“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they are yours. If not, they never were.” We have all heard this popular saying about the importance of letting people go. But what does it really mean? Some believe that it’s all in the hands of fate. It doesn’t matter how madly you are in love with someone unless destiny is on your side.
However, my interpretation of this age-old saying is that you can’t force someone to love you, stay with you, and grow old with you. You have to give them the freedom to choose you over anyone and everyone else. No amount of begging, pleading, and beseeching can make them stay.
Letting go doesn’t mean you need to stop loving them either. You can love someone and still let them go. You are not giving up on them or burying the love you have for them. You are just making yourself a priority.
Why We Keep Holding On To Those We Love
Why is it so difficult to let people go, especially the ones we love? Because it’s easy to hold on to. Holding on can seem comforting because the alternative – the thought of letting go of someone you love – creates uncertainty that we may not be prepared to face. We are afraid of the void it’s going to create. The pain of holding on becomes so familiar that we forget it’s our foe and that it is damaging us.
We expect that by holding on to someone we love, we will be able to preserve love and happiness in our lives forever. That couldn’t be far from the truth. The more you cling to someone and force them to stay in your life, the more suffocated and trapped they will feel. That’s not love. Love is positive freedom. It’s when you and the person you love feel free in the relationship.
Many people think that if you love someone, you move heaven and earth for them. But is it worth trying to do whatever it takes to make another person love you at the cost of losing yourself? Yes, you do your share in making a relationship work. You put in equal effort. You compromise equally. You respect equally and draw boundaries.
But what happens when that balance is off? You fall apart. You are on different rhythms while desperately trying to be on the same page. You sleep and wake up on the same bed that hasn’t witnessed love in many weeks or even months.
Some other reasons why we keep holding on:
- You are obsessed with the idea of being loved by them. There’s a thin line between being loved and loving the idea of being loved. When you confuse these two, you tend to hold on to a person a lot longer than necessary
- You are afraid of the pain that letting go is going to cause. At this point, you are already going through a lot of pain. To add more to it, the entire process of letting go seems unbearable and you don’t know if there are ways to find happiness again without the presence of this person
- You are still hopeful that things will work out between you and your partner or romantic interest. Perhaps, deep down you also know that this hope is futile. If they wanted to stay, they would have stayed
- You are uncertain about the future. The future can be daunting but you need to trust the universe. When one door closes, another opens
There’s no doubt that love is accompanied by both positive and negative emotions. It comes with both good and bad times. Is it still love when you don’t feel happy? Is it still love when you conceal your real emotions? It’s definitely not love when you hide your sorrows and pretend it’s all okay. When there’s no contentment and happiness, it’s time we let go.
Because what’s the point of being in a relationship that’s constantly causing you pain? Yes, each person is responsible for their happiness. You can’t expect someone to make you happy. But that doesn’t mean someone else has the authority to cause unhappiness in your life.
Related Reading: Companionship Vs Relationship – The 10 Basic Differences
Is It Possible To Outgrow People?
It is natural to outgrow people. There will come a time when you will outgrow your friends and lovers. A study by Oxford University confirms that it is at the age of 25 that both men and women start outgrowing friends. That’s primarily because as we grow, we have different goals in life. We have different priorities.
Life is never constant. There will always be change waiting for us every step of the way. We grow, we change, and so do our dynamics with our friends. Friendships do last forever but you just don’t meet often. There’s no resentment or hostile feelings toward them, you just outgrow them and don’t see the need to belong with them anymore as you did during your adolescence. The same can be true of two partners in a romantic relationship.
How To Decide When To Let Someone Go?
A person may tell you 50 times a day that they love you. But the question is, do their actions make you feel loved? My former lover used to say, “Nobody can love you as much as I do.” Those words made me swoon every single time. Long story short, he was cheating on me. It’s never about sweet whispers and grand gestures.
It’s about effort. When I did everything to keep him happy, he was out buying flowers for someone else. In the end, his words amounted to nothing because you need constant effort from both partners to keep a relationship healthy and harmonious. You can’t be the only one doing everything while the other person takes you out on a date, utters a few romantic and sweet things, drops you back home, and then goes back home to sleep with someone else.
I loved him because loving him made me happy and the thought of him loving me back made me feel ecstatic. It was nothing short of euphoria. When I didn’t get the same love, effort, and honesty in return, I chose to let him go. But the pain he caused stayed for a very long time. In simple words, I lost hope.
After a lot of self-loathing, unaddressed anxiety after breakup, and piled-up insecurities, I realized I was wasting my days wishing for something to be untrue. I couldn’t go back in time and make him undo those things. Why waste my years moping over someone who didn’t even do the bare minimum in the relationship? That’s when I knew it was time to move ahead with my head held high.
Here are some signs you know it’s time to let go of them:
- When you have forgotten what it feels like to be happy
- When your insecurities are so high that you end up hating yourself more and more each day
- When you are constantly making excuses for your partner or deluding yourself into believing that things will get better
- Everything is physically and emotionally exhausting you
- You feel like you are being burdened and suffocated
- When holding on is holding you back in life
When you let go of someone, you can’t expect that you’d completely forget about them. The thoughts, the memories, and the scars will linger on for many years after moving on. That’s when you need to remind yourself if they are worth thinking about and holding on to because holding on does way more damage than letting go.
Finally, The Act Of Letting Go
“Let it go” is oversimplified these days. Did someone hurt you? Let it go. Didn’t get into your dream college? Let it go. Had a falling out with your friend? Let it go. Dealing with the loss of a loved one? Let it go. In the process, we seem to have forgotten to comprehend the pain and struggle one person faces to get over something. Letting go is not an instant cure for all that ails your heart and mind. It takes time. It is a very slow process. But you will eventually get there.
Oh, what a feeling when you learn to let go. It’s hard, yes. It will hurt to let go but it’s necessary for your growth. When you learn to let it go emotionally, you will feel lighter. Breakups or just any loss of love can bring a lot of sadness and you find yourself in the thick of stages of grief.
When the going seems impossible, it helps to remember that among all the distressing stages of grief, the last stage is acceptance and letting go. And that’s worth all the sleepless nights and tear-stained pillows. You need to understand why it happened. Once you’ve come to terms with it, you need to find out what you want to take from this experience that will help you move on and become a better person.
- Letting go doesn’t mean you have to stop loving them
- Effort, compromise, and honesty in a relationship determine whether you stay and fight for your future or let go and focus on moving on
- It is natural to mourn the loss of love but you need to move forward
Acceptance is the key to a sane mind. You fell in love. It didn’t work out. You broke up. The thought of letting go of what you thought your life would be is going to be heartbreaking, but it’s not impossible. That relationship has positively contributed to who you have become today. Cherish it. But don’t despair over the loss of it or try to hold on to the remnants of it. The longer you hold that rope, the more it will rip your skin.