Conversation with Your BFF: ‘What Is Closure?’ Part I

In a recent chat with a friend, we took up the topic of closure, asking ourselves, what is it? Do we need it or not when a relationship comes to an end? Strangely, with most subjects, I have a solid opinion and can weigh the positives and negatives and come down with a strong belief on one side or the other, but this has got me a bit stumped, so I’m going to play devil’s advocate on closure and have a two part discussion, examining both sides of the matter. So, what exactly is closure? I am so glad you asked!

It Takes Two to Tango, But Does Closure Take Two?

One of the official and most concise definitions to ‘closure’ is ‘a feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved, come to an understandable end.’ As humans, it is in our nature to long for closure, so we have the ability to move on without being haunted by any lingering pain, regrets, doubts, or what-ifs.

We believe if we receive closure, we can gain an understanding of what happened, as well as improve our relationships that follow and have a better sense of ourselves. That’s a nice thought, but not always the case.

There’s a Difference Between Closure and Answers

Most of us want to reach out and find some sort of neat ending to complicated situations, especially when we didn’t choose for the relationship to end. But if you think about it, we may not be searching for closure, but rather answers as to where and why things went wrong. We long to have an opportunity to change the outcome of the situation. Humans don’t deal well with ‘loose ends.’

Maybe just one more conversation will make that person change their mind. Endings with those we love bring about feelings of insecurity: Was I not good enough? What can I change to get him/her back? Being cast aside, as a friend described to me once, stops when we realize that we have the power within us to make things mean or not mean something…you develop a resilience you didn’t know you had. I hate to tell you, but sometimes there just aren’t answers and closure takes a while to happen, if it ever occurs. You can analyze the end of a relationship with a love interest or a friend, working out every scenario in your head, but still never know the why to the end.

Closure May Not Be in Cards for You

Sometimes, at least in my case, the real reason a relationship didn’t work out is probably something you are better off not knowing or hearing. If the other person can’t dignify you with an explanation, in the long run, would you really want to be with someone who thought so little of you?

The key in having to accept not getting closure is learning to live with the fact that you will not be able to figure everything out. All you can do is look at yourself – not the other person and take everything you learned from the situation and close the door behind you as you leave the past where it belongs: in the past.

In this perspective, closure isn’t a need, it is something we believe we need. You may be better off with questions as to why things ended, so let go and move forward to the next chapter of your life. But then closure, to some, is a must…..that we’ll discuss next month.


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