9 signs you’re an HSP and how to affects your relationships

“HSP. What even is that?”

I had the same reaction when I first heard about the term, but once I learned more about it, everything clicked into place.

HSP is short for Highly Sensitive Person. It was coined by psychologist Elaine Aron and it essentially means you experience sensory-processing sensitivity – the world around you can seem a little bit too much at times.

If this sounds familiar, read on for the 9 signs you’re an HSP (and how it affects your relationships).

1) You’re deeply empathetic

Let’s get the ball rolling on a positive note – as an HSP, your empathy levels are through the roof. You’re in tune with your environment, including the emotions of those around you.

If your partner’s in a sour mood, you can tell immediately.

If your friend’s feeling down but is too afraid to ask for help, you can sense it and are ready to give them the support they need.

If you’ve accidentally hurt your sibling, you can empathize with their feelings and know what to say to make things right again.

You never feel distant or absent because you exist on the same emotional plane, feeling out other people’s state of mind every day.

Of course, this comes with some drawbacks…

2) You’re an emotional sponge – and it can get too much

HSPs need to be very careful when it comes to who they choose as their romantic partner or their close friend.

(I mean, we all do. But HSPs especially.)

If you’re always around a huge fan of negativity – they complain a lot, they often believe things will end badly, and they refuse to change their situation through effort and hard work – it’s very likely all their emotions will slowly soak into your skin, feeding on your happiness like a dementor.

But pessimists aren’t the only people who can do that to you. Even if you’re dating a ball of sunshine, their occasional sadness can completely bring you down.

As an HSP, it’s absolutely crucial you learn how to set emotional boundaries and remind yourself that other people’s feelings are not your own.

3) You’re a people pleaser

…and if you don’t set those boundaries, things can quickly go south. In other words, you’ll become a people pleaser.

You can feel what they feel. Your own emotions blend in with theirs. And you want to make sure all those feelings are positive so that no one has to suffer.

Unfortunately, you have no power over how others react to the world around them. The truth is, the people you care about will feel sad. They will get hurt. They will experience every negative emotion there is because that’s simply how life works.

You’re not always responsible for making things better. You don’t need to take away from your own time and energy just to lighten the burden for someone else.

You have your own weight to carry.

4) You notice every single detail

That new book on your friend’s bookshelf? Check.

Your partner’s new toothpaste? Check.

The change in how your co-worker walks when they’re nervous? Check.

Highly sensitive people are very perceptive, which is a huge plus.

It means you see the world through an insanely colorful lens. Every little detail about your environment, every nuance in someone’s behavior… it’s all there for you to witness, expanding your experience of life.

And what does this mean for your relationships, you might ask?

It makes you a better partner and friend. Love is in the details. When you compliment your significant other on their new shoes or talk about all the little adorable things they do, they’ll feel seen.

They’ll feel loved.

5) You take some things way too seriously

Of course, everything can get blown out of proportion if you don’t know how to balance things right.

And seeing as you’re very sensitive, it’s a bit of a challenge to do that. Especially since you notice so many small things that the whole world can get very overwhelming very quickly.

If your loved one is in a bad mood, you might wonder if it’s something you’ve done.

If you don’t feel you’re getting enough affection, you may freak out and think about breaking up.

And if there’s a bit too much affection going on, you want to run away on a deserted island and take a break from the relationship for, uhm, well, an indefinite amount of time. Until you can calm down and really analyze your feelings, at least.

Everything has the potential to become a big deal, which can make it challenging to have a steady relationship.

6) You can be nit-picky

Similarly, it can be difficult to choose a friend or a romantic partner in the first place because you’re so focused on the details of someone’s personality.

Remember that scene in Friends where Chandler judges each woman he dates based on something completely inconsequential?

Too tall. Too talkative. Pronounces “supposedly” as “supposebly”. The list just goes on – and none of those traits have any real impact on the quality of a relationship.

As an HSP, you can get swept into a similar mindset where you obsess over the small things just to find something to critique.

But sometimes, people deserve the benefit of the doubt. They deserve another date, another conversation. They deserve for you to get to know them properly before you make the decision to end things.

7) You get overwhelmed easily

My friend has this thing about supermarkets. He can’t think clearly when he’s in one.

It’s all the lights and sounds, he says. They make it difficult to focus. Not to mention so many brands and products that turn a task as simple as buying groceries into an hour-long process.

Sounds like an HSP trait, right?

Sensory stimuli can simply drive you crazy, be it touch, smell, sound, taste, or sight. This turns social gatherings into quite a challenge because you can find yourself completely depleted of all energy after one hour of socializing.

You might want to spend a lot of time in quiet environments or at home, and choosing your partner should reflect that. If you’re dating a party animal who wants to share all their fun moments with you, chances are… there will be some conflict.

8) The difference between too much and too little is like walking a tightrope

You’re sensitive. You feel deeply. You want love, reassurance, and affection.

But then again, you’re sensitive. Too much affection can completely drive you away, triggering you to withdraw from your relationships.

It’s not easy to distinguish where your line is, and your close ones may struggle to navigate the map that’s your soul for a little while.

Remember that the more you communicate your needs, the easier it’ll be for your other people to handle your sensitivity with confidence and ease.

9) You love passionately

Love is a wonderful feeling in and of itself, but if you’re a highly sensitive person, that experience is multiplied by ten.

When you fall in love, you fall hard and deep. And you feel just as strongly – albeit differently – in your non-romantic relationships.

You care so very much, and that can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that your love is a beautiful gift. Make sure you give it only to those who truly deserve it.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

9 traits of a confident person who doesn’t need validation from anyone

12 difficult to admit reasons why you’re still single