You know how the inner dialogue goes. I certainly do. My twenty-something years are full of journal entries scribbling it out. My ping-pong dialogue looked something like this, and I suspect yours sounds pretty dang similar:

He loves me. He must love me. I can tell he really loves me. But then why is he pulling away from me like I suddenly have the cooties? 

Is it because I came on too strong? Am I too much? Too intense? Too passionate? Too threatening? Too successful? 

Or am I not enough? Not pretty enough? Not smart enough? Not interesting enough? Not a good enough kisser? Not talented enough? Not funny enough? 

But I feel like he thinks I’m enough. I feel like he really loves me. So maybe that’s the problem. Maybe his feelings for me are so scary that he has to pull away. Maybe I’m his soulmate and he’s just not ready to meet his soulmate yet. 

Hmmm… what’s the truth? Is he truly, deeply, madly, intimately in love with me? 

Or is he really just not that into me?

The Yearning To Know The Truth

When we’re in a situation like this, we’re often driven to uncover the truth. Even if we can’t do anything to change the outcome, we want to soothe ourselves with the belief that we really are loved and cherished, even when all external evidence points to the contrary.

We tell ourselves, like rubbing balm on our hearts, that he or she really does love us, that we really are valuable, that we’re not making up what we came to feel and believe.

But what if the whole thing was really a figment of longing imagination, rather than a relationship grounded in honest communication and true feelings?

It Doesn’t Matter

When it gets right down to it, it doesn’t really matter whether he or she does or doesn’t.

Whether the object of our affection is madly in love and just scared to death, or whether he’s just not that into you only matters to your ego.

Your Inner Pilot Light doesn’t really care because that soul part of you knows you’re lovable and valuable, not because the object of your affection loves you, but  because you have a little spark of divinity in you, and that makes you inherently lovable and valuable. You don’t need anybody else’s validation to affirm this.

While it may soothe your ego to believe he or she really does love you, even though he or she walked away from the potential of the relationship you desired, the only thing that matters is whether you feel loved – and ultimately, whether that person behaved in a loving way.

Questions To Help You Know The Truth

While it doesn’t ultimately matter whether the object of your affection reciprocated your love, asking yourself a few questions can bring you peace by helping you discern the truth.

When you ask for what you need, does the object of your affection prioritize meeting your needs?

Is it always you doing the pursuing?

Is it always you making the sacrifices?

When you stop trying to make the relationship work, what happens?

Do you feel – really feel – loved?

What’s the gut instinct of the people who know you both and have seen you interact? (Beware of BFF’s. Bless their hearts, but they tend to always believe the love was really there just because they love you so much, they figure anyone who doesn’t would be a total fool. Seek guidance from those with less allegiance and fewer biases.)

Is there concrete evidence of love – loving actions, loving words, tender presence, genuine compassion?

When you’re feeling down, do you feel safe sharing your sadness with this person?

When you’re feeling on top of the world, will he or she be genuinely happy for you?

How do you feel in your body when you are with this person? Do you feel open or guarded? Warm or cool? Calm or jittery?

Can You Find Peace Without Knowing?

In the end, you probably won’t ever get a clear answer. You can play the “what if” game forever, or you can choose to find peace with the uncertainty, trusting that the outcome, even if it isn’t the one you desired, is in service to the highest good of all involved.

After all, if he or she desperately loves you but is too chicken shit to take the leap into that love, the relationship won’t be good for you. And if he or she just isn’t that into you, you deserve someone who is.

Let Go

Instead of grasping to the outcome you so desire, try instead, to set goals but release attachment to outcomes. Love with an open heart, acknowledge your desires and set your intentions to enter into a relationship with the object of your affection, pray that whatever is in the highest good be made manifest, and then let go.

Trust that if he doesn’t call you back, it’s for the good of your soul’s journey here on earth.

If she breaks up with you when you’re madly in love, trust that there’s someone else you’re supposed to meet.

If he leads you on then pushes you away, trust all will be as it’s meant to be.

And if one day, she runs back into your open arms, apologizes for being so scared of the depth of her feelings, and asks you to take her back, you can welcome her back in if you still desire her.

But don’t hold your breath.

If you love someone, let him go. And then get ready to love someone else all over again, making sure you’re brave enough to give him permission to break your heart.

Can you resist the temptation to ruminate about a relationship gone awry? Can you trust that whatever happens is for your highest good? Can you live and love and let go?

Share your story in the comments below.

