Is There Really Such A Thing As “Closure”? It All Depends On The Breakup

Everyone wants to feel a sense of resolution after the painful experience of a breakup. But what “closure” actually means is less universal and it may not even exist. Distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy ways of finding peace after heartbreak can make your life a lot easier. Here are the risks involved in seeking a neat ending after a breakup.

  1. It’s a slippery slope. There’s no way to open a dialog with your ex without opening the door to something more. If you start talking to each other, it’s usually an indication that at least one of you still has feelings for the other. This can only lead to more pain. Before you know it, you’ll be flirting, asking each other what went wrong, and spiraling straight back into the same old issues that lead to your split.
  2. Most people are lying to themselves when they say they want resolution. Few breakups are entirely mutual. One person is always a little more upset about it and will continue to hold hope that your differences can be mended. Asking for closure is often an excuse to talk to the other person again and think that maybe, with the benefit of hindsight and calmer emotions, you will both recognize that you were meant to be together. If this is what you’re wishing for, it isn’t closure.
  3. If the person has hurt you, it’s unlikely talking to them will close old wounds. Sometimes people think they need an apology before they can move on. But if your ex didn’t do this already, they’re not going to do it now. To expect a different outcome will only make you relive the frustration, pain, and unkindness that you have recently escaped by breaking up with the person. You will not find closure. Shut them out of your life and look for people who treat you how you deserve.
  4. If you were the one to cause pain, seeking closure is selfish. Hurting the person you love is painful for you as well. But trying to open a dialog with that person to explain yourself or apologize is the wrong way forward. No matter what you tell yourself, you’re seeking forgiveness. Accept your guilt and use it as a lesson for your future relationship. Don’t drag your ex back into your life just so you can get over your guilt.
  5. Closure will not lessen the heartbreak. One of the hardest things to do after a breakup is to let it go. Closure can seem like a great way to avoid that post-breakup grieving period because it entails re-connection with your ex. But it’s really just a delay tactic. Leaving a relationship is painful no matter how you do it. Do yourself a favor and start the period of heartbreak as soon as possible instead of dragging it out.
  6. If you didn’t get answers before, you won’t get them now. There’s this idea that “closure” will give you the answers you didn’t get during your relationship. But this is rarely the case. Asking your ex why they broke up with you or cheated on you or never gave you the love you needed will not resolve your hurt. It will reopen old wounds and lead to more questions. The best way to deal with a breakup is to see it for what it is–an ending. Let that be the closure.
  7. Looking for closure too quickly can backfire. If you are determined to find closure after a breakup, don’t make the mistake of doing it too soon. Rushing straight into another conversation with your very recent ex is an indication that you are not ready to find resolution. You need space to calm your emotions and talk about things in a productive way. Once you’ve achieved some distance, you may not even want “closure” anymore because you’ve already found it on your own.
  8. “Closure” will never give you the ending you were looking for. A lot of people seek closure because they want a cleaner ending. Maybe they imagined a sweeter ending where they and their ex hugged and were grateful for the time they had together. But there is never a perfect way to leave a relationship, and trying to redo things will lead to more regrets and more ideas about how it could have ended better. The sooner you stop going over the breakup in your head, the sooner you can move on.
  9. The sooner you realize you can’t control everything, the happier you will be. Breakups are inherently messy and disruptive, even amicable ones. No matter how much of a perfectionist you are in other aspects of your life, you will not be able to control every detail of your breakup. If you’re seeking closure as a way to make your breakup cleaner, you’re going to find yourself even more frustrated than before. Once you accept that relationships are messy, you’ll enjoy dating a lot more.
  10. Time is the only effective form of closure. People mean different things when they say they want “closure.” Often, it’s an excuse to prolong the breakup, either because they want another chance, or because they haven’t finished voicing their frustrations. But real closure is less exciting and more difficult. Real closure is the moment when you realize that you no longer have emotional ties to the relationship. No matter how much you want to initiate closure, you just have to wait for it.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.