Do Highly Sensitive People Sabotage Healthy Relationships?

Have you ever been in a relationship with a Highly Sensitive Person or HSP? Maybe you were and didn’t even realize it? Check out “My Sociopath’s” guest writer, Zanno Jacklin, to read his perspective on being intimately involved with an HSP.


With Zanno Jacklin, Guest Writer

HSP = Highly Sensitive Person; Scientific term = Sensory-Processing Sensitivity

I was involved in an intimate relationship with an HSP and through this experience, and from further learning about HSP, I believe that HSPs can sabotage relationships. However, allow me to further explain:

An HSP can pick up on the feelings and moods of other people and they are usually accurate in their perceptions; and as a matter of fact, an HSP can’t even imagine being wrong about their feelings.


In order for a relationship with an HSP to work, the other person has to be completely honest about everything and at all times.

For example, if you, as the non-HSP in a relationship with an HSP, are feeling down or having a bad day, and this is completely unrelated to the relationship, and your partner asks you What’s wrong? you should never answer, It’s nothing. I’m okay.

Many of us would reply like this, or similar to this, and this is because we are coming from the feeling that it’s not very important, or it will soon pass, or we simply don’t want to discuss it. However, though you are saying nothing is wrong, the HSP person knows something is wrong and feels that you are lying. The HSP person internalizes this vague communication as if they did something wrong or bad, and that you are disappointed in them and as a result, you are distancing yourself from them and the relationship. The HSP becomes fearful that the relationship is in danger, or, they may think that you did something wrong, that you betrayed them in someway, and that you are feeling guilty. The HSP becomes consumed with fear, stress, and anxiety.

If you don’t tell the HSP person what is bothering you, and be sincere about it, they will start worrying. The more they worry, the more their mind spins out-of-control.

What was really “nothing” in the beginning, will evolve into something huge inside the mind of an HSP. He/she will not tell you the thoughts swirling in their mind, but will instead keep everything to themselves and spin out-of-control with negativity and stress.  Because they asked you once, What’s wrong? and you ‘lied,’ they shut down, went deeper into their mind, and as a result, they can no longer reach out to you in a healthy-way. They are fearful of more ‘rejection.’ In addition, an HSP doesn’t have the personality trait to ask what they believe to be intrusive questions.  Finally, once an HSP derives, in their mind, the ‘answer’ to your mood, they take it as truth, whether it is truth or not. And once that happens, it’s really hard to persuade the HSP that he or she is wrong.

If this happens on a regular basis, both parties are put under an enormous amount of stress. The non-HSP person feels they are being accused of things they didn’t do, and the HSP feels they are being lied to. It’s a vicious cycle of damaging emotional and mental interplay.

This is just one example of how an HSP can affect an otherwise healthy relationship in a negative-way. The “nothing” answer that I provided in this example is from my own personal experience and it is the answer that I gave to my own partner asking me, What’s wrong? This was enough to send my partner into an emotional tailspin and at this time, I didn’t understand the inner-workings and needs of an HSP.  Once you are caught lying to an HSP, whether it’s a little white lie, or a big lie, it will be very hard to gain their trust again.

My advice to you: If you are involved with an HSP, you must be as open and honest as possible.  A better way that I could have handled this would have been something like this: “I had a bad day at work, I’m frustrated and don’t want to talk about it right now, but thank you for caring enough to ask.”

Final words: If an HSP  loves you, they love you very deeply. And if you hurt them, they hurt deeply. They are indeed The Walking Wounded. When an HSP person loves you, they genuinely want to know how you feel. Nothing is too small for them. They will not ask you “what’s wrong” without expecting a complete and honest answer; they are not like most people who will ask you but who really don’t care what your answer might be.  An HSP wants to know – it’s important for them to know – because YOU are important to them. Don’t let them down by dismissing their feelings and by treating them like a person with a normal amount of empathy. The result will be you losing your HSP partner.

Trust me, I know.

I would like to add that the above example can be seen from two different points: Either that the HSP sabotages the relationship because of their high sensitivity; or that the other party is sabotaging it by not understanding the HSP person, thus treating the HSP like they would treat anyone else.  A relationship with an HSP involves an emotional- and mental-interplay that both parties need to understand and learn how to better navigate.

But most of all, if you come to think about it…What if we all treated our partners, HSP or not-HSP, with the same amount of care and insight and gave answers more in-line with what I should have said? “I had a bad day at work, I’m frustrated and don’t want to talk about it right now, but thank you for caring enough to ask.”

About Zanno Jacklin:

Zanno is a social worker in Sweden who works with families that are suffering from psychosocial issues. He meets a lot of different and interesting personalities through his work but most of his experience and knowledge of HSP personalities, sociopaths and narcissists comes through his own personal experiences and relationships.  It was in meeting and becoming involved with an HSP about six years ago that sparked his interest in psychology and has led to his ongoing passion and study of personalities and how they manifest in those around us.

Zanno and the author of My Sociopath: An Empath’s Soul Journey Among Sociopaths met online several months ago and they have been discussing sociopathy and HSP ever since. Zanno is an innovative thinker and writer on the subject of different personality types and in addition, he writes poetry for his own blog dealing with the very confusing and human emotions of love, sorrow, despair and heartache.

Check out his blog Until We Meet Again and his poem I, Sociopath here!


For More Information or to Contact Zanno:

Purchase My Sociopath – An Empath’s Soul Journey Among Sociopaths at Amazon or Barnes & Nobel.

Author: My Sociopath

Oceanside, California

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