After a relationship has ended, many of us long to find closure in order to move on with the rest of our lives. But oftentimes, closure can be hard to come by or simply unavailable, especially if you're on the receiving end of a bad breakup. So, what is closure, exactly? And how can we get it even when there seems to be no hope in sight?
In Psychology Today, Mariana Bockarova, Ph.D. says that scientific research has defined closure as, "knowing the reason a romantic relationship was terminated and no longer feeling emotional attachment or pain, thereby allowing for the establishment of new and healthy relationships." It's certainly a vital step in anyone's relationship trajectory. And PS: There's no one-size-fits-all approach to getting it.
So instead of pining away for your ex or wracking your brain for what you could've done differently, consider the following five ways to achieve closure after you've broken up, go with the one best suited to your situation, and put an end to this painful chapter.
There's really no way to move on from a breakup when you're still engaging in telephone conversations, texts, and face-to-face meetings with your ex. When you're both in contact—and this includes interacting via social media—seeing a potential future without that person can be difficult to envision because you're still tied to the past. Although it seems final, unfriending and unfollowing your ex is actually liberating, and also ensures you’re not constantly bombarded with messages and images that keep your broken relationship front and center.
Feel Your Emotions
One important factor in gaining closure is allowing oneself to experience emotions—no matter how painful and negative. By bottling up sadness, fear, anger, regret, humiliation, and disappointment, you’re holding onto their toxicity and stalling the healing process. No matter how uncomfortable, it’s important to feel your feelings to fully process what occurred. Persisting, unmanaged emotions just prevent you from finally closing that door.
While forgiving someone who has wronged you is challenging, it actually facilitates your own healing process. Keep in mind that the act of forgiving is for your own enrichment, and doesn't absolve your ex from all breakup accountability. But by shedding the energy you'd otherwise expend by wishing evil on your ex or merely thinking hateful, negative thoughts, you essentially offload a back-breakingly heavy burden. Let go of the animosity to free yourself from the past.
Write It Down
Especially when you've been ghosted, writing down the things you wish you could say to your ex is satisfyingly cathartic; it may also be the only real way to fully express how you feel and ask any lingering questions. So get out that pen and paper, spare no emotion, and turn the page.
Did your own words or actions lead to the demise of your relationship? Survive the breakup guilt by apologizing and forgiving yourself, too. When you’re living each day with the shame of doing someone dirty, closure isn't possible. Instead, take a deep breath, put pride aside, and apologize even when the apology may not be accepted, the relationship is irreparable, and even the eventual chance of friendship may be impossible. Your apology could even be the very thing your ex truly needs to make a fresh start.