What Does ‘Closure’ Even Mean, Anyway?
The aftermath of a separation can leave many uneven and loose ends that may never be resolved. Since you hold one side of the story, it’s your responsibility alone to discover how achieve that sense of closure for yourself.
It’s never easy to divide the facts from your feelings, but it’s important to realize when to take ownership of your mistakes and knowing when to forgive yourself for them and let go.
Moving forward without your partner is an entire shift in your self worth and how you choose to perceive it, but don’t let it discourage you from re-writing your story to make it a healthier one.
If you’re even a casual fan of the show Friends, you may be familiar with the scene where a drunken Rachel calls up Ross to declare that her crush on him — a crush that he was unaware of — is finally finished. “I am over you,” she slurs into the phone, “and that, my friend, is what they call closure.” But saying it isn’t enough to make it so, and (spoiler alert) closure doesn’t come.
While a television sitcom may not be the best place to turn for relationship advice, the scene does tell us something real about both breakups and unrequited love: When things are over — or when it becomes clear that the affection isn’t reciprocated — people want the pain to go away, or they want to get over their feelings, or they want some other type of demarcation between now and whatever comes next. In short, they want that nebulous thing we often refer to as “closure.” The dictionary defines closure as the “act or process of closing something,” or “a feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved”; when it’s applied to relationships, the word refers to the ability to move on without being haunted by any lingering pain, regrets, or doubts.
But knowing what it means and knowing how to achieve it can be two entirely different things — and closure, like love itself, is often deeply misunderstood.
“Even when the breakup is mutual,” says journalist Wendy Paris, author of Splitopia: Dispatches From Today’s Good Divorce and How to Part Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean closure will come easily: “You have been invested in this partnership, in this story line and vision of your life.” Paris, who got divorced from her husband five years ago, argues that closure has two parts: “First, accepting that your story has changed and what you had hoped for is no longer your reality, and second, creating a new vision for where you want your life to go.”