Letting Go of Someone You Love: Learning How to Walk Away
Letting go of someone you love when everything in your heart is telling you to hang on for dear life is one of the hardest things you will have to do.
I remember the moment I knew I had to walk away from a long-term relationship. Something inside of me was so uneasy. Things felt strange and suspicious, and while all of my woman’s intuition radars were going off, I didn’t want to listen to them.
I kept looking for confirmations everywhere I looked. I’d listen for them from friends and family. I’d listen in church. I’d look for them in my readings and from TV shows. I tried hard to validate a relationship that was so invalid. Looking back, I could almost kick myself for staying around as long as I did – I’m stubborn and tenacious. Normally great personality traits, but just not when you’re trying to let go of a relationship.
As a final straw, I asked a friend to pray with me over the relationship. This was a very serious matter so I asked her to fast and pray with me. Fasting, for those of you who may not know is a time where you don’t eat and drink so you can concentrate more deeply on your prayer.
I came home in the middle of the day to pray and while I was there, I looked up a quick inspirational thought, and I kid you not, this was that day’s devotion, “Walking Away“.
After winning a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, wrestler Rulon Gardner took off his shoes, placed them in the center of the mat, and walked away in tears. Through that symbolic act, Gardner announced his retirement from the sport which had defined his life for many years.
Times of walking away come to all of us, and they can be emotionally wrenching. A loved one “walks away” in death. A child moves away from home. We leave a job or a community and it feels as if we’ve left everything behind. But when we know the Lord, we never have to walk into an unknown future alone.
I was gutted. It was the absolute last thing I wanted to hear. It’s not the answer I was banking on, but everything inside of me knew it was true.
I tried to tell myself it just meant walk away for now and maybe not for later, but now I know it meant to walk away for good.
I’m gonna be honest with you. I didn’t walk away right away like I should have, and I experienced the heavy weight of that bad decision. And I truly want to keep you from that kind of pain.
The Decision to Leave is Courageous
I’m not sure why you’ve decided to leave your relationship, and maybe the decision wasn’t really yours but you need to learn how to let go so you can move forward with your life. Maybe you’ve been cheated on and feel like you can’t stay around. Perhaps you’ve just realised you’re in a toxic relationship or maybe you know the two of you are not good together.
Whatever the reason may be, now, leaving is about
• growing as a person,
• opening your heart and
• moving on so you can have a healthier relationship.
The decision you’re making to move forward with your life is courageous.
The process of walking away is so hard that some people end up stuck in the wrong relationship for a lifetime.
This is why getting guidance and coaching on how to walk away can be a decision that positively impacts you for the rest of your life. This article will help you by walking you through the process of letting go of someone you love.
Understanding Why Walking Away Is So Difficult
Looking back, I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to understand my personality and what’s deeply embedded inside of me that makes walking away from romantic relationships so difficult for me.
Now I understand that at my core, I’m fiercely loyal. I work hard to make things happen, and I’m as stubborn as a bulldog.
In normal life, these are great qualities for getting stuff done, but when it comes to relationships, they’re not helpful when it comes to letting go.
As a result, I tend to hold on to relationships far too long and work hard to fix things long after the time of death on the relationship has been called.
Couple those qualities with love, dreams of the future and, let’s just be honest, being a woman – with all the pressure that involves – and it’s no wonder I have had a hard time walking away and letting go.
Moving on from a relationship is hard because our lives become intertwined with our boyfriend. We begin to dream together and imagine a future. We invite them into our worlds to meet our family and friends and in a moment, all of that can come crashing down.
What’s Stopping You from Walking Away
Sometimes, we’ve dreamed so long about being with someone that we idealize them and it becomes impossible to walk away from the perfect version of them because….well, we’ve imagined them to be perfect and who doesn’t like perfection?
And, we all have personality quirks that make relationships challenging. Perhaps it’s co-dependence or pride or your sense of value and self-worth that’s connecting to you to the relationship.
Dig deep and ask yourself, what is truly keeping me tied to my ex? What’s preventing me from walking away?
Sometimes the answer is deeper than you might realise. But when you’ve found the answer to these questions, you’ll be in a better position to walk away.
When You’re in a Toxic Relationship
While many people would understand the struggle in letting go of a healthy relationship they’re less sympathetic when the relationship is toxic.
A toxic relationship is past two people fight and disagreeing.
According to Psychology Today, “It is the poisonous atmosphere that distinguishes a merely bad or troublesome relationship from a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships can prevent those involved from living a productive and healthy life. “
Even in the middle of the disrespect and drama, some people still find it difficult to walk away, but deep down inside they know they should and they desperately long for a solution on how to do it. They toy with the question, how do you let go of someone you love but who you know is not good for you?
The first step is to understand your “why”.
Why I Walked Away
The reason I walked away from my first relationship is because my loyalty was not returned. I was all in and he was half out. Even the most loyal ride or die chick would have walked away.
Now, I want you to understand your “why”.
Understand your reason for walking away
People in healthy relationships don’t usually contemplate letting go of someone they love so something has brought you to this moment.
Recognize the reason you are contemplating walking away and capture it.
If it were possible, I would tell you to take a photo of it or capture it in a box so you could stare it straight in the face and confront it.
The next best thing is for you to write it all down. Be honest. Be detailed. If necessary bring in the best of your best friends who knows the truth about you and isn’t afraid to say it to you because when it comes to matters of the heart, things can get a bit murky.
Writing your thoughts and feelings are powerful ways to gain clarity, and right now, you need things to be as clear as the Bermudan sea.
The reason this is so important is because this isn’t something you’ll say to yourself just one time.
