Relationships are difficult. For everyone. Period. End of story. No matter personality type, life story, likes or dislikes, relationships take hard work, love, and grace. However, it should go without saying that all three things must first be focused inward before they can be focused outward. As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you may find that relationships are even more difficult. They do not need to be, though. HSPs have a lot to contribute to a strong and healthy relationship.
1. Love Thy Self
You can’t give what you don’t have. Learning to love yourself is a journey, one that you will benefit from in the end. If you love yourself, you will respect yourself, and you will never need to depend on anyone for that love and respect. This will empower you to walk away from less than stellar relationships.
2. Know Thy Self
Once you know what you need out of life in general and in the day-to-day, you will better be able to find someone who meets those needs. HSPs regularly overlook their own needs, but your needs are just as important as your partners. Make sure you know how to meet your own needs first.
3. Accept Thy Self
You are who you are. If you not only love yourself but also like yourself, then it won’t matter what others think. This is an inclusive statement, meaning you must love and accept all parts of yourself: physical, mental, emotional, and every other aspect of your being. Accept yourself and only allow in others who are willing to accept you as you are.
4. Thy Shall Take Responsibility
Taking responsibility for yourself is not a selfish act. If you can complete the three previous commandments, you can then seek to do those for someone else.
5. Set Thy Boundaries
You can set boundaries in all relationships—parent/child, friendships, co-workers, and romantic relationships. Setting boundaries is a healthy practice that will not only protect you but allow others to know where you stand. This includes telling someone what you will not allow and what you need as well. If the person loves you, they will respect all your boundaries.
6. Thy Shall Not Rescue
You are not responsible for the feelings of others unless you said something hurtful. Rescuing can include many areas of life: it is not your responsibility to immediately take on the domestic cleaning for someone you have just entered a relationship with. It is also not your responsibility to take on the emotional strains of someone else, especially if they are not willing to take on yours. This is a boundary you will need to set early on.
7. Thy Shall Avoid Leeches
Someone who needs to be rescued on the regular may be a leech. If someone is asking too much of you, then you need to reevaluate the relationship. You both should be free to be yourselves, be happy, and be able to stand on your own two feet, metaphorically speaking.
8. Thy Shall Not be a Nag
If you’re in a relationship with someone, and they simply do not understand you, leave it. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.
9. Fight for Thy Self
HSPs regularly avoid conflict and prefer to smooth over uncomfortable situations. Don’t do this. You need to stand your ground: love yourself, know what you want, set boundaries, and stand up for your needs.
10. Heal Thy Self
If you have just ended an unhealthy relationship of any type, take time to heal from that. Every failed relationship is a learning experience if we take the time to be self-aware and inspect the relationship. Take the time you need.
HSPs are strong and resilient people. You have much to offer in all your relationships. However, you also need to make sure you are also benefiting from all your relationships as well as giving benefits.