How to Get Over Your Ex as a Highly Sensitive Person

Breakups are the worst.

Nights spent crying on the couch in cozy leggings, eating ice cream and chocolate-covered pretzels.

Looking through old photos, reading old texts, and wondering what went wrong.

Dividing up belongings…What do you keep to cherish the relationship and what do you return?

These are just a snapshot of what you may be facing if you recently ended a romantic relationship.

If you’re a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), breakups might be particularly challenging for you.

Breakups can be especially soul-crushing for HSPs due to their tendency to experience emotions more deeply, their empathy, and their depth of processing.

As an HSP, you connect deeply with others, so when you find yourself at the end of a relationship — regardless of its length – it might feel devastating.

While you have a rich inner emotional life, you might struggle to process the intense feelings that arise during and after a breakup. If you’ve experienced any type of abuse or trauma, these feelings can be even more complicated.

Additionally, your depth of processing (aka deep thinking) as an HSP allows you to carefully consider every situation.

Under stress, this depth of processing can turn into ruminating and overthinking about the past relationship, which can extend and complicate the healing process.

Being an HSP also means you have countless strengths to help you cope with a breakup and move on from your ex.

As an HSP, you have strong emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-awareness, which can be harnessed to navigate this challenging time and move through this process with strength, integrity, and resilience.

Getting over an ex is not always easy, but here are some steps to help you move on & heal:

  1. Allow yourself to feel your emotions: It is natural to feel a range of emotions after a breakup, including sadness, anger, and disappointment. As an HSP, these feelings may feel intense and prolonged, but if you allow yourself to feel them, they will pass. Consider movement, journaling, talking to a close friend, or any practice that helps you safely process your emotions.
  2. Cut off (or limit) contact with your ex: While it may be difficult, cutting off contact with your ex – even for a short period of time — can help you start to move on. This includes not checking their social media accounts or engaging in any form of communication. If you must be in contact due to shared responsibilities (a home, children, pets), set parameters around what this communication looks like and keep it only focused on what’s needed for your shared duties.
  3. Remove any reminders of your ex: This may be challenging to do, but if you can remove things that remind you of your ex, that can help expedite healing. As an HSP, these reminders of your ex impact you more deeply than most due to your ability to process things deeply and sense subtleties. Even if you’re not ready to get rid of these items, you can put them in a box in the back of your closet until you are.
  4. Be gentle on yourself: Western culture tells us that healing is linear. Just do step 1, 2, and 3 and you’re fine! Tah-dah! That’s just not the case when it comes to heartbreak, my friend. You deeply cared for this person and the difficulty of the break up will ebb and flow. It’s important to realize that hard days do not mean you’re going backward. It’s actually in your nature as an HSP to revisit your emotions in layers.
  5. Focus on your passions & small joys: It might feel hollow at first, but throwing yourself into hobbies or other personal interests can provide healthy distraction and purpose after a breakup. As an HSP, it can be easy to focus on your ex and what they may be feeling, but now is the time to lean more into you and your identity. What are your values? What’s important to you? What are the small delights in your day? Make sure those are being expressed right now.
  6. Lean into your support system: Schedule time with the people who support and uplift you. If you have solid friendships, send them a text to get something set up. You’ll feel better even just initiating. If your friend circle might have thinned out during your relationship, don’t fret. You can reach out to old friends, join a support group, and attend meetups to make new friends.
  7. Seek professional help: Sometimes we need a little extra help to heal from a nasty breakup. Maybe the relationship was toxic or abusive, and it left you reeling and afraid to trust anyone again. You might be craving closure, but know that it will never happen. If you are struggling to move on, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.

Remember, everyone heals at their own pace.

As an HSP, it might take you a little bit longer, so be patient with yourself and don’t let others dictate when you get to move on.

If you find yourself especially struggling to move on after a breakup, it might be time to talk to a trusted therapist — that’s where I can help.

I’m Arianna Smith (she/her). I’m a licensed therapist, EMDR Clinician, and HSP Specialist.

I’m also a fellow HSP who has deep feelings, a busy brain, and won’t think it’s weird if you cry at sentimental baby animal videos (cuz, same.)

I can help you make sense of the breakup, integrate lessons from the relationship, and move forward with clarity and confidence.

I’m especially versed in helping HSPs and LGBTQ+ folx heal and recover from past toxic or abusive relationships. So if it wasn’t your “typical” break up, there’s space for that, too.

I will call upon gentle, yet effective approaches, such as EMDR or IFS, to help you move through any particularly stuck places that arise as you process your past relationship or step into a new one.

To get started, schedule your free consultation.

Email me ( or call/text 720-772-7413 today.

To Sensitive Souls: If You’re Not Okay, That’s Okay

If you aren’t familiar with the term “Highly Sensitive Person” or “HSP” it refers to about 15-20% of the population which possess a unique sensory processing trait which allows them to pick up more on subtleties in the environment, resulting in deeper processing and often being easily overwhelmed. Take the self-test here.

Are you weary from pandemic fatigue?

Are you struggling with the coming of colder, darker days?

Does climate change, social injustice, or global suffering weigh heavy on your tender heart?

