Letting go of someone you love is one of the hardest things that anyone will ever do. It can be a lonely and painful path that comes with a variety of intense emotions. But when it comes to how to let go of someone you love, there are certain steps you can take to help you move forward and start to heal.
While moving on can be an incredibly difficult process, it’s important to let go of things that don’t serve you, be it anything from a relationship to even an old pair of shorts that you haven’t worn in years. By letting go of things that no longer bring you happiness, you can create space for new beginnings and focus your attention on areas of your life that bring you joy.
Why is learning how to let go of someone you love so hard?
Learning how to let go of someone you love is incredibly difficult for many reasons. It can feel like mourning a death in some ways, as you are saying goodbye to a person who you care deeply about. Here are six reasons why letting go of someone you love is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.
1. Love is the most powerful emotion in the world.
Letting go of someone you love is so hard because love is the most powerful emotion in the world. Love is like a drug. It can be incredibly intoxicating, and when it’s taken away, it can feel like physical pain. The brain regions associated with physical pain overlap with those based on social anguish. So when people say love hurts, they’re being more literal than you might think.
2. Relationships make us feel secure.
Another key reason why it’s so hard to let go of someone you love is that we are hard-wired for human connection. We have evolved to have a deep desire to form intimate relationships with others. Historically, if we didn’t have close bonds, our chances of survival would have been greatly reduced. So in the past, relationships were essential to our safety.
3. We are hard-wired for human connection.
Human connection is still vital for our mental health today, but less so for our physical health. When was the last time you had to rely on someone else for food or water? We are no longer dependent upon each other in that way, but the psychological connection still remains. Relationships can make us feel safe and secure because we are built to naturally seek to belong in the form of a partnership or a group. That’s why it can be so hard to let go of someone we love and how deeply it can affect us emotionally.
4. Feelings of emptiness can consume you.
Letting go of someone you love can also be difficult because of how intertwined you have become. It might feel like you don’t know who you are without the other person, or that your life won’t be the same without them. You may have built a life together in terms of having the same friendship circle and hobbies. When you lose someone you love, their absence in your everyday life can feel like a constant reminder of how much you miss them.
5. Letting go can feel like a loss of control.
Finally, how to let go of someone you love can be so hard because it is a process that requires us to surrender control. We have to accept the fact that we cannot control how the other person feels or how they will respond. This can be extremely difficult and often creates a feeling of helplessness. When you decide to truly let go, it can feel like the final goodbye, and you are accepting that this person will no longer be a part of your life.
6. It can seem like no one will ever replace them.
Often, it’s difficult to let go of someone you love because it seems like no one will ever be able to match up. It can feel like they were special and unique and that you will never find someone who can fill their shoes. We are all unique and even though you won’t find someone who is an exact replica, it will be possible to find someone who you love deeply. All bonds are different, and there is no need to compare or try to find someone who will be a carbon copy of the person you are moving on from.
Letting go of someone you love is painful and devastating, but it can be the best thing for both of you. By understanding why it’s so tough, you can begin to work through the process and focus on how to move forward in a positive way.
5 emotional considerations of letting go of someone you love
First, let’s delve into the emotional considerations of letting go of someone you love. These points will help you to understand the conceptual aspect of letting go of someone you love.
1. Loving someone involves wanting them to be happy.
Pure, selfless love is a powerful emotion that goes beyond just how we feel about someone. It involves wanting the other person to be happy and fulfilled, even if it means that you are no longer part of their life. If you truly love someone, you will always respect their wishes and accept loving them from afar. Wanting someone to be ‘yours’ isn’t pure, selfless love. And if they are a healthy, developed person, they won’t want you pining over them. So the kindest thing to do for both of you is to let them go and focus on moving forward with your life.
2. Realize that they may have noticed incompatibilities that you couldn’t see.
It can be easy to miss incompatibilities when we fall head over heels in love with someone. We might overlook how different our values and goals really are, or that our partner isn’t one the same wavelength as us. And sometimes, they might actually pick up on things that we don’t, but for the better. They might have picked up on incompatibilities that would have eventually caused problems down the line, and had enough self-awareness to do something about it.
3. Respect that they have other priorities.
More often than not, people don’t actively want to hurt someone when they decide they don’t want to be with them. They simply have other priorities, and that has taken over how they feel about the relationship. You can be angry, hurt, and disappointed, but it is important to respect how they feel. They are free to make their own decisions and if they want to spend time focusing on work, health, or dating someone else, that’s their prerogative.
