Are you holding on when you should let go?

Have you been in (or perhaps are in) a relationship that the other person isn’t as into? It doesn’t have to be a committed relationship, as this can happen even in dating. You are more into him than he is to you. He indicates this by his lack of calling, initiating outings, or verbally giving what you need. But you are into him, so you hang on for dear life, and keep him around by giving him what you know he wants.

jump off bridgeSoon after my ex announced he was leaving, I had a prophetic dream that painted a perfect picture for my (and perhaps your) situation. We were on a very tall bridge. He was hanging off the side. I was safe on the bridge behind the railing, hanging on to him with all my might, not wanting him to fall. I was crying, clutching at him, trying to bring him back topside.

He was saying, “Let go. It’s OK. This is what I want.” Finally, he slipped out of my grasp and fell down, down, down. About half-way a parachute appeared out of his backpack and he floated peacefully to the ground, having had the experience he wanted. Feeling relieved that he was safe, I turned around and entered the limo waiting for me.

This image allowed me to see that I was holding tight onto him, as I didn’t want to let him go, even though it was clear he wanted to go. I thought he wasn’t going to be safe since I didn’t know about the parachute on his back. I didn’t want him falling to his death. But he didn’t get to the dangling position by accident — he purposefully put himself there. By letting him go, we both got what we wanted. He got the freedom to experience life as he wanted, unencumbered by anyone. I could have a life that he never wanted but I did.

So letting go when someone obviously doesn’t want to be with you will bring you both more happiness. Sometimes our nocturnal dreams are clear indications of our waking dreams and reality.

Have you held on when you knew you should let go? What happened when you cut the tie?

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14 responses to “Are you holding on when you should let go?”

  1. Sassy Avatar

    I’ve held on a few times, including my marriage. As I’ve tried to learn through this journey, I’ve understood about myself that I’ve hung on usually because of fear. Fear of what would happen, fear of being alone, fear of the unknown. Now I try to remind myself that I’ve come out “of the fire” a few times just fine and will be able to do it again.

  2. Ally Avatar

    Fear is the thing.
    I remember watching an episode of Starting Over, which featured 2 life coaches guiding a house of 6 women. One of the coaches, Rhonda Britten, said something I’ve never forgotten:
    We are in trouble when we are willing to settle for scraps of love. We are ensuring that’s all we’ll get.
    I always recall ‘scraps of love’ when I find myself in similar situations now. It helps the letting-go process. As we’ve discussed before, “if you’re not getting what you want, move on.”

  3. Mitsy Avatar

    I’ve written on other threads about my dreadful dating situation I had over a year or so ago. It was the online guy I met (Mark–not his real name) who had custody of his daughter and was in the process of a divorce. He also had weird hours with his job on the railroad. He was in the process of a divorce and had nothing good to say about his estranged wife. We dated for about 3 1/2 months. It was the longest I’d been with someone since my long-time relationship ended in 1999. Although I was not madly in love with him, he seemed like a good catch on many counts. He seemed pretty entranced by me (in the beginning). During the very first few weeks of dating, I saw some red flags but chose to ignore them because I thought I was making too much out of it. I was ultra on-guard at times but I also think I just really wanted a guy in my life, so I was willing to overlook some things that did not sit too well w/me.

    Long story short, this guy ends up going back to this horrible woman who treated his daughter so badly. He was not stable on so many levels. He bought and sold houses and cars like they were socks. He was impulsive like no one I’ve ever been around before. He eventually did send me an e-mail apology for not talking to me before he left town, but it was after I had sent him an e-mail.

    Fast forward to last week. I get a call from this guy’s sister whom I’m friends with. She tells me that Mark and Tammy are again split up. I gloat for a minute before I tell her how happy I am that at least the daughter is not living with that evil step-Mom anymore. I told her that I doubted that I would hear from him, but to my amazement, I get an e-mail from him the next day. It basically says that things did not work out with the wife. Drop me a line if you like.

    I think long and hard about this as I don’t think this guy deserves any kind of correspondence from me. However, I’m now happy with someone and thought it would be nice to let him know I have not been waiting for him to come back after 17 months. I pretty much tell him how immature he behaved and how lucky I was that he left town and that I could go on with my life. I told him that a guy who disrespected me the way he did deserved no second chances. I get an e-mail back which is filled with a lot of blaming of others for his bad choices in life. It just reinforces the fact that he’s a self-serving jerk who cares only about himself. He would even subject his kid to misery in order to get what he wanted. Any guy who would take his kid back to live with a woman who treated her so badly isn’t fit to be a parent in my opinion. I so dodged the bullet with this guy, but it took me a while to realize that. And I’m here to say that “Karma” is alive and well and it does come back to kick people in the butt when they’ve treated others badly.

  4. lara Avatar

    sometimes we hang on because it’s just a good arrangement …

    Any logical person would advise me to erase his phone number and lose his email address and be thankful nothing bad happened. Actually, a not-so-logical person did advise me to do just that. Because, really, what’s a divorced suburban mom doing with a Harley S&M freak? A loner who never calls, a stray cat who’s always on the road.

    What am I doing with him? Weellll…. we barhop and cruise around. Then we have kinky, mind blowing sex. Then sleep for a little while. Then more mind blowing sex. Then he makes me breakfast. And that’s it… until we meet up again. Maybe in a week, maybe in three months, depends on his travel schedule.

