Recently, I've been coming to terms with a harsh truth: you cannot make someone stay in your life when they don't want to. It hurts, it sucks, but it's true.
It's really hard to accept the fact that someone might not like you or care for you in the same way as you do for them, especially if you're a people-pleaser, if you are insecure in relationships, or if you rely on external validation for your self-image (me, me, and me). No matter what, though, it is always difficult to recognize when people are not serving a purpose in your life.
Not everyone who is going to leave your life is a toxic person. Some definitely are, and that's a completely separate conversation, but many are just people who, for one reason or another, are not connecting with you in the way you would hope to.
Sometimes people are in your life for a long time and the relationship morphs over time. Sometimes you meet people only briefly and the connection is one-sided. Sometimes the people who leave are people you love, and sometimes they are people you feel like you need.
The most important thing for me was learning to let people go, without taking the loss as a reflection of myself. That means accepting that not everyone will like you. Not because you are a bad person, not because you are unlovable, not because you are boring or annoying or horrible, but because they simply do not like you.
For me, it took time and a lot of internal reflection. I had to realize that I don't like everyone I meet, and I have certainly stopped liking people or gotten further from them over time. Sometimes that's just how life works.
You can't make someone stay by changing who you are. You shouldn't have to accommodate another person's every whim because you are desperate for them to be in your life, or like you, or reciprocate your affection. When you do this, you only mislead yourself. The longer you drag out an unhealthy relationship, the harder it gets to let it go, and the more it hurts when it ends.
You've heard it before, but it's absolutely true: if they want to be in your life, they will be. A healthy relationship doesn't look like one person constantly reaching out and making an effort. If someone isn't putting in the work to maintain your relationship, what benefit is that relationship to you?
Being in a one-sided relationship is draining: emotionally, physically, and mentally. You do not need to keep emptying yourself for someone who gives you nothing in return. You might feel angry or upset when you realize the one-sidedness of a relationship. That's okay. What isn't okay is blaming and guilting.
It is not someone else's fault if they aren't committed to a relationship you are keeping them in through emotional manipulation and guilt. You shouldn't feel bad if someone doesn't like you, but neither should they. In my own life, I had to realize that it wasn't fair to me or them to force a failing relationship.
The hardest part about letting people go is not holding anger or regret over it. It is no one's fault and no one is in the wrong. Let them go, and learn to appreciate the relationships you have with people who genuinely care for you, who serve you emotionally and spiritually, and who want to be a part of your life.