Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don’t Touch, I’m Sensitive

Snuggling Kitties

Do you consider yourself to be sensitive? Are you sensitive to others? Do you want others to be sensitive to you?

Those who are most sensitive  are often the ones who complain that their partner’s are insensitive. Why is this?

Well you can attribute this to your partner’s sex – all men are insensitive. Or you can suggest that your partner has the insensitive gene, “she just not a sensitive person.” In either case, you are saying that your partner is unable to be sensitive.

Yet, there is evidence that contradicts this. Think back to an earlier time in your marriage, even to an earlier time when you were dating. Were you attracted to an insensitive person or did your partner attract you with his or her sensitivity to your views, feelings, and desires? I’ll bet you committed to a person you thought to be sensitive and caring!

How did you attract your partners sensitivity and what has changed? Sensitive individuals hide their sensitivity behind a wall of cold indifference or anger after they have experienced intense pain in their relationship with their partner. It is as though they are protecting their soft spot from any further pain.

The result of this protective stance is emotional distance - the exact opposite from what you desire. Instead, the sensitive individual must learn to communicate pain so that their partner is challenged to respond in a caring manner. Hiding your pain behind a wall of indifference or anger will not address your needs.

“But what if my partner does not care if I have been hurt?” The basis of a healthy relationship is commitment built on caring for each other. If your partner does not care, then it is important to know this. However, avoiding this issue by hiding your feelings ensures emotional distancing. Being emotionally distant from a partner that does not care is appropriate, but you must ask yourself if you have asked for caring in an appropriate way.

The real challenge is to present your sensitive feelings in a manner that they can be understood. If you “package” sensitive feelings in anger, then your partner will respond to the anger, not the feelings. If your message is “packaged” in an attack, then your partner will respond defensively, not with caring.

Rehearse before you share your feelings. When you practice, ask yourself, “Does my tone of voice and my message both convey a desire for sensitive caring or am I being aggressive?” I think you will find it more difficult than you think to share your feelings in a vulnerable tone. We become accustomed to challenging our partner and our tone becomes demanding, angry, aggravated, etc. – all which push our partner away.

Let me know how it works.

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