Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It

This past weekend, I saw the band Stars perform at The Granada Theater in Dallas.

It was my first time seeing Stars, and it was my first show at The Granada, and overall the experience was just absolutely awesome.

Stars at The Granada Theater in Dallas, TX.

I actually hadn’t even heard of Stars, a well-established and popular band from Canada, until the girlfriend of one of my best friends posted about them on Facebook. I took a listen, liked what I heard, and became a fan.

A Sublime Song

The more I listen to one Stars song in particular, the more I absolutely love it.

The title of that song doubles as the title of this post: “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It.”

Some songs I like because of how they sound or the beat.

Some songs I like because they have a certain sing-along quality that translates well to a car or group setting.

And some songs I like because they are splendid lyrically.

And then there are some special, sublime songs that possess all of these traits. For me, this is one of those songs.

Have a listen:


I still have so much to learn about love.

And I don’t just mean relationship love, but friend love and family love and self love too. There are so many different kinds of love, each similar but with its own unique traits and responsibilities. It’s a fascinating subject to me, and one I think about often.

But I don’t think any statement about love, save for this one of course, has ever made more sense to me than the title of this song. I’ll break down why.

Hold On When You Get Love

What is better in this world than love? Anything? I don’t think so.

Whether it’s the love of family, learning how to love yourself, falling in love with a significant other, the love shared between owner and pet, even silly love like for a sports team…there is just an awesome, unbeatable feeling that true, honest, real love brings. It can’t be beaten. I’m not sure it can really be described.

So when you do get love, when you’re lucky enough to grasp it and feel it…how could you ever not hold onto it?

To me, life is about the pursuit of happiness, as I talked about earlier this week. And what delivers more happiness than love?

Sure, love also can also bring pain, as the pessimists and naysayers will remind us. But it’s always worth it. Every time. It is to me anyway.

So it’s not even a question.

Of course you hold onto love.

Real love, in any form, is rare. You’d have to be a fool or a heartless coward not to hang onto it.

Let Go When You Give It

Ah, but now comes the tricky part.

Developing and feeling love isn’t usually that difficult, especially in the beginning. The joy and wonderfulness love fills is us with is what attracts us to pursue it, over and over again, in the first place.

But expressing it over the long-term can be difficult.

And yes, this is where the roadblocks and the pain can sometimes lay. But it’s also where, I think, the greatest joy can be experienced.

I’ve noticed a major shift in how I think about love nowadays. And I think it’s why I can so much more fully embrace love now than I could before. I’m sure it’s a natural byproduct of growing older and, hopefully, wiser.

I’ve learned most importantly that real love is not selfish.

No, this isn’t some great revelation, but man can it be hard to truly put into practice!

To me, when you really love somebody, you are not interested in what that person can do for you. You are interested in what you can do for that person.

And if it’s a shared love, then it’s a really beautiful thing because now you have two people looking out for the best interests of each other. This¬† is where the best family, self, and romantic relationships converge.

I used to look at love thusly: “Well, I’m falling in love with this person, so they better fall in love with me for my effort and feelings to be worth it; and hopefully once they do fall in love with me, they will also do X, Y, and Z that I’ve always wanted because that’s my ideal.”

Umm…that’s not love.

It’s not always easy, but now I find myself viewing, or trying to view, love more in this way: “I love this person, so I’m going to accept them fully for everything that they are, and do as much as I can to contribute to their happiness and well-being…without condition.”

Of course I’d like to think that they’ll do the same for me. I hope they will, whether it’s a family or friend or even my dog…but I try to ensure that I’m not acting with some unspoken contingency in place.

Because I’ve found that contingent “love” is an easy gateway for resentment.. If my love only sustains if you do X, Y, and Z, then is it really love? Maybe it’s a light, shallow form of it…but I’m it’s not real. At the very least, it’s not as true as it could be.

And sometimes putting the desires and happiness of someone else first – even when they directly conflict with your own – is the only way to truly express your love for someone. Sometimes you have to, well, “let go when you give it,” as the song says.

Is it really love if you would rather someone ignore what they feel is right, or resist their own happiness, simply because it’s what you want? That doesn’t sound like love to me. It’s certainly not how I’d want someone to treat me, so for goodness sakes it’s not how I hope to treat someone else.

Keep in mind: letting go doesn’t mean you don’t hold on. Of course you do! Is that hard sometimes? You’re damn right it is!

Unrequited love of any form can feel empty, sad, and leave you with a sense of powerlessness and defeat. (Haha, which is why I have this plan in place exactly for such times!)

But it also just depends on how you look at it.

Love is rare. Real love is one of the rarest feelings in the world. That’s part of what makes it so wonderful.

So if someone gives you the gift of feeling real love inside your heart, even if they may not share the exact same feeling for you, why not still appreciate that person for inspiring in you the most wonderful of wonderful feelings?

And why not look at letting go – which is sometimes the ultimate expression of love – as a joyful experience?

It certainly isn’t easy to do, not when that void of unrequited love can so often be a dark and lonely place. But it’s only temporary. And love can (should?) be forever.

Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective.

Final Thought

I try now, with all my might, to view feelings of love as my own.

I hold onto them, I let go when I express them, and I hope they are returned to me…but if they aren’t, it doesn’t change how much genuine joy I get from experiencing the feelings myself.

I fail at this sometimes, of course. I’m sure I always will. But I get better over time, and viewing love this way has made me, on the whole, exponentially happier.

And that’s why I love this song, and I love the lyrics, and I love the title, and I love listening to it and singing it and thinking about it. Because in one simple lyrics it put words to a feeling I’ve had such trouble expressing, even understanding.

It is such a beautiful and, frankly, useful way to view and process love. And how we view and process love has such a profound influence on the happiness levels of each and every one of us.

Hold on when you get love, and let go when you give it.

I could never, ever have said it better myself.


Here are the full lyrics to the song:


“Hold On When You Get Love, Let Go When You Give It” by Stars

There’s been a lot of talk of love
But that don’t amount to nothing
You can evolve the stars above
But that doesn’t make it something

And the only way to last
And the only way to live it
Is to hold on when you get love,
And let go when you give it.. give it.

It’s a pretty melody
It might help you through the night time
But it doesn’t make it easy
To leave the party at the right time

If I’m frightened, if I’m high
My weakness please forgive it
At least I hold on when I get love,
And I let go when I give it

What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Hold on when you get love,
What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Let go when you give it.

The world wont listen to this song
And the radio wont play it
But if you like it sing along
Sing ’cause you don’t know how to say it

Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love,
So you can let go when you give it.. give it.. give it.

What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Hold on when you get love
What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Hold on when you get love
What do I do?

I know it’s true, please don’t think I do
Nothing that you say or do will make you love me
Forget the song, things will go on
I keep seeing you from the dark with you above me

I know it’s true, please don’t think I do
Nothing that you say or do will make you love me
Forget the song, things will go on
I keep seeing you from the dark with you above me

Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love,
So you can let go when you give it.
Give it.. give it.. give it.. give it.. give it.. give it.

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