We all know that break-ups are the worst. One of the things we're conditioned to seek as the smoke is clearing is closure. Some of us think that having closure and knowing why we were dumped will help us to heal and recover faster. Others who don't get the sense of closure go around feeling like something is missing or holding them back from their true potential. In reality, we rarely—if ever—get that closure. If and when we do, it doesn't always help us move on because it reopens the wound and leaves us with more questions than answers (like how hard can we hit someone in the head with a frying pan without seriously injuring them?).
Therefore if closure is so elusive, why do we want it so much? For women, it's because we're wired to want closure in everything we do. For men—well—they don't really seek closure quite as stubbornly as women do, but it can help them move on and it gives them one last chance to see us in an attempt to reason with us. At any rate—for those of us who are sitting there wondering why we didn't get the closure we wanted—here are 15 reasons why that might be. Then—to help us up out of our despair—a list of 10 reasons for how we can change that is available, too.
25 Never Gonna Get It: Lack Of Communication
This is a very obvious one and it can take many different forms. As Huffington Post puts it, "But the truth is, there is no truth. There’s his, there’s yours, and there’s somewhere in the middle. You two wouldn’t have gotten to this point if you had good communication. Don’t expect it now. Chances are he’s just going to say a lot of stuff to irritate you—and if he does say something nice like, 'I really did love you,' then you’ll just be all the more upset that it didn’t work out."That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?
We likely broke up for very good reasons that probably included an accusation or two of. "You never tell me anything now!"
Clear communication is essential for a healthy relationship to thrive and survive. When there is a lack of communication in any area, things begin to go a bit haywire and slowly erode away till our relationship crumbles under the next big storm. To save ourselves this type of frustration and heartache, we can learn to be better communicators and remember that men and women are very different. We communicate things differently and have different priorities.
24 Never Gonna Get It: Asking "Why?" Too Much
We all ask this at some point—usually in tears or drowning in wine and beer. The answer evades us, sober or otherwise. We even ask ourselves this question in connection with whether dumping our ex was a good idea or not. Huffington Post has this to say on the question why: "Asking someone why he broke up with you, or why it didn’t work out, is an exercise in futility. Chances are, he may not even know himself. And if there are concrete reasons on his end, such as, 'I hated your parents' or 'I fell in love with my coworker,' do you really need to know this? No, you don’t."
The question “why” might seem simple and innocent but it's very dangerous and should be asked only when we're prepared for the potential truth of the answer. Everyone has a reason for everything they do. Whether or not it is a good reason remains to be seen, but they still have a reason and we likely won't like that reason at all. Sometimes they will know this and won't want to answer our why, leaving us without that sense of closure and that little question bouncing around in our heads at night.
23 Get It Anyway: Don't Get Defensive
So let's say we've finally succeeded in getting a hold of our ex and making them sit down to talk to us and give us that closure we want. As the conversation progresses from the awkward hellos and into the reasons why they felt they had to end things with us, we begin to get upset. We get angry, fidgety and finally burst into the answers we wanted to start defending ourselves. They obviously can't remember how it actually went down and now they're trying to paint us in a bad light and make us the villain in this little drama. The conversation ends on a sour note and we're left sulking at home, still without any closure at all.
If we actually want the closure, we can't be defensive while receiving it. That just gets in the way of hearing what we need to hear and being able to close the book at last.
We aren't under attack at this point. According to Bustle, "Being in an argument or receiving criticism from another person truly sucks. But instead of going straight into attack mode, there are ways to help you stop being defensive while learning how to communicate well with others."
22 Never Gonna Get It: Avoiding Your Feelings
After a break-up, both parties usually separate and take some time to sort out their broken pieces and find some super glue to put everything back together. During this time, usually, the person who was dumped starts scrolling through Facebook and texting their ex in the hopes of them picking up and talking to them. We won't go into why this is a bad post break-up idea. Instead, we'll focus on why it doesn't work, and that's because the other member of the ripped apart couple has turned into a clam and stopped talking to us.