Trying to love fearlessly,

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19 Comments

  1. Barbara

    I am going through this right now. After four years of not listening to my inner voice on what I knew were my BF real feelings I have decided to let go and trust in what life will bring to me. He has never been able to trust me or commit to this relationship. I have let go and prayed for him to be happy.

    Reply
  2. Jivana

    Perfect words. Perfect inspiration. Right-on wisdom…but/and… almost a quarter century late ! 🙁

    I guess the bottom line I am pointing to is that your beautiful blog points to the idea of what I will call ‘short suffering’. You know the saying “Pain in life is inevitable, suffering is optional”?

    I met a man with whom I feel deeply in love, a long time ago. We spent 6 years joined at the hip, had an incredibly powerful time together as lovers, friends and spiritual companions on the Tantric path. One that neither of us will likely ever forget. We had our last e-mail communication 3 days ago, when he sent me a link to your webinar Lissa.

    But he was/ and is uncommittable. Now, I am not going to try and rewrite ‘Gone with the Wind’ here. But I have been able to see now, after many years, that my dream and my interpretations of what was and what could be for us, were really different from his. It took me seventeen years to fully get that those two realities were never going to come together.

    And today, after another bunch of years, I know that was and is a great blessing. And, I milked the painful lessons for all they were worth….Probably for waaay too long.

    Would I have had a better shot at ‘short suffering’ if you were in my corner Lissa ? Maybe.

    Yours is a stellar blog post.

    What I often tell my clients is that you are looking for your own connection to source, and you are not likely going to find it in another person, unless you mutually agree to support that with and for one another.

    To everyone out there..

    From the bottom of my heart, I wish you very, very, short suffering,..Life and you are both too beautiful to be spending that way!

    Blessings, and deepest love,

    Jivana

    Reply
  3. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Jivana,
    I LOVE that- short suffering.

    I too have learned so much from these kinds of relationships and don’t regret them at all. But yes…I extended my suffering needlessly sometimes because of hope that things would change.

    I’m with you- may you all have short suffering!

    With love
    Lissa

    Reply
  4. Eva

    I literally just broke up with my boyfriend yesterday, and this post feels so relevant, almost hard to read but so truthful — the love slap, you could say. I am so grateful for what we have had, and am grateful we are and can be friends. I am grateful for time apart, and grateful for our highest good. I am sad because we had such a good connection, but I am grateful to keep my heart open to new love. Maybe not right now, but in the future. I know it’s possible. And now, I am focusing on the love in my heart. This really struck a chord with me: “Your Inner Pilot Light doesn’t really care because that soul part of you knows you’re lovable and valuable, not because the object of your affection loves you, but because you have a little spark of divinity in you, and that makes you inherently lovable and valuable. You don’t need anybody else’s validation to affirm this.” WOW! How true and truthful. I DO trust that whatever happens and has happened is for my highest good. Now is time to love myself, and experience what I desire fully. I am also grateful for closure. I know that not everyone receives what I just received, and it still isn’t all that easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. There is infinite love in all directions.

    Thank you, Lissa!

    Reply
  5. Linda

    I have realized that love comes in many shapes and forms. I never thought it was possible to love more than one person at a time, but have come to the realization that my ‘belief’ was incorrect. To love without conditions is the purest type of love, and that came into my life 8 years ago. There are
    many reasons people come and go in our life, and I am grateful for all of them, as I have learned profound lessons from each one. Life goes on, and I appreciate and am grateful for the relationship that I have had for many years.
    Albert Schweitzer said ” In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flames by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle our inner spirit”. That is exactly what happened to me.
    I wish each and everyone of you the joy in finding that inner spark within yourself, and with the love of your life..

    Reply
  6. Michelle Medina

    I read this and my first thought, the old thought said: “This is exactly why I’m not in a relationship! No pain being single! No questions!” Lol.
    Of course, the other half of me said: “You’ve been opening to other possibilities lately, why not this one?”
    Out of them all this remains the most frightening for me, but my IPL is right. I have been putting myself out there lately and honestly, I did just open an account at Planet Rock Dating US! So perhaps I lept without looking, just a little. . .

    Reply
  7. Lora

    I love this post and I love your philosophy now if only you could write a similar post regarding friendship. That’s the area I struggle most in and I’m sure I’m not alone.
    🙂 Please?

