On Letting People Go

letting people go

If I’m being honest, I’ve always had a hard time “letting go”. It has always been hard for me to get rid of toxic friends, end terrible relationships and stop focusing on the past. But after doing this for so long, you start to finally realize that things need to change.

I’d say that in college was when I really learned to “let go”. While I’m still close with most of my high school friends, I lost a few to distance or just general changes in personality. I realized this was inevitable. I stayed in a crappy relationship for the first few years of college because I was too scared to let go of it. I was worried I’d never find anyone else and that no one would ever feel that way about me again.

The most poignant time for me coming to terms with letting people go was after college. This was a huge time of transition for me- I moved back home, started a new relationship, was far away from my college friends and lifestyle, and started working full-time. Such a drastic shift like this is a crucial time for changes. And I realized that some changes that needed to be made were letting people go.

There’s a short list of people I had to let go during this period of change. I let go of an old relationship- which lasted for 3.5 years and about 10 years of friendship prior to that. It was difficult, but I knew it was the right thing to do for myself. I never thought I’d be cutting out friends who I grew up with and shared so much of my life with, but it had to be done. I cannot see myself being supportive and friendly with people who had hurt me, or supported the hurting of me, so much.

I let go of toxic friendships-whether they were long-time friends or just a friend-of-a-friend. Those who only liked me when they needed something, those who didn’t put the effort into our friendship like I did, and those who did not support my new relationship, lifestyle or goals. I realized that having a handful of true friends who love and support me is better than being surrounded by 100 fake friends who only tear me down when I’m not looking.

The thing with letting people go is that it causes tension. People might label you as a rude person for losing touch, or immature for ending communication over a situation. But in the long run, your happiness is what matters- it is your life.

Another thing I faced was the blame-game. I started dating someone new and my boyfriend and I lost many friends simply because of insecurity, immaturity and jealousy. Although this hurt a lot, I realized neither of us need people like that in our life. Your friends should support your relationships and be happy for you. They should lift you up, not put you down.

Letting people go takes guts. It takes a thick backbone, which I’ve grown slowly over the years. There are times where you need to just stand up for yourself and decide who deserves to be in your life and who doesn’t. Because we all deserve the best. “You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down”.

Have you had to let people go? Why? 

65 Comments

  1. This is one of the best thing a person can do for themselves, I’ve let go of a serious relationship and so-called friends, now I am so happy I did because these people were a source of constant stress in my life. It is not always easy to do but a very good thing to do.

  2. Letting go of people in your life is really difficult, especially when it seems like the feeling isn’t mutual. Ultimately, you gotta just take care of yourself and focus on cultivating positive, healthy relationships. Negative, draining, and immature relationships create stress and drama — who has the time or energy for that?

  3. Agreed! This is one of the hardest things to do in life. It’s scary b/c you can’t really go back after you make the decision. I made this decision with a friend a few years ago and as hard as it was I have to say I feel so much less stress in my life. It was the right thing to do.

    1. Glad to hear it worked out! it’s the hardest when it’s really close friends. Thankfully for me, most of mine were shorter friendships or relationships

  4. Letting a close friend go may be one of the harder things I’ve done, but it was really worth it in the end. It’s amazing how much stress and drama left my life once I stepped away from a toxic friendship!

  5. My friendship with my best friend became toxic and I finally had to let that go. Probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do since we were so close but she was no longer the same person.

  6. Great article Rachel. I’ve let go of a lot of people over the past five years. I truly believe you are only as good as those you surround yourself with. It’s been a sometimes painful process but my life has been back filled with wonderful, supportive, uplifting people that enhance it in so many ways.

  7. I totally agree about letting people go, I’ve had to do this a number of times, and it was always for the best.

  8. Well said! I have had to do the same with my childhood best friend. But today I feel much lighter because of letting the negativity go… Plus it frees up space for a new, positive, quality person in your life

  9. Wow…this could not have come at a better time. I just left my relationship with my boyfriend of 3 years on Saturday. It is very fresh still obviously and I keep trying to talk myself into going back because I am scared that I won’t find anyone else & no one else will love me – exactly what you said above is exactly how I’m feeling!
    Thanks for posting this & being an encouragement that its okay to let people go & most often it’s for the best!

    1. I’m so glad it came at a good time for you Courtney! I can promise you that you WILL find someone else and you WILL have an even better relationship. It just takes a little bit of time and a good attitude 🙂 Letting people go is hard, but the best thing to do. You’ll thank yourself in a year or so!

