Ironically, we use seeking closure to avoid closure. Sometimes we don't want to be done because then we have to 'do'.

Part of the reason why unhealthy relationships and their even unhealthier breakups drag on long past their sell-by-date, is because there is this idea that the other person holds the key to ‘closure’, this sense of resolution at the end of the relationship or post breakup and this sense that it’s been ‘resolved’. This can mean resolving the questions that the relationship may have brought up or still be bringing up, or attempting to understand the other person, or attempting to understand every last thing that went on in the relationship and in the worst of cases, it’s basically like attempting to seek 100% of the answers before we feel that we can put the relationship down.

The trouble is, that if you imagine the day you broke up as the end of the relationship and then you don’t go through the grieving process and work through your feelings and process what happened, and instead you choose to keep engaging with them, breaking up and getting back together, trying to get their attention and validation, doing things to stem the perceived rejection that you later come to view as at best embarrassing, and other such things, it’s like you’ve got the meter running. At some point you’ve got to know when to exit from this closure quest and turn the meter off before you overinvest in it.

Closure becomes increasingly hard the more stuff you pile onto it to leave you feeling like there are so many unanswered questions.

The chief source of closure issues is blame, most likely to be of the self-blame variety that stems from having an ‘overactive blame thyroid’. If you keep making everything about you and essentially holding you responsible for Other People’s Behaviour, then yeah, you’re going to have closure issues because by not only taking away their responsibility and effectively erasing them out of the picture by making what happened all about you and your ‘flaws’ or ‘eff ups’, how can you reach a resolution? You’ll think, “Oh if only I hadn’t been X or I hadn’t done Y, then they would have done Z or A wouldn’t have happened”.

Who moves on when they’re stuck in their own self-imposed prison living out a sentence they’ve determined from a distorted perspective?

And here’s the interesting thing that I pointed out to someone yesterday: We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be a relationship hogger blaming ourselves as if it all went tits up based on our ‘one false move’ and then in the same breath after putting it all on us, claim that we need the other person for closure. So let me get this right: You don’t need them to be accountable and responsible in the relationship and own their own? You don’t need, even if it’s purely a mental thing, for you to separate the two of you out and see things in reality and recognise their own contribution, but you do need them to step up and give you closure for something that you won’t even give them their own stake in?

That just doesn’t even make sense.

What we don’t realise is that many of us use this idea of seeking closure as a means of avoiding using our own judgement and engaging in decision-making, and to avoid this perennial fear of ‘making a mistake’.

Closure then becomes looking to be at least 100% certain that it wasn’t your fault, or that you did everything that you could do (which may include taking the blame and the responsibility for the other person’s contribution) and that the relationship is unworkable and that they’re not going to change into a better person in a better relationship as soon as your back is turned. Of course if you actually want to move on, you’ll do so before ‘100%’ especially as it’s subjective. You’ve got to know when to close the investigation. I know people who walk away and move on after being treated in a less-than manner and I know people who walk away and thenblame themselves and get a Ph.D in ruminating on another person and blame absorbing. The difference? The former doesn’t see themselves as a manifestation of other people’s behaviour. They own their own and let others own theirs for the sake of their emotional peace.

Ironically, we also use seeking closure to avoid closure.

We don’t want it to be resolved because then we have to let it go and work through the grief and move on. We have to take action, address any of our own issues and basically, we have to let go of a security blanket that may have become our purpose.

We cannot always get all of the answers especially when those answers are being sought from people who don’t want to give them, who talk out of their bums and are avoiding as much honesty in their own lives as possible, or who aren’t around anymore.
We cannot always get all of the answers. It’s unrealistic. I’ve seen very bad things happen to very lovely people. They were devastated and no of course it all didn’t make sense but gradually between grief, and looking inwardly (if needed) along with supporting themselves and sometimes professional support, life and who they were started to make sense again in a positive way, even if this person or this event didn’t make sense in the fullest sense. Hell I’ve seen people go through a whole court case and come out with more questions than they had when they started.
You were not the only person in this relationship. Yes it would be handy if they’d come back and be debriefed for 24 hours in a holding cell but that’s not going to happen and how about you debrief you?
Experiencing a loss (and yes that includes breakups because it’s the loss of your hopes and expectations that were tied up in the relationship), a betrayal or just something that’s very painful, takes time to work through but feeling all of your feelings and processing what happened is actually an opportunity to get to know you further and gain self-awareness in a positive way. Knowing you better helps you to make better decisions and to also live your life more authentically and in turn, pain can turn into growth because you are able to find that sense of resolution within you.
Your thoughts?

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430 Responses to Getting Closure On Closure: We Cannot Always Get ALL Of The Answers

  1. Ms.Option says:

    Victorious,
    You are right it has messed with my mind big time. And I have been driving myself crazy trying to analyze everything. The hardest thing to come to grips with is accepting that he knew what he was doing. I have been living in so much denial. My counselor said that he is evil, no other word for him. It is very hard for me to accept that but I know it’s true. I do feel like I have went through a round with the devil.

    Allison,
    Yes he is. I couldn’t remember if I had posted that before or not. He admitted that to me this past spring. And it’s so ironic since this whole time I’ve been involved with him he has complained about his wife being addicted.

