The person you loved – and lost – will always be tucked away in your heart. These tips for letting go of a past relationship will help you remember the best of your love while you heal and move forward.
“I wish I’d read your ideas for letting go of a first love when I was 14,” says Christine in response to Why You Can’t Let Go of Your First Love – and How to Be Free. “That was the first time I broke up with someone. I was young but I loved him so much and I doubt he’s ever loved someone the same way. I remember everything for those months we dated, hung out, talked about God and His word and how it can help our lives. I miss him. But, I guess he can stay tucked in a corner of my heart.”
I love the way she phrased it: he will always be tucked away in a corner of her heart.
That’s how it happens with past relationships, isn’t it? They’re always part of you. The boys you loved will never completely go away – and they shouldn’t. They are part of your heart, soul, and spirit.
The secret is to heal and move forward without leaving your spirit and soul in a man’s hands.
How to Let Go of a Past Relationship
The following five tips for letting go of a past relationship are inspired by Eve. Yes, the Eve of the Garden of Eden fame! She’s the star of the first chapter of my new book, Blossoming After Loss: How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
Each tip in this blog post – and every chapter of my book – revolves around a different aspect of your self: spiritual, emotional, creative, physical, and intellectual. This is how you’ll heal and Blossom into the woman God created you to be: by flourishing in all aspects of your life.
Read the tips below; tell me which one stands out to you. Write me in the comments section below – I’d love to hear what you think. Better yet, write your thoughts in your private journal. Talk to God; tell Him what it’s costing you to learn how to let go of someone you love – or a past relationship.
1. Surrender to this season of your life
Who have you lost? What are the circumstances, how did you get here, why are you struggling to let go of a past relationship?
One of the best ways to heal is to surrender. This is the season you’re in; fighting it or wishing it wasn’t so will only prolong your pain and delay your healing. Surrender, accept, and allow this season to pass through your life. This is the season for letting go and breaking free from the past. Sit with that idea for a moment: this loss was meant to be. Perhaps it’s even the best thing that could have happened to you at this point in your life. If you’re walking with God, you can rest assured that learning how to let go of a past relationship really is the best thing for you.
Remember Eve’s choice to taste the apple in the Garden of Eden – and to give some to Adam? Talk about having to let go of the past! Her relationship with God was pure and innocent. Eve walked with God, talked to Him freely, and actually heard His voice talking back to her. She and God had a beautiful and fulfilling spiritual relationship…until she made a foolish choice. But, she learned how to let go of a past relationship – not just with God, but with her life partner, Adam. And if she can do it…so, too, can you.
2. Deal with your guilt, shame, self-condemnation
This is a difficult and emotional tip on how to let go of the past: work through the guilt, shame, or self-condemnation you have for your role in the relationship.
Do you have regrets? Maybe you wish you’d done things differently. Maybe you said things you wish you could take back, or didn’t say things you should’ve said. Perhaps you caused more conflict than calm, more pain than peace in your relationship.
If you need help moving forward...
If you have regrets, you’re 100% normal. It’s impossible to be in relationship with people – especially people we love – and not make mistakes. It’s impossible to be perfect. But, it is possible to remember that your imperfections, flaws, and mistakes are NOT the cause of the breakup or your loss. Learning how to let go of a past relationship has to involve accepting that you did the best you could with what you had.
3. Nourish your body with onions (yes! onions)
“When my world falls apart, I chop vegetables,” writes Vanessa Ochs in Sarah Laughed: Modern Lessons From the Wisdom and Stories of Biblical Women. “Onions are especially good, because then you get to cry without having to explain what’s wrong if you don’t want to. Then you stir-fry vegetables with garlic and soy sauce, cook up some rice, and by then, although your despair may still be there, at least you have something to eat! The next day, you chop, you cook, you fold laundry, and you shower and get dressed. You go through the actions of sustaining life until finally the day comes along when you discover that without your being aware, happiness and hope have crept back in.”
Take heart, gentle reader, for happiness and hope WILL creep back into your life! Slowly, slowly, your frozen broken heart will thaw and your spirit will warm your soul. Nourish your body by eating foods that are life-giving and whole. Learn how to let go of a past relationship by feeding your emptiness in healthy and life-affirming ways.
4. Plant the seed of a flower as a symbol of letting go
Learning how to let go of a past relationship doesn’t have to be a pain-filled experience! Yes, healing from the loss is a journey that isn’t fun, but it can also include some bright spots.
Go to a garden store. Get a medium-sized brightly-colored ceramic flower pot, a bag of potting soil, and seeds of beautiful plants or flowers. This is your symbol of hope and healing, digging in and Blossoming, becoming who God created you to be. Plant your seed in your beautiful ceramic pot, and watch what happens. That seed is you: buried, dark, cold, and alone. And the sprout that breaks through the soil is also you: hopeful, alive, growing, reaching. And the flower that Blossoms? You tell me!
To learn more about moving forward, read How Letting Go Helps You Heal and Blossom.
5. Learn healthy ways to cope with relationship conflict
Letting go of a past relationship often involves conflict of some sort. Maybe your kids want to be with their dad, but the divorce is difficult. Maybe your colleagues are tiptoeing around you at work because your spouse recently died. Maybe your ex-husband or ex-boyfriend is suing you for custody or the cat, for alimony or all your possessions.
Learn how to set boundaries and deal with conflict. Learn how to stand up for yourself while respecting others. Learn how to listen to a loved one’s perspective while you continue to stay focused on God’s still small voice.
Conflict abounds in all relationships, all losses, all seasons of life. We learned from Eve that conflict even arises in paradise – even though it wasn’t God’s plan for us.
Learn how to let go of a past relationship
In my ebook – How to Let Go of Someone You Love – I share 3 secrets and 75 tips for letting go of the past.
This is the book I wrote when I lost my sister, and it’s the foundation of my current book Blossoming After Loss: How to Let Go of Someone You Love. This ebook is filled with practical, applicable tips for healing after a breakup – I interviewed counselors, life coaches, and grief experts for their best advice on letting go of the past.
How do you feel after reading my tips on how to let go? I welcome your thoughts and stories below. I can’t offer advice, but you may find it helpful and healing to share your experience with tucking someone away in a corner of your heart.