I’m a sensitive man.
I like to write poetry, and meditate, and take long walks alone in the woods. I like a good drama more than a shoot ’em up action flick, and prefer a good book to a football game. I make my living writing articles about love and relationships… You get the idea.
I’m one of those guys who “feels all the feels.” And I’m not alone.
According to research, as many as 1 in 5 people can be qualified as highly sensitive. And notice that the word I used there was “people,” as in human beings, of both sexes. Meaning that somewhere around 20% of men are highly sensitive.
While clearly not a majority, that’s about the same percentage of guys that are left-handed.
Now imagine if you will, that every time a left-handed guy did something left-handed, they were teased and put down, made to feel different and ashamed. “Stop doing that! Men don’t do that. Men are right-handed.”
Sounds ridiculous, right? But that’s exactly how sensitive men are often treated.
As result of this kind treatment, many of us learn to suppress our sensitivity, to try and act the part of the silent, stoic, macho man the world pressures us to be. We figure out quickly that opening up to their co-workers or guy friends isn’t always safe – so we keep it to ourselves.
Until we fall in love.
Within the confines of a romantic relationship, a man can finally let his guard down and express his thoughts and feelings. Often, our partner and lover sees a side of us that no one else in the whole world sees. That’s a beautiful thing…
And it can be really challenging, too.
I know that there are women out there who simply will not date a sensitive man. There’s nothing wrong with that. To each, their own.
But this article is for the ladies who have found themselves a sensitive guy, and fallen hard for him. For the women committed to a sensitive man, who genuinely want to know, “How can I keep this relationship strong? How can I love him even better?”
If that’s you, then by all means, read on.
8 Tips For Being With A Sensitive Guy
Maybe the most important thing to remember is that sensitive guys tend to over-think things. Our minds are always pouring over little details that most people miss – like subtle changes in body language or tone of voice – and wondering, “What does it mean?”
This is not a choice, by the way. Researchers believe that high sensitivity is an innate, biological trait. Our nervous system is hardwired to notice and process more information and sensory input, all the time.
We’re just born that way. (Kinda like being left-handed…)
Another important thing to remember is that, as his partner, you are his outlet, his understanding ear, the one – maybe the only one – with whom he can truly open up and be himself, and share from his heart.
Sure, that can be a heavy responsibility… but it can also be the deepest, most rewarding soul-connection you’ve ever known.
Here are some practical tips and insights to help you make the most of loving, and living with, your sensitive guy:
1. Avoid His “Triggers”
In this fabulous blog post, Dr. Elaine Aron discusses how people learn to regulate their emotions (or learn how not to) as young children. By the time we are adults, those strategies are internalized, and largely unconscious.
And since nobody has the perfect childhood, we all have our share of wounds and “soft spots,” things that can trigger a powerful emotional response in us. Usually negative.
Sensitive men are especially prone to this, and can be easily overwhelmed by intense feelings of shame or inadequacy when these soft spots are triggered. Show him you love and understand him by learning what situations, words or actions are triggers for him – and then avoiding them as much as possible.
2. Give Him Space When He Needs It
I know that “give him space” has become a relationship cliché by now, and that’s really too bad. It’s repeated so often because it’s so damn important!
Relationships are dynamic, they ebb and flow. Sometimes we need just to be close to one another, other times we need room to breathe, and work through our own stuff. Being able to sense and feel where your partner is at on that spectrum is one of the most valuable relationship skills there is.
A sensitive man is even more likely than most to need space and solitude in order to process his thoughts and feelings. No matter how much you want to be there next to him, no matter how noble your intentions, sometimes you’ve just gotta step back, and let him be.
3. Work Out A Signal
Come up with a word, phrase or other signal that he can give when he’s feeling overwhelmed, and needs to withdraw for awhile. It could be as simple as him saying “time out,” or putting his hands over his eyes or his ears.
Just agree on something ahead of time, something that makes sense to both of you, something neutral.
Sound silly? Don’t laugh. This one “relationship hack” that can make all the difference. It enables him to tell you how he feels, at the moment when it is most difficult for him to do so. When his circuits are fried, and he can’t think clearly, it can be hard (make that impossible) for him to explain what he’s going through…
In that moment, having a quick and easy code or signal can be a life-saver.
4. Don’t Rush Him
This one should be common sense, because, you know, nobody likes to be rushed. But in a world where everyone is always stressed and in a hurry, it needs to be spelled out sometimes.
Sensitive guys are not known for being decisive. Before making any choice – what movie to watch, what restaurant to go to, etc. – we are going to think it over. And over, and over. We’re going to consider as many possibilities, and potential consequences, as the human mind is capable of.
That can be annoying, I know. But don’t rush him.
Remember, he’s processing more information, more thoroughly than most. Even when making little, seemingly insignificant decisions, his brain is working like a NASA supercomputer. He doesn’t need any extra stress and pressure added to the mix.
Be patient with him, and you might be pleasantly surprised by his extraordinary thoughtfulness and attention to detail.