    • Allison says:

      Option,

      Please look for another job. This is a really unhealthy environment for you. It doesn’t matter how great this job is, if you stay, you are choosing to put yourself in harm’s way.

      You can choose to stay in the dysfunction, or you can get out!

  2. Olivia says:

    I wish I’d have found this site last week. I’ve been in a four month situation (I can’t call it a relaionship) where I initiated all the contact and make excuses for all the emails / texts that went unanswered. Luckily the relationship never got serious (other than in my head).
    We met up last week and he told me that he was “sort of dating another girl” but he and I have fun together so we should “hang out.” The smart thing to have done would be run away… I ended up kissing him.
    I felt terrible so I decided to seek closure by sending a LONG rambling text message the next day to say “goodbye”. He responded suggesting I “chill” so I sent another LONG rambling text. No response.
    I couldn’t avoid the need for closure, so I wrote AGAIN taking all the blame and apologizing for my text messages. I took responsibility for everything. I’m embarrassed and itching for a response from him to provide closure. I know I need to move on but the urge to contact is strong.

    • natashya says:

      olivia, stop the drama and go NC. as disappointing as it may be, obviously this man does not want a relationship with you. please, don’t waste any pixels on more communication. you’re looking for validation and he won’t give it to you. write him a letter and then burn it. thank the universe that he didn’t string you along for years. the idea of ‘closure’ is great, the reality is that we hardly ever get what we’re looking for.

      • Olivia says:

        Thank you. This was my first “crush” after a 10 year relationship – I wasn’t prepared, and probably wasn’t ready, to deal with dating. I was looking to be happy and feel good again. I should have burned the text messages instead of sending them :-) I’ve deleted contact details and social media. I’m NC.

        • natashya says:

          it’s okay, olivia. good for you that you went NC. i’m rooting for you!

          • Olivia says:

            OK, so now I understand the meaning of a crumb diet. I went NC and a day or two later received a message asking to meet up over the weekend. I was shocked – that has NEVER happened with this person. I’ve always initiated contact.I didn’t jump on the msg immediately but did respond with some specific times (rather than seeming too eager and saying “yes.. anytime works”). Well, I thought it was a turning point but it was a crumb. Just enough to get my hopes up for the weekend. What actually happened was he called 5 mins before the scheduled meet up time to ask whether I could meet later that night. I said “no, I’m busy.” I text the next day to test the water about rescheduling… guess what? No response. I actually don’t think he’s terrible person – I know he has a very crazy job (it’s how we met), I do think he puts his work first and pings women when it fits his lifestyle. Throwing crumbs so he can call on them when he’s at a loose end.
            Obviously I start the NC process again, ahhhh. But what’s the best way to respond to a meet up request in the future (if there is one). It feels weird to totally ignore the message (again, assuming there ever is one).

            • natashya says:

              olivia, he’s just putting his feelers out to see if you’d be available as a FBG, an option.

              he’s a non-committal AC. please, do yourself a favour and go back full NC, block his number. he does not deserve an explanation. yes, to normal people it does feel weird to ignore a message, but an AC falls into a different category. he may not be a terrible person, but he certainly acts like it. a crazy job is not an excuse. even president obama finds time to spend with his wife and daughters.

              don’t make excuses for this clown. he’s unworthy of your attention. flush!

    • grace says:

      Olivia
      I understand how you feel but you’ll only be embarrassing yourself if you continue this, and making him feel like he’s all that.
      I know we all want closure but sometimes – there was never anything to be closed.

    • Allison says:

      Olivia,

      Please delete all the contact info, then you won’t be tempted.

  3. Lotus says:

    One of the things that is helping me is to make a list of all of my ex-AC’s oddities and things I didn’t like about him. Then I go to each one and I ask, “quirk or problem?” Then I ask myself, “Chemical or brain imbalance or problems from childhood?” Everyone has limitations, but by looking at his, you can see the Karma of what you were feeling and let him go – because you realize simply he’s not good for you.

  4. oneupcake says:

    Hi Nat,

    Just wanted to say thanks for this lovely piece of advice.

    I’ve been NC with my ex for about two years except when I’ve caved a few times by responding to emails. I really loved this guy and wanted to have a meaningful relationship that progressed to the next level. However, he was never happy with me. He would rather sit up and play computer games all night than spend it in bed with me, he would criticize me about not being feminine enough and told me to grow my hair and nails longer, he told me I was crazy like his alcoholic mother whenever I tried to talk to him about our problems and yelled at me whenever he was upset with anything. I stayed in the relationship even though he lied constantly and sought out other women. Eventually, I broke up with him after almost four years together, where he then called me up after a week of trying to get me back, and told me he was admitting himself into the mental ward at the hospital. Even though I was so distraught, I believed that going back to that toxic relationship was wrong and that seeing him would cause him more harm than good. I managed to contact his psychologist, just to ask whether she knew he was okay. She told me on the phone that he wasn’t okay and that I should know because it was my fault that I caused him so much distress. I felt more guilt when he abused me over the phone blaming me for leaving him in his time of need, for an abortion we had a few years ago, for taking away his right to be a father and for being a lying, cheating whore. He then changed him mind, and started being nice to me again telling me that he missed me, loved me and wanted nothing more than to be with me. I was so confused.

