When we think of love, we usually think of two people coming together in a romantic relationship. We don’t always think about how sometimes when we love someone, we need to let them go.
But when you love someone, you want the best for them, and that doesn’t always mean that you’ll be able to stay together.
Maybe your partner has been offered their dream job but it’s at the other side of the country. If you have obligations to stay where you are, such as an elderly family relative you need to take care of, the most loving thing to do might be to encourage them to follow their dreams.
That’s pretty much the theme of today’s article and so without further ado, let’s take a look at a few reasons why love sometimes means letting go.
1) It can stop more pain or harm
If your love has gone bad, you can end up in a situation in which staying together will lead to more pain than going through a break up.
When that’s the case, sometimes letting go is the better option for both parties, although it’s often hard to see so when you’re in the middle of it.
The way to approach this one is to do a good, old-fashioned cost-benefit analysis. In other words, you can weigh up the pros and cons of staying together and letting go and figure out which will deliver the largest amount of net happiness.
2) It can allow you both to grow as people
Relationships can sometimes lead to a sort of equilibrium in which the two of you just stay the same.
One drastic example of this could be when two heroin addicts fall in love. Even if one of them wants to get clean, they’re going to struggle unless the other is at the same point in their life.
But you don’t have to be a drug addict to find yourself in a relationship where the two of you have started to stagnate. It can happen to anyone, and the important thing is to be able to spot it when it happens.
Sometimes, love also means being selfish. If you’re not growing, you need to make a change.
3) It can stop one of you from holding the other back
This builds on what we were just talking about and is particularly relevant in the example of the two addicts.
But it can happen to people from all sorts of walks of life. The most common reason why one person might hold another back is that they have different priorities in life.
For example, if you want to go travelling but your partner wants to settle down and start a family, you’re holding them back from doing that – and they’re stopping you from travelling.
When you love someone, you need to encourage them to push forward instead of risking holding them back.
4) It can allow you both to follow your dreams
When neither of you is holding the other back, the two of you are free to follow your dreams.
Even with the best of intentions, we can accidentally prevent the people we love from following their dreams and pursuing their passions.
For example, when I told my parents that I wanted to study creative writing, they were so worried that I’d struggle to make a living that they tried to persuade me not to. Their love for me was preventing them from supporting me in what I wanted to do.
It’s not uncommon for the same thing to happen in romantic relationships.
5) It can free you from unrequited love
Unrequited love is the phenomenon that occurs when one person in the relationship loves the other, but it’s one-sided.
When that’s the case, it sucks. Trust me, I know. In fact, if you’ve ever found yourself in this position then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Unrequited love leads to resentment and can enable one person in the relationship to take advantage of the other one. It’s also not uncommon for people who are experiencing unrequited love to live in hope under the false belief that their partner is going to change.
I picked the word “free” very deliberately here. If you’re lucky enough to escape that unrequited love, you’ll feel like a bird taking flight.
6) It can break codependence
Codependence is what happens when the two of you can’t cope without one another.
That might sound romantic, and in some cases it is, but there are also plenty of instances where codependence is hugely harmful. I don’t want to reference those heroin addicts again, but they’re a great example of this in action.
If this rings a bell and you feel as though you might be involved in a codependent relationship, the good news is that you also have other options.
For example, instead of letting go of your partner completely, consider spending some time away from them with your family.
7) It can provide new opportunities
Sometimes, when we let go of our love and we go our separate ways, we accidentally end up creating new opportunities.
For example, when I went through my last break up, a few of my friends rallied around to make sure I was okay and we ended up playing music together. We could have formed a band, although we didn’t.
The thing with these new opportunities is that there’s no real way for us to predict when they might come along or what they might look like.
However, if you’re stuck in an unhealthy, codependent relationship and you only ever talk to your partner, it stands to reason that if you set each other free, you’ll end up meeting and befriending new people.
8) It can make room for personal healing
Most of the people I know have something wrong with them. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Whether we have troubled relationships with our family or we’re struggling to come to terms with PTSD or postpartum depression, there’s generally something within us that we want to “fix” and overcome.
In my case, I struggle with both depression and anxiety and while some relationships have helped me to overcome them, others cause more damage than they solve.
If you need space to work on yourself, you sometimes need to escape your relationship even if it’s super loving because without that space, you’re not going to be able to make any changes.
9) It can be the lesser of two evils
As we’ve covered with the other points that we’ve taken a look at, sometimes breaking up with someone you love is the lesser of two evils.
Again, if we take a look at the cost-benefit analysis of staying in the relationship, we can start to see whether it’s worth staying in the relationship or whether we ought to let go of the person we love.
A lot of people stay in relationships just because it’s easy to do so. That’s the worst possible thing you can do, and it reminds me of how frogs will jump out of boiling water but if you put them in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil, they’ll stay in place until they die.
Don’t be like the frog. If letting someone go is for the best, let them go.
Now that you know a few of the reasons why love sometimes means letting go, you’re better placed to make informed decisions about your own relationships.
Remember, too, that there are different kinds of love, from romantic love to the platonic love between friends and the love that a parent has for a child.
No matter what kind of love we’re talking about, love can sometimes mean letting go. And if you’ve found yourself in one of the situations we’ve talked about, it might just be the kindest thing to do.