How Do You Deal With An Intense Person? Solutions, Plus Signs You May Be One

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Portrait of a woman — intense personality.
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Growing up, most of us heard adults talk about the “right” way to communicate and express ourselves. But those rules are often hard to follow. People have different personalities, meaning that, for some people, the “norm” may be more challenging to achieve. Some people are extroverts, while others are painfully shy. There are alpha personalities, type A personalities, type B personalities, and complex people, too. Some people might be a bit awkward in social situations. And then there are intense personalities — a type the grown-ups in your life may have been cautioned against becoming when you were a child. However, as long as we’re self-aware about what we project, being an intense personality is typically OK. While intense personalities may turn some people off, many more people want to learn to communicate with them better. Because intense or not, we’re all people who deserve to be loved and understood.

One of the most complicated parts about having an intense personality is that many people conflate intense people with intimidating people. Unless it’s a goal to intimidate (which, hopefully, isn’t the case), it’s essential to diffuse these misjudgments.

What is emotional intensity?

Emotional intensity occurs with people who feel things differently — they almost absorb the emotions of the people around them, which helps them feel as if they can relate to others. That’s a special task, but it can often seem exhausting.

“Emotional intensity is not a pathology,” states Imi Lo of Psychology Today. “For someone who is emotionally intense, however, the pain that comes with a pervasive sense of being ‘too much’ is not to be taken lightly. A person can be made to feel ‘wrong’ for the most part of his or her life, and internalizing this sense of shame can lead to depression, low self-esteem, inability to self-regulate, and inner emptiness.”

What do you do if you have an intense personality?

You’ve already achieved the first step in acknowledging it. But now, you’ll have to figure out how to control it. As with all things personality-based, it may feel tough to dig deeper and figure out why you act a certain way. Regardless of your personality type, finding a good therapist is a vital tool to learn more about yourself.

If you identify as being intense, it’s important to remember that a lot of people may not know how to handle you. It’s important to remind them that these things can often be hard to control. Being intense may just be in your nature. “Most intense people know their behavior is unhealthy,” stated Marty Nemko Ph.D. “They simply can’t control themselves any more than a laid-back person can make themselves driven.”

Is being an intense person a bad thing?

It could be seen as a negative quality if others perceive you as an intimidating person. But, deep down, an intense person is likely more misunderstood than anything. They can often be on the same page as those who are overly sensitive. Simply put, both groups feel things a little differently than their peers.

Those who feel like they may have an intense personality will need to learn exercises to harness their intensity. Being an intimidating man can be especially tough to handle out in public — it requires a lot of work. As long as you aren’t acting in a disruptive or threatening manner (which does require adjustments), you’re not necessarily looking to change. You are who you are, and that’s what makes you unique. However, being fully aware of any potential setbacks will make the “diagnosis” much easier to handle.

What does it mean to be too intense?

Often when someone is “too intense,” they’re too excitable or in the moment. These types may also be very determined to make plans come true. For example, an intense bride might overly plan for their wedding and send daily emails to their wedding party with every detail firmly listed. While this is a sign of being organized, the intensity of that list — and the amount of communication — may put people on edge or make them feel uncomfortable.

An intense personality may also mean that you jump to the big questions quickly. You may ask about kids and marriage on a first date even before the waiter brings drinks to the table. As you can imagine, that behavior isn’t always well-received. If you’re looking for positives, it means you know what you want and don’t want to waste any time. It also means you’re more of an open book.

How do you deal with an intense person?

You may be curious to learn more after dealing with intense personalities at the office or an organization you frequent. “Intensity can be a force for good,” said Nemko. “To harness that, when dealing with an intense person, don’t compete with that or try to tamp it down. It won’t work. Instead, roll with it.”

Understand that the person in front of you may be louder or seem more confident. If you show them respect and make a point to listen, you’ll often see a softer side. Sometimes, intense personalities can be a little rough around the edges, but passion fuels many of them. If you have an intense person on the team, you can feel good knowing they’ll likely pour themselves into the project on hand.

What is an intense child?

“Intense” is often a word that often comes up when describing children. Kids have seemingly endless energy and are still learning social cues and proper social behavior. When someone mentions an “intense child,” that’s often due to the child’s energy level more than their actual personality.

Yes, kids can be a lot to handle. And having a group of kids together can be tiresome for many — even, and maybe especially for, parents (amirite?).

Intensity in children can also relate to mood, though. Sometimes, a child acting “moody” may lead someone to label them as intense. However, as a parent, you should know that an “intense child” may just be a child who puts more energy into their feelings and emotions than the people around them. It’s usually not a cause for concern, although you may need to adjust your parenting approach to better align with your child’s intensity. Parenting looks different from kid to kid, so adjusting and learning new ways to engage your child is always extremely beneficial.

As always, never hesitate to reach out to an expert like a child psychologist or mental health professional if you feel like your child’s intensity could be a symptom of a more significant issue.

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