The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You Review by Lisa Daily
Back in 2001 when this book was published, the author used the term HSP (High Sensitivity Person)to describe bright people, with a highly tuned nervous system, sometimes overwhelming sensitivities, and a high capacity for deep reflection. Today, this phenomenon is more likely to be called a sensory processing disorder, a common trait among those who are intellectually gifted.
Dating is already more challenging for smart people because they have a smaller pool of eligible partners to choose from, and they tend to be picky. But when you add sensory processing issues into the mix, things become even more challenging. If you are an HSP or you love one, I highly recommend this book. The coping strategies are helpful, but just knowing that there are lots of other people out there with the same challenges makes it all feel a little less lonely.
Do you fall in love hard, but fear intimacy? Are you sick of being told that you are “too sensitive”? Do you struggle to respect a less-sensitive partner? Or have you given up on love, afraid of being too sensitive or shy to endure its wounds?
Statistics show that 50 percent of what determines divorce is genetic temperament. And, if you are one of the 20 percent of people who are born highly sensitive, the risk of an unhappy relationship is especially high. Your finely tuned nervous system, which picks up on subtleties and reflects deeply, would be a romantic asset if both you and your partner understood you better. But without that understanding, your sensitivity is likely to be making your close relationships painful and complicated.
Based on Elaine N. Aron’s groundbreaking research on temperament and intimacy, The Highly Sensitive Person in Love offers practical help for highly sensitive people seeking happier, healthier romantic relationships. From low-stress fighting to sensitive sexuality, the book offers a wealth of practical advice on making the most of all personality combinations. Complete with illuminating self-tests and the results of the first survey ever done on sex and temperament, The Highly Sensitive Person in Love will help you discover a better way of living and loving.
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Three Rivers Press (January 9, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767903366
- ISBN-13: 978-0767903363
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
Rambles a bit; however, still enlightening
So it was with anticipation that I got myself a copy of her new book, hoping for many insights into achieving a harmonious and pleasurable love life. The HSP in Love is not as well-written or as innovative or amazing as was the original volume. I found it difficult at times to focus on the point the author was making during a discussion; however, certain points were enlightening, especially when the author writes about current research into relationships (which apply to everyone, not just HSPs). From time to time there are too many acronyms — HSPs, non-HSPs, HSS, non-HSS, HSW, HSM, etc. — in one paragraph, so the writing style became choppy and difficult to follow. The book contains a summary of the theory which though a good review takes up too much of the text, so there isn’t enough about the “love”: relationships, romance, sexuality, or platonic relationships as well. That was disappointing. Also, at times I felt like I was reading the first draft of the book, as if the author had no time to produce the book she actually intended — something tight and organized, filled with revealing info about HSP relationships.
There was good information in this book. Don’t get me wrong on that. It was worth reading, but I was left wanting more info rather than feeling like I had learned a great deal. Based on the book, my relationships have not improved, but I know a little more about loving relationships and I have more compassion for myself and my behavior/needs within the relationships. The book is worth reading for anyone identifying with being a HSP, but be sure you read The Highly Sensitive Person first so you have an understanding of the theory and get the most enlightenment about yourself before delving into to this later book.
Sound Advice on Building Sensitive Relationships
This second book builds on her previous research, this time taking on the topic of Relationships and along with it, possibly one of the most difficult issues facing Highly Sensitive People (HSPs): How to balance a strong need for “alone and quiet time” with the genuine desire to have an active and fulfilling intimate relationship. In addition to her research, Aron (an HSP) also draws on experiences from her own marriage to a non-HSP.
As a starting point, the book includes a “Sensitivity Self Test” for both the reader and their mate or potential partner. Aron then goes on to explain how HSPs differ from the rest of the world in the way they fall in love, think about love, and their needs within a relationship. There are separate chapters covering the pluses and minuses of different types of relationships: Two HSPs together, and an HSP paired with a non-HSP, as well as the differing needs of highly sensitive men and women. Finally, there are sections on “Building Sensitive Partnerships” and HSP Sexuality. Except for a few vague and indirect references, “The Highly Sensitive Person in Love” deals strictly with heterosexual relationships.