According to Tiny Buddha, "Many people don't know how to deal with the emotions that come with a breakup, so they prefer to avoid their feelings altogether, and this is the most likely reason they won’t talk to you. It has nothing to do with you or the relationship or something you did wrong or that you weren’t enough." It isn't our problem that they can't or won't talk to us, but it doesn't help answer our questions or give us that closure we're so desperately seeking. We'll need to move on without it somehow. It'll be difficult, but we can do it.
21 Never Gonna Get It: The Pain Won't Stop
When we pursue closure, we might have good (albeit selfish) reasons for doing so, but what it actually does is delaying the healing we really need. According to Thought Catalog, “[…] closure could make the breakup worse. You are going to have to hear all about why they ended it with you. Or you’re going to have to explain to them why you broke their heart. You’re going to have to see their face again, and feel butterflies, and pretend they don’t exist. You’re going to have to see them look at you in a different way now."
This reopening of the wound and then applying some verbal smacks to it doesn’t sound fun to anyone, especially in the heightened sensitive state of post break-up.
We likely don't hate our ex enough to torture them like this (despite what we keep telling ourselves, our friends and our journal). At the same time, we really want that closure—even if it brings us acute levels of pain. Then if one meeting leads to another and the pain lessens a bit, we might start to get irrationally hopeful that things can go back to the way they were.
20 Get It Anyway: Find Someone Better
This might not be very helpful in the current moment but after awhile, we'll find ourselves feeling better and looking toward the future with interest rather than dread. One of the things we'll start to contemplate at this stage is getting back into the dating world. Whether or not we got closure form our last relationship can impact this new stage of life we're peeking at. If we got the closure, we'll know what we did wrong and can use that to build a better relationship.
On the other hand, we'll know what we did wrong and it might paralyze us to the point where we can't move forward with someone new. This is where we need to ask ourselves if getting closure is really worth it. If we didn't get the closure we wanted, we might still be wondering what went wrong and if the same thing will happen again. We need to risk it. According to Elite Daily, "Every person we meet or have a relationship with teaches us something about ourselves and about the world. Take that lesson with you and know that, although circumstances might be tough now, that lesson will serve its purpose in due time."
19 Never Gonna Get It: False Hope
Pursuing closure can cause healing delays in other ways. Each meeting with our ex (real or imagined) starts to play tricks on our sad hormonal minds and our brain gives us the sense of false hope as a coping mechanism to help wean ourselves off of our ex, easing us back into the reality of singlehood. This sounds nice but it backfires incredibly quickly in that we start to believe the little hopeful spark that encourages us to attempt the relationship again. This will likely never happen.
As Elite Daily puts it,
"We give ourselves false hope by believing that a simple heart-to-heart can resolve a heartbreak. As we keep thinking about the questions we want to ask the other person, we involuntarily think up the responses as well..."
"...We start to over-think the situation and assume this is how the other person will react to our confrontation."
Many of us are familiar with the sense of frustration that arises when someone doesn't follow the script we wrote for them in our heads. This is another one of those instances where they need to follow the script in order to get the happily ever after.
18 Get It Anyway: Open Communication
We've all likely heard this one a few times but it's true and requires frequent repeating. Strong, clear and honest communication can do wonders for just about any relationship of any type (family, friends, romantic, etc. though trying to communicate with our cat might be stretching things a bit). Learning to calmly and honestly discuss daily relationship problems or concerns is a very good skill to have and can save us a lot of pain and frustration down the road—even if the relationship still ultimately ends. We'll know we tried and why things didn't work out—the closure everyone else will be looking for.
We'll already be several steps ahead of them in the recovery game, and that's nice in a way. We need something nice to think about after a break-up.
As Thought Catalog puts it, "For me, I want communication that is open, truthful, deep, meaningful, something that makes you think. I want smart conversations, debates even. I want to learn something new from every person I talk to. I want them to open my eyes to new issues, give me a new perspective, a different angle. I want people to show me their passion."
