You can only hold on for so long.
The biggest lesson I learned in my 20’s is, by far, how to give up on people.
How to stop pursuing that friendship or that love interest that’d never return my calls, never be available to meet and catch up, never ask me out no matter how often I’ve ask them out before, or how clear I’ve been about how much I’d like to see them again.
The me from about five years ago wouldn’t stop pursuing these people. Now, I just give up.
Giving up on people is about recognizing that your efforts are not reciprocated, and that your time is valuable. If someone doesn’t want to spend their time with you, just stop offering them so much of it.
Save your time for yourself, and for the people who do make an effort to be in your life.
Friendships and love interests require a mutual choice: you choose me, and I choose you. There’s a limit to how often you can tell someone, “I’m here” — and hold your breath as you wait for them to act on your offer.
I’m here: if you need me / when you’re ready / when you feel like it.
There’s no need to say it more than a couple of times. If they won’t come to you, it’s not because they don’t know it’s an option.
They will come to you if they need you / when they’re ready.
But most importantly, they’ll come to you when they feel like it. If they ever feel like it, that is. If you rise high enough on their priority list for them to even remember you exist.
If they forget, move on.
Let them go without resentment. Let them go with the knowledge that you’re not giving up on a great friendship / love story. You’re giving up on anxiously expecting your texts answered, your calls returned, your plans to see each other not cancelled for a change.
You’re giving up on expecting to be treated like you’d like to be treated. You’re giving up on hoping that, this time, things will be different; on hoping that, once they’re not as busy, they’ll reach out.
You’re giving up on thinking there must be something wrong with you, and on incessantly obsessing over what that might be. You’re giving up on believing you must be the problem, even though you haven’t done anything serioulsy wrong or messed up.
You’re giving up on the belief that, once they start to miss you, they’ll realize the true depths of their loss — and they’ll regret ever letting you go.
Of course, they might show up eventually — or never again. They’ll want something from you, and it’s up to you to give them what they want or not.
You can take the opportunity to restore a lost friendship. It can be a beautiful, fulfilling experience. You did say you’d be “there when they needed you,” didn’t you?
Aren’t you glad you didn’t hold your breath?
As I progressed through my 20’s, I’ve gradually learned how to give up on people. I’ve learned to embrace the lightness that comes with lowering my expectations, with understanding that my best intentions won’t always be reciprocated — that they don’t have to be reciprocated.
I’ve learned to accept I’m not entitled to anyone’s time, love or attention simply because I’ve freely offered them mine, and I’ve learned how to give up on people who don’t reciprocate any of that.
These days, I don’t weight myself down wondering if perhaps I’m the problem. If I make a mistake and hurt someone, I try my best to make amends, but I’ve given up with trying to find an issue with my own conduct when there have been no complaints, or no obvious misconduct on my part.
I’ve given up on obsessively wondering what is it that I might have done wrong to warrant someone else’s silence. If I’m essentially being ghosted, I don’t credit it to something I might have said or done (and don’t even know what is), but to the other person’s inability (or lack of interest) to come up and have a conversation about what’s been bothering them.
And I just move on, as light as ever for having simply given up.