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Unapologetically Sensitive

We explore how sensitivity weaves itself into our lives; the richness that it adds, and the strengths we have BECAUSE of our sensitivity--and some of the challenges it poses as well. You may learn to live a bolder, brighter life.

Sep 29, 2020


How to Identify a Healthy Relationship


Lindsay Gibson, PsyD.


Dr. Lindsay Gibson, author of Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents describes healthy relationships look like, and she identifies characteristics of a person who is capable of having a healthy relationship. She talks about what to look for at the beginning of a relationship. She also talks about deal breakers and red flags, and why people who had unhappy childhoods tend to get involved with difficult partners. She explains why it can be hard to end a relationship that isn’t working. 


  • Emotional Immaturity—These people respond like young children or adolescents.  They lack empathy and are not able to see things from another’s point of view.  They lack the ability to self-regulate and they are NOT self-reflective.  They have a strong sense of self, but not of others.  There may be attachment injuries, and a secure attachment is essential to develop a healthy sense of self.
  • What are the elements of a healthy relationship?
    • The relationship supports and builds the energy and individuality of each person
    • One has the ability to be empathic—you can imagine your internal experience and the internal experience of the other
    • One is interested in their partner, their well-being, they enjoy their partner’s success and are supportive
    • One is willing to learn
    • One keeps it interesting
  • What are some personality characteristics of a person who is capable of a healthy relationship?
    • One is sensitive and can tune in to the other person
    • One’s personality is complex enough to support individuality (the partner doesn’t have to think, believe, act, do things exactly like the other person to make them feel secure)
    • One automatically takes the other person into account
    • One is able to take turns with problem-solving, compromise
    • One is creative and resilient
    • One knows their own needs and preference and can voice them
    • One can tolerate conflict
    • One can be vulnerable 
    • One can manage having competing needs
    • Mature coping mechanisms like humor, or asking for support
  • Why are some people aware of their unhappy childhoods, yet they find themselves involved with difficult people in their adult relationships?
    • HSPs have great insight and great memories
    • HSPs are altruistic and function at a high level
    • If a person doesn’t do the emotional work to heal from childhood, they recognize the patterns, but continue to engage in relationships/patterns that don’t work
    • You must have the emotional experience of what happened to you in childhood
    • When one hasn’t done the emotional work, one doesn’t have the gut feeling or instinct that informs one that this isn’t healthy
  • What signs should a person look for at the beginning of a relationship in order to assess its potential for becoming a healthy relationship?
    • One feels fully seen
    • One is even tempered
    • One is able to own and accept their mistakes
    • One has the ability to apologize and make amends
    • One has the capacity to receive
    • One is enjoyable, playful, has a sense of humor
    • There is a realistic and reliable foundation
    • One can work with reality and they try and understand what’s going on
    • One can think and feel at the same time (one’s brain doesn’t get hijacked with emotion)
    • One can be reasoned with
    • One is respectful of boundaries—if you set a boundary, one might be curious about it (but not defensive or try and push the boundary)
    • One doesn’t psychoanalyze or label or call names (sensitive, overreacting, emotional, unreliable, etc.)
    • One can talk from a feeling place 
    • One won’t tell you how you should be feelings
    • One can wait and be patient
    • One can handle stress well (if you see impatience and irritability in the beginning BEWARE!)
  • What are the biggest red flags that indicate that you might be getting involved with an Emotionally Immature Person?
    • You feel like you can’t completely be yourself
      • Not opening up, not completely at ease, watching yourself
    • Your thoughts are scrambled
      • You don’t think as clearly or concisely
    • The person has a history of conflictual relationships, and tends to see themselves as a victim or a rescuer
  • What are deal breakers in any close relationship? 
    • If you’re doing a lot of the work, and you can’t communicate your feelings, and you don’t feel safe or confident with the other person
    • The other person is constantly telling you that you’re the problem
  • Why is it difficult to end a difficult relationship?
    • We bond with others for a sense of survival. 
    • It’s familiar and there is emotional intensity (this isn’t necessarily a positive attribute)
    • The more emotional stimulation (even if it’s negative—fighting, abuse), the tighter the bonding


Lindsay Gibson, PsyD. has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over thirty years and specializes in individual adult psychotherapy with adult children of emotionally immature parents. She is the author of three books. Her most recent book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents remains a #1 Amazon Best Seller. The follow up to this book is Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents, and the 2nd edition of her first book Who You Were Meant To Be has just been released on Amazon. In the past Dr. Gibson has served as an adjunct assistant professor teaching doctoral psychology students, and she writes a monthly Well-Being column for Tidewater Women magazine in Virginia Beach, VA.


Patricia Young hosts the podcast Unapologetically Sensitive, and she works with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) helping them to understand their HSP traits, and turning their perceived shortcomings into superpowers. Patricia is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate the amazing gifts they have to offer. Patricia works globally online with HSPs providing coaching. Patricia also facilitates online groups for HSPs that focus on building community and developing skills (identifying your superpowers, boundaries, perfectionism, dealing with conflict, mindfulness, embracing emotions, creating a lifestyle that supports the HSP, communication and more).


Dr. Gibson’s Links


What is an Emotionally Immature person and how to identify a healthy relationship with Dr. Lindsay Gibson episode 43--

Narcissism, Gas Lighting, Love Bombing,  Hoovering and Healing from a Narcissistic Relationship with Amy Marlow Macoy episode 85-- 

John Bowlby on Attachment 

Bruce Ecker Pro Symptom Approach-- 

Stephen Porges Polyvagal Theory-- 

Love on the Spectrum on Netflix

Patricia’s links

HSP Online Course--

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Music-- Gravel Dance by Andy Robinson