17 Never Gonna Get It: We're Blind To Our Faults
Sometimes when we seek closure, what we really want is for the other person to admit that everything was their fault and that we would've succeeded as a couple if they had been better or stronger or whatever we feel they are lacking. In reality, if they left us. There is likely a good reason, and that reason could very well be that it was a result of something we did or said or didn't do or say.
According to Global News,
"People hate to admit when they’re wrong and our brains are adapted to overlook our flaws. This gives us a sense of “rightness” so we don’t question our ability to fit in with people..."
"...Because of this trait, it’s easy for us to feel like defending our sense of righteousness is the right thing to do." This translates to the fact that we can't see our own contributions to the break-up and refuse to admit that we had a hand in our own unhappiness. Seeking closure can bring this fact to our attention which could be a good thing but it could also hurt us even more and turn all our anger towards ourselves when we need time to heal.
16 Get It Anyway: Give It Time
One of the immediate reactions we have to a break-up (besides crying and screaming) is to demand why. Why are you leaving me? Why does it hurt? How could you do this to me? When will it ever end?! While we're wallowing in questions and copious amounts of sugar, people around us are hovering and offering consoling bits of advice on what they think we should do next. At least one of them is bound to say, "Oh, just give it time and you'll feel better soon."
This is nice and all but doesn't help in the immediate moment. However as Elite Daily tells us, time really does help in the long run. "What feels like false hope might actually have some scientific explanation as to why our brains make us see things differently throughout time. Memory is encoded in different ways, from sensory to short-term to long-term. What makes us encode long-term memories depends on how meaningful we consider the information to be." Time doesn't necessarily heal the wounds, it just helps us convert the pain into memories which then slowly fade on their own. Giving us the illusion that time healed everything. Which is a nice thought.
15 Never Gonna Get It: I Can't Let Go Yet
Another reason why we'll never get the closure we want is because we're too blinded by anger and hurt to be objective enough to actually hear what the other person is saying and accept it. We hold grudges for a long time after a break-up—the more intense the relationship and painful the break-up, the longer and stronger the grudge becomes. We feed it with our pain and anger, hoping to eventually get rid of it but enjoying the comfort it gives us in the early days of a break-up.
It's arguably a healthier coping method than anything at that state, but the lasting effects can become poisonous to us as we try to grow.
As Psychology Today puts it, "Often we hold onto our grudges unwillingly, while wishing we could drop them and live freshly in the present, without the injustices of the past occupying so much psychic space." Grudges are time-consuming and exhausting after a while and they get us nowhere. They hold us back and prevent us from healing, moving on and finally letting go of the past so we can fully embrace the future. What good is closure if we won't let go of what happened?
14 Never Gonna Get It: Acceptance Is Lacking
When we want closure, we want the final chapter or end of the book so we can sigh, ponder all our favorite bits and put it neatly away on the shelf. In a few years, maybe we’ll look back on it to remind us of what we once had. We want that sense that we completed something, even if it was painful and hurt a lot at the time. Just like getting our ears pierced or having a tattoo; it hurts at the moment but when we're down and all healed up nicely, we have something we accomplished and finished.
Relationships are irritatingly not like that at all when they end abruptly and messy. The biggest thing standing in our way of getting closure is the fact that we can't accept the relationship is actually over. As Global News puts it, “It’s hard to accept when someone doesn’t want you anymore,” relationship expert Shannon Tebb of Shanny in the City says. “It’s like an attack on your personal ego and you feel like you’ve failed at something, and it’s really hard to accept when something doesn’t work out.” Once we accept the unwanted change, we can begin to heal and recover.
