Dear Morgan ~
I’ve been in a relationship with a guy for a little over a year now. The first few months he was super nice, and seemed to love everything about me, especially my artistic personality. Lately however, he’s been picking on me for all sorts of little things. Like, I cried in a movie, and he teased me to the point we got in a fight about it. Or, when we go out now, he rarely asks me about how my day was or what’s going on in my life. He just wants the conversation to be about him. When I brought this up, he said I’m being too sensitive, which of course made me tear up. Confirming his point.
While I might normally equate this behavior to him being a jerk, and move on, my mom, sisters, and auntie all agree with him, saying I’m super sensitive too, and that my emotions are always on steroids.
My question is, how can I tell if I’m being too sensitive, or if something else going on?
Cynthia, Durango, CO
Dear Cynthia ~
From one HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) to the other, let me welcome you to the family, and quickly add, “There is no such thing as being too sensitive, there is only not knowing how to manage your emotions.”
So, if you can’t tell by my initial response, yes, based on the information that you’ve provided, I do think you’re a sensitive person. However, this is not a bad thing, most artistic and creative people are, as it helps them experience the world a such a way as to be able to bring emotions to life for everyone else to witness.
That said, I feel like there are actually a few things going on here that I would like to address, starting with your interactions with your man. While you may or may not be a sensitive person, him teasing you to the point of arguing, or constantly needing to be center of attention during your interactions, are definitely things you need to be aware of as less than desirable behaviors from a partner. However, not all of the blame necessarily belongs on him, as there may be more than toxic or immature behavior going on here, which needs to be considered.
Let me put this into better context…
If these ‘undesirable’ behaviors have come about in response to certain words and actions of yours over time, while still not acceptable, may be something that can be worked through, with counseling for how to best navigate the dynamics of your relationship. Conversely, if this is just who he is, and the niceties at the beginning were just part of a “honeymoon” or “love bombing” phase to hook you, then it’s best to know now, so you can make the best decision for yourself on how to move forward.
Now, let’s talk about why being called too sensitive bothers you in the first place, as I have discovered in working with people, especially sensitive people, that they often have their own unique value for what they believe someone means when they say something to them. Don’t get me wrong, when someone spews “You’re too sensitive!!” at the top of their lungs at you, I don’t think they’re referring to how magically you see the world. However, you could also be adding more to it, which would then make the emotional injury you receive seem that much bigger.
To a sensitive receiver “You’re too sensitive.” can sound like:
+ You’re crazy / You’re insane
+ I don’t value or respect you
+ You are dumb / stupid / weak
+ I don’t want to deal with you
+ I don’t care about you
+ You’re not worth loving / You’re not lovable
The reason I’m sharing these more emotionally charged, and often made up in your head definitions with you is this… if you assign one of these values when your boyfriend or family member calls you sensitive, you may very well strike out at them. Becoming defensive, or perhaps even verbally attacking them, to turn down the volume on the pain their words are causing you. If you have acted in this way with your boyfriend, and he didn’t understand your sensitivity, he may have developed certain ways of dealing with your big emotions, not all of which are positive or healthy. And now you guys need to talk out how to best respect and deal with each other’s sensitivities on the matter – provided that misunderstanding is all that is taking place here.
Being sensitive isn’t a bad thing, regardless of what others may say. All it means is that your internal feedback system, your emotions, are finely tuned in such a way that allows you to pick up every detail and nuance around you. And that you need to learn, when picking up these sensitive energies, to use your emotional cues as tools to help you navigate towards those things that will bring you the most peace and happiness, and not a personality trait to be used against you.
Hope that helps.
You are loved.