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“One form of loving is when you just want the best for someone, whether that includes you or not.” ~ Unknown
When we love someone, our attachment to them is huge. Being in love and feeling someone’s love in return is as intoxicating as a warm summer day on a secluded exotic beach.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have loved and been loved many times in my lifetime. Each love was different, filled with different degrees of affection, different levels of intimacy, different kinds and depths of love.
Some of those loves were easy to let go of. There was a gradual ending to the relationship. Or a mutual understanding that our paths were now meant to go in different directions. And as hard as it may have been to say goodbye to someone I had shared so much with, it never felt like the ripping out of my heart like others that were to come later down the line.
I hold space and coach a lot of people who are in relationships they just can’t let go of. As the outside observer, it is much easier for me to see that the dynamic between the two people is no longer healthy, or that they have just become two different people and need to part ways in the most loving way possible.
I have watched people hold on so tight to someone who is no longer serving them that they strangle what little life is life out of it.
We are not practicing love when we see the other person clearly wants to go and we are holding them prisoner, guilting them into staying or finding reasons we have to force them to make it work.
Sometimes we have so much invested in the relationship—years, money, belongings and a home together, mutual friends, children—that to just give up on it seems foolish. Hasty. Irresponsible. And in our hearts, not emotionally possible.
But when the person has told you or shown you in so many ways that their heart no longer resides with you, wouldn’t the most loving thing that you could do for yourself and for that person be to let them go?
Do you not feel you deserve better? Do you not deserve to be with somebody who is “all in?”
It is incredibly difficult to decide the moment when you give up and let go. Only your heart knows the answer. But here are some clues that helped me when I had to do it:
1) Are you holding onto the relationship because of fear? Fear of being alone? Fear of financial insecurity? Fear that you will never find somebody else to love you again? If so, it’s time to let it go. Fear is not a reason to stay in a relationship.
2) Are you holding on because you feel that person “owes you?” You gave up so much of your life to them. You gave them children. You supported them financially when they were going through a difficult time. So they owe you. They can’t just walk away!
Nobody owes us anything. We owe it to ourselves to love ourselves enough to walk away from someone who can no longer love us the way we deserve to be loved.
3) Is the person fighting as hard as you are to hold the relationship together? Don’t listen to what they say. Look at what they do. You know when somebody is fighting hard for you and the relationship. It takes two people to make a relationship work or to create something better.
4) Are you your best self with this person? Not when things were good. Now. Are you your best self now with them?
And are they their best selves with you? If you are bringing out the worst in each other—anger, resentment, jealousy, insecurity—the answer is probably no.
5) Can you honestly say that you are the best person for your partner? Or is it possible that there is somebody else out there who may be a better fit for them because of who they have become over the years?
Sometimes people outgrow us. Or they want different things. There is a point where we have to get honest with ourselves and accept that we may no longer be the right partner anymore for the person we love.
There was a man I once loved very much. He made it clear that although he loved me, he was no longer in love with me. He was in love with somebody else. So I let him go. It sucked. It was painful and heart-wrenching and made me feel that I was not enough in so many ways.
But I realized later that true love is letting someone go when it’s time.
And true self-love is creating the space to let somebody else in who can love me like I deserve.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Emily Bartran