Heartbreak For The Highly Sensitive Person


I always used to wonder why I would be the only one in my family or friend group covering my eyes in a movie theatre during a super violent war type film or sobbing at the tear jerker ending in something as silly as a romantic comedy film. It was so embarrassing for me one time when I went to see “The Help” with my best friend a couple years ago and I was crying so hard that I was shaking my entire row of seats in a packed house theatre. I almost had to leave and compose myself in the bathroom, but I didn’t want to miss any of the movie. My friend looked over at me several times and laughed a little at my mascara smudged face and offered tissues from her purse. Her eyes were a bit misty, but she was nowhere near the level of my agony.

I had always been thought of as the “tough” girl who never cried and hardly showed emotion when I was younger. I prided myself on not letting little things get to me and never letting anyone see a vulnerable side to my personality. But a lot of people know, and I discovered, that the toughest ones are the ones who are covering up the most.

I wanted to keep up that tough as nails veneer for as long as possible but as an actor/artist, my deepest thoughts and feelings had to be unlocked in order to truly emulate other people and experience empathy. Through acting classes I was almost forced into getting to that place, lest I’d be known as a “bad actor” which I refused to accept. I let my guard down for the first time in my life and boy did I experience ALL THE THINGS. And once pandora’s box was opened, there was no going back. I can’t help but feel everything so deeply now. My own feelings and the feelings of others.

It’s nice to not be blocked emotionally but it’s also distracting to go through life feeling so affected by your environment. It didn’t feel normal until I discovered that I am a “highly sensitive person”. The personality trait “the highly sensitive person” (HSP) was made popular by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D in the 90’s. The characteristics, such as crying easily, being sensitive to smells, sounds, and light, and being emotionally reactive, describe me to an absolute T. I finally was able to identify why I have so many issues in my relationships with friends and lovers.

Fights with my friends or boyfriends can turn really nasty and hurtful because I only think from an emotional standpoint and not rationally. If they hurt me I want to hurt them even worse to experience what I’m feeling. When I get angry I get explosive and when I am hurt I am devastated. So when a relationship ends for me, I absorb a debilitating blow that affects me so much that sometimes I think I’m going to die of heartbreak.

I have been trying so hard for months to get over my most recent lover, who I felt I needed to cut out of my life because he couldn’t commit to me, to no avail. I have good days, but I also have really bad days where I can barely make it through without crying. And it got me thinking: out of the 3 times that I’ve been in love I have been an absolute mess of the most epic proportions after the breakup. More than most people seem to be. When I talk to other people about their breakups, they usually manage to speak rather objectively about it. I can’t even bear talking about my breakup because if I did, I would burst out into tears and make them uncomfortable and probably ruin their day. Sometimes I can’t even leave the house for fear of being made to talk about it but if I do, I make sure everyone knows to not ask me about it.

“IT.” The trauma that comes after lost love. What you tried to avoid but love made you do.

Everyone is different and every relationship is different, but for most people it probably takes a couple months to get over an ex-lover. For me, it takes sometimes years for me to come to terms. I just can’t stop intensely obsessing for so long. I care and I hurt and I cry more than the average person. It’s really not fair. And it’s no wonder that I’m so afraid of being open and vulnerable. If I do my heart will take a major beating when it inevitably ends. It makes me want to avoid it altogether. I have to be more careful who I open my heart to. I have to make sure they’re worth it and that they deserve me.

When I’ve had my heart broken I go through so many different stages of emotion. But it usually starts with depressive sadness to the point where I become a shell of a person. I have to read self help books to ease me through the process and to know that I’m not alone. Then it develops into anger and cynicism for life. And then it turns back to sadness and extreme attachment withdrawal. Finally it turns back to anger once more and throwing my body at someone else to help numb the pain. It’s awful.

Friends will tell me, “it’s time to move on” or “you need to be more open to other men” and it makes me want to throw a brick at their face. How dare you expect me to move on so fast. I’ll move on in my own time when I can actually wake up without feeling like I want to drink or shoot herion to make it through the day and to quiet the rollercoaster of emotions. I’d give anything to not feel the way I’m feeling but how could opening my heart to someone new HELP? I may never open my heart to anyone else ever again.

It’s quite the hard-knock life for HSP’s like me. If you are not one of these types of people, count yourself lucky. If you are, I’m sorry, I relate to you, and you are not alone. The good news for HSP’s is that because we experience everything to it’s greatest potential, imagine what we’re like when we’re happy! We are SO HAPPY!!! And when we love we love SO MUCH. So a relationship with us will be full of affection and attention. However, we may stab you in the eye in the middle of night if you cross us. But it’s worth it.


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23 thoughts on “Heartbreak For The Highly Sensitive Person

  1. I’ve been struggling with verbalizing my own depression lately and I think being an HSP was the root of it. I got so deeply hurt by so many things that other people just didn’t understand. Eventually I Just shut down and stopped feeling all of it. I wish I could go back.