    Some people will look at this and say I’m selling myself short by having a sex-only relationship that’s pretty much at the guy’s convenience. But I say if I’m home and bored and there’s an alternative … why play the martyr? It’s OK to say ‘fuck it’ and just be the hedonist. So much of life is a boring to-do list. Why turn down fun if it fits in? Who cares if it’s not going anywhere? Is there a purpose to ice cream other than it just tastes good?

    Younger single women seem to have taken ownership of their sexuality in a way that middle-aged single women are only beginning to understand. We can learn from them. We have to ask questions and listen and learn. No judging. Just listen and observe. They ultimately want the same things from men that we want: love, respect, honesty, a tight ass and a big bank account … but they also want the fun on the way.

    Besides, women need sex – physically and mentally – as much as men. We can’t be playing good girl head games with ourselves when we need feel-good brain chemicals pumping through our bodies. It’s OK to want and (safely) get it. Just for the hell of it. Even if it’s never going to go anywhere.

    Just because it tastes good.

  5. Christine Avatar

    To answer the question, in a word, yes. It always seems to be my first inclination even when I know it isn’t good for me. I think it has something to do with not wanting to admit to making a mistake or striving for some level of perfection. Also, coming from an abuse background, I always feel that I can fix things, that they’re my responsibility, with just a little more effort, compromise, pleasing behavior, etc. it can work out this way, my way. Maybe it’s a control thing. I’m not sure. It’s behavior that hasn’t served me well and makes me embarrassed to even admit it here.

  6. Mitsy Avatar

    I guess I will never be able to relate to the women who do the casual sex (with whoever) and think living in the moment (when the guy is available) is an OK option for a lot of women. Maybe it is for you, but I have more respect for myself than that. As I’ve said before, if you want a committed relationship, then why settle for being someone’s F-buddy? I mean really??? I like sex too, but how empty can you feel afterwards? I’m not willing to settle for such an arrangement. Women deserve better than that and if you settle for that, then you’re not likely to find the kind of guy who is going to make you happy. Also, what decent guy is going to want a woman who sleeps around? If I were a guy, I certainly wouldn’t.

  7. Dating Goddess Avatar


    What you’re missing here is that people have different values than you — and that their values are fine unless they are hurting someone else. You operate one way and others operate another, and can still respect themselves and live their lives happily. You don’t have to be in judgment about them, you can just be in wonder. You seem to have a hard time understanding that not everyone operates the way you do or would, and then getting indignant when they don’t.

    You might want to reread the post “Being in wonder” and see if you can apply it to others whose behavior you don’t relate to, rather than judging them.

    Lara’s decisions work for her, so no one else has the right question it, especially if we don’t know her, unless she’s asking for another perspective or input.

  8. Mitsy Avatar

    But when you post on an open forum, you are going to get opinions, good, bad or otherwise. So, if they don’t want to tell their stories and have any comments made (you can call them judgments), then don’t post such things.

  9. Kristin Avatar

    This post is so appropriate for me right now it is actually scary – except that I am the one that has been trying to fall, while the most wonderful man in the world has been holding on and being thankful for any little glimmer of hope that I give to him. I was being selfish because I know how wonderful he is and I love having him as a friend, but it wasn’t fair to him. After reading this post I have finally given him what he needs to be able to cut the tie. I will be safe, I will be ok. And he will be free to find the one who will make him happy. I truly wish I felt differently and that I could be in love with him again. But I finally realize that it isn’t fair to him when I know I want to be let go.

  10. Sassy Avatar

    Wow, Kristin. You gave a great gift to your man by letting it end now. I believe that this kindness will come back to help you someday. You’re inspirational to me.

  11. Dating Goddess Avatar


    You have done a very difficult thing, but one that will serve both of you. I know it is hard to give up a wonderful man, but if you don’t love him, best to release him to someone who will share his ardor. It is brave of you to do so with love and respect, rather than just going poof as so many do.

  12. Rod Avatar

    The ‘talent’ in dating does not seem to be in the finding… the finding part seems to come *relatively* easily. The skill comes in being able to recognize the end for what it is, and to be able to let go without excess hurt.

    The problem, for any soft hearted person, is that letting go of someone good, even great, but not ‘the One’ causes intense pain – and the last thing we want to do is cause pain to another… but eventually, to not act, means to cause even more pain to both of us and maybe other innocent bystanders.

    I let someone fantastic go, not because of her, but because of external circumstances that I just could not see a way around… and I doubt I shall ever forget her… but it was the right thing to do.

  13. Kristin Avatar

    Rod, you said it exactly. It is causing me pain to let him go because I do care about him and don’t want to see him hurt. It’s awful! Despite Sassy and DG’s kind words, I don’t feel like a good person. But like you, I know it was the right thing to do and no, I will never forget him.

    So, I really will survive it, eh? *sigh*

  14. nysharon Avatar

    Misty why do you read this blog if you are in a relationship? You talk about how happy you are but you are still reading a dating blog and communicating with a man who hurt you even if it your purpose was to gloat. Your judgmental words are hurtful and THAT my friend is bad karma.
    It is also not what this blog is about from what I see. People should be able to feel safe here.