If you’re asking this question, it probably ended a long time ago and you were just holding on because it hurts to say goodbye and let things go. Harsh? Yup. Valid? Probably.
I was looking through photo albums of the past 15 years and I’ve known some awesome people. I’ve had some deep meaningful friendships that I thought would sustain me for decades and I’ve had convenient friendships that I never expected to survive more than a few months. Most of the time, I was dead wrong in my predictions.
Unfortunately, relationships don’t come with expiration dates. We never know who will stay and who will leave. Who will evolve into someone we no longer care about. Who will surprise us with loyalty and depth we never expected.
I see pictures of people whose names I no longer know. Their faces are familiar and I can feel remnants of the emotions I felt for them, but I cannot tell you who they were or why they mattered. Because time marches on. So if people do not move forward with us, they tend to fade away over time.
A few days ago, I got an email from someone I still loved. We had been close friends in college and he always held a special place in my life. But he told me he determined that allocating time to me was a waste and he needed to build friendships where he lived, not with someone he didn’t see since he moved half way around the world. It stung.
Look, we all may think these things about efficiency and time allocation, but to say it to someone is rather cruel and shows a complete lack of feeling for that person. So I left. I ended what remained of a once beautiful friendship. My only regret is I should have walked away sooner. I held on and now I have these terrible memories of a person I have come to dislike. If I had let go and never tried to reach out, the past could have remained untainted. We could have had our unspoiled beautiful memories.
The simple fact is people change. We grow together or we grow apart. We love and we laugh and sometimes it stops. We can’t go back. We can’t make it work. Then comes the hardest part. Letting go. Like any death, it’s a blow. But it’s kinder to walk away with good memories than to linger and become bitter.
Sometimes, things need to be allowed to end. Standing in the middle of the road refusing to get out of the way is a bad idea. Like that old Bonny Raitt song says, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t. You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.”
How do you let go of old friends and people you loved?