  2. Thank you for verbalizing everything I’ve felt and experienced! It’s good to know I’m not crazy, and that I’m not the only one who goes through this. I’ve lost two very close friends who didn’t understand my depression and hurt after my latest breakup. I’m so tired of hearing, “Why are you taking this so hard? Why can’t you just move on? Why are you so emotional?” etc.

  3. Thank you for writing this. Its a little reassuring to know theres other people like me. Its so hard because most people don’t understand. We feel emotions soo deeply. I’m currently trying to get over a breakup and its tearing me apart. I just hope it doesn’t take me years to get over it..

  4. This is so refreshing to read. I seriously don’t know anyone else in my life or otherwise that has reacted to what I’m going through the way I am. I didn’t even know I was an HSP or that it was something to be until about a week ago. I just thought I was a pathetic weak failure. But was still so confused how I went from a strong person to someone so weak just over losing my love of 8 years ago I have 2 kids with. My mom did it just fine. Everyone else who has become a single mother or been through worse has somehow got through it. But I tried and am still trying but have basically ruined my life it feels like. But after reading this I know that I’m not the only person in the world whose emotions have stopped them from being able to move on. Thank you so much for sharing

  5. This is so accurate. I’m kind of envious of the people whose emotions shut down so they stop feeling things. I know they say it’s like being dead, but this is like constantly being electrocuted. I’m also in a breakup and I have days where I can barely breathe, the agony is so bad. I’m back on Prozac, which helps immensely once it kicks in, but there will come a day when I’ll want to quit it again to be with a guy (sexual side-effects of Prozac).

  6. Thank you for posting this. My boyfriend of 8 years broke up with me a month ago, and I moved all of my things out of his house a week ago. We’d been having problems for a while, but I kept having hope things would get better. A big issue for him was my high sensitivity and anxiety ABOUT having anxiety, because he didn’t like it. I was getting a little better the past few weeks, but I found out he’s started talking with another girl. I’m beside myself, can’t think of anything else. I don’t understand how he can get over me so quickly after so many years, because I can’t just shut off my feelings. And I can’t stop FEELING everything… yet, at the same time, I feel dead inside, like a shell. I feel everything except happiness or a sense that things will get better.

  7. This is great. I’m a male HSP and just right now i am in the process of breaking up with my first ‘guy crush’ r’ship type thing . He has decided he is going back to his girlfriend and yet still messages me ‘i really care for you’. I feel like puking , the pain is that unbearable. I have stopped eating and sleeping because of the torture. I literally feel like i am on a rollorcoaster and my breath dissapears. Lie the OP, it’s such a horrendous experience that i promise i’ll never fall for someone again. I said that last time with my ex GF, but this fucker was so hot that knocked me the hell out of me.Plus he was my close buddy friend.. It’s that sense of aesthetics that HSPs have and beauty is our weakness. I just want to be better again. I ‘hate’ you Kelvin for saying i had a handsome face and hugging me that night in your room . sniff 😦

  8. it’s such a relief to know there are other people out there like this. i’ve been called everything from intimidating to non-emotional to a steel trap because deep down i’m so sensitive I’m afraid of getting hurt and it’s all an act. i use “safe” relationships as a buffer from the real thing to avoid getting hurt because i feel everything so deeply. i cry at sunsets but i don’t want anyone to know that i’m not made of steel! i broke up with my boyfriend of 8 years because i wasn’t in love with him and i knew it so i let him go. i jumped into a passionate and whirlwind relationship with a younger man and i feel so vulnerable it’s destroying me. i let myself open up to him in a moment of weakness and i feel humiliated and weak all the time because i’m scared of how deeply i feel for him and what he can do to me. eating and sleeping have pretty much ceased! it can be such a miserable way to live when its bad but on the flip side i feel such intense happiness and joy and even though everyone who knows me thinks i’m incapable of sadness, they say i’m one of the most passionate and excitable people they know. the extreme highs and lows are truly exhausting.

  9. Thanks for your story.

    It appears I’m an HSP. Which sucks when you’re a big muscular guy too. Most people take me as a cop or firefighter, but then I talk about my girls and can’t stop the tears. It’s humiliating to tear up in front of my boss and co-workers. Unfortunately, I do it all the time – even when I’m telling/hearing a moderately happy (usually) or sad story.

    I do appreciate your story though. I was wondering if others had the same painful separations I’ve had. To date, I’ve had my heart obliterated 4 times. The last time was 2 1/2 years ago and I’m finally to the point where I feel like I could fall in love again. But holy crap – I don’t want to risk that again. The last one beat the Hell out of me. I cried every single day for at least a year. I knew I was different because there there would be a lot more suicides if everybody else had to suffer through that.

    I had to laugh about your Heroin comment though. After the second heartbreak, I actually did turn to heroin (clean 19 years now). I now understand that I was using it to cope with the intense emotions I experienced throughout my life. I suppose it worked because that second heartbreak (out of four) didn’t hurt as badly as the other three. I did however, have some pretty significant weight loss, job loss, car loss, everything loss and wound up sleeping under a bush for awhile. Somebody stole my blanket too, so I wouldn’t recommend that as a solution.

