Recently I had to separate from someone I love very deeply. Our relationship was short, but we had traveled together, lived together, and spent virtually every moment together from the moment we had met. He became part of my everyday life, and I had become part of his.
We both traveled internationally for work. The last time we had to go our separate ways, it seemed as though we would be apart forever. We decided to let go intentionally, and I am certain that was the right choice.
The most beautiful thing about our breakup was that it ended with honesty and kindness.
Just a few weeks after our parting, we had the opportunity to see each other again. I was traveling to Europe, and he was just a short plane ride from where I would be. He politely explained that he did not want to see me so soon. Our goodbyes were getting harder and harder, and he just did not want to go through another one so soon after the last.
I was hurt. I felt wronged. I felt rejected. I felt the heartbreak all over again. I expressed how wounded this made me feel then gave him the space he had been asking for.
Days later, I received a message. He told me he had not gotten tired of me. He had not met someone else. But he needed to be on his own. He needed to follow his own path for the time being. He explained that if he continued to compromise himself, eventually he would get resentful. We would sour. The heartbreak would be worse. I learned a lot from this relationship. But perhaps the most meaningful lesson was the one of how to respectfully, lovingly end a relationship. Here's what I know now about letting go:
1. Prioritize honesty, respect, and kindness throughout every interaction.
Choose words carefully. Watch your reactions. Be truthful with yourself, in your words and in your actions. Before making any decisions, before saying any words, remind yourself to be kind.
2. Don't wait until it's too late to leave with love and goodwill.
Often the signs are clear long before we find the courage to break away. Muster the strength to end on a good note. Leave the relationship before it goes bad, before it gets mean, before there is resentment. It doesn't have to be that way.
3. Be considerate after the breakup. Give yourself and your ex what you both need: space, time, and a clear sense of finality.
I wanted to talk to him every day. When we did talk, I cried. I missed him. I missed us. I missed our lives together. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I loved him so much that I wanted him to feel free. What's more, I wanted to feel freedom in my heart, too. I wanted to feel excited again to follow my passions, to live my own adventure and to be open to the world of opportunities in front of me. When I was holding on to us, this was impossible for both of us. Only by giving him the freedom and space he asked for could either of us feel liberated and open. When I do hear from him, I am happy for him, and he's happy for me.
He was right. It takes courage to end a relationship on the expiry date rather than wait till it goes completely rotten and stinks up your whole life.
It takes maturity and objectivity to be kind enough to let go of someone, even when the love runs deep.
It takes strength to be honest enough to recognize when it's time to walk a solitary path.
If you are in a relationship, friendship, or job that isn't serving your purpose, have the courage to walk away before it ruins you. The signs are usually clear before anger or fear set in. Have the respect for yourself and the other people involved to end it with honesty and kindness before it becomes intolerable. I am so grateful that he loved me enough to do just that.