You’re NOT Too Sensitive

GoodTherapy | You’re NOT Too SensitiveHave you ever been told that you can’t take a joke, that you overreact, or that you are just too sensitive? Well, sit back and find out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You see, sensitivity to criticism is earned. Yes, you read that correctly. No one is born to be sensitive to criticism; one is groomed and nurtured in environments of emotional harm. If you have a history of family members being harsh, judgmental, or verbally cruel, you are more vulnerable to verbal slights, teasing, and criticism than the average person. It’s not your fault, and you are not weird.

Roots in Your Family of Origin
Since you may have grown up in this kind of family, you might think that criticism is normal. Truthfully, I believe any kind of criticism (other than artistic or professional constructive criticism,) is never acceptable, warranted, or okay. Healthy relationships are born of acceptance and tolerance. If a friend or partner can’t tolerate you or your behavior, then they shouldn’t be your friend or partner. If someone is often telling you that you’re too sensitive, that is akin to telling you over and over again that you are not good enough, that you are flawed or inadequate.

These statements wouldn’t make anyone feel good, but it’s especially destructive to someone who came from a family where they were put down verbally, or even silently with rolling eyes and demeaning physical postures. You, the so-called “overly sensitive” person, are actually having a normal reaction to a hostile comment.

Roots in Mental Health Issues
Did you know that many people who are highly critical of others often suffer from depression and anxiety? Criticizing others is a means of making themselves feel better. They may go on and on about how awful someone is, in order to feel less empty, bored, or depressed. Often, unfortunately, those they criticize buy into these negative comments and end up feeling just as awful as the critics.

If you are in relationships with people who are hurting you with criticism or judgments, you might want to consider why you are surrounding yourself with these people when there are so many kind, accepting, and loving people out there. If you want to perform a little test, a good question to ask yourself after being with a friend or loved one is, “Does this person lift me up or tear me down?” If you have more “Tear downs” than “Lifts” you might want to consider getting some individual counseling. Allowing others to criticize you destroys your sense of being good enough, likeable, capable and empowered.

Roots in Self-Criticism
If you are tolerating this kind of criticism from others, chances are that you are used to talking to yourself like this. Your relationship with yourself could be more loving and accepting. For example, when you make a mistake are you constantly reaming yourself unmercifully for messing up or are you able to forgive yourself relatively quickly and move on?

Self-criticism is actually worse than being criticized by another, as there is no immediate escape from it. So, if you are relentlessly telling yourself that you are bad, flawed, fat, unattractive, stupid, uncaring, lazy, etc., you may have trouble even wanting to get out of bed. You may feel depressed, angry, helpless, or ashamed, because you don’t know how to get out of this cycle. But with guts, patience, compassion, and time you absolutely can change the way you talk to yourself. It is a huge commitment to constantly monitor your mind chatter, but well worth the effort.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Margo

    May 3rd, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    But do you know how frustrating it is to work with someone who just can’t take a joke, always thinks that everything is directed toward her even when obviously it isn’t? To me this is more than just being sensitive, it is pretty self centered to always think that everything is revolving around her. I am not for being mean to someone, that’s not how I am. But good grief- everyone needs to know that they are not perfect and that just because someone is joking that doesn’t have to be at their expense!

  • Jake

    May 8th, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    I get where you are coming from, and this person might be lacking in interpersonal skills or just needs to find some more self-worth.

    For me my issue is not so much people I know but those I either don’t know or are just less familiar with. Also people that fit similar profiles of those I have found offensive before. I am hypersensitive to these types (people who have little mercy/compassion for others and are almost ALWAYS laughing and joking about something).

  • Anonymous

    May 12th, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I find it interesting how you feel the need to remind others how they “aren’t perfect”. And you think everyone should be able to “take a joke”? How often are they required to “take it”? Every day? Every time you see them?
    You won’t be interested in reading this, but you’re aggravating the very behavior you complain of. You insist everyone should be like you. Enjoy your humor. Handle things like you would. I guarantee this person knows he isn’t perfect, while having zero trust in you because you have no interest in accepting him for who he is. He is who he is, and he’s probably been pecked to death by people just like you who demand he respond to your humor in way you think he should. He’s probably become situationally paranoid because he doesn’t think like you and can’t tell when you’re kidding or not.