    Anyways, it’s nice to know heartbreak lasting more than a year isn’t abnormal for some of us. It doesn’t make me “sick” in some way. For some reason, I always felt like it put me in the same category as stalkers and pedophiles. I was ashamed by it and didn’t want to talk about it because, face it, if you tell people you’re still pining over a love 2+ years ago, people think there is something seriously wrong with you, especially if you’re a man.

    Thanks again for you story.

  10. thanks for this article. Its nice to know that I am not alone and someone out there understands what its like to be me. So many times people say I’m too cold and hard because none of them have ever seen me cry (its an art I’ve perfected) but beneath the mask I feel more than I let on. I feel everything from the little sounds that seem loud to my ears to the emotions of other people to the intense discomfort when someone touches me anywhere to the smells. I can’t even watch a sad movie because I know it will make me sad for days after watching it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m glad that there is someone else who gets it and that being HSP is not a “problem” we have that needs to be “fixed” its just who we are.

    • Much love to you. Thanks for reading. We are valuable people to this world because we can empathize fully…which is a gift that not everyone possesses. It’s hard to be in our shoes but the benefits are great. ❤

  11. Wow. Thak you so much for writing this artice. I feel a sense of enlightenment on the way my emotions play out. I always thought there was something wrong with me; that maybe I was really overreacting or I was just making myself get to the point of being sickeningly sad but now I know I am not the only person in the world having to deal with such heightened and turbulent emotions and reactions. I’m glad to know that this is not a “problem” I’ve created but it really is just who I am.

  12. Thanks very much, although its not helping a lot, just helping thst i know what is it, i had a girlfriend, it was young love, it took me years to get over it, its emberassing how many, few months ago, met a girl, she fell in love with me, we had the same views on most important stuff in live, so i felt i cant get hurt, thats it, and although i didnt know a lot about my sensitivity and what is it, but intiutivly i knew how much i could get hurt if get hurt. And as you said when it was love beetween us i was estatic, but when she changed her mind and when she left i was devastated, and went into emotipnal numbness, then after she contacted me i was getting my hopes up, when i figured from way she was speaking that its not going to happen, i am devasted again.
    In the end im a guy, and its not true that men are not sensitive, at least in my case.
    And im afraid how long its gonna take me to get over her, im almost thirty.

  13. I really enjoyed reading your writing.

    I’m a 29 year old HSP male and I have been messed around horrifically by other guys, mostly on dating apps because know one knees about me being bisexual. Most of them build my emotions up after sensing I am very sensitive and then either try and use me for sex or as an emotional cushion whilst they get back with their ex or find a new bf/gf. The effects have messed me up the past few years and I remember each and every guy, sometimes I haven’t even met them and talked for months online or vid cam and fallen deeply in love with them. It’s so easy to fall in love as a HSP.
    I am currently going through yet another break up around a beautiful looking guy who seemed to want to share everything with me and told me he was sanative too. With him being so beautiful, it’s harder for HSPS’s to break up because of our highly developed sense of aesthetics. He is a good person I guess, but I think he mostly wanted sex and now he realises I’m a full on hsp and have powerful emotions, he has started to go cold. The pain is fukin unbearable and sometimes I can’t move out of my bed. I work as a model and it’s massively affecting my work. I just cry in bed sometimes and hardly anyone understands. They come out with weird robotic advice like ‘just detach your emotions’ or ‘you’re too sensitive’ or ‘you need to feel less’ or ‘it’s life-move on!’

    I really would love to just reach out and talk to some other hsps about the pain we have to go through in daily life, it can be debilitating.

    I really want to especially talk to other HSP guys and their experiences in beak ups, but girls too.
    Thanks and wish me luck ..I think he will totally ghost me in a few days… and I will be a total fucking wreck. He always said I will never ghost you I swear, but i really feel he is pulling away now with more spaced out messages ad saying ‘sorry, i’ve been busy’.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I know exactly how you feel, you are not alone!! I can’t speak on what it’s like in gay men’s culture, but from what I’ve heard from friends, it’s a minefield out there. I will say this though, I think the best thing for HSP’s like you and me is to just stay single for a while. Focus on yourself and get your confidence and security back and only then will you attract someone who won’t treat you like you’re replaceable.

  14. Thank you so much. I gues in that case i’ll be single for good. I literally cannot deal with a short term break up or even a online r’ship for a few weeks never mind long term. I think i would be wrecked if i loved someone say for years and they left me! It’s actually dangerous for HSP’s. An update on my guy though he got back to me and told me he sufferes severe anxiety..which he never told me before. So, i feel more at ease now, but i am still very scared about a potential break up or ghosting etc. The dating apps eg tinder have wrecked romance for both hetro , bi and gay people. They are horrific to use for HSP’s and i would love to start a blog on hsp experiences on them. I don’t use them for girls but the guys are ruthless, it’s like being knifed 50 times when someone simply blocks you or they will straight out say shit like ‘you are not muscly enough.bye!’.. I’ve heard the hetro side can be rough too though, with girls playing guys and guys using girls in the hope for quick sex. It’s actually traumatized me.

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