HSPs in Love Let's start with the temperament we know, sensitivity. About 20% of us are highly sensitive persons (HSPs); at least 34% of love relationships involve an HSP. And everyone has at least one HSP friend. I have found that when HSPs aren't understood by themselves and others, that spells trouble. That's surely part of why my data show that, on the average HSPs, are a bit happier paired with each other. They understand each other. My data also show that on the average HSPs' relationships in general are less happy--implying that relationships HSPs are in are less happy, at least for the HSP. Why?
HSPs have nervous systems that pick up more on subtleties in the world and reflect on them deeply.
That means, for starters, that they will tend to demand more depth in their relationships in order to be satisfied; see more threatening consequences in their partners' flaws or behaviors; reflect more and, if the signs indicate it, worry about how things are going.
Because HSPs are picking up on so much, they are also more prone to overstimulation, quicker to feel stress--including the stimulation and stress that can arise in any intense, intimate interactions.
They need more down time, which can cause a partner to feel left out.
They find different things enjoyable compared to others.
Sensation Seekers In Love
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love also explores, to a lesser degree, the other basic, well researched inherited trait-sensation seeking. Sensation seekers (SSs) are born with a deep curiosity and need to explore. Although this sounds like the opposite of being sensitive, nature planned it otherwise.
Different genes and brain systems seem to govern the two traits, so that HSPs can also be SSs. But it certainly complicates their lives.
An HSP with very little of this trait, in a relationship with a non-HSP/SS will certainly have a conflict-filled if exciting relationship. Self-tests at the beginning of The Highly Sensitive Person in Love allow individuals and couples to see how they rank on both traits. Even though temperament is invisible, it is very real. I have found many couples in which one person answered every question true on one of these self-tests, the other, false. That makes for a lot of misunderstanding and "what's-the-matter- with-you?'s." No wonder genetics cause 50% of the divorce rate-- this figure represents the many divorces caused by the pairing of persons with extremely different temperaments who have no clue about how the other really experiences life.