What Does It Mean, “If You Love Something, Let It Go”?

By Sarah Fader

Updated August 30, 2019

Reviewer Laura Angers

The last thing you want to hear in a relationship is, "If you love something, let it go." It can feel hurtful and disheartening, especially if you're truly in love with your partner. Maybe you want to stay with this person forever. Unfortunately, things don't always work out this way. Sometimes you really do have to let things go, no matter how painful and heartbreaking it may be.

The idea of letting go of someone you hold so dearly may seem incomprehensible, maybe even impossible, but it beats the alternative of losing that person completely. When facing a breakup, you'll have a choice: do you try to force them to stay in your life when they don't want to? Or do you simply let them go?

Relationships - If You Let Go And It Comes Back, It Might Be "Meant To Be"
A Licensed Therapist Can Help You Work Through Your Emotions

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Throughout our lives, we encounter new partners. According to a recent study, men will have an average of six relationships in their lifetime, while women will average five. Despite this, your current relationship can sometimes feel like your last. When you let someone go and give them the opportunity to come back or not, it can feel scary. As humans, we seek companionship, love, and security. Letting go of someone you love can make you feel you're losing these things.

Am I Too Clingy?

When we first fall in love, our entire world revolves around our relationship. Once the flames have died down, however, most people return to their primary personal goals-finishing an education, building a career, or perfecting their skills. You may have a codependent relationship if you're unable to find satisfaction in life outside your romance. Even if you're capable of recognizing unhealthy behavior in your partner, you may choose to stay and give them your support at the cost of your own mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

While some people thrive on codependent relationships, they're not healthy. Codependent dynamics can stunt personal growth. They can also be a breeding ground for conflict. Codependent people will often try to control the relationship, usually by manifesting anxiety, jealousy, and a tendency to be clingy. If the green-eyed monster has been controlling how you relate to your partner, you may need to step back and give your true love some emotional freedom. Although this may prove to be painful, if you love something, let it go. Romantic relationships are built on equal trust. Trust that if your relationship is meant to be, that person will come back to you. This relies on faith as well as confidence in yourself.

Loving Yourself

The quality of the love you can give to others is reflective of how much you love yourself. A person who has self-confidence doesn't undermine the confidence of others. A person who takes pride in self, takes pride in others. When you love yourself, you are supportive of your partner, but will not accept self-destructive behaviors. These maladaptive behaviors are an indication that the love you have for each other isn't healthy. If you love something, let it go when destructive behaviors have damaged your mental wellbeing as well as the mental and physical health of your loved one.

Crossroads of Life

It can be extremely difficult letting go of what you love just to see if it comes back to you, but it's a decision you'll be faced with throughout your life. Life is full of loss, and breakups are a part of that. People either stay together or they grow apart. There are also times that a family member makes a decision that will separate them either physically or culturally from the rest of the family. Sometimes we have no choice but to accept these circumstances.

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Children will eventually leave home for college, boarding school, or camp, yet we accept them back with open arms. We demonstrate our best love when we do it openly, with respect and support for each other.

Sometimes relationships drift apart simply because we go through changes. These changes can often end up sending us in different directions throughout life. However, although we may go our separate ways, we are often brought back together by outside circumstances. We can't expect ourselves to be at the center of anyone's life but our own, so when we love something, we let it go to see if it really means something special to us. If it comes back to us, it's an essential part of our lives and destined to be so. If it doesn't, it simply means that when you approached your crossroads, you chose one direction, and the person you love chose another.

What Do You Really Want for Them?

You may believe that staying with you is your partner's best path for their happiness and wellbeing. This may or may not be true, but it could also be your inner child who doesn't want to say goodbye. There could be triggers from your past that are making you believe you need to hang on to this relationship, when in reality, it may just be your own inner conflict. In an adult relationship, your top priority should always be what really is best for your partner.

Do you want them to feel independent? Would you rather they stay if it meant they could never reach their full potential? Perhaps you feel that when you let them go, they'll never return. That may or may not be true, but taking the risk could mean that when they do return, they'll appreciate your love even more. When this happens, it's a warm and wonderful feeling. It's worth letting someone go because you'll be rewarded with their gratitude when they do return.

What Do You Want for Yourself?

Examine your motives for wanting them to stay. Are you worried they'll be hurt out there in the larger world without you? People can get hurt whether they're in a relationship or not. You can't protect or shelter them from all harm. Trying to do so can create a situation where they resent you and want nothing more than to get away from you. You don't want to sabotage what might be your only chance at making this relationship work. No matter how much they love you, they may feel compelled to stretch their wings. In the meantime, you may be dealing with anxiety issues. You can discuss these issues with one of BetterHelp's online counselors to help you progress forward and prepare yourself for finding love with someone else.

