Are you too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner?

08 Mar 2016

Are you too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner? Is that – another – fault he reproaches you with? Is it possible that he could be right, albeit for entirely the wrong reasons?

This weekend, I held my first workshop in Denmark, for a wonderful group of Danish women. Fortunately, their English is wonderful, since my Danish barely stretches to “Good morning.”

Having worked with emotionally abused women for over 12 years, I know that the Mr Nasty brand is not just international, it’s supranational. Emotionally abusive men are all dead-ringers for one another, cloned on Planet Zog, and rigorously tested for Advanced Nastiness before they are unleashed on unsuspecting women. However, I’m also a linguist by training. I know that many things change in translation.

Seemingly, Mr Nasty’s script is unchanging. It doesn’t change in the slightest. Well-worn phrases and sayings that work just as well in Danish include:

“I’m a wonderful man.”
“You’re lucky to have someone as wonderful as me.”
“You’re selfish,” and
“You’re too sensitive.”

Normally an emotionally abusive partner speaks ‘with forked tongue’ as they used to say in the cowboy films of my childhood. On this occasion, Mr Nasty has a point – although not for the reasons that he would give. Here are

3 Reasons Why You Really Are Too Sensitive For An Emotionally Abusive Partner

Reason #1The ‘maintenance’ issue

The reproach that you are ‘too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner’ is code. Mr Nasty is actually telling you that you are just too high maintenance for him. That, in itself, is laughable.

There is one person in the ‘relationship’ who is incredibly high maintenance, and that person is NOT you. Which one of you habitually rants and raves, finds fault, is disappointed, provoked and even disrespected by the smallest departure from the (impossible ) standards he sets for you? He’s never going to tell you the truth, so I will: you’re actually incredibly LOW maintenance. If you weren’t, you’d have tied him to a lamp-post outside the nearest adoption agency – or singles’ bar – with a spare set of clean underwear long ago.

Reason #2 You still haven’t broken the code.

The statement that you are too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner is one that he uses quite deliberately and manipulatively. He knows exactly how to push your buttons. The ‘sensitive’ reproach is part of a cluster of imputed faults: being ‘too sensitive’ derives from being too needy and, worse, being selfish.

How does that work?

According to an emotionally abusive partner, your being too sensitive means that he is constantly required to take your feelings into account.

How unreasonable is that?

This is a man who insists on having a monopoly on sensitivity (aka ‘touchiness). He needs to know that he can launch a savage verbal, or emotional assault on you whenever he feels like it – without ever having to seriously consider your feelings. By rights you should have no feelings – except reverence for him. He, on the other hand, is truly hypersensitive: it only takes a tone of voice, or a look for you to distress him so much that he can’t help himself and, lo and behold, you’ve caused him to have another temper tantrum. Allegedly.

Reason #3 He is a complete and utter boor [no typo]

Every so often Mr Nasty comes out with the truth. Most commonly he does his best to ‘weaponize’ the truth, as he does in this case. But the fact is, you really are too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner. You are a feeling, caring, loving woman. You didn’t sign up to be abused, and have your feelings trashed. You try your best to overlook the nasty things he says, and the equally nasty things he does; but you can’t. They hurt you. That’s reassuringly NORMAL, despite all of Mr Nasty’s protestations to the contrary. (The boor really doth protest too much, methinks – to paraphrase Shakespeare.)

The hurt that you experience when Mr Nasty attacks you points to the kernel of truth in his statement that you are too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner. You are. You really are. You cannot and should not desensitise yourself. Your caring nature is one of the beautiful things about you. There are plenty of others, too. But for the sake of keeping this piece from growing into a tome, let’s just stick with this one, for now.

Mr Nasty is a complete and utter vandal. You are throwing your pearls before a swine. He can cope – even thrive – on swill. You can’t.

When Mr Nasty tells you that you are too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner, you want to wear that judgement as a badge of pride. You really are too sensitive for the likes of him. Thank goodness you are. When you learn to honor that sensitivity it will guide you to the happy life you deserve.



Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

2 thoughts on “Are you too sensitive for an emotionally abusive partner?”

  1. Annie,
    This is a brilliant post. I have been wondering for a while whether I am too sensitive to my husbands out downs, criticisms and nasty tone of voice.
    Say it all really. But you start to doubt yourself. I would be happy if someone told me I was being too sensitive as I could then maybe look at myself but it’s always me apologising to him.


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