  • M

    May 25th, 2016 at 8:57 PM

    I agree 100%

  • zanna

    February 4th, 2017 at 11:47 PM

    i Agree 100% I worked with a person who said the same thing to me every single day as ” a joke” i did everything from laughing with him to ignoring him to telling him its no longer funny but he kept it up daily, i was labelled too sensitive. i dont believe i was the one with the issue here at all, he was the one being insensitive and immature.

  • MeeLee

    September 19th, 2017 at 6:33 PM

    I see the venting or ridiculing of others in my dad a lot.
    It wasn’t really towards my mom. But it was towards me, or anyone else who was different than him.
    He couldn’t understand the lifestyle of someone else, and would often criticize it.
    Not sure if he was depressed. Since I’m his son, and I’m depressed, I think he might have been too; but just doesn’t realize it.
    Harder for him, is that he’s closed to correction, or suggestion.
    He can’t fathom he doing something wrong. In his mind, he always is right.
    Some people act like this, because they don’t know any better. There’s always a reason behind it.
    Some people prefer to play the blame game. But some, with some help, would love to get rid of it. They loathe how they themselves do wrong to others, but they don’t yet know how to stop doing it.
    These types of people should always be given chances, to improve themselves.

  • Clown

    March 19th, 2018 at 1:51 PM

    But then again… He deserves it.

  • Tracey

    June 1st, 2019 at 9:45 AM

    Well said.

  • Leoniquia

    April 17th, 2020 at 7:55 PM

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I often will question myself in that same way “well maybe I am too sensitive” and then I realize that the other party still isn’t acknowledging the issue that I actually have with whats seemingly insignificant to them.

  • Lisa F

    April 27th, 2017 at 10:46 AM

    Margo, In my opinion, if you are at work and a fellow employee is consistently bothered or insecure about jokes being told, then it would make sense to make jokes when that person isn’t around. Of course, there are those work environments that have groups of employees in one area, allowing for anyone in earshot to hear what is being said by others. This, insofar as I can see-is where empathy comes in. After empathy, mercy. Put yourself in their shoes. How would YOU like it, to feel like others are making jokes at your expense? How funny would it be, if YOU were the oddball out, whose isolation comes from being different or having opposing ideas to what is funny and what is not? Your wording leads me to sense that you are more of a mean person than you are willing to admit. Forgive me if this is incorrect, however-reading your post reminds me of the “social dynamic” that occurs in a group of people. If two or more agree on something, usually the remainder of that group will gravitate to those two whose “opinions” are likeminded. Let’s add this social circle an individual who may not be thought of as popular, because their opinion is unique or different. In my experience, there is something malevolent at work here, which manifests itself in a “mob mentality”, especially when you have a sadist in the group. A more common word for sadist is bully, and in a group this can be a nightmare for the person who doesn’t fit in, especially when choosing to think for themselves. No matter how wrong someone in the group is about an outsider, the others will usually ban together and follow the “leader”. It can be an extremely cruel and lonely environment for the outsider, when they find themselves on the receiving end of gossip, rumors, jokes and ridicule. It’s very evil, this “:group-think” mentality, because sometimes it goes way too far, where you have the boss siding with the group. When the environment has become this hostile, with everyone picking on the outsider, the goal becomes the final result-a potentially exceptional employee being fired, because of gossip and lies. Even more disquieting and unfathomable, (for me to fathom), is the very real possibility that SOME members of the group may actually have nothing against that employee, but go along with everyone else, knowing how quickly they themselves could be shut out and/or wrongfully fired as well.
    Margo-if this coworker is feeling like they are part of your jokes, it is my assumption that they probably are. Being overly sensitive doesn’t mean someone is stupid, or dumb. Nor does it mean that deeply sensitive folk are not perceptive to what exists in between the lines, no matter if those “proverbial” lines are spoken verbally or written.
    Margo, it is my feeling or “intuition” that you and your coworkers ARE somehow poking fun at someone, maybe not all the time but subtlety enough so that it hurts their feelings. This is someone who is used to being made fun of, ridiculed, belittled and/or made to feel like they are strange or odd, all because of having the guts to allow the truly insecure to see their vulnerability. It’s really the work of some worthless waste-of-space who makes someone the butt of the joke, to make others laugh at them. That is not right. I hope this is not the case with your crew Margo, and pray to God Almighty for you to see the truth here, without feeling scrutinized yourself. Mercy is a beautiful thing….

