How to Let Go of Someone: Learning to Move On (2024)

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Signs you need to move on

10 tips for letting go of someone you care about

The bright side of letting go

You deserve a relationship that makes you happy

There’s nothing simple about letting go of someone you care about.

Close relationships are part of your identity, whether it’s a romantic partner, best friend, or business partner. Saying goodbye to an important person in your life can feel like losing a piece of yourself.

Sometimes, though, parting ways is necessary. When this is the case, learning how to let go of someone and move on from the experience can lessen the blow. Keep in mind that this process looks different for everybody. Even if you’ve ended a relationship before, each separation has its unique baggage and requires different emotional work.

Do you think it’s time to part ways with someone in your life? Explore common signs you should exit a relationship and learn tips for taking the plunge, healing, and moving forward.

Signs you need to move on

It’s rarely easy to know when to let go of someone. Not all relationship red flags are obvious, and some mistakes are more serious than others.

While aggressive or unkind behaviors may be hard to miss, some of the writing on the wall may be in invisible ink: codependency, coercion, and changing priorities, for example, are signs of a difficult person that are more challenging to spot.

Here are 10 signs you need to move on from a relationship that’s soured.

1. You don’t feel like you

You’re out of touch with yourself. Maybe you’ve become more pessimistic, stopped doing the things that make you feel good, or distanced yourself from important friendships.

Relationships change us, but personal growth should feel positive. Ask yourself if, deep down, you like who you are with this person. If you don’t recognize yourself or are unhappy with the direction of your life, that’s a sign the relationship isn’t a good fit. This applies to romantic partnerships and relationships with friends.

2. You don’t see eye to eye

The same argument, frustrations, or disagreements repeat time and time again. It might feel impossible to work through recurring issues, communicate through disagreements, or talk about the root of the problem.

The relationship has stopped growing, and you feel stuck in an endless loop of conflict. You can find yourself trapped in this cycle with a stubborn friend, an opinionated acquaintance, or an inflexible partner.

3. There’s a lack of emotional trust

You don’t feel safe around your partner because they weaponize your vulnerabilities, overstep clear boundaries, or shoot down your ideas. Good relationships make you feel comfortable enough to be your whole self, whether you’re with a friend or romantic partner.

Feeling you have to hide parts of who you are to protect your emotional state is a strong sign of a toxic relationship.

4. There are too many excuses

Calling out a loved one, close friend, or significant other on their toxic personality traits makes you feel bad or uncomfortable, even when they hurt you and need to know. So, you make excuses. Maybe you justify their bad behavior because they’re having a hard time at work or a difficult relationship with their parents. Whatever the reason, there’s always a false justification for their behavior.

It’s important to remember that no matter what your partner or friend is going through, you don’t deserve to become a punching bag for their frustrations. If this person doesn’t learn to treat you better even through tough times, they’re likely not a reliable or healthy partner.

5. You feel emotionally drained

Your body tenses up with stress before you even see this person, or you actively try to avoid them. When you’re spending time with them, it’s tiring — you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically spent. Once the encounter is over, mental exhaustion sets in.

This mental exhaustion can carry over into other areas of your life. You may feel unmotivated to work, struggle to create other healthy relationships, or have anxieties that interrupt your day-to-day routine. If you find yourself feeling this unhappy, you may need to distance yourself from the relationship as a form of self-care.

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6. You have misaligned priorities

Sometimes the reason why it’s hard to let go of someone is that you get along with them, but your priorities are misaligned.

Relationships require some give and take, but if you find yourself sacrificing your life goals, priorities, or values, you may need to re-evaluate the relationship. Whether it’s a romantic relationship, business partnership, or friendship, letting go on good terms can free you up to pursue what makes you feel a sense of purpose.

7. They cause low self-esteem

In an unhealthy relationship, someone might put you down in order to feel better about themself. The frequent belittling of your successes, emotions, and aspirations might impact your self-esteem, harm your confidence, and sow insecurities about your self-worth. If you find yourself brought down by negative thoughts inspired by your relationship, something needs to change.

8. They don’t apologize

When someone refuses to take accountability for their actions, it demonstrates a lack of mutual respect and self-reflection. And if a partner twists the narrative to play the victim, it could be a sign of an emotional vampire.

