First Advisor

Karen Chenier

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Social Science and University Honors


Social Science


Sensitivity (Personality trait), Love, Interpersonal relations, Interpersonal communication




The Highly Sensitive Person was a term first established by Dr. Elaine Aron in the 1990's that distinguished the experience of individuals with Sensory Processing Sensitivity, a neurological but neutral, psychological trait. The current population of Highly Sensitive People (HSP) makes up 15 to 20 percent of the population and interacts within 36 percent of romantic relationships. In this body of theoretical research, I outline the ways in which Highly Sensitive qualities affect committed, romantic, monogamous relationships by firstly determining the borders of what defines an HSP, then what makes a "successful" romantic relationship and the constraints of such a definition, and finally implementing the HSP qualities into these terms. I have found that "success" within a romantic relationship is supported by an emphasis on communication, healthy boundaries, a 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity, and a rich and shared intimacy between partners. HSPs fare well within such relationships, as they are defined by their emotional awareness and depth, their empathy towards others and their partner, and their ability to communicate their needs. The "success" of a relationship involving an HSP is largely dependent on the ability of the HSP to recognize their own threshold for overarousal or overstimulation and to communicate these needs to their partner. The ultimate "success" of a romantic relationship comes from mutual understanding and compassion, the likes of which are supported by the inherent qualities of the Highly Sensitive Person.


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