Continue reading “To Sensitive Souls: If You’re Not Okay, That’s Okay”

HSPs:  Healing from Toxic & Abusive Relationships – [Podcast Interview]

In this podcast, Dr. Lourdes Viado and I discuss how to recognize an abusive vs. toxic relationship and how to start the healing process — plus how you might be uniquely impacted from this experience as an Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

If you are recovering from an abusive or toxic relationship, you can feel alone, isolated and broken.
  • It’s not uncommon to blame yourself for the abuse (even though it wasn’t your fault.)
  • It’s hard to fully trust your current partner, because of how you’ve been hurt in the past.
  • You might find yourself endlessly swiping on online dating app, never allowing yourself to go on dates.
  • You might still have flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, or alternate between feelings of powerlessness and rage.
Continue reading “HSPs:  Healing from Toxic & Abusive Relationships – [Podcast Interview]”

Dear Highly Sensitive People, You Don’t Need To Change.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “Highly Sensitive Person” or “HSP” it refers to about 15-20% of the population which possess a unique sensory processing trait which allows them to pick up more on subtleties in the environment, resulting in deeper processing and often being easily overwhelmed with stimuli. Most people exist on a spectrum of sensitivity. Take the self-test here.

Many Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) were told — either consciously or unconsciously — to “toughen up” to survive this world.

Unfortunately, you probably got this message when you were very, very young.  And it stayed with you.

You learn you had to camouflage and hide your sensitivity – and thus hide who you are at your core.

Here’s an alternative:

Continue reading “Dear Highly Sensitive People, You Don’t Need To Change.”

Change is Like an Earthquake: A Therapist’s Perspective on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Growing up in Alaska, earthquakes were as common as a cloudy sky.

We learned how to do earthquake drills as soon as we entered grade school. A light flashes, siren blare, and the drill starts.

The protocol goes like this: Get under a desk, table, or chair. Cover your head and neck with your arms. No table? Get in a doorway. Brace yourself between two sturdy beams if you can’t find cover.  

Then, hold on. Just wait. Continue reading “Change is Like an Earthquake: A Therapist’s Perspective on the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Self-Care Strategies for Highly Sensitive People During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Please remember to follow all public health guidelines to keep you and your community safe.

Nearly every life is being touched in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are facing unprecedented times as a community, nation, and world.

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you’re undoubtedly feeling hard hit by everything happening around you.

Given how your HSP brain is wired, it makes complete sense if you’re struggling right now.

Here’s why:

Continue reading “Self-Care Strategies for Highly Sensitive People During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

For HSPs: 6 Reasons Therapy Isn’t Working And What To Do About It

If you’re a Highly Sensitive Person, simple changes can go a long way to maximize your therapy experience

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), therapy can be an incredible tool for self-exploration, personal growth, healing past wounds, or bettering your relationships.

You can learn the basic traits of being an HSP.  You can learn to finally speak up for yourself.  You can learn what to do when you just can’t stop thinking and ruminating about the past.  You can learn how being a sensitive child has influenced you today.

Unfortunately, there are times when you’re not getting everything you hoped from therapy.   Continue reading “For HSPs: 6 Reasons Therapy Isn’t Working And What To Do About It”

Coming May 2019 – Summer Group For Sensitive Souls

– Announcing –

Healing + Empowerment for the Sensitive Soul

An 8-week Therapy Group Intensive for Sensitives, Empaths, and Deep Feelers

Does this sound like you?

  • You’ve always felt different. You notice things others don’t catch.  You’re creative, empathic, and highly observant.
  • You avoid conflict at all costs.  You were raised to be ‘nice’ and put others’ needs before your own.  It leaves you feeling lost, resentful, and depressed.
  • Others criticize you for being “too emotional” or “too much”.  They don’t understand how painful it is to feel overwhelmed and overstimulated.  You wish you could learn to let their words roll off your back.
  • Your inner world is so complex and rich.  You wish you knew someone else who sees the world the way you do and feels as deeply as you do.
  • You get frustrated when there is too much on your plate.  You wish you could juggle multiple commitments with the ease of others. It adds to the feeling that you don’t quite fit in.
  • You have a deep need for purpose, novelty, connection, and excitement.  You also need lots of downtime and solitude.  You don’t know how to balance the needs of both sides of you and end up feeling either bored, lonely, or burned out.

Join a therapy group this summer that was created with you in mind.

Continue reading “Coming May 2019 – Summer Group For Sensitive Souls”

For Highly Sensitive People: How to Take Care Of Yourself After An Epic Storm

If you’re anywhere in the Denver or surrounding areas, you just witnessed a winter storm of historic proportions.

A “bomb cyclone” hit the Front Range yesterday, resulting in hurricane-level winds, thousands of folks left without power, numerous accidents and stranded vehicles.  Additionally, Denver International Airport grounded all flights yesterday, leaving over 4,000 people stranded at the airport.  As I write this, runways are starting to open, but many major highways are still closed. 

Continue reading “For Highly Sensitive People: How to Take Care Of Yourself After An Epic Storm”

6 Reasons Why Highly Sensitive People Need A Capsule Wardrobe

Getting dressed in the morning can be overwhelming for Highly Sensitive People. You walk into a jam-packed closet, yet feel like you have nothing to wear.  All your favorite outfits are in the wash.  Your cozy clothes aren’t “professional” enough for work.  You just don’t feel like wearing black (again) today.  All your shirts with annoying tags or ill-placed seams are banished to the back of your closet.  Continue reading “6 Reasons Why Highly Sensitive People Need A Capsule Wardrobe”