Why You Have To Let Him Go If You Want To Move Forward

Photo: Cameron Prins / Shutterstock
unhappy couple

This seems pretty obvious to most of us, right? Everyone knows you can't be ready and open to a new relationship if you're still fawning over someone else after a breakup.

Unfortunately, what we usually forget is that "letting go" doesn't necessarily mean "falling out of love" with someone; learning how to let go means no longer wrestling with your feelings about him or her at all.

Like the old saying says, "Holding resentment is like letting someone live in your mind rent-free," any emotion you choose to engage in takes up your energy and your time.

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Whether you're still angry at another person or you're mad at yourself for still thinking about an ex, it doesn't matter. It doesn't change the way the relationship was, nor does it help you in moving forward to live your best life.

I was with a guy on and off for about eight years, even though the last few saw us "off" more than "on." It was ridiculous, destructive, and more chaotic than I'm comfortable discussing candidly — and for no good reason because I knew four years into it that we weren't a match and I needed to let go of the whole mess.

Fear and a complete absence of self-esteem kept me around, and even after it ended, my need to dissect every facet, infraction, and misstep kept me hanging on even after the breakup from an emotional perspective.

I felt like the ending of a relationship of this length somehow deserved "answers" and "closure." I believed that I needed to figure out why I felt love for this person when he wasn't someone I even particularly liked.

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I was obsessed with this quest to wrap everything up with a copacetic bow before moving forward and enjoying where my life had taken me in the years since, when all I really should've done was drop it and walk away.

It sounds silly, but I didn't even realize that dropping it was an option. I didn't know I could opt out of thinking about it if feelings suddenly arose again.

I always thought that cramming emotions away without dealing with them was harmful to my psyche, so I never considered that entertaining them was a different form of soul-crushing addiction. But it very much was, and it cost me an embarrassing amount of time that I could've spent immersing myself in my life's natural progression.

Time marches on, even if your mind doesn't follow. At some point, you have to realize that whether the other person is actively in the picture or not, the only person responsible for holding onto a mental anchor is yourself.

You can spend your time mulling it over, hashing out the details, trying to make sense of things, feeling gross about what happened, or thinking about what could have been — or you can accept that it never was "supposed to be" and jump into what is, presently, all yours for the taking.

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Liz Pardue-Schultz is a writer whose work has appeared in Huffington Post, Time Magazine, XOJane, Ravishly, and ThoughtCatalog.