Do Highly Sensitives Struggle More With Friendships?

Highly Sensitives can often feel lonely because they may have trouble making friends.

There are four reasons HSPs may struggle more with friendships, and they include:

  • High Expectations
  • Weak Boundaries
  • Overthinking
  • Letting Go

Let’s look at these more closely and offer some solutions.

 

High Expectations

Having high expectations is a form of trying to control outcomes and people, leading to stress and unpleasant moods.

Highly Sensitives tend to be conscientious and detail-oriented, which is a good thing, but taken to extremes, we can create high expectations for ourselves and others. 

We can take criticism to heart, and, in turn, we try not to make mistakes. We could lean towards being perfectionists and may be called “too critical.”  

We often feel that people let us down—a result of having too high of expectations.

You struggle with guilt or shame because you expect too much from yourself, and you cannot meet those expectations.

You also run into resentment from expecting too much from others when they can’t meet your expectations.

As always, we need to be mindful. We need to be sure we don’t set too high of expectations for others and ourselves. 

We need to be compassionate towards ourselves and set realistic expectations, and then we can better reach them.

We also crave deep connection, one where we can spill our soul and still be loved and accepted.

Not everyone can connect on this level, so it’s quite hard to find that kind of connection, and it usually happens unexpectedly.

That can cause strain on a new friendship making it hard to connect.

We have to learn to balance our expectations of ourselves and others and be sure we have not created impossible expectations to meet.

 

Weak Boundaries

What is a boundary? A boundary is a line that marks a limit, essentially. 

One example of a “limit” could be your time.

If we have people over to visit, we may set a boundary on what time they need to leave.

Setting a clear boundary will also ensure you get time to yourself to wind down.

The same goes for talking on the phone. Set a time limit and stick to it.

HSPs may struggle with boundaries. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or risk losing them.

That can also make developing friendships hard.

In this case, it would be good to make sure that your limits are respected.

You have to protect your sensitivity at all times, or you will become so exhausted it can negatively impact your life.

What does that look like, setting a boundary?

Well, first of all, you have to decide how much you can do or are willing to endure. How much your body and mind can handle before shutting down.

Once you establish that, you can state your expectations, making your needs clear. What you will or will not be doing. Respectfully.

Then you have to stick to it. Don’t bend to make others more comfortable or happy.

You have to let people know your boundaries, or else you will get overstimulated, causing overwhelm.

Setting boundaries is something you have to learn and practice.

You may need to say no to highly stimulating places such as bars, parties, and family events. Or go but limit how much time you spend there.

Finding out who will be at a function ahead of time to relieve stress can help as well.

Make self-care a priority. Be direct. Permit yourself to need what you need and to leave out what you don’t.

Setting boundaries means making sure you accept and respect the needs you have, even if they seem “strange” or too much to others.

Putting yourself first is another great way to practice setting healthy boundaries. Make yourself your biggest priority.

When attempting to make friends, we have to be sure we don’t take from ourselves to be what someone wants us to be.

When we don’t have strong boundaries, we take from ourselves to make others happy.

In this case, you need to set firm boundaries with yourself and others and be sure to stick to them.

To form healthy relationships, make sure that your boundaries are made very clear.

If you’re in a position where you have to choose between keeping your boundaries or keeping your “friendship,” keep your boundary.

One major boundary you may have is setting aside time for yourself.

Since 70% of HSPs are introverts, they need more downtime to recharge. That’s an added challenge to making friendships.

Introverted HSPs spend a lot of time at home, and we need our alone time.

Making sure you set boundaries to ensure that you get that alone time is essential.

 

Overthinking

Then there is overthinking. HSPs tend to do that a lot.

We can get caught up in all the unknowns that we make it harder on ourselves.

Overthinking is the process of dwelling on a situation and coming to several different conclusions. A lot of times, those conclusions are negative. 

As HSPs, we need to “get that out” of our systems so we can move on.

One solution is to try journaling.

Journal about your likes and dislikes and what you want out of your friendships.

Journaling creates a road map for you to follow when you may feel stuck.

Another reason that would cause overthinking is if an HSP grew up in an unhealthy environment making it more challenging to develop friendships.

They would have received messaging; their sensitivity was a weakness or a problem, which only interferes with their confidence in making friendships. 

The primary way to combat overthinking is to catch yourself and change your thought process. This strategy takes time, but when put into practice, it is very successful.

Another way to ease overthinking is to be mindful that not everyone will respond to you the way you want them to.

Sometimes it’s no big deal how they may have responded, but we make it into something bigger than it is.

Decide whether or not it’s something you can get past, if you still want to nurture the friendship, and then move on accordingly.

Because of overthinking, we are also the type to go inward, so finding commonality can be difficult unless we are willing to take the chance and open up.

Also, we may have been burnt in the past by so-called “friends” who misrepresented themselves. Their real personality eventually showed through, damaging an HSP’s trust in making new friendships.

So as you develop a new friendship, be sure to make space for them to expand on their wants, needs, and expectations. That way, there is room for your feedback.

That creates a mutually beneficial friendship. A give and receive relationship is an excellent way to build a bond with those who come into your life.

Another positive way to start to develop friendships is by sharing your love of art, music, animals, food, movies, and any other interest you have—with others.

A solution here is to make friendships with those that have mutual likes.

One way to help you create those kinds of friendships is by joining groups that share your interests.

You can find so many people with the same likes as you—those who find joy in the same things you do. 

You can also do this easily through social media.

In this day and age, a lot of friendships start online, so the opportunities are vast.

Taking time to know what you want from a friendship is very important in this process.

Something will click, and you will find yourself connecting on a deeper level.

 

Letting Go

HSPs can find it hard to let go of friendships, but sometimes the relationship isn’t healthy or has gone in a different direction than you, and letting go may be the right thing to do.

It may be toxic and damaging, and it’s time to walk away.

The friendship may be hard to let go of, but once you let that behavior happen, then it will happen all the time. And being taken advantage of is never a good feeling.

We have to let go to move forward so we can find better and more lasting friendships.

HSPs like closure. We need time to process the “end” of a relationship.

It’s something we have to come to terms with and convince ourselves of its benefit.

We need to give ourselves time to grieve the end of the friendship and provide ourselves with closure.

By doing this, we’re practicing self-forgiveness, self-love, self-care, and self-acceptance.

Now that you know why you may find it challenging to make new friends, you also have solutions and can open up to receive the friendships you deserve.

Do you struggle with making friends?

 

 

Shannon is a Highly Sensitive Person and an Introvert. She is a coach for Highly Sensitive People and the Social Media Manager for HSP World. She is an advocate for breaking the stigma on mental health. She loves laughter, kittens and helping people live their best lives.

2 Comments

  • Gayle Smith

    I so appreciate your article.
    Recently moved and have no women (gal-pal) friends yet.
    I am HSP & INFJ & Empath… most people don’t understand what I am trying to say… I am socially awkward to say the least.
    Liked your idea of taking a class in what interests me… to meet other people interested in same.
    Thank you!

    How do I access your
    HSP Group? Thanks! 😄

  • Shannon

    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate you and I totally understand you. I am also an HSP, INFJ and Empath. 😊

    It can be hard to find others like us but the journey to finding them is worth it. Don’t give up. I just know you’ll find them 😊🌸

    Here are the links to our social media platforms. You can find us there. So glad to have here. 😊💕

    Insta – https://instagram.com/hsp_world

    Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HighlySensitivePersonWorld/

    Twitter – https://twitter.com/HSP_World

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