  • Dawnlily

    September 15th, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    A lot of people that have an unreasonable sense of entitlement say things that they should never say; joke in an insulting way. Then they label the person who becomes offended as ‘too sensitive’ when in fact they are insensitive.

  • Maria

    August 29th, 2019 at 4:00 PM

    Hello, I encountered the same situation with one family member, I thought she was just like that, long story short, she ended up having severe mental problems. Needless to say, I feel terrible thinking bad about her. I learned my lesson, now I always think of her before I start judging.

  • blaine t

    May 3rd, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    I can’t help it that sometimes people will say things and I KNOW that they aren’t necessarily talking about me, but I sometimes take it as they are implying that this refers to me too. Sensitive or paranoid?

  • zanna

    February 4th, 2017 at 11:50 PM

    Not at all – you can sense underlying digs from people and if you say anything to them they deny it. That is called passive aggressive and gas lighting.

  • IAmMe

    May 6th, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Blaine: I would say both, however as the article says (and I know from personal experience), it’s most likely not your fault. It can be drug induced, but even then although you did elect to take the drugs, it may not be your fault (i.e., mental illness, abuse, etc.). Recovery, whether from mental illness or addiction or both, is your choice. Even people without mental illness, I see so many every day just miserable because they don’t know how to ask for help, or no one ever told them what they needed to hear.

    Margo: Whereas I think I have a grasp on the situation you’re talking about, take a look at it from their perspective. They may hate themselves and they may think you do too. Maybe they were raised in an environment where everything really was directed at them so they continue to think that, whatever the case. People who are down on themselves tend to think everyone else hates them too, and they do not live in a very happy world. I try to think “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle”. Compassion and patience go a very long way. <3

  • Sally

    May 6th, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    I think it’s true what the article says when discussing that often people are critical and harsh because they are not comfortable with the person they are so they project onto others and in return they internalize it. Everyone has a different threshold for being able to take critisism. We must all be more compassionate and understanding.

  • Jake

    May 8th, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    So my issue is this, those who make fun of others for their own amusement. Generally I have found these types to be other guys anywhere front adolescence to mid 20’s or so…usually much older than that and their maturity levels off a bit.

    I tried to think differently about this for awhile and then during class my sonic ears heard a classmate (college freshman) joking to his buddy next to him about my speech. I can’t help it if my teeth change positions and make my s’s sound lispy or whistle like or whatever. Wish I knew how to just deal. If you confront people about tongs like that they just deny it or throw it back at ya and hate on ya on top of it. Make this world feel cruel to me.

  • Nancy Simon, Lcsw

    May 14th, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    I so appreciate all of your thoughtful and insightful comments on my article. Thank you. What I have found, working as a therapist for almost 23 years with all kinds of people and their issues, is that no one ever makes up the pain that they are in. And, if I find myself judging them for it, I must ask myself what is getting stirred up in me that won’t allow me to meet them where they are. What I try to practice is acceptance, curiosity and compassion for myself and others. That practice will never fail and opens all sorts of doors within the relationship you have with yourself and with everyone else. And the more you practice these behaviors, the better and easier your life will become.

  • Dianne

    June 19th, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Thank you for this article! It is so affirming! I feel like all my life I have been kicked around and stomped on by others’ criticism. Even after 56 years, criticism–especially when in comes in heavy doses, still hurts and does so much damage. I have grown weary of others who seem to feel they are God’s special agents to judge me for all of my faults and past mistakes. Our world would be so much better if we would do as the Bible commends and build one another up instead of tearing each other down.

