It’s the first day of February, and we are thirteen short days away from Valentine’s day. Aside from all the cheesy advertising, red and pink candy hearts and all of that, Valentines day is essentially about celebrating the relationships that we have with other people. With that said, I think that this post comes right on time.
Among our most precious possessions are the relationships that we have with other people. Whether they are coffee date-type friendships, talk until 4 AM-type friendships, tell each other everything-type relationships, or even romantic relationships, it’s always, always heart-breaking when relationships fall apart. Figuring out how to let people go has been something that has been hard for me all of my life. Even when you realize that you are better off without a certain relationship, you still have the memories! Sometimes it seems easier to try to bury these and never think about them. But you more you try to do that, the easier that it will be for your brain to slip into those thoughts simply because you keep trying to remind yourself not to.
In this post, I’m putting together a guide of sorts on how to go through the process of being okay of letting people go.
Remind yourself of the parts of the relationship that you did enjoy
All relationships start with an initial attraction: did you become friends with that person because they were funny? Or, maybe because they were always really really honest? What was it about them that prompted you to want them in your life? You probably went on to make several great memories with that person- moments that you will not forget for several years, and maybe memories that you will hold on to all your life. When relationships start to die, it can seem like the good parts of those memories die with them, or turn from a bright gold to a sad blue like in Inside Out.
No matter where you are now with that person, always cherish your good memories. These moments were after all pieces of your time that you spent doing something with someone you cared about. Regardless of why you feel that this person is no longer a good fit for you to be in any kind of relationship with, your best memories with them are moments that you were living and learning and because of that, they deserve respect.
This is also a good way to remind yourself that people truly are multi-dimensional: just because you don’t want to be friends with this person anymore doesn’t make them a completely horrible person. They could still be really honest, really smart or really funny. That doesn’t mean, though, that it’s wrong of you to want to let them go.
Remind yourself of where things started to go wrong
Now that you’ve come to terms with the fact that this ex (of any sort) is not all bad, remind yourself where you started to feel that things were off. Was it something that they said? Was it the way that they were acting when they were around you? Was it that you felt you couldn’t trust them, or that they were taking advantage of you or lying to you? Was it consistent behavior that didn’t sit well with you or that you thought was morally wrong?
Again, let’s just remind ourselves that people are multi-dimensional. No matter how many good things this person added to your life, there is no doubt a reason behind why you think you are better off without this relationship, and that reason is completely valid. You don’t want to have people in your life who are adding negativity, or who are making the environment around you toxic and hard for you to feel comfortable with. People who really care about you will be people who are easy for you to talk to about these things, and who will make it a comfortable space for you to say “I’m not okay with what you did”, and will work with you so that your relationship survives the rocky parts. People who really care will be there for you, and will be people who you want to be there for as well. If this person that you are breaking up with does not make it easy for you to do that, then it’s probably not a good relationship for you to be in.
If you were to give your ex-friend another chance, would it be worth it?
If this was a relationship of any kind that meant a lot to you, chances are you will find yourself somehow wanting to save it- and it might be totally possible for you to do that.
The key to doing that is first being honest with yourself, second, being honest with that other person, and third, expecting and being ready for them to be honest to you.
In terms of being honest with yourself, you need to think about this question: if you were to give this person another chance, would they change?
Through my own experience, I’ve realized that people don’t really change unless they themselves feel the need to do so. Many of us go into relationships of all kinds but especially romantic relationships thinking that we can help the other person change or grow, the way that we want them to. But the reality is that unless someone feels that changing in one way or another will benefit them, they won’t do it. And it’s not because they are selfish– would you change just because someone else wanted you to, even though you couldn’t see the benefits of doing so? In the end, it’s not an issue of being capable of change, or even an issue of trust- it’s just an issue of do they see the benefits of changing, or not?
In terms of being honest with the other person, you need to be ready to have an open and very, very honest conversation with them. This is something that I’ve always struggled with- even if I don’t like what someone is doing, I don’t want to hurt them, and so I have a really hard time with talking other people about my problems with their behavior. But someone who really cares about you and values you will be ready to listen, so as long as you are kind and remember that you are just talking to another person (not a monster), it’s going to be okay.
In terms of being expecting that person to be honest with you, be ready to receive criticism. The likeliness is that if this other person is acting weird, it might be because you are doing something that they are not okay with. And if this is a relationship that you really value, then you need to be receptive that from them. This is also something that I struggle with- it’s really hard for me to receive criticism. But what makes it easier for me is to remember that if I show respect to this other person and they value me, they will show respect to me as well, and speak to me with kindness.
Where are you now?
The last thing that you have to think about is where you are now, and what you need to set up the best environment for yourself. If you were to reach out to this person again, would they add to this environment and help it flourish? Or, will having any kind of relationship with this person continue to hurt you?
I’m all about building a community, but if I’m building a community then I want it to be filled with people who I have the most positive relationships with, not people I feel like I can’t trust.
So to summarize- don’t enemize this person who you had a falling out with. They did bring some good to your life, and that’s the most important part. But they are people after all, and maybe they are people who are too different from you, or just not a good fit in your life as you live it now.
And for that reason, it’s best that you let them go.
I really hope that this post was beneficial to everyone reading it! Please do feel free to let me know what you thought of it, and leave me a note in the comment. If you have any useful tips to share, leave them in the comments so that everyone can see them!
Have a positive and happy rest of your week. Happy first week of February!