"I just need to get closure." Does this statement sound familiar to anyone? (Y'all are nodding your heads at the computer screen...) We seem to use the term "closure" in a way that is actually anything but closure. The term, closure, in the dating realm is meant to signify the conversation (or rather, multiple conversations) with your ex-significant other or ex-hook up where essentially one or both of you tell the other "I don't want to be with you anymore." Closure is meant to give the official end-point to a relationship. The final marker. The last form of contact. The concrete indicator that "this is it." And yet, if this is the purpose of closure, why do we so often see a lack of it? We are left with subsequent conversations, "dates," and usually sex within days, weeks, or maybe even hours of said closure.
The nature of a closure conversation
The intended purpose of closure is to have a definitive end to a relationship. However, often times after closure it hardly feels like the end at all. A conversation that was meant to close the door sometimes seems to open ten more windows. And I sometimes wonder: is this what someone is actually trying to subconsciously, or very consciously, trying to do? Because it's easier to explain with a personal example... let's get into story mode here.
There was a dude I dated in undergrad (which also leads me to ask: why the fuck do any of us date before our brains are fully developed) who asked for closure on three separate occasions. The first one was a ploy for sex (literally though, he was naked when I opened his apartment door to drop off his belongings, which was a sight I neither expected nor desired.) The second time was an act of unsuccessful persuasion, or rather falsely convincing me "why we were meant to be." And the third time I've repressed by now because the whole situation felt like emotional manipulation rather than closure.
And that's exactly what it seems to be in most cases. Closure tends to be an individual's way of letting themselves still be "known," to still be desired despite it being the end of the relationship. Closure has shifted into something that leaves the possibility open, versus accepting the fact that the relationship was not actually meant to work out. Refer to my above example: naked dude's entire speech of why we were meant to be together completely avoided acknowledging the reasons why we were NOT.
Why do we want it so badly?
Maybe some of us don't; however, I think I can safely assume that many of us have been in a position where we actually crave closure. I can recall yet another "relationship" in undergrad where I was on the other side of things, where I was the one asking for closure that was lined with a hidden agenda. I had been in a 3-4 month long "casual relationship" (which actually was monogamous on my end of things), and I was consistently reminded by him that the relationship was going no where. He did not want to commit, and was not planning on wanting to commit in the future. That being said, the "relationship" still felt like it had many aspects of a "real" one.
So when month number 4 was approaching, and our casual relationship was about to take a turn into a non-existent relationship, I demanded closure. I demanded wanting to know "why," when in reality it was made very clear over and over again. I demanded to have a "final conversation" to allow myself to move forward and to move on from this relationship (that I would realize even a few weeks later was insignificant in the grander scheme of things.)
So when I sort of, kind of received my closure in the form of a quick "meet up" at a library, I didn't actually even ask why things didn't work out. Instead, I put on an overly happy face, with the intention of "proving" why I'd be a bomb-ass girlfriend. HAH! And as you can all probably assume: things didn't change, and my closure didn't lead to the revival of the relationship.
Closure seems to be an excuse that we may use in a relationship when it ends to get one more chance to "connect." Closure is sometimes left with a last kiss or last hug (or possibly more) that allows us to feel connected with our ex. I think as humans it is natural to want to feel close to others, and to feel loved, wanted, desired, appreciated, validated, and every other associated synonym.
However, when we use closure for a chance to reconnect (even temporarily), we aren't actually getting any closure at all.
If you want closure, then actually get it
We end relationships because that other person no longer serves us what they may have initially. What I mean by "serves," isn't actually an act of labor like it sounds. It simply means that perhaps the happiness we once felt is no longer there. The fulfillment we received from a relationship no longer provides us the same sense of fulfillment. Perhaps we "outgrow" one another, or perhaps we just simply no longer love the other individual. Sounds harsh? It's the reality of what may happen in ANY relationship we enter into: there is always the risk that it may only be temporary.
And when the temporary relationship comes to an end, we start to search out ways to gain closure to make ourselves feel like we have answers. To know "what went wrong," and to just simply understand. We ask the other person to give us this as a sign of respect and consideration. And then I ask: does it ever give us what we truly are seeking?
I asked for closure from a boyfriend back in high school. It was a terrible end to an actually not-so-great relationship in general. He gave me that closure: "I used to love so many things about you, and I do not anymore." Can it really get any more clear than that? And yet I still asked for closure.
So, he gave it to me. He told me again in person. At least three more times. I still was unsatisfied. Closure didn't change anything: it didn't change the fact that I was still left feeling empty and abandoned. It didn't change the fact that I would still ask myself a dozen what-if questions. It didn't change anything at all. Even after someone else literally spells out WHY things ended, it doesn't make a difference until we actually believe it for ourselves. So then I ask: is closure from another person really needed?
And what would it look like if we solely gained closure from ourselves?
Internal closure where we come to a place of acceptance without seeking it out from another individual. Internal closure that brings us to a place of peace with ourselves, where we can rationally look at the relationship and identify for ourselves what we did and did not like about the relationship. Internal closure that separates us from blame and guilt for the end of the relationship. And internal closure that allows us to move forward on our own timeline, versus waiting for our ex to decide that timeline for us.