4. Release any bitterness and anger.
While it’s important to process whatever emotions come up for you, it’s equally important to let go of any bitterness or anger after a certain amount of time. Holding onto these emotions will only prolong the pain and you might find yourself stuck in an endless cycle of negative thinking. If you find yourself feeling this way, there are ways to deal with it, including talking to a professional.
5. Consider why you would want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you.
This point only applies in situations where your partner chose to end the relationship or doesn’t want to be with you in the first place. But if this is the case, you need to ask yourself why you would want to be with someone who has made it clear they don’t want to be with you. Wouldn’t you want to be with someone who loves you deeply and adores you for who you are? You 100% deserve to be with someone who sees and appreciates all your unique characteristics. And it’s important to remind yourself of that.
7 practical tips for how to let go of someone you love
So we’ve looked at the emotional considerations of how to let go of someone you love. Now, here are some practical tips on how to come to terms with the situation and move forward.
1. Allow yourself time to process your emotions.
Just like with any other loss, it’s important to give yourself time to grieve after parting ways with someone you love. This doesn’t mean that you have to wallow in your sorrows for months on end and shut yourself off from the world, but you should allow yourself to feel the pain and heartache that comes with a failed relationship. In general, men are more likely to try to move on quickly when they are trying to let go of someone they love rather than taking the time to embrace their emotions. This might result in short-term happiness, but it’s not beneficial in the long run if it involves bottling up your feelings. It can come back to bite you in the future, in several ways.
2. Pursue your passions.
If you are truly letting go of someone you love and they were an integral part of your life, you might find that you have more time on your hands. Use this opportunity to pursue your passions and do the things that you love. This can help take your mind off the person that you are letting go of. But even more importantly, it’s a great way to find joy in life and explore different parts of yourself. Not only will you grow as a person and be in a better place, but after a while, you might even find that you’re happier without that person in your life.
3. Consider what you’ve learned from the situation.
There are always learnings you can take from a failed relationship. This isn’t about pointing fingers, be it at yourself or your partner. It’s about taking a step back and thinking about what you would do differently next time so you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Perhaps you had unrealistic expectations of how you wanted the relationship to be. Or you invested in them when they weren’t giving much back. Whatever it is, you’ll find something you can learn from the situation if you dig deep enough.
4. Don’t ask ‘what if’.
Avoid dwelling on the past. Instead, focus on your present and future. After letting go of someone you love, you might be tempted to spend all of your time thinking about what went wrong and how you could have done things differently. While it’s important to reflect and take learnings forward, you can’t turn back time. No good can come from obsessing about what has been and gone. If you find yourself constantly asking ‘what if’, try to reframe your thoughts. Focus on the things you are currently grateful for in life and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
5. Be clear about your boundaries.
When you part ways with someone, you should be clear about your boundaries and what you’re comfortable with in terms of communication. If you’re not ready to talk to the person, let them know that you need some space and time. Similarly, if you find yourself getting too emotionally attached, it might be best to limit your contact. Or even go completely no-contact. The most important thing is that you do what is right for you long-term, not just in the moment. Letting go of someone you love often requires self-restraint. A text at 2am when you’re missing them might give you a quick hit. But ultimately, it will make it harder to move on.
6. Talk to your family and friends.
If necessary, seek support from your family and friends. The importance of a support network during the process of letting go of someone you love varies from person to person. Some people might find it beneficial to talk to those close to them, while others might prefer to keep things private. In general, women rely more heavily on their support networks than men during emotionally difficult times. Even if you aren’t the kind of person who openly talks about their feelings, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Your family and friends can provide emotional support, understanding, and advice during this difficult time. They can also provide practical help to make the transition easier, such as helping you find a new place to live or cooking you dinner.
7. Seek professional help if necessary.
In some cases, you may choose to seek professional help to cope with your emotions. A therapist, counselor, or coach can provide you with support in a safe environment and help you work through the grief. It’s important to note that we all have different grieving timelines. This means we all need different types of support at different stages. For example, one person might want to talk things through with their friends straight away, then spend time alone, and then speak to a therapist. Other people might go about the process in a completely different way. There is no set path when working out how to let go of someone you love. You’ll need to find what best suits you.
Final thoughts on how to let go of someone you love
One of the most important overarching points to remember when it comes to letting go of someone you love is that you have to truly want to move on. Many people subconsciously cling to the past because they can’t bear the thought of a future without that person.
When the time is right, and it might not be straight away, you need to make the conscious decision to be kind to both of you and to let go.
Finally, if you liked this post, you might also like our blog about the dangers of falling in love too fast and the stages of grief with divorce.
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