Breakup Advice - Closure
How to Find Closure in Relationships
Dear April Masini,
I am having such a difficult time in finding closure with my relationship. Please help!"
Signed, In Search of Closure
April Masini's Advice :
Closure is an important part of any relationship that ends. It is important for peace of mind as well as for figuring out what happened, so you aren't doom to make a mistake that brings you pain in your next relationship. Conscious closure doesn't just involve a goodbye to the other person, whether in person, a phone call or a letter. It involves your own homework: thinking and analyzing what happened and how you move on in your life -- not just to another person, but to another level in your own evolution.
However, when two are involved, they aren't always ready for closure at the same time. One person may be ready to move on right away and feel civil and amiable about a break up. The other person may feel betrayed, angry, hurt, and hardly ready to have closure. In fact some people aren't ready for closure for months or even years after the break up or discord.
What happens when you are ready to have closure and the other person isn't?
*Be firm, but friendly about your feelings and your actions. This will either work, or the other person may mistake the friendliness for an attempt on your part to hold on, and there fore still be in the relationship you think you've ended.
*If firm but friendly doesn't work, take friendly down a notch to civil. This is a great dynamic for many newly divorced -- and even long term divorced couples with children -- to adopt in their communication. It's also great for feuding family members who do not have children together. You don't want to cut the person out of your life completely (or you can't because of children or family ties), but you don't want them to get the wrong idea that you're okay about their behavior, or "on board" with it.
How to do this:
-- Keep any phone calls to a minimum (under five minutes or less).
-- Don't initiate phone calls unless you have something specific you need to know.
-- Don't check in to see how the person is doing. If the person happens to be a sick relative, and you feel checking in is the right thing to do -- send a Hallmark card, flowers or some other small gift to show you're there, but keeping your distance.
-- In fact better than phone calls is e-mail. E-mails are less personal and circumvent the possibility of escalating emotions in the moment because even though they are fast, you still have to take the time to write the e-mail and press send before you can get a response. Sometimes words “fly” out of your mouth faster than the speed of light, and you can’t take them back once they’re out.
-- However, if the person starts incessantly e-mailing you, tell them in no uncertain terms to stop. Even if it feels blunt, harsh and cruel to you, remember, clarity is more important than manners in this case. If they don’t, quit your side of the e-mailing altogether. Consider blocking them from writing you. You can call your internet service provider for help with this. It's free.
If the other person is intent on engaging in unpleasant behavior, avoid them for a reasonable amount of time to give them a cool down space. Just because they're not ready for closure, doesn't mean it's your problem. You're out of the relationship -- remember? Don’t send confusing signals. When bad behavior escalates – even if it’s one sided – clarity is the only thing that will stop it.
If you're the one who can't let go, use your self-discipline, without repressing your emotions. Don’t engage with your ex – or the person you’re feuding with while you’re “hot headed.” Work it out in your journal, with your friends in conversations, with a therapist, with your understanding family members. If you have physical inclinations – you feel like you have to break something or hit someone – jog, play tennis, do something physical that will allow you to release that energy in an appropriate place. Balance the release of anger and sadness with trying to understand what happened and seeing where your life can go now.
If matters escalate and the person shows up at your house to be unpleasant or engage you, do not let them come into your home. Keep any conversations at the doorway, and keep them short. If they won't leave, tell them that you're busy and leave -- shut the door even if it seems rude.
If the person continues to show up, don't be alone if you think they're going to be around. You don't want to be a victim, but you want to be safe. If you're a woman, have a man there with you.
If the slightest sign of violence occurs, call the police. Immediately. While 99% of break ups and closure are normally handled by the two parties involved there is a legacy of lovers scorned who turn violent. Don't be a victim of violence. Don't be ashamed -- if this happens, just take care of business. Stalkers are borne out of one-way relationships that they perceive as two-way. It's not just something that happens to movie stars. It's very common in real life.
Be safe, be healthy and move forward in your life.