This form of gaslighting causes you to doubt your own experiences, making it difficult to know when to stand up for yourself. If you do all the apologizing — even when addressing someone else’s bad behavior — it’s a serious red flag. Here are some other signs you’re being gaslit:

  • They misremember their actions
  • They belittle your emotions
  • They talk negatively about you to others in your presence
  • They shift the blame to you
  • They always find a way to become the victim

9. They don’t express gratitude

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel appreciated — it makes you feel seen and is necessary to build a sense of connection and belonging in your personal and professional life. With friends or romantic partners, it feels like a put-down and inspires resentment.

10. There’s constant jealousy

Supportive relationships celebrate your wins. A serious relationship red flag is when your success is met with resentment, jealousy, or anger. Imagine a manager who envies your strong performance, a friend who resents your career, or a partner who discourages your personal growth. Over time, you may let their negative emotions hinder your objectives, new experiences, or professional opportunities.

10 tips for letting go of someone you care about

Letting go of a relationship may feel like you’re letting the other person down. While it’s natural to jump to that conclusion, it’s not true — by ending the relationship, you’re allowing both of you to move on to something better. Even when it feels unfair, you need to take care of yourself throughout every stage of the grief.

Here are 10 tips for moving on, whether from a broken heart, losing a best friend, or saying goodbye to a toxic social relationship:

1. Put yourself first

Feeling like you’re letting someone down or hurting someone you care for is challenging. Putting yourself first is the first step in taking charge of your life and reinventing yourself after an unhealthy partnership. This means listening to your physical and emotional needs and setting aside time and space to heal. Don’t compromise on what you need — it’ll be difficult at first, but you’ll come out stronger on the other side.

2. Let yourself grieve

Your relationships shape a part of your identity, and losing one (for better or worse) can push you into grief. Grief looks different for everybody — try and accept that life might feel like an emotional rollercoaster while you cope. Instead of pushing down your sadness, learn to address it. The best way to overcome difficult emotions is to embrace them and let them go.

3. Seek out support

You’re not alone. If you’re going through a heartbreak, lean into your friends and family. Likewise, professional help from mental health providers or coaches can help you feel heard and give you the tools to cope and flourish.

4. Stay busy

While you shouldn’t avoid your feelings, staying active is a great way to move forward and feel positive. That hobby you always wanted to pursue? Now’s the perfect time to start. Plus, a new creative endeavor, business venture, or self-care routine can help you connect with yourself and your needs.

5. Forgive

Holding on to all your anger can cause stress and anxiety. Depending on your circ*mstances, forgiveness can be a powerful coping mechanism that improves your mental health.

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6. Learn from your mistakes

No one is perfect, including yourself. Be honest and evaluate how you contributed to the relationship. Here are some questions to ask:

  • When and why didn’t I advocate for myself?
  • Did I treat the other person unfairly?
  • How could I have responded or reacted differently in certain situations?
  • How do I communicate during a conflict?

Self-reflection and self-awareness are the first steps toward building healthy boundaries and ensuring that a new relationship doesn’t repeat the same mistakes.

7. Consider cutting contact

Depending on the circ*mstance, no contact with a former partner or friend may help you keep your mind focused on healing. Physical and emotional distance means you aren’t constantly reminded of the damage done or tempted to return to the relationship.

8. Find your happy place

While grief is a natural part of the process, you shouldn’t feel swallowed by it. Practice mindfulness, positive affirmations, and mindful breathing to help you return to a safe space when your brain begins to focus on negative self-talk.

9. Don’t wait on the other person

Accept that your former partner or friend may never take responsibility for their actions. Remember: your healing depends entirely on you. Don’t wait around for an apology to move on.

10. Talk it out

You’re not being a burden by sharing your feelings. Part of letting go of a relationship is verbalizing it — write it down, cry with friends, or get it all out with a therapist or coach.

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The bright side of letting go

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if getting over a relationship feels like the end of the world as you know it, things will get better.

Here are five positives to look forward to:

1. Better physical health

Negative or hostile relationships create physiological stress, such as elevated blood pressure, a poor immune system, and slowed wound healing. Prolonged conflict is also associated with decreased physical health, including cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, and obesity. When you move on from a harmful relationship, you may begin to feel better in your body, too.

