What do You Lose When You Lose a Relationship?

Photo by christopher lemercier on Unsplash

Do you realize that you will have to let go at some point, perhaps quite soon? How much more time do you need before you will be ready to let go? Will you become less when you let go? Has who you are become diminished by the loss?

In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle asks these questions to a woman who has lost her grandmother’s ring, a very treasured heirloom.

I asked these same questions of myself yesterday and today and I will probably do so again tomorrow and for some time after, not for the loss not of a ring, but of a relationship.

I have reached the end of a relationship that had been on its last legs for some time. The end should not have been and was not a surprise. We both had not been happy for many months. We both agreed that breaking up was the right thing to do. And yet, breaking up was still incredibly sad as we came to terms with what we were losing.

What do you lose when you leave a relationship, even an unhappy one? You are uprooted, suddenly, from the familiar rhythms of your everyday. Living together, you lose someone to wake up next to. You lose someone to come home to. You lose someone to talk to, someone to tell things to, someone to consult. You may even be uprooted from a home. Or you may be left with a home that feels emptier, your partner’s memory silently inhabiting its rooms.

You lose plans, dreams, and hopes for a future.

Your identity changes. Suddenly, you are ‘Single.’

You may lose people you care about. Your partner’s grandmother, his dog, his best friend that had become your friend.

Even with the end to the most terrible of relationships, there is an endless list of things already lost and of things soon to be lost. It is overwhelming.

Do you realize that you will have to let go at some point, perhaps quite soon?


How much more time do you need before you will be ready to let go?

I don’t know.

Will you become less when you let go?

It feels like it. I will lose so much.

Has who are you become diminished by the loss?

And with this last question, I pause to reflect and find that the answer is of course, no.

Who I am has not changed. And it cannot change.

I remember, some years ago, when I was younger and more insecure, more unsteady that I am now — I really fell for a boy. I hardly knew him, but I fell for him. We went on a couple of dates. My hopes at this point had ballooned to impractical, ridiculous heights. And then he ghosted me. I remember driving home from work, pulling out of the parking garage thinking thoughts along the lines of, Perhaps I had aimed too high. I wasn’t good enough for him. So I’m not as good as I thought I was. I’m not at his level, so instead my worth must be somewhere between him and…

It was a ridiculous line of reasoning. I was attempting to reassess my worth. But of course my worth had not changed, was not different on that day versus on the day before I had met him. And events do not reveal more or less of one’s worth. The entire concept of self-worth in this way is in itself flawed. I have worth, but my worth does not lessen and increase. It is impossible to measure. I am just me.

Before and after and during a relationship, I am also just me. And when people come and go from my life, when jobs and money come and go, when popularity and good looks and physical strength come and go, I am through it all always just me. Everything that is must also pass. But through it all, I am not diminished, because I cannot be diminished. We are undiminishable.

Obsessed with Data and Libraries. Always Curious. Editor of Data-Driven Decisions

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store