In October, we explored the pros and cons of being a highly sensitive person (HSP)— a term coined by Dr Elaine Aron in the 90’s, which basically means you feel all of the feelings.
Someone who is sensitive to, well, just about everything.
Sights. Sounds. Smells.
A huge number of The Daily Guru tribe resonated with the highs and lows of being a HSP, which go beyond the traditional interpretation of simply ‘getting your feelings hurt really easily.’
There were plenty of ‘Aha!’ moments.
We heard that collective sigh of relief as many of you recognised yourself — and your life — in the long list of qualities and traits we shared with you.
Highly sensitive people are incredibly sensitive to various emotional and physical stimuli — a trait which is normally seen as completely innate, normal and acceptable for us ladies to possess.
And while highly sensitive people are believed to make up approximately 20% of the entire population (which means it’s equally common among both sexes), being a ‘sensitive man’ remains somewhat misunderstood.
It presents unique challenges, because men are often still held to a standard of ‘masculinity’ that doesn’t include showing their sensitivity.
They’re expected to suck it up and carry on.
Since there’s a good chance that at least one of the men in your life (whether they’re a lover, friend, family member or coworker) is guaranteed to be a highly sensitive guy, here are five things you should know:
Just like highly sensitive women, the feelings of highly sensitive men tend to be magnified whether they’re happy, sad or angry. It’s because they feel more deeply — and are triggered to react accordingly.
The difference is though, instead of responding in an outburst of emotions, sensitive men tend to bury their feelings and clam up. In fact, expressing those feelings can be straight up difficult for our guys.
They’ve probably figured out, at some point in their life, that opening up to their coworkers or male friends isn’t always safe, so they keep it to themselves. They suppress their sensitivity and act the part of the silent, macho man the world may have pressured them to be.
It’s just their way of coping with the overwhelming sensory and emotional information and stress.
That’s why it’s important to recognise these situations and approach the men in your life with care. Encourage them to open up and let it all out.
Approach their sensitivity with…sensitivity.
And if you just so happen to live with, love or care for a highly sensitive man who doesn’t have any trouble showing their feelings, embrace that! Don’t try to challenge, diminish or suppress their display of their emotions.
Little decisions can, too.
Whether it’s to do with romance, a business strategy, a big life decision or simply what to have for dinner, highly sensitive men are notoriously bad at making choices. It’s because they agonise over the possibility of making the wrong one.
Don’t always expect the guys in your life to have the final say — join them and support them in every decision-making process. Especially the tough ones.
Unless they work in an empathic role, such as a doctor, coach or therapist, highly sensitive men can find it difficult to break through the proverbial glass ceiling.
In his Harvard Business Review article, Andrew O’Connell said caring and empathetic guys may notice that they’re a lot more likely to come home from work with a headache, than a promotion.
“Chances are you’ve been banging into a glass ceiling,” Andrew says.
“A team led by Mark C Frame from Middle Tennessee State University finds that the higher you go on the corporate ladder, the more you’re among people who put a lot of stock in assertiveness and independence — what psychologists call “agentic” qualities — rather than on such things as caring about others’ feelings.
“You might even have heard once or twice that you’re “too nice to get promoted.” Yet you know you’d be a better boss than those task-oriented managers — many of whom have zero people skills.”
Acknowledge and accept that the way they handle thought processes, make decisions, give orders, express feelings, manage problems, set goals, provide feedback, ask questions and communicate is also likely to be different to their other male colleagues.
If you have a highly sensitive man in your life, be prepared to be as much of a source of support for him as he is to you.
It’s also important to manage your own life, without placing any unnecessary burden of responsibility on him — whether it’s personal or professional.
Highly sensitive people, including men, tend to intuitively take on the troubles of the world (or at least the people close to them), so do your best to protect them from your own worries and problems.
Highly sensitive men crave deep relationships. And though we pointed out in #1 that these men usually bottle up their emotions, when they’re in a loving and secure relationship, they tend to go all in.
Within the safe confines of a romantic relationship, highly sensitive men tend to let their guards down and you’ll see a side of them not many other people get to experience.
Being the partner of a sensitive man can be a big responsibility, given you’re likely to be the only ‘outlet’ for him to truly open up, comfortably. But it can also be the deepest, most beautiful connection you’ll ever have with another soul.
A sensitive man will be incredibly affectionate — they won’t be afraid to show their love and desire. So soak up all that hand-holding, kissing and lovin’ — and reciprocate it tenfold.
Do you have a highly sensitive man in your life? Share with us in the comments below!