  • discussant

    July 25th, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    “Someone who just can’t take a joke… it is pretty self centered to always think that everything is revolving around her…everyone needs to know that they are not perfect…”

    This voice sounds SO hostile. I’d wouldn’t want to be around her “joke” telling.

  • zanna

    February 4th, 2017 at 11:52 PM

    In all fairness, Its not anyone’s job to tell others who they are as people either or how they are suppose to behave or feel .

  • Dana

    April 23rd, 2017 at 8:30 PM

    How can someone say it is frustrating to them when the pain is on the other person.

  • umnaya

    July 30th, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    I just want to say that INTENT has a lot to do with it.

    Are you intending to be a friend or be funny? Are you intending to make a cutting remark cloaked in a joke? Are you expecting everyone to understand life from YOUR perspective?

    It seems like a very arrogant position.

    On the one hand, we want others to be sensitive to our needs and understand us. On the other, we feel we can act however we want and say whatever we wish and then it’s up to others to “deal with it”.

    If you are a tough cookie, then surround yourself with other tough cookies and have a ball. But when you are dealing with a soft pretzel, have the maturity and desire for communication necessary to at least meet them halfway.

    Conversely, if you think everyone’s criticism or frustration with you is just their inability to be sensitive enough to your needs, you ought to at least really hear what they are saying, because sometimes YOU are perpetuating a problem and need to adjust yourself, too.

  • Kat

    August 14th, 2013 at 4:29 AM

    I agree. I grew up in a family of sarcasm, the oldest of 13 children. My Dad, was emotionally abusive and all about sarcasm, so you never knew where you stood. My Mom more passive never stood up to him. I am not blaming her for that. I am sensitive. Dad used to tell me that “I was just another mouth to feed,” if I needed to ask a question, I had to stand in line, if I made a mistake, he would say, “when God was passing out brains you thought he said trains and you missed yours.” Many people use sarcasm as a way to tell a person something they want to avoid saying, so you never know if they are kidding or not. I can take a joke, but have heard many times over the years that I am too sensitive and over react.

  • TheFisherman

    August 19th, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Margo, I understand your point of view but I think you are minimizing the problem to just being “self centered” while not considering the behavior as the problem rather than being a symptom of the problem, which it is. It’s the same with depression. Someone doesn’t just have depression for no reason.

    And even thought the reason can be subtle and hard to pinpoint, there still is one. There is a root cause the must be addressed. Every effect has some kind of cause. In this case it’s conveniently on the surface where it’s easy to deal with. “It takes a little time sometimes to get your feet back on the ground. It takes a little time sometimes to turn the Titanic around…” -Amy Grant.

    You shouldn’t assume that the person is only behaving negatively and that they have full control of the problem by saying “just stop being self centered” is like telling a person with depression to “just be happy”. That won’t help the problem because it doesn’t address the real cause. You can’t treat the problem by attacking only the symptom. It doesn’t work that way. What if you went to the doctor and he just gave you some random medicine for you symptoms but ignored the real problem? And then said “take this and get better”?

    George Carling once said “Did you ever notice on the freeway that anyone going faster than you is a maniac and anyone going slower than you is a moron?”
    When someone is more sensitive than you they are too sensitive or “self centered” and when they are less sensitive than you they are cold or unfeeling. Generally when someone accuses another person of being too sensitive they are tying to justify where they are at.

    And consider that if you react easily to others being sensitive that you might be sensitive to that. And obviously you have a concern about how you are effected by being around sensitive people. Does that make you self centered? No. But I hope you see my point.