    Reply
  8. Ti

    What’s coming up for me as I read yet another one of your wonderful blog articles, is that these questions could be very revealing if we imagined the other person answering them regarding us. Is it possible that we withdrew our love or were in the relationship for reasons other than love? Ouch, right? But there can be peace in seeing that though the other person left, we had checked out of the relationship before that and that we had the good sense to be in a relationship with someone perceptive enough to realize that and take action. I think a certain period of rumination and What Ifs is healthy and normal after a relationship; it’s part of the mourning process. It’s when you refuse to see past the person’s ghost to other opportunities to love and be loved that you know you’re in trouble. (I write all this as a woman who has left, been left, and been widowed in my relationship history.)

    I love, love, love that include the very important step of checking in with what YOU desire. That’s easy to forget when you’re focusing on what the other person wanted or wants.

    Reply
  9. Courtney Pool

    LOVE this post, Lissa! And thank you so much for including women who love women in this discussion — goodness knows there are many young women who are wondering this about the girl they like and need some guidance!

    Reply
  10. Carla

    Lissa! girl, WORD!!! That is it. You articulated that so well, I can certainly relate, having been clinging to a one-sided relationship for 3 years (and knowing better, too!), giving him excuses for his lack of involvement because he’s a heart surgeon and his patients need him more… But deep down I know and have always known, that if he wanted to make time, he would. The fact that she choses not to, really doesn’t matter when I know I am lovable anyway. I know that, my soul knows that. Whether or not the love I give is reciprocated, is irrelevant. In the end, an open heart (broken or not) is better than a closed one. I’m thankful for what we shared for the time we shared it. Thank you for putting this in context and adding some perspective…. XOXO Carla

    Reply
  11. Carla

    Lissa! girl, WORD!!! That is it. You articulated that so well, I can certainly relate, having been clinging to a one-sided relationship for 3 years (and knowing better, too!), giving him excuses for his lack of involvement because he’s a heart surgeon and his patients need him more… But deep down I know and have always known, that if he wanted to make time, he would. The fact that he choses not to, really doesn’t matter when I know I am lovable anyway. I know that, my soul knows that. Whether or not the love I give is reciprocated, is irrelevant. In the end, an open heart (broken or not) is better than a closed one. I’m thankful for what we shared for the time we shared it. Thank you for putting this in context and adding some perspective…. XOXO Carla

    Reply
  12. Laura Badger

    I loved the comment about BFF’s. About 10 years ago, I was involved in a see-saw relationship. You know the kind, up and down all the time! My BFF kept telling me that he REALLY loved me, but was too afraid to show it. I tried to separate from him, but she and our friends were telling me that I shouldn’t do that! Big mistake! I should have followed my gut! Two years later, I realized it was time for me to move on. Finally, I picked enough courage to move to another state. I don’t regret it, and never will! I am happily single now, and have learned my lesson!! Thank you for re-stating what might seem to be so obvious!!

    Reply
  13. Pam

    Hi Lissa and the whole community!

    I broke up with the first real love of my life this past January. I waited a long time. I was 51 when we met. He was devoted to me. He wasn’t devoted to himself. I could not fix or fill him. God, it felt amazing to be worshiped. And yet there was a hollowness at times. My IPL would flicker from time to time to get me to notice that all was not as it appeared. One day, after 2 1/2 years together and several discussions about our lives and future, I woke up and the first thought I had was, I can’t do this for one more day. I had no real plan but asked for help from my IPL and I believe I was gracious and as lovingly honest as I possibly could be. I offered no false hope to spare feelings. I grieved along side of him. And though extremely sad and still am at times, I feel that sadness, I felt a sense of relief deep down inside that I had stood up for the best and higher good for myself and I believe for him. I have not regretted standing up to the truth of it for one minute. When I see a romantic movie I want him beside me. But movies are a couple of hours and I don’t know how much life I have, only today for now. So, today I live, whole, healthy, happy and single. And that is the kind of happy ending I can really embrace.

    Reply
  14. Lika Saliscente

    The first time I fell in love, and I did. I was off in a remote area, and I just couldn’t imagine life without him. He was a single dad, and I would have gladly died for his children, if the need arose, they were awesome. We hadn’t dated, just friends, but I knew. Anyway, he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship, at all. He needed to focus on being a father, himself, a son, etc. I understood, and funny thing, I loved him with all of my heart, that even though it broke me in a million pieces to walk away, I knew that I had to do it. So I came back home, since I wasn’t about to hold him to a promise that was only mine. He eventually found someone else, with only a twinge of jealousy, I was fine with that. Maybe we weren’t meant to be.

    There was another that all I wanted was the promise to be together, since he wasn’t the marrying kind, but, my inner voice told me this isn’t to be. So, when he called to break up on Christmas Eve, and to my step father no less, I wasn’t surprised with the break up, though I was royally honked at the lack of courage of at least talking to ME.

