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15 Signs of High Sensitivity in Relationships

Are you highly sensitive in relationships?

Are you highly sensitive in relationships? Do you know someone who may be? High sensitivity can be defined as acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external (social, environmental) or internal (intra-personal) stimuli.

Although there are many positive attributes to being sensitive in relationships, such as a greater ability to listen and affirm, greater empathy and intuitiveness, and a better understanding of others' wants and needs, we will focus here on those aspects of high sensitivity in relationships which adversely affect one’s health, happiness, and well-being. A reader wrote to me recently that being a highly sensitive person is both "a blessing and a curse." This is particularly true in interpersonal situations.

Following are 15 signs of high sensitivity in relationships, with excerpts from my books, Are You Highly Sensitive? How to Gain Immunity, Peace, and Self-Mastery! and How to Communicate Effectively with Highly Sensitive People. While many people may experience some of these signs from time to time, a highly sensitive person will likely “feel too often” and “feel too deep.” Some individuals may be highly sensitive to just one or two stimuli, while others may be strongly affected by more on the list.

  1. Often thinks or worries about what others are thinking.
  2. Tends to take things personally.
  3. Is afraid of rejection, even in relatively minor situations.
  4. Often has negative expectations (i.e., "They won’t like me") when interacting with others.
  5. Often experiences negative emotions (e.g., stress, anxiety) when interacting with others.
  6. Finds it difficult when triggered by relatively small unpleasantness with people to just “let it go.”
  7. Feels hurt and disappointed easily.
  8. Compares self with others often in physical, relational, social, work, financial, or other scenarios. Also, experiences unhappy feelings from negative social comparison.
  9. Often hides negative feelings, believing they are too strong, turbulent, embarrassing, or vulnerable to share. The individual keeps a lot of negative emotions inside.
  10. Alternatively, often discusses negative emotions with others, because there’s a lot of “drama” in their life.
  11. Has a hard time accepting critical feedback, even when it's given reasonably and constructively.
  12. Often feels like people are judgmental, even when there’s no strong evidence.
  13. Often overreacts to real or perceived slights and provocations.
  14. Often feels awkward in group situations, feeling uneasy or not being able to be oneself.
  15. Feels self-conscious in romantically intimate situations. They may excessively worry about a partner’s approval, or be unreasonably afraid of being judged or rejected by a romantic partner.

For many highly sensitive people, the key to managing oversensitivity is to utilize emotional immunity and sensory immunity strategies, in order to smartly calm and alleviate overstimulation. For those who live or work with highly sensitive individuals, effective communication skills are a must to foster positive and constructive relationships. See references below.

© 2018 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright violation may subject the violator to legal prosecution.


Ni, Preston. Are You Highly Sensitive? How to Gain Immunity, Peace, and Self-Mastery!. PNCC. (2017)

Ni, Preston. How to Communicate Effectively with Highly Sensitive People. PNCC. (2017)

Ni, Preston. How to Let Go of Negative Thoughts and Emotions. PNCC. (2014)

Aron, E.; Aron, A. Sensory-Processing Sensitivity and its Relation to Introversion and Emotionality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (1997)

Larson, R.; Ketelaar, T. Extraversion, Neuroticism and Susceptibility to Positive and Negative Mood Induction Procedures. Personality and Individual Differences. (1989)

Liss, M.; Mailloux, J.; Erchull, M. The Relationships between Sensory Processing Sensitivity, Alexithymia, Autism, Depression, and Anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences. (2008)

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