How to Let Go Someone You Still Love

Many years ago, I was in a relationship which in all respects was a great relationship.

We had a ridiculously strong attraction. We had known each other almost all our lives and pretty much grown up together. Our families knew each other, we went to the same elementary school, attended neighbouring high schools and went to the same university.

We had similar values, hopes, aspirations and even outlook on life. We rarely disagreed on anything and really loved each other’s company. We both knew we meant the world to the other and had each other’s best interest at heart.

As we got older and advanced in our respective careers, we realized we were becoming different people who thought differently and wanted different things. We were not fighting or anything (we very rarely did), nor had the attraction faded, we were just different people who wanted different things.

We didn’t talk about it but we both knew that at some point we’d have to surrender to the inevitable. That didn’t stop us from trying to stay together, which ironically wasn’t hard. We got along so well, teased each other and laughed a lot – and we were each other’s best friend. Still, we were drifting apart and our differences were becoming glaringly obvious.

One day, I just decided that the best thing “to do” was to stop trying to control my experience and just let it be.

We talked when we could and saw each other when time allowed. I just didn’t make as much effort to try to ‘make it work’. I had come to terms with my reality, accepted it and starting to let go.

There was no struggle to “forget everything” (it was a great relationship, why would I want to forget it?).

No need to cut of all contact (I was too old to go back to acting like I was 15 years old).

No need to avoid running into him with someone new (I had enough confidence in my ability to handle the situation with dignity and respect).

No rush to “move on” (to what?).

No feeling that I lost someone or was leaving anything behind (We were and are still friends).

Letting go felt natural and effortless. It even felt empowering because it felt like the right thing to do.

He found himself an amazing woman and I was genuinely happy for him (I even surprised myself). I was happy that he was happy, and deep inside knew that when I was ready, I would meet someone amazing too.

As it turns out, the decision to let go trying to control my experience and just let it be was one of the best decision I have ever made in my life.

We still catch up on each other’s lives from time to time. We even joke about how so different we are now and why us getting married back then would have been “the” mistake of our lives.

If I had not made the decision to allow my experience to be whatever it may be, I might have continued holding on to a relationship that no longer met my wants and needs, maybe even married only to divorce shortly after.

Letting go meant releasing the relationship that no longer fitted or worked for me to create space for the kind of relationship that I wanted.

What’s the message here?

Sometimes we “move on” thinking that things are out of our hands when all we need is a little patience, a little more work to make it work or just let go trying too hard to force things to be what we want. We struggle within ourselves because we’re forcing ourselves to move on when everything in us is screaming “NO. I am not ready to move on!”

Some of us come up with stories to convince ourselves that what we felt and still feel and what we had wasn’t real, that the relationship was toxic or that we weren’t with the right person. We make our ex out to be the ‘devil’ we know deep inside our hearts they are not. And sadly, we get into another relationship when we know we’re not emotionally available. We tell ourselves we ‘moved on’ when what we are doing is trying to move forward looking backwards. No wonder it feels like being ripped apart from the inside. Your head is telling you to move on but your heart is not ready to ‘move on’ (not yet).

But there are times when you know without a shadow of doubt that it’s time to let go, move on and find someone else. It’s how you let go that makes letting go the best decision you ever made or the worst.

Letting go where you feel no resistance, stress and/or conflict within yourself and no animosity towards your ex leaves you feeling energized, optimistic, emotionally open and love-ready.

“Letting go” where you are like, “It hurts so much. I can’t do it anymore” , “I hate you. Go to hell” or “Screw you. I can find me someone better” takes a lot out of you emotionally. It’s energy depleting and leaves a sour taste in your life, and possibly future relationships.

The second message is: If you love someone and feel that because you love them you should and must hang on to a relationship that does not meet your most important needs, chances are you’re hanging on to the relationship that you wish could be or in love with the person you wish he or she was. That’s not a relationship. That’s you afraid to let go.

Related: How Letting Go Helps Get Back Your Ex

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