Letting go of a relationship you've invested a lot of love, energy and time in is often very difficult to do. The reasons for a break-up may vary, but the ache of missing that someone is something can last long after the relationship is over.

When relationships disintegrate or become estranged, it can be heart-wrenching. True, there are some relationships which end and it's easier to put it behind and move on, but what about that special relationship you really don't want to let go of? How can you fully "let go" to continue forward with your life?

In love relationships it is hard to let go in a situation where you really don't want the relationship to stop, but you know it must due to whatever reason may be. It may be your loved one either has decided to move on, or the relationship isn't a healthy one. Even in unhealthy relationships, the love tends to overshadow the dark aspects and this muddles the situation, and it may make letting go even harder to do.

breakup couple
Credit: Adam Kuśmierz via Flickr/CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/kusmierz/3705649310/

After you're both all talked out and the decision to break up has been made, while it's hard, sometimes it's not the hardest part. The harder part sometimes is trying to move forward.

Finding the Way to Letting Go of Someone You Love 

The first thing to do is to stop and look within yourself and ask why the relationship is coming to an end. If you are honest with yourself you'll see the reasons and be able to at least understand why, even if it doesn't make the fact it is ending any easier. Self-reflection is a huge part of the healing process and is a big factor in being able to move forward.

Once an understanding is reached, it is important to gain acceptance of a finished relationship; this is often the hardest part. A need to grieve during this period of time is completely natural and usually necessary. There is no wrong or right way to grieve, and no designated time frame to do it in. The problem comes when a person become totally immersed in the lost relationship and neglect the other aspects of his or her life.

Take Time to Grieve, But Don’t Be Consumed

You'll need some time to do this grieving, but it's not healthy to totally wrap yourself up in memories and reflection on what went wrong. Over the course of time the answers will probably come to you, and acceptance will come too, but in the meantime it is important to understand life does go on and you will too.

"Part of the grieving process at the end of a relationship is accepting that what you wanted to happen no longer will happen," writes therapist Terry Gaspard. "Thoughts might range from we will never have children together to we won’t ever eat another meal together." 1

Put away the photos, letters, gifts and any other reminders of your loved one. Some people throw them out and others spend an inordinate amount of time with these objects reflecting on memories; the latter usually ends in more heartbreak and despair. You might regret tossing some sentimental objects, so you might want to hold off on doing that in the beginning. If there is a need to move on slowly, carefully place everything in a box and store it in a place where you aren't apt to pull it out. You can decide what to do with these items at a later date.

Love letter
Credit: Peter Hellberg via Flickr/CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterhellberg/3002967227

Tuck those love letters, photos, gifts and any other mementos away. If you feel a need to keep them, this is OK, but if having difficulty moving on, it is not healthy to keep going through them during the post-breakup period.

Talk to a Professional

If there is anger present over the relationship ending and it doesn't seem to want to go away, it might help to talk to an objective professional to get to the root of those feelings and help you find ways to release the bitterness. If you are more sad than angry, it is often a good idea to have a good cry and let those feelings flow; it's a big release and a very important part of the healing process. Talking to someone can help in this situation too.

It’s OK to Focus on Yourself

As you lick your wounds to help them heal, one positive way to approach the situation is to focus on yourself for a while as you adjust to your newly single status. When a love relationship ends you'll probably find you will need to get used to the idea of spending more time alone and this is hard to do if you aren't used to it. Many people immediately search out new relationships to fill the void, but this typically backfires in the long run. One good way to let go of a relationship is to get to know yourself and learn how to enjoy your own company.

Turn your attention to your interests, hobbies and activities. Now is the time to engage in them and take the focus off your former relationship. Throw yourself into something else you love; this helps let go on a multitude of levels because you spend time with yourself, remember things you love to do and above all, you might find you're even having some fun.

Credit: Clément Chéné via Flickr/CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/clementchene/5627718559/

Time Does Heal

The loss of a relationship and letting go is hard, but time truly does heal. After a while you'll probably remember the relationship for good times and file them away into your memory bank. After a time, you may even find you love your new life and are very happy and content. Relationships may be a part of you, but they don't define you.