The Allure of Closure
I should tell you right away that I'm not a fan of closure.
Specifically, the kind of closure that:
- Depends on another person to give you peace about the ending of a romantic relationship.
- You seek when it's not altogether clear to you where the relationship went wrong or why it suddenly ended.
Seeking closure is alluring because it allows you to minimize the most important thing that you already know about the relationship. That it's over.
Closure, as it's typically discussed, encourages you to have a final conversation with the person from whom you're departed to gather final thoughts and closing statements. It's a way to officially close the relationship without blame and anger. It's a diplomatic way to smooth out confusion and address unanswered questions. It gives the why's.
The goal is to have a sense of peace after the conversation. A clean end on a good note.
Who can pass that up?
What Closure Really Is
Theoretically, seeking closure is the mature thing to do. And closure seems like a salve to a broken heart.
But considering the two reasons for closure mentioned earlier, it's distressing to witness anyone seek it while disregarding their own good senses.
In these specific circumstances, closure is a way to dis-empower yourself.
The need for another person's explanation about why they left, fell off the face of the earth (known as ghosting), or created a situation that was unhealthy for you to stay is a blatant ignoring of simple truths.
For example, if someone ghosts you, a few simple truths you can glean from their character are: 1) they are untrustworthy, 2) they use abandonment as a problem-solving tool, 3) they lack good verbal communication skills.
What more information do you need to move on? Even if the ghost shows up again how can you trust this person to be honest or have enough self-awareness to offer you anything of value? Trust the truth of the reality and not words.
If we're really being honest, I understand how attractive an opportunity it is to connect with someone you cared about--even if it's the last time. That opportunity may be veiled as closure, but it still has the same outcome. You open yourself up to someone else's version of the truth. You open yourself up to someone who may lack integrity. You open yourself up to someone who may have something to gain by manipulating you into guilt or insecurity.
You do all that instead of accepting your truth, which is the best there is to consider.
You don't need the answers you think you need. The peace you're seeking externally is the peace you have within to start healing now.
But what if I messed up? How am I going to learn if i don't ask?
An interviewer once asked Joel Osteen why he isn't more fire and brimstone, why he doesn't call out people's sins from the pulpit.
His answer was simple. He said that people are well aware of how they're sinning. They don't need him to call it out.
If the reason why someone left you is because you messed up, then like the sinner Joel Osteen mentioned, you already know it, even if you choose to act as if you don't.
How to get healthy closure
Closure isn't found externally--in another person's version of the truth. It's found in you. It's found in trusting in yourself and being honest with yourself.
How you get closure in a relationship that ends badly or abruptly is to accept the simple truths.
Photo credit: Jason via CC Flickr