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The day I realized closure doesn’t really exist when you break up

Breakups are messy. Hearts have been open. Emotions have gotten involved — you know, the painful ones that leave you most vulnerable. And usually you want something from your partner that you’re just not getting.

Maybe you want him to officially tell you it’s over. Maybe you want him to promise never to contact you again. Maybe you want him to just admit he cheated. Maybe you want him to just admit he loved you. It’s usually something.

And it drives you crazy. It keeps you rehashing the breakup with your girlfriends. It has you stuck on him, even after you meet a new guy to fill the hole. It’s like there’s a little voice inside of you, just screaming. You might lie awake at night thinking: “If I could just have this one thing from him, I could move on.”

The problem with closure is that it requires two parties, giving each other exactly what they want and need to close the book on the relationship. However, breakups don’t involve two parties, nor can your ex give you just what you need. That’s just it, isn’t it? It’s why you broke up. You weren’t getting what you needed.

My last breakup was a bit like this. I wasn’t getting what I needed. In all honestly, he wasn’t getting what he needed either. We weren’t in sync. I ended it in a midnight phone call, at the end of a long work week. After one too many perceived slights, where I felt my guy was putting his career success far above my personal sanity, I just couldn’t live one more day without saying anything. I reached the breaking point, where we finally split in two.

I quickly locked the relationship up in a vault, turned the key and shoved it under my bed where all the other monsters hide. Well, that’s what I thought anyway.

Two days later, I woke up with a text from my ex that said he’d get back in touch with me after his career life calmed down. When he could give me what I needed. No, no, I thought. What? I hadn’t planned on that, and I certainly hadn’t asked for it. I wanted closure. And even though I tried to shove the relationship back in that vault and slam it shut with him, I’m not sure the message was conveyed correctly. So, I am now somewhat haunted by the idea that, one day, I might see his name pop up on my phone. Perhaps just when I’ve finally made progress letting him go.


Realizing this also made me realize the reality about closure. It’s the great breakup myth of our time. It’s not possible. And if I wanted to move on, I’d have to do that all on my own. I couldn’t tell him not to call, or prevent myself from ever crossing paths with him on the street. Life happens. Those things might happen, even if I tried to control all the variables.

So, the day I got that text, I started to let go. On my own. I acknowledged that breakups are messy, and I’d have to do the best I could with my raw heart and jagged emotions. I’m still working on it. Just like falling for someone, moving on is a process.

But that’s the other thing about closure: As long as you keep seeking and wanting it, you are keeping your ex around in your life and stunting that process. I know it’s bothersome that you didn’t get what you needed, but you deserve better than remaining a hostage to a relationship that no longer exists.

Moving on is a solo process. You won’t ever get closure, but you can get to the point where you’re OK again. I promise. It’s just around the corner if you’re brave enough to let go of the answers you never got.

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