I remember reading a quote in my early teen years that moved me back then and resonates with me, today: “If you love someone, let them go. If they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.”
I don’t know how much truth applies to this saying, but in my own life, I have experienced making the tough decision of letting go of the one person I’ve ever loved romantically, and it remains to this day the single hardest decision I have ever made. Still, I knew it was necessary at the time, and I’ve never regretted that decision, because I know I let him go for the very reason that I did truly love him. Throughout the duration of our 6-year relationship, we were never entirely chaste, and I finally reached a point where I knew I had to choose to love fully—to love God fully, my boyfriend fully, and myself fully—and give that relationship up.
Our society views love through a very different lens than the one I have just described. We are told that to love someone romantically, we must give all of ourselves to them—physically—before marriage. It is the norm to sleep together and move in together before making a lifelong commitment to that person before God. It is the norm to focus on the rush of feelings that generally goes along with being “in love,” rather than on the person those feelings are directed toward. In short, love has become an “all about me” mentality, focusing on the “I” rather than on “you.” The question becomes, “What can I get out of this person/relationship?” Rather than, “What can I give to this person/this relationship?”
Chastity is demanded of us by our Creator for good reason: it is the only way in which we are able to even begin to love another person perfectly. When chastity becomes a lifestyle for those of us awaiting marriage, we are not only free to love others based upon who they truly are, but we are free to love God and ourselves the way we are called to. Love requires that we put the good of the other person before our own needs and desires, and that type of selflessness can only be achieved through pure relationships. Chastity is the surest way to evaluate whether true love exists in a relationship.
There are many young couples today living in a permanent state of brokenness because they feel trapped by the very person to whom they’ve given everything, despite the fact that they may be wrong for each other. It is absolutely terrifying to consider ending a relationship after you’ve invested so much of yourself—physically and emotionally. In fact, ending a sexually active relationship can feel a lot like divorce, depending upon whether the couple lived together or how much time they spent together. Still, the hurt that is likely to result from ending things with the wrong person will ultimately free you to a life of wholeness and authentic love if you choose to pursue chastity going forward. God is the master of taking our pain and using it for a beautiful purpose, even if at first the purpose isn’t clear.
I still love my ex-boyfriend, even though we broke up over a year ago. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I love him more and better, now because I made that tough decision to love him the way God demanded that I love him, and I ultimately accomplished that in letting him go. I’ve never stopped cheering for him from the sidelines through prayer and unspoken well-wishes. Loving someone might sometimes mean that you have to love them from a distance, even if it’s one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make.
If you love someone—truly love them—and you know in your heart that God is calling you to a more perfect love, then let them go. God will be there to catch you when you do. And if you let Him, He will open the most beautiful doors for you through your simple “yes” to His plans for your life.
Lindsey Todd graduated from West Chester University in 2016 with a B.A. in English, and currently works as a technical writer for Mars, Inc. In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, singing, playing with her dog, reading, and exercising. She also loves art, fashion, and deep political and theological discussion. She has a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a special love for St. Pope John Paul II. Lindsey is passionate about sharing the beauty of pure love with others, particularly as a Catholic writer and as a retreat leader for young women. She currently resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her family.