Letting go of a relationship takes courage and strength. Here, you’ll learn how to let go of someone you love in healthy ways, heal your heart, and move forward in your life.
These tips are inspired by a reader who asked for help detaching and letting go of someone she cares about. “My husband of three years is planning to leave me without an explanation,” says Michelle on When You’re in Love With Someone Who is Scared of Love. “He is in a band and tours every now and then, but that has never been a problem till this tour. Within a week he started distancing himself. No calls, hardly any replies to my messages on Facebook. I want to know how to let go of someone you love because I believe he will leave me. How do I let go of him and start over? I don’t want to stay in this relationship because I know letting go is the best option for me. But I just don’t know how to start.”
Below I share what I’ve learned about letting go of someone you love. I focus on looking upwards and inwards, on re-establishing your self-identity and self-worth. I also share a portion or two of my “how to let go of someone you love” ebook – which I describe at the end of this article.
Giving up on a relationship doesn’t mean you are weak. Sometimes it means you are brave enough to let go.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love
It’s important to remember that letting go of someone you love isn’t something you do once and poof! You’re free, healed, and happy. Rather, letting go is a journey peppered with steps forward and steps backward, good days and bad days.
And, know that letting go of the man you love is like losing a piece of your identity.
“You hold on because you are holding on to something that keeps your sense of self intact,” writes Camilla Gibb in This is Happy. “You have come to know and understand yourself in relationship to this person. You can let go only when your sense of self, your cohesion, no longer depends upon the idea of them, an idea that remains for a long time inextricable from the very idea of yourself.”
If you truly want to let go of someone you love, then you need to change how you see yourself. You need to be aware of who you were in that relationship (a girlfriend, a wife, a lover) and accept that that season of your life is over.
When that relationship was alive, you were that person. But now that the relationship is over, you are someone new and different.
1. Consider the idea that this season of your life is right for you
You may feel unhappy, sad, wrong and lost when you’re struggling to learn how to let go of someone you love. You don’t feel loved, warm, centered, or right. Maybe you feel depressed and unworthy, alone and afraid.
But what if this breakup, separation, or divorce is actually the best thing for you? What if you knew what God knows about your life and future…can you imagine what it would feel like if you found out that letting go of this person you love is the best thing for you?
Learning how to let go of a relationship is painful. It hurts, and there is no way around the pain. Unless you allow yourself to entertain the idea that this really is the best way for your life to unfold. I’ve written about how my sister stopped talking to me, and how it was the most painful thing in my life. And recently I realized that learning how to let her go was one of the most important things I ever did. I found freedom, joy, and peace in accepting her decision and letting her go.
2. Accept that you did the best you could in your relationship
Don’t waste your time or energy feeling guilty or bad about the choices you made in your relationship! I spent a couple of years wallowing in regret, self-recrimination, and low self-worth. And for what? It did no good at all. It was actually harmful because I was wrestling with unknowns. I didn’t know why I lost someone I loved deeply, I had no idea why she chose to leave me.
You did the best you could, you loved as much as you were able. No matter what you did or didn’t do in your relationship, it ended. If you want to be happy and healthy – which involves learning how to let go of someone you love – you need practice acceptance.
3. Decide what needs to change in your life
You have to actively decide you want to let go of someone you love. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to live, work, love, play, and laugh? Yes, you need to grieve the fact that you have to start over because your relationship ended. You need to go through the pain, process the loss, and work through the disappointment and broken dreams. This is active grieving, and it is so healthy! Actively grieving your loss is doing exactly what you’re doing: searching for tips on how to let go of someone you love, and actually applying those ideas to your life.
Avoid the temptation to focus on your lost relationship and the pain of letting go. Instead, take time to consider the possibilities and options. You are on the verge of a new beginning and fresh start in your life. This isn’t easy. I know. It’s painful in a variety of different circumstances, and it requires strength and courage. But encouraging yourself to focus on seasons ending and fresh new beginnings can help you learn how to let go of a loved one and move forward in hope, faith, and peace.
4. Accept your lack of control
To let go of someone you love, you need to accept that you can’t control many things in your life. You can’t control who loves you, who leaves you, who helps you, who betrays you. You can’t control your neighborhood, the traffic, the weather, or the economy. Of all the things you want to change in your life, remember that you can’t change people. You can sometimes change circumstances, and you can change your attitude and response to events and people but you can’t change your husband, children, coworkers, neighbors, or family members.
One of the hardest things about letting go of someone you love is not having closure in your relationship. Read How to Get Over a Break Up When You Don’t Have Closure.
5. Refresh yourself emotionally and spiritually
The happiest, healthiest people are in touch with their spiritual and emotional selves. Adding spirituality to your life not only makes you feel better emotionally, it improves your physical health.
“Being spiritual” doesn’t mean you need to go to church, synagogue, or mosque. Being in touch with your spiritual self is about dipping into the flow of God’s healing energy.
However you describe your Higher Power to be, step into that flow.
Tap into your soul by meditating, praying, taking time to really listen to your heart, reading Scripture or other soulful books, and talking to people about spiritual matters. The end of a relationship – when you’re trying to let go of someone you love – is a perfect time to start getting back into your spiritual life.
It’s important to remember that letting go of someone you cared deeply for is a process that takes time. Let yourself heal gradually, and grieve your loss. Don’t expect to be happy, healthy, healed overnight! It’ll take time and work, but if you take it slow and steady, you’ll find yourself coming out of the tunnel of darkness.
6. Get outside help
When you can’t let go of the past, you might consider a session or two with a life coach, counselor, financial adviser, or even a professional organizer (sometimes getting a divorce requires literally cleaning out your closets, attic, basement, garage, etc). An objective outsider can help you let go and move on.
Whether you should hire a life coach or talk to a counsellor depends on your situation. If you’re struggling with self-identity, major life changes, fear, anxiety, depression, or your marriage, then I encourage you to talk to a counselor or therapist. Get provide objective support, feedback and guidance that your friends and family can’t offer when you’re trying to let go of someone you love. If you have money problems, financial advisers can help you become financially independent. Professional organizers can help you declutter — which can improve your physical and mental health.
7. Learn from others who have let go of someone they loved
I wrote 75 How to Let Go of Someone You Love: 3 Powerful Secrets (and 75 Tips!) for Healing Your Heart because I needed to learn how to let go of my sister. Letting her go was the most painful and difficult thing I ever did, but I had no choice.
To write this ebook, I interviewed life coaches, counselors, and grief coaches on letting go. I know how shocking, confusing, and heart-wrenching it is when you’re letting go of a loved one. It’s devastating – and it changes how you see yourself. Learning how to let go of someone you love is about rediscovering your passion and identity.
Here’s what a reader recently emailed me about Letting Go of Someone You Love: “I gobbled the book down. Great help in putting things in perspective and in taking positive thoughtful action. Many thanks for sharing your wisdom and experiences.”
I hope these tips on how to let go of someone you love help you heal. Please feel free to share your story below. I can’t offer advice, but it often helps to write your thoughts and feelings about letting go of someone you’ve loved and lost. You may even find it helpful to read through the readers’ comments and experiences. You’ll see you’re not alone.
May you find health and faith – forgiveness and hope – as you move forward in your life. God didn’t promise days without pain, sun without rain…but He did promise strength for the day and light for the way.
You may also want to read How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Get on With Your Life.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.