Myths about Highly Sensitive Men
Highly sensitive people (HSPs) have a very unique way of encountering the world. Men that are HSPs have an added layer of stigma and societal “othering” that can make them feel like they don’t belong or are in some way wrong or bad. Here are a few myths about highly sensitive men as well as some truths to set things straight.
1. There is something wrong with them
High sensitivity is an inherent temperamental trait, much like that of being introverted or extraverted. This means that it is not something which is chosen nor a symptom of some other disorder, it simply is. Highly sensitive men often believe there is something wrong with them because some of the ways they feel, perceive, and interact with others and the world is different from men who aren’t highly sensitive. The myth here is that there is something wrong with you. The truth is that you are different, and it is the societal expectation of what makes a man, that is wrong.
Research has shown that the brains of highly sensitive people react differently than non-highly sensitive brains when given the same stimuli. More research has shown that high sensitivity cannot be traced back to psychological or physical disorder nor symptoms of trauma.
Furthermore, this trait can be an incredible strength. Highly sensitive people are able to form deep and intimate relationships because of their great ability to have empathy and connect emotionally. They also tend to be great leaders due to their ability to pick up on subtle cues in their environment, the moods and emotions of others, as well as being very honest and conscientious.
You can find many highly sensitive people in the roles of helpers, healers, caretakers, first responders, helping professionals, musicians, artists, and spiritual leaders.
2. Sensitivity is feminine
Highly sensitive people make up about 20% of the population, with just as many men as women. The myth here is that to be emotional, empathic, sensitive, and easily overstimulated is a femine quality and men that display such characteristics are weak and looked down on. This is a harmful belief for both men and women because it sustains an antiquated belief that women are less than men, therefore, men who act like women are inferior to other men.
The truth is that emotions, empathy, and conscience are all simply human traits and highly prized, especially in men. Qualitative research has shown that people generally find immense value in men who hold these traits because they have a strong ability to have deeper relationships and are emotionally attuned.
3. Being highly sensitive is a burden
Being highly sensitive can feel like a burden, especially for men, given it is not a trait that is generally understood nor accepted for men. The myth here is that highly sensitivity is only a burden because it can often leave men feeling isolated, overstimulated, as if something is wrong with them, and in some cases, not like a “real man”.
The truth is that there are actually many advantages to being highly sensitive. Highly sensitive men often report having deeper and more meaningful relationships, with both men and women. Highly sensitive men are able to pick up on subtle stimuli in their environments, process information on a deep level, are highly empathic, and behave in an ethical manner.
All of these things are valuable and advantageous, not only to the highly sensitive man, but to everyone. Being highly sensitive is neither good nor bad, it simply is. However, as you can see, it has its own perks and challenges when not fully understood or accepted.
If you have connected with any of the aforementioned and would like to explore more about what it means to be a highly sensitive man, please feel free to reach out.
- If you would like to see if you are a HSP, take Elaine Aron’s self test here: Are You Highly Sensitive?
- You can also find the research mentioned above here: Research – The Highly Sensitive Person.
- For further reading specifically for Highly Sensitive Men, please see Tom Falkenstein’s The Highly Sensitive Man: How Mastering Natural Instincts, Ethics, and Empathy Can Enrich Men’s Lives and the Lives of Those Who Love Them