Relationships - If You Let Go And It Comes Back, It Might Be "Meant To Be"
A Licensed Therapist Can Help You Work Through Your Emotions

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Maybe you're afraid of being alone. If so, you need to work on your own emotional issues rather than focusing on your relationship with another person. Staying in a relationship because you don't want to be by yourself is unhealthy. It's better to be alone. Also, the dating scene can be pretty intimidating if you've been in a relationship for a long time. It's better for you, in the long run, to further develop your social skills.

If you're a parent with a child leaving home, you've probably spent most of your life taking care of them, worrying about them, and building your life around their needs and desires. Parenthood is a beautiful thing, and it may be hard to let their dependency end. However, as they leave, you have a chance to do the things you never had time to do before. You can spend more time being an adult, free of the responsibilities that come with raising a child.

You may be faced with a situation where your loved one isn't leaving the relationship but wants to go far away for a while to further their education, take care of family, or even pursue greater career opportunities. If you hold them back, they might come to resent you, or even worse, give up on ever living the life they want. If they settle for being with you when their heart wants to follow their dreams, both of you will suffer until they feel they're too old to live up to their potential. If this becomes mentally unbearable, the two of you may fall out of love completely.

Letting Go with Love

If you're angry or resentful toward them for moving on with their life, you might feel the need to lash out at your loved one. You may want to make them feel bad about themselves for putting you in this position. A part of you might even want them to suffer. This seems counterintuitive, but it's a normal human reaction to feeling rejected or abandoned.

Dealing with those feelings is your first priority, not only for their sake but for yours. Talking to a counselor can help you express your feelings without burdening your loved one with emotional outbursts. Certainly, you can tell them how you feel in words, but you need to be careful about displaying intensely negative emotions toward them. When all is said and done, you'll regret having hurt them if you truly do love them.

Instead, think of what you want for them as they move away from you. Do you want them to remember your relationship as a happy time in their life-so much so that they would consider coming back someday? If so, treat them with kindness and respect. Let them know you want the best for them and you're excited to see what wonderful things they can do in their life without you. Though this may sound painful, it will ultimately foster their independence and potentially lead them back to you. Congratulate them on their promotion or getting into the college of their choice. Make the separation process one of love and good wishes so they'll leave with a strong feeling that life is good and is about to get better.

Is It Okay to Stay in Touch?

Whether you maintain contact is up to the two of you. Many people who choose to take some time apart try the "no contact" rule, meaning that you do not reach out to the other person. This gives both people time and space to heal and work on themselves. However, you could have limited contact if this is something you both agree on. If they want to be completely independent and not hear from you at first, the best thing you can do for them is to respect their wishes.

If they don't want visits or phone calls, they may feel okay about receiving a letter or email from you to which they have the option to respond or not.

Don't tell them what the two of you should do. Instead, give them a chance to state their wishes before you make any suggestions. Whatever happens in your relationship, whether you reconnect or not, you should always focus on the overall wellbeing of both you and your partner.

Alternative Solutions

Seeing New People. Though you may not be out looking for love immediately after ending a long-term relationship, going out and seeing new people is a healthy first step to moving on. This gives you the opportunity at a clean slate and can help to take your mind off things. And, who knows? You may even end up finding someone you care about just as much, if not more.

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Exercise. After a rough breakup, you may experience depression or a sense of feeling lost. Exercising can help to stimulate your mind and pump you full of endorphins that counteract the sadness. It's also a great way to focus on both your physical and mental health.

Write Your Thoughts. If you overthink in frustration, you may end up acting out or saying things you regret. Try writing down your thoughts and words on a piece of scratch paper. This way, you can still express any anger or sadness without the consequence of harming yourself or others.

BetterHelp Is There For You

A relationship with BetterHelp lasts as long as you wish. That's why we offer private online counseling for those who need support. For more help with letting go of someone you love, contact BetterHelp and get personalized advice on how to better cope with these feelings. An online therapist can help you work through those feelings of wanting to hang on to a partner who might need some space. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from clients experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"I could not have had the confidence, groundedness or ability to let go on a weekly basis if it were not for Ann-Marie. She is exceptional at being there to listen and give advice and I am honored to be her patient."

"Sharon Valentino has helped me through so much! Since we started working together, just a few months ago, I already feel like I have more power and control over my life. I have let go of some very painful things, I have moved away from abusive relationships and really gaining skills and tools I need to keep myself safe and happy. She has taught me that I have the power to control my thoughts, my anxiety, and most of all my company. I really like how direct she is, it helps me get grounded and connect to myself. I can't wait to see where I am after working with her a year!!!"

Final Thoughts

Falling in love is an indescribable feeling, which is why it hurts so much when we have to say goodbye. Love is not selfish, jealous, or controlling. Love is kind, tolerant, and accepting. If you truly love someone with all your heart and want to see both of you flourish, the best thing you can do is let them go. When you both have the time and space to grow as individual people, you may find yourself reuniting in healthy ways, or you may re-discover how to love yourself first. Either way, BetterHelp is there for you. Take the first step to more fulfilling relationships today.

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