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Highly Sensitive People and sexuality

When you are highly sensitive, you always have the impression of going through life and inhabiting the world in a singular way, as if you were always offbeat. For you, colors have a different, deeper nuance, smells have a vibration, noises have a form. Where others see details (if they ever see them), to us they are like elephants in a china shop. It can trigger in us fear, stress, anxiety, and of course the feeling that this “elephant” is out of place. Sometimes it can also make us smile, even trigger a giggle, but most often we feel frustration: how can they not see the elephant? So how do we explain to the person with whom we have an intimate relationship, all these intense feelings? How can we tell them about our raw emotions, our incredible sense of detail, the 3D image of our senses, our feelings to the power of 10? Because of course this intensity of our emotions and of our senses is particularly expressed in our sentimental and sexual life.

Highly sensitive people and sexuality

This is a subject that is rarely discussed and yet HSP can suffer in their sexuality, be dissatisfied and feel frustrated. Why? Well… for the same reasons they fight battles in every other aspect of their lives.

Indeed, their great sensitivity can be exacerbated, both in a positive or negative way, in this area too, perhaps even more in this domain; because sex is a very intimate experience that makes them all more vulnerable, highly sensitive or not.

In this context, vulnerability can resurface and overwhelm the highly sensitive person even more. Intimate relationships are also different for them and it's crucial to be aware of it, because sexuality is an important part of our balance, so we can't just ignore it.


Going naked (literally and figuratively), for example, is not always easy for a person, but it can be tamed. Let's discover together the complex link between high sensitivity and sexuality and some keys to flourish in contact with others.


Let's set the scene

Sexuality, no matter how it is experienced, concerns each person.

Despite this, it is frequently put aside, as if it should be obvious, natural and spontaneous. In reality, it is quite the opposite, constantly evolving throughout life, sexuality needs to be deciphered, enlightened, nourished and understood...


Our sexuality is like a play, a very fascinating play to watch and observe. It teaches us a lot about ourselves if we are open to seeing it. Sexuality is a place, perhaps even the most expressive place, where our desires, our beliefs, our personality, our history, our needs, but also our wounds and our lacks are staged very intimately. So it is an important aspect of our life to watch.

Highly Sensitive People, like any human being, seek to be in touch with their environment. However, their mode of operation, often misunderstood, can sometimes be a brake on their desire to meet the other or to find fulfilment in intimacy.


Take this short quiz (below) if you want to know if you are a highly sensitive person.

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Why is the sexuality of highly sensitive people so special?


A 4D singularity

Of course, the main reason has to do with their intense way of feeling, perceiving and experiencing everything in life. No surprises here! Because on a scale of intensity of feeling where the numbers would be between 0 and 10, where a less sensitive person is effectively framed in this scale, for a very sensitive person, it would be necessary to add many levels and lengthen the scale up to 100, even 1000. So here is our first explanation! Which, by the way, is also the reference scale for all experiences and differences of highly sensitive people, our intensity scale can reach the clouds!


Now considering that HSP are also highly influenced by their sensory, emotional, mental, and reactive characteristics, this will also have a big effect on their sexuality.


Of course each highly sensitive person is unique, and the level of their sensitivity is more or less elevated, more or less exacerbated, from one person to another. Nevertheless, powerful physical sensations, added to a need for deep concentration and true connection, are often defining characteristics if they are not present in their intimate relationships. So let's take a look at these sensitivities, one by one, and see where and why they affect our sexuality… the good, the bad, and the ugly.



Sensory sensitivity in hyper mode

When the sensory dimension is in “hyper-mode,” it feels like turning up the volume on your sensory stereo to the max, because your perception of external sensory stimuli is totally off the charts.

You may be particularly sensitive to your partner's smell, to sounds and visual games. Even the touch as delicate as a feather will make you react differently. So yes, an itchy clothing tag can annoy you irrationally. A smell can also bother you to the point of blocking you, and be a real turn-off, but… But your heightened sensory sensitivity can also be offset by higher waves of pleasure and deeper sensations in your body during intimacy… so not everything is completely negative! No, quite the contrary! But it goes without saying, logically, that you are also with the ideal partner, understanding and listening to you, which can be difficult to find, but that is another story.



The superlative emotional dimension

If your emotional dimension is in “superlative mode”, it feels like your emotions are over the top and easily exacerbated. This means that they can even be excessive compared to the situation. And when the emotions overwhelm you, well… you can lose control a bit, and completely restrict your momentum.

In sexuality, feeling safe in the relationship is very important in order to be able to let go. So another important element is also your life story which can completely block you sexually. Many highly sensitive people have experienced one or more traumatic events in their life history that can impact (consciously or not) their relationship to intimacy.

More serious, although rarer, a lack of security combined with previous traumatic experiences can have a disastrous effect on our sex life, even to the point of causing vaginismus. Vaginismus is the consequence of an emotional and mental blockage that prevents any penetration. We certainly don't want to come to that!



The mental mega-dimension

Now, if you have a mental dimension in “mega-mode”, you may spend more time thinking than doing, relaxing and letting go. Because you live in your head, some automatic thoughts can play a self-critical tune like a broken record. Things like, "I don't like my body. Who might be able to love me? I am not attractive.” These unwanted automatic thoughts could completely alter your self-confidence and prevent you from having great sex.


Take this into account! If you live too much in your head and try to control everything, you are not connected to your body. In the absence of "body connection", you may experience a lack of desire, a complete loss of desire, or even an absence of orgasm. So stop the self-sabotage! Don't let your evil little voice ruin your sex life!