13 Get It Anyway: Admitting We Were Wrong
Break-ups usually involve two people and both parties have to contribute to the end of the relationship before one of them actually calls it quits. It can be painfully hard to see how our own actions influenced and affected the relationship as we drown in our sorrow and Netflix binge, watching in our pajamas. Someday we're going to be able to look back and clearly see where exactly we went wrong. One step to getting that closure we so desperately want right now is to accept that we were partly responsible for the relationship ending and to admit our mistakes on where we went wrong.
It won't be easy but it will be necessary. It will also definitely be worth looking at if we're contemplating starting a new relationship.
According to Tiny Buddha, "You might think you made the biggest mistake of your life and if only you didn’t do it, you wouldn’t be in pain right now. Don’t go down that road—there’s nothing good down there! Instead, keep reminding yourself that you are human. You’re entitled to make mistakes; everyone does. And you will learn from them and use those lessons to improve your life."
12 Never Gonna Get It: Wait, You Dated A Ghost?
For anyone reading this who is still trying to catch up with today's evolving slang: to ghost someone means we don't text, call or reach out to them in any way. We just sort of drop off the planet and call it a done deal. This works great if we're ghosting someone creepy that we met at the bar last week but not so great when we've been in a relationship for a period of time. Trying to get closure out of a ghost is really hard.
Elite Daily has this to say on ghosts, "If you got ghosted back in the olden days, you could at least just assume that your betrothed succumbed to cholera, or perhaps got swept away at sea, or at least died in a war or something. Like, those were all pretty reasonable guesses. But let me tell you, it is much harder to believe that's true today, because... I know the doofus is alive because he's still posting on Instagram." In this modern day and age, we can always try texting the ghost to see what they have to say for themselves. However, it likely won't be much and it won't give us the closure we want.
11 Never Gonna Get It: Well, That Made Things Difficult
Break-ups are hard on both parties but when it comes to long-term serious relationships that end, men take them harder than women do and their rates of depression go up compared to women's. When we're reeling from a break-up, we don't always stop to consider how our ex is handling things.
If he's handling things very badly and makes poor decisions as a result of this, then we're left trying to resolve the break-up and his unexpected behaviors. According to Psychology Today,
"Men may be more emotionally dependent on their romantic partners and have fewer alternative methods of support. When asked who they would turn to first if they were feeling depressed, 71% of men selected their wife whereas only 39% of women selected their husband."
Further, it turns out men turn to far more disastrous and self-destructive behaviors as coping mechanisms than the Cherry Garcia and Netflix marathon most women opt for. This presents a troubling state of affairs for men when the one person they were used to going to for support is suddenly gone from their life. Even if a couple remains cordial with one another, the male party can't very well go lean on his ex to get him through the process of her becoming his ex.
10 Get It Anyway: Acceptance Is Key
If we're running around asking for closure and the reason why they left us, we have to be able to accept those reasons—as painful as they will probably be to us—and then let go of them. Hoarding all the mistakes and bad things we did or they did will drive a thorn into our wound. That thorn will just sit there, festering and oozing regret and other nasty feelings all over the place until we turn into someone we don't recognize.
According to Tiny Buddha, "When you start revisiting the past in your head, pull yourself into the moment. Focus on the good things in your current situation: the friends who are there for you and the lessons you’ve learned that will help you with future relationships. It might help to tell your friends to only let you vent for ten minutes at a time. That way you’re free to express your feelings, but not drown in them." The road to acceptance requires getting to know ourselves and indulging in lots of ice cream and dark chocolate as we put the pieces back together, pulling ourselves up out of the pit we've fallen into. Closure is just one stepping-stone on the path.
9 Never Gonna Get It: Refusal Of Acceptance
One of the worst things we can do to ourselves while we're recovering from a break-up is to refuse to accept our ex's reasons for breaking up with us. We text and pester and whine for closure till we finally have it. We have his or her reasons for why they left us and ended things. This is the closure we're supposed to deal with and use to help move on. Instead, we refuse to accept the reasons given and keep looking for other ones or different ones or any faint sign at all that this was a mistake and we can get back together again.
