Highly Sensitive Introvert-The Mistakes HSPs Make in Friendships-Leila Skidmore

The Mistake HSPs Make in Friendship

For a person whose heart leads first, it’s so easy for emotion to run the show, even when it takes you into a situation which is not in your best interest.

I am a Highly Sensitive Introvert.  I’m also naturally a heart-driven person.  I am pulled and driven by my emotions.

My feelings drive the bus whenever I approach a problem or a struggle in life.

Logic tends to come second in line when I process situations and make decisions.  In and of itself, this isn’t a bad thing.  It’s just the way my body and mind work.

I will never not be a person of heart.  I don’t want to not be a person of heart.  My emotional core is through and through, and I love that about myself.

The fact that I can use my sensitive nature to bring comfort to others is something I love, simply because it means they are not sitting alone in their hurt anymore.

And, it is this very emotional core which makes it so important to learn skills to discern between situations and relationships that are healthy and unhealthy.

These skills help me protect my sensitive core from unnecessary extra wounds.  They help me make better decisions and to respond in a healthier manner to whatever challenges arise.

There are many, many positives to being driven by your heart and by emotion.

But there are always two sides to a coin.

When I was in my mid thirties, I went into a depression for the first time in my life.

By the time I realized I was depressed, I was extremely immersed in it.  As I began to work my way out of it, I recognized that I was very lonely.

I needed support and kindness.  I had no close friendships at the time, and so there became a strong need in me to try  to make some friends.

My first attempt at friendship did not go well.

I reached out to the first person nearby.  She was an acquaintance who I’d known for quite a number of years.

Even though we knew each other, we’d never really connected more deeply.  But, she was familiar…and she was there.

I was very fragile in spirit at the time.  This lack of confidence made me want to stick to what felt comfortable, and known to me.

I wasn’t ready to brave the discomfort of trying to get to know someone new from scratch.

I made an effort with her, and at first, she seemed to reciprocate.  We got together a few times.  It was a little awkward, but I had expected that.

As time went on, though, nothing seemed to move forward in the friendship.

She had a few close friends in her life already.  She would mention all the times they would get together and all the fun they had.

I ached to be a part of her group.  I felt very alone.

As I tried to make plans with her myself, she became increasingly more inconsistent in whether she would agree to them or not.

After a while, I was confused.  Her signals were so mixed.  She seemed reluctant to get together.  When I saw her around any of her other friends she hardly acknowledged me.

But when we finally had a visit alone, she would pour her heart out and seek my advice.  Claiming I was one of her closest friends, and that she couldn’t talk to anyone else like she talked with me.

She strung me along. She used me as a spare friend for when her other friends weren’t around.  And she used me to unload the stresses in her life.

She had no intention of really building a friendship.  It was, and forever would’ve been, a one sided relationship.

At that time, though, it was not so clear.  I was confused and lonely for connection.

My heart felt for her because I knew some of her most difficult struggles.  I cried with her and listened to her sorrows.

This is the “other” side to the coin.  It’s how, as an HSI, your heart and your emotions can run the show and take you into a situation that is not in your best interest.

You can lose connection with what you need to be healthy when you’re not also compassionate with yourself.

You stop showing value and care for yourself when you don’t use your mind to acknowledge the reality of the situation.

After a while, I felt at war with myself.  My heart saw the hurting person inside her that kept coming to me with her need, but my mind began to cause me discomfort.

I did not like the way I was being treated, regardless of how much compassion I felt for her.

Eventually my mind saw that my heart had to start “feeling” for me, too.

I was the one who ended up getting hurt again and again in this situation.

Eventually, I also had compassion for myself.

As painful as it was to face reality and let go of the idea of this friendship, I finally did. I decided I wanted more than a fair weather friend, and I backed off gently from her.

My acquaintance did not value me fully, and that was painful.  But I prolonged my pain when I did not acknowledge the reality that she did not reciprocate my feelings of warmth and value for her.

When you are a heart driven person, your emotion is a reflection of your sensitivity, and a large part of what makes you the person you are.

For this sensitivity to have its full strength, though, it means considering “the other side of the coin.”  It means using your sensitivity to recognize your own needs, and having compassion for yourself, too.

It’s a skill like any other skill.  It means learning to use your mind to step back from a situation to think through your emotion.

It means recognizing the other person’s needs and having compassion for them.  And it means recognizing your own needs and having compassion for yourself, too.

If the mistake HSPs make in friendship is not having compassion for themselves, developing your sensitivity to its full potential means asking yourself three questions to practice self-compassion.


The 3 Questions HSPs Need to Ask Themselves in Any Friendship
  1. Does the compassion and emotion you feel for the other person match the compassion and emotion you receive from the other person?
  2. Do the other person’s behaviors show consideration for your needs?
  3. Am I holding compassion for myself and my own needs alongside my compassion for the other person?


It was natural to want to sink into anger at my former friend.  I wanted to blame her for my loneliness.  But I had to make a choice instead.

I could sit in my anger at her actions–actions over which I had no control.  And be powerless.

Or, I could make decisions based on my own needs and my compassion for myself.

I could approach her with my concerns to see if she was willing or able to make changes, or decide to back away from the friendship.

When I approach myself with the same compassion that I so willingly offer other people, I share my sensitive, compassionate and empathetic heart with those around me in a way that is healthy for them, and for me.

It is the best of both worlds.

Image Credit: Maria Eklind

Leila Elizabeth

Leila Elizabeth

Always a lover of words, I began reading them at a young age, and began creating with them shortly thereafter.

A bend in the road led me to embrace my introversion, and to discover my identity as a highly sensitive person. As I have moved along the path in learning more about who I am, how to take care of myself as an introvert, and how to handle the challenges of life as an HSP - my love of writing has been rekindled and embraced once again. It intertwines with the journey I am on, and is reflected in what I write.
Leila Elizabeth

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