    Somehow, I managed to find out that he had been trying to have relations with another girl in the ward, sending her emails professing his love to her and how much I betrayed him and that he hated me. When I confronted him, he denied it and said that they were just friends and that this girl had used him knowing how vulnerable he was. Yet, I still managed to forgive him and stayed in contact. The last straw broke when during our ‘friendship’ I saw flirtatious messages exchanged on Facebook and on the phone between him and his brother’s ex-gf. I went full NC.

    He has continued to send me emails to this day, saying he’s sorry for hurting me, telling me that we should be friends, thanking me for allowing him to move on because he so much happier now, wishing me a happy Christmas and hope that my life is great because he ‘thinks that I deserve it’. Sometimes there is an occasional email of how he wished I was dead, that I used him for sex and should apologize or simply that I am a liar and a cold-hearted b**ch.

    I’ve been strong for so long but recently have thought about responding to his emails. I don’t know why I still care? Am I still in love with him? Do I feel like I need closure? Possibly. Will I be able to get honest answers from this man without abuse? Probably not. I’ll probably never get him to understand the hurt and pain that he has caused me but that’s okay because I’m choosing to protect myself. Thanks Nat. :)

    • Tulipa says:

      Please do yourself a favour and be much much stronger and block his e-mails you don’t need crap like that.

      How horrible for the psychologist to blame you, he sounded awful from the beginning.

      CHOOSE you and do not respond just block.

      • oneupcake says:

        Thanks Tulipa. You are right, I don’t need crap like that. Even though I don’t reply to his emails, I think that makes me think about him which is a bad thing.

        I was shocked by what the psychologist said. I thought that someone who was professional, wouldn’t attack people personally like that. But then again, he could have worked his ‘charm’ on her and she believed him.

        Thanks so much again. :)

  5. Caroline says:

    This sounds just like me!!

    I’ve been constantly looking for closure from the ex… but his behaviour has been so different from his actions. He breaks up with me, then turns up at my house with a nice dinner a few days later?? He’s done all of the classic things to cover his tracks “I TOLD you this was casual” blah blah blah.

    Basically he dumped me, and I slept with someone else shortly afterwards. Not my finest moment, but definitely not (as he calls it) being a cheating whore. I was sad, drunk and felt rejected by him so I hooked up with an acquaintance…. and he brutally punished me for SIX MONTHS saying that he would try to take me back if I worked really hard etc etc. It turns out he’s been up to all sorts including hooking up with and dating.

    The last straw came when he slept with the girl he’d met for a date at the weekend. When I say slept with, I mean –

    – removed our framed photo from next to his bed before letting the girl into his room
    – sleeping with her 5+ times through out a “hangover day”
    – not using protection
    – texting me every now and then between sessions (which is apparently “considerate” of him because I wouldn’t have reason to worry)
    – telling me about it when she left very late in the evening the next day… he said it so casually, like we were talking about the weather!!

    He has some nerve… he’s even tried to say that he did it because he wants kids?! He says that he doesn’t want them with me because I’m apparently evil (so evil that I brought him homemade soup when he was ill a couple of days before the “hangover day”.

    He claims that he doesn’t want me, so is exploring other options to have kids. I would ALMOST believe this (he’s warped my expectations over the 3 years we’ve been involved) if it weren’t for the fact that he’s been fired and is leaving the country very shortly to see family. What has shagging this random girl got to do with his future and having kids?!?! The barefaced ridiculous lies are so obvious to me now!!

    I then went into no contact mode… and kept it up for two days. He kept calling and calling me in the middle of the night until I answered and said I wasn’t ready to talk yet. He slurred some nasty stuff so I hung up. He texted to say that it is “over between us, i will miss you. goodbye”. So freaking ridiculous!!! Now I feel like a food because I replied about how hurt I am.

    This guy always manages to take the control back. He can’t just let me be hurt and want to cut him out of my life. It has to be HIS decision… at least in his messed up little mind.

    I’m a bit confused and shellshocked at the moment… but I’m trying to shrug it off. I shouldn’t care. I wanted him out of my life, and he will be. It shouldn’t matter how it happens once it’s reached this stage. Please note this man has physically hurt me, thrown me out of his house in the middle of the night, hacked all communication accounts, stolen my phone, insulted my friends and family, banned me from seeing friends that are a “bad influence” and generally emotionally abused me.

    If anything, it makes me feel happy that I had an abortion two years ago (although obviously he was terrible through that) because who could ever have a child with him??? He wants kids so bad but not with me??? Even when things weren’t so messed up?? He’s lying to himself.

    Anyway… sorry for the rant. I need to convince myself that this man is never going to give me closure, and I don’t need him to. The last closure he got was sleeping with his ex while with me. This was the first time he cheated on me. The signs have been so obvious all along!!!!

    Hopefully I’m going to be free of him soon. It still really bugs me that in his smug (albeit completely crazy) mind, he is in the right and has been the one to initiate no contact.

    Grrr….

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!