All of this does is hold us back and delay the healing that we so desperately need at this stage.
According to With My Ex Again, "A lot of people choose to ignore the painful truth and prefer to deny the reasons behind the separation. They’re blinded by emotion and they’re afraid of being single because, for them, it would be unimaginable to let go of this relationship. Nevertheless, one should never live in denial, and moreover, this will greatly decrease your chances of success in getting back together with your ex."
8 Get It Anyway: Let It Go
Sometimes we know we should break up with someone but we just can't quite let them go for various reasons. We keep these reasons on an automatic scroll in our head whenever the idea of breaking up crosses our mind. One way to get the closure we want from a break-up is to actually accept that it's over and to move on, letting go of that person completely.
This means no texting, cyberstalking or moping around wishing they'd come back (while conveniently forgetting we're the ones who left in the first place). As Bustle puts it, sometimes we need to come first. "Sometimes we think we can get over something—cheating, a lie, a secret—but, as much as we try, we can't let it go. "If someone you are dating or involved in a long-term relationship with has betrayed you in a way that you cannot get past—cheating, lying, addiction—then it is time to end the relationship for your own emotional health." Helping ourselves to heal means letting go, and that is really hard but it's a necessary step we need to take. Once we're past it, we'll feel so much better and freer.
7 Never Gonna Get It: And Repeat
One of the thoughts that go through our heads after a break-up is a possibility of getting back together with our ex someday. ‘Someday’ is one of those vague words that can mean next week, in six months, next year, etc. It gives us that sense of hope that can sometimes be enough to lift us up out of our ice cream and Netflix wallowing and get back into the swing of things. The problem comes when we let it consume us, and we don't fully move forward because we're waiting for our ex to realize what a horrible mistake they made.
Sometimes we seek out closure because we want to know what went wrong to avoid making the same mistakes again.
This is good reasoning but ultimately doesn't help us in the middle of the recovery process. According to Cosmopolitan, "Never say never, sometimes a little space is all you need. However, always go back into a past relationship with open eyes—ignoring previous problems in the hope that everything will be wonderful this time around is just asking for trouble. If you're about to re-ignite an old flame it’s a good idea to take some time to evaluate what went wrong the first time around."
6 Never Gonna Get It: Gender Differences
The old saying is that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Many joke that men should go back to Mars, but that's a different debate. What this saying is really trying to communicate is that men and women are very different. We have enough similarities to get along reasonably well. The more intricate differences start to seep out in long-term relationships, which can cause difficulties. When we break-up, women seek closure more stubbornly than men do simply because we need it more. It'll hit them later on.
Our reasons for breaking up can be vastly different, too. We might not understand why he left us because he used “man logic” while the same can apply to men who are trying to understand us. According to Big Think, "Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man. A brief romantic encounter could lead to nine months of pregnancy followed by many years of lactation for an ancestral woman, while the man may have 'left the scene' literally minutes after the encounter, with no further biological investment. It is this 'risk' of higher biological investment that, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate."
5 Get It Anyway: Good Reasons
Sometimes people break up for weird reasons; really bad reasons and sometimes people break up for good reasons. While it's never fun to break up or be broken up with, sometimes we really do have good reasons for doing so. We need to keep those reasons in mind when we're explaining to our significant other why we can't be together anymore. These reasons can vary from person to person, but ultimately the reasons will probably focus more on the initiator than on the person being left. At least, it'll definitely feel that way in the beginning.
As we recover and things settle down, we might be able to see things from their perspective and understand better as to why they had to leave us.
As Bustle puts it, "Part of the problem is that, especially if you've been together for a while, you feel like you need a really good reason to break up. Even if you're unhappy—and have been for a while—it doesn't always feel like enough. I mean, sometimes it's obvious." For all we know, being left could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. At any rate, they'll be able to give us their reasons for breaking up.