    “Even thought I’m sensitive I choose to love an honor myself. Even though others think I’m too sensitive and they call me a killjoy because they want to say certain things and they don’t like it when I get upset because it makes them question themselves…and I’m open to the possibility of loving and honoring all these other people involved…Is it limiting for me or just a problem for other people? And since we all have our own ideas who can say how sensitive is too sensitive? The person who calls me too sensitive might be too sensitive to someone else. I’m as sensitive as I am because of things that have happened in the past. If I had gotten hurt, that part of my body would be sensitive for a while. If I had broken my leg and it was healing and someone pushed on it and it hurt and i screamed in pain they might say “you’re too sensitive”. But I’m in pain. And getting mad at myself for being in pain or labeling myself as being too sensitive doesn’t make me heal any quicker. So I’m releasing this judgment of being too sensitive. I’m releasing this judgment of being “too” anything and I’m allowing myself to heal. I needed to be as sensitive I was because to take care of myself. And in certain areas of my life I can find other ways to take care of myself so I don’t need to get so upset if that feels appropriate. But I don’t need to toughen up for anyone else’s sake. I don’t need to clear my sensitivity so other people can justify any behavior. I’m allowing myself to heal where I choose to heal. And I’m loving and honoring myself for who I am. And I letting go of the need to be upset when other people call me too sensitive. I am just the right amount of sensitive, at least for the time being.” -Brad Yates

    A quality of mercy is not strained. It dropeth, as the gentle rain from heaven, upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare

  • Anonymous

    June 28th, 2016 at 7:36 PM

    These are some beautiful quotes that I completely and totally agree with.

  • emma

    October 28th, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    im emma i have today had amassive argument with my mum my mum is a regular mum loving etc kind but there is a side to her that since i was young i have never felt beautiful or good enough when i was younger iwas thin,and my mum used to say i was too thin and that clothes hung off me and thhat my ears stuck out and she force fed me on occasions whe i didnt want my tea,over the yrs i have gained weight and now everytim e i see her she looks at me dissaprovingly against my thin sister and always mentions diets food loosing weight in conversations,today i lost my temper when she refered to a picture of me when i was thin and in the next breath offer me a diet book im soo hurt all the time,do i class this abusive i dont know,i have very low self asteem.when i told her how i felt she tried denying what she has said and that i read into things that arent there,she wont take responsibillity,for how she approaches things and i dont know what to do ?

  • Nvo

    April 28th, 2015 at 9:58 PM

    You have a narcissistic mother. Look up NPD. It is definitely abuse what mothers like this do to their children. Finding yourself in such great doubt is the biggest sign of being victim to such a person. Believe me.. I was there. I questioned my memories, thought I was crazy, and drowned in guilt because my siblings perception was completely different. But thats what Moms with this disorder, almost always have a golden child and a scapegoat. The golden child protects them and the scapegoat fuels there narcissism. She does love you but in the wrong way. She will never see you as your own person. GET OUT AS FAST AS YOU CAN. And dont give into her guilt manipulations. I am 25 and not until I hit rock bottom and suicidal did I finally realize this about my own mom. I am building up my confidence from the ground up a step at a time. And yes. narcissistic abuse is one of the cruelest kind and sneaky. ADVICE: “You think and feel things for a reason” if you swallow too much, it will manifest one day as anger and self destruction. I will pray for you and that you will find the strength to leave. My heart goes out to out and I am sending you the warmest hug XOXO

  • Lori

    January 7th, 2017 at 10:30 PM

    She’s hurtful. I like to remind myself of something I heard, somewhere:
    “Hurting people, hurt people.”
    You are beautiful, just the way you are, right now, today. And every day!

  • Treva H

    August 29th, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    This is EXACTLY how I grew up, followed into my adulthood by constant critiques from my siblings for having emotions and emotional reactions to things in life! I was unable to cry at my fathers funeral due to a sibling commenting “I know how emotional you are!” and denied the privilege of telling my step mom that dad had passed because they didn’t want me to cry when I told her. I still hurt over this. It makes me angry that I was critiqued for my feelings when I was standing next to my freshly passed away father. How do I let this person know how they made me feel without attacking them in retaliation for their heartless approach to death? I can’t do it with any emotion as they do not believe we are to express any emotions, except for happiness.

