a lot of information on a nearly-constant basis. It can definitely be overwhelming (to them), but it can also be pretty useful. Talking to an HSP will likely keep you engaged. Plus, they value deep talk much more than small talk, so you can finally have those meaningful conversations you’ve been craving. 

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8. Don’t ignore their discomfort; instead, imagine yourself in their shoes. 

If your HSP seems uncomfortable, or says they do, pay attention. Think about how you would want someone you’re with to react if you told them something was bothering you? It can be hard to know what to say or do when something comes up, especially when it’s sudden, but it’s more about how you say it than the actual words you utter. 

Ignoring their feelings certainly won’t help the situation, even if you’re just trying to distract them with a joke. Odds are, not many people will be able to take their attention away from their surroundings. So a simple suggestion like, “Should we step outside for a minute?” or a straightforward question like, “What would you like to do?” should help a lot.

9. Choose surprises carefully.

On a scale from one to 10, how difficult is it to plan a surprise date night for an HSP? Chances are, you won’t be able to keep it a surprise for long since highly sensitive people are so perceptive. They will probably intuitively feel that you are hiding something, which might prompt them to ask. 

On the other hand, surprising an HSP with a hug from behind can be so startling that it takes more than a few seconds for them to recover from it. Even the dreaded, “I have to tell you something” sets an HSP’s heart pounding. So it helps if the suspense element is kept to a minimum when dating an HSP. 

10. Stop using phrases like “too sensitive” and “too much.”

You want to date someone who makes you feel good, right? For an HSP, this might translate into looking for someone who accepts their sensitivities — without judgment. It’s already emotionally draining to deal with constant overstimulation, so it can be truly disheartening to feel like someone is simply tolerating you rather than choosing to be with you. (Plus, HSPs tend to have relationship anxiety as it is, and you don’t want to add to it!)

Simple sentences like “You’re being too sensitive” or “It’s too much” carry more weight than you may think. So it’s important to choose your words carefully and listen to your HSP partner — through their verbal and non-verbal cues — with an open, loving mind. After all, you want to make them happy, right?

Are you dating an HSP or are you an HSP yourself? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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