“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 a few 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 have spoken with 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 may no longer be 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 left 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.
We are not practising love when it’s the “illusion of love”- it’s the memories of how things used to be, it’s the story we tell ourselves of how things are and sadly this often is not the reality.
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?” Do they not deserve better? Do they not deserve to be with someone 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 have children. Maybe 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. Or if our heart is no longer there for the right reasons-we owe it to ourself and our partner to walk away.
3) Is the person fighting as hard as you are to hold the relationship together? Not desperately clinging on but mutually working together. Don’t listen to what they say. Look at what they do. Look at what they’ve done. 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 and that takes hard work and trust.
4) Are you your best self with this person? Not just now but the years you have been together- how many of your years together can you absolutely without reservation say- you have been your best self? Can they say the same?
Is there honesty? Openness? Vulnerability?
5) Can you honestly say that you are the best person for your partner? Are they the best person for you? 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 and who you have become over the years?
Sometimes people outgrow us or we outgrow them. Or we want different things. There is a point where we have to get honest with ourselves, like really honest and accept that we may no longer be the right partner anymore for the person we are with and they may not be the right person for us. It doesn’t mean there is no love, it just means it’s not the right love. It’s no longer the love it was, or we have simply changed and outgrown that love.
There was a man I once loved very much. I came to a point where I loved him- loved him like family, like a best friend, the father of my children, and we had been together for so many years, but I was no longer in love with him. He struggled letting me go and it caused more pain for us both. It was heart wrenching. It sucked. His inability to let me go, pushed me further away and the sad reality is financial ties, long family histories and the children we shared were no longer reasons to stay. He deserved better and I deserved better.
I have learnt that true love is letting someone go when it’s time. Definitely not easy but absolutely the right thing to do for everyone.
And true self-love is creating the space to let somebody else in when the time comes.