    I also love my friends to the fullest, and there are the keepers, and those who you can let go for a long time and pick up where you left off, temporary ones, and even fair weather. It’s all about accepting which category they are all in, so when the split happens, let it go.

    Reply
  15. Debbianne

    Great post, Lissa. I’m so glad to be in my 40s and *mostly* free of the drama inside my head! It seems that self-love is the supreme elixir… when I’m immersed in a sea of self-love, the mental worries of whether someone else loves me (or how much or whatever) becomes a faint dot on the shoreline, more and more irrelevant all the time. And the older I get, the more I can smell an unequal relationship a mile away and so I don’t get involved in those anymore. But, as you said, it’s all good—everything is part of the path leading to now! However, I am writing a book, sort of to my younger self (and to my younger “sisters” out there) to assist things in going more smoothly in the roMANtic department…

    Big Love to the Sisterhood,
    Debbianne

    Reply
  16. Karmen

    OMG the angels are always sending me messages . This morning i talked to someone that I love and before we hung up he said that he loved me too but he didnt call me back and I didnt even feel sad. A part of me thought that it was weird because I let it go and he came back and said he misses me etc but reading this message today reminded me that all is well and constantly working for my the highest and best of all concerned . No regrets

    Loving with an open heart

    Karmen

    Reply
  17. Arpita

    Oh my gosh, Lissa, it feels like this post was written for me, and I read it on the most chillingly perfect day.

    Last year was my first year at university and I fell madly in love with this guy… we had a few beautiful connecting moments (which made the “he loves me” thing seem possible) but mostly he seemed to shun me. What suffering, what suffering.

    We haven’t seen each other for the last four months, not contact or anything because it’s been summer break. My mind still whirls when I see new pictures of him on facebook… it’s horrible.

    And I’m going to see him tomorrow for the first time since April.

    I’m dreading it.

    Because… even though this summer I connected so deeply with the silence within myself, and my deep intrinsic worth, and my main spiritual practice has been being in my aloneness… what if I forget it all when I see him again?

    I know I won’t forget it, really.

    But what if when I see him I feel scared and I blush and can’t breathe and he looks at me like he’s looking right into my soul and seeing everything about me and not necessarily liking everything he sees? What if that happens again?

    Because it probably will.

    I guess what I’ll do is… breathe and walk away, stay grounded. Remind myself that I am alone and glad to be that way. Remind myself that what matters most to me is staying connected to deep, silent, peaceful Truth, and if I lose that connection when I see him, then I should just… walk away.

    Thank you, Lissa.
    So much love.
    Arpita

    Reply
  18. Clayton Lawrence Baggett

    unless you believe the turtle from ‘kung fu panda,’ i found this post accidentally while surfing results from a question i submitted to the www concerning God. there’s nothing here to cure what ails me, and my ego is so large that i will offer this comment as if it means something: you’re amazing. beautiful, wise, soulful, amazing.

    Reply
  19. April

    Thank you so much for this post. I saved it from last year–almost a year ago!–and look where I am today, right smack in the middle of working on letting go of a very special relationship. I thought I had found “my person” and after 5 months of dating and beautiful experiences together with kind, open, loving, thoughtful, supportive communication being reciprocated, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I hadn’t been someone’s gf in 6 years! But after only 2 months of being his gf, he decided that he just couldn’t “do” relationships, not with me, not with anyone right now. He said he has to work on himself first in order to be happy with someone else. And I completely understand that, I respect that. He had really tried to be in a relationship with me, for me.

    The end came as a shock to me. My heart felt like it was shattering. Even though I had sensed the warning signs, I just somehow didn’t want to believe them, and at the end, I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to lose all the beauty we shared together and that I thought we would keep sharing together.

    But I know I idealized our relationship at the end, even though I looked back at my journal entries during our time together and I had some serious doubts. But trying to keep the experiences as lessons, I kept telling myself that the gift of this relationship experience was that it had the chance to happen at all–I was truly grateful for him and for what I was learning through our time together. Several times, I even wrote that if it ended tomorrow, I would be fine and gratitude would reign.

    But letting go of this relationship has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. And I am still struggling through it because I keep allowing him into my life and he keeps accepting. I know I’m prolonging my pain with my choices and that this is not the best way forward.

    Reading your words again is giving me the strength to trust the process. Lissa, thank you, thank you, thank you. Lovelove.

    Reply

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