Whether it’s your son, wife, or someone you’ve recently begun dating, it’s important to try and understand how highly sensitive people interact with those around them. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

It’s out of their control. Being a highly sensitive person was not something your partner chose to be. It isn’t logical, and it makes them feel vulnerable and exposed. It’s hard to know what to do with those feelings, and sometimes instead of letting those feelings occur, they choose to suppress them. Let your partner know that you want them to feel comfortable around you and that they don’t need to suppress those feelings when you are around.

Don’t make them feel bad about their feelings. Phrases like “don’t be so dramatic,” “you take things too personally,” or “you need to toughen up” can really hurt. Emotions shouldn’t be viewed as a weakness. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, says that highly sensitive people tend to withdraw when they’re being judged for their sensitivity. Try to understand that what they are feeling really concerns them. If you want a strong relationship, don’t write off their feelings.

Be honest. If something is bothering you, don’t try to cover it up. Your partner will be much happier if you just tell them that you are angry about something that happened at work. If you try to cover up a problem in front of a sensitive person, they’ll be able to sense that you aren’t telling the truth. Because of this, it’s easy for them to become overwhelmed or distracted as they try to figure out what is actually wrong.

They’re good listeners. Highly sensitive people are excellent listeners and tend to give good advice. According to Aron, they have more empathy and feel more concern for a friend’s problems. Chances are, they are concerned with how someone is reacting and coping after something negative occurs, and they are more likely to reach out to help those in need.

Sometimes, we all need our space. It isn’t that your partner doesn’t want to see you or that she is mad at you. It might just be that she needs some alone time to refresh and wind down from a long week.

If you’d like to set up a time to meet up with Reka, you can contact her by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at reka@omaha-counseling.com, or via Twitter or Facebook.

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