Home Perspectives Advice Is it possible to be too sensitive?

Is it possible to be too sensitive?

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Bruce Willis is the 'Chicken Boy' on 'Friends'
Bruce Willis is the 'Chicken Boy' on 'Friends'

Dear Ella,

Josh is in tune with my needs and really listens to me when I speak. He’s the first guy I’ve dated in years who I feel connects to me emotionally and physically.

I feel petty even mentioning this problem, but here goes: he’s a crier. He cries more than I do. I don’t mean just in tragic situations. I mean he cries watching movies, TV shows or reading. Last week, we went to see Star Wars and there was a short before the movie in which a snowman was left alone in a refrigerator while the little girl who made him grew up and forgot about him. Oh my God did Josh sob!

What is that? Of all the men I’ve known in my life, I rarely saw any cry, and for sure not in public. I don’t even know any women that cry as much as he does.

Do you think I can approach this subject with him, or should I just pretend not to notice and stop being so petty?

Sincerely,

Crying Game

Dear Crying Game

Josh sounds like a very sensitive person. It’s phenomenal to be able to find a match that fits with your needs this well.

This trait actually has a clinical name. Josh is a highly sensitive person or HSP. People like Josh feel things more deeply than most. He processes stimuli more acutely. He is likely more aware and in tune to all of his senses than the average person.

The question then becomes is this a problem? If it’s not a problem for Josh, why is it a problem for you? Are you embarrassed? Do you feel less secure with a man who cries? On one hand, you are happy to have found a man who really hears and feels you, but on the other, you want him to check his sensitivity when it spills over into tears.

Society has conditioned us to perceive a crying man as weak, and we all know that “big boys don’t cry” right? Wrong. Just recently we witnessed U.S. President Barack Obama cry while speaking about gun violence. Josh has broken the stereotype society has placed on genders and is not uncomfortable showing real emotion.

In a nutshell, this is not Josh’s problem, it’s yours. Instead of seeing his crying as a weakness, see it as a strength – the strength of a man not ashamed or embarrassed to show emotion.


Dear Ella,

This is the first year that our seven-year old Hannah has started to have sleepovers. She has a best friend, Hailey, who is a sweet, adorable little girl. The problem is when Hailey is here, things always escalate to tears. Hailey’s tears. We have a busy house with three kids always running around. Our oldest boy is often playing hockey in the basement and yelling at the girls to get out. Hailey cries. If someone says something off, Hailey cries. This time we had a sleepover, and Hailey cried that she wanted to go home. This child is a little too much work for me right now, but I don’t want to discourage Hannah from having her over. Any suggestions?

Sincerely,

Little Drama Queen

Dear Little Drama Queen

Hailey is a highly sensitive child and therefore you need to handle her visits with extra TLC. I’m not sure how much you want to get involved, but I suggest you start by speaking to Hailey’s parents about your observations and asking for tips to make Hailey and Hannah’s visits filled with more fun and less drama.

Hailey becomes overwhelmed easily and, therefore, needs more structure to her visits. She probably doesn’t like noise, screaming, fighting or surprises, which is why the basement isn’t the best place for the girls when the boys are playing hockey there.

When Hailey comes over, try to structure the girls activities around quieter play, such as puzzles, crafts or a movie. Keep them away from the boys’ rougher play. The girls are still young for sleepovers. Maybe stick to daytime play for now. If they are great friends, the little extra effort will be worth it. 


Ella is the author of Hidden Gold – A True Story of the Holocaust. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.

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