You are here: Home » Blog » Social Happiness

7 Tips to Help You Let Go of Someone and Move Forward

by Ashley

Reviewed and fact-checked

We are committed to the highest standards of accuracy and reliability in our content. Every statement made on our website is meticulously fact-checked and supported by authoritative studies.

Read more about our processes here.

Published on

man looking at sunset

Key points

  • Identify precise reasons for parting ways to gain closure and move on.
  • Maintain distance physically and online to heal and avoid old patterns.
  • Prioritize self-care and reinvest in healthy relationships for personal growth.

Have you known for months or maybe even years that you needed to let that one person in your life go? But you hang on to hope that things will change and you can avoid the ache that comes from having to cut ties with a relationship that once meant so much to you.

I’ve been in your shoes one too many times. Whether it’s a significant other or a close friend, letting go of people can be one of the most painful life experiences. However, when you fully let go of that person, you are gifting yourself the love and healing that you deserve. And letting go can open the door to new opportunities and healthy relationships that fill up your cup instead of always causing it to spill over.

If you’re ready-and I mean really ready- to find the freedom that lies on the other side when you let that person go, then this article is for you. We will cover tangible steps you can take today to finally let go.

Why letting go is tough

When I have to let someone go, there are typically one of two feelings that I am afraid of.

One of those feelings that I desperately want to avoid is immense grief and the other is concern that I may regret the decision down the line. In reality, neither of these emotions are a good reason to hold on to someone when you know it’s not good for either of you.

Logic tells you to let the person go, but science has even found that after letting someone go the areas of your brain associated with sadness have increased activity. And no one likes to feel sad. This makes it terribly challenging to actually disassociate with the relationship.

Another study found that anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances all increase initially after letting go of a person you love.

It’s no wonder that despite logic telling us to make one decision, we avoid letting go to try to stave off the pain that comes with loss.

Why it’s important to sometimes let someone go

At this point in the article, you might be saying, “So why in the world would I want to let someone go?”

It’s appealing to avoid all the potential pain and negative emotions that can come right after a loss. But the long-term benefits definitely outweigh the initial blunt impact.

Research indicates that unhealthy relationships have the potential to reduce the effectiveness of your immune system. This means that your unhealthy relationship could literally decrease your lifespan and increase your risk of developing a disease.

Not only does your physical health improve after letting go, but you also lower your risk for depression. A study in 2009 found that problematic interpersonal relationships in the work environment significantly increased the odds that the person would develop depression.

I don’t know about you, but I like it when my immune system does its job well and I certainly don’t fancy depression. When I’m tempted to hold on to someone I shouldn’t, I have to remind myself against my own better judgment that I will be happier down the road after wading my way through the initial suffering of the loss.

💡 By the way: Do you find it hard to be happy and in control of your life? It may not be your fault. To help you feel better, we’ve condensed the information of 100’s of articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet to help you be more in control. 👇

Cheat Sheet Download Thumbnail

Don’t Miss Out On Happiness

Find happiness with this 10-step mental health cheat sheet.

7 ways to let someone go

It’s time to grab your shears because we’re going to explore five ways you can cut ties with the relationships that no longer serve you and your potential.

1. Be clear about why you’re letting them go

Sometimes when we’re struggling to let someone go, it’s because we haven’t taken the time to clearly establish why we’re letting them go.

You can’t just give vague reasons like, “I know what my boyfriend and I have isn’t healthy.” You have to pinpoint exactly why it is that you need to let them go, so you have enough willpower to actually do it.

Towards the end of my 4-year relationship with a boyfriend, I absolutely knew that it was time to end things. But I tiptoed my way around breaking up for six months until my friend sat me down and forced me to say out loud all of the things that were not quite right with the relationship.

Saying it out loud and defining what was wrong made me finally take the plunge to end things. And after the heartbreak settled, I felt like a million-ton weight had been lifted off my chest and I could finally breathe again.

2. Distance yourself

This can be so stinking hard if you’re super close to the person.

And yes, this includes distancing yourself from them on social media. Because we all know that you won’t be able to resist the urge to creepily stalk your ex on Instagram for months on end if you don’t press that unfollow button.

If you don’t put physical and social distance between you and the person, you are bound to end up connecting again. And if you’ve made the decision that this person is not worth holding on to, you need to stick to your guns.

And it’s true what they say. Out of sight, out of mind. When you distance yourself, you make it easier to avoid falling back into old relationship habits and traps.

3. Let yourself feel your feelings

Of all the tips in this article, this is the one I personally struggle with the most.

I am the queen of distracting myself to avoid “feeling my feelings”. But when you let go of someone, you are in a sense experiencing a trauma.

And if you don’t allow yourself to feel the grief that accompanies trauma, you are bound to bottle it up deep down and this can affect your healthy relationships.

I remember one time after I cut ties with a good friend I tried to just stay busy and move on with my life. But because I never took the time to process my emotions, my close relationships started to notice I was distant when we would hang out.

Deep down, I was afraid that I would have to let go of them, too. And because I didn’t allow myself to process my emotions after the loss of that friend, it subconsciously affected how I viewed my other relationships.

So take the time to get all up in your “feelers”. I really mean it. And if that means drowning in a pint of ice cream and cuddling your dog for a month straight, I won’t judge you.