2. Improved mental health

Bad relationships deteriorate your mental health, resulting in an increased risk of anxiety and depression. By contrast, positive interactions can reduce the risk of negative mental health symptoms and give you strength. Letting go of a toxic relationship gives you more space to embrace beneficial connections and recoup your mental well-being.

3. Self-discovery

Toxic relationships are emotionally and physically draining. Without realizing it, you may have fallen out of touch with yourself and the things that make you happy. Ending a relationship is a great time to reevaluate your priorities, try new things, and chase after your goals.

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4. New relationships

Extra time and emotional stability mean you have the resources to meet new people, reconnect with old friendships, or start dating again. Fresh relationships bring new perspectives, ideas, and experiences into your life. Consider joining an online community, enrolling in an interactive class, or signing up for an exercise group to return to the social scene.

5. Better friends and partners

Taking the time to self-reflect after leaving a bad relationship can help you develop healthier connections going forward. What was it in your previous relationship that made you unhappy? Understanding why you left and what you need out of future relationships empowers you to advocate for your needs and improve communication with future friends or partners.

6. More confidence

Finally, saying “enough is enough” can fill you with strength. Now you know you have the courage and resilience to end a situation that isn’t good for you. You can feel more confident being yourself, knowing you have the power to stand up for your needs.

You deserve a relationship that makes you happy

One of the hardest things in life is letting go of someone special. But you’re never alone — many have been through this before, and you’ll get through it, too.

Like most monumental life experiences, acting with intention and purpose will help you through the grieving process. Equipped with ways to care for yourself in the aftermath, it’s time to do some healing.

Remember: even though understanding how to let go of someone looks different for everyone, you have the strength to cut ties and move on. Lean into your network, do some self-reflection, and re-invest in yourself. You’ll be better because of the change.

Reinvent your emotional journey

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Reinvent your emotional journey

Discover personalized coaching to help you gracefully let go and create a fulfilling new chapter.

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Published June 7, 2023

How to Let Go of Someone: Learning to Move On (2024)


How to Let Go of Someone: Learning to Move On? ›


Holding feelings inside only keeps us stuck and can eventually turn into anxiety or even develop into depression. Talk to a supportive friend, a family member, a life coach, or a therapist about how you feel. Let them be there for you in your time of need.

What to do when you can't let someone go? ›


Holding feelings inside only keeps us stuck and can eventually turn into anxiety or even develop into depression. Talk to a supportive friend, a family member, a life coach, or a therapist about how you feel. Let them be there for you in your time of need.

Why is it so hard letting go of someone? ›

It can be difficult to let go of someone we love because our feelings towards a person generally do not disappear overnight. If we have been in a relationship with the same person for a long time, they would likely have been a part of our lifestyle and daily routines.

Why can't I let go of someone who is bad for me? ›

Another reason why it's hard to let go of a toxic person is because you probably love or loved them. Personally, I've had to let go of some very close people in my life that are no longer good for me. Including a handful of my immediate family, and even a boyfriend who I loved SO much.

How do I detach from someone? ›

Begin by acknowledging your emotions without judgment. Allow yourself to feel whatever arises: sadness, anger, or longing. Then, establish clear boundaries to create space between you and the person. This might involve limiting contact, avoiding triggers, or even unfollowing them on social media.

How long does it fully take to let go of someone? ›

Give yourself three months to begin to heal

Studies suggest that most people start to feel better around three months post-breakup.

What are the three stages of an unhealthy relationship? ›

Learn how to identify a toxic relationship from the beginning. Toxic relationships generally follow three stages: idealizing, devaluing, and discarding.

What does it mean when you can't let a person go? ›

It also signifies a big change in your life, and maybe even your identity. Even if you know that the relationship wasn't for you, it can still be hard to let go of it. Change is scary. Letting go requires you to move on from something that was familiar and comforting and enter into the uncertain future.

How do you break up with someone you can't let go of? ›

Avoid saying anything hurtful

Letting the other person know the larger issues for the breakup isn't the same as name-calling or belittling. Try to be respectful and avoid blaming them for the breakup. If they ask why you're ending things, be honest, but refrain from insulting them by going into small details.

How do you not feel bad about letting someone go? ›

The best way to let go of the guilt of letting go is to let joy replace the guilt. Let love replace the guilt. Remind yourself that you simply don't have room in your life for guilt.

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