5. Express Your Love & Affection
Would it surprise you to learn that men are incredibly insecure? The male ego is a fragile thing. Guys worry about everything from what kind of car we drive, to our penis size. Men need to be loved and admired, complimented and validated just as much as women do.
And, you guessed it, sensitive men even more so.
So tell him how much you love him and appreciate him, and tell him often. Even more importantly, show him. Demonstrate your affection for him through touch and intimacy, sweet little notes, thoughtful gestures, and the like.
One good thing about sensitive men: we can be very affectionate. We aren’t at all uncomfortable holding hands, kissing in public, or saying those “three little words.” Bring it on. We’ll eat it up, and repay you in kind.
6. Listen From The Heart
Everyone knows that communication is important to a successful relationship, right? But many people seem to forget that one half of communication consists of actually listening to what the other person says.
I’m talking about real listening. Not assuming you already know what he means. Not planning your response, waiting for your turn to speak. But really listening, and being present to your partner. This is a subtle and underrated art.
Remember, a sensitive man puts a great deal of thought into… well, pretty much everything. When he opens up and talks to you, the chances are that each and every word has been agonized over, and carefully chosen to convey precisely what it is he wants to say.
I think that deserves a little time and attention, don’t you?
7. Communicate Your Needs Clearly
Of course the other half of communication involves telling him how you feel and what you want – and telling him clearly and directly.
Just because he’s sensitive doesn’t mean he’s freakin’ psychic. He’s not one of your girlfriends. He doesn’t know the secret female code language of sighs and facial expressions that women have perfected over hundreds of years.
(Just kidding. Sort of. Is there really a code? Is it written down somewhere? Cause I would love to get my hands on that…)
The point is, you have to take responsibility for communicating your needs in a way that he understands. Preferably using words. Simple, direct sentences that start with the words, “I need…” will usually make us perk up and pay attention.
Try it and see.
8. Encourage His Personal Growth
Sensitive men are usually open to, and eager for, some sort of personal growth or spiritual discipline.
Being so in touch with our raw emotions, bombarded with sensory stimulation from all directions, and helpless to stop the machinery of our minds from constantly thinking and over-analyzing every detail… we need something to help us cope, to help us find peace and balance.
That could anything: yoga, meditation, journaling, dancing, painting or artistic expression, therapy or life coaching, etc. Whatever it is that your guy is into, get into it with him. Talk with him about it, encourage and support him. Take up a practice yourself (it’s good for you).
If your guy is not actively trying to better himself, express his creativity, and explore and develop his inner potential, do everything you can to encourage him to do so. It will make a world of difference for him, and for your relationship.
Sensitive Does NOT Mean “Self-Absorbed”
Also remember that every relationship is a two-way street. There has to be give and take on both sides. Being sensitive isn’t a get out of jail free card. Loving a sensitive man doesn’t mean walking on egg shells all the time, and bending over backwards to accommodate his needs and moods.
If you’re guy is so caught up in himself that he doesn’t reciprocate your efforts, then sensitivity is not the issue – it’s selfishness and immaturity.
There’s a difference.
A mature and sensitive man will be highly attuned to how you feel, what you need and want. And he will go above and beyond in order to make you happy and comfortable. And if you can meet him halfway, and do the same for him, it can make for a truly magical partnership…
The kind that makes other couples green with envy.
When It Just Isn’t Working
There are times when, no matter how much you love and care for someone, it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes two people just aren’t right for each other. Sometimes the timing is all wrong.
And sometimes, being with a sensitive guy just seems like too much freakin’ work. Hey, I get it. Who needs the hassle, right? Life is hard enough as it is.
Then there are lots of women who really want to be swept off their feet and ravished by an assertive, dominant, “alpha male,” and being in a relationship with a sensitive, thoughtful, slow moving guy leaves them feeling unfulfilled.
(And many women who bounce back and forth between the two, unable to make up their mind… but that’s a whole other article.)
If that’s the case, it’s best to just acknowledge that your wants and needs are not being met in this relationship, and try to part ways gracefully. Don’t try to change your partner, or get him to “toughen up.” Don’t ask him to be someone he’s not.
That road only leads to disappointment and resentment.
Be honest, with him and with yourself. You deserve to have the relationship you really want, and he deserves to be loved for who he is. If you can’t be that for each other, then it’s time to move on.
In the end, the art of loving a sensitive man is the art of loving, period. The skills outlined above will go a long way toward sustaining and strengthening any relationship, and keeping the love the alive.
We are not so very different, after all. Men and women, sensitive or not… we’re all human, with all the beautiful, messy, emotional chaos that comes with that. We’re all just trying to make the best of it.
But being with a sensitive man is a wonderful opportunity to take the art of loving to a whole new level: to explore just how deep love can go, how much two people can share with each other, and care for each other, and enrich each other’s lives.
It may not be easy – no relationship ever is. But I promise you, it’s worth it.