  • Too nice

    November 1st, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    I can’t believe how much this applies to me. I was told consistently and repeatedly, with a dismissive tone, that I was too sensitive, whenever I felt sad, hurt, or wanted to talk about something. I was told I thought TOO deeply. ( I often wondered what the Official Guidlines were that defined ‘TOO MUCH’, what was ‘JUST ENOUGH’, and what was ‘TOO LITTLE’. Where WERE those regulations, and why did my mother think she knew them better than anyone else?) I was also frequently told to be more like my sister. I should develop a thick skin like her, let things roll of my back, like her. Not let things affect me so much, like her. How does a child develop a thick skin? That’s like asking them not to be who they are, but they don’t have the developmental maturity to understand how to be something else, so they just believe they are somehow flawed, and must not be who they are, but with no idea how to be something else. They wonder how everyone else manages to be accepted for who they are, but not you. Empathy, listening, understanding and explaining would have allowed me to feel like a whole person with all my parts accepted. My value as a person should not have been dictated by the arbitrary values of another. And yet as a child that is how I grew up. Is it any wonder that now I defer to others, thinking they know best. Thinking they know me best, and what is best for me. How can I develop confidence in who I am when ‘who I was’ was told to be something else? That part of me remains a child. It never grew up because it was never embraced. Accepted. Welcomed. Invited. Celebrated. I wish I could reconnect with it now. Incorporate it into who I am and embrace it.

  • Jean Wager

    December 6th, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Thank you for helping me understand myself. Explains a whole bunch. Will be looking for more of your posts.

  • mo mo

    January 14th, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    I grew up in a really messed up family environment. There was always yelling. I didn’t have anybody to talk to because I felt like I wasn’t listened to. My mom was mentally ill, siblings were bullies, and I had a step dad I was scared to talk to. I lost my dad at a very young age. I had no one. I cried a lot. I locked myself up in my room. As soon as I could I entangled myself in a relationship, got pregnant, had an abortion at 17. My mom flipped out. I found it hard to keep friends around high school. I enjoyed sports but I got hurt and had to stop. I married the guy that made me have an abortion. I went to school and worked way too hard, and didn’t sleep, but I managed to get my degree. My GPA kept me from pursuing what I wanted. At around that time I found out mom had schizophrenia and she made it a point to remind me constantly that it’s genetic and I could have it. I had an eating disorder and a drinking problem. My husband didn’t care for me like I wanted. I left him and joined the army to find” myself. Oh boy was I beat up. Physically and mentally. I left with PTSD depression anxiety, chronic back pain and a drinking and drug problem. I stopped drinking and drugs and put myself in therapy. I am feeling better every day. I am a very sensitive person, and I’m just starting to love myself unconditionally. I’m finding joy in life, and my life purpose is to help myself and others possibly, hopefully with holistic medicine. There is hope. 😁

  • Cynthia

    February 25th, 2016 at 9:07 AM

    Verbal abuse is verbal abuse…Make no joke about it.

  • kaylin

    April 14th, 2016 at 4:27 PM

    this helped me a lot reading your column, im about 7 weeks pregnant now and my partner and I have been having off and on problems with criticism. he comes from a family where your given the facts straight forward and there is no “sugar coating” as he puts it. he will tell me constantly that im too sensitive, I need to grow up, there are some things I just need to get over. I come from a prestigious family, but the emotional support and respect has never been there coming from my mother. ive suffered from severe anxiety and depression and I just don’t take criticism well at all. I take everything to heart and as my partner I just don’t understand how proving a point is more important that making me feel good. who cares at the end of the day if im being overly sensitive, especially during my pregnancy. I feel like he really just doesn’t know how to be sensitive and caring when its his time for being frustrated with a situation. regardless if im being over dramatic about something small, as a man isn’t it their job to let some things go? I constantly am asking myself if im just being too sensitive, or if he really is being hurtful towards me, or if he actually could be handling the situation in a better manner. I just want someone who cares more about how I feel rather than trying to prove that he’s right and I’m wrong during a situation. I still have a lot of growing to do, but there is a way to give someone criticism in a respectful and calm manner, rather than making it sound like your just going off a list of everything that I do wrong. there are times he shoves me off of him if I just made him mad and im trying to make amends, there are times I made a mistake and he yells at me from the top of his lungs, he throws things, he sometimes is verbally hurtful beyond belief. and his excuses are always something I did, like “i don’t give a shit, you did (this this and this) so yeah im going to get pissed. but everyone gets mad in life, its no excuse to act out on your partner, especially when they are pregnant.