You are creating a position statement – or better yet a mission statement – for your life. This statement will remind you of who you are and who you aren’t.
And most importantly, when you’re tempted to reach out to your ex, this statement will give you all the reason in the world not to.
As you walk through this time in your life, you need to reconnect with who you are. While this is an exercise that can take a lifetime, start the journey. Begin to understand the path you’re traveling.
While relationships are amazing, they have the tendency to make you lose yourself. You can forget what your personality is like because it becomes so wrapped up in your ex’s personality.
Now is the time to refocus on understanding who you are and what makes you tick.
Now is the time to push yourself to learn and to grow.
Now is the time to grow into the person you are meant to be. This is all part of the process of letting go of your past so you can embrace your future.
Where are you going?
Once you start the journey to understanding why you’re walking away and who you are, you need to have an idea of where you’re going. This will let you know if you’re on the right path or not.
I left a relationship because we always tended to go to the same restaurants all the time. This might seem so small and so simple to you, but it was a big glaring red flag for me.
I knew I wanted a life of adventure that was filled with a variety of experiences and life activities, and that little bit of routine and tendency to always do the familiar was going to hold me back.
Some people leave relationships because the other person is not moving in the same direction as they are in their career or they’re not maturing socially.
It’s up to you to decide where you’re going and if the relationship is going to last in the long-term.
Give yourself space
We’ve talked a bit about the underlying purpose of walking away, but here comes the hard part – actually doing it!
How do you walk away from someone you’ve loved for so long? How do you say goodbye and actually mean it?
One of the most well-known ways to walk away from an ex is to use the no-contact method, which says you’ll stop all contact with your ex for a set period of time, like 30 or 60 days.
The idea is to give your heart time to heal, give your ex some space and allow him to miss you.
Some people use it with the purpose of getting back with their ex, but I want you to use it to help you let go of your ex.
This process, which is fully explained in this article that I wrote, The 30 Day No Contact Rule: Highs and Lows of Giving Your Ex Some Space, will give you clarity on how it works and what to do.
One of the things you’re almost guaranteed to experience after this breakup is loneliness.
When you’ve been in a relationship for awhile, you’re used to hanging out with the same people. Your friendships with your girlfriends may not be as strong as they used to be because you may have stopped hanging out as much.
During this time, you may find yourself struggling with where you fit in.
It’s at this time that you’ll be vulnerable to loneliness. Loneliness can lead you to make some decisions you wouldn’t have otherwise made.
If you learn to turn loneliness on its head so that it’s an emotion that empowers you instead of making you weak, you’ll find the days and weeks ahead to be much more endurable.
You can deal with loneliness by making it an emotion that benefits you.
Grieve the Relationship
Give yourself the space and the time to grieve the relationship. You’ve experienced a loss and you need to give yourself the space to process that. Sometimes we beat ourselves up for crying over a relationship or feeling sad and slightly depressed.
You’ve experienced a great loss. Allow yourself to experience the loss. What would you do after any loss? What would you do after someone died? Would you beat yourself up for crying? No! You’d think it was perfectly normal.
Give yourself the space and and the grace to grieve. Going through this process will help you process the loss and let it go. You have to acknowledge what you’re feeling right now in order to move on and “get over” the relationship.
Get Professional Help
Don’t be ashamed or afraid to reach out for help! You can ask your friends and family, but I am totally for getting professional counseling. Whenever I’ve experienced a significant breakup, I’ve gotten professional counseling. It helps put things in perspective. It’s a neutral party. They give great coping techniques and help you get insight you wouldn’t have come up with on your own or even in chatting with a best friend.
Reimagine Your Future
Letting go of someone you love can be especially difficult because you’ve imagined your future with them. If you’re a planner, you’ve dreamed of the 2.5 kids you’d have and the house and the car and the dog. Even if you haven’t looked too long term, there is the vacation you were planning to take and the wedding you’re going to together. Not only do you have to let the guy go, you also have to let go of all the dreams that came with him. You’re going to be sad because of the dreams you created in your mind with this person.
Here is where you have the opportunity to dream. What do you want your life to look like? How do you imagine it? Realise that this process is going to take time. What could a new dream look like?
Saying goodbye to a relationship
Sometimes ceremonies and rituals are powerful ways to provide closure to a particular time in our lives. The most common one that comes to mind is a funeral, but there’s another type of ceremony that marks the end of a chapter that’s not so sad and that’s a graduation.
As a kid, I always thought the word commencement meant ending because you were finishing a really important part in your educational journey. With a song like Pomp and Circumstance belting through the pipe organs it made so much sense. However, when I found out it meant beginning, it made so much sense.
Just like graduations mark the end of something but celebrate the new beginning you can use this time in your life to celebrate a new beginning.
One way many people do this is by writing a final goodbye love letter. This is the kind of letter you never intend to send. It’s just therapeutic to write it and release all of the emotions inside of you.
There are many other things you can do as well to mark the new beginning in your life and let go of the past like a solo travel trip, trying a new hairstyle and moving to a new city. Major life change sometimes helps your heart and mind process major emotional change.
You are brave
Letting go of someone you love takes courage and bravery. It’s a step into the unknown with the hope that a better future lies ahead. It’s embracing your own company, even if it’s been a long time since you hung out with yourself. It’s a change in social status from in a relationship (however bad and challenging it may have been) to single. It’s losing those things that were good about a relationship.
At the same time, letting go is about gaining yourself and your freedom. It’s opening your hand and your heart to opportunity. Letting go is embracing the time you’ll get to spend learning more about yourself, mapping out your future and moving forward.
Yes! It’s scary and unpredictable and unknown, but it’s also exhilarating. The world is yours. All you have to do is be brave enough to take the first step forward.