Letting go of a relationship

To many of us, being successful in terms of a career is important, but equally so is being content and fulfilled in a good relationship. When we think we’ve found it, our happiness knows no bounds. And when it seems like it’s over, we go through a gamut of emotions – anger, despair, grief, sadness, and depression. We feel lost and adrift, unsure what our next move should be. It’s actually very clear. It’s akin to losing a near and dear one. And when that happens, the first step is to let go.

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Letting go of a relationship (and a partner) that has meant everything to us isn’t the easiest thing to do. But it has to be done if we have to move on, for we cannot live in the present and look ahead to the future until we achieve closure on the past. How can we let go? Letting go of a relationship involves letting go of:

1. The feelings/emotions

The anger, animosity and resentment you may feel towards your partner, now your ex. There could be a sense of betrayal if he cheated on you, or if you were the one responsible for the break-up, a feeling of guilt. Don’t stifle your emotions and bottle them up, but allow yourself to grieve over the demise of what could have been and possibly was, something wonderful. But you have to set a time limit – you cannot keep wallowing in grief and sadness – it will get to be a habit.

2. Envisioning possibilities

Don’t dwell on what might-have-been. Letting go of a relationship involves recognizing that it was not meant to be and that you have to set new goals and build new dreams. Avoid having unrealistic expectations or hopes that you may get back together. Or that he would change and perhaps become the person you want him to be or your problems will just get sorted out. Realize that the relationship has run its course and it is time to let go.

3. Your dependency

Often when we have been in a relationship for some time – a few months, a year or several years – we tend to lose our identity. We get used to having the other person around and derive comfort from the familiar. It isn’t easy to start getting used to coming home to an empty house or having dinner by yourself. It is something you will have to steel yourself to do if you have to wean yourself from your dependence on the other person.

4. Idolizing the relationship

It’s easy when you’re not with someone any longer, and especially if you’re miserable on your own to miss all the good times you shared. Happy memories are to be cherished but not to the point where that’s all you think about and aren’t doing anything about making new ones. You must remember that if there was so much happiness in the relationship, chances are you’d still be together. You probably had some very serious problems and unhappy times – times when you wanted out and couldn’t bear being in the same room with your ex. These are the times you have to think about and realize that your best bet right now lies in letting go of the past and enjoying your single life.

5. All contact

It has to be a clean break. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to call her one last time or give it just one more try. Don’t keep calling up friends and asking them if he’s already seeing someone new or if she’s as depressed as you are. If you are serious about letting go of your relationship you have to carve out a new existence, one that has no room for old baggage.

6. Your fears

If you have to truly let go of a relationship, you have to forget your apprehensions and worries about being alone and how you’ll cope. And you also have to learn to trust again. Not just someone else but also yourself and your instincts. One, two or even more broken relationships doesn’t mean that we should close ourselves off from loving again. After all, relationships may involve agony but they also involve ecstasy and life wouldn’t be complete without a healthy dose of both.

7. Generalizations

You cannot generalize and harbor false assumptions that just because your ex cheated on you, abused you or caused emotional damage, your next relationship/partner will follow suit. You cannot tar everyone with the same brush; after all there is such a thing as giving someone, and a new relationship, a fair chance.

8. Your sense of failure

Just as it takes two to tango and two hands to clap, it also takes two to makes a relationship work. Don’t berate yourself for what you could have done better or how you could have been more understanding. You’ve probably been terribly hurt but have also learnt a few valuable lessons about life and love in the process – something that will stand you in good stead for the journey ahead.

When you are ready to let go of a relationship and reconcile yourself to keeping the past in the past, you will experience an enormous weight being lifted off your shoulders and a sense of accomplishment that you have come out of the whole experience a much stronger person.