What Does It Mean, “If You Love Something, Let It Go”?
By Sarah Fader
Updated August 14, 2019
Reviewer Laura Angers
One of the last things you want to hear when you are in a relationship (that you think is the one for you) are the words "If you love something, let it go". You want to believe that your relationship is long-lasting and something that you could turn into a potentially life-long commitment. When you hear the phrase "if you love something, let it go," it can feel disheartening.
The idea of letting go of something you hold so dearly may seem incomprehensible, maybe even a little impossible, but the alternative is that you will lose that person forever. You have a choice when it comes to that person: do you hang on and try to control them, making them stay in your life when it isn't their choice or do you let them go? When you let someone go and allow that person the opportunity to come back to you or not can feel scary. As human beings, we want companionship, love, and security. Although this is natural, letting someone you love go is the opposite of those things.
Am I too Clingy?
When we first fall in love, our whole world centers on our relationship. Once the flames have cooled down, however, most people return to their primary personal goals - finishing an education, building a career or perfecting their skill sets. You may have a codependent relationship if you are unable to find satisfaction in life outside your romance. You recognize unhealthy behavior in your partner but choose to stay and you give your partner support at the cost of your own mental, emotional and physical well-being.
While some people thrive on codependent relationships, they are actually not healthy for us. Codependent dynamics can stunt people from growing as human beings. They can also be an unhealthy breeding ground for conflict. Codependent people will often try to control the relationship, usually by manifesting acute anxiety, jealousy and a tendency to be clingy. If the green-eyed monster has been controlling the way 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 this is true love, that person will come back to you if it's meant to be. This relies on faith as well as confidence in yourself.
Because You Love 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 the accomplishments of 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 a healthy love. If you love something, let it go when destructive behaviors have abused your mental well- being and the mental and physical health of your loved one.
Cross Roads of Life
There is nothing more difficult than letting go of what you love just to see if it comes back to you, but it's a decision we'll be faced with throughout our lives. 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. We have no choice but to accept these circumstances.
Children leave home for college, boarding school or camp and we accept them back with open arms. We demonstrate our best qualities to love when we do it openly, with respect and support for each other.
Sometimes relationships drift apart simply because we go through changes and the changes set to send us in different life directions. Sometimes although we go in opposite directions, we are brought back together, by outside circumstances or (if you believe in it) fate. 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's actually meaningful in our lives. If it comes back to us, it is an essential part of our lives. If it doesn't, it means that when you came to the crossroads, you chose one direction, and the person you love chose another.
For more help with letting someone you love go, please contact us at BetterHelp.com 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 relationship that might need some space.
What Do You Really Want for them?
You may believe that what would make them happy is to stay with you. 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 that you need to hang on to this relationship when in reality this has to do more with you than it does with this person. You are an adult now and someone who truly cares about them and wants the best for them. Do you want them to feel like a whole, independent person? Would you rather they stay if it means they'll never reach their full potential? Perhaps you feel that when you let them go, they'll never return. That might or might not be true. Taking that risk could mean that when they do return, they'll appreciate your love even more than they ever have before. That will be a warm and wonderful feeling. In this instance, it's worth letting someone go because you'll be rewarded with your love's gratitude.
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? The reality is that people can get hurt whether they are in a relationship or not. You can't protect or shelter them from everything that could harm them. Trying to do so can create a situation where they resent you and want nothing more than to get away from you. That isn't your goal and you don't want to sabotage a 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 have anxiety issues you can work on with a counselor to be ready for their return or for the possibility of finding new love with someone else.
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. It should be noted that staying in any relationship because you don't want to be by yourself is unhealthy. It's better to be alone than in an unhealthy or toxic relationship. 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 develop your social skills more.
If you're a parent with a child leaving home, you may have spent much 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 an aging parent or a sick relative, or pursue greater career opportunities. If you hold them back, they might come to resent you, or even worse, they may give up on ever living the life they want. If they settle for being with you when their heart wants to follow their dreams, either you or they or both of you will suffer along until they feel they're too old to live up to their potential or the two of you fall out of love completely.
Letting Go with Love
If you're angry or resentful with them for moving on with their life, you might want to lash out at your loved one. You may want to make them feel bad about themselves for putting you in this position. You might even want them to suffer - at least a part of you could have those feelings toward them. 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 also for yours. Talking to a counselor can help you get your feelings out without burdening your loved one with your emotional outbursts. Certainly, you can tell them how you feel in words, but you need to be careful about displaying intensely negative emotions towards 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 some day? 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. I know this sounds painful, but it ultimately will foster their independence and potentially lead them back to you. Congratulate them on their promotion or getting into the co1.llege of their choice. Make the separation process one of such love and good wishes that they will leave with a strong feeling that life is good and is about to get even 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 right now, 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 that they have the option to respond to or not when it comes. 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 this relationship, whether you reconnect or not, you have learned important lessons about yourself from letting someone go that you love.