What I’m Learning From My Non-HSP Partner

It’s empowering to see my fellow introverts, highly sensitive people, and empaths begin to take up space in a culture that caters to those on the other side of the spectrum.

We are learning to communicate out needs.

We are learning how to share our experiences.

We are showing the world the unique gifts we have to offer.

But…

It’s also important for us to remember that those who are extraverted, charming, and bold have a lot to teach us. Sometimes, it seems like we forget that part. I understand why…it’s a bit of an overcorrection. After years spent having to burry our trait and put a costume of invincibility over it – we want a moment to say “Hey! My experience is valid, too! I’m not crazy. I’m not a liability. I’m an asset!”

It’s tempting to stop the conversation there. It’s tempting to say “hey…you…you with your superficial extraversion and your lack of sensitivity…pay attention to me!” And then, upon receiving that attention, promptly walk away. If we do that, however, and forget to include people different from us into the conversation, we miss out on valuable feedback. We need to invite dialogue about our world and how best to live in it.

My boyfriend is not a highly sensitive person. He’s charming. Bold. Assertive. Determined. Tenacious. He’s a phenomenal human being. But he’s not sensitive.

Sometimes that makes things hard. He needs noise around him to relax him into sleep. Otherwise, his thoughts plague him into insomnia. I need peace and quiet to ease myself into slumber.

His version of recharging is through competition – in a game, or in the context of business. My recharge comes through movement and meditation.

He loves the decadence and pleasure that comes with fine dining, horse races and elegant surroundings. I find pleasure in simplicity…scenes from nature. The purr of a kitten. The sound of rain.

His philosophy is to always be driving toward what is possible…he envisions a life of financial freedom that includes travel abroad and plenty of space for us in a moderate to large home. My inclination is to steer toward what is necessary. I want financial freedom, too. But I’m inclined to find it by spending less than I make…and finding comfort with what I have.

So yes…It definitely makes things challenging. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Through our connection, we are able to challenge each other to see the world in different ways. My tendency is to take up as little space as possible. To look inward. To adapt. It’s a way of being in the world that I’m proud to have cultivated. But sometimes I find I am too inclined to stay with what is comfortable. He challenges me to buck that. I watch him navigate the world and see him crash through obstacles with the kind of determination Teddy Roosevelt would envy. He seems fearless to me. And without necessarily intending to, I find myself gradually starting to push myself. Maybe I can begin my own practice. Maybe I can work a little harder. Maybe it is okay to want a house instead of insisting on a particular brand of minimalism that necessitates tiny houses and no plumbing. Maybe my needs and wants are valid. Maybe saying what they are out loud is something I should do more often.

In compensation, he receives a new outlook from me. Maybe it’s okay to be grateful for what’s right here. Right now. EVEN as we work toward something greater. Maybe a walk in the woods can be pleasurable, too (so long as a nice meal and a fine glass of wine follows). Perhaps taking downtime can help productivity in the long run – even if it seems wasteful in the moment. And maybe a few more vegetables and a few less lattes wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

I’m not suggesting that all HSP need to go back to hiding themselves in order to accommodate those who are less sensitive than themselves. It’s imperative that we continue to communicate and share ourselves fully. Rather…I’m suggesting we KEEP that door open and invite those different from ourselves to respond.

Together, we may be able to find a middle ground. We HSP may surprise ourselves with just how bold we are capable of being. Those who don’t identify with having a sensitive nervous system may come to realize that slowing down and appreciating the small things can add value to life.

In the end, if we keep moving toward each other…we won’t have to choose between having what is “necessary” and what is “possible.” Together, we can figure out how to have ENOUGH. 

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