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How To Reset Relationships When You're A Sensitive Person

Tanya Carroll Richardson
May 3, 2023
Tanya Carroll Richardson
By Tanya Carroll Richardson
mbg Contributor
Tanya Carroll Richardson is an author and professional intuitive, giving readings to clients all over the world.
Image by Evgenij Yulkin / Stocksy
May 3, 2023
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While sometimes it's best to end—or take a long sabbatical—from a relationship with a friend, a client, or even a family member, other times we can "reset" the relationship and our level of intimacy with this person.

Resetting and redefining a relationship can be especially helpful for sensitive and empathic people who can more easily pick up on (and even feel) other people's energy and emotions in their own systems. Because sensitive people like empaths can have uncommonly close connections with others, resetting a relationship might be a periodic maintenance technique of emotional housekeeping—whether the other person is frustrating you or not.

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Try the following steps to create healthy space the next time someone in your life is getting under your sensitive skin: 


Make the mindful decision to reset the relationship

Whether you really enjoy this person but just need more healthy space—or you're seriously questioning whether the relationship has run its course—get clear in your own mind, in your journal, or in a conversation with a supportive and neutral person that you need to pull back from the relationship. Frame this as a way to be more emotionally healthy, in the same way that a new eating routine or a new savings routine improves your physical or financial health. 


Spend less time in their energy

Create space for yourself by not answering their emails, texts, or phone calls immediately. If it's a friend you see often socially, bow out gracefully of some commitments. If it's a roommate or family member you live with, make a habit of running errands on your own, spending time with other people outside the house, or having solo hobbies like gardening, cooking, or writing. 

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Spend less time thinking about them

Where our thoughts go, our energy flows. Are you trying to get space from someone, yet they occupy a lot of your mental real estate? This is the perfect excuse to practice mindfulness techniques like taking your mind elsewhere when you notice you're focusing on the other person, or quieting your mind through meditation.


Remind yourself you are not responsible for the other person

This can be challenging if someone's going through a particularly tough time, or if they've been leaning on you a lot. Try offering quality over quantity support, and encourage them to seek support from other sources, like health care providers.

If you're a sensitive person who finds themselves going on healing rescue missions often with clients, friends, and family, check out my book, Empath Heart: Relationship Strategies for Sensitive People, for more tools. Instead of trying to change the other person, accept them more for who they are and where they're at in their life. 


Practice witnessing and observing instead of feeling and absorbing

Empaths and other highly sensitive people can be naturally wired to feel with and absorb the energy and emotions around them—and this isn't a bad thing. It can be nourishing to feel with others, whether they are feeling joyful or painful emotions. Yet when you're resetting a relationship, practice witnessing and observing more with this person. Go into your head instead of your heart, get curious about what they are feeling, and remain neutral. 


Focus more on yourself in healthy ways

Sensitive people who are also very compassionate can sometimes focus too much on other people's needs and feelings—while their own needs and feelings get lost. While you're resetting a relationship, use this as a pivot moment to up your own self-care and prioritize your goals and desires. Resetting a relationship can be a time to shift tendencies around over-giving.

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Avoid ghosting the other person

If at all possible, try to let the other person know you need more space instead of ghosting them. This doesn't have to mean telling them you're resetting the relationship. You can simply tell them you're busy with work, tired, or have a lot going on personally and need to pull back. Part of resetting a relationship can be reinstating healthy boundaries. It's normal and healthy for people to have periods of pulling back and creating space in relationships. 


Spend time with other people

Is there an old friend you can meet up with for an in-person date or video chat? Or maybe a new acquaintance is showing the potential to be a good friend, but you just haven't had space to explore the relationship. Try joining an online spiritual community or volunteering in your community.

Wanting to reset a relationship is the urge to create more balance, and we are more balanced in general when we don't rely on one person to meet all our relationship needs.

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The takeaway

Notice how you feel toward the other person as you create space. You might appreciate them more and get in touch with what you love about them! Or you might realize that this person needs to occupy a lot less room in your life. People and relationships are imperfect and messy, so we all go through phases where we need to clean things up.

As a sensitive person, remind yourself that just because you can feel other people's energy and emotions in your own system, it does not mean you need to try to manage, contain, or control other people to handle what's coming in. Pulling back and creating healthy space is a much better method of caretaking your sensitivity. 

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Tanya Carroll Richardson author page.
Tanya Carroll Richardson

Tanya Carroll Richardson is a professional intuitive who has given readings to thousands of clients all over the world. She’s the author of nine nonfiction books including Empath Heart, Angel Intuition, Are You an Earth Angel?, and Self-Care for Empaths. Tanya has an annual calendar, A Year of Self-Love, and two oracle decks, Awakening Intuition and Grief, Grace, and Healing.