  • Jackie

    May 3rd, 2016 at 1:29 PM

    “I hate it when people call me out for being “too sense ” it is a silencing tactic, and not a good faith statement. So i treat it as a hostile attack on my agency as a human being.” Being sensitive is a sensitive issue. It means you care about others.

  • Diane

    May 13th, 2016 at 12:17 PM

    I’m commenting because I need advice and other perspectives. My girlfriend and I have been together for a few monts, however the longer I’ve dated her, the more her hypersensitivity has shown, and the more my patience with it has ran out. When I met her, she was the light of my life, but when I dated her, I realized it wasn’t truly her. Maybe it was her at the beginning, but now I can’t even have a conversation with her without hurting her feelings, which she in turn, acts all passive-aggressive about. If I can’t do exactly what she wants when she wants it, or disagree with her, it’s automatically “oh…” or “That’s ok…. I’m used to it…” and it is the most irking thing to me. How could I help that not being able to drop everything and spend time with her? It’s like she’s LOOKING for something to be upset about! And if I point out that maybe she’s a bit oversensitive it’s the same spiel. And does she say “that offends me.” no! It’s the same passive aggressive “pity me” BS every time. Call me insensitive but I can not deal with it anymore. I can’t deal with me talking and joking around with my friends only for her to walk up to us and tell us “I cried myself to sleep last night…” and then say “I don’t want to burden you with my problems…” when we ask whats wrong, and make things awkward for the rest of us. I can’t deal with her getting offended at me when I don’t get offended at something that offended her. I’m very hands off and she’s so… Needy. God forbid I talk to someone else before her, or “ignore her,” aka, dont meat uer daily “Pity me” quota. If I break up with her I’m worried she would do something awful, and I’m worried we wouldn’t still be friends after it. I’m also worried that I would lose my friends that were friends with her first. I don’t want to be responsible for her “never ending torment.” it’s frustrating and she brings me down, and suffocates me. What do I do? Is there a way to approach someone so sensitive? Am I just being selfish? I don’t see why I should have to walk on eggshells just so she doesn’t get “triggered”. She needs just needs to deal with it sometimes, because the world isn’t gonna go out of its way to deal with her.

  • The Team

    May 13th, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    Dear Diane,

    Thank you for your comment. The Team is not qualified to offer professional advice, but we encourage you to reach out. You might find it beneficial to talk over your questions and concerns with a therapist or counselor, either on your own or with your girlfriend.

    You can locate a counselor in your area using our website. To see a list of professionals in your area, simply enter your ZIP code here:

    We hope you find the answers you are looking for and wish you the best of luck in your search.

    Kind regards,
    The Team

  • Colleen

    August 7th, 2016 at 4:14 PM

    Diane, it sounds like your gf might have had neglectful parents .. any caregiver who abandons a child physically or was emotionally distant. Because of this your partner may have an anxious attachment style in their romantic relationships. She may have low self worth and therefore not feel good enough for you. These factors can cause a person to be more emotionally intense toward their partners, passive aggressive and in need of constant reassurance.
    If you as a child had a functional bond with your parents you probably feel secure enough to meet your needs and most others. Or if you were an enmeshed child who took on many roles of the parents as a kid, you may be feeling smothered and drained by your gf, and also possibly have an avoidance to emotions.
    It sounds like you both have different relationship styles. In fairness to your post however, being a highly sensitive person myself has made me more aware of how my moods negatively affect those around me. Nobody should constantly impose such a discomfort on others that makes them feel as thought you have to walk on eggshells whenever they are around.

  • Aunt Mae

    September 13th, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    I was recently dumped by a boyfriend for using equally “pity me” behavior.
    After being dumped I realized I did use the ‘pity me’ approach to gain attention, which is WRONG and manipulative. HOWEVER. I encourage you, before you ditch the relationship, to see if you have any behaviors that trigger these moments.
    A lot of the things my ex did to trigger this side of me was to make fun of me, incessantly, and then back-pedal by telling me i couldn’t take ‘jokes’. He also aggressively stared into my face asking me to talk, expected him to entertain him when i was depressed, refused to do anything fun with me (therefore all we had to do was talk, even when I wasnt up for it). My suggestion would be yes, to encourage her to get therapy but not to assume that she is the only one with the problem. A lot of times dysfunctional dynamics happen because of the dynamic itself, and not JUST because the other person is so annoying and needy.
    Good luck.