Whereas I enjoyed this book, and found much useful information within its pages, it didn’t seem to offer quite the number of insights provided by “The Highly Sensitive Person.” This perhaps goes to illustrate that whereas HSPs may have special needs, their relationship dynamics aren’t AS different from anyone else’s as one might think. Still, the book is well worth a read– the sections on dating that “works” for an HSP, handling conflicts in a relationship, communication, and dividing “like” and “dislike” tasks in low-stress ways are highly recommended.
Aron’s writing style gets a little dry and “clinical” from time to time, but the book is still quite readable. I think it stands alone quite well, but I would still highly recommend also reading Dr. Aron’s original book.
Overall rating: Recommended (7.2 bookmarks out of a possible 10), not only for the Highly Sensitive Person, but also for a less sensitive person with a Highly Sensitive partner who thoroughly mystifies them!
Well worth reading – Go for it!
A Voice That Often Goes Unheard
Buy It. Save Yourself Some Work
If you are in this position, save yourself some time. Someone has already written the epic.
I have sensed and/or mentioned -most- of the relationship problems in this book. However, my observations and intuitions were spread out over the course of the entire relationship. I’m sure that many of my observations did not penetrate the mind of my partner as being significant. Thus, they weren’t as useful as they should have been.
This book lays it out bluntly and clearly, for all to see.
This is extremely important for both partners. The book affirms what the HSP already intuited, and it gives the non-HSP a reference. Non-HSPs seem to feel much happier when they are given a reference. They do not dwell in an intuitive world of twenty thousand grays supplemented by prior reading. If you’re having trouble in your relationship and you’re highly sensitive, give yourself some relief, give your partner a much-deserved break. Get this, read it together. S/he will be relieved, and so will you. Buy it. Save yourself some work.
Know who you are before you go shopping
I first read this and another of her works when I was dating a therapist. She got me into reading Elaine Aron as part of my self discovery quest. Seems obvious that you’re not likely to connect well with other people if you don’t know yourself well. So I took up the challenge of considering if I was one of these HSP folk. Yep. If you are wondering who you are in relation to others–even your own grand kids, I’d recommend her other introduction book as the first of a pair: The Highly Sensitive Person.
I read this Who Am I work with other “wiring books” about the brain (A General Theory of Love by Lewis and friends; and Why We Love by Helen Fisher). And, of course, heart and soul books (Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore, The Authentic Heart, by John Amodeo)along with poetry. No self discovery tour is quite complete–seems to me–without lots of poetry salted in, read and written.
My big take away with this book was to be able to stop judging myself for being different, knowing after this study that from the womb 20% of us are HSP…highly sensitive persons. I understand full well now that when I enter a party I see everything and everybody, all the conversations going on at once…that’s just the way I am. It’s just how my brain is wired, my brain and heart. I see now why I can only watch one movie a night, for example, and why a double feature sends me spinning. I need to process what’s been in front of me (lots of things, says HSP wiring) and can’t move on to B until I’ve exhausted A. Another reason here that I suppose I am and always be one who takes things way too seriously.
Also, if you live with someone who is a HSP you need to read this book together so you’ll understand why you are both so annoying sometimes.
What I got from this was that it’s not a good thing or a bad thing but a wiring thing if you are a HSP man or woman. Indeed, if you’re not the one in five who are wired this way…wouldn’t that be good to know?
She’s got a new edition out I see–1997–so this work is still being read, studied. Good. So I’d say get this book so you’ll understand the HSP/non-HSP interface if nothing else. Would help in the home and in the office no doubt.
I’d also say that if you are not in the position to date a therapist, save some couch time, go easy on your wallet and your insurance plan at work and buy this book.