Break-ups are hardly ever the result of just one thing. Often, there are a combination of issues that eventually cause the relationship to end. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly which issue put the final nail in the coffin because relationships just aren’t that simple. Still, we often seek to find the perfect answers as to why a relationship didn’t survive.
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.” Here’s some insight on navigating this tricky concept.
Why closure is important
When a person chooses to end a relationship, they already have a clear narrative in their minds about why they can no longer continue in the relationship. Unfortunately, they’re not always willing to share or acknowledge exactly what those reasons are. This can create a problem for the party who is somewhat left in the dark as they try to make sense of what went wrong and constructively move forward.
Are closure conversations necessary?
Often we hear women say that they met up with their ex weeks, months, or even years after a break-up to discuss what went wrong and find closure. But are these conversations completely necessary?
“A lot of people over-inflate the importance of [closure],” psychologist Therapy For Black Girls podcast creator, Dr. Joy Harden-Bradford, told Essence. “I do think that can look like different things and I think typically when we hear it, it sounds like it is this like final conversation with this person that you get all these questions answered and then there’s some emotional [push to] move on. That is great when we see it in a Lifetime movie, but since real life doesn’t typically work that, there is a lot of pain typically associated with ending a relationship regardless if it was you who initiated it ending or you’re on the receiving end of it, so most times those kinds of conversations don’t happen.”
How to give yourself closure
Despite common belief, it is possible to give yourself closure. Some common methods include working through your feelings with a licensed mental health professional or doing an activity that will symbolize the end of the relationship. However, many experts say that reflective writing can do the trick.
“You may find peace in confronting your ex-partner’s hurtful actions by writing him or her a letter without expecting a response, which you may or may not choose to send,” explained Mairana Bockrova, Ph.D, in an essay for Psychology Today. “A specific type of writing, research shows, can be particularly effective in lessening post-dissolution distress: Examining the relationship through a redemptive lens, wherein one focuses on the positive outcomes that arise from a break-up or a negative event. Writing about the relationship in this way, over the course of 4-days, has been shown to reduce the emotional suffering that can come from a relationship ending.”
What experts don’t recommend, however, is trying to find meaning in the split as this can lead to further distress. So, if you’re considering reaching out to an ex in hopes of finding closure and feeling better about the break-up, consider trying to find closure on your own first. You may be better off.