If you love it, let it go? Or fight for the things that you love?
Show notes and links:
If You Love Someone, Set Them Free. If They Come Back They’re Yours (Quote Investigator)
Why Letting Go Of Love To See If It Comes Back Is Not Really Love At All (Soul Anatomy)
Full episode text
A quote similar to this has been attributed to about a dozen different thinkers, writers, musicians, authors, and advice-givers over the years.
Website Quote Investigator finds the first authoritative attribution of a similar quote to be from 1951 in Esquire magazine, which said, “I mean, if you love something very much, you’ve got to go easy with it—give it some room to move around. If you try to hold it tight like that, it’ll always try to get away.”
No matter who originally wrote this quote down, the fact that there are so many different versions point to the idea that this is both common and popular.
And there’s a few very strong arguments on both sides. An often-cited biblical story is that of the mother in the Book of Kings that was willing to give her baby up rather than see it cut in half. There’s numerous self-help articles out there about trusting connections, trusting fate, and being willing to show your love for someone or something by letting them make the decision that is best for themselves.
Yet in an essay for Soul Anatomy, Kayla M. Herl makes an extraordinarily good point – that letting go of something with a hope or expectation that it will come back is, in many ways, disrespectful. Quoting directly, “Don’t secretly wish that it will come back. Don’t play tests and games with hearts and rules and the universe. The things we love don’t first require us to reject them to see that.”
It’s a tough proposition, that in many ways is entangled with the idea of love itself.