A woman sitting on the sofa with her dog on her lap

Learning how to let go

by Eharmony Editorial Team - March 19, 2012

Before you can really open up and welcome a new relationship you may need to learn to let go of the past. This isn’t always easy so here are some suggestions to help you.

Sometimes in life we get stuck because there is unfinished business in the past. Maybe someone hurt us and we can’t forgive them; maybe we hurt another person and we can’t forgive ourselves. Whatever the reason holding onto the past can keep us stuck and stop us from living fully in the here and now so here are some ways of letting go.

Learn the lessons

If you could go back in time what would you do differently? Often we can’t let go of the past because we haven’t fully understood what happened or how it happened to us. A useful way of finding out is to play the tape back right to the very beginning when you first came across this person and then watch it all the way through. What you are looking for is times when you – not the other person – could have done something different that would have changed the outcome. Finding this out will help you to believe that you won’t make the same mistakes in the future.

Let go of the dream

People often become stuck because they believe that they really did find their one true love and can’t get over the grief that the person is no longer with them. Whatever the reason you are no longer together holding onto the belief that there is only one person in the world who you can love – or who can love you – will stop you being able to move on and will also mean that you view every other potential match as second best. Throughout life we will be loved, and love, many different people in lots of different ways. We change as we grow older and the person who seemed perfect for you when you were 20 may not be so perfect when you are 50.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and it is true that the longer we are out of a relationship the more we can begin to think it was perfect, especially if we haven’t had a relationship since. Few relationships are really perfect and there are reasons why you are no longer together. Acceptance of these reasons is necessary if you are to fully let go and move on.

Hold love in an open hand

They say that if you really love someone you need to be prepared to let them go. No-one wants to be in a relationship where the other person is only there because they feel that there is no-where else to go; no-one else who will have them or because they have been persuaded into staying against their better judgement. Persuasion, coercion or manipulation are not tools that should be applied in relationships because if the person stays with you on these grounds you are likely to feel insecure knowing that they would have left had you let them. This is not to say that there shouldn’t be a certain amount of negotiation in a relationship – if you do something that hurts your partner you may promise not to do it again and visa versa – but emotional blackmail, threats or manipulation are attempts to entrap someone, not to love them.

What is meant for you won’t pass you by, what passes you by wasn’t meant for you

Adopting an attitude like this can make you feel a lot freer at every stage in a relationship will make it easier to let go whether it is after two dates or twenty years. In the dating stage difficulties can arise when one person quickly develops very strong feelings and the other person doesn’t feel the same way. Some people are so hungry for love that, like a duckling hatching from its shell, they will imprint on the first person they see and convince themselves that it is love. Although some people do believe in love at first sight you have to be prepared to let it go if your feelings aren’t reciprocated.

Letting go online

Online communication tools can make it harder to let go. Checking someone’s Facebook status, seeing when they are online, looking at their profile and photographs will all keep you stuck in a fantasy. To really let go of a contact that has no future you need to ‘defriend’ them; stop contacting them and maybe even change your settings so that they can no longer contact you.