4 Never Gonna Get It: We're Tricking Ourselves
If our partner suddenly breaks up with us out of the blue, it can completely blindside us. In the moment we'll place all the blame for our intense pain on their shoulders. Later on when the dust fades and we're forcing ourselves to adjust to the single life again, we might be able to view the wreckage of our relationship with clearer eyes and realize that we were in denial about it for too long. This denial can get in the way of closure because it keeps us from accepting the reality we're facing and the reality of what we're asking our partner to give us.
Closure can be a double-edged sword that we can potentially regret asking for. According to Bolde, "People rarely break up with someone the second they realize things aren’t going very well. Everyone wants to believe they can figure out a way to make things work, or that things will just get better without any effort whatsoever. The sooner you emerge from your cocoon of denial, the sooner you can figure out if there’s anything left to salvage in the mess your relationship has become." We can't move forward till we leave denial behind.
3 Get It Anyway: End Things Clearly
If we're contemplating ending things with our partner, we owe it to them to try ending things in a nice manner. This means no burning their stuff, no attacking them with the hairdryer or crazy accusations of cheating, and no screaming matches in public. We should avoid those in private too but at least we're in private if we do start to scream.
This person has been a significant part of our life for a while now, and we owe it to that part of them that we originally fell in love with to end things calmly, clearly and cleanly.
We shouldn't ghost them or leave things hanging. They'll want closure, and it's up to us—as the initiator of the break-up—to provide that closure for them, even if we fully don't understand ourselves.
This is where our communication skills come in handy. According to Thought Catalog, "Communication has to ALWAYS be truthful. Both of you ALWAYS have to be honest. Don’t keep things from each other because that’s where cracks form in your relationship. They form in the secrets that you keep. Be more open. Demand. Stand up for what you want. Don’t and NEVER settle for just okay."
2 Never Gonna Get It: The Reality Of Life
One final thing that hinders us in our quest for closure after a break-up is the harsh reality that this is reality and not a movie where get a happily ever after. In the films, when the characters seek out closure, they usually find it. It magically heals everything. Sometimes it's the step needed to bring our heroes back together by the end of the film. Other times it's the freeing moment before the hero or heroine takes off on his or her own inspiring journey of self-discovery. Either way, it's easy and magical but it's not reality.
According to Thought Catalog, "At this point in our lives, we’ve all realized life isn’t a movie. Things don’t go exactly the way we thought they would when we watched romantic movies growing up. The hero doesn’t rush in at the last minute to fix all misunderstandings. There’s no swelling music to wipe away any apprehension, and there are no closing titles to officially end the story and keep things perfect forever." Once we accept this little fact, we can truly begin our own inspiring journey and reconnect with ourselves. We can pick up that hobby we so enjoyed or dive into a new one that we've always wanted to try.
1 Get It Anyway: Apply Pressure?
When we're in the middle of a break-up, we are essentially wounded and hurt. We have an internal injury which our brain can't find so it just sends us lots of pain signals. We don't have an exterior wound to apply bandages and medicine to, and no one has figured out the exact cure for heartbreak yet. We'd think scientists would be more on top of that. What we can do is apply metaphorical pressure to our metaphorical bleeding heart and click next episode before opening another bottle of wine and box of chocolates.
What we shouldn't do is reach for the phone to send another text to our ex, pressuring them for the closure we want.
Pressuring someone for answers rarely gets us the answers we want. We just end up annoying them enough to get a response and it's not always a very nice one either. We just need time. According to Break Upward, "Men and women flee for two reasons and two reasons only. Because we think we can outrun the questions or because we think we can chase the answers down. But understanding can’t be chased. It can be avoided, no doubt, but it can’t ever be rushed."
References: Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha, Thought Catalog, Elite Daily, Global News, Psychology Today, Elite Daily, Psychology Today, With My Ex Again, Cosmopolitan, Big Think, Bolde, Thought Catalog, Global News, Thought, Catalog, Bustle, Tiny Buddha, Elite Daily, Elite Daily, Bustle, Break Upward