4. Dig deeper into your healthy relationships

After you let someone go, it can be easy to forget that you still have so many incredible interpersonal relationships in your life.

And now that you’ve freed up some energy, it’s a great time to dive deep into your healthy connections.

I’ve always found that after the loss of a relationship, I grow closer to my loved ones. My relationship with my mother didn’t truly blossom until I went through a nasty breakup.

Through her support during that rough time, I came to know her on a deeper level and learned how her past experiences shaped who she is today.

There are always going to be people in this world who want to engage in meaningful relationships with you. Don’t let the loss of one bad seed blind you to all the good that surrounds you.

5. Focus on self-care

After losing someone you care about, it’s important to take time to invest in taking care of yourself.

The energy and time you devote to that relationship can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being.

In order to give yourself the fresh start you deserve, you need to make sure your needs are met. The following are some of my tried-and-true forms of self-care that I rely on after the loss of a close relationship:

  • Hot bubble bath with a glass of wine.
  • Making sure I get 8 or more solid hours of sleep.
  • Booking a vacation that I’ve been putting off.
  • Making sure I get at least 20 minutes of sunlight daily.
  • Watching cheesy movies to cheer myself up.
  • Moving my body in whatever way feels good to me that day.

It really doesn’t matter what your self-care looks like. It’s just important that you put it into action after letting someone go so you can effectively heal and move on.

6. Reflect on past lessons

When trying to let go of someone, it’s helpful to reflect on the lessons learned from the relationship. Ask yourself what this relationship has taught you about your needs, boundaries, and values. Recognize the growth that has come from your experiences, both good and bad.

This doesn’t mean dwelling on the past but rather acknowledging it as a stepping stone to a better understanding of yourself and your future relationships.

Write down the key lessons you’ve learned from the relationship in a journal. Consider how these insights can guide you in future relationships and personal growth. Whenever you find yourself missing the person, refer to these lessons as reminders of why moving forward is beneficial for your well-being.

7. Reinvest in your interests

Letting go of someone often means you’ll have more time and energy to invest in yourself. Revisit old hobbies and interests that you might have neglected or explore new activities that you’ve always wanted to try. This not only helps to distract you from the pain of letting go but also builds your identity and happiness independent of the relationship.

Make a list of activities you love or have wanted to try, and commit to doing one each week.

Whether it’s painting, hiking, learning a new language, or cooking a new recipe, immersing yourself in these activities will boost your mood and self-esteem. Share your experiences with friends or family, or join a community or class to further enrich your engagement and form new connections.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

Cheat Sheet Download Thumbnail Clean

This Cheat Sheet Will Help You Be Happier and More Productive

Thrive under stress and crush your goals with these 10 unique tips for your mental health.

Wrapping up

There is no easy way to let someone go. If I could wave a magic wand to make the pain go away, I would. But if you follow the steps in this article, you can cut ties in a way that allows you to experience new freedom and sustainable joy in life. And when you finally let that person go, you can hold on tight to the people and experiences in life that matter most.

What do you think? Have you ever had to let someone go and found it extremely difficult? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Ashley Kaiser AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Physical therapist, writer, and outdoor enthusiast from Arizona. Self-proclaimed dark chocolate addict and full-time adrenaline junkie. Obsessed with my dog and depending on the day my husband, too.

4 thoughts on “7 Tips to Help You Let Go of Someone and Move Forward”

  1. i’m 18 and have bpd. it truly feels like no matter what i do i will always love the wrong way. it feels like i constantly have to convey my emotions in ways that put people through the pain that i feel. even if that means hurting them in the moment. while i don’t have bad intentions behind it, i still find myself feeling so wretched and evil, it feels like i’m constantly miles away from everyone especially partners in terms of emotions. my heart yearns for my boyfriend to understand why i’m feeling the way i do 99.9% of the time but i know no one will ever be able to feel the emotional severity of emotional pain casually like i do. i find myself debating on if it’s even morally right to subject people to my love, or if i should just venture off alone. i can feel my emotions and feelings for my boyfriend withering away after every blow up i hear and i feel like it’s mutual between us. i miss what we were like 3 months ago. i miss getting that first text from him and feeling ecstatic. but now i feel like i’m hollowing out our relationship and leaving nothing but a husk.

    • Hi Dani,

      Thanks for sharing this with us. Is this something you’ve talked about with the people close to you (like your boyfriend)? If this sounds hard, this might be a good thing to talk about with a professional.

      >i find myself debating on if it’s even morally right to subject people to my love

      Absolutely. It would be a shame to restrict your love in any way. Don’t give up on yourself.

  2. I’ve been married 28 years and find myself no longer wanting or desiring my wife. I still love her deeply but she is noticing my lack of attentiiveness. I see and feel her hurting. She is fighting to keep us together, but I don’t know if my feelings will ever return. Along with that I am suffering with ED. Not sure what to do. Should I let her go , so I can no longer hurt her. Suffering and in Pain what can I do?

    • Hi Eddie,

      Thanks for sharing this. This is a truly difficult situation with no easy solution, I’m afraid. For what it’s worth (and take this with a grain of salt, consider this is as nothing more than internet advice from a random stranger), try to answer this: could you both be happier if you decide to split up?

      I hope you’ll figure it out.


Leave a Comment