  • MeeLee

    September 19th, 2017 at 6:56 PM

    My takeaway from this article would be:
    “I believe any kind of criticism (other than artistic or professional constructive criticism,) is never acceptable, warranted, or okay”.

  • Try not to laugh

    May 18th, 2018 at 5:03 AM

    Thank you for this article. hello friend.If you as a child had a functional bond with your parents you probably feel secure enough to meet your needs and most other’s.

  • Clara C.

    October 27th, 2018 at 6:01 PM

    I don’t mind a little gentle teasing or constructive criticism really, if I trust the person it is coming from. Have you ever noticed I seemed down and tried to talk to me or cheer me up? Have we ever even really hung out? Do you know anything about my childhood or personal life? Could I call you to talk if I felt like talking to someone? Have you ever taken time to point out things you like about me? If the answers to those questions are generally no, then I’m not going to take any teasing or criticism (or “jokes”) from you very well, you haven’t earned it.

  • Casanova

    September 7th, 2020 at 2:03 AM

    @Aunt Mae: The “pity me” approach isn’t wrong nor manipulative when the person is actually dealing with severe hardships like excruciatingly painful health conditions and inconceivably depressing family tragedies that affect how the person is acting. And if the person isn’t looking for pity but just understanding through explaining what she/he is going through, then that’s not the “pity me” approach but the “understand me” approach, which is far more understandable and less pitiful than the “pity me” approach. Anyhow, people who call looking for pity the “pity me” approach are themselves pitiful and pathetic. :P

  • This is me.

    June 22nd, 2022 at 12:08 AM

    This was me my entire life. I am sensitive and I proudly identify as sensitive as a male. Sensitivity has been good and bad for me. It’s only when my mental health is in a good place, and my self-love that sensitivity has shined. When I am not, and have spent most of my life in that area since middle school, that’s when I experience an overly defensiveness without going into a book. I experienced a critical environment growing up, specifically cause I was “smart”. It’s not the only factor cause well this is life, but yes it caused me to be a perfectionist, which is not possible because nothing is perfect, it’s life. Many times I was on the receiving end of Margo’s Comment. The thing is when I learned how to communicate, thanks to rehab and therapy, I learned that we are all humans, no one is better or less than the other, and we all have secrets, insecurities, etc etc. The thing is mine is just mine and yours is yours. I learned to do the greatest things, I learned to speak up. Not in a belligerent way or defensive way, but in a rational way. It made me be able to say no and not feel guilty, a big problem growing up with me. I learned d to set boundaries, I learned to be myself and love myself, I just knew that we are all different but we are all the same, That revalation changed me in such a profound way that it made me such a better person in so many ways. The one thing I can say tho is that all your progress can regress fast if you are not aware and are taken off guard. For me my weakness is, Love. I knew it wasn’t a good fit and I told her but gave her a chance and boy did I fall. Not her fault mine, she was just a very influential person at that time, actually the only person. Now I’m stuck somewhere between but at least I tasted self-love as someone whos an HSP. That was the greatest feeling, but then again I’m always trying to be retrospective and look into myself.
    When you find yourself, the things YOU like, the things YOU enjoy, and not your peers. You can find yourself and your values, start aligning yourself with those things you value and don’t be dishonest with yourself anymore and you can find a lot of happiness it takes bravery, not fun convos, maybe losing friends, but it’s well worth it. You with yourself till your 80 most people you meet will not be with you for more than a few years. Do yourself a favor. Sorry for rambling I’m tipsy lol.
    But be aware with self-honesty, and extreme honesty, you lose the pretty valuable defense mechanism called denial.

  • Maree

    September 4th, 2022 at 2:31 AM

    I don’t like it when people call me too sensitive, I can’t help the way I am made.
    Why can’t everyone be kind to others & more caring

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