How To Get Closure On A Past Relationship
Without closure, it can feel almost impossible to get over past relationships. No wonder, really, when all you can think about is why he left, what you might have done wrong or whether or not he’ll ever tell you the truth.
Unfortunately, closure doesn’t always happen in the way you want it to. You can’t control what an ex did, does or what he’s willing to offer, in terms of emotional support. While it’d be great to get your answers and put it all behind you, getting closure from an ex doesn’t necessarily stop the incessant longing for him either.
Breakups are a process that, no matter which way you look at them, take time to heal. What helps more than anything else, is the freedom of taking responsibility for how you feel and knowing that he can’t actually give you closure, anyway.
It has to come from within you.
1. Understand that closure is your responsibility
Understanding that closure is your responsibility can be a pretty hard pill to swallow. When you feel rejected and you’re in the dark about why, your confidence takes a huge hit. A one-sided breakup is particularly painful, because it just doesn’t seem to compute, especially in the absence of any tangible explanation.
What often happens is, from that place of feeling alone and insecure, you’re compelled to chase your ex for the answers you think you so desperately need. Usually, this is a waste of time and energy, because he just doesn’t want to go there for whatever reason. Maybe he’s scared of dredging up more pain, of dragging it out, of admitting the truth or of hurting you further.
“Closure is something you’ll find within yourself, regardless of what he does or doesn’t give you.”
Even if he does agree to speak with you, chances are his answers will be less than satisfying. Hearing, “I love you, but I just can’t be with you,” for example, is going to give you about as much satisfaction as a celery stick when you really want chocolate cake.
The good news is, closure is something you’ll find within yourself, regardless of what he does or doesn’t give you. Think about it this way – while blaming him for prolonging your pain might seem easier at first, what you’re actually doing is giving him control over your psychological and emotional state. That doesn’t really make sense, does it?
It’s time to stop the cycle of questions, come back to the present moment and take care of the most important person in your life – you.
2. Give yourself time to be sad
Whether you have closure or not, you’ll never escape the grieving process. Life as you once knew it has changed and allowing your feelings to arise, diving into the unknown and expressing your emotions are all steps up on the healing ladder.
During the grieving stage, it’s important to remember that just because your friend seemed to ‘get over’ a relationship and move on to dating in a month, doesn’t mean you’ll do the same. Everyone’s different and, as long as you’re authentically acknowledging how you feel, you’ll get through it when the time’s right for you.
Giving yourself time lets you reflect on lessons that only become obvious in hindsight, giving you valuable tools to learn about yourself. As you do, you’ll get more clarity about the relationship, without the need for input from your ex. You’ll realise that you don’t desperately need those answers anymore, to move forward with your own life.
And, the best bit is, while you’re allowing and focusing on time to clear and heal, inspiration, motivation and the urge to change up your world, is the inevitable result.
3. Change up your world
There’s nothing like changing your external environment, to help clear out and heal your inner one. Don’t be tempted to hold onto stuff because you feel sad and sentimental. Get rid of things from the past and know that the sadness will start to fade, the more you replace memories of him with new ones of your own.
Remove all of his things from your house and, if you lived together, move furniture around to create a fresh space that’s all about you. If you’re moving, take the chance to try a different neighbourhood or city, so you’re not going to the same restaurants, cinemas, parks or beaches you went to with him. Delete photos of him from your phone, or pop them on a USB if you’re confident you won’t be tempted to look at them for months, or maybe even years, when you’re truly over him.
When you’re ready, take the revamp even further and try a new hair colour, have a girl’s day at a spa or donate your old clothes to a charity store and buy a new wardrobe. Learn how to cook dishes that are different from the ones you made with him and find other playlists for tunes in the car.
The more you create a new world for yourself, the less time you’ll have to think about him, which is a form of closure in itself.
4. Express your emotions
While you’re changing up your world, it’s perfectly normal to experience anger, frustration or sadness when you see or touch anything that reminds you of him. Cry when you feel like crying, punch the pillow till your anger cools down and pretend he’s in the room and yell out loud if you want to.
Speaking to him as if he was there gives you the emotionally release you crave. This isn’t about needing answers, but allowing yourself to move through the process naturally. One of the best ways to help you do it, is to write a letter either to your ex or to yourself, that you’ll never send.
This is all about you, so don’t censor anything. Let rip about how his actions hurt your feelings, how disappointed you are and even all the little thoughts about him that crowd your mind daily. Get everything off your chest and leave no feeling unturned. When you’re done, burning the letter or throwing it away helps you to symbolically let go of pain.
5. Reframe your thoughts
Expressing and releasing emotions is the way forward, towards reframing your thoughts. When you actively take responsibility for closure, you strengthen mentally and it becomes easier to view things in a different, more positive light.
Doing this is most important if you can’t seem to help stalking your ex on social media or trying to dig up dirt on him when you see mutual friends. You need to haul yourself firmly into your new world, by changing the thought patterns that lead you back to the old one.
Everyone’s different, however, some people feel it’s useful to start focusing on the positive things achieved in past relationships. Initially, it can be easier than trying to make yourself stop thinking of him completely, plus you’ll avoid having to relive painful feelings over and over again, for no reason.
Associating the relationship with positive things, like self-development or goals you kicked together, is different to focusing on him, personally. Your aim is to understand what you’ve gained from the relationship as a whole, not what your broken heart mistakenly thinks it’s missing out on.
You’ll start moving away from the negative, acknowledging that you haven’t wasted your time and, eventually, choosing not to suffer each time the relationship pops into your mind.
6. Get back to you
Even when you’re still grieving, you’ll have a lot of extra time and mental space to get back to being you. Let yourself feel excited about experiencing new things and then take action steps to remember you’re so much more than who you were in the relationship.
“If you need help in getting back out in the world after a breakup, don’t be ashamed to ask for it.”
If you need help in getting back out in the world, don’t be ashamed to ask for it. Counsellors, psychologists and even dating coaches can give you a fresh perspective, while friends and family can help with opportunities to get you out and about.
This is all about you, so write a list of everything you love. Exercise to take advantage of the natural high of endorphins, do yoga and meditation for peace and clarity and meet new people along the way.
Take up a hobby you’ve never had time for and get out your travel bucket list with the aim to start ticking them off! Have a long, hot bath every afternoon, stay up all night reading your favourite books and say yes every time someone asks you to a party, even if you don’t feel like it.
The more time you spend on improving yourself, the less you’ll think about him. Doing so is a habit, like anything else, and life will soon fill up with fun and adventure again – because you’re firmly on the road to closure. When you take responsibility, you’ll realise you didn’t need anyone else to put you on that road, in the first place.
That, in itself, is a lesson that makes the whole process worth it and sets the foundations for attracting a new relationship that looks a lot more like the one you’ve always dreamed of.