What Happens After Letting Go of Someone You Love 

A women who is letting go of someone you love, in a car looking out the window at sunset on an open road.

Many of us have had to walk away from someone we love. Sometimes the relationship just isn’t right, the other person doesn’t love you the way you need them to, or the situation calls for it. Whatever the reason, letting go of someone is tough. What should you be prepared for after making this choice? How do you feel and what can you do to move forward?

Lingering relationship wounds can make it hard to move forward, which is why it’s important to get clear and focused, and be gentle, with yourself once you make the break.

If you’re struggling with letting go of someone, here’s what you need to do in order to make the transition and heal as much as possible. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Cut Off Contact
No, being “friends” with your ex doesn’t make you a healthy, mature human. You know what makes you a healthy, mature human? Putting your self-care first. Keeping in contact with your ex is like picking at a scab—you’re not allowing it to heal and let nature take its course. Letting go of someone you love is overwhelming, and it hurts. In truth, it sucks. Which is why many of us don’t want to do it. But if you know that letting them go is the best thing for you, then cutting off contact from them is a must. Delete, delete, unfollow.

Be Okay With Your Feelings
You’re going to experience a ton of emotions. You might feel hurt, disappointed, sad, angry, frustrated, resentful, embarrassed—and all of them are perfectly normal and valid. The worst thing you can do is stifle and ignore your feelings, or distract yourself with trivial, and potential harmful, things like alcohol, “instant” relationships, shopping, food, etc. Feelings allow us to process what we’ve experienced and help us crystallize our truth in order to move forward. Face the pain no matter how uncomfortable it might feel—and it will feel uncomfortable. You will want to run, and maybe even back to your ex. Don’t. That will put you ten steps back, and will undo your progress. Instead realize your feelings will set you free. And then let them.

Release the Fairytale
The struggle and pain we encounter post-breakup is more related to the fantasy we had of the relationship and its potential future than the relationship itself. Most times we get hooked on our hopes of what could be, rather than what it truly was. This grieving time is the perfect opportunity to get honest with yourself about what you’re truly hurt from. Is it letting go of who your partner truly is or letting go of what you hoped they would become? Indulging in your fantasies and “what could have been” is not only reopening the wound again and again, but it’s also preventing you from moving on and letting go for good. Get real with the realness of the situation and stop perpetuating the fairytale .

Practice Forgiveness
As you let go, you’ll feel a lot of resentment and pain towards your partner and towards yourself. In order to move on, you must forgive. Otherwise you run the risk of holding onto resentment, hurt, and anger for way longer than you should, which will only impede the letting go process. Forgiving your partner doesn’t let them off the hook for any bad behavior, but it does let you off the hook from carrying that heavy burden around.

Perhaps what’s more difficult than forgiving your partner is forgiving yourself and the role you played in the relationship. Try not to view your relationship as a failure or a mistake but as an important life lesson. When you’re able to recognize the growth you’ve accomplished through the relationship, and especially after its demise, you’ll be able to forgive yourself and your partner a little bit more everyday. Forgiveness also gives us clarity—clarity on what we want and no longer want in relationships moving forward. It allows you to see the relationship for what it was, and your role in it, and you’ll be able to see why it happened the way it did and why it’s probably best that it didn’t move forward.

Live Your Life
Yes, mourn and grieve the loss. Feel the feelings and acknowledge parting. But don’t forget about you. Don’t forget about the life you still get to live. Bring your attention, focus, and energy back to you and all the things that light you up. Make a list of all the things that give you joy, and then do them. You don’t necessarily have to date right away—but if that feels right to you, then do it—but don’t be afraid to try new social activities and be around new people. Being around others will remind you of how fun and amazing you are, and will open you to the possibilities of what could be.

Letting go is difficult to say the least. At times it will feel like a defeat, and you will wonder “what if” or maybe even wonder if you were someone different, then maybe it would be different. This isn’t helpful, so, please don’t do it. Instead, allow yourself to endure the process. Letting go is supposed to feel uncomfortable because it allows us to break open and make peace with our wounds, as we let the light back in. Because, in the end, letting go just means you’re readying yourself to hold onto something, and someone, better for you.

Brianne Hogan

Freelance Writer

Brianne is a Canadian freelance writer who’s been writing about dating and relationships longer than any of her relationships. She applies a “do what I say, not do what I do” approach to her articles, and believes you can find Your Person mostly when you aren’t looking. So enjoy your life, and eat lots of cheese (at least that’s her motto). Her byline’s been featured on Thrillist, The Huffington Post, HelloGiggles, Elle Canada, Flare, Awesomeness TV, among others.

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