“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” — Edgar Allan Poe
Update: If you’d rather listen to an updated version of this content, do so here:
Do you ever cry during sex? I’m not talking upset tears. I mean the euphoric, I’m-too-blown-away-for-words, soul-shook, HEART-GASM kind. One of the first times I did, my then boyfriend looked horrified. “It’s okay,” I said, sniveling. “I’m just happy!” Sappy is more like it, some might say. Others know better.
While most people are somewhat emotional after orgasm due to feel-good brain chemical release, some of us are more prone to intense emotions than others. Like many of you, I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP). While heightened sensitivity can pose challenges, I’ve learned to seriously adore its perks.
If you’re familiar with work by Carl Jung or Elaine Aron, PhD or read my post Learning to Love: Am I Happier Single?, you know that high sensitivity is fairly common, magnifying all-things-sensory in up to 20% of the population. Here’s a refresher on the basics and some interesting ways high sensitivity can affect our sexuality:
What is an HSP?
In short, an HSP processes sensory data far deeper than the average Joe/Joanne, which causes greater sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as pain, aromas, textures, flavors and bright lights. As an HSP, you’re likely to experience heartache deeper and longer than most, but you also have a greater capacity for pleasure.
Even sexual pleasure? Yes indeed!
*pauses while HS readers and their partners cheer* It’s okay! Take your time.
Introvert or extrovert?
About 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts (HSIs), who gain energy from solace and quiet. The remaining 30% are extroverted (HSEs), gaining energy from interacting with others, yet valuing alone time than other extros (where I fall). Being highly sensitive and introverted doesn’t mean you’re shy, though you could be. Highly sensitive extroverts, a.k.a. high sensation seekers, don’t run around feeling deeply and LOUDLY, though—heck. We all have our moments!
How does all of this affect our sensual lives? Countless ways, including:
Gentleness, frequency and foreplay
While HSIs can be highly turned on by subtle cues (the brush of your lover’s hand on your leg, a soft kiss…), HSEs tend to want more sex and overt passion (intense fondling, deep kisses…) than others. Both types tend not to need much foreplay in order to become aroused or reach orgasm (WOO HOO!), writes Aron, but going too hard or fast may offset the introverts; they’re so easily aroused that a little goes a long way. HSIs are also less interested in casual sex than HSEs, valuing and considering emotional connectedness regarding sex to the max.
Turn-ons and offs
Once we’re offset by a negative influence, HS people can move swiftly from mega-turned on to buzz-killed. For introverts, this might be the sound of loud, annoying loud music or an embarrassing moment. Sensation seekers may be turned off by a lack of intensity or find overly subtle cues perplexing.
While HSEs have an intense curiosity and need to explore in their love lives, according to Aron’s research, HSIs typically desire fewer partners and less sexual variety.
Emotional tension of any kind can work like a cold shower on highly sensitives’ Girl Boners, which is yet another reason it’s important to seek comfort with our sexuality, selves and bodies. It’s also particularly important for us to seek and maintain gratifying relationships, having a low tolerance for discontent. Since we’re empathetic, deep-feelers, the potential for beautiful connectedness with Mr./Ms. Right is immense.
HSPs are particularly skilled at fantasizing, reports Aron, and HS males tend to fantasize vividly about partners while masturbating. (Yumminess...) This is likely true for women, too, in my opinion, but we’re less sadly likely to admit to masturbating and fantasizing. And while I’m not aware of specific findings that support this, it only makes sense that when HSPs climax, we CLIMAX!!! Our capacity for pleasure, after all, is gargantuan. In my experience, highly sensitive people make the best lovers, partners and friends.
Regardless of how it manifests itself, high sensitivity brings greater intensity to sexual and intimate experiences. What’s important, as with so many areas of our sexuality, is finding what works for us and our partners. We’re all unique, with varied needs, challenges and desires. The more we lovingly discuss them, the better. Don’t you think?
Related links and resources:
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, by Elaine Aron, Ph.D
Psychology Today: Understanding the Highly Sensitive Person: Introverted, Extroverted or Both?
HighlySensitive.org: Relationships and Highly Sensitive People
Space2Live: How Does Introversion Affect Your Sexuality?
Oprah.com: Am I Too Sensitive? Highly Sensitive Person Quiz
Where do you fall on the sensitivity spectrum? Are you more of an extrovert, introvert or ambivert (quite mixed)? How has your personality influenced your sex life? Would you like to learn more about introverts and extroverts in love? I LOVE hearing your thoughts and questions.
The next episode of Girl Boner Radio will air on Monday, January 27th—and the series will be available on iTunes soon! If you’d like to submit a sound clip for potential airing on an upcoming episode, email me for details. Thanks for your ongoing support! ♥