The ultra-relational dimension

Now, let's turn to the relational dimension. When it is in “ultra mode”, what does that mean? This means that you are very sensitive to the quality of the relationship with your partner. No surprise here, and nothing illegitimate that many of us need a deep connection to have a fulfilling sexual experience. But for HSP, their need to feel both physical and mental attraction is really important to feeling intimacy. Without it, sex seems impossibly pointless, something more like a completely disconnected mutual masturbation, than an experience of true embodied pleasure.

So, because we yearn for the perfect balance in our relationship, we can be very demanding at the same time in our search for that ideal balance. This can lead to isolation or avoidance of romantic relationships.


On the other hand, to make a relationship work, we are also able to take a lot on ourselves, until we manage to build the relational balance on our own. In other words, we are capable of loving for two!... Which is also a bit sad.


Another example with frustrating consequences: we can internalize our needs for the benefit of our partner, putting their needs and wants before ours. This is a dangerous attitude, because by contenting ourselves with the exclusive partner-pleasure mode, and at the risk of dismissing our own needs, we will of course end up suffering and being completely frustrated.


So yes, our sexuality, like our life experiences, is multidimensional. For us, all our physical pleasure is in the details. I can't think of a better winning combination to be sexually fulfilled than the intoxicating smell and softness of the skin, soft lighting, perfectly tuned sounds and a sensual, attentive and deeply connected partner with me. But I'm talking about myself now. Everyone, of course, has their own ideal scenario.



To conclude, when you are highly sensitive, you have the possibility of living a very creative and stimulating life, so that means that you also have the possibility of having a very fulfilling sexuality,... but there are pitfalls to avoid.

This same immense pleasure, even when everything is right in tune with your high sensitivity, can also easily go off the rails. Sometimes, little things can just mess with our sultry groove and throw us into an "I'm not really feeling it, right now" type fog.


And here the biggest problems could come from you.


By dint of always feeling out of step with others, of believing that no one understands you, of thinking constantly, of being stressed and overwhelmed by the desire to give and to please, you can fall into anxiety disorders, emotional disturbances, isolation or deterioration of your self-esteem.

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The main issues of the sexuality of highly sensitive people to remember

  • Always in search of an absolute, a bubble of fusion and total understanding, HSP can be paralyzed for fear of getting lost in the other and in their sensations.

  • Disconnecting from fusional thinking where the other thinks like us and understands without speaking, can be a difficult concept for a sensitive person to understand, and even more to achieve.

  • Because HSP are in a permanent state of vigilance, this can lead to an instability that does not allow them to be in the present moment.

  • HSP,, we know it, have great difficulty, or worse, are unable to switch off the mind and let go of their sensations, this can lead to a blockage of desire or pleasure.

  • As highly sensitive people often have difficulty accepting themselves or admitting their trait, because they have lived too long with the feeling that something was wrong with them, they find it difficult to identify their needs and therefore to express them. Their relational investment with others can then become complicated (confused relational framework, difficulty in asserting their needs, in imposing their limits, etc.).

  • Because of their difficulty in leaving aside the mind, HSP also have a lot of trouble connecting to their body (dissociation or feelings that are too intense).

  • They may also be driven to seek thrills to feel alive, or sway to the other extreme, and shift their libido into the spiritual and sublimation rather than the carnal, since they can hardly connect to their body and let it go.

  • HSP may also feel an imbalance in their cycle of contact with a given person or situation. The contact then becomes fragile, indecisive and can be cut off even for fear of getting involved. The difficulty of feeling fully connected is a recurring theme when discussing hypersensitivity and sexuality.

  • Regulation mechanisms such as an “on/off” operating mode can be put in place unconsciously. Here is a typical example: when HSP feel confident, they “give everything”. This will then create in them a feeling of vulnerability. Conscious or unconscious reactions will follow to try to protect themselves. They may try to regain control by retracting themselves from the relationship to take a step back, or by cutting the link abruptly. This way of doing things is likely to cause a drop in self-esteem, guilt, the feeling of being unable to have or maintain a relationship, and of course to come to the conclusion that they are the problem and that there is something wrong with them.


In reality, all of this is almost always based on our life story, our first attachment figures and our sense of security in particular. A reflection on these themes allows us to better understand what is replayed in adulthood.



How to live a harmonious intimacy?

A work focused on understanding our high sensitivity is a first step and it is fundamental. It is not a question of placing ourselves in a small box, we would not accept it anyway, but of being able to understand an appropriate way of functioning that is personal. This being said, the relationship to intimacy can be approached.

The second step is to engage in a reflection that allows us to make an alliance with our hypersensitivity and to learn to place ourselves at the center of our sexuality which is, above all, the way of being in connection with oneself and with others. .

Then comes the identification and questioning of our beliefs system and acquired behaviors, in order to discover how our desire progresses, to learn how to surround ourselves with love and to make informed choices. All of these being important pillars to meet your unique Self.


Through a holistic approach, placing us at the center of all spheres of our life, and also through an integrative approach, articulated around the existential, emotional, sexual and spiritual axes, we can connect the heart, the body and the spirit and find harmony.


High sensitivity is not a fatality or a pathology. Despite the difficulties or inconveniences it can cause sometimes, it is possible to make it an asset that allows you to radiate and live a fulfilling sexuality according to your own criteria, not according to the norm.

But HSP need to calm their nervous system and feel safe in their environment to be able to let go. They must learn to slow down, breathe and be in connection with their body rather than their mind because planning moments of intimacy can help them to avoid overthinking.


If you have issues in this area of your life, do not hesitate to consult me. I will accompany you to connect to your creative power in order to savor a palette of varied and intense sensations and emotions in your intimate life...


 

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