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How To Walk Away From a Relationship When You Still Love Them – 3 Relationship Experts Reveal Exactly What To Do

by Katie Anderson – MA, LCMHCA, Bridget Boursiquot – MSW, LICSW, Molly Willett – Marriage and Family Therapy Intern

How To Walk Away From a Relationship When You Still Love Them

“You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them…but still move on without them.”

~ Mandy Hale

You Can Love Them Forgive Them Want Good Things Mandy Hale Quote
Katie Anderson

If you want to leave the man you love, you are likely experiencing a range of emotions. 

You may feel sure of your decision one minute, only to question yourself the next.

This is understandable – this decision carries weight. At the same time, it will be important for you to understand your emotions so that you are not paralyzed by them. 

Emotions are neither positive nor negative; they simply give us information about what we need.  

1. Consult an emotions list. 

Identify the emotions you feel, and write them down. 

Try to notice your emotions with curiosity and without judgment, and to accept whatever you are experiencing without trying to change it. 

Research suggests that naming your emotions makes them less overwhelming.

2. Once you acknowledge your emotions, you will have more mental clarity. 

If you want to leave, there are things about the relationship that have not been working for you, or even that have harmed you. 

The key is helping yourself stay grounded in the reality of your experience, particularly if your partner tries to talk you out of leaving or to invalidate your experience. 

Recall your reasons logically and stick to them, especially if your partner is manipulative or abusive.

3. Ask yourself: is this really love? 

You understandably have an attachment to this person that come from shared history. 

At the same time, physical involvement releases chemicals in the brain that cause feelings of infatuation and connection that are reinforced by pop culture’s images of flawless romance. 

However, you may unknowingly construct a fantasy image of your partner and overlook the reality of how he is actually behaving or treating you.  

4. See a therapist so that you can receive healing and self-awareness. 

Process your emotions – especially past pain that is likely the underlying reason you are having trouble walking away. 

Ask yourself: 

  • How did I end up in this relationship? 
  • Is this a pattern for me? 
  • What red flags did I miss along the way? 
  • How can I avoid falling into this kind of relationship in the future? 

Work towards genuinely knowing and loving yourself apart from a man. 

Only when you are able to do this will you be able to find and sustain a healthy romantic relationship. 

5. Focus on self-care. 

If you are in an unhealthy relationship, you have likely not been attuned to your emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. When you practice self-care, you are saying “I value myself to take care of myself.” 

Over time, you will begin to experience yourself as worthy.  

The more you love yourself in this way, the more you will be able to love others. A healthy partner will always respect your needs.

6. Finally, seek support from others who can keep you accountable. 

You need people to speak truth into your life, to validate your experience, and ultimately to help you avoid unhealthy relationships. 

If you are a person of faith, invite God into your emotions and ask God to sustain you, comfort you, and heal you.

Katie Anderson, MA, LCMHCA – www.kandersoncounseling.com

Bridget Boursiquot

Romantic relationships don’t work until they do. 

Sounds like a ridiculous and obvious thing to say, but when you consider that we tend to base our choices on past experiences, it gets a bit tricky. 

It can be tough to know when things are healthy and really worth fighting for and when it just feels good because it’s even slightly better than the last relationship. 

What makes it most challenging is when you know you love your partner but also are feeling the relationship has run its course.

Love and compatibility aren’t on the same scale. 

You can love someone intensely but also know that you communicate differently, have different values, and see different futures. You might find yourself saying, ‘this shouldn’t be so hard’. With insight, growth, and a strong sense of self worth, you can decide where that line is for you; how much work is too much. 

When you do, how do you then manage the anxiety, confusion, and heartbreak of moving on from someone you love?

1. Start with choosing you. 

We don’t have to make grandiose plans to take care of ourselves. Something small every day to speak to your needs and desires can do the trick. The point is, self-care can look however you want it to, as long as there is a plan, intent, joy, and rejuvenation. 

When you practice routine self care it can increase the baseline of your resiliency. 

It allows for an increase in the emotional bandwidth for the hard conversations and grief that follows. It can can bring consistent reminders of emotional health and happiness and can help you recognize the ease in loving you.

2. Choose you beyond just self care. 

Choose you in your thoughts also. When you zoom out and look at the relationship is it reciprocal? Are you giving at your detriment? 

Consider that dream scenario of that easy loving relationship. 

You deserve that. Consider what you would tell your best friend. We are often hardest on ourselves. 

Combat those anxious confusing thoughts with the broader picture, lessons learned, love you take with you, and hope for the future.

3. Finally, feel however you do. 

There are no rules to grief. This doesn’t have to be either/or, it can be both/and. You might second guess because time has a way of showing us only the positive. You might feel relief because you didn’t recognize what you were carrying until you let it go. 

You don’t have to decide between love and disappointment or gratitude and sadness. 

You can feel all of it and everything in between and, in fact, you should because on the other side of that you will be creating your own happiness and your own self love. 

Whoever you decide to allow in to that will only add shine to what’s already there; and if they don’t, you’ll know that you’re just one step closer to finding it.

Bridget Boursiquot, MSW, LICSW – www.bridgetohealthyself.com

Molly Willett

As humans, we are hard-wired for emotional connection, and yet maintaining those connections is not always easy. 

If you are deciding whether to walk away from a relationship, you may be hesitant to say goodbye to that emotional connection. 

Know that in transitions that we choose, there is still grief. 

Even if we know in the depths of our soul that the change is objectively good and better for us in the long run, the change forces us to leave something behind. 

Only you know when it is time to walk away; know that in walking away, there will be grief; it is important not to mistake that grief for having made the wrong decision.

Whatever reason you have for leaving, you are choosing to walk away from an emotional connection, which is a complex and sensitive decision. 

Remind yourself that you had the courage to put yourself out there, and that being vulnerable with another human being is a big deal! 

You took a risk, and while the relationship may not have played out like you hoped, sometimes walking away is best for your health – whether it be emotional, physical, or mental. 

Walking away means you are taking another risk in choosing you, and that should be celebrated. 

Taking these risks either moves us toward what we want or gives us valuable wisdom we may need down the road. 

Just like your reason for walking away, people also come into our lives for a reason. 

While it may take time to determine the reason this person did not stay for a lifetime, walking away now is moving you one step closer to your special someone. 

It is common that even after you walk away, unresolved feelings will remain. 

You took a chance on love, and you must remember that healing from emotional pain requires time. 

Give yourself the grace and time to feel everything – your hurt, your sadness, your betrayal – whatever it may be. 

Sometimes people are meant for us for a reason. Sometimes people are meant to teach us. 

Challenge yourself to find a lesson in these relationships and don’t be hard on yourself, regardless of your feelings. 

Know that, in walking away, you are choosing you and your future, and that’s something to smile about.

Molly Willett, Marriage and Family Therapy Intern – www.raleighfamilysolutions.com

Copyright Notice

You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

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The key is understanding men on a deep emotional level, and how the subtle things you say to a man affect him much more than you might think.

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