  10. This topic is such a hard one… and I’ve never been someone good at letting people go. It was easy for me to let go of a lot of high school “friends” only because I really hated high school and kept those few close to me and am still friends with them. I agree though that the MOST challenging time that I’ve had to let people go is after graduating college and transitioning into a new city, new job, new relationship and starting new goals. As much as I tried to keep up with everyone, it just doesn’t make sense to be on such a one-sided relationship. After college, I had to let go of an old relationship that I had been in for over 5 1/2 years… it is weird that you had that problem with your new relationship because I have lost quite a few friends for letting go of this relationship and moving onto someone new. It is like they knew our relationship better and thought we shouldn’t break up, how could I go on and be happy with someone else? How selfish of me, right? But it very quickly helped me realize who my TRUE friends are. The ones who were there to listen through it all and have been SO HAPPY for me being happy in my new relationship, now my new job and helping support my efforts with my blog.

    Great post Rachel, thank you for the reminder that it is just better to let go.

    1. “Adult life” is the hardest for me, as well. And yes, I find that breakups or new relationships (basically any change in your love life) drastically changes who my real friends are. People get mad you dumped so-and-so or jealous you’re dating so-and-so now- you can’t win!

  11. Very true! It does take guts to do and it is the right thing to do sometimes. I have always been very loyal…so this has been ahrd for me. But I have had to face this a couple of times and everyone is just happier in the long run!!

  12. Ditto!!!! I rather have a few close friends than a ton of “so-called” friends!!! Great post!

  13. Great minds think alike! I wrote about something VERY similar today! haha! It’s SO true though. It’s tough, but you gotta do it sometimes.

  14. I LOVE that quote! It is the hardest for me to let people go… I’m not sure why? But you’re right! It’s worth it to have a handful of CLOSE friends instead of surrounding myself with a lot of people who really aren’t lifting me up!

  15. This post really hit home with me. I’ve been working on letting people go for the past 4 years, like you, it started when I graduated high school. It isn’t too difficult with some, just naturally drifting apart.

    It really sucks though, when you realize some people aren’t your real friends. I lost a lot of friends at the start of a relationship, it shocked me when I found that people who I thought were my friends became bitter towards me.

    I think the friendships we make and build as adults last the longest. We can choose our friends based on whether we actually like being around them, mutual interests, etc. Not because “we’ve known each other since kindergarten”.

    Great post, I don’t think I’ve ever written such a long comment before, haha.

    1. Aw I’m sorry to hear that Elizabeth. I think new relationships forming (or old ones ending) is a very common time for people to lose and gain new friends. It’s sad, but seems to happen a lot of the time. Thank you so much for your sweet compliment and comment- it’s not long at all and I love reading them!

  16. This is definitely a post I relate to. I have this weird habit of “letting go” of friends frequently but deep in my heart, I have a really hard time with losing friendships and truly letting them go. It’s a constant struggle for me, knowing when people aren’t meant to be in my life because of what we’ve been through together. I definitely find that I’m looking for more lasting and fulfilling relationships the older I get though.

  17. Tough topic! Letting go is a hard thing for me as well – especially someone important to me. I do think that once you do let go you feel so much better and it’s always better in the long run.

  18. Letting go can be hard, but as life gets busier it almost seems to happen naturally. And sometimes friends who you used to see all the time you don’t get to see as much simply because life just gets busy, but those friendships can still be valuable and enriching. 🙂

  19. I have a hard time letting go too but I use the idea that after you spend time with a friend you should be happier afterwards than you were before – it works for me!

  20. such a great post. I have a very hard time with letting go with everything, especially since i have felt it in the reverse and it is hard.

  21. such a great post, it’s especially relevant to me right now as i’m trying get over my break up and let go of my ex. it’s been a struggle every day and although it hurts, i know it’s the right thing to be doing. <3

    1. I know how hard it is Amy. You will get there in time- letting go is the best thing to do, take it from someone who went through the same thing a few years back!

  22. Great post! I have definitely let people go- mainly boyfriends- because they were holding me back, verbally abusive, or just adding negativity to my life. And it sure does take guts to let go!

  23. Looove this. I’ve gone through the same process, particularly in high school and after college. I think most recently it is more about lifestyle change which can also lead into the dragging you down category.

  24. Great post! I struggle so much with letting people go… but now that I’ve been out of college for 5 years, I’m realizing more and more that I simply don’t have time to be a good friend to every single person in my life! So, inevitably I’ve had to let some more-unhealthy friendships go so that I can put more effort into friendships that are both positive and fulfilling. It’s actually been quite an interesting exercise – I’ve gotten emails and confrontations from people asking why I’m mad at them, when really I simply stopped putting in the effort that I once put into the friendship. I think some people just get used to the other person putting in all of the effort, and it’s exhausting if you’re that person!

