Psychology for Living

Gwen Randall-Young
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Ending relationships

"Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go." ~

Hermann Hesse
How often have you heard it said that we get so little training for the major things in life, like marriage and parenting? Well, that is slowly changing, although too often the training comes after the fact.
There is another life event for which most people are totally unprepared, and that is the ending of a relationship. Now this may be a love relationship, or a friendship, but whatever the case, it is always difficult. Perhaps this is because when we become close to someone there is a part of us that wants it to last forever. So much of our identity becomes tied up with that person, that to no longer have them in our life creates panic, because we do not know who we are without them.
It is probably easier to become codependent than it is to maintain a strong sense of independence, knowing and liking who we are as unique individuals. But merging our identity with another, either in friendship or intimate connection, does not serve our growth. So when difficulties arise in a relationship, It means that something is not right for one or both of the parties, if the relationship can change in response to these signals, then it can survive. If it cannot, and the same difficulties persist, then it becomes a drain on both parties. Too often the parties hold on to the relationship, even after it has become quite negative, because it is easier to face an unpleasant known, than an uncertain unknown.
If you are a young adult, it is important to realize that relationships are for learning, and very often it is simply time to let some relationships go, so that you can make room for others. You need not feel guilty if it is time to move on. It is possible to do gracefully. In every relationship that we have there are gifts, even if they are in the form of difficult experiences from which we have learned. So we can thank the other for what we have shared, and what we have learned, and sincerely wish them well
Regardless of our age or circumstances, there are times when it is clearly appropriate to end certain relationships, if, despite efforts to change things, the relationship is continually hurtful to one or both parties, then it is time. If there is no longer any joy in being with this person, and in fact you begin to dread contact, then it is time. As humans, we often fear letting go, but there comes a time when it is painful to keep holding on than it is to let go.
It can take a great deal of courage and wisdom to act on our intuition, but as is the nature of our species, that is how we evolve.

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