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Are You an HSP? Temperament, Love, and Sensitivity


kamurj

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Excerpted from
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You
By Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.

"I fall in love so damn hard."

"I feel like an alien sometimes. Everyone else seems to be in a relationship. But what they call love just doesn't appeal to me."

"Investments, cars, sports, getting ahead at work-I don't say it, but I've zero interest in those things compared to my love for my wife."

When highly sensitive people (HSPs) confide about love, there is notable depth and intensity. They fall in love hard and they work hard on their close relationships. Yes, sometimes non-HSPs sound similarly enthralled and confused by love, but on the average, HSPs have a more soul-shaking underlying experience.

None of this is too surprising. As I said in the introduction, HSPs are that 15 to 20 percent of the population born with nervous systems that pick up on subtleties, reflect deeply, and therefore are easily overwhelmed. So of course an HSP in love notices every nuance of another, reflects deeply on the other's charms, and is overwhelmed by the whole experience.

Even if it's not surprising that HSPs have these reactions, how little has been said about it. People are reading about psychology more than ever-I think we are awakening to the fact that our happiness and the world's survival depend on a deeper knowledge of the psyche and of love in particular. And this very basic trait of sensitivity, along with the entire neglected topic of inherited temperament, are absolutely essential for that deeper knowledge. Yet the topic is largely ignored, as if it is undemocratic to say we are born different.

In this chapter we will thoroughly explore sensitivity as well as another inherited temperament trait, sensation seeking. At the end we will return to you as an HSP and what you need for yourself before we take up the concern of the rest of the book, your relationships with others.

WHAT TEMPERAMENT ARE YOU?
TIME TO FIND OUT

If you haven't already, take the HSP Self-Test on page 11 and score it. Then take the Sensation Seeker Self-Test here and score that as well-I will explain more about what it measures later in the chapter. (Taking these tests before you read further means your answers will be less influenced.) By the way, HSPs can score high on both tests.

If you are in a relationship and your partner is willing to take the same tests, now would be a good time for your partner to take the second copy of each test, which I've provided for that purpose.

If your partner is not going to take the tests for some reason, you can fill them out, answering the questions as you think your partner would.

If you do not have a partner, you can fill them out as you imagine a past partner would have-someone you were once close to and want to think about as you read this book.

Are You a Sensation Seeker?

A Self-Test

Answer each question according to the way you feel. Answer true if it is at least somewhat true for you. Answer false if it is not very true or not at all true for you.

TFIf it were safe, I would like to take a drug that would cause me to have strange new experiences.
TFI can become almost painfully bored in some conversations.
TFI would rather go to a new place I may not like than go back again to a place I know I like.
TFI would like to try a sport that creates a physical thrill, like skiing, rock climbing, or surfing.
TFI get restless if I stay home for long.
TFI don't like waiting with nothing to do.
TFI rarely watch a movie more than once.
TFI enjoy the unfamiliar.
TFIf I see something unusual, I will go out of my way to check it out.
TFI get bored spending time with the same people everyday.
TFMy friends say it is hard to predict what I will want to do.
TFI like to explore a new area.
TFI avoid having a daily routine.
TFI am drawn to art that gives me an intense experience.
TFI like substances that make me feel "high."
TFI prefer friends who are unpredictable.
TFI look forward to being in a place that is new and strange to me.
TFTo me, if I am spending the money to travel, the more foreign the country the better.
TFI would like to be an explorer.
TFI enjoy it when someone makes an unexpected sexual joke or comment that starts everyone laughing a little nervously.

To score, see the box after the Partner Test.

Is Your Partner a Sensation Seeker?

A Self-Test to Be Completed by Your Partner

(If you are not in a relationship or your partner does not want to take this test, you can fill it out yourself, answering the questions as you would imagine your partner would, or as someone would whom you have been close to in the past and want to think about as you read this book.)

Answer each question according to the way you feel. Answer true if it is at least somewhat true for you. Answer false if it is not very true or not at all true for you.

TFIf it were safe, I would like to take a drug that would cause me to have strange new experiences.
TFI can become almost painfully bored in some conversations.
TFI would rather go to a new place I may not like than go back again to a place I know I like.
TFI would like to try a sport that creates a physical thrill, like skiing, rock climbing, or surfing.
TFI get restless if I stay home for long.
TFI don't like waiting with nothing to do.
TFI rarely watch a movie more than once.
TFI enjoy the unfamiliar.
TFIf I see something unusual, I will go out of my way to check it out.
TFI get bored spending time with the same people everyday.
TFMy friends say it is hard to predict what I will want to do.
TFI like to explore a new area.
TFI avoid having a daily routine.
TFI am drawn to art that gives me an intense experience.
TFI like substances that make me feel "high."
TFI prefer friends who are unpredictable.
TFI look forward to being in a place that is new and strange to me.
TFTo me, if I am spending the money to travel, the more foreign the country the better.
TFI would like to be an explorer.
TFI enjoy it when someone makes an unexpected sexual joke or comment that starts everyone laughing a little nervously.

SCORING

For women, if you answer true to 11 or more of the questions, you're probably a sensation seeker. If you answer true to 7 or fewer, you are probably not a sensation seeker. If you answered true to 8, 9, or 10 of the questions, you are probably somewhere in between on sensation seeking.

For men, if you answered true to 13 or more of the questions, you're probably a sensation seeker. If you answered true to 9 or fewer, you are probably not a sensation seeker. If you answered true to 10, 11, or 12 of the questions, you are probably somewhere in between on sensation seeking.

Yes, you can be an HSP and score high on sensation seeking too.

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