Understanding what closure is in a relationship can help you and the other person move forward. It improves mental wellness and promotes healing, and you can take steps to find or give closure.
Relationships sometimes end whether we want them to or not, and it’s often a painful experience. You might feel confused about the complex feelings and situation, especially if you don’t have closure.
When you get closure in a relationship, you can release negative emotions and focus on healing and growth.
Closure in a relationship means you understand the situation better and accept how it turned out, giving you a sense of peace as you move forward. Studies show that those who gain understanding experience less inner turmoil during and after the breakup.
“Closure might vary from person to person. However, closure ultimately is an understanding and acceptance that a relationship has ended and often includes a rationale for why it ended,” explains Dr. Beth Ribarsky, professor of interpersonal communication with expertise in romantic relationships.
Sal Raichbach, licensed clinical social worker and chief clinical officer at Haven Health Management, explains, “Closure is that feeling of completeness and finality that comes with the end of a relationship.”
Raichbach adds that closure allows you to better understand what happened between you and your partner. The absence of lingering questions or doubts can help you move on after a breakup.
Examples of closure in a relationship
Some examples of closure include:
- getting answers to your questions
- understanding why it happened
- accepting the situation
- being able to go extended time without thinking of the other person
- learning from the situation and experiencing self-growth
If you want to get closure after a breakup, there are some things you can do, including:
1. Ask to talk
Reaching out to the other person to discuss what happened and ask questions can help you find closure. It’s best to avoid reaching out multiple times because it can hinder the healing process.
Talking with the other person isn’t the only way to find closure, so if they don’t want to talk, you can focus on different methods.
2. Accept you may not get answers
Acceptance is freeing and empowering.
It can be hard to find closure when a relationship ends and you don’t get the answers you’re looking for. If this happened to you, accepting that you may never know the answers to some of your questions can help.
3. Consider self-reflection and personal growth
After the end of a relationship, spending time on self-reflection can help you understand yourself and what you’ve learned.
Self-reflection can lead to personal growth and self-improvement, further diverting your focus.
4. Practice empathy
It’s OK to be angry, but practicing empathy can make a difference. One way to do this is by considering the other person’s feelings and situation. It can help you identify why things happened the way they did, helping you heal and move forward.
5. Focus on forgiveness
Sometimes, it’s hard to release negative feelings about the end of the relationship. These feelings could be toward yourself or the other person.
Either way, it can prevent you from finding closure and peace. Consider forgiving everyone involved to release any toxicity holding you back.
6. Turn to your support system
You don’t have to go through things alone, and turning to your support system shows that you’re strong enough to move forward. Your trusted friends and loved ones want to help you, and you’ll feel better when you do.
7. Talk with a therapist
While turning to your friends and loved ones is beneficial, a therapist can help. When you talk with a professional, they can help you find coping methods and techniques that encourage closure.
How do you know if you need closure?
If you aren’t sure if you’ve found closure yet, you can look for signs that you haven’t, including the following:
- being unable to stop thinking about it
- not understanding how or why things ended
- repeatedly checking their social media
- questioning your worth
- having trouble sleeping
- feeling angry or resentful
- feeling like it’s not truly the end of the relationship
- not being able to complete tasks
- continuing to reach out to the person
If you were the one to end the relationship, the other person may need closure to protect their emotional well-being. Here are some of the ways you can give closure:
Consider setting up a time to meet
Reaching out to the other person to set up a time to talk may ensure that you won’t leave them without answers.
It also prevents them from showing up or reaching out at inopportune times. If you’re uncomfortable meeting in person, consider talking on the phone or writing emails.
Sometimes, you’ll want to clarify that you don’t want them contacting you often.
Other times, setting boundaries like not following one another on social media or showing up where they know you’ll be. It ensures they know the relationship is over, helping them find closure and move on.
When talking with your ex, being respectful can make it easier for them to find closure. Instead of leaving them with negativity, accusations, or insults, consider if there’s anything positive you can say.
There’s no correct way to find closure in a relationship. The experience differs for everyone, so consider what’s best for you regarding moving forward.
If you need help moving on and finding closure, a professional therapist can help you work through it. You’re not alone.