    1. Thanks Lisa! I think as we get busier, we realize that we just don’t have the time or energy for certain people who don’t fully commit to our happiness.

  25. It is hard to do, but is usually for the best. I love that as I get older it’s more apparent and I care less about being everyones friend. That sounded rude, but you know what I mean. You are very wise for a cute young girl!!!

  26. This post that definitely hits close to home for me, as this is something that I’ve struggled with for years. I held on to relationships that literally made me sick, but my fear of being alone/”a loser” made me stay friends with some truly terrible people. Now, I know that the only time I was really the loser was when I stayed friends with those people, and let them treat me the way I did. While it left me “friendless,” I know I am better off without them, and I know I have grown a helluva lot into myself, knowing that there won’t be anyone around to break me down. Friends should bring joy to your life, and if they don’t? Sayonara.

    Alyssa

  27. Definitely have had to let people go over the years- and I’ll admit, it’s hard for me, too. It used to be much harder, and then I realized that life is too short for people who bring unnecessary drama, or aren’t as invested in the relationship as you are, etc.

  28. yes yes to this post. I think that it is so important to really think about the people that you want in your life and making sure that you spend time letting them know how important thy are. Everyone else? Sorry, but there isn’t enough time! 🙂

  29. Totally agree!!! During college I had to let go of a group of friends that were always bringing me down and adding more stress to the relationship I was in at that time. And I have had trouble letting go and breaking off bad relationships, but I think I’m over that hump lol and so happy that I know that about myself and am able to recognize web people aren’t good for me! Love this post!

    1. Thanks so much Adrienne! I’ve noticed that once you let go of that one person (mainly a long-term relationship) it becomes easier to do it more often

  30. I completely understand the transition you talked about because I just graduated from college a couple of weeks ago, moved back home two weeks ago, and start my full-time job the end of this month! While I consider myself to have a decent amount of friends, I’ve really narrowed down who I actually spend time with. I have 3 core friends – 1 from HS, 2 from college – that I believe will be my best friends throughout life and it’s a perfect example of quality over quantity. I’ve also had to let go of a toxic relationship early in college (one of the best decisions I ever made) but also one with a close friend where I knew we weren’t meant to actually date. So scary at the time……but life has been rewarding ever since making those key decisions and I’m in a great relationship now! I think this is a great topic to reflect on from time to time…

    1. Same here! The older we get, the more picky we are in terms of true friends and good relationships because we’re mature enough to realize who deserves to be in our lives and who doesn’t

  31. Love this post, Rachel. Especially loved your point of letting go of people who don’t put as much into your relationship as you give – I’m going through this right now with a few people and it’s hard but inevitably will be the best in the long run.

  32. I’ve had to “wash my hands” of a few people and it was hard at first— most of the people I have let go have been people that I have created “habits” with.. meaning that we do things with on a daily basis.. I’m such a creature of habit so it really threw me for a loop. One of the hardest friends I let go was the mother of four of my god daughters– it was such a hard thing to do and I felt like I grieved for her children, in fact.. I did. This person genuinely cared for me and still does but she crossed a line with me by saying things/calling me out, in front of a lot of people and talking about my son that passed away. I just can’t be around that kind of person. It sucks but we are old enough now that we have to surround ourselves with people that our precious to us.

  33. Honestly, I’m really, really crumby at “letting people go.” So, seeing as you’re better at it than me – I have a few questions! Do you suggest having a conversation with the friend when you let them go? Or have you successfully, in the past, just phased someone out of your life? Is that a cruel or kind way to do it? What about when you have mutual friends? Do you avoid situations where you’ll have to hang out with that person? Or just hang out with them but keep your distance?

    1. I usually just phase them out of my life. We stop talking and things just go from there. I sometimes avoid situations as well. I think I’ve had to let go more “friends of friends” more than my actual friends, so I guess it’s hard to explain that!

  34. i love this post and i’ve definitely struggled with this too. it’s hard to let go of people who have become so ingrained in your life. but you’re right – if they’re not building you up, if they cause stress or unhappiness, they have to go. i think we have to be selfish in building the lives we want and sometimes, that means we have to let people go.

  35. I really found your article here to be of use to me. I have stuggled relationship wise with my biological father, brother, and half sister, and step mom and my grandmother on that side of the family, and they have hurt me repeatedly. But they always found a way of turning it around on me. Well I asked my father, brother, and sister to be in the wedding and long story short- they all pulled out of the wedding, devastating me. I have realized though that my life is too short. After I realized this- I have lost 20 pounds, quit smoking, and am eating healthier! Let them go, you won’t regret it. It may hurt, but never regret it.

  36. You blog sounds like me. I am trying that but don’t think